Monday, May 24, 2010

Food for Thought...

I'm currently visiting family in Denver and am on a bit of a blog vacation. Subliminal Monday will return next week at its regularly scheduled time. In the meantime, I've been thinking a lot about how we cope with unexpected twists in life...

There are times in life when we're taken by surprise; when we're no longer "in control" and feel we've had the rug pulled out from under us. Times when we thought the road was going one way, and suddenly it takes a sharp turn in the opposite direction. How we deal with those times is a large indicator of our character; those unexpected twists and turns can make or break us.

Do you let fear overwhelm you, or do you face the unforeseen challenges with a brave face?

Do you throw yourself a Pity Party and luxuriate in blaming someone else for your misery, or do you take a long, honest look in the proverbial mirror and become the best version of yourself you can be?

Do you cower in the corner and wait until the uncomfortableness passes, or do you put one foot tentatively in front of the other and move forward?

Do you stuff your feelings or allow yourself to fully experience the sadness of loss?

Do you step over the problem or plow directly through it?

Do you raise the white flag and give up, or do you embrace the unknown as an exciting new chapter in your life?

What about your characters? What do they do when an unexpected bend in the road appears? Do they face their new challenges bravely or lament at the way things "should" be?

Just some Food for Thought to start the new week...

Monday, May 17, 2010

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY: Fighting the Good Fight or Top 10 List for Acquiring an Agent

As a writer, once you secure an elusive, magical, Awesome Agent, you quickly forget about life PA [pre-agent]. I'm committed to inspiring writers at every step along their journeys. Therefore, this post is designed to encourage those of you who are fighting the good fight to keep on fighting it and possibly even [these next two words will confirm your belief that I'm crazy] enjoy it.

So, get on your boxing gloves and cue up the Rocky music!

My Top 10 List for Acquiring an Agent:

1) Writing is easy - NOT! [Unless you're Sarah Palin and have abandoned the governorship with the single goal of bringing in as much bacon, or in her case, moose meat, as possible. In her case, it was sinfully easy.] Writing is not a walk in the park, folks. It takes discipline, creativity, talent, and focus. You will not always be on your game, but do try to play as often as possible. DON'T GIVE UP!

2) Become a better writer - butt in chair. This should be obvious, but it doesn't matter if you're writing you're first novel or are Stephen King, there's ALWAYS room for improvement. [I lied. SK burst from the womb as pure perfection.] And, of course, read. All great writers are voracious readers. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

3) Don't be afraid to step off the ledge into the unknown. Writing - especially a first draft - is an act of faith. Trust in yourself and the process. Believe in your muse. [Remember how you used to believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy? It's like that, only real.] HAVE FAITH!

4) Edit your work to within an inch of its life. Editing is the biggest part of the writing process. Get out your fine tooth comb and make sure you yank out all the knots. [TRUTH: There will always be knots. Your future agent and editor will make sure to point them out!] WRITING IS REWRITING!

5) Get feedback. Once you've got what you think is a viable piece of completed work, let others read it. Listen closely to what they say works and doesn't work, but only make the changes that ring true to you. [If Stephen King is one of your beta readers, you're golden. If Sarah Palin is, you may want to take up hunting moose for a living.] LISTEN TO OTHERS, BUT ALWAYS TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS!

6) Keep writing. Whether it's a blog, a journal, or another project, always keep your writing chops up. As a writer, writing needs to be a natural part of your life - as natural as getting bi-weekly manis and pedis and monthly root colorings. WRITERS WRITE!

7) Build a platform. If you're a non-fiction writer, this is a given. But even for fiction writers, it's good to start developing an audience of people who admire and enjoy your writing. These people may also prove to be some of the first to buy your book and help spread the word. Twitter and a blog are great ways to do this. The writing community on Twitter is extraordinary, and having your own blog is a great way to flex your writing muscle and build an audience at the same time. If you're not sure how to get started on Twitter, just follow me (see cute little blue birdie in sidebar) and follow my lists of agents/pub folks and writers. (Let me know if you have questions.) DON'T BE AFRAID TO STRUT YOUR STUFF!

8) Don't settle. Once you've got what you feel is a shimmering, finished novel, you need to find the perfect person to represent it; i.e., the person who "gets" your writing and adores it. Notice I didn't say, YOU NEED TO FIND ANYONE WITH A PULSE WILLING TO REPRESENT YOU! It's easy to have that attitude, but give yourself more credit. Finding the "right" agent for you is akin to dating. Don't offer marriage to the first hottie that comes along. [Unless it's love at first sight.] BE PICKY! In order to find your Prince or Princess Charming, you need to...

9) Research agents as if your life depended on it. We modern writers are lucky in that we have the best research at our fingertips. Getting to "know" agents on Twitter is one form of research. DO YOUR HOMEWORK!

Here are three of my personal favorite websites:

Publisher's Marketplace : There is a small monthly fee, but it is SO worth it. Most current deals are listed here and you can look up individual agents and see their recent sales, etc. They've also got great articles on all things publishing. It's an invaluable tool.

Agent Query: Simply fabulous. Look up an agent and see what genres they're interested in. You can also sort by genre, which is what I did while researching which agents to query.

QueryTracker: Love this site. Detailed info on agents PLUS comments from writers on things like turnaround times and opinions of the agents. You can also track your queries there and read about inspiring Success Stories. Here's mine.

