My New/Old Day Job

This is the last day of my “day job.” The one I started only five weeks ago.

I’ve had a difficult time convincing anyone that this is the right move. I can understand how it looks from the outside looking in. I get it.

After taking a couple of years off the old eight-to-five, punch-in, punch-out grind, to focus on the writing business, this new, perfect opportunity fell squarely in my lap. It seemed like manna from heaven, and that passing on it would be the ultimate ingratitude. And even though my gut-instinct—or that still, small voice—was not giving me the brilliant green light, it wasn’t giving me a screeching warning either. It was as though the answer was, “It’s not going to hurt to check it out. Go ahead and apply. Go ahead and interview. Everything will be okay.” Not really a feeling of peace, but not one of sheer dread, either.

On the surface, this would seem like the perfect opportunity. A former co-worker contacted me, asking if I was looking for a job. I hadn’t been, but I knew I probably should have been.

After a year of serious pitching, querying, and submitting, I had a growing stack of kind and encouraging rejections on my first completed novel. I knew I hadn’t used my time and potential as well as I could have. I thought that maybe having an externally-imposed structure might improve my writing productivity, because I’d be forced to use my limited writing time with more focus. (Yeah. That didn’t happen.)

At this new place, there were ten people I’d worked with at the “great and spacious building” I left two years before. Joining them seemed like becoming part of a David and Goliath story. It felt like sticking it to the man. It was closure for an open wound. I’d be working in a familiar industry, fighting the good fight for those in need. And I’d be good at it.

Two days into the new job I received an email from an acquisitions editor at a publishing company.

“Hello Tana, I have read your entire book and am going to pitch it to the board.”

It didn’t have the word “love” or even “like” in it, but those things are implied. Editors do not read an entire manuscript if they aren’t in love with it.

That one sentence changed my whole perspective about the new job.

(Long story less long, I signed with them. Much more on that in a different post.)

I believe everything happens for a reason.

The writing thing is still a crap shoot. There’s no guarantee this book or future books are going to sell even one copy, much less become a viable income stream. But having this one success has at least given me an indication I’ve been on the right track. This experience has shown me what I DON’T want to be doing for a living. It’s given me a renewed sense of purpose. It’s reminded me that I MUST treat the writing like the business I’ve always wanted it to be.

Thanks for listening. I need to jump in the shower and get dressed for that last day.

Next week I’m taking my new writing career on a road trip to visit family in Vegas. Because you can do that with a writing career. Writing IS my day job. I remember that now.

And I finally feel that peace again.



I’m Bouncy, Trouncy, Flouncy, Pouncy, Full of Fun, Fun, Fun!



The title of this post might be untruth in advertising…Only the picture of Tigger is fun, fun, fun.

I woke up at 3:20 am with conversations of last evening going ‘round in my head. Did I say too much? Did I not say enough of the right things?

Captain Awesome Man and I are in Phoenix, on family business that had been potentially serious, but turned out to be less so. Still, we’re glad we got to spend time with his family—some I only knew through Facebook, some I hadn’t seen since they were children. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t the blood relative. When you’ve been a member of a family for 36 years, it kind of doesn’t matter, I guess.

At any rate, after staring at the dark this morning for a couple of hours (with a dead phone, so I couldn’t listen to something to distract my thoughts and go back to sleep), I got up and tried to shower and collect my stuff in the dark without waking C.A.M. (unsuccessfully). 45 minutes later, I woke him again, trying to feel my way to the outlet and get the laptop cord untangled from the suitcases. He is patient with me when he knows I’m trying to work.

I always think that, since “I can write anywhere,” I’ll just carry on and knock out those words while traveling. While I have managed to get some stuff done on trips over the past year, it’s never enough. But then, I have too many days like that at home, too. I can’t blame it on jetlag. (Arizona Time is the same as Pacific Time in the summer—they don’t do no stinkin’ Daylight Savings Time.) I can’t blame unfamiliar beds, surroundings, foods, company, etc. It’s more about this brain that bounces around in the middle of the night.

I’m working on a super-secret-sauce project that I’m really stoked about. (Dude!) It could potentially become my actual day job, and pay the bills, while the novels go through their rounds.

