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Pat Esden Cover Reveal Raffle

I’m so, SO excited to participate in Pat Esden’s A HOLD ON ME cover reveal and giveaway. Though I haven’t read it, I’m honored to have helped CP some of her other manuscripts. I love Pat’s writing style and the wonderful tension she delivers all the way through the story. Personally I can’t wait to get a copy of A HOLD ON ME.

Read the back cover blurb to find out why I’m so excited:

She never wanted to return.

He wants nothing more than for her to leave.

But the fire between them is as strong as the past that haunts them.

Annie Freemont grew up on the road, immersed in the romance of rare things, cultivating an eye for artifacts and a spirit for bargaining. It’s a freewheeling life she loves and plans to continue—until her dad is diagnosed with dementia. His illness forces them to return to Moonhill, their ancestral home on the coast of Maine—and to the family they left behind fifteen years ago, after Annie’s mother died in a suspicious accident.

Once at Moonhill, Annie is shocked when her aunt separates her from her father. The next time Annie sees him, he’s a bizarre, violent shadow of his former self. Confused, she turns to an unlikely ally for support—Chase, the dangerously seductive young groundskeeper. With his dark good looks and powerful presence, Chase has an air of mystery that Annie is irresistibly drawn to. But she also senses that behind his penetrating eyes are secrets she can’t even begin to imagine. Secrets that hold the key to the past, to Annie’s own longings—and to all of their futures. Now, to unlock them, she’ll have to face her greatest fears and embrace her legacy…

Pat_ Close up good (1) A bit about Pat (a truly wonderful person, by the way):

PAT ESDEN would love to say she spent her childhood in intellectual pursuits. The truth is she was fonder of exploring abandoned houses and old cemeteries. When not out on her own adventures, she can be found in her northern Vermont home writing stories about brave, smart women and the men who capture their hearts. An antique-dealing florist by trade, she’s also a member of Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, and the League of Vermont Writers. Her short stories have appeared in a number of publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, the Mythopoeic Society’s Mythic Circle literary magazine, and George H. Scither’s anthology Cat Tales.  For more information, visit her http://patesden.com/

Okay, and the biggest ta-da of all…scroll to check out her fantastic cover!

 

A hold on me copy (1)

 

 

For a chance to win this fabulous book, visit: FaceBook.com/PatEsdenAuthor

 

It’s with great happiness I’m announcing I’ve accepted an offer of representation from Jessica Watterson of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency for my contemporary romance, Shelter. Jessica represents my fabulous writer friend, Amanda Heger, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about her for a while now. I probably should admit I’ve also Twitter stalked her, and admire both the stories she chooses to represent, as well as the agency as a whole. So, a week after the offer, I’m still doing a happy dance.

 As with every writer I know, my journey to publication’s been neither swift nor easy. I’ve been writing awhile. At first, I wrote simply because I had stories I needed to get on the page and made no real attempt at publication. About five years ago I got serious (quite possibly because it’d be a justifiable reason to keep writing) and did what I’d been dreading. Since I’d accumulated a handful of manuscripts over the years, I picked the one I felt was the strongest and started getting rejected, uh, querying that is.

Occasionally I’d get a request for a partial, get super excited, only to later receive a more personal rejection. Most of the writers reading this know that pain very well. But, it’s part of the industry, and as Jeff Gordon said about racing, he learned more from the races he lost than the races he won.

A little over two years ago, I entered an online pitch contest for a YA urban fantasy I’d written and got lucky. Not only did I get a request for a full, I got an offer of representation that I accepted. After six months of revision, my manuscript went on limited submission. Although no offers came through, the feedback from editors was extremely helpful and offered insight on how to make it stronger. It was right about then the market for urban fantasy tanked. And, so far, has stayed there.

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This has been said in many ways but it’s important to remember. I love seeing this somewhat crooked sign at my son’s karate dojo every week.

Fast forward another year and I took the scariest leap of my journey so far. I struck out on my own again, knowing that what I really wanted was an agent to represent my adult work where I’ve done and want to do the bulk of my writing. What I did right—rather than rushing into querying again—was take my time and use everything I’d learned from my first agent (who I will always be thankful for), from being on submission, from critique partners, and from the industry to make the manuscript I’d chosen, Shelter, the best it could be. I originally wrote it five or six years ago and it needed major rewrites. But I loved the story and believed it could be salvaged.

