Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A Harvest of Expectations

posted by Aunty Cindy aka Loucinda McGary

Since it’s the harvest season here in the Western hemisphere, and time for sowing and new beginnings for our buddies down under, I’ve been thinking about the whole cycle of planting and reaping and anticipating rewards.

Most of the time, when I do something, I have certain expectations of the process and the outcome. For example, when I read a new book or watch a new movie I expect to be entertained by characters and situations, maybe learn something along the way, and generally enjoy myself for a few hours. When my BFF plants seed or seedlings in her garden, her expectations are to eventually have pretty flowers or delicious fruits and vegetables.

When I began my journey to publication, I had some definite expectations, some realistic and others not so much. I also developed new expectations as I went along, and each milestone along the way had me changing, discarding, and even achieving new and different expectations.

This whole journey has been a gigantic learning process. From learning the writing basics of plot, character development, and conflict, to the vast mysteries of query letters and submissions, down to copyedits and self-promotion, I’ve stumbled along, always expecting I’d find my way through, and I have. Sometimes the lessons haven’t been pleasant, but far more often I’ve enjoyed what I learned, and either way, I know I benefited.

And speaking of benefits… I’ve experienced many unexpected and wonderful ones!

When I finalled in the 2006 Golden Heart, I had some pretty big expectations, but I never thought I’d meet nineteen of the best friends I’ve ever had! I certainly didn’t expect that a contest would ultimately result in being part of the coolest community in cyber-space, but here I am with all of you!

Over a year ago, when I sold my first book, I knew that ultimately I would see my dream of publication come true. Well, just a few days ago I finally saw my first book on the store shelves, but now I know that this is only part of the harvest that I’ve enjoyed and will continue to enjoy for a long time to come. Thanks to the magic of the internet, I know that my book is in libraries all over the country and in the hands of readers all around the world! And I know unforeseen dividends will continue to surprise and delight me and far surpass my wildest expectations.

What about you? Where are you in the process of sowing and harvesting? What kinds of expectations have you had that happened or didn’t? Care to share some unexpected rewards?


Jane said...

Hi Aunty Cindy,
It must have been a thrill to see your book on the shelves. I'm not in the process of harvesting anything at the moment. I am starting to sweat about Christmas presents and decorations. It's silly because it isn't even Halloween yet. I am determined to get all my shopping done early and get everyone a great gift at a great price.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Congrats on the GR, Jane!

Maybe he can help you find some great bargains.

I can't believe Xmas decorations are already out in the stores! My mom always used to have all her holiday shopping done in Oct. She loved to shop and was a great bargain hunter. I certainly didn't get either trait from her. :-P


limecello said...

Awe, what a nice post, Aunty Cindy! And congratulations on the GR, Jane!

Natalie Hatch said...

've just had a friend go through one of my stories and I've had to cut whole chapters, rearrange scenes etc etc. So I guess I'm still in the hoeing/sewing stage, one day I'll harvest the rewards of all this work.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanx Limecello!
We know you have been working a long time toward a very big harvest and we are all pulling for you.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

The revision process is a lot like hoeing and weeding, isn't it? But ultimately, you'll have that lovely cornucopia full of rewards! Keep up the great work.

off to watch Letterman

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Jane, good one on the chook!

Cindy, what a lovely post. Actually writing really is quite a horticultural pastime, isn't it? All that manuring and weeding and mulching and nothing much happening when you have to leave the fields lying fallow. Actually one of the lovely unexpected harvests from my writing career is all the lovely friends I've made all round the world. And as you say, who could disregard the cornucopia of wonderfulness that is the Banditas?

Helen said...

Congrats Jane have fun with him

Lovely post Auty Cindy and have I told you how happy I am for you.
I have just been told that I shoud have my books that I ordered including The Wild Sight in my hands within two days YAY can't wait to start reading it.

Harvesting well I guess expecting two grandsons on the 13th Dec is really reaping in the harvest I am so lucky and I am so looking forward to cuddling my two new grandsons and seeing Jayden and Hayley interact with their new cousins.

Have Fun

PJ said...

Jane, congrats on the GR!

AC, what a lovely blog. Congrats on reaping your harvest of seeing your book in print. I'm looking forward to finally getting my hands on a copy.

Yesterday was the harvest of my household conservation efforts with the arrival of the monthly electric bill. I was thrilled to see a charge of only $56 for my almost 3,000 sq. ft. house. That's a harvest to celebrate!

I sewed a few seeds yesterday when I stopped by my Vet's office and unexpectedly encountered a beautiful German Shepherd who had been found, abandoned and starving, last week. Now in the hands of a wonderful rescue group, he's gaining weight and well on his way to a full recovery. I had my camera with me (when do I not?) so I took a series of photographs of him (the little ham loved posing for me) and sent them to the rescue group to use on their website when they put him up for adoption. Hopefully, the pictures will help find this smart, sweet dog a loving home. That's one harvest I'm really looking forward to!

