Bumps In The Road

Welcome to Author Next Door!

A few weeks ago I took my car in for its yearly state inspection. While waiting, I had flashbacks from last year’s inspection, the one I joke cost me $2000.

About a month before the inspection last year I backed out of the garage and hit our large plastic garbage bin, breaking the rear light clear protective plastic. I don’t usually do things like that—other people do. My handyman husband did a great job gluing all the pieces back together BUT…the light didn’t pass inspection. It needed to be replaced.

Easy fix, right? Not! These days you can’t just buy the one small, clear replacement piece. You have to buy the whole dad-gum three-foot-long section unit that costs almost $350, plus pay around $75 labor costs to have it installed. After calling several dealerships to price the part I ended up driving to another town nearby to pick one up.

But my financial journey wasn’t over yet. When I got back into my car with the box holding the replacement light unit, the car wouldn’t start. My battery was dead! Since I had to pay the dealership’s service department to replace the battery I went ahead and paid them to install the part I’d just bought as well.

What else could go wrong?

I’ve got to stop asking that question. On the way home the AC went out. In Texas it’s still in the 90s even in September, so AC here is not optional. The only silver lining was that my hoses didn’t have the dreaded “black death.” All told, last year work done to inspect and fix my car came to around $2000.

This year, everything was normal. After a boring hour of sitting in the waiting room playing Sudoku on my phone, I paid the regular fee.

While normal is great for the pocketbook, it doesn’t make for a good story. I’m going to laminate this epiphany for my collection, because while personally I prefer to avoid conflict and hardship, as a writer I’ve learned to embrace them. In fact, I’ll admit that on occasion I’ve actually enjoyed the process of making life “sucky and suckier” (thank you, Debra Dixon) for the characters in my story.

May optimism and a sense of humor help us navigate bumps in the road of life, and may our creativity and imagination transform them into copy for our next book!


#RWA14 was Awesome!

Welcome to Author Next Door!

Got back late July from the Romance Writers of America annual conference in San Antonio, Texas, and after four days of sharing a shower I could not wait to soak in a long, hot bath! My very patient husband listened to me talk 95 miles per minute about all the wonderful, inspiring, funny, and wise things I’d heard over the five-day period, but bottom line: RWA14 was totally awesome!

I absolutely love attending RWA conferences. Workshops are incredible, networking potential is amazing, people are friendly, and roommates bond over things interesting and quirky. We listen to top keynote speakers, panels of editors and agents, and spotlights on publishing house trends; we attend book signings for literacy as well as free book give-aways; and we browse for Goody Room promo freebies. After the whirlwind, we all return home inspired, focused, and ready to write.

The ladies and I who car-pooled and roomed together this year at the conference hotel called ourselves the “Fab Four.” They were a hoot! I could not have shared my hotel room with three nicer ladies. Thank you Cheryl, Janece, and Jan. And although this was the third national RWA conference I’ve attended, it was the first conference where I pitched a completed manuscript both to a publisher and an agent in prearranged appointments. Instead of being a basket case, I was (mostly) calm and prepared, since the wonderful PANs in our local RWA chapter gave up one afternoon before the conference to listen to all 15 of us practice our pitches and to help critique us. Their input was invaluable. So thank you to our chapter PANs!

One unpredictable joy of a conference is, you never know who you’ll meet on an elevator or who you’ll see sitting at the next table in the bar. Apparently it’s become a rite of passage in our chapter to return with your own “Nora Roberts sighting” story. This year I didn’t come back with a story, but I think having my picture taken with the very classy Ms. Roberts is twice as nice!

The finale of every RWA conference is, of course, the RITA and Golden Heart Awards Ceremony. We laughed, we cheered, and we all hoped: next year may it be one of us walking to the front to accept our statuette. That’s one thing I don’t think I would mind dusting!