What I’ve Got on the Shelves

I’ve been remodeling my office and it’s been a pain. First, I had to clear the clutter. I had files going back to the eighties. And I hate to throw away anything. There are still decisions to be made about a lot of it so they’re in a closet for now. Then I realized I was a book hoarder. I am doing a massive book giveaway. Don’t ask. That’s being taken care of. I’m donating or selling a lot and some special people are getting some of them. Yes, I will be mailing soon. If I can get to the envelopes.

One of the first things I did after the paint dried was put up my rows of published novels. I think we get so caught up in the daily grind that we don’t always take time to realize what we’ve accomplished. I started writing back in the early eighties. Remember those files I mentioned? Some of them are from the first workshops I attended. They are full of advice that just won’t fly now. I also have my first novel written on a Smith Corona typewriter. What a pain to use white-out and carbon paper. Yes, youngsters, that’s what we did. God forbid you had to make major changes in a manuscript. 

I found my first rejection letter there too. It was from a line called Second Chance at Love. Very complimentary for a first book and the editor asked to see more. I didn’t see the good things, just saw no and quit writing for a while, like years. Bad, Gerry. Then I joined Romance Writers of America and found a support group. I struggled along, writing more manuscripts, learning craft from published authors who volunteered their time to teach workshops. I went to my first national conference and was blown away when I saw Nora Roberts speak. Her advice? Put your butt in the chair and write every day. I came home jazzed, determined to succeed. 

Finally in 1998 I got the call. I sold my first two books, romantic suspense. In 2000 I sold a Regency historical. But I found my real success when I stumbled on a vampire named Gloriana St. Clair. I had a hook–she was bloating when she was turned in 1604. That one thing made my book stand out enough for me to finally snag an agent. I’d been trying since the eighties with no luck. This was 2003. Yes, it was a long, long journey.

Since then I’ve had ten contracts for Real Vampires books with the tenth, Real Vampires Know Size Matters, coming out this December. Writing has become a job, not always a thrill ride. So I put those books on the shelf to remind myself that I have to be proud of what I’ve accomplished. It was a miracle that I got published at all. Some of the writers I started out with never did manage it. I have two books that were translated into German and I get fan mail daily. I am blessed and I know it. I need to keep the joy in the writing and stop worrying about my clutter and the hassles of the publishing world. Yes, I’m behind on everything. That mailing will get done. Just not today. And who knows when this office will finally be as perfect as I’ve dreamed it would be? 

But here’s my bottom line. No one is harder on us than we are. What have you done that you refuse to give yourself credit for? Did you finish a project? Complete a course? Get a degree or win an award? What are you proud of? I’m really proud of the fine son I raised. He is a great father and husband. And he can fix my computer!

Post here, I’d love to know what you have been doing. And I’ll pick a random poster to win a gift card, Amazon or Barnes & Nobles, your choice, by September 30 just for sharing. So come on, brag a little. Where else are you going to do it? Oh, yeah, those frogs? I collect frog princes. I was lucky and found my prince a long time ago. Now that he’s gone, I’m afraid it’s all frogs out there but you never know…

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29 Responses to “What I’ve Got on the Shelves”

  1. Well of course I am crazy proud of my kids and how they are growing into adults, knowing that I had something to do with the people they have and are becoming is pretty great. It reminds me that I may fail at many things but they will always be my success story.
    Recently I decided to take my hobby and make it more. I love photography, I really love to give people something to hold on to that moment in time. That haircut, that blouse, that time when they were small, ect. I wish people printed and saved their phone pictures as much as they post them online. But that’s another story.
    As I worked with people for a while I got pretty jaded, pretty quickly. I really beat myself up and decided to quit. I loved to take and edit the pictures but I really didn’t enjoy the marketing.
    After a long break (pregnancy) I started clicking off the pics again. Not for anyone but me, and my little Emma. As I started uploading them on my website ( http://www.heartnsoul.smugmug.com ) so I could order and make scrap books, I tooled around the site and realized I really loved my photos. I loved the people in them and I AM proud of what I have done. I felt great after looking through those albums. The great stuff, the good stuff, the memories… even the “great in theory” not in print. Was good to see. To learn from.
    All in all I realized, I didn’t need to sell the photos to be proud of them or myself. I didn’t really need the approval. I just needed to look at them with new eyes and not my very critical ones.

