“The scariest moment is just before you begin.” Stephen King
This quote is true for people like me, people leery of the unknown. I tend to frequent the same stores and restaurants, eat the same dozen or so meals, and follow the same daily routine. I even visit the same vacation spot and stay at the same great little B&B each year.
There’s something to be said for comfort.
But there may come a time when you realize you need to push yourself—to grow, to change, to improve your life. What do you want to accomplish more than anything else? What are you doing to reach that goal? Have you surrounded yourself with like-minded, supportive, or inspirational influences?
A new year is a wonderful opportunity to make a positive change in your world—big or small. Embrace change for the better by making the most of each moment.
“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michaelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.”
Welcome to this week’s Margarita Moment! If you enjoy this post and are a newcomer to my little island life inspired blog, sign up for your free, weekly escape (Look along the right sidebar.). It will sail to your inbox on Mondays, more or less, depending on life’s currents and my novel writing schedule. Thanks for visiting.
Hi! Rylie here. Like Mom said, I’ve been swamped with essays for medical school, but I want to show you the most incredible pictures and memories from this beautiful city. *drum roll* And the highlights are:
Traveling by waterbus down the Grand Canal
Seeing someone buy a freshly killed shark at the Rialto market
Getting gelato from every store near San Marco plaza
Waving to gondoliers
Finding as many paintings with Jesus in them as we could at the Gallerie dell’Accademia
Having – and hating – my first cappuccino
Getting lost on the way back from San Marco and unsuccessfully asking the police for directions
Almost knocking over a statue at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Going to over 40 stores to find the perfect Murano glass earrings
Watching two kittens play-fight in the garden outside our restaurant during dinner
Getting a beer glass for free at a pub after asking the bartender if I could buy one
Sitting on the Arsenale pier at night to watch the waterbuses finish their route
Getting lost in the back alleyways in San Marco
Learning that a dead-end in Venice is an alleyway that ends in water
Five writer lessons I learned at Connecticut Romance Writers’ recent Fiction Fest:
1. Secondary character subplots must match the story’s main plot theme. (Kristan Higgins)
2. When ridding of that pile of papers on your writer desk, turn it over and start from the bottom. Quickly choose which items can be thrown and which need to be kept. Then file time-sensitive papers by the month, with files for the current month in files from 1-31. Check the following day’s file folder at the end of each workday to prioritize the next day’s to-do list. (Lisa Lelas)
3. Hybrid authors are fast becoming the trend in publishing. (Roxanne St. Claire)
4. Smashwords provides free books on its website for those authors going the indie route. (Jim Azevedo)
5. Attending writing conferences are worth the time, money, and effort invested. (Jolyse Barnett)
I hadn’t planned on attending the Romance Writers of America conference in Atlanta this year. My husband had been undergoing medical treatments, my son encountered difficulties through much of eighth grade, and my day job had been overly demanding in the past months. In spite of these obstacles, my husband insisted I go.
I’m so glad I did.
The national conference is about workshops, pitching, and networking. Writers at all different stages of their careers attend and each can tailor her experience to meet specific goals. My first year, I focused on learning all about the craft, attending every possible workshop and pitching my first novel. I socialized very little, still a shy newbie. This year, I balanced the workshops with both pitching, networking, and socializing. Even more, I had fun hanging out with friends, making new friends, and visiting the Georgia Aquarium a few blocks away from where we stayed at the Peachtree Center’s Marriott Marquis.
But very much like my friend, Patty Blount, discovered and shared quite eloquently in her recent blog post for our local writing chapter, I found RWA’s national conference to be much more than all of these wonderful things. Nationals is a place where people of common interests and big dreams come together to support each other and be inspired. We writers all suffer at times from the Doubt Monster. We all go through periods where we believe our writing sucks, that our aspirations are unrealistic, and we wonder if we shouldn’t just quit.
RWA13 reinforced my desire to make my passion a career. To keep working until I succeed. To know I’m not alone. And that I can always, always turn to my RWA colleagues for guidance and a shoulder to lean on.