About those novels…Pitches went well at the Romance Writers of America national conference, in San Diego, in July.Two new requests came from it and some excitement about the current work in progress. I did my very first “elevator pitch,” and it wasn’t scary at all.

I should probably translate.

Agents and acquisition editors go to writing conferences to seek out new projects. Authors request 10-minute appointments with of all the professionals they think might be a good match for their work. The conference organizers give the authors only two appointments, based on the wish list and availability. In that 10 minutes, the author has to concisely (I know, I know) describe their book and persuade the agent or editor that they want it. Either it fits their needs, or it doesn’t. If it does, they request the manuscript to read and decide if they want to represent/publish it. An “elevator pitch” is the quick version—for when you happen to catch one of the professionals in the elevator (never the bathroom). My elevator pitch took place in the foyer, actually, and it was an editor I’d already met, so it went well.

All right. Gotta run. Every word on the blog is a word NOT in the book. I just wanted to have a short chat with you… But you can see why my rambling, circuitous, bouncing thoughts might keep me awake at night. Boing, boing, boing…


She Felt Too Much

I wIMG_2538as cleaning out a notebook and came across this bit. It was a workshop exercise at a meeting of Idaho Writer’s League, more than a year ago, but I don’t remember what the assignment was or what spurred this particular narrative. I wanted to capture it here before I throw away the scrap of paper. It was written on the fly, no thought beforehand, and is basically a brain dump. But I kind of like it.

Her biggest problem was that she felt too much. And also her greatest asset.

An asset, because empathy made her everyone’s best friend. A problem, because she wasn’t the sort of best friend who got invited to parties or dinner (especially “couples” dinners), or even for Holidays, when everyone knew she lived alone.

No, she was the best friend people called when they needed a good whine about their first-world problems, their busy schedules, their spouses, who just didn’t understand.

She was the “good listener” who absorbed everyone’s trivial trials like an overnight Depends.

She never forgot birthdays or anniversaries, and remembered what everyone took in their coffee.

Were she to ask any one of her “best friends” what her favorite color was, they’d likely say, “beige” when she wanted them to say “fuchsia.” (Of course they would say beige. Beige blends and goes away altogether when something more colorful, like them, is laid against it.)

If she were to ask any of them where she would like to travel to someday, they would stare blankly, because she wasn’t the sort of best friend who one thinks about having hopes and dreams and aspirations.

So she created her own best friends, whose skeletons and flesh were comprised entirely of ink and paper. Her best friends lived vibrant, happy lives in which she was an integral component. Or they lived lonely, tragic lives—but let her be the whiner, pouring out her soul in their creation.

Her real best friends, though not of genuine flesh and bones, tucked her into bed at night, as she thought of their next plot twist. They greeted her each morning with their voices in her head, begging to be written in witty dialogue.

Her biggest problem (and asset) was that she felt too much.

(And, no. I don’t think this is entirely autobiographical.)


Take Care, Scout. Take Care, Miz Lee.

Harper Lee has passed at the age of 89.

Her Pulitzer Prize winning book, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, the only one we know for sure she approved of being published, is my all-time favorite novel. Or at least that’s what I’ve always believed. I’ve just recently picked it back up after 43 years.

My thirteen-year-old self fell in love with the relationship between Atticus Finch and his daughter, Scout. I’m told by others that every little girl wished they had a daddy like Atticus, but, at thirteen, I thought I was the only one.

In the book, Leto-kill-a-mockingbird2_9855e describes Atticus like this: “Jem and I found our father satisfactory; he played with us, read to us, and treated us with courteous detachment.” A girl being raised by a single mother, with a very charming but mostly absent father, longed for a relationship with that kind of “courteous detachment.”

Scout learned to read while sitting on Atticus’ lap every evening with the paper. She and Jem were comfortable enough with their relationship with him to refer to him by his first name—but always called him “Sir” when speaking directly to him. It was Alabama, after all. He spoke to them almost as contemporaries, and he never talked down to them

At thirteen, the worst time of my life (yours too?), I felt, at turns, both micromanaged and neglected (because everything is a blown way out of proportion when you’re a thirteen-year-old girl). Atticus’ “courteous detachment” meant neither of these things, and I adored him for it.