    *Side Note*
    Dear people, PLEASE print your pictures. Don’t just save them in your phone or online. Go to snapfish, or HP or even walmart and PRINT your pictures. SAVE your memories! Take a minute and hold them in your hands. Tell your children stories about themselves, and you. AND no matter how much you hate your hair, your weight, that darn pimple, whatever. Get in front of the camera every now and then. The people you love are going to want to remember you too. ❤

    (sorry for the blabbering Gerry)

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    • I love that, Valorie. I’ve gotten into the bad habit of using my phone as my camera and then just downloading them to my computer. What doesn’t go on Facebook is forgotten. I have a printer, but just don’t bother to print. I even have photo paper. I have an elderly relative who would love copies of some of my pictures. You have shamed me into printing some for her. I’m glad you are finding joy in your passion again. It’s good you know what it is. So many people don’t ever figure out what it is. Keep taking pictures and sharing them. It’s a gift to be able to get the right angle, lighting, etc. Trust me, I’ve taken a lot of bad photos. Not all of us can figure out how to make a picture look right. Go, girl!

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    • I feel you! I love being able to share on FB, but something about physical pictures… so much more special. That’s how I feel about physical books too!

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  2. I’ve already won one of your fun contests, but I couldn’t resist bragging. The obvious would be my 3 children. Before meeting my 1st born, who was 11 weeks premature, I had never held a baby or for that matter been around one. I now have 3 incredible kids (3,4 and 8) They are God loving, book reading chore doing angels. (They make me want to scream, but then they poke their heads and say I am beautiful!… they also know to leave me be if I am reading.) The thing I am most proud of is moving from California. Silly, yes. But, my entire family is terrified of leaving what they know. I have never felt at home in the hustle and bustle of California. But it was a big thing to leave everything I knew. My husband was game, and we have been living our HEA in Mississippi. 🙂 I am glad you never gave up writing. Glory is amazing, and so are you! Congrats (in advance) to the winner! ❤ ROCK ON GERRY!

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    • When I had my son Oliver I had never held a baby either. I was terrified! He was precious but when he cried, I panicked. Lucky for me my husband was divorced with four daughters. He knew what to do and taught me what I needed to know. Kids are such a blessing. I just had the one but the four girls were with us every other weekend until their teen years when they started dating. Talk about a full house. How brave of you to move across country. I’m glad it worked out for you. Sounds like you made the right choice. Who knows, the winner is picked at random. It might be you.

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  3. Stephanie Simons Says:

    First and Foremost Gerry, THANK YOU on behalf of all your readers for not giving up completely when you got that rejection letter.

    As for what I have been doing that I am proud of…well I know it is simole and extremely cliche but I have lost 10 lbs in the 6 weeks. (I still have about 40 more to go, but I am still proud of those original 10. I know that I won’t make my ultimate goal before my 40th next month, but I can at least bask in the glory of the small goals.

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    • That’s great, Stephanie. I know from experience that 10 pounds can make a big difference. And it can really motivate you to keep going. You’ll be 40? It’s a tough one, but you’re a baby compared to me so suck it up, kid. Eat those salads and enjoy a new skinnier self. But don’t obsess over it. My next title may say Size Matters. but it doesn’t. Only the size of your heart. Glory says it more than once and I believe it too. Love yourself and be healthy. That’s the best birthday gift you can give yourself. Take care.

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    • That is so awesome! I am not sure what you are doing to shed the pounds, but I lost 60 after my 3rd and final child was one. I hate salads and feeling like I can’t eat certain things, plus working 40+ hours a week made it hard to be all pick my own food healthy – I used Hungry Girl. She has a website and books and YUM foods! Stuff people actually eat! 🙂 Good luck!

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  4. Shannon Cahill Says:

    I know for a fact that I am at least 10 times harder on myself than I should be, but it is hard to over come! There is something I want to brag about, even though it is in it’s infantile stages, because you have helped me with it in so many ways just by being you.

    I used to write all the time. Then, once upon a time, this dumb ass I was dating made fun of my writing, then took off with my best friend, in my car, with all my stuff in it. When I got my car back, it had a broken transmission, and all my stuff, including my journals and stories and poems were gone. I didn’t write anything for almost 20 years.

