Gaining a little more confidence

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I don’t know how Dean Koontz, or any author for that matter, felt after they completed their first novel.  Were they elated?  Were they sick to their stomach?  Were they prone in a semi-fetal position rocking back and forth thinking that they would eventually have to deliver this literary child to the public for mass consumption and scrutiny?  I have experienced all of these emotions, and more, in just the past few months.

I have been fortunate to have my first three Beta readers be very supportive and encouraging and give extremely positive feedback to The Waking Hours.  I have just sent a digital copy to reader number four and, in the next few days, will hand deliver a hard copy to reader number five.  In a perfect world, I paint a pretty picture of rainbows and unicorns as I receive their reviews of the book.  But somewhere, in the far recesses of my mind, I know the second shoe eventually has to drop and it may not fall as precisely as I would like.

I am well-aware that with success comes the possibility of epic failure, or at least overtly constructive criticism, and I think I have secured myself behind a wall that is strong enough to allow me to absorb those critiques with a comfortable cushion.  Although I have bled countless times trying to craft a worthy tale, there is still some blood to be shed in the battle of writer vs. reader and I know I will not emerge completely unscathed.   To bastardize a line from one of my favorite movies, The Replacements, “Pain heals.  Readers dig scars.  Glory….lasts forever”.

 

The “Dobler” Effect

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“I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.” ~ Lloyd Dobler, Say Anything

Lloyd Dobler

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I stumbled across a blog a while ago that was singing the praises of the movie “Say Anything”.   This 1989 classic has always been one of my favorite movies.  Lloyd Dobler, played by John Cusack, was one of the most epic male movie roles of my generation.  He was a guy every guy could relate to and a guy that most girls wanted to date.

Lloyd isn’t the macho, overly muscled guy oozing with too much bravado and too little sense.  He doesn’t say things just because he thinks you want to hear them.  What he does say is anything that comes into his mind.  Girls watching him on the big screen fell in love with his charming, albeit occasionally clumsy, qualities (see above quote about what he wants to do for a career).  But in his clumsiness, he stole the hearts of many girls, including mine.

There are not many movie characters who have story lines written without them having some egregious character flaw to make them interesting.  Lloyd Dobler is one of those few who didn’t need the flaws.  What made him interesting was how wonderfully normal he was.   In 1989 we all wanted to find our own Lloyd Dobler and some of us are still on that quest.

Although it is 28 years later, I admittedly still have a crush on John Cusack.  It may sound trite, but it’s true.  I always hope in my heart that John Cusack, the person, is as charming and sweet as Lloyd Dobler was in the movie and that one day I will find someone who reminds me a lot of him.

Three for three

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The term “Beta Readers” is a daunting phrase for fledgling authors.  It means you trust your book to people who don’t know you and won’t be so prone to sugar-coating their review of your work.

My first reader, admittedly, was my nephew.  While he is still a teenager, he is a voracious reader so I knew his opinion of the story would be valuable.  Since I gave him the book in the middle of the summer, his reading was not as fast as his usual pace but he loved the story and he liked the twist at the end.

My second reader was a friend, but a friend who I knew I could count on to be brutally honest about her take on the story, the writing and the characters.  When she handed the pages back to me, they were filled with sticky notes that I was initially afraid to read.  When I finally got the courage to open the pages, her sticky notes were filled with encouraging messages and notes about her excitement to keep reading to see where the story went.  She didn’t want to put the book down.  Her last message had me in tears when she said she was at a loss for what to read next because she enjoyed the book so much.

My third reader is a friend of my second reader.  I have never met her so her opinion was, by far, the most anticipated because she had nothing to gain, or to lose, by telling me her honest opinion of my book.  She enjoyed the intrigue and said my book had all the elements of a good suspense/thriller and she is looking forward to my next book.  For a writer, it doesn’t get much better than that!

After those encouraging words, I followed my pattern from last year and have scheduled the suspension of my satellite service for a six-month period starting a few days after the Superbowl.  Without the mindless distraction of random television shows, I hope to repeat my success from last year and finish book number two while still pounding the internet pavement to see if I can find an interested agent or publisher for book number one.

If ever I needed patience, now is the time.  I will still be looking for a few more Beta Readers in the interim but my confidence in handing over my pages is certainly much higher that it was before.  Most of the fear is gone and has been replaced by hope.  A few positive words can go a long way and I plan on holding those words very close to my heart.

 

This one says it all

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As I have said before, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  I do, however, follow certain mantras and this one is at the top of my list for 2018.  I have let undue stress affect my health and well-being far too many, very unnecessary, times.  Thankfully, I have mastered a few techniques to bring myself back to a relaxed state of mind before I become a victim of a rapid pulse and high blood pressure.  Recently, I have also been using essential oils and find them very calming.


The key to dealing with stress is to figure out the trigger points and avoid those situations entirely.  Much easier said than done for most, myself included, but I have spent a great deal of time pinpointing the worst of my stressful situations and learning how to gracefully excuse myself from those circumstances.  It may not be possible all the time, but at least I am aware of the biggest triggers of my stress and can make better choices for the sake of my health.

I may be trying to achieve the impossible, but at least if I remain aware of how much stress affects my body, I can enjoy a very happy and healthy 2018.