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Facts on Lyme’s Disease

March 6, 2010

I had a really informative session with my infectious disease specialist yesterday and I wanted to write everything down before I forgot it all. If you know of someone who has suffered from Lyme’s, please pass this blog post on to them because I learned some things that I have so far not read anywhere else.

1) Lyme’s is a bacteria, which is common knowledge, but it is unique in that this bacteria cannot be cultured easily.  In comparison the Strep bacteria when taken from a throat culture will grow overnight in a petri dish quite easily. Lyme’s will not thrive outside of the host, which makes developing a cure incredibly challenging.

2) I found out in my research, when I was first diagnosed, that there was an approved vaccine used a while back that was pulled from the shelves.  Interestingly enough, there is a Lyme’s vaccine for dogs used right now, but not one for humans.  The doctor clarified yesterday for me some info on the human vaccine, which was pulled from production when 1 to 2% of the recipients reported Lyme-like symptoms. An important distinction here needs to be made– the vaccine never contained the live bacteria.  These symptom sufferers, when tested, did not test positive for Lyme’s antibodies and did not have the bacteria in their body ever.

3) The Lyme’s tests are very confusing.  The tests actually confirm whether or not your immune system has sent out antibodies to battle the bacteria – not on whether or not you have the bacteria present.  No subsequent blood test helps determine if the bacteria is still in your body.  The only way the doctors know the bacteria is present is to prescribe antibiotics when the symptoms occur and if the symptoms go away then the bacteria is present and alive within you.  The drugs will not work if you have Lyme’s-like symptoms, like the people who received the vaccine, or the unfortunate ones who are labeled with “Chronic Lyme’s”.

4) What did those vaccine recipients get if it wasn’t Lyme’s and what is Chronic Lyme’s?  The risk inherent in any vaccine, that does not use a live bacteria, is not that the person will contract the disease, which is impossible, it is that their immune system will over-react to the vaccine.  In what was an attempt to encourage a body into developing antibodies against a future attack from the bacteria has in essence triggered an adverse response in your auto-immune system and caused it to go over board and attack your body. Which is why I will never be allowed to get another flu shot or TB booster for the rest of my life (not because of Lyme’s, but because my immune system is already “off” with Celiac’s and EE)

Chronic Lyme’s is actually not Lyme’s disease anymore.  It has morphed into a condition that involves the patient’s immune system – and the improperly named “Chronic Lyme’s” confuses the sufferer into thinking more antibiotics will help rectify the problem, when it will not.

5) If a patient gets better on the antibiotics they do not have the above described auto immune response going on, they truly have the bacteria still in their body and they could be battling it for a while.  Constant antibiotics is not the answer, though.  A body needs a break to ensure no damage is done to internal organs and no new horrible possibly permanent conditions develop because of the over-use of antibiotics.

There are lots of opinions on what is the best treatment and your doctor may tell you different info from what I have outlined above.  There is so much conflicting information and so much still to learn, my best advice is to not let one doctor be the sole deciding factor in your treatment.  Learn as much as you can and be your own best advocate.

6) What happens if you have an auto-immune disease already and then get Lyme’s?  That’s the boat I’m in right now.  My latest IV treatment has proven successful in that I no longer am suffering the physical attributes of Lyme’s, which are usually the first ones to show up.  The neurological symptoms that show up later are also the last to leave, so it will be months before I’m back to my old self mentally and even then, there are some people that are permanently damaged mentally and will never be 100% again.

I could unfortunately fall into the category of no longer having the live bacteria in my blood, but into the one that has my immune system fight a triggered over-reactive response to the invader that was in my body.  Only time will tell and I’m optimistic that this last treatment will be the trick.  I plan to start fresh on Monday with exercise and getting back on track with my health and my life.

No matter the outcome if you are a Lyme’s victim that is cured in a treatment or two or struggle with it for years – please know you are never alone.  There are support groups you can find online with a simple search and no matter what, you cannot let this disease beat you.  The power of your own mind and strength of a positive attitude can never be discounted.