As a result, Shelter went out stronger than anything I’d queried before. So, for those writers reading my journey in hopes of finding inspiration for staying a difficult course, I’ll summarize some of the things I think I did right in the hope it’s helpful:

 * Join the industry. If you’re reading this, you’re doing better than I was for many years. There are so many ways to get involved, but for me writing organizations like the RWA and the SCBWI were instrumentally helpful, as are all the wonderful opportunities and information on Twitter, and in The Writers’ Digest.

* Network! Go to conferences, workshops, writers’ groups, etc. Go to any and all you can. Not only will you meet other authors who may become personal friends and helpful critique partners, you’ll learn a ton.

 * Join a critique group or assemble one of your own. Probably the worst advice you can get from readers who are family or friends but not writers is that your work is fabulous. Let’s face it. Even the best of writers still have editors to help make their work stronger. Learning where your work needs to be improved can hurt, but if you’re open to it, it can make you a better writer. I know this did for me.

* Enter contests. Whether or not you win, the feedback from judges (who are often published authors) is invaluable.

And finally,

* Stay the course. The industry may be tough and rejection might suck, but if you’re writing because it fills a need that nothing else does, you’ll find your way, no matter how many ups and downs you’ll encounter along the way.

 

I’m so excited to participate in this year’s contest. And a huge thanks to Brenda, Monica, Elizabeth, and Krista for all you are doing to help to-be-published writers along the way!

QUERY

Dear Writers Voice Coaches,

Highly successful marketing career or not, Craig Williams’ personal life is in shambles. At thirty-five, he’s mid-divorce, failing to come to terms with the loss of a child, and attempting to focus on his two surviving kids. The troublesome puppy he’s surrendering to the local shelter is one thing that has to get lost in the shuffle.

Twenty-six-year-old Megan Anderson’s world is about to collapse. The beloved animal shelter she runs is sliding into financial ruin and her ex-fiancé is taking the plunge into fatherhood without her. On a day as dreary as the ice storm blanketing the city, it feels like a bad joke when an otherwise heartthrob brings in the first failed Christmas puppy of the year.

Craig and Megan’s ensuing confrontation—outside in the storm—sets them spiraling on an unexpected path. Moved by Megan’s passion, Craig bestows a donation to the shelter—an act that unbalances her and shows her the world is not as black and white as she believed. And as the two of them begin to spend their days and nights together, Megan fears Craig’s past is too much for her to handle. But when a surprise pregnancy threatens to bind them together for life, she must decide whether to cut ties or jump in and trust that sometimes things work out for the best.

Shelter, a dual point-of-view contemporary romance, is complete at 79,000 words. In December, Shelter placed third in the Missouri RWA Gateway to Best single title division. Two of my other projects also placed in that contest, coming in first in romantic suspense and third in young adult. My writing commendations include first place awards for short stories, flash fiction, and longer selections from the Missouri RWA and the Missouri Writers’ Guild. I’m a member of the RWA, on Twitter, and maintain an author website, debbiecausevic.com.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.

Best regards,

Debbie Causevic

 

1st 250:

Two weeks of trying and Megan needed to face the facts. The dream journal idea was a waste of time. Her subconscious was as pathetic at coming up with a solution to save the shelter as the rest of her. When she stirred enough in her sleep to write something, the pages were filled with irrelevant scribble. Stack the cat kennels higher. The ceiling prevented that. Save space. Arrange dogs by size. How this could help anything, she hadn’t a clue. And the worst: Forget kibble donations. Get cows and make own food. Um, eww. Not only was her subconscious useless, it was barbaric.

With hopes low enough to match the bleak winter day, Megan Anderson wrapped her hands tighter around the steering wheel. The steel-gray clouds blanketing the sky were shedding a constant, freezing drizzle, coating the trees and overhead wires in an ice glaze. Her weather app showed travel would be hazardous by midafternoon. She’d focus on necessities today and close up early enough to get everyone home before the roads became an ice rink.

Turning into the parking lot of the High Grove Animal Shelter, she hit a patch of ice and the back end of her Rav4 swerved out of control. Slamming the brakes though she knew not to, she hung on for her first-ever slow-motion doughnut. Gritting her teeth, Megan waited helplessly as her car swung in a half-circle and—finally—came to rest a foot from the curb at the side of the lot.