    Then, the internet was invented. Myspace, Facebook, blogs, it was amazing. I started blogging a little. I tried Nanowrimo a couple of times, but I’m really not good at word vomit. Then I found that some of my favorite published writers were real people–something I never really considered before, lol!–and started reading their blogs, following their facebook posts, and actually having conversations with them.I was inspired.

    So, to the thing I’m giving myself credit for–I’ve started writing again. Not much, a little here and there, but I have so many great story ideas in my head, i’m just trying to figure out what direction to start in. YA? New Adult? Horror? Erotica? I don’t know, but I’ll get there, and I’m proud to be able to say that.

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    • That’s great, Shannon! Keep exploring and you’ll figure out which genre floats your boat. And I’m sure karma caught up with that S.O.B. who took off with your friend and your stuff. Write about that. And then give yourself the happy ending to go with it. He’s left in the middle of a desert, the friend dumps him and he’s got an STD she gave him, your poems get published and win awards and he’s wishing he’d never left you. Or crows can peck his eyes out, depending on your anger. See? You can have fun with it after all this time. Or at least I can. I hate that you lost your work. That’s the real crime. Good luck with the writing.

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  5. Hearing your story is definatly inspiring.
    I just finished writing my first short story, that has a beginning, middle, and an ending. I actually like it too. That’s new for me. 🙂 I have friends reading it now. I think I’m going to indie publish it later this year.

    Now, I’m getting an outline put together for NANOWRIMO that was inspired by a tattoo. This will be my first time participating. It sounds like fun!!! I have a lot of workshops to attend and plans to follow to achieve my dream of being a published writer.

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    • Good luck, Jen. It’s great that you have a finished project under your belt. And NANO is a fun way to get going on something longer. I admit I never tried it. I write pretty fast when I’m motivated by a deadline. Let me know when your stuff gets published. Be sure to read my Perils articles here on my website. Lots of good info for writers there.

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  6. Gerry,
    I knew I loved you for reasons besides the fact that we’re from the same area and I loved your books = You love frogs, too! I have a huge collection and quite a few are frog princes! I am proud of the fact that I was an RN for 38 years before my back finally did me in. It’s funny, because I can be proud of myself for what I did, yet I always had problems receiving compliments from my patients or doctors or other nurses. Go figure! BTW, I just pre-ordered your newest! Thanks for continuing to grace your readers with your amazing talent!

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    • Yes, it’s too bad we can’t just take a compliment and realize we deserve it. Sorry about your back. I bet you have some wonderful frogs. It’s fun to search for them, isn’t it? Thanks for being a fan!

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  7. colleen stram Says:

    Well, the biggest accomplishment is raising my boys mostly on my own after my divorce. Moving to a new state 6 mo preg and buying a house for the first time and really stsrting out fresh after 17 yrs of marriage. Then just a few months later have it all crash down on me. Moving on my own with my boys and not knowing a soul except my x was scary. After my anger and revenge had finally died down (he cheated) him and I got along. My youngest was just 4 mo old. Yeah emotions were flying all over the place. My middle son was about 7 and the oldest was 16. First time liveing on my own with 3 children after almost 18 years of marriage..oh and I didnt have a car…Long story short. We turned out ok. I was told by one of my middle sons teacher back in first grade that she couldnt even tell logan came from a divorced family..I felt I had really done a great job with my boys. My oldest made the decision to join the marines to better himself. Two yrs in so far. And my baby wyatt. Whos 4. So innocent and haveing to grown up his short life thus far without both parents in the same house. Hes done amazeing I have to say. Ive done everything in my power to make sure they have normalcy. Like every married mom thinks. Oh I will never be one of those divorce mothers. I thought that too. Hear I am almost five years later. My kids are happy and healthy and dont want for anything. That is my biggest accomplishment. To top that..my mom moved here..and after everything I have been thru in the last five years she decided to build us a house where we all will live. Her last gift to me. A home. Where I will never have to move again. My sec greatest accomplishment will be takeing care of her when the time comes. Like she took care of me. Everything always seems to work itself out. Just when you think it won’t. Im very greatful for everything. And for my mom..

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    • colleen stram Says:

      Oh ..we move into our forever home..as mom calls it,on the 23rd of this month. She loves her apt down stairs. And I am over the moon with my space upstairs. Finally, a place to call home : )

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    • That’s a great story, Colleen. Hugs on surviving the divorce and making it through with your head held high. Your boys are proof you did everything right. What a thrill to have that home to look forward to. I know you and mom will enjoy it all and it’s great that you can be together.

