Today was a one of those rare, perfect days. Temperature in the mid-60’s, warm sunshine and a few puffy white clouds to find shapes in. I spent the day weeding and planting – 3 1/2 flats of annuals and my tomato plants. My hands are dry, my fingernails are dark with crusted dirt, my shoulders ache – and it all feels wonderful. There’s something about digging in the earth and planting that is very special.
And now, satisfied with my work, I am sitting outside by a fire. I have 100 pages to read before bed tonight. Not a bad setting to do it. I hope everyone has as perfect a day as I had.
It’s fashionable these days to be vocally in support of some cause, whether it’s is directed at slavery, animal abuse, hunger, education, the arts, disability awareness, or access to medical care. All you need do is log on to Facebook and find a host of opinions about what should or should not be done.
Rarely is the work of nonprofits mentioned in these “conversations,” but it should be the first thought in your mind. In Ohio, nonprofits make up nearly 10% of the workforce, pay 9% of the total wages, and generate 13.8% of the gross domestic product. Yet despite this proven efficiency and effectiveness, by percentage of income, Ohioans contribute less to nonprofits than their fellow Americans. We can all do better.
I’m honored to be the chair of the board of directors of the Ohio Association of Nonprofit Organizations. This week – May 11 – 17th – is Ohio Nonprofit Appreciation Week, so I challenge you to give a hug to the nonprofit of your choosing. Thank them for their hard work and dedication. Better yet – volunteer or donate. Then tell your friends on Facebook. Be more than just another post.
We each can make the world a better place – thanks to nonprofits.
Being an author is a rough business. You pour your heart and soul into a work, then send it into the world to be critiqued by others. I’ve been very fortunate that most of the reviews of my novels have been quite positive. But I am also blessed to have been raised with a sense of humor to deal with the ones that make no sense.
In one of the recent reviews of Foreseen, the reader said the story fell apart and she stopped reading 2/3 of the way through were it devolved into a gratuitous sex scene. It would be a fair comment, except (spoiler alert!) there is no sex scene in Foreseen. Not sure what book the reader was reviewing, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t mine. I’ve seen authors make themselves crazy over such misguided reviews – posting replies to the reader or demanding Amazon remove the review because it is wrong. But I’m glad I’m able to see the humor in it and laugh it off. If I couldn’t, I’d probably have to stop reading the reviews altogether. And the fact is, I LOVE reading most of the reviews. They keep me going.
And so, tonight I am grateful that my parents instilled in me a sense of humor.
Over the course of my life, I’ve encountered negative people who tell me I can’t. I’ve been told I can’t be good at math because I’m not a guy. I’ve been told I can’t date anyone because I’m mixed race. I’ve been told I can’t be a good attorney because I smile and am good-natured. And I’ve been told I can’t be a successful author writing cross-genre books.
While it’s easy to say no one should ever be put down with such baseless negativity, for me, there was an upside. Being told I couldn’t accomplish something caused me to examine my own beliefs and ferret out those that were unnecessarily holding me back. Being told I couldn’t was, in effect, a dare to make me prove them wrong.
And so, my high school calculus teacher said I had the most analytic mind he’d ever taught, I’ve been happily married for 30 years to a guy I dated for three years before that, I’ve been recognized for years in Best Lawyers in America, and not only have both of my published novels received critical praise, but the first one has remained on Amazon’s New Adult Fantasy Bestseller list for three weeks.
So go ahead, tell me I can’t. Let’s see what I can do.
Tonight, I’ve been chatting with my son while proofreading a paper he’s writing. He’s also taken the time to explain to me an idea that I was not familiar with in his paper. It’s been rather pleasant talking and working together. But physically, he’s three hours away from here.
The paper he’s writing is on technical stuff about wireless communications and what might be coming next after we’ve exhausted the available bandwidth of radio waves. I found it interested, but it also made me appreciate the fact that I can sit anywhere with my computer or smart phone and have the entire world of the internet available to me – and pretty reliably available at that. It lets me spend time with my son, ever though he’s not here. What an amazingly wonderful technology that is.