I’ve been afraid to re-read TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, in case it didn’t live up to the “favorite” status I’ve given it all these years. I’m not done with it yet, but so far, it’s holding its own.

I’m sad to see Harper Lee go, though her quality of life had suffered over the past several years. It’s bothered me that her younger relatives sold her second book, GO SET A WATCHMAN, last year, likely without her express legal consent. She had decades to publish it, if that’s truly what she really wanted, and she didn’t.

I will read it anyway, hoping my Atticus/Scout ideal won’t be bruised too badly by it.

Goodbye, Miz Lee. Goodbye Scout. I will miss you. Y’all take care, now. Hear?


Thanks for Being There, Blog

Blog conceptSo, blog…

We’re having that awkward moment where I see you, after months and months of thinking I should get in touch, and we don’t know what to say to each other.

You look at me with hurt eyes, wondering what you did wrong, or if I’m just a big, fat disappointment of a friend and narcissistic jerk, too busy with my other relationships. The books, either on the page or in my head, must be prettier, or more interesting, or be the kind of friends who come with benefits (wink, wink). Did I ever once think to invite you to any of those little soirees? Never! Could I at least touch bases and pretend I care once in a while?

I babble incoherently, filling the uneasy void with the sound of my voice, because the uncomfortable silence is more than I can take.

Out of social convention and politeness, you ask how I’ve been, knowing you’ll get way more information than you asked for.

And you do.

And when I finally stop for a breath, waiting for some sort of response from you, you smile and embrace me in forgiveness. Because that’s the kind of friend you are.

I’ll check back in with you soon. I PROMISE. And I’ll catch you up on what’s been going on. Like my very first passport, and cruise, and grownup vacation back in February. Or the Power of the Pen conference in March in which I pitched the book. Or my recent submissions.

Let’s not be strangers, okay?

Thanks for everything. You’re a peach.




I Said I Was a #Twitterspaz

twitterthumbsDo #PitchMAS, they said. It will be fun, they said.

Who knew tweeting was such a fine art?

This week was filled with pitching opportunities for those with the talent of distilling the very essence of their story to 140 characters, spaces included.

I am, apparently, not one of them. Today I came, I tweeted. I was ignored.

My friend, writing buddy, and tweeting Sensei, @debra_elise, got a quiver full of requests for partial and full manuscripts.

I got quivers.

Here are my attempts of the day at twitter pitching AS LONG AS THERE IS CHOCOLATE:

Going against resolve, new chocolatier falls for small town royalty. Is he too good to be true, Casanova &con man, or her destiny? #PitchMAS

After chaotic childhood & bad divorce, chocolatier chooses happily ‘independent’, over ‘ever after’ Small town hero doesn’t buy it. #PitchMAS

Wanting roots, new chocolatier in town gets more than she bargains for Hot widower’s family is EVERYWHERE& they want him married. #PitchMAS

Romancing the Stone meets My Big Fat Greek Wedding-in Mayberry Confectioner &widower-next-door find room untouched for 30yrs-&LOVE #PitchMAS

He attracts women like a weepy-day carton of Ben&Jerry’s. She avoids him like Ebola. Is he just a pretty face?Can she trust again? #PitchMAS

Heartbroken CPA gets do-over as Chocolatier. RealEstateMogul returns to family deli @wife’s death. She’s who he’s waited 5yrs for #PitchMAS

CPA-turned-Chocolatier & RealEstateMogul-turned-deli-guy find HEA & that every day is a good one-AS LONG AS THERE IS CHOCOLATE #PitchMAS

And the final Hail Mary Pass:

“Sweet Lord of the Dance!” “Holy Hannah & her sisters” “Mother Mary Tyler-Moore” “Dalmatian!” “Hell O’Kitty” –Heroine’sPottyMouth #PitchMAS

 Many a terrific book has been overlooked because of a horrible pitch or query. Getting the right person to read a manuscript is 90% of the battle. It’s a very good thing for me that twitterpitching isn’t the only option.

I’ve never said 20 words when 40 will do. Ask the Captain. He’ll nod, because I won’t have paused for a breath.