To survive and to thrive is a simple decision.  One you must make and never doubt the outcome.  The hand of life you are dealt may not be the one you would choose, but no matter what cards you are holding, the decision on how to play them is always yours.

Wishing any of you out there that suffer from this the best of luck.  You may have a long road ahead of you, but you can do it!  Don’t ever give up.

C.J.

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Signing Update

March 5, 2010

I posted prematurely on Facebook that I was signing with my agent yesterday.  Turns out our nephew, Eric, opted to stay one more day so I changed my epic lunch plans. (If that’s not love, I don’t know what is!)  I’ll now meet with Kristin Lindstrom, of Lindstrom Literary Management, on Monday to sign a contract with her in person. To explain how excited I am would be like trying to explain any high point in your life – the words come out garbled and the meaning is never quite conveyed with any measure of accuracy.

I can tell you I go from one extreme of feeling on top of the world, to the low of feeling like I’m going to be sick from the adrenaline high.

This week has been amazing on so many fronts.  We got to spend some time catching up with Eric – it was our first time seeing him in ages and he just came back from a one year tour in Iraq.  We went out to dinner with my folks last night to celebrate Eric’s safe return home and my news with being offered representation.

We played a board game on Eric’s first night here, and I received further proof that my brain is not anywhere near being back to normal.  I didn’t remember the rules on how to play the game so I read the directions and proceeded to play badly for the next 45 minutes.  My husband and my daughter both made comments like “I never get this many blue cards, you usually do” and “This is the game mom always wins.” And yet, I couldn’t remember anytime I’d won and couldn’t remember if I even liked the game.

I didn’t dwell on it much, just took it with a grain of salt and moved on – what more can you do?  But it prompted Pete to talk to me about it later and we had to address the whole “it will take months to get back neurologically to where I was before Lyme’s hit” issue again.

Moving on… The other highlights to my week were stopping the IV meds on Wednesday and getting the picc line removed today!  Yippee!!  I had naively thought I would be hot-tubbing and taking a long bath tonight.  Those plans will have to be relegated to tomorrow, because I have a pressure dressing on for the first 24 hours to make sure the wound heals properly.

In retrospection, this week seems surreal.  The call from Kristin, the terrific feeling that someone in the know really likes my book, the subsequent pipe dreams that followed the call… It’s so hard not to get my hopes up and yet I really do hope with all my heart that this leads to something.  Getting an agent is the first step.  Getting a good agent can make all the difference in the world.

I did my research. I believe in this woman.  Now, I just have to face the fact that this may be the first BIG step in my new career. I’m excited and terrified all at once.  I know I’m not like the other writers that struggle for a decade to get where I am right now.  Sure, I’ve worked hard, but so have they – who’s to judge who’s deserving in their work?

I know what I really am – Lucky.

To quote Oprah, because I think she said it best “I feel that luck is preparation meeting opportunity.”

I won’t argue that I haven’t prepared.  I know authors that have signed deals without even having a blog ready – and yet here I am with three blogs, a website, Twitter account, Facebook profile and business page, Goodreads account, Library Thing account… and just about anything else I can think of to promote myself.

And yet what I really feel is…

Grateful.

The road ahead will be rough at times.  I have more doctor visits in store and I have to see if my Lyme’s comes back.  But overall, I’m grateful for my life and the people that are in it.

Stay tuned while we see what deals may be in store (hopefully) for V V.  I’ll blog about it and reveal details when I can about upcoming deals (I’m sure there will be time constraints on that).  The future seems blindingly bright and yet scary as well.

I wonder… what will it hold?

Have a great weekend everyone!  I’ll tell you about the lunch meeting on Monday afternoon!

C.J.

I got "The Call"

March 3, 2010

What do you do when an agent who requested your full manuscript calls you a few days before you thought she’d even be finished reading it?  Does your mind go blank for a moment as you stare at the name on the caller I.D. and you seriously wonder if you should pick it up or call her back?  Do all of the carefully crafted questions you have for an agent (in a word doc) leave your head and you flounder for the span of a heartbeat?