Inactive. Whether I want to admit it or not, it’s what became of my blog the last year and a half. There’s a host of legitimate reasons, but I won’t go into them. While this blog hasn’t been getting its fair share of attention in my busy life, my writing has. From conferences, workshops, writing groups, contests, and the world of revision, I’ve had wonderful opportunities for growth as a writer these last many months.

After a change in career path on my agent’s part, coupled with my decision to focus on contemporary romance/women’s fiction, Pooja and I parted ways at the beginning of this year and I’m now on the search for agent representation. As I slink back into the world of querying, I’m as passionate about writing as ever but wiser about the industry and the realities that accompany it.

With this being said, I’m excited to know so much more about the opportunities out there for writers this time around, pitch fests included. Last night I learned I was one of the 200 lucky entrants in The Writer’s Voice. Later today I’ll be posting my query for my contemporary romance, Shelter, and its first 250 words.

The following piece received 1st place in the 2014 Missouri Writer’s Guild
Flash Fiction Contest sponsored by Saturday Writers.

 Measured
by Debbie Causevic

As he headed home, Marcos felt the envelope pressing into his leg through his pocket, making him want to crawl out of his skin. He could chuck it. His mother would never ask for the results.

He thought of Mrs. Fredericks holding back his SAT scores until last and pulling him aside. He didn’t hear the words she spoke. He knew the results before seeing them. They were the same every year. Instead, he focused on the look in her eyes. Soft and kind. And full of pity.

Marcos was tired of tests. Tired of labels. They didn’t mean anything. Not really.

His trailer park, squished into a triangular lot outside town, was quiet. It was always quiet after school. It grew loud at night when the men got drunk and the women cussed them.

His mother was already home when he jiggled the door’s lock because he was too lazy to take out his key. Abandoning his backpack, he headed passed her into the kitchen. She was collapsed on the couch watching reruns. He opened the fridge and chugged the milk straight from the gallon.

She heard over the blasting of the tinny speakers. “Really Marcus? That again?”

He put the milk away and stepped into the doorway to face her. There was an ice pack covering her knee. “Busy day?”

She muted the TV and offered him a dull smile. “You always notice things, just like your father. How was school?”

His father. If only he could see her after a long day at the diner. The injury acting up from her childhood when she dreamt of being an ice skater. Back when she actually had dreams.

Marcus’s frustration heightened at thoughts of his father. Nine years had passed since he walked out that door and she still found a way to bring him up.

“Same as every day,” he said aloud. “School is school.”

He thought of the envelope burning in his pocket and summoned the courage to drop it on the coffee table before her. “Got our SAT scores back.”

She rolled her eyes sympathetically before unmuting the TV. “I always hated those.”

Without answering he headed outside to the basketball court and picked up an abandoned ball. He played until sweat ran out his pores and dulled the anger burning inside him.

When he went back in, driven by hunger and darkness, his mother hadn’t moved. The envelope sat, unopened, where he had dropped it.

“Don’t you want to look at my scores?”

“You know those tests don’t mean anything. You and I, Marcus, tests don’t define us.”

He scooped up the envelope and headed for the kitchen. He opened it and stared at the percentile score a long time. He remembered Mrs. Fredericks pressing her hand into his and remembered the one word she spoke that sunk in even though he tried not to let it.

“Gifted.”

The word rang in his ears long after the whoosh of the trashcan lid.

 

 

 

 

Let’s face it, writing a novel is a huge undertaking. Many of my writer friends, myself included, aim to write, revise, and submit at least one full-length manuscript a year. Unfortunately on the road to becoming a New York Times bestseller, life frequently gets in the way. Day jobs, children and their ever-demanding schedules, travel, you name it, there are a thousand reasons why writers find themselves in a lamentable position: without a novel in the works.

Go too long without a project and you may start to doubt yourself as a writer. After all, how many times have you heard that writers should write every day? Reality shows that days without writing can stretch into weeks and even into months. It can be easy at these times to get down and wonder if you’re getting out of touch with your writerly self.

Fortunately there are many ways to keep in tune with your inner muse. Here are some things you can do any and every day to keep your writing skills honed and ready…whenever time allows.

Daydream
Personally, I believe Albert Einstein said it best:

“Creativity is the residue of time wasted.”