I’m headed to an author appearance over at the Westerville Library this morning. I drag myself out of bed and look in the mirror to see a lifeless, colorless face. This won’t work. People want authors who are cheerful and friendly, and I’m looking very Dawn of the Living Dead.
Thank God for makeup. Makeup saves the day!
Many people surround themselves with those who are substantially similar in race and cultural attitudes. I have never had that option. At the moment, I can’t think of a half-Caucasian, half-Asian person I know other than three I’m related to. Nor do I know of anyone, other than my brother, raised in an amalgamation of midwest, white middle-class and Japanese-American cultures. I’ve never had the option of surrounding myself with people who look like I do, have the same notions of what is polite and what is forbidden, or share my deeply ingrained beliefs about how I, as in an individual, fit into society.
I see people cling to what is familiar and say that people who don’t look, think, or act like them are abnormal, weird, or sometimes even evil. They make no attempt to understand those others – they have no reason to. And I am glad that was never an option available to me. I enjoy the perspectives of others – Scottish, Somalian, Chinese, Croatian, Nigerian, Italian, Vietnamese, Russian, Irish – you name it. Their family customs are rich and, more often than not, have some core values at the heart of them that reinforce my own beliefs or at least allow me to understand them better.
I’m not sure why I thought about this today, but being different – growing up around people who were not like me – has been a blessing for which I am grateful.
I’m not very good at acknowledging my accomplishments. It makes me feel like I’m bragging, so I end up qualifying the accomplishment with some reason it doesn’t mean anything. My friend Theresa says I shouldn’t do that. I know she’s right, but its difficult for me. But tonight, I will do it.
It’s the last day of a month in which nearly 20,500 copies of Foreseen were distributed to new readers. That’s been my dream as a writer – having my novels enjoyed by lots of readers. Now that’s true. Sure, not all of them will like Foreseen, but the reviews that are pouring in have been tremendous. A couple people have even started discussions about the novel on Goodreads.
I exceeded what I set out to do and the readers are responding. I accept the wonder of it without discounting its value. I did a good job and, thanks to thousands of readers out there, my work is being read and enjoyed, just as I always wanted. There is no downside.
Prior to becoming a novelist, pretty much everything I’ve in my life was completed in one stab and was either right or wrong, good or bad. Homework in school was finished in one sitting, turned in, and graded. Test were taken and marked right or wrong. Even as a lawyer,while there may have been some tweaking to the briefs I wrote, they were written efficiently, filed with the court to have the judge decide whether they worked or not.
When I started writing novels, a colleague of mine kept saying that writing was an “iterative” process – meaning you had to back up and do the same thing over and over again in different ways before getting it right. I HATED that word and was sure that wasn’t how it would work for me. If I adequately outlined the story and the plot, then surely, I could write a novel straight through once, polish it, and be done.
For the past three days, I’ve gone back to my outlines of the last two books in the Rothston series and looked at what has written and semi-polished so far, containing the basic ideas and flow but in a way that is richer and has far more depth than the original outline. Steering it back to the outline would do it a disservice. And so I reworked the outlines using what has been written as a starting point. I’m close of being finished with the process, which I will undoubtedly do at least one more time before these two books are declared “finished.” It was the same with the last novel, released in the fall.
It is an iterative process, and now I embrace it. I can see the basic story growing and the intrigue mounting because of it. It is fun, even if it seems like a step back at times. So I’m thankful that I’ve accepted the repetitive, iterative process. It makes for better writing and reading.
“Do you want to take a walk or get ice cream?” he asked.
I shrugged. “I don’t care. Whichever you’d rather do.”
“Well, I don’t care either. What would make you happy?”
“Just being with you makes me happy.”
My husband laughed when I spoke that last line. But, while I said it jokingly, I also meant it. We leave the house almost every evening to do something and doesn’t matter what it is. Our lives have been hectic lately and I really appreciate just spending time together.