Well, that’s what I did.  I let the phone ring in my hand as I pondered what to do for two seconds.  I had just joked on my Facebook page, with another writer friend of mine, that we should print our questions up and have them ready in case we get “the call” soon.

Of course, flying blind, I answered the call.  And proceeded to babble for a bit like a fool.  My sales experience kicked in and I immediately asked about her pets I heard in the background. The enthusiasm I had in talking to a live agent, who obviously liked my work or wouldn’t be calling, spilled over into a lively conversation about her pets, the pets in her neighborhood, her funny/crazy trip with family and my own humorous experiences with somewhat crazy family members.

It was delightful.  I couldn’t have asked for it to start better.  I could have shut up more and not stumbled on my words, but hey, the adrenaline coursing through me made me pace and babble while I was on the phone.  I walked the border of the rug in my library over and over again, like a nervous sheepdog.

I discovered the personality behind the voice on the phone and we made a real connection as people, not as writer and agent.   I had enough sense at some point to stop adding to the side topics and let her direct us back on track.  I wanted her to do it so I didn’t come off wrong (read here: pushy). She said some fantastic things about my book and showed me that she had really read it by revealing her insights and questions.

Somehow, I remembered my good manners, and thanked her, but I can’t be sure how many times.  When she asked me if I had any questions for her, I was like a deer in headlights. Did this mean she’s offering representation?  Was this when I was supposed to ask my carefully researched questions? You know, the ones somewhere in my computer?

Of course, I cut right to the chase, because I’m slightly confused and still not sure what is appropriate. “Does this mean you’re offering representation to me?” leaps from my lips.  Is it obvious?  Am I dumb for asking?

She laughs – not a laugh at me laugh, but a musical “gosh, that was kind of funny” sound, and says something like “Yes, that’s why I’m calling, but you kind of stole my thunder. I was going to ask you.”

I apologize for my gaff, and she verbally waves me off, because it was going to come out anyway and it wasn’t a big deal for her.  I explained I had questions, but wasn’t sure if it was appropriate to ask them if she wasn’t offering…blah blah blah.  I’ve blocked out a lot of my mini-blunder, I think.  But she was gracious and even offered to let me go print up my questions so we could talk them over.

Of course, I had tried to search for the question sheet and only after three tries (while still trying to speak coherently and not give a way that I was unprepared) did I finally find them!  Some of the questions we had already covered, but she thoroughly answered all the others I had and followed it up with a sample contract being emailed to me.

YAY!!

I’m not sure which thrills me more – the offer of someone so skilled and knowledgeable within the industry actually calling me to offer representation, or that she read my work and really seems to get it.

She didn’t try to force it into a category and label it a Romance (or tell me why it wasn’t a Romance and how I could change it to make it so).  She loved my characters and was genuinely interested when asking me about what I’m working on now (and sounded happy when I explained about the four books I have planned so far and I’m already on book two). She felt the story was complex and well layered and… gosh, I wish I could have recorded her.  It all seems to have left my swiss-cheese Lyme’s disease rattled brain right now.

Supriya’s squeals on the phone were as loud as my own – “Oh my god, I want to hear every detail of the entire one hour conversation!”  Which of course, made me only realize I couldn’t recall all of it because I was in such shock throughout most of it.

I was able to talk to the agent about self-publishing and the options that have come my way so far – all of which only pleased her more.  She’s aware that if the book doesn’t sell in a time frame we discussed that I will still self-publish.  So – for all of you wondering – yes – that means I will not be releasing my book this May with my own publishing company.

We talked again later about some items on her contract, and of course Pete had some concerns I’m going to address, but overall it’s a fair and reasonable agreement and I’m looking forward to signing it.

I haven’t done it yet – I still need one last call with the agent and then I will.  I’ll reveal her name after I do – so, stay tuned. I have a feeling this could be it for me. I’m so excited and over the moon about all of this, that just the idea of things coming together has made my head hurt and I feel like I’m going to be sick.

Wow – I’m a sad sap, aren’t I? 😉

Exciting!!

Good News!

