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What it’s all about – and yes, it can happen to all of us.

March 19, 2011 by in category Archives tagged as , ,

by Monica Stoner, Member at Large

We sit in front of our screens, our typewriters, our yellow pads, pouring thoughts and emotions out for the world to see with the hopes some day the world will see. Other than our critique partners, our supportive friends and a few anonymous contests judges, our words’ world is very small. We dream of the day we get the call, and as we keep typing, keep plotting, keep running scenes through our heads while going through grocery checkout, deep down inside we start to wonder. What’s it all about? Is it really worth the time investment?

Sure we need to give a home to our characters. One day. In the meantime there are so many demands on our energy, and to say “I can’t, I have to write” becomes weaker and weaker as the weeks, months, and years slide past. Until “I have to write” segues into “I’ll write later” and the span between writing times grows. We pull ourselves out of the pit from time to time, take a class or two, jot down some plot ideas, maybe enter a contest. Or maybe judge a contest, telling ourselves we’re “giving back” or “keeping our hand in.” We keep up our memberships, though sometimes we wonder if that money couldn’t be spent better elsewhere. Giving up our memberships and meetings might mean we are giving up on ourselves as writers.

Because we retain our memberships, nurturing that tiny spark of hope we hope will rise into a flame; because we still plot, still polish, still review, one day we participate in a pitch contest, and we’re asked to submit. Or we learn of a publisher “actively seeking manuscripts.” And we have just that – a manuscript ready to submit to a publisher for consideration. Maybe we’ve done this before with less than stellar results, until “we find your ideas interesting but your writing is not up to our standards” becomes worse than “it’s not you, it’s me, I need live more before I settle down.”

This time, though, this time it just might be different. And we send our polished, pressed, primped child off to the prom with an introduction but without us to stand behind them when they fall. We get the automatic acknowledgment of receipt with a promise to get back to us, and an advisory to ask if we haven’t heard within a span of from one to three months. One to three months, can we hold our breath that long?

Conditioned by past disappointments, we put thoughts of the submission out of our minds and go about our every day lives. Houses still need to be cleaned, snow shoveled or sidewalks swept and the laundry never ends. We tell ourselves not to hope, not to think about it, and wait for the rejection so we can at least apply for our PRO status. When the e-mail comes back in a long weekend, we sit with fingers poised on the keys, hand dropped over the mouse, take a deep breath, and click. Such a fast response can’t be anything good, can it? The message opens on the screen, and you read:

“I am pleased to tell you that I enjoyed your Into the Woods very much. I found only minor editing problems as I read, mainly punctuation errors, as well as your tendency to shift POV in mid scene, sometimes in mid paragraph. But these are easy fixes. For the most part, Into the Woods is very well written.”

She said WHAT??

“If you are interested in publishing Into the Woods with us, please let me know, and I will have our attorney prepare a contract for you.”

Does that REALLY say what we think we’re reading? Better print it out, just in case. Yep, the words are the same on the page as they are on the screen. Gulp. A Sally Field moment, for sure. “For the most part Into the Woods is very well written.” Yep, that’s what she said.

Oh. My. God. It really happened. Someone who doesn’t know you likes your writing and wants to introduce your people to the world. You are a writer. For years you’ve been telling yourself and others the sheer act of putting words on the page makes you a writer. And it does. But now you are a Writer.

Yes, it happened to me. I sent off “Into the Woods” to Black Opal Books on February 17, and had an answer on February 22. I just finished the first round of edits, they want to change the name, and I’m looking at cover art. While doing this for “Into the Woods,” I’m grooming another book to send, this time with fewer dashes and ellipses and without a ping ponging Point of View.

All the years of wishing and hoping and helping out the chapters and taking notes at workshops has paid off. Could I have done it without the fantastic support system set up by and for Romance writers? Maybe, but I doubt it. This one’s for you, OCC. Thank you to everyone who has supported, critiqued, pushed, nagged and given out tough love.

This one’s for Michelle, who gave me OCC’s address. Love ya babe.

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Are we WRITERS? by Monica Stoner Member at (very) Large

April 19, 2010 by in category Archives tagged as ,

What defines us as writers? Some say the act of writing, of pulling words from our heads and putting them on pages, defines a writer. If that’s the case, when we don’t write, do we cease being writers?

We all agree publishing of any sort does not define us as writers. Publishing is the public acknowledgment of our writing. The same as hanging a painting in a gallery, or selling sculpture recognizes a large step in an artist’s life. However, creating that artwork has already identified that person as an artist. When asked, they can point to the sculpture, the hand thrown bowl, the oil painting, as an affirmation of their identity as an artist. When not currently producing, they still have that proof of their creative spark.

How long after we cease to torture our bodies by sitting for hours in front of our computer and cudgel our minds for just one viable idea can we continue to call ourselves writers? Is there a specific length of time, or maybe one day we just wake up and decide it’s time to move on to something else? If, after a span of time, we plan to take up the challenge once more will we be still writing, or writing once again? Do we call ourselves once and future writers?

