I'm dreaming…I'm dreaming

first_flowers_blogI’m in one of my moods and when I get there, I always get introspective and there’s usually some blubbering.

Take a look at my flowers! My lovely chaptermates at MORWA gave them to me today to commemorate my first sale, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. They arranged for something better than the Golden Heartยฎ and the contract put together. (Okay, maybe not better than the contract.)

Remember how I was gushing about meeting Jade Lee at Nationals? She shows up today at the Crestwood Barnes and Noble for the meeting. I guess that’s not too weird. She’s a romance author and the ladies at MORWA seem to know everybody. But when Kimberly Killion announces my sale, who comes up to present me my first flowers? Jade Lee…who also announces that she finished Butterfly Swords last night and is giving me a cover quote!!!

Let me go total fan girl for a moment. (I thought I played it pretty cool by not bawling all over Ms. Lee’s shoulder at the meeting) Four years ago, I found Hungry Tigress at a rest stop in Barstow. I had just started writing “Dragon Court”, just stumbling around trying to learn, and I wasn’t even setting it in Asia. I was going for a fantasy world based on China. But I read the rest of Jade Lee’s Tigress series and was so inspired, I committed to the Tang Dynasty.

Then I sought out more Jade Lee. I read Devil’s Bargain. I read The Concubine and brought it to Nationals to get it signed. You know the Crimson City series? I actually only read Seduced By Crimson and none of the others. What kind of nut only reads the middle book in a series?

I don’t know who in my chapter thought to do this for me, but I am simply overcome. Just to think, a year ago I had nothing to show but hope and now my freakin’ idol has read my book.

At this moment, I don’t care if Butterfly Swords only sells one copy to my mother. This is a dream come true and I’m so very happy.

This is a good moment.

CORE critique group last night

I know all the warning labels — technically blogging is a time suck that’s keeping me away from writing. But I’ve always liked journaling. During the long periods where I didn’t write, I still journaled. And the more you write, the better you get. It’s inevitable.

They did studies on nuns because of their extensive journaling. They lived longer, happier and more lucid lives. Researchers theorized that the act of journaling preserves and promotes neural connections. I’m too lazy to do more than a quick google search to find someone to back me up on that. ๐Ÿ™‚ http://ironghost.wordpress.com/2006/02/01/the-magnificent-minnesota-nun-brains/

My real point is that blogging is more than procrastination. It’s a crucial part of the reflective process, at least for me. Confession done.

So last night I went to CORE. It’s our chapter’s critique group which meets once a month. Readers bring 10-20 pages of material, read it aloud, and the whole table constructively critiques the pages.

The one critical element of this you don’t get online is the feedback loop and the group dynamic. Everything is done out loud. So you learn how to critique from more experienced members, you learn how to revise by absorbing everyone else’s comments….and you learn how to take and filter feedback. A LOT of it.

Anyway, I had a better public service message than how feedback is important. I love seeing the writers around me grow and improve. As a former teacher in a school with a HUGE emphasis on literacy, I believe just the act of writing and reading makes you better. Even if there is no instruction involved.

Of course, instruction and/or feedback can help guide you immensely. ๐Ÿ™‚

When I see a writer buddy grow in leaps and bounds from one project to another, it makes me giddy. It reaffirms my beliefs. And I love genuinely getting excited about a new story. Those drafts that I’ve critiqued in CORE are going to be published books some day. I believe that wholeheartedly.

It reminds me of when Elaine, Dana, Kay and I were all struggling through our first novels together back in my first critique group. After working for two years, I still felt my writing wasn’t “there”. I’d improved, but not by enough. Then we started reading from our next projects and the growth in everyone’s writing was phenomenal. It was a pivotal moment for me, because I could see that once we were taken out of the confines of the “learning” book, that we had noticeably improved.

That second project for me was “Butterfly Swords”. Did I get a spider sense that this was going to be the one? Well, no. Not quite.

Well, yes. Yes, I guess I did. ๐Ÿ™‚

Keep writing.