February 25, 2010

The day and the week got much better from my last post.  Thank you to all the people who poured out understanding and compassion on Facebook after reading it (and you too, Kerri, on the blogger site!). As you know, I use this blog as a way to share some of myself with my friends and growing reader base, and while I may filter the worst of what goes through my mind, that doesn’t always guarantee what you do see is pretty.

I’m a real person with ups and downs and I’ve had a year that deserved documenting (and of course, it helped my sanity immensely).

On to the good news!

Today I find out if V V will make it in the next round of the HUGE Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest.  Let me clarify that I do not in the slightest way think V V will win. I entered the contest purely with the hopes that my novel would get noticed by someone that could make a difference – be that an agent, a publisher, Amazon’s own new publishing company called Encore, or (most importantly) by readers if they read my excerpt.

The fiction books that have won in the past two years were not fantasies, were not erotic, and sure as hell did not have vampires in them.  So I am a realist, not to worry.  But I also have hope it will advance past the first round or two. From my understanding, 1,000 next round choices will be picked today followed closely by the next round elimination as well.  I’m a little vague on the details, but I’ll pass info on as I receive it.

Is it coincidental that I planned to have my book released right after the winners would be announced in a few months?  No it is not.  I hoped that if the book makes it to the round where Amazon readers get to read my first two chapters as an excerpt, that some of them would have an interest in buying the book. Yes, when I plan, I plan big.

My fellow writer over at Wicked commented recently that once I started to move forward with self-publishing that it would be Murphy’s Law that publishers and agents would come out of the wood work.  While I can’t say that has happened yet, I did get some more good news yesterday.

A friend of mine introduced me via email to a Hollywood producer to discuss the rights to V V for an option to buy. Now don’t get excited – I sent my polite intro email and promised the man I wouldn’t stalk him ’til he read my work, so now it’s time to patiently wait.  There is a thread on my website forum (under the V V topic) and on the discussion tab on the Facebook Fan Page about who would play the role of such and such and it was fun to dream when we first started talking about it.

Do I honestly think it could happen?  Well, my answer to that is, not yet.  I don’t think anyone in Hollywood would sit up and take interest before a book is released.  I think maybe after it comes out and sells well would be the time they’d pay attention.  But what I know about the film industry could fill a one page article in a community newsletter, so I’m certainly far from an expert!

In addition, I got another request for my full MS from an agent yesterday.  This is particularly exciting because the agent is classified as a boutique agency.  Meaning she has a limited number of clients that she works closely with – not a large agency where your career and your book get lost among all the others. I would prefer to go with an agency like this, but whether or not they offer representation to me is something I’ll have to wait and see.

I’ve actually lost count with how many publishers have my full MS and how many agents have it. Yes, I kept all the emails, so I could check.  But what’s the point?  Most of them are all extremely busy and if I harass them with emails on the status that will not change how they ultimately feel about my book – but it may annoy the heck out of them and make them think I’d be a pain in the ass to represent.

So here I sit.

The woman who clearly thinks she is the master of her own destiny… waiting.

Wondering if a bunch of strangers think they can sell my work.  The woman who reached the position of regional sales manager covering two states and D.C. at the age of 25.  The youngest person the nationwide company had in the position.  Wowing the big guys and selling my heart out.  The same person who often jokes with friends – “Give me time and I could sell ice to Eskimos.”

I sit and wait to see if people, who can’t sell like I can, tell me if my book is salable. People who have not bothered to reach out to READERS like I have.  People who go with industry labels to categorize your book–and are afraid to step outside the box in a time when changes are occurring almost daily to set the existing business models in publishing on their collective ears!

Supriya is convinced I should eventually write a non-fiction book detailing my exact path to publication and advising others on how to succeed. She’s encouraged me to teach a writing class at a local college. She has told me that in a short time I have exceeded her own knowledge and have now become the teacher and she the pupil. Do I pay her to say such nice things? No. She’s just a really sweet person who thinks way more highly of me than I do of myself.

The knowledge and experience I’ve gained this year have been through hard work and research. There is no magic formula to success — it’s perseverance, belief in your work, and a drive to never give up. I’m hoping to do what a lot of other dreamers have done – and with your help I know I will get there. The real question is when.