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  8. 🙂

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    • Oh, wow, Yvonne, you have really touched me. I can’t believe you named your grandbaby after my character. What an honor! I’m so glad she’s doing well. Thanks for the encouragement. You have no idea how much I need it.

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  9. I am so glad that you never gave up writing also. A few years ago I was looking for a new Author to follow and it was you.
    So because of this, I would have to say one of the proudest things that has happened to me is; when my second daughter of five, was pregnant and was searching for names I suggested Gloriana. I thought Glori would be the perfect name for this baby that was fighting to be born and my daughter who almost lost her life too.
    Gloriana MacKenzie Foster was born last May and has strawberry blonde hair and bright sky-blue eyes and is now 16 months old. Although she still has a ways to go medically she is one of the brightest lights in my life.
    This same daughter will be having another baby girl this November and so far everything looks like it is going good. She was again searching for a name and I suggested Haven and she loved it. So this new grandbaby will be named Haven Selene Foster.
    How many grandmothers have the honor of saying they named their grandbabies? But I have to give you some credit because I would never have thought of the name Gloriana if it hadn’t have been for your writing.
    So if you ever decide to start bashing yourself again, remember how much your work really does affect others lives.

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  10. I’m proud of the fact that even though I have a disability I am fortunate that I can still help my nieces and nephew with school work and pretty much whatever else they need. It gives me great pleasure in knowing that I am helping them to learn and grow into amazing people.

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  11. I’ve been through a lot in the past year. I must say I can’t belive where life has led me. Right after I graduated highschool my mother threw me out and and moved in her already ex-husband. I had no where to go and all my plans for my future were crushed. I had wanted so badly to go to college and be a dentist but now I just needed to find a place to live. I was not so prepared for the world. I’d never held a job or even had a licence. I learned then how truly great my friends were. They took me in and helped me get over the shock and form a plan. I moved from a Florida island to a small town in Georgia with some family. I got a licence and a job then saved up. Now I’m about to go into my first year of college this fall and I couldn’t be any more proud. Looking back I can’t belive where I’ve gotten in such a short time. I know now that no matter what I will always be able to make it. Thank you Gerry for writing, reading your books really de-stressed me and kept me focused. Always be proud. ❤

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    • Wow, Alexandra, that was harsh. I am so glad you found support and can start working toward your goal. You are obviously a strong person. I am so proud of you. Someday your mom will wake up and wish she’d made wiser choices, I hope. If you can prove you succeeded despite her, how great will that feel? Take care and here’s a hug from me.

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  12. Brenda Gullett Says:

    I am most proud of being an aunt (or Ninna as my niece calls me). I am a great aunt if I do say so. She is my world. No matter what she does or where she goes she knows her Ninna is always there for her. She knows that even when I’m angry with her I love her more than anything and that’s not an easy feat with a teenager! LOL

    I am disabled & trying to get social security, but I am extremely proud of the job I did as a forensic interviewer for suspected child abuse victims. I am proud to say that there are fewer child abusers on the street in my community because of the work that I did at the Child Advocacy Center.

    I have two of the best friends in the world. This makes me proud because I had the good sense to choose them. I was never very good at judging character and choose unwisely in the past. For the last twenty years I have had two friends that I never doubt & would die for.

    All of this makes me very lucky and very proud! Thank you, Gerry for allowing each of us to brag a little!

    Like

    • Aren’t friends wonderful? I know mine mean so much to me. And it sounds like you did VERY important work. Good luck on the social security. It’s tough to qualify. There are lawyers who help for a percentage but if they get it for you, you will get back pay, retroactive to when they should have allowed it, so it might be worth investigating. Good luck! And with those nieces too.

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  13. Tracy Dittrich Says:

    Well nothing I’ve done like everyone else is more important then my four amazing children. However last year I was diagnosed with diabetes and since then I have lost a total of 30lbs. I still have a ways to go but I am so proud of myself for sticking with it and really working at getting myself healthy for my family.

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    • Great, Tracy. My husband and son had/have diabetes. A good doctor can prescribe meds to keep it under control so you won’t have to go the insulin route. My son isn’t great about his diet, but he has avoided the shots so far. Losing weight is a great start. They are finding out more about diabetes every day. Exercise and diet are everything. And the whole family can benefit from that healthy eating. Take care!

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