Everything I Ever Wanted to Know About Writing and Publishing, I Learned from Watching Football…

I’ve always loved football. I remember watching the 49ers with my dad when I was little. I remember cheering when he cheered and asking countless questions about the game. I learned quickly. (I also learned that my mom watched for the tight pants. Good on ya, mom. Thanks for the lesson.) If I were male, tougher, taller, etc. I would’ve loved to play in school. The closest I could get to the football field was the sidelines, cheering on the team in a skirt, so that’s what I settled for. I was a cheerleader because I loved the lights, the adrenaline, the strategy, the strength, and the excitement. It’s no wonder I married the quarterback of our high school football team. I was the cheerleader who was distracted by the game. The one telling a few others whether we were on offense or defense so they could call the right cheer.

So today, as I sit on the couch watching the 49ers preseason game against the Vikings (go Niners!), with my computer on my lap to maybe, possibly plot Seattle Wolf Pack #3, I can’t help but think about how much carry-over there is from football to writing. Really, I suppose these comparisons could be used against any team sport, but I’m watching football, so here you go.

I give you, EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT WRITING AND PUBLISHING, I LEARNED FROM WATCHING FOOTBALL.

  1. No matter what happens, keep your eye on the goal.
  2. If you get hit (with a poor review, difficult critique, etc), all that matters is that you get back up.
  3. It takes a team (critique partners, writing groups, editors, proof readers, marketing and publishing professionals, assistants, retailers, book bloggers, readers, etc.) to be successful.
  4. Trust that the members of your team will do their job so that you can do yours. (Write your next best book!)
  5.  You can measure inches, yards, and downs (steps and/or setbacks along your journey), but you can’t measure heart.
  6. There will always be someone stronger, faster, and seemingly better than you. Try your best, it’s all you can do.
  7. “Almost a first down”, much like “almost wrote my word count today”, doesn’t cut it. If you want it, you have to push harder.
  8. There are players who have natural ability and those who have to work harder to achieve success. Accept that you may be working ten times harder than someone else; also accept that it doesn’t make you less capable of being successful.
  9. If the passing game isn’t working for you, how’s your running game? (ie: If the dark paranormal market isn’t selling well, and you can’t sell your dark paranormal proposal, try writing light paranormal. Or contemporary. Or romantic suspense. Or…)
  10. Learn from the best.
  11. Study your competition before game day.
  12. Don’t burn bridges. If you get dropped from one team (or publishing house), leave on good terms. You never know when you’ll be coached (or edited) by someone on that team later in your career.
  13. Give every play (or writing day) your all.
  14. If you’re competing with the big dogs, be a big dog. Have confidence in your abilities.
  15. You may never be a legend (ie: Joe Montana, Deion Sanders, Nora Roberts, Daphne duMaurier), but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a difference to your team, and your fans. And hey, you know what? You can be that legend!
  16. Be smart about the game (and the publishing industry) and know how it’s changing.
  17. Some of the people you play with on the field (or meet in the industry), will end up being the best friends you’ve ever had.
  18. There is always room at the top, so don’t stop reaching for that ultimate goal.
  19. You could have the most talent of anyone playing (or writing) but a bad attitude will lose you fans (and readers). The opposite could also be argued.
  20. Listen to your coach (or agent, editor)–they know what they’re talking about.

Last, but not least…

21.  Heroes always look good in tight pants.

RWA 2013 Recap

I had such a great time at RWA this year that it took me a solid three days to recover from the trip. I’m just now unpacking and getting down to business. Thanks to an awesome recommendation from one of my great friends, I walked .5 miles bright and early Tuesday morning to visit the Georgia Aquarium. No one wanted to go with me (I couldn’t blame them though, because we are there to network and talk shop with other writers in the hotel, not see fish), so I went by myself. Well, I *did* run into Susan Elizabeth Phillips, so I guess I wasn’t totally alone. 😉

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The whale sharks were AMAZING. Totally breathtaking. After leaving the Marriott filled with 4,000 hustling and bustling women, it was so peaceful to watch these giants swim around.

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*Here’s a picture with all three whale sharks. The biggest was twenty-six feet, and she was magnificent.

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I had to include the picture above because right after taking it, I made it the wallpaper on my iPad. The colors were so vibrant, yet because these little guys weren’t the whale sharks or the belugas, or the dolphins, most people passed them by. I surely didn’t.

Now down to RWA business:

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Cathy Maxwell and Kristan Higgins were the keynotes this year, and although I wouldn’t have expected it, I teared up for each speech. Okay, okay, Kristan Higgins totally had me balling. If you were there, you remember. I bet you were balling, too.

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*Me and Jude Devereaux at her True Love book signing. She wrote my all-time favorite romance novel, A Knight in Shining Armor. I’ve been waiting to meet her for years, since I first started attending RWA’s national conference, but she’s been MIA. When I told her that I’d been waiting years to meet her, and that every year during her publisher signing I’d look for her, she smiled and said, “You’re right! I haven’t been to RWA in years!” She sounded surprised at her admission. Like she’d simply forgotten to put the conference on her calendar. I loved her.

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*Me and “the Nora”.

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*My table at Avon’s signing event. I was seated beside Kerrelyn Sparks, Lynsay Sands, and Colleen Gleason, and was totally starstruck.

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*Surreal moment #1,513,882

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*Me and my roommates, Amber Belldene (author of Blood Vine and Blood Entangled) and AJ Larrieu (author of Anchored). I think Dear Husband wanted to be a fly on the wall in our room at least one night. We talked about sex, how it relates to the Bible, feminism, and may or may not have gorged on Dove chocolates. I had a blast.

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*Me and Rachael Herron (fellow SFA chapter mate and author of How to Knit a Heart Back Home, one of my fav sweet romances). She is made of sweet.

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*A handful of my crazy smart SFARWA chapter mates: Tina Folsom, Carolyn Jewel, Sophie Littlefield, and Rachael Herron.

The day that the above picture was taken was probably one of my favorites. These ladies are so unbelievably brilliant and there are so many times where I think I’m way out of my league…but they don’t make me feel that way. Not at all. Not one of them. They are so talented, yet so humble. I’d planned my schedule for the entire day, but told myself if something came up I wouldn’t keep myself to it. By being open to meeting new people and making new friends, I came away with a new plan of action for my books and my writing process. By the end of the day, my mind was completely blown, but my path was clear. It’s all thanks to these ladies.

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*The “3212ers” on the night of the Golden Heart and RITA award ceremony.

For the first time in the five years that I’ve attended an RWA national conference, I didn’t go out after the ceremony. Usually the bar is filled with ladies are glitzed and glammed and ready to talk shop. I wasn’t tired, not really, though I should’ve been. I was more focused than anything. I’d gotten edits back on Seattle Wolf Pack #2 while I was there, and the conference gave me some clarity on where I should go and what I should do. When I leave a conference like that, I’m usually pumped and roaring to go a day or two after I get home. This time, I was pumped and roaring to go before the conference even ended. I wanted to *work*. I wanted to buckle down and get shit done. So on the last night of the conference, I packed up my things, cleaned up our room, then sat on my bed with my iPad and edited the hell out of my next book. It wasn’t until I got home that I crashed. 😀

If you’re thinking about writing a novel, have written one but don’t know where to turn, or have heard about the RWA conference but don’t know if you should go, let me break down your choices….1) GO or 2)