Thanks again for listening and for being here for me.  Every comment and email I treasure.  Writing, by nature, is solitary and you all make me feel like I’m not alone while I move forward on the scariest of paths – publication.

Cheers,
C.J.

Lyme’s Disease Sucks

February 23, 2010

I am so ready for this freakin illness to pass.  I sit here at the computer with tears in my eyes and an emotional wreck.  I just read the heartbreaking story of the Canadian ice skater whose mother died right after her arrival to watch her daughter skate in the Olympics.  Just heartbreaking!

And how did I start my day with my daughter?  Yelling at her. TV shouldn’t be on before school (the kids have been getting up on their own early and sneaking down to watch it before school, a practice started with the extra week+ off from school with the back-to-back blizzards).  She should have packed her backpack and emptied her lunch bag – yesterday!  She should have not left her crap all over the floor so her brother wouldn’t trip on it all and smash his knee. She should not shove her dirty clothes from Sunday in a corner of the hallway behind an antique chair and think it’s OK. She should have handed her signed report card back in and trusted me (“But mom, the envelope’s empty!” “No it is not, it has the signed slip in there just like the directions told me to do!!”).  She should have her karate equipment bag and uniform ready – weren’t theses all things she told me she did last night? She should have shut her bedroom door because of the gerbil cage (the cat is looking to kill the last one, a fact she is well aware of and refuses to give the gerbil to a safer home).

I feel like some days there is no getting through to her.  I know she’s testing me.  I know this too shall pass.  I know I’m emotional and angry because of the Lyme’s (because it’s too early for PMS ;-).  I know my memory is shot and my brain is spotty – but that doesn’t make it any easier. I’m quick to anger, quick to yell and my patience is non-existent.

Who is this monster that yelled at her kids from almost the second she got up until the second they went out the door – barely catching the school bus in time because apparently toothbrushing time is time to make fart noises, chat, make funny faces in the mirror, spit with exaggerated noises and generally drive mom fucking crazy.

Pete is on a business trip, and while that is not an odd occurrence and this trip is short, he is the buffer between me and the kids when I’m on edge like this.

Ahh…here come the tears again… that poor skater.  Worked her whole life with her mother by her side cheering her on – to lose her from a massive heart attack two days before she is to compete in the Olympics.

I hate being sick.  I hate being weak.  I hate how what I can’t see can effect my day to day life in such a devastating way. The tubes in my arm suck and I miss my baths.  I shower twice a week now due to the ordeal of wrapping my arm in plastic and worrying about exposing the dressing to water and it sucks.

Where will my relationship with my daughter be in a few years? Will she be a teenager and hate me? The kids talk about me like I’m some mean monster who makes them do things they hate and yet as a parent my job is to teach them the skills they need to become a responsible adult who can contribute to society – not be their buddy.  We’ll be their buddies when they are 24 and living on their own, right?

I want to hug my daughter now and say I’m sorry.  I tapped her on the check to today – I can’t say smacked because that is not what I did.  I didn’t leave a mark and I didn’t do it hard.  It was calm and deliberate.  I held her face in both my hands and then pulled one back and gave her a light tap on the cheek. I even told her I was going to do it.  I told her she had to snap out of the world she’s in and start to be aware – to think  – to act responsibly – to act her age.

She, of course, burst in to tears and said I hit her. I calmly explained that if I had hit her she’d be on the floor and that a hit usually leaves a mark behind. I explained that I did it to get through to her – to embarrass her – and then I talked to her about how I hate the fact that yelling and humiliation seems to be the only things that get through to her.  I made an impression all right.  But was it the right one?

I’m not one of those parents that thinks a child should never be spanked – and there is a hug difference between spanking and hitting and if you don’t know that then YOU need serious help.  But at age 9, my daughter hasn’t been spanked in years. Spanking in our house was brought on by deliberate acts to hurt someone else (meaning when at age five she put both legs together and donkey kicked her three-year-old brother in the stomach and launched him across the room in front of me because he was bothering her) or when they do something that could potential be life-threatening to themselves (like when they are three and run into the road – they may not understand the fear of cars, but they will understand the fear of spanking for doing it).