You’re a writer. It’s okay to daydream. Mulling over that next manuscript when you’re weeks away from sitting down to begin it is not squandered time. Consider it an early rough draft. Use busy time (doing housework, walking on the treadmill, etc.) to play out your next would-be manuscript in various ways. Give your protagonist different careers, see how the story feels in new settings, and, even if you expect the plot to head one direction, try it out in several others. Use this time to ramp up the tension and make certain the main characters are compelling from the start. Using your imagination actively while prepping for your next novel can be one of the best ways to begin with a strong story.

Read
While you may not be able to write every day, you can read every day. The importance of being an avid reader cannot be overstated. Reading inspires you and keeps you abreast of what is selling in today’s market.

Becoming an active reader can help you become a better writer. The more you edit your own work, the better you will get at breaking down published novels to discern their strengths and weaknesses. Find yourself losing interest and skimming to get to the good parts of a best seller? Go back and figure out where the author lost you and determine why. On the other hand, do you find yourself up till 1AM because you can’t put down the book? Ask yourself where you became hooked and write down all the reasons why. Was it the compelling characters, high tension, mystery, romance, or a combination of all of them? The more you read, the more you will become confident with what keeps your and other readers’ interest and what doesn’t.

Travel
Day trips, weekend getaways, and summer vacations are great opportunities to try out fresh settings for future manuscripts. To get a truer feel for an area while on vacation, eat and shop locally and avoid big chains as much as possible. Take plenty of pictures for later review and stop by an independent bookstore to pick up local self-published books and tour guides that you might not find elsewhere.

Can’t travel to the dream setting of your next manuscript? Thanks to Google Earth, you can get a visual of just about anywhere in the world. Match that with research, movies and literature, and on-line tours of your town, and your manuscript will read as if you’ve been there.

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New destinations generate inspiration.

Plot (even if you’re a Panster)
The debate between plotters and pansters will likely never cease. Both ways of novel-writing have their merits so long as the author has a solid idea of, well, novel-writing. Time and again though, writers are advised to plot an outline of every chapter of a manuscript before the start. Panster at heart, this makes me sweat and reminds me of cramming for chemistry exams in college. I prefer to cling to the advice of Stephen King, a notorious panster, to avoid writing manuscripts to a predetermined chapter outline.

However, even if you aren’t a natural plotter, flexible outlines and engaging storyboards can help define the conflict of your story and provide a rudimentary roadmap of where you’d like your novel to go.

Stay Connected
Conferences, contests, blogs of other writers, Twitter, magazines, and books on writing are all great ways to stay tuned in to the writing world when you are feeling disconnected from it.

Writing down times can also be opportunities to do a little self-help that will benefit you as a writer. Improving your time management skills or kicking your procrastination habit in the butt before sitting down to write that next novel might cut your writing of it by weeks or even months.

Too busy to always have a novel in the works? What is your favorite thing to do to keep feeling like a writer?

Getting the Most Out of Your Beta-Reading

October 7th, 2013 | Posted by debbiecausevic in Uncategorized - (Comments Off on Getting the Most Out of Your Beta-Reading)

For the last six weeks, I’ve been knee-deep in manuscript revisions and have turned several times to a few trusted beta readers to get their input on my changes. This got me thinking about how important beta-readers can be for your manuscript. When you begin querying, you want your manuscript to be solid, powerful, and engaging.  You want to draw agents in and keep them reading. How better to test this than on a handful of strong beta readers?

My mom and spouse have read my manuscript and love it. What else will a beta reader offer me?

 Let’s face it. Your manuscript is your baby. Unless you’re certain your chosen readers won’t get lost marveling over how proud they are of you for having written your book, you can’t call them beta readers. Beta readers perform an objective and in-depth look at what works in your manuscript and what doesn’t. Most likely for the same reason that Hollywood stars often marry other stars, other writers make great beta readers. They don’t get muddled down in the coolness factor of what you’ve accomplished. (They may, however, have trouble pulling away from editing long enough to read your story.) Avid readers of your genre also make great beta readers. I like a mixture of both to review my work.

Having a non-vested third party take an objective look at your work is nerve-wracking. But realistically every manuscript out there can be improved. Learning how to strengthen yours is the best thing that can come out of a beta reading.

I’ve dotted my I’s and crossed my T’s. I’m ready for the next step. (Or am I?)

