Click on the image for more information.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Lessons Learned

A friend of mine emailed me over the weekend and I mentioned that it's been a rough summer. It wasn't just stuff that was happening to me, but terrible, gawd-awful things that were happening to many of my friends.

It depresses you when you're surrounded by so much tragedy and pain.

It reminded me of a story about one of the rescue dogs from 9/11. For days after his stint of search and rescue, he was terribly depressed. He wouldn't eat, and he had no interest in the outside world.

His owner had become desperately afraid for him. He'd never seen his dog so upset. He gave him a bath, and rivers of soot and blood washed off him. 

The poor creature was hanging on to all those scents and particles of death for days and days. He couldn't get away from it and it was killing him emotionally.

As soon as his owner gave him a bath he felt a million times better. He was finally free of all that pain, death, and destruction.

Lately, I've been feeling like that dog. I just couldn't get away from the bad breaks that kept piling on me like boulders.

To put icing on my misery cake, over the weekend I'd found out The Devil To Pay was in a review contest. It lost. It's also still in a cover contest. Chances are good it'll lose that too.

And yet all this losing isn't bad news.

Many of these contests are based on the popular vote. Apparently, I have a lot of friends--though maybe not as many as others. Over the weekend, I kept getting Google alerts from a host of people tweeting or posting about me on FB or blogs. I was truly touched by so much heartfelt support. 

I might not have as many friends as the next guy, but I have intensely loyal friends. You can't get any luckier than that.

But there's a dark side to me. Being the sort who hates to lose, for one slim moment I thought about calling in a favor from a couple of friends who have a wide network of supporters to ask them to get their friends to vote. 

I decided against it.

Firstly because it would be a breach of friendship to ask a favor for something they don't care anything about. And secondly, I didn't want to win because I had the most connections--especially on the cover contest. I know, that's what networking is all about, but in this case, I think it's dishonest.

I want the cover to win because it was the best designed. I still think it's the best.

So this is me, on the raggedy side of a drought-stricken world, grateful I have so many good friends, and proud that you think so highly of me.

Like my dog friend of 9/11, I think I'm going to take a bath and try to rid myself of all these bad breaks, and hope the tide will turn soon.

Life goes on, and a contest is just a contest. What really counts is who's still with you when you cross that finish line.
Thanks for being there for me.

Things will get better. They always do.


Rula Sinara said...

Hugs, Maria. Things will look up.

Renee Miller said...

I know where you're at and I feel your pain. This has been the worst few months I think I've ever experienced. The story of that dog though, really puts things into perspective. It is not so bad that I'll let myself get down. It could always be much worse. And you're right in not using those connections. I'd have been tempted too but like you, an honest win means far more to me. Your book deserved to win that review contest and it deserves to win best cover. The cover art is amazing. We know that. But both are popularity contests that in the end, mean little. It would have been awesome to see you win, but at the end of the day, without those silly prizes, you're still the winner. You've got beautfully written books available for readers smart enough to give them a chance. No cover prize or review can change that. I'd give a limb or two to have half the skill and talent you have. Hell, I'd give my firstborn. You want her? All she does is sleep and bitch anymore, so I'm quite over my infatuation.

Also, here's some vodka. It should take the edge off while you get around to believing what I just said. It's raspberry, mix it with seven-up or just drink it straight. *hugs* I'm off to string up a reviewer. What? Of course, I'm kidding.

Angelina Rain said...

*Hugs*. I'm sorry things are not great right now but it will get better.

I voted for you in the contest and really hoped you would win, but life goes on even if you don't win. I've noticed that too that contest like those are nothing more then a popularity contest. Hopefully you'll win the next time around.

Eileen Astels Watson said...

Wishing you a brighter day today, Maria!

I never put too much stock in contests like that as they are so subjective. Come to think of it, everything in writing is subjective. Just do the best you can and we need to be satisfied in that, I guess.

LD Masterson said...

Still with you.

And your cover was by far the best, no matter what the silly vote says.

Maybe you should combine ideas and take a bath in vodka. Hmmm. Probably not.

Ellie Garratt said...

Sending you virtual hugs, Maria.

Maria Zannini said...

Rula: What's the old Jewish saying? If I didn't have bad luck, I wouldn't have any luck at all. LOL.

Renee: ROTFL! You made my day. Please keep your first born--unless you think she might be useful for slave labor. I have a whole field that needs raking and chickens to be fed.

There's a reason God didn't give me any children. I'm sure he didn't want me to go to jail.

Angelina: I really appreciate all you did. Thanks, hon.

Eileen: True. And in a larger context, the whole world is subjective. Things are important because we make them important--whether they deserve it or not is for historians to decide.

Maria Zannini said...

Linda: bath. Do I get a crazy Russian with that? Cuz that would be awesome--at least until Greg gets home. Then he'd be a dead Russian.

Ellie: Use the transporter. And send a tribble. :)

Sarita said...

Thank you for this post. I'm sorry things aren't going well for you but your fabulous attitude makes me smile.

I love that cover. Whatever happens, it's a winner.

Clarissa Draper said...

You have a great piece of fiction and eventually it will get noticed. In fact, it has been noticed. I've been seeing your book around the blogisphere a lot.

Renee Miller said...

She's pretty much useless at labor of any kind. Sigh. Guess I'll have to keep her.

KarenG said...

What an interesting story about the dog--the healing properties of water. You're right, you do have an excellent cover but you made the right decision because those contests when it's all about voting are essentially who can get the most people on board to vote for them. Ugh.

Kim said...

It's been awful all around - but it will get better. **hugs**

Angela Brown said...

Many hugs from your Texas bud.

Like that 9/11 fella, you'll hop back into your normally, very scrappy self once you wash away the bad breaks.