So here I am… sitting in front of the computer.  Off to a crappy start to a crappy day.  I’m going to log off and get done all the things I’ve been putting off.  Try to get my head on straight and shake this fog of anger and tears associated with the Lyme’s. The doctor told me it would be months before I was back to normal and that’s IF the meds work this time. I’ve got ten more days of the IV drip and while I would have said last week I was doing great, it’s pretty apparent today that’s not the deal.

I am such a controlled and rational person that I can’t stand what this freaking disease is doing to me. My behavior has spiraled out of control and I need to give myself a timeout. I’m going to step back from the computer for a few days.  I’m never down and I’m never out.  This is just a set back and I’ll bounce back.  I need to get my priorities straight and reconnect with my kids.

Oh – and if you read this – try not to judge me too harshly.  Walk a mile in my three-diseases-in one-year shoes and then we’ll talk.

Let’s all cheer on that skater from Canada tonight.  While I have a chance to fix things with my kids and get my life firmly back on track, that young woman will forever have her dream of the olympics tainted by the loss of her mother.  She’s a brave and strong young woman and competing is exactly what her mother would have wanted her to do.

Off to dry my eyes and give my self the kick in the pants I need.  Lyme’s disease will not defeat me and it will not destroy my family.  Messed up autoimmune system that seems to be buckling under some stupid tick bacteria aside, I simply will not allow it.

C.J.

Moving Forward to Self-Publish

February 15, 2010

Yesterday Pete and I made a simple decision.  Both of us have been in sales and marketing now for a combination of 25 years. What can a small press do for me that I can’t do on my own? Nothing that I can see so far.

The only press that can do more for me than I can would be a New York based one and so far I haven’t had much luck attracting an agent to get one to read my work. For the next few months I’m going to continue forward with a plan to self-publish.  I’m also going to send my full MS to the editors that requested it last JULY – in the hopes they can get to it in a few months.  But, I’m not pinning my hopes and dreams on it anymore like I did with the Dorchester contest.

I’ve proven I have a reader base and interest in the story, so now I’ve got to put my money where my mouth is and take a risk.  Pretty much everything I could possibly make on the first 4,000 books sold will go into advertising and promotion – but spread out over six months or so we should be able to absorb the loss.

Yes, I do realize in a perfect world that money flows to the author and not away.  But I’ve had to spend money to make money in the past, so I’m not particularly worried about it in the big picture.

This week I need to get my butt off the computer and do some serious planning.  First mail Facebook edition books out, next mail books out to reviewers with an actual release date stated in the cover letter.  Paint the murphy bed Pete built over the winter break  – I’ll post pictures to show you the before, during and after shots. Go to lunch with my buddy Wendy, who does public relations professionally, and pick her brain. And map out a detailed marketing plan. All with two doctor visits, a home nurse visit, daily antibiotic IV drips and what looks like more snow in the forecast (save me from more days off school – please!!).

Not to mention re-read and edit V V again.  Any of you out there that bought hard copies of the manuscript and have spotted errors – please email them to me.  I want to make this book shine to the best of my abilities, and since those are pretty meager in the proof-reading area, I would LOVE your help.

You guys have told me from the beginning I should publish it now, so here I am, listening.  I’m not going to be able to do it all on my own and will take any help you’re willing to give.  I’d love to prove all those nay-sayers wrong.  I always root for the underdog in real life and usually have been one myself throughout the years.

So here’s to hoping I can bring home a win for the little guy – the ones who have a dream and want to pursue it.  The ones afraid to take the biggest step in their lives because the odds seems so high against them. To quote my husband last night “What’s the big deal?  The worst that can happen is you fail and don’t sell many books.  You won’t know if you don’t try.”

Raise your cyber glasses with me in a toast ~ Cheers! May this new venture prove successful and I make you all proud ~

C.J.

A Year in Reflection

February 12, 2010

Yes, I’m doing a reflection in February.  “Why?” you may ask.  Because this week marks exactly one year since I typed “Chapter One” on Vampire Vacation.