You’ve spent months completing your manuscript. You’ve read through, tweaked, and improved it a dozen or more times. It flows, it’s beautiful, and it still makes you smile when you’re reading it. It’s ready for the next phase. Or is it? If your manuscript-baby makes you glow with pride every time you think about it, you need to step away from it before you pass it on to your chosen beta readers. I once read that writers shouldn’t share their manuscripts with agents or other writers until having them critiqued won’t feel like having your arm chopped off—something  that I take into account before pressing “send” and holding my breath.

Imagine taking your child to playgroup and having other mothers pick him or her apart and not being defensive about it. Not possible, right? Feedback can hurt, especially when you’re vested in the object you’re receiving feedback on. In reality, you may never reach the point that having a critique of your manuscript doesn’t make the hairs on the back of your neck prickle. But once you’ve distanced yourself from it enough, you will reach the place that you can be open to feedback and give it an honest mulling over.

What will a beta-reading do for me?

If you’re wrapping up a manuscript and preparing for the next phase of the submission process, consider some of the best things that can come out of a beta reading.  Chose readers that will be able to help you determine the following:

Determine how well your story presents itself to readers.
You see your story in your mind’s eye perfectly. But have you given readers enough details to help them do so? Will they have a hard time visualizing your story playing out because you haven’t given enough (or at least the right) details to help them do so? Worse yet, are there places in the story where you’ve bombarded your readers with too many details and bogged down the story? (In one story I mentioned a main character’s eye color close to twenty times. Um, sorry about that, betas.)

Betas can help you identify places where your story slows down, cut unnecessary scenes (or partial scenes), and break up long and redundant dialogue.

Discover your strengths and learn areas of improvement.
Undoubtedly some of your scenes and chapters will work better than others. Figuring out your strengths as a writer is essential. Writing to these strengths will help your manuscript go a long way. Minimizing your weaknesses is another. Impartial betas are great at finding these places.

Maximize your chances of your manuscript being read.
Editing your own work is very difficult. Connecting with an editorial beta reader can help you make huge strides in having your manuscript read when you begin querying. Remember, agents will likely only give your manuscript a matter of minutes or even seconds if they read past your query. Don’t let simple issues over wording or sentence and paragraph structure be a reason for them to stop reading.

 Setting the stage for a good beta reading.

Your beta readers can help you grow as a writer. If you’re in the process of acquiring new beta readers, interview them first. Make certain they read profusely in your genre and are comfortable being honest with you. When betas suppress their reactions to spare a writer’s feelings, opportunities are missed.  Also, get their reactions to books you’ve both read. If they are always Team Edward while you’re Team Jacob, keep in mind this doesn’t mean their feedback won’t be valuable. It affords an opportunity for great discussion. Finally, be honest with your betas up front. Tell them the kind of in depth critique you are hoping for, any editing you expect them to do, and the turn-around time you’d like them to adhere to.

Connecting with the right beta-readers isn’t always easy. Over time you may need to add or replace a few. But, if you are patient and open-minded, you will find beta-reading to be a rewarding and valuable experience.

A Writer’s Voice

September 9th, 2013 | Posted by debbiecausevic in Uncategorized - (1 Comments)

For the last several weeks, I’ve been knee-deep in manuscript revisions. I’m in the final bit now–of this round, at least.  Just a few more days and my manuscript is off to my agent. (Blog and housework, do you hear that? You may have thought I’ve forgotten you, but I’m coming. I promise.) During this latest round of revisions, one of my long time beta readers shared a comment that got me thinking about voice. She feels she’s read enough of my work that she could spot it anywhere. This comment struck home with me. She could recognize my voice anywhere. How cool is that?

When I first started writing, I didn’t know enough about voice to even be worried about it. When I got serious about submitting my work, I started thinking about voice and wondering (akin to a tween nearing puberty) when would I find mine. I’ve since learned that voice is one of those things that can’t be forced. When you buckle down and do enough writing, it finds you. Voice is too much a part of our writerly personalities not to find us. Admittedly, many of us start out sounding like wannabees of our favorite authors. Fortunately, if we write long enough, we actually forget how to sound like them and, lo and behold, our voice emerges.

As I wrap up my revisions, I wanted to share a few quotes on the subject of voice. I hope you find them as inspirational as I do.