For those of you who didn’t have the opportunity to attend this year’s conference, and perhaps as a refresher for those of you who did, here are ten of the most memorable bits of advice I took away with me about writing from some of the greatest in the romance writing profession:
1. Writing is a process of controlled chaos.
2. Your goal is to complete one book every nine months. Don’t lollygag.
3. Write through the fear.
4. Be disciplined.
5. Query the NY publishers while building your writer platform. If they don’t buy your story, self-publish, but only after you’ve written and edited a very clean, polished book.
6. If agents or editors like your writing but not your book, focus on creating emotional depth of characters, pacing, and a compelling plot.
7. Regarding plot, be outrageous. Readers don’t read fiction to escape to real life.
8. Outrageous plots must be tied to well-motivated reasons to allow your reader to suspend disbelief.
9. Don’t undervalue yourself or your work.
10. Determine how many pages you can complete in a day, make a reasonable goal each week, and be responsible for achieving that goal, no matter what.
And here’s a bonus, the quote I scribbled on a sticky note and placed on my laptop, courtesy of the inimitable Cherry Adair: Finish the damn book!
What are your favorite quotes from RWA13 or about writing that guide or inspire you?
Forgive the me, me, me format of this final post of 2012 as I reflect on the year. I wish you and yours a healthy, happy, prosperous New Year, and I look forward to entertaining you with this blog of mini-escapes (and occasional venting) and getting to know each of you more through our conversations in 2013. May it be a year of good luck for each of us!
My Top Three Gifts this Christmas:
A heartfelt sentiment from my husband on Christmas morning, a gift of his undying love. I cried.
A wallet from my son, who knows how disorganized I can be with pesky things like cash and credit cards. Even better was learning he “bought” the wallet with points earned at his school for excellent behavior. He could have purchased something for himself, but he didn’t. Yes, I cried.
A red wine glass from my sister-in-law and niece etched with my name. I didn’t cry, but I really appreciated it, and made quick use of it. I needed to test it, right?
My Top Three Quotes for Margarita Moments:
1. The finest amusements are the most pointless ones.
2. I would not exchange my leisure hours for all the wealth in the world.
3. The happiest people are those who decide to use leisure as a means of mental development, who love good music, good books, good pictures, good company, and good conversation. They are not only happy themselves, they are the cause of happiness in others.
I’m proud of these little pieces of writing, but what made them successful was your participation through your views, likes, and comments. Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to visit Margarita Moments each week.
My Three Life (Writing) Lessons:
1. Follow your passion. If you aren’t passionate about writing the story, your readers won’t be passionate about reading it. The caveat to this lesson–write from your soul, not from a marketing standpoint or what you think others expect you to write.
2. Be consistent. I’m good about this one as a parent and at my day job, but when life became overwhelming in other areas this past fall I didn’t post blogs consistently. I may have lost some readers because of this and that makes me sad, for a writer’s joy is sharing her world with others. For 2013, I promise to post on Mondays without fail, even if only to submit an apology or announce a change of plans.
3. Don’t give up, unless it’s to do something you feel even more strongly about. This was a difficult lesson to learn. I’m very loyal. However, I wasted spent almost six months toughing it through a story that wasn’t panning out the way I’d expected. I began to lose interest in writing each night. Thankfully, I let go of that story (for now) and this year is ending on a high note as I complete a romantic suspense.
Please share your “My Top Three _____ for 2012” with us!
In America, we celebrate ourmany freedoms on Independence Day, the Fourth of July. Writers are especially grateful for the freedom of speech. Here are a few of my favorite quotes (courtesy of quotegarden.com) about the significance of this holiday:
You have to love a nation that celebrates its independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism. ~Erma Bombeck
For what avail the plough or sail, or land or life, if freedom fail? ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Liberty is the breath of life to nations. ~George Bernard Shaw
Do you notice the older we get, the more sentimental we can become? Perhaps I showed my age last year with this nostalgic Fourth of July post about my childhood in the Adirondacks.
On the music front, Billy Ray Cyrus may be better known as the Achy Breaky Heart singer, but he also performs this beautiful tribute to American soldiers–past and present.
Still here? I’ve gotta go. Time to make the margaritas and set up the appetizers. Enjoy your picnic, swim, and fireworks!