What has that year held for me?  I’m not going to count the doctor visits, the procedures done to me, or the amount of drugs they’ve pumped through my system – it’s too depressing and best left un-counted at the end of the year.

So I’ll focus on the other stuff – the WRITING part of my year.

– I’ve polished, to the best of my abilities, a 90,000-word Erotic Urban Fantasy manuscript.

– I’ve started three blogs, and kept them all going

– Launched a business page on Facebook and attracted over 1400 readers

– Designed and launched my very own website (the entire month of October was focused on that one task, not fun)

– Opened two Second Life accounts, one for my pen name and one for the MC of my book (and yes, I’m still learning how to use it)

– Joined two writing guilds (Romance Writers of America and Sisters In Crime) and four sub-chapters of those guilds (Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal, Passionate Ink, Kiss of Death and Guppies)

– Left one sub-chapter over a stupid disagreement. Maybe I was stressed that day, I don’t know, moving on…

– Had my opening chapters of Vampire Vacation read by over 3,000 people who were willing to share their opinions with me (and thankfully only about 3-5% telling me:”I don’t like it”)

– Entered seven writing contests — four of which V V made finalist or runner up.

– Joined two online critiquing sites and posted V V there (Writing.com and Critique Circle)

– Formed one and joined two critique groups — which later fell apart or I left, but I did learn a lot

– Finally convinced an incredibly talented writer, editor and journalist to be my main writing partner (Supriya) and I’ll be forever grateful to her. She has taught me so much and yet still doesn’t believe me when I tell her (yeah, like I woke up one day in my 38th year of life knowing all this writing crap?)

– Started two beta reading groups – one with writers and one with readers – both totaling 280+ members to focus on Vampire Vacation and give me detailed feedback.

– Posted my work at Author’s Den, Authonomy, Scribd, Textnovel, Vamplit and I’m sure a few more I’ve forgotten

– Opened accounts at Goodreads (for better or for worse 😉 and Library Thing

– Attempted National Novel Writing Month in November and wrote 20k words of my sequel to V V titled The Hunt, before I had to drop out to finish polishing V V for the Dorchester contest.

– Printed at Lulu, and sold for the cost of printing, copies of my manuscript to some of the beta readers on FB. Still amazed they wanted to read it a second (or more) time(s)!

– Have sent out at least four dozen queries to agents and small presses – most all of which I’ve heard back on, and yes, they were all ultimately rejections, even the ones that asked to see my work.

– Attended two online workshops for writing

– Attended my first and last RWA National convention – why last?  Because one thing the rejections have taught me this year is my book is not a Romance and I need to accept that and move on.

– Sent my manuscript to at least two dozen blogging book reviewers, most of which I haven’t heard from, but I’m not going to dwell on what that might mean 😉

It’s been a busy year to say the least!  I bet I’ve left some stuff out too, you know, the petty time consuming stuff that you have to get done BEFORE you can finish one of the tasks listed above.

I’ve met more people sitting on my ass in front of a computer this past year then the previous four years combined.  I’ve met people with compassion, sincerity, and honesty as well as cyber bullies, mean-spirited critiquers, judges in contests having a bad day, and a random few that are watching me hoping I fall on my face and fail.

To those last ones I say – what have you done this year?  Or wait – what did you do in that FIRST year from when you decided I want to write a book and typed those famous words “Chapter One?”

To the others – the ones that are watching who want to see me sell this book, well… I’m not going to say thank you again.  You all know how I feel about you because I’m pretty liberal with my gratitude.  But what are your dreams?  If you don’t desire to write, is it something else?  What’s stopping you from giving it a shot?

If the worst that can happen to you is you fail then go for it.  Your failures in life define who you are, and what you do after that failure determines where you will ultimately go in life. If someone points and laughs at you when you fall down then inside you should be thankful – they were mean, nasty son-of-a-bitches for doing so and at least you know now so you can cut them out of your life.

Life’s too short to waste it on “what if’s” and suffering through the pettiness of jackasses. Look forward and don’t look back. You’ll be a better person for it and one day you will succeed.  Don’t ever doubt it.

C.J.