We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.
RAY BRADBURY

There are two men inside the artist, the poet and the craftsman. One is born a poet. One becomes a craftsman.
EMILE ZOLA

If I cannot be myself in what I write, then the whole is nothing but lies and humbug.
HENRIK IBSEN

I’ve heard writers talk about “discovering a voice,” but for me that wasn’t a problem. There were so many voices that I didn’t know where to start.
SAM SHEPARD

The poet cannot invent new words every time, of course. He uses the words of the tribe. But the handling of the word, the accent, a new articulation, renew them.
EUGENE IONESCO

photo by D. Causevic

photo by D. Causevic

Here’s to hoping whatever helps inspire you to find your voice is within reach.

Inspired by Fresh Starts

August 15th, 2013 | Posted by debbiecausevic in Uncategorized - (9 Comments)

There’s a feeling of excitement in my house this week. For my kids, it’s tied to the start of a new year. Once we became accustomed to the unbelievably early start date of August 13th (whatever happened to Labor Day marking the start of the school year???), those bubbly feelings of excitement set in. New grades, classes, teachers, shiny new school supplies, shoes, and spanking new outfits. It’s such a good and promising feeling that most of us remember it clearly from our own childhood. My kids are old enough (grades 4 and 7) that they well know the monotony brought upon by early mornings, long days, studying, and homework. But for now, the excitement is winning over. When the big yellow diesel bus can finally be heard lumbering its way down the windy, wooded hillside toward our neighborhood, it’s with grins that they are leaving for the day.

And it’s contagious. That giddy excitement is spilling over as I prepare to dive into a new manuscript. It’s been longer than I like since I began one. For the last nine months my writing has been restricted to revisions of my manuscript now on submission and to a massive ghost project. Those were both insightful and rewarding, but there’s something about starting a new manuscript that flat out wins in the uber cool factor. It means fresh characters, plots, and settings—all shiny and exciting and unfamiliar. Starting fresh gives you a chance to hone the skills you learned on your last round of revisions and do even better this time. To paraphrase Star Trek, to write as you’ve never written before. For a writer, what could be better than that?

Brilliant, sparkly new WIP, here I come…

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Years before I started my first novel, I learned to ride a horse. If you’ve ever ridden anything aside from a seasoned trail horse, you’ll know that this is not an easy task. Horses don’t come equipped with a key or a pedal. They have minds of their own and quickly figure out how unskilled you are. They make you work for all that they give you. To get them to move, there are several things you have to do all at once: apply the appropriate amount of leg muscles while keeping your balance; sit forward in the saddle; look in the direction that you want your horse to move; and give the reins the right amount of slack. Doing all this at once atop a moving animal is easier said than done. A lot. And the faster the gait of the animal moving underneath you, the harder these things become.

As I watched my kids at their riding lesson earlier today, the similarities of riding and writing struck me once again. Hardly a month goes by that I don’t meet someone who has a great idea for a story. A movie-worthy one. But having an idea and getting it onto paper in the form of a sellable novel isn’t easy. How not easy the process is, isn’t obvious to would-be writers. Like riding, so much goes into novel writing. As writers, we work through story and character arcs, find the right voice and narrative, and fine tune the plot all before typing the words “Chapter 1”.

Then comes the hard part. Getting the story out is one thing. Creating an enjoyable read is another. For most of us, this comes with numerous drafts, revisions, and securing valuable feedback from our critique partners. It’s a journey that takes months and even years. Just like learning to ride.

Earlier today, as I watched a big grin spread over my nine-year-old son’s face because he had made it through a complex mixture of balancing, steering (yes, it is called steering), and staying on at a bouncy trot for several circles, I remembered those first few pages of my first attempt at a novel many years ago. I had a great idea that I needed to get out and I forced those words onto paper even though doing so felt just plain ludicrous, because—let’s face it—I wasn’t a born writer. I eventually managed to get those first scenes onto paper. Afterwards, I read them, laughed at myself, blushed, and set the pages down. Then, after a time, I picked them up again and thought I can do better. And I did. And sometime during that first 125,000 word novel attempt (which will likely stay tucked away in a drawer forever), a writer was born.

Now, as I watch my kids happily struggle through the quagmire of learning to ride, my words of advice are few. Practice, practice, and keep on practicing. It might not make us perfect, but it makes the journey a heck of lot more enjoyable.

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