All Good Things

I’ve got some good news! Jericho Rising and its sequel Jericho’s Redemption will be moving to Dragon’s Roost Press as of this month. It’s been a fun run with the previous publisher, but it was time to make the change. We don’t have a re-release date yet, but as soon as I know, I’ll share it!

Another piece of good news: I’m entering the “Dear Lucky Agent” contest for YA novels, sponsored by Writer’s Digest. If you’re a YA author, give it a try! Click here for the full information. Why is it good news? Because I’m doing something beyond my comfort zone. As a writer (or anyone, really) it’s important to move beyond where you’re comfortable, because that’s where greatness lies. Go out and do something brave today!

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Beyond the Pitch Contest

This month, I submitted “Dragon’s Curse” to two different pitch contests: #NoQS and #PitchSlam. I didn’t make it into #NoQS, but I’m waiting to hear on #PitchSlam (which has a very cool Harry Potter theme this time around! LOVE IT!). It got me thinking Beyond the Pitch Contest – and not in a bad way.

I often see cool articles about people who have succeeded. We read interviews, see all the love between the mentors and their chosen authors, and the like. But what about the vast majority who don’t “make” it? What about them? What happens after their party’s over?

I’ll tell you: We live.

That’s right! We. Live. We continue to press on. We keep writing. We keep in touch with our awesome new writer friends (you DID reach out to other authors, right?), exchanging queries/manuscripts/first 250s/pitches/whatever to make our work shine. We continue (or start!) to query. WE LIVE, and live fully. Why? Because pitch contests aren’t the be – all, end – all of our writing experience. They’re a great enhancement to that experience, but not “IT.” Even when we get published, that’s not IT. Because we keep going. Here’s an interview I did with a non-winning pitch contest author (okay, it’s me…but still!):

Hey, Mary! How are you feeling?
M: Awesome, actually. Why wouldn’t I be?

Well…success…
Honey, success is what you make of it. I’ve met awesome people through these contests, and I’ve learned so much about my writing, the business, and more. In my book, forward movement is success.

That’s a good attitude. What are you up to now?
I’m making sure Dragon’s Curse is as good as it can be. All the advice I’ve received…all that feedback…I’m putting it to good use. I’ll be querying again soon (I stopped while I was gone on vacation). Plus, I’m still editing Cake or Death. I still have high hopes for that one. A cake decorating vampire hunter! Cracks me up. Oh…and I already have another novel outlined.

Wow! You sound busy!
That’s the best way to be. Seriously. It keeps the ugly thoughts out of your head, and keeps your eyes on the prize.

Do you have any advice for other writers out there who may be in the same position?
Well, other than what I’ve just written here on my blog…yeah. Don’t be hard on yourself. Don’t think, “I wasn’t selected, so that means everyone hates me. I suck!” You don’t suck. Refusing to better yourself? That sucks. Taking a break? Doesn’t suck. Regrouping? Doesn’t suck. Bettering yourself? TOTALLY DOES NOT SUCK! Keep at it, writerly darlings. You’ve got this!

My Disney Adventure

This past week, the family and I went on a trip to Florida. Here’s our story:

On the first leg of the trip, we went to Panama City Beach. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, right on the Gulf of Mexico. Beautiful resort. Plus, sugar-white sand and lovely, clear water. The next morning, we headed to Disney, and to our home for the week: The All Star Music Resort. There are certainly pros and cons to staying at this resort. Food was great (get the dining plan! You will have more food credits than you’ll ever know what to do with). Theming was great. Disney transportation was actually easy to manage (once we parked the car, we took the buses). My biggest complaint? My bed was like a rock, and the pillow was like a boulder. NOT comfortable at all! Even without sleep, I was ready to go the next morning.

