Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Her name was not in the news

This post was originally posted on A Word To The Wise, by a Townhall blogger friend of mine.

She was 39. She was a beautiful blonde. She died on Tuesday morning, February 20th. Her name and life story were not splashed all over the news.

She married her high school sweetheart. They spent the first years of their marriage traveling and enjoying the good life together. She had her own business and he worked hard as a salesman in the chemical industry. When it was time to start a family, it was a challenge at first with many trips to the doctor, but finally after a romantic trip to Mexico, nine months later a precious daughter was born. Then in two years another blessing arrived with the birth of a son.

With their family now complete, they were in love and living their idyllic life. About 3 months later came the diagnosis of breast cancer. She fought the disease with all her strength for nearly 3 years. Her husband was by her side every step of the way. She never complained and everyone around her drew strength from her incredible dignity and courage. She also had a great sense of humor. Her husband told the story of when she had yet another surgery to remove tumors that had spread into her brain. As she was coming to, he was explaining to her that they had gotten all of the cancer and that her memory would not be affected. She opened one eye, looked at him and said: “And who are you?”

The last months of her life were spent making tapes with messages to her two children who would have to grow up without their mother. Also, she wrote Christmas cards and Birthday cards to each them all the way through their 21st birthdays.

During the 3 year battle, she and her many high school girl friends participated each year in the “Susan G Komen Race for the Cure.” She was concerned about the cause of breast cancer awareness. Everyone loved her because she was as beautiful on the inside as on the outside.
She passed away peacefully in her sleep around 3 a.m. last Tuesday with her husband by her side, while on a romantic “get away” which was his Valentine’s gift to her.

Hundreds of mourners came to the Church ceremony to honor Kimberly Millan Dabboussi. She was laid to rest yesterday. Kim’s mother, Cindy, has been my best friend for 34 years.

Sandra Lea Wise

Radio Show, Friends, and Fellow Writers

Last Saturday marked the premiere of Political Pistachio Radio. Many folks have remarked how much they enjoyed the show. I am not so positive about it. I thought that I sounded like a mumbling shadow in the background as my callers overtook the show. The political theme was lost as the show wound down because it became more like a big, conference call. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't all that upset that we wound up talking about Cajun Cooking, but the show did not go as I expected.

Dave from My Point Radio would say, "No kidding. Rarely does it go as planned. But plan anyway."

I do consider each of the callers my friends, and aside from Dr. Blogstein, only because I have not gotten to know him yet, I consider them dear friends. I had a good crowd listening as well. I may not have the biggest site in the blogosphere, but my readers are very loyal.

A couple of fellow writers sent my e-mails telling me the show went well as well. Hmmm, say that five times fast. I appreciate their comments. Perhaps as people sometimes tend to do, I am being hard on myself primarily because that's what people do.

One of those writers is Gary Moore. Gary wrote a book titled Playing with the Enemy. Let me tell you, this is one of the best books I have ever read. Period. It is going to be made into a motion picture, and from what I understand, he has recieved a paperback offer that will ensure its place among the top books out there. And here's where it gets good. Gary Moore has accepted my offer for him to be a guest on my radio show sometime soon. This is great. I can't wait to share him with my friends, because Gary is truly a wonderful person.

Until then, I'm gonna have to sharpen my radio skills, and make that show good enough so that even I am willing to like the final results.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Premiere of Political Pistachio Radio

This Saturday on the premiere of my internet radio show at BlogTalk Radio I will be discussing "Where the Liberal Left Misses the Whole Point," and the letter I had to write because the local school district believes that they are a better parent than myself and have more of a right to teach my child about "morality" than I do. Tune in at 4pm Pacific/7pm Eastern at www.blogtalkradio.com/politicalpistachio - or listen later by accessing the archive.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Style of Writing

I had a commenter leave a quick message on my main site's Guestbook, today, indicating that they liked my blog, and my style of writing.

You know, I have never really thought about my style. I just write what comes to mind, and try to keep it organized in a way that it remains interesting for the reader, and organized in a way that it is in keeping with the rules of English. I'm not perfect, but I think I do a fairly good job.

Here's the point. Style is you. Some folks try to write their fiction like Stephen King, or Sidney Sheldon, and they forget that they are not those people. Write like you write, and somewhere along the way your style will improve, and your writing will become more professional. The only way to reach that point, however, is to keep writing.

So, keep writing. Never give up. Persevere.

Blessings.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Opportunities

It's amazing how sometimes, when we least expect it, good things happen.

Reminds me of the saying, "The Lord Works in Mysterious Ways."

I got home early from work, but when I got home, though my wife wanted to leave immediately for a Valentine's Day dinner, I needed the time to shower and shave.

And after we parked our truck in the parking lot and approached our favorite Italian Food restaurant in Temecula, California, a woman with a video camera approached me, and asked me my opinion about some issues that have risen regarding the mall in Temecula.

It turned out that she is a writer for one of the local newspapers, and is doing a story about the mall. After she received my full name (I'm figuring I am going to be mentioned in the newspaper), I had a convesation with her about writing, of which I began by saying, "I wish I wrote for the paper."

I have always hoped to try my hand at journalism, but always reasoned that without a bachelor's degree, I would not have a chance. Besides, with the need to work to take care of my family, I haven't had the time. This woman from the paper said she doesn't have a degree. She began as a free lancer, and now has asked me to e-mail her with my questions.

My wife, on verge of gaining her own degree, has the goal of bringing me home so that I have the time to write full-time. That should happen in the next few months.

Is this an opportunity for me to take advantage of?