PJ said...

Helen, two new grandsons is a lovely harvest to be anticipating! :)

Marisa O'Neill said...

Hi AC - I love the thought of sewing and reaping! It's the sewing part that is often times a befuddlement. The reaping part? Love it. (LOL)

My life is a continuous cycle with both always happening at once. Never a dull moment with lots of sweat and lots of joy.

PJ - what a great thing you did for that dog! I'll be smiling all day thinking about that.

Caren Crane said...

Jane, is the GR heading to The Big City today?!

Aunty Cindy, I was thrilled to get your book from Amazon and hold it in my hot little hands. Or maybe it was the cover that was smoking and made my hands hot? *g*

I have been sowing the seeds of my stories for years now and they have slo-o-o-owly taken hold. I now have plants that look ready to be harvested to me...but obviously they need a little more time in the ground. This, despite the generous manuring (which we call "fertilizing", Foanna *g*).

Some people get really frustrated with the waiting, but I trust that when it is my time, it will happen. I still have two teenagers at home and, between work and volunteering, more commitments than one person should. But the baby will graduate in 3 yrs, 7 months (not that I'm counting) and then I will have way more time on my hands than I wanted.

So, I'll keep sowing and tending and, eventually, harvest time will come. Harvest time - autumn - is my favorite time of year, so I'm really looking forward to it!

PJ said...

Thanks, Marisa but all I did was take pictures. The heroes are the wonderful people with the rescue group who are showering him with the love and care he so desperately needed.

Marie Force said...

The greatest surprise for me, like you AC, has been the new friends, including you and all the Casa gals!

Joan said...

I feel a lovefest coming on.

Aunty, I know our BB's probably tire of us extolling the wonder and blessing our fellow Banditas are to us. But it is so true. Ya'll encourage me, believe in me, thrash me when the doubt demon tries to get a toehold and infuse me with the energy to keep my steely eye on the prize.

This, despite the generous manuring (which we call "fertilizing", Foanna *g*).

Manuring? THAT'S what we're suppose to call it? And here I've been sitting through my first drafts muttering "This is c*ap".

But like ya'll have pointed out the best, the strongest, the most wonderful things grow from said c*ap.

The Wild Sight by Loucina McGary....on the shelf...for PEOPLE to see, pick up, buy and read.

Can't get much better than that!

Trish Milburn said...

I think like most people I'm continually starting, finishing or in the middle of something. It's a never-ending cycle. I just finished turning in my revisions on my fourth book, I'm beginning a freelance editing job, and I'm in the midst of the semi-annual Great Cleaning of the House. :)

Like you, writing has brought me my absolute best friends.

We're trimming down on holiday shopping this year, and I've already started a bit online. But I'm hoping to go all out on the decorations this year and really have fun with it.

terrio said...

I'm harvesting big time. I've been planning this chapter conference for MONTHS and now it's 2 1/2 weeks away. I have so much to do and can't even wrap my head around where to start.

Then there's school. I've been at this for almost three years and I'll finish up next June. At times it feels so far away and at others it feels like it'll be here before I know it.

I'm also planting some seeds I hope will take hold and turn into something. It's slow going right now, but it's looking good so far.

Super congrats about getting that book on the shelves, AC! I know I'll find it soon. Fingers crossed!

Keira Soleore said...

While I cannot take any credit for all that creative time between sowing and harvesting, I have to say that with children, what you sow is definitely what they reap, and with a fast turnaround!

A few months of music and dance since she was a baby, and my daughter wouldn't survive without either now. Put up the Leap Frog alphabet toy on the fridge, six months later, she has them all memorized. Teach her to write the letters, and now, there's no more any need for me to say: do your homework. She knows she has some, and she'll get to it and have it done and more on any spare paper in the vicinity well before the due date. Reading is proceeding apace, all self-directed.

It's simply a matter of setting the atmosphere and watching magic happen. I'm in awe.

Nancy said...

Hi, AC--

Sowing and harvesting, huh? Interesting topic. I don't usually think in garden metaphors because my main garden-related skill, if you can call it that, is killing plants. *g* I guess all of us here are growing a network, as you point out, with a sense of community.

I'm not harvesting much, like Jane, but I'm planning ahead for the holidays and trying to build a publishing career.

Natalie, I'm in the process of massive cutting and rearringing, too. I tend to do that more when I've had periods of interruption on a book and have written my way back into the story with scenes or segments that really don't add much. As you and AC point out, it's hoeing and weeding time.

Helen, have fun with the grandchildren!

Jane, congratulations on taking home the rooster.

Nancy said...

Anna, I like your analogy to fallow fields. Sometimes taking a break can lead to renewed creativity. Isn't