Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Current listen: I Am Not a Robot courtesy of Marina The Diamonds
(This song should be my theme song, and copies distributed to my family members)

 When I decided to become serious about the burning passion my writing "hobby" created, I turned to those I trusted most, guardedly divulging my dream to write a book. I expected hysterical laughter (even a mild heart attack at my expense), not to mention endless whisperings questioning my sanity, although the issue of my "sanity" has been up for speculation for years. The reaction I received surprised me, to say the least. Nothing but overwhelming encouragement and a barrage of requests to be my "test readers."
However, only a select few, those who I trusted to be honest (to the point of brutal if necessary) and tell me what I needed to hear, not what I wanted to hear, would be chosen as my personal "editors." And so, I began the gruelling, frustrating, and joyful task of writing The Program. Almost a year to the day, several bucket loads of tears (not to mention being laid off from a law firm I'd invested 15 years with during this time) and rounding out my rear end from sitting and consuming chocolate to alleviate my stress levels, I penned the ending to The Program.
The first of many panic attacks ensued, endless hours of editing commenced, and vast amounts of time researching how to get my story from my desk, to the shelves of Barnes and Noble, a labyrinth I'm still working through, took over my life. I can only equate this experience to an "alien abduction," and I've yet to be returned to Earth. As I said in my earlier blog, writing the book was the easy part.
I'd reached a point of surrendering because the task of getting published seemed insurmountable. Then my husband, whom I shall call Damien for tonight's episode (picture hair the color of strong coffee, straight, shiny, and draping loosely over cobalt blue eyes . . . ) repaired the telephone of an enchanting lady living in an artist community across town.
Now, I don't believe in "accidents." I do believe people come into our lives for a purpose, whether its for that moment, or for a lifetime, and I like to think of them as "earth angels." However, this particular lady I've elevated to the status of "fairy godmother."
Her name is Ivy Ruckman. Google her. She's amazing, and a young adult author! (Not to mention one of her books was made into a movie: Night of the Twisters.) Sadly, she's been forced to set writing aside, but she's transitioning from talented writer to gifted painter without stopping for a breath! I am in awe of this woman.
Longer story shortened, in the course of conversation Damien mentioned I was writing a book. She graciously offered to give me pointers in exchange for a cup of coffee. A Jamocha Frappe sealed the deal and opened the door to a friendship I hope lasts many years. After answering my barrage of questions and hearing the embarrassing slurp of the last of my drink, Ivy asked me if I would feel comfortable letting her read and critique my first chapter. Butterflies turned to soaring eagles in my stomach. I paced in front of the mailbox (I sent a return envelope) for three weeks. Finally, a call came with an invitation for coffee at her house. She wanted to meet and discuss my chapter. I threw up.
I will never forget that day. It was raining, and we sat under her covered front porch, eating cookies while she made me read my chapter aloud (an editing tip that snares the obvious mistakes). When we were done, she gathered the papers and said with true sincerety "Joelene, this book will publish and I'm so sure of it, I'm requesting a signed copy of the first edition." She used the word "shocked" as her first impression and said she especially loved the way I wrote dialogue.

I cried the entire thirty minute drive back to my house. Someone who'd been down this path I was stumbling, believed I could do this. If a stranger believed in me, how could I not believe in myself? I resolved right then to jump off the fence and dive in with both feet (I have large feet, so it could be a while before I surface).

Ivy Ruckman became the "wind beneath my wings." Keep in mind, I never said I was "flying," but I'd like to think I've progressed from "fluttering." Of course, more than honorable mention must go to those running around on the ground with safety nets, who have held my hand from the beginning, through to my final edits: Kaye, Karla, and Sascha. I can't begin to express my appreciation.

There you have it. The long sordid beginning to what's brought me to this point. Again, your thoughts (be kind), suggestions, and just stopping by, are welcomed.

Today's thought: Believe in something, and let that something be yourself.

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