10) Enjoy yourself! This is the path you've chosen, so embrace it. Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself [and sometimes your writing] and smile a lot. Like most things in life, writing is a choice, and a noble one. Expressing your creativity in the world is a gift not everyone is lucky enough to receive. Be grateful for your talents and the opportunities present in life. IF YOU LOVE WHAT YOU DO, YOU ARE ALREADY SUCCESSFUL!

So, that's it folks. Please let me know where you are along your path, and never forget to keep fighting the good fight! [Cliches rule.]

On a totally different note, my son, Ethan, went to his senior prom with his beautiful girlfriend, Meghan, on Saturday. Here are a few pics including one of me and my "baby."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Beginnings

Ah, where do I start to talk about beginnings? I suppose, at the beginning...

There are many times in life where we have to make a new start. When we begin kindergarten, and then middle school, high-school and then college. We begin anew when we move out into our first apartment, get married, have kids, buy a house. Sometimes a relationship fades and we have to start a new one. Those can be the scariest-yet-most-full-of-possibility moments of all.

And then there are stories. In each of our books there is that daunting Page One. How we tackle or embrace that new beginning depends on so many things; our mood, our enthusiasm for the new project, clarity (or lack thereof!), and a certain faith in the unknown. But always, there is a desire to move ahead - to sew a new tapestry - to create a new world - for ourselves and others.

I usually find myself experiencing a mixture of nervousness, fear, and excitement when I begin a new project. Planting a seed and hoping it will blossom into something beautiful and lasting is an act of faith. Depending on my viewpoint, those blank pages may be a window to emptiness and fear or unimaginable possibility.

What about you? How do you approach new beginnings?

Here is a picture of my newly planted garden. So much beauty, freshness, and potential. A great example of a wonderful New Beginning.

Monday, May 10, 2010

SUBLIMINAL MONDAY: Girls Gone Wild in the Northwest

I just got back from a week in Portland and southern Washington. My Awesome Agent, aka Bernadette Baker-Baughman, spoiled me to no reasonable end [I didn't deserve any of it, but please don't tell her]. I love her with all my heart and soul and feel so blessed to have her in my literary corner and in my life.

Once I got used to being on the Left Coast, I very much enjoyed myself. To say I sampled the vineyards of Oregon would be an understatement [um, yeah,]. I have so many great pics from the trip that I'm going to shut my big, fat trap [Henrietta, there is a God!] and give you a visual tour of Girls Gone Wild in the Northwest.

With the exception of AA, the girls I went wild with I met on Twitter. In other words, this was my first official "Tweet Up." AA already knew two of the very nice, well-behaved gals [out-of-control, uber wild women], but the other three were strictly from Twitter.

The women and our Twitter handles are: me [@dlschubert], AA [@bakersmark], Gretchen Stelter [@editorstet], Kristina Martin [@quickmissive], Cheri Lasota [@StirlingEditor], and Tawna Fenske [@tawnafenske]. Kristina also opened up her beautiful home to me and let me stay with her and her extraordinary family for two nights. Being with each of these amazing people is something I will always treasure. [Okay, you're boring us (again). Pictures, please!!!]

So, without further ado, here are the pics:

Me and AA at the breathtaking Royal Rosarian Garden.

The beautiful Gretchen Stelter:

Gretchen, Bernadette, and me:

Me and Bern at the Tao of Tea - incredible chai tea and delicious Indian food at Oregon's oldest Tea House.

More evidence that this trip was the right thing for me to do at the right time: A double rainbow (look closely) on our way out to Multnomah Falls:

Here we're at The Farm Cafe
1) Me, Bern, Gretchen, Kristina, and Cheri;
2) Cheri, me and Bern.

And, here is me, Tawna, and Kristina at Seasons and Regions where we enjoyed a nice Oregon Pinot Noir:

So, there you have it folks. Girls Gone Wild in the Northwest. It was a beautiful thing. [It really was.]

PS: For the moms reading this, I hope your Mother's Day rocked!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bring on The Funny

Even though my life has been a little rocky lately, laughter - as always - is the best medicine.

Therefore, I'm posting some of my favorite funnies. Hope you laugh at least once while reading them.

(And, no, Brad Pitt and Christina Aguilera aren't funny. Just yummy. And who doesn't like a little yummy with their funny?)

I could have done a whole post with either funny cat pics or Sarah Palin cartoons (she's such an easy target, it's ALMOST unfair.) Instead, I picked one of my favorites from each of these hilarious categories.

I'm in Portland, OR with Awesome Agent and some other brilliant, talented, hilarious women having more fun than is probably legal. I promise to give away at least a couple of the juicy details next week.

Until then, keep it classy, San Diego (and the rest of the world).

Monday, May 3, 2010

In Lieu of SUBLIMINAL MONDAY - Honor Your Word

Heading to Portland, OR to spend time with Awesome Agent, aka Bernadette Baker-Baughman, going over what I hope will be the final revisions on my manuscript. I will also be meeting with some very strong, talented, creative women who I know will help me get through this difficult time.

I promise to return next week with an all-new version of SUBLIMINAL MONDAY complete with Oregon stories and laughs. Until then, my sweet friends and family, stay well and don't forget to hug and appreciate those closest to you. Don't ever take the ones you love for granted, and always remember to honor your word. Be someone others can count on. In the end, how deeply we love each other and how honestly we honor our word is what constitutes our legacy.

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