Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"There is no other way of writing a novel than to begin at the beginning and to continue to the end." - C.S. Forester

If you would've told me three years ago I'd sell my first novel before I turned thirty, I'd have called you a liar.

A little over two years ago, I started to write fanfiction. No, I won't tell you what characters it was based around, but I will tell you it was horrible. Like AWFUL. I'll never forget this one "comment" I received from a reader. It crushed me, to the point my writing career almost came to a grinding halt before I could ever get into fourth gear.

Because I'd never been to college, I felt embarassed of my writing. I mean, I truly believed I couldn't write a book unless I'd at least obtained my Associates Degree. Add to it I write romance, albeit sweet romance, but romance none-the-less...I hung my head at the thought of anyone unearthing my secret. So, when Josh found out what I'd been up to, I was mortified. There the chips lay of my emotional stability, displayed on the table for Josh to see.

But to my surprise, Josh only encouraged me to keep writing, and to find a group I could join. By having his blessing, my confidence began to grow. Though my stuff was nowhere near the caliber it needed to be for him to read it, the fact he supported me was, not to sound corney, but the wind beneath my wings. He helped guide me on my first flight into the wonderful world of writing. Two nights later I discovered a national organization called the Romance Writers of America, and the local chapter was only a city away.

So, the following week, I packed my computer and headed into the unknown. I had no idea what to expect and could only hope that the women and men attendees would welcome me with open arms. I hadn't even gotten a chance to set down my bags before Christine, a sweet woman, introduced herself to me. It felt great, to not have been there five minutes and to have made a friend. I got so much out of the lecture that day. When I left, I felt energized to write. Most importantly, I left with a belief that "I can do this".

My drive started out with the desire to finish a book. Halfway through the novel, it changed to wanting to show my children you can do anything you put your mind to. Towards the end, it evolved into "I can make a living at this".

The following month I went to the RWA meeting and met my now good friend, Erin. Between her pushing me in my writing, and RWA challenging me to think outside of the box, the next year was spent in growing my craft. This year promised new and exciting things on the horizon. I felt the book I'd started the previous July would be "the one". Little did I know that, by the end of the year, how true my premonition would be.

Now here I sit, on the eve (so to speak) of having my first book published, and in the beginning stages of planning my next one. It's been a crazy two years and I'm thankful for my journey along the way. There has been some amazing women in my life who have helped me grow in ways I couldn't have without them. Erin and Laura are two of the many of those wonderful women.

Thank you to my husband, my friends, and everybody who has been a continuous support to me. Without you, I'd still be saying "One day I'll write a book."


Erin Pryor

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

"Gratitude consists of being more aware of what you have, than what you don’t." –Unknown

Thanksgiving. It's that time of year where people pull out the special dishes and dust off unused pots. Mother's are busy preparing for a last minute grocery shopping trip while father's look forward to the Thanksgiving Day Game. And, if you are a purist, it marks the beginning of the Christmas season (no matter that stores have put up decorations since the day after Halloween).

Yet, I think through the business of the season, and the hecticness of preparing for that family meal, we loose sight of what it truly means to be grateful.

Thanksgiving is more than just a highly caloric meal with a bunch of relatives you only see once, maybe twice, a year. It is a day that we set aside to be thankful for the blessings in our life, no matter how small.

As I look back at what the past year has brought to me, I'm thankful the the Lord and His perfect timing and direction. If you would've told me a year ago that:

1. We'd be moving back to Huntington Beach
2. I'd get a job across the street from where I live
3. I'd become a published author (or a contract to be)
4. Our daughter would loose 6 teeth
5. Our son would become more articulate
6. Fall in love with my husband all over again, for the countless time, celebrating our 11 year anniversary

I wouldn't have believed you. So much has happened I cannot keep track of it all. And if I only focus on the negatives, there would be no possitives in my life. I'm grateful for what the Lord has bestoed upon me and my family this year. By moving to Huntington Beach, both my husband and I have gained anywhere between an hour to two hours a day with our kids, and with each other.