Day 1: Epcot

Talk about nostalgia! Journey into Imagination has changed (not necessarily for the better), but the moment I saw my favorite purple dragon – Figment – I got teary eyed. And the “One Little Spark” song… ::sigh:: We also rode Mission: Space and Soarin’. Both were a great bit of fun. World Showcase was absolutely alive, as we visited during the Food and Wine Festival. I wish I could have sampled some of the fare, but we were saving our tummies for lunch at Nine Dragons in the China pavillion. Great place! The rest of the countries were great fun. I got to pick an oyster in Japan, which held a gorgeous pearl. And, we saw Smash Mouth at the “Eat to the Beat” concert. My favorite band! Live! Talk about a thrill. Speaking of thrills, onto….

Day 2: Animal Kingdom

This park didn’t exist the last time I was in Disney World (over 20 years ago!). It’s awesome. Dinosaur! threw us for a loop. Talk about a wild ride! Kali River Rapids got us wet…but not as wet as I thought we’d get! The Tree of Life, a man made centerpiece for the park, is breathtaking. Seeing all the animal carvings was great. Even better? My daughter ran into her friend from school! What a great surprise. I wasn’t brave enough to ride Expedition: Everest, but hubby did. He enjoyed it. We all enjoyed Tusker House for dinner. Goofy, Mickey, Donald, and Daisy kept us company.

Day 3: Hollywood Studio

The Muppets! Phineas and Ferb! The Great Movie Ride! Songs from musical movies! Talk about heaven. We saw the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular, too, where they show how stunts and such are done. Wow. Memories. I’d forgotten that when I was an actress, I DID do all my own stunts. It’s a pretty cool park. Got to get a picture in front of Mr. Gold’s Pawnshop. Once Upon a Time fans will recognize that reference. I wore my Hook shirt for good measure. 😉 We didn’t have as much time in this park, because we attended the “Spirit of Aloha” dinner show/luau that evening over at the Polynesian resort.

Day 4: Magic Kingdom

Oh, how I ADORE this park! Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight, It’s a Small World… My nostalgia meter was off the charts! Plus, we got to see Anna and Elsa from Frozen. Laugh if you want. I love Frozen. “Let It Go” helped me transition from actress back to writer. If you ever go, make sure you have LeFou Brew at Gaston’s Tavern. The Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was INSANE! Seeing the Sanderson Sisters perform with all the other Disney villains was great. So was the Boo to You parade. Trick-or-Treating. Rides. Awesomeness! The only downside is that hubby and son missed it because my son was sick. That’s okay, because…

Day 5: Magic Kingdom, Part Two

Yep, that’s right. We decided to use our last day to revist the Magic Kingdom. I had to share the magic with my WHOLE family. At Gaston’s Tavern, on the advice of someone we met on the bus (lots of chatter while on buses and waiting in lines), we tried the cinnamon roll. It was HUGE and DELICIOUS! We also got some shopping done.

On Saturday morning, we headed to Disney Springs to grab some things we saw on our first trip Sunday evening. I can’t share what we got, because they’re gifts. 😉 After Disney Springs, we headed back up to the Holiday Inn at Panama City Beach. Swimming in the ocean! Relaxing in the hot tub! A great way to end a wild week. I was, however, happy to get home on Sunday. My pups were thrilled to get home, too. They spent the entire week at the “luxury pet resort” in our hometown.

Final observations: Amazing food, super nice people (who outnumbered the selfish jerks, thankfully), and awesome memories to last a lifetime.

Spaceship Earth at night
Spaceship Earth at night
Cinderella's Castle, pre-Spooktacular show
Cinderella’s Castle, pre-Spooktacular show
SMASH MOUTH!
SMASH MOUTH!
Pick-a-Pearl. Counting to three in Japanese: "Sun-Knee-Itchy!" (that's how she taught the crowd)
Pick-a-Pearl. Counting to three in Japanese: “Sun-Knee-Itchy!” (that’s how she taught the crowd)
Fultons Crab Shack - Disney Springs
Fultons Crab Shack – Disney Springs