Yes, if it is in the Lord's will.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Cycle of Rejection by Literary Agents

A commenter recently asked about the time line on the rejections I have received regarding my manuscript. Mary indicated that she has a few short stories published, and that she is currently working on a novel.

I appreciate that she recognized my upbeat tone and perseverance.

My attitude, aside from the mantras listed above, is never say die!

I have been writing all my life. When I was younger I used to write a weekly magazine and then sell it to my sister for a penny. Since she was younger than I, and had no money, I gave her the penny, so that she could give it back to me.

I began writing novels when I was seventeen, but never gathered enough guts to send a manuscript in to a publisher until July 13, 1993. I had written a Christian allegory, inspired to write it after reading Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, and sent off a query letter (2 pages which is a no-no, but I didn't know that back then), along with a synopsis that was far from being a synopsis. It was more like an outline. Anyhow, can you guess how that ended up? Of course, it was rejected. Took them a few weeks, so I thought that was a good thing. To be honest, acceptance letters usually come back quickly.

One rejection and I was devastated. No thick skin for me back then. Then in the mid-nineties I decided to hit the short story market, and crashed and burned for four years. Finally, I sent the best of my short stories off to an editor for a paid look at its credibility - and it came back with the most red marks I had ever seen in my life.

Devastation number two. I cried, in fact. And, I quit trying to publish for a few years. I returned to the old days, writing poetry, short stories, and novels just for the fun of it.

For those of you reading this to find out about my rejections on my novels, and the turnaround timetable, realize this - I take a while to get to the point. Perhaps that is a normal attribute for being a writer, or perhaps I am just eclectic that way, but regardless, you have two choices. Keep reading, or flash forward to the end to read the whole point of this.

Anyhow, back to my childish devastation of not being able to handle a little criticism, my last short story attempt at publication in the nineties was June 8, 1999. My next attempt was for a book I wrote called A Light in the Shadow, a nice piece of writing if you ask me. I did a lot of homework, and learned that I did it all wrong a decade before with my Christian allegory. You are supposed to get an agent, first. So I sent seven queries with about a one week turnaround for the rejections, and one of the agents accepted me on March 29, 2005 (after two months of back and forth correspondence via snail mail). For a year I walked on cloud nine, until I learned another valuable lesson. . . there are many agents out there that aren't agents. They are either scam artists, or think they're agents but the rest of the industry doesn't agree. I had landed one of the latter. Another writer friend of mine turned me on to Predators and Editors and Writer Beware. These are web-sites that can help you research the validity of an agent.

During the time with that bad agent I also tried to get three short stories published, but to no avail.

Then I met J.A. Konrath. I discovered this writer in an article in my newly subscribed to Writer's Digest Magazine. My acquaintance with him taught me to be a writer I need to surround myself in all things about writing. It is a business, so treat it that way.

I created my original website (through my now fleeting ISP) and went to as many book signings as possible to pick the brains of writers that made it. I joined a writer's forum at Absolute Write, and began writing like crazy. 2006 became a very busy year. Three complete novels, and query letters out the ying-yang. The learning process kicked into high gear, and then in March I created this blog. Now, armed with all this knowledge, I know exactly what not to do, and I have formed a rather large readership with my numerous blogs. It is fun and all, but the prize of publication has continue to allude me. And now, I have realized that everything I write isn't gold, and it has enabled me to write my novels with more care (and lengthy proof-reading sessions).

Oh, yeah, and about that time line on the rejections? Over one hundred have gone out on A Light in the Shadow since its originally foray, Somatic has a couple dozen, and 87 queries were sent out for The Way of Deception when it was still entitled The Leonardo Conspiracy. The Way of Deception is currently being re-modeled and overhauled, and man has it gotten good. I am pretty excited about it, and hope to have the final draft completed by my birthday in April, at which time the queries will go out again. So far, with all those queries the responses range from a week, to a few weeks, to a few months, to never. I keep a running log, and do a lot of research regarding who is best suited to take a look at my writing. I don't send my thrillers to sci-fi agents or romance specialists. I am sure they appreciate that. The rule is, there is no rules, but there is certain standards. Keep the query letter to one page. If you can describe the book in a paragraph or less, you are on the right track. Have reasons that will make the publisher feel that they can make some money on the book, like credentials. I have joined The Military Writers Society of America, and have attended bookfests and writers conferences to show that I am serious about this business to the agents. And don't send out that novel until it is the best it can be.

And thanks, Mary, for finding my blog, and commenting. It has given this blog new life, and me a reason to realize that despite the rejections, I am no quitter.

Keep writing, persevere, and get published.

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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Frustration is setting in

Wide Awakes Radio is an internet radio network that my show, Political Pistachio Radio, will premiere on soon. When? Who knows. Kender, the owner of the network is currently attempting to update his servers and equipment, and I hate to fault him, but I was under the understanding the show would start shortly after the Big Game.

Hey, I understand that it's difficult to get things running sometimes, perhaps I am only being impatient. It's just that I am so eager to get the show rolling, that I have had to resort to other activities while I wait, like work on my book, The Way of Deception.

Hmmm, maybe this wait is a good thing.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Homework

My wife, Virginia, is currently in the final sprint for her bachelor's degree in psychology. The homework is horrendous, and she is fighting it out like a trooper. However, writing is not her strong point, and the current assignment is a long paper regarding a study over infidelity.

A large part of it involves paraphrasing.

Her biggest frustration is that I have the talent she needs, but because I am not a psychology major (in fact I abhor psychology because I believe its basic premise is in opposition to my Christian belief system) I am unable to really help her much, other than basic grammatical and spelling corrections.

Nonetheless, she'll pull through with persistence, and I am proud of her perseverance. I only wish their was a way I could help her more.

I suppose my love and support will have to suffice.