I think my most favorite part of this year has been our special date nights. Josh and I have found this sushi place that we love, Kabuki. It is at Bella Terra in Huntington Beach. We'll go there, order sushi, and hang out for a couple of hours, just talking. There are many things we discuss and these are the times that are carved out just for the two of us. We always end it with a movie we've been wanting to see. We've made it a habit to have this time about once a month, and it never gets old. To sit across the table from my love, talking about different things, is always the best moment of my month.

Now, that's not to say I don't love my kids and spending time with them, it is just that my time with Josh is precious. I won't be married to my children for the rest of my life, therefore I need to nurture what I have with him.

The last couple years have been difficult familial wise. My family started to fall apart several years back when one of my cousins announced they were getting a divorce. Since then, four more family units in my extended family have gotten a divorce. So, now more than ever, I appreciate the love I share with my husband and our children. It breaks my heart to see the teenagers involved in these separations, and the wedge unresolved differences places between people.

By stripping back, Josh and I have created so much more room for both each other, and the kids. Our family, as an overal, is much happier. I believe that if we put each other first, that the pressures this world puts on us could be swept under the rug.

We have not anything if we have not love.

So, what are you thankful for?


Erin Pryor

Friday, November 18, 2011

"Sexiness wears thin after a while and beauty fades, but to be married to a man who makes you laugh every day, now that's a real treat." J. Woodward

I've always joked: If I hadn't married my husband, I would've died from a case of being too serious before I turned thirty. Now, I've swung in such the opposite direction that, if you don't know me, my sense of humor can totally rub someone the wrong way. It's a product of my newly found sacasm, courtesy of my husband, coupled with my dry sense of humor. Not a good combination.

I only have my husband to blame. I can honestly say if I didn't have him in my life, I'd probably be the most boring person out there. Not only is he the love of my life, but he's saved me from myself, lol.

Anybody who knows Josh typically only sees him at face value: a very funny, goofy thirty-three year old. My life will never be dull or boring with him by my side. Yet, he is so much more than a good chuckle on a bad day. Sure, he makes me laugh, a lot. But he is more than the comedian everybody has made him out to be. Behind that facade is an amazingly bright man who could do anything he wanted if only given the opportunity.

We've now been married for eleven years and two months. We're so much a like, and different in many ways. And though he brings me great joy, there has been no year like this past year that shows just how much he loves me.

The beginning of the year started out with me having major surgery. I hadn't had a chance to really recover from that before I found out I have some other things wrong with me that changed the course of my life forever. Now, I'm not telling you this to feel any sort of sympathy for me, as indeed that is not the case.

But as I reflect back, it is Josh and his ability to make me laugh at even the most horrible of circumstances that helped me get through it all. God has granted me with such an amazing partner, someone suited perfectly to what I NEED. The fact that he's dealt with all my shortcomings by showing unconditional love only shows what an amazing man he is.

When I read Ms. Woodward's quote, I felt it held lots of truth. If you are married, you know what I mean. How many times has your partner made you laugh, or bring a smile to your face? Too many times to count, I'm sure. And if you're not married, make sure when you tie the knot, you do it with someone that, no matter your age or stage of life, will always put a smile on your face and laughter in your belly.

Nothing cures an aching heart like a good laugh.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Back to the Heart of Writing

As life passes by, one cannot help but think on where the time has gone. Having children only makes things worse because they are living proof of that elusive thing called time.

It’s hard to believe it has been over a year since I last wrote an entry on my blog. Life got in the way, which I should’ve never let it. As much as I want to do a topical blog, I think it is important to share what’s been happening in my life.

Where to begin. A week after my last entry, I put the kids in the car and started off towards Disneyland. One mile from the theme park, I was in an accident that totaled my car. It sucked. Three months later was my 10 year anniversary with my lovely husband, Josh. A month after that, I started a new job. I work in the mortgage industry, and those of you who are familiar with it, no further explanation is needed on how time seemed to fly by.

