The Dream

I finally got that “yes” I’ve been waiting to hear for almost five years. After sending countless query letters, doing research, writing and rewriting, working with beta readers, sprucing up my writer’s resume, developing a social media presence, creating a blog, and participating in Pitch Madness, a publisher has offered me a book contract for In the Dark.

Just like that.

It doesn’t feel real. Upon hearing the news, I felt elation, validation, pride, humility, and thankfulness. Now that all that has passed, however, I can’t help but feel a little strange. I’ve arrived. I’ve made it. It’s…over?

I’m not naive enough to think that the work is over. I’m sure I’ll have to go through several more editing, formatting, and cover design phases before the manuscript is actually published. Then after that, it’ll be onto the promoting stage. So why does this feel like the end of something? Well, I guess it is to some degree. It’s the end of this stage of my writing career.

How weird is that? I have a writing career now. Before, it was just a dream, a seemingly unattainable goal I had to keep trying to reach because I couldn’t imagine not trying. Now, it’s suddenly real.

I’ve mentioned several times in my blog posts how I’ve had moments in my life when I feel like an adult. When I take on new responsibilities, or when I’ve learned something new and good about myself, or when I’ve pushed my limits and come out victorious in the end, or when I’ve dared to go somewhere or do something that my younger self never would have. Then there are other times when I still feel like that clueless, sheltered, high school girl who doesn’t know anything.

This is one of those rare moments when I feel like both. Adults have careers. They accomplish big, life-changing goals and move on to the next item on their list. But are they ever afraid of what comes next? Are they ever uncertain? Do they ever feel a tiny bit of loss when endings come, even if those endings are good? Or is that just the child within me?

I can’t help but remember that scene in¬†Tangled. Rapunzel and Flynn are sitting in the boat, waiting for the paper lanterns to appear.

Rapunzel says, “I’ve been looking out a window for eighteen years, dreaming about what it might feel like to see those lights rise in the sky. What if it’s not everything I dreamed it would be?”

Flynn says, “It will be.”

“And what if it is? What do I do then?” Rapunzel counters.

And Flynn in his casual way says, “Well, that’s the good part, I guess. You get to go and find a new dream.”

I guess that’s really all I can do, huh?

More details to come. ūüôā

My husband

My husband isn’t like the men in those romantic comedies we women like to watch.

He doesn’t send flowers and balloons to my office or give¬†me little gifts just because. He doesn’t whisk me off on elaborate dates or nights on the town. He doesn’t plan big vacations or surprise me with plane tickets to some romantic destination. He doesn’t take it upon himself to make the house spotless when he notices that it’s dirty. He doesn’t welcome me home with a foot rub or a full bathtub or a three course dinner. He doesn’t willingly jump through a thousand hoops to make me happy. He doesn’t have the power to read my mind and know exactly what I mean when I’m being cryptic. He doesn’t humiliate himself for me or change the way he thinks to best suit my needs or allow me to be the one who’s always right.

It’s just¬†not in his nature. And you know what? That’s okay.

Because he’s real.

He works hard at a job he doesn’t particularly like because he knows it provides for our needs right now. He fixes things that break so that we don’t have to hire someone else to do it. He talks me up when I don’t think too much of myself, and knows what to say to get me to stop stressing out. He supports my dreams and cheers me on through every endeavor. He listens to me talk until I’m all talked out. He isn’t afraid of my tears and will hold me for as long as I want. He isn’t afraid to be open and honest and vulnerable with me. He laughs at my mistakes, but doesn’t make me feel stupid for making them. His infectious sense of adventure and child-like trust in our God challenges me. He pushes me to try new things, dig deep, and find out things about myself that I didn’t know before. In my Sunday best or in Batman pajamas, he thinks I’m beautiful either way. He knows the value of my love and trust, and would never¬†do anything to betray them. He’s always willing to help, to be my safety blanket, to walk with me through whatever comes our way.

And really, what more could I ask for?

On the subject of erotica

There¬†is a possibility that I’m overreacting, but I have to get this off my chest. Are my manuscripts not going to get as much attention as some other books because I don’t write¬†explicit sex scenes?

I’ve read some pretty incredible books that didn’t include sex. Their plots, characters, and sweet love story arcs were spectacular without graphic love-making scenes. I don’t know, maybe I’m generalizing but, nowadays, it seems like that’s all I see on promotional book websites and social media accounts.

“Read my book. There’s a naked man on the cover who’s super ripped.” “Read my book. It takes place at a whorehouse.” “Read my book. It’s a coming of age story about a girl who loses her virginity.” “Read my book. It’s about a passionate threesome this girl had one night.” “Read my book. It’s about a man who saw a woman on the street, their eyes met, and they just had to have each other.”

Oh. My. Goodness.

People complain about cliches, unoriginal plot lines, unrealistic characters, boring villains, and lack-luster hooks in the writers’ forums I’ve been involved with, but doesn’t the overwhelming amount of sex in today’s literature bother them? With so many wives complaining about their¬†husbands who have “too much” of a sex drive, I find the sex-crazed women in some of these advertised books to be a little unrealistic. There can only be so many ways to describe the act of making love without things becoming repetitive or unoriginal. But no, I don’t hear anyone complaining about this other than myself and the rest of the conservatives.

I know humans are sexual beings. We were created to crave intimacy with our significant others. It’s one of the greatest things about being alive. I’m a newly wed. I get it. But it’s already in our movies, in our TV shows, screaming at us through our music, staring at us¬†through our magazines, dancing across our computer screens, and being published in trashy adult books. New writers shouldn’t have to include it in their work to get the attention of an agent. There shouldn’t have to be sex in a book in order for it to be considered good by the general populace.

Sex isn’t¬†the only thing that sells. What about artful story-telling? What about incredible world-building or the creation of intriguing places no one’s ever heard about? What about the brave heroes and heroines we all want to grow up to be like and those unshakable friendships they had? What about presenting the constant struggle between good and evil in new and exciting ways? What about those fun¬†controversial topics, characters going through real-life problems, people uniting despite their differences to fight a common enemy? Shouldn’t all those things¬†be more important than how well your pillow talk looks on¬†paper or how many sexual positions you know?

All right, I’m getting off my soapbox now.

I know that not all authors write erotica. I know not every book ever written has a sex scene in it. It’s just frustrating, not to mention discouraging, when I continue to encounter books with adult content¬†on the websites of agents and new authors. They outnumber every other book genre ten to one. I’ve set some boundaries for myself and established parameters when it comes to my writing that will help keep my conscious clear without staying too close to the “prude” or “tween” or “spiritual” line. I strive to appeal to multiple groups of people without compromising my morals. It’s hard sometimes but I believe it’s worth it.¬†There has to be a group of people somewhere out there who looks for books like mine. That’s who I’ll write for. I just have to keep looking for agents who will like and champion my sex-free manuscripts.

 

P.S.

If you like reading or writing erotica, that’s your deal. I’m not judging or looking down on you. I’m just venting about my frustrations as an undiscovered writer.