I went to Church a couple weeks ago. Shocking, right? Truth be told, I’ve been attending Sunday Masses for a while. I started going two years ago, after moving from Phoenix to Philadelphia. Based in Philly, it was a logical decision, A. D. (after divorce). Ironically, however, by doing so I also returned my east coast roots. (My parents were PA and upstate NY born and raised, and I was born in New Jersey while my dad was stationed at Ft. Dix.). But then again . . . life is a circle that turns on itself, returning to end where it begins . . .
Single and alone, after 36 years of being wife and mother, the move itself was a faithful act. And they say faith can mountains. But I didn’t need a mountain moved (and a transcon moving company had taken care of my worldly goods). What I needed—desperately—was the comfort of believing a higher power had a plan for me. So along with my NJ/PA/NY roots, I returned to my religious ones—ie the Catholic Church. And OMG (no pun intended) was that first confession a doozy!! “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 41 years since my last confession . . .” Side note: I made it easy for poor Father Cavanaugh by just ‘fessing upfront to having broken all of the 10 Commandments except the 5th. (Thou shalt not kill.) I think he doled out 20 Hail Marys, 5 or 6 Our Fathers and an Act of Contrition. (I got off light.) But I digress . . .
So back to me in Church, with a pretty clean slate, I might add. Since my last relationship breakup has engendered 6 months of unwanted celibacy, I no longer have to cop to that “sex outside of marriage” thing. Nowadays #2 (taking the Lord’s name in vain) is the one I struggle with. That particular Sunday the subject of the homily was perseverance, specifically “you don’t bury your God-given talents in the face of failure.” It was a coincidence to say the least. Fateful to say the most.
Just the week prior I had written a piece here entitled “ . . . and start all over again.” Its subject was failure, because at that point I’d had a lot of it. Not only on a personal level, having been dumped by a man I really cared about, but on a professional level as well. The book I had decided to self-publish on Amazon had sold a whopping 4 copies! In the post I wondered whether I should shelve the whole project and just concede to having failed. (BTW, a girlfriend told me it was my worst post ever—depressing and sad. But hey, sometimes the events in life just doesn’t lend themselves to a light and witty post. Besides which—and based upon its hits and comments—I redeemed myself with the next one about vibrators.) So back again to me in Church . . . Oh, dear Lord! “Church” and “vibrators” practically in the same sentence?!? Crap. I wonder which Commandment that breaks? Maybe I’ll just offer a dozen Hail Marys to be safe . . .
But all joking now aside, here’s a confession of a different sort. My writing talent (if it is indeed a talent) has long been a source of frustration and self-doubt. On the one hand, I know I can write. On the other, I don’t always believe it. So as I sat there listening to a discourse about perseverance and talent, I wondered if maybe it wasn’t a message—not exactly a lightning bolt from the sky, a burning bush or the actual booming voice of God—but a message nevertheless. Father C continued his sermon, citing the example of Michael Jordan (arguably basketball’s greatest player) who said he learned more from his failures than he did his successes. The shots he missed in the game he practiced the next day over and over and over again. The ultimate lesson to be learned of course was faith—faith in God—who doesn’t make mistakes. So when man (or woman) does, then he (or she) must work to correct them. Be they actual sins or failures to achieve true potential, i.e. missed basketball shots . . . or next to zero book sales?
Drawing parallel, I began to think. So, short of writing a whole new book, how did I work on what I’d missed? I decided to correct the mistakes I believed I’d made in marketing. I changed the title and cover and book description. (See “I Still Want Fireworks” which addresses the redo in further detail.) Feedback was positive. And so with renewed faith, I awaited results—and steadfastly refrained from checking the sales numbers.
In the meantime I finally achieved a goal I had set four years ago. Six hours before 2017 ended, I finished reformatting the last of my three historical romances. All are now on Amazon in Kindle format. I reedited each, correcting content and character motivation errors, writing mistakes and awkward phrasing. No longer restricted by the publisher guidelines that in the 1990s censored what I could write, I also reworked and rewrote scenes and dialogue. In short, I wrote this time to please myself. Each of the three is different and each endears itself to me for a unique reason.