And yes, we are all here to support you. You just write so darn well.

Maria Zannini said...

Sarita: Maybe I need to start wearing track shoes to outrun bad luck. :) Thanks, hon.

Clarissa: Ref: I've been seeing your book around the blogisphere a lot.

No kidding? I haven't had too many alerts on the book. That's good to know.

Renee: Sorry, Renee. But you did bring her into this world. LOL.

KarenG: What most people don't realize is how acute a dog's sense of smell is. It must've been agony to have the smell of death on him constantly.

Kim: It has been bad. I lost count of how many people have written me in the past week alone with their tragedies and losses. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is in pain.

Angela: Aw, I'm still scrappy. LOL. I just have more wounds to lick lately.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Being part of the contest at all is a great promotional opportunity. It put your name and book in front of many new people. That's a win.

Cate Masters said...

I agree with Susan. Contests are great promo to get your book out in front of readers who might not be familiar, and your cover will definitely intrigue them. As will the wonderful review!
Sorry it's been a tough year for you. Not much better on the East Coast, I assure you.

Anonymous said...

I voted. Win or lose, at least the contest was free publicity :)

The story of that dog really puts things into perspective. Thanks for sharing it.

{{hugs}} Maria. If you need a listening ear, you have my email, feel free to vent. Hope things get better soon.

Madeleine said...

I think your book cover is lovely too.

Who is to know though whether the other person has won because they have more friends voting than that it merits the votes, though? It makes you wonder.

One hopes the best book & cover will win on merits, though so often contests are won for other reasons. :O)

Dru said...

Great post.

Sometimes stepping away makes you a winner.


jackie b central texas said...

Maria I am truly sorry the review contest was lost, thought for sure your novella had a good chance. We did try to spread the word but it was up to people to get off their keisters to vote.

Here is to a new day, may it be brighter and at some point include cool rain that will give our parched Mother Earth some much needed life and strength to carry on.

I remember so well those poor search and rescue dogs during 9/11. Soon the anniversary of that tragedy is going to be here again and when I think about it just want to curl up in a ball and sob for all the wasted lives and heartaches that the survivors still carry when they relive what happened.

Your books have given their readers hours of enjoyment, take that thought to bed with you at night and carry on knowing that though your fan base may not be "legion" we are still out there!

*Virtual hugs* to you and a wish for something to make that frown turn upside down.

Jenny Schwartz said...

Well, I voted! 2011 is generally a struggle through year. So many people have had rotten news, and of course, all the disasters -- but Maria, your blog has been a bright spot. I was just posting on an Australian writers loop how great your self-publishing blog tour for The Devil to Pay was. In fact, I used the phrase, 'lessons learned' -- and then, saw this post headed, lesson learned. Synchronicity.

Hugs to everyone who needs them and to those who just want a hug :)

Life is pretty good, despite everything, when there are good people in it. Thanks all.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: The contests were the least of my worries. I like them because they're a cheap way to get more eyes on your books, but I would've rather not have added to my stress level.

Cate: It was a good review, wasn't it. I loved how she picked out a very specific incident in the book. It's something I want to discuss on this blog later on.

Raelyn: You are so kind. I'm fine, just a little overwhelmed by the hardships.

Ref: Who is to know though whether the other person has won because they have more friends voting than that it merits the votes, though?

Well, when it comes to the cover contest, I'm pitting my 30+ years of experience to make that judgement call. I don't claim expertise on anything except graphic design.

Dru: Right now I'd be glad to step away. I wish I could.

Jackie: You have been so wonderfully supportive. I swear there has to be a special place in heaven for people like you.

Jenny: You made my day! Hardly anyone ever comments about how I'm doing on this blog. I always wonder if I'm doing something right or wrong. Thank you!

Mason Canyon said...

Tomorrow will be brighter and hopefully one of these days it will rain a drop or two. :) Sending hugs.

Thoughts in Progress
Freelance Editing By Mason

Shelley Munro said...

Maria, definitely don't think of it as a loss. Your name, book cover and title is now imprinted in readers' minds. That's a good thing!

I'm sorry you've had such a rough time recently. I'm crossing my fingers that things improve for you. Know that you have many friends who wish you the best and are cheering you onward.

Mike Keyton said...

It's a good story - that dog. Hanging on to bad memories is tremendously destructive. I understand fully your mixed feelings ref the contests. It's a dangerously addictive game getting involved in 'beauty contests'. Did it once very recently and I hated asking friends to vote because ultimately you're asking friends to collude in a game created by somebody else. But then the competitive urge along with the sense that your work is indeed better, kicks into play. In your case, Maria, you might win that second contest, but whatever happens, a nice compensation prize is the publicity.

And of course, you have your friends for whatever life throws at you

Cathy in AK said...

You've always been so supportive and cheerful for everyone else, I'm always thrilled when I get the chance to return the love : )

Your writing and cover are top notch. Don't let some popularity contest make you think otherwise!

Maria Zannini said...

Mason: I think God was teasing me today. The sky got dark, the wind started blowing, and it thundered in the distance. But we didn't get a drop of wet stuff. :(

Shelley: I rarely let things get me down. I think it's just that I've had to share so many other people's miseries that weighed heavily on me.

Mike: I don't mind them voting and cheering for other people. I'm not too crazy of doing it for myself though.

Cathy: The cover contest was near and dear to my heart because that was my artwork. That makes it personal. LOL!

L'Aussie said...

Hi Maria. Amazing how so many bad things can happen at once. I've left you a reply on my blog about the campaign and I can see it just might be what you need. I can just about guarantee you'll pick up at least 100 more followers but they will all be people who have similar aims as you.

I wish I could have voted for you but alas too late!