Six months later, after much talk, my husband and I decided to move from our home in Yorba Linda back to where I grew up, in Huntington Beach. With gas prices as much as they are, we were spending enough to make two car payments. Of course, the change wasn’t my top choice. I loved Yorba Linda, but I also loved the idea of being close to his work. Now, I couldn’t be happier about our move as it has freed up time we would’ve spent commuting.

This past June, the day after we moved, some things happened to me personally that altered my life forever. Without getting in to the details, the good news is that alteration has done wonders and changed me for the better.

Since then, I’ve written a lot, got a job across the street from my house, and lost 40 lbs. As a family, we’ve tried to strip back and only do those things important to us as a unit. Of course, this includes time away for mommy and daddy. I love our children dearly, but eventually they will grow up. If I spend all of my time only caring for them, I’ll have let my dream of being a writer slip through my fingers and wake up bored and confused fifteen years from now when I’m an empty nester.

I encourage all you parents out there: Take time for both yourself AND your marriage. We love our children, and in order to be the best parents we can be, we need that time to fill our own tanks before we can give more. Remember: You’re not married to your children, but to your spouse. When the kids are gone and in college, what will you do with that time? It is better to make your spouse your best friend, and keep it that way. Your children will notice the love you share and use it as a model for their own future relationships.

My husband makes sure that I get two writing nights a week, and we get a date night every two weeks (not including those times we sit to watch a movie together at night, or talk over coffee). The other time is spent with the kids and doing family stuff, when we are not working of course.

A month ago, my husband let me go to a full weekend getaway. My local chapter of the RWA (Romance Writers of America) hosted a conference at a hotel. We had lots of fun those two nights and I got a lot out of it. I even won one critique and a plotting lunch with a well known author, talk about cool. While I was there, a publisher happened to be sitting next to me. We began to talk about my current work in progress and she kept telling me “tell me more”. So, I proceeded to give my first ever pitch to an editor/publisher. In the end, she asked me to send her a partial of my work.

I fully planned on going home that Sunday and working on my submission. But, I began to feel under the weather that night. Two days later, I took a turn for the worse. Again, I work in the mortgage industry, so you don’t call in sick unless you are dead. So, I grinned took it like a champ until I couldn’t last any longer. On Saturday, I drove myself to the walk-in. A short time and a chest x-ray later, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. Unfortunately, I hadn’t the energy to work on my submission.

I began to feel better a few days later and was up to the task of reviewing my submission. I didn’t spend much time on it, and sent it in. I felt embarrassed for waiting so long to send the submission to begin with. I mean, come on. How many times have people given excuses why something wasn’t in on time? I hate to be that kind of a person.

So off it went, and I waited.

Two and a half weeks later (yesterday), I received the following email from their “Submissions Specialist”:

Hi Erin,

I’ve heard back from our acquisition editor and based on her recommendation, we would like to offer you a contract for Pillars In Time.

If you are still interested in contracting your story with us, let me know and I’ll send you the paperwork to get started.


I about fell out of my chair at work when I read this email. I had to re-read it at least half a dozen times to make sure I read it correctly. I screamed “I’m going to be published!!” inside my head over and over. Everything I’ve gone through has been worth it.

I’ve taken a lot of criticism over the past 2.5 years, refusing to turn anybody and their opinions down because I knew if I paid attention to most of it, I’d grow as a writer. Heck, I look back at what I’ve written at the beginning of my journey and cannot believe where I started and where I am now. Even still, I believe I have a long way to go until I’ve “arrived”.

All of us writers strive to write once, then done. No editing, no problem. Yeah, I’ve a ways to go until that happens. But hey, what’s a goal if it isn’t at least achievable?

So, now that I’m back in the saddle and I like how comfortable it is here. The scenery is breathtaking and peaceful. I look forward to where this ride will take me and the pit-stops along the way.

Bottom line: Never give up on your passion. You are who you are for a reason. We each have unique gifts, given to us by the One who created us. Open up and let your gift blossom. The fruits of your labors will be even more bright and tasty than you could’ve ever imagined.