By far A Knight’s Desire has been my most popular. It is the quintessential medieval romance with a flawed hero, a feisty heroine and a villain readers fall in love with. Hearts Enslaved takes place in Roman Britain, not a popular time frame for a romance, I’ll grant you. More historical in military fact and detail, it was however my favorite to write. I loved its hero—but more importantly it earned my military son’s seal of approval for accuracy. (He read it while deployed, but admitted he’d torn off its bodice-ripper cover first. That’s ok, honey. I don’t blame you. I was never thrilled with the cover either.)
Fires in the Night was the first book I wrote (ever). As such, it has the simplest story line—and the most sex scenes. I was a very bored stay-at-home mom when I wrote it. To say it was a romantic fantasy and an erotic escape would be an understatement. Because it is my guilty-pleasure favorite to read, I gave it a new cover. And may I say, DAMN! If only a cover would sell a book, this one would put me on the New York Times List for sure! (or is it only me who needs a cold shower and /or the nightstand drawer . . .)
So now I am at a crossroads. I toy (no pun intended) with the idea of writing romance again. But I don’t think my heart is in it. Nor do I think my life has enough content or humor for a second humor memoir. Besides which, I finally checked the sales numbers for I Still Want Fireworks yesterday. Alas, 4 must be my lucky number. (That would be sarcasm.) Which leaves this blog. And the concomitant question: What the hell am I doing? Or accomplishing? I am no expert on life, nor do I possess any credentials to address its issues. There are experts aplenty who can—and do—do so. So where to now? Where do I go in 2018 (metaphorically speaking/writingwise, ‘cause we all know I went literally to Paris—see “Now Taking Applications”).
Again, because God has a sense of humor (and impeccable timing), I think my answer came on the last day of 2017 in the form of an email from a follower of “singleat60.” She opened up to me, a stranger, relaying her last few years of adversity and struggle with major health issues. She said she’d been reading me for a while and that it was as if each of my stories when published mirrored exactly what she was going through that week. She told me to keep writing because I “help so many who are going through” what I write about. WOW. Her words humbled and touched me profoundly. Because she’d included her phone number in her email, I called her. We spoke for nearly an hour. She said she was in awe and honored. No, E . . . it is I who was honored! As we signed off, she thanked me repeatedly for calling. I tried to thank her, but she dismissed the impact the call had had upon me.
In speaking to E, I realized I may have realized my writing niche after all. It’s not my academic knowledge, formal training or expertise—because I have none, none and none. As I’ve said before, the only degree hanging on my wall says German, Russian and History. My Master’s is in Life. Period. But my honesty and willingness to openly and candidly (sometimes too candidly) write about my emotions, doubts, fears and experiences . . . according to E, they count. Moreover they fulfill a purpose, she says. Again, WOW.
For a week now since (and after seeing a posted motivational video about goal setting for the new year) I’ve thought about my PP&C (passion, purpose & calling.) Writing has always been a love/hate endeavor . . . I guess that does qualify as a passion. Check. Certainly what I write nowadays is therapy for me, a way to vent and address my thoughts and issues . . . ok, purpose. Check. But calling? A humor blog about sex and aging and starting over? Really? But who would have thought they would resonate so with other women? Not I, for damn sure! Nor I have any real idea with how many. (Though the numbers today say 5355 views by 3162 visitors in 90 countries, let’s be realistic. A lot of that could be pervs simply searching for porn with the word “sucks” in the title.) Neither can I truly know how impactful my off-the-wall musings and attempted humor posts are. But thanks to a fortuitous Church sermon, a random video and a loyal follower’s email, I do know this: I know the answer to “where to now.” At least for a while . . .
In meantime, ladies, how about each of you? As 2018 begins, what is your PP&C?
Postscript: Stay tuned for this techno-idiot’s foray into an audiovisual realm . . . With E’s encouragement, I’m going to try something new next time, a 2-parter that is half video and half my per usual written post.
Post postscript: In response to readers’ requests, techno-idiot figured out how to provide a hyperlink (I think it’s what it’s called). Click on one of the book titles above, and it should take you to Amazon–if you are wanting to check out any of my books further.