Teachers and nurses retire; pilots retire; and certainly soldiers and policemen retire. Once they have made that change in their lives, they are former teachers, pilots, etc (except Marines – I understand once a Marine, Always a Marine). Do writers ever retire? Or do they plan to be found, pen in hand, yellow pad on their lap, jotting down one final thought? Maybe writers are the Marines of the cerebral world – once a Writers, always a Writer?

Where is this leading? I’m not really sure. I just know by the act of dragging these words out of my head and into my fingers, I’ve gone from not writing to writing. So I guess I’m still a writer. And next maybe I’ll discuss wonderful writing data bases and why they don’t work for everyone.

Monica Stoner
We’re only given a little spark of madness; we mustn’t lose it.

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Romance in A Time of Tragedy by Monica Stoner Member at Large

January 19, 2010 by in category Archives tagged as ,

How many of us wonder, as we’re pounding out the lives of our hero and heroine, if there can be justification for Romance writing such times as terrorist attacks in war zones the tsunami in the Indian Ocean or the earthquake in Haiti. Can we justify spending so much time at our keyboards with, to be honest, very little hope of remuneration? Shouldn’t we be doing something?

The same questions come up for anyone deeply involved in what some might call a non productive hobby or career or avocation. And we who feel deeply worry the most about our place in the world. We each do what we can in our own way.

Spinning tales out of mid air is a time honored method of dealing with difficult times. “Tell me a story,” whispers the frightened child, looking for distraction from the sounds in their closet. “Tell us a tale,” commands the King when a new Bard comes to visit. “Make our heroes bigger and braver, our villains more evil, and our princesses even more beautiful.” Tell us a tale, and take us away, if briefly, from our every day world. Give us something else to think about, if only for the next few minutes.

I know I’ve certainly thought this more than once, and said so to someone whose opinion was very important to me. She asked back: “If you stopped writing or showing dogs or riding horses would those tragedies go away?” She did have a great way of cutting an issue down to basics, and also reminding me very few people are so important their actions influence the world. A lot of people might think they are that important but that’s a matter for another time. None of us can stop the ocean or earth from expressing themselves.

Andre Norton wrote of heroes from the unlikeliest backgrounds, mostly what might be considered “throw away” people in the slums left over from horrific intergalactic wars. I wonder if this was her method of dealing with the lost children and lost people after governments have rolled over top of citizens? Certainly her “ordinary people” did extraordinary things, once they recognized their own value. Could some of this also have to do with why some of us create characters who can stop the ocean and who can communicate with the earth to convince her not to shrug so hard, or in such a vulnerable place?

We each do what we can, in our own way, to deal with tragedy. Whatever we do, we also reach out to each other, to the other spinners of tales, for the comfort of at least a few hours of relief from the unrelenting worry. And perhaps our words are read by someone who needed that particular story at that particular time. Hug your loved ones.

Monica Stoner

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It’s About Time by Monica Stone, Member at Large

November 19, 2009 by in category Archives tagged as ,

Time is a four letter word. No matter how hard we work, we never have enough time. We can save time, waste time, lose time, make time, but we can never create time. We can kill time, find time, steal time, juggle time but still time gets away from us. Somehow twenty four hours just don’t seem to be enough time yet I suspect if we could create thirty six hour days we’d still not have enough time.

As writers we seem to constantly need just a little bit more time. Time to write of course but also time to perform those every day miracles that seem to need our time and no one else’s. Somehow only we can plan meals, sort laundry, mop floors. And if we add more commitments to our time all too often we find time for those commitments and not our writing.

When good causes come calling I find it’s easier to commit myself to a donation than to time but of course they’d rather have some of my precious time. How can we put a monetary value on something we can’t touch and never have enough of?

Then there’s the whole sleep thing. We’re told we need more sleep but again there just does not seem to be time for eight hours of doing nothing but recharging our bodies. Of course this is one of the places where we really do need to make time or we’ll find ourselves running out of time.

I understand there are some time management blogs and courses available. I’ll look into them as soon as I can find the time.

Monica Stoner


You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something.
-Winston Churchill

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Come on Down and Join the Fun

August 19, 2009 by in category Archives tagged as ,

Monica Stoner, member at large

The time is NOW to make space in your schedule for the LERA conference. Afterwards we can introduce you to green chilis, the most perfect food in the world.

2009 LERA Write From The Heart Conference

Come join LERA, Dianna Love, and Mary Buckham (with special guest Sherrilyn Kenyon) as they present their innovative, day long workshop:

From Thought To Plot
This interactive workshop will be held on Saturday, November 14th, from 8:30 to 5:00 at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center,2401 12th St. NW Albuquerque, NM, just five minutes from Old Town Albuquerque.

Book signing after the conference: location TBA. Authors will include Sherrilyn Kenyon, Dianna Love, and Mary Buckham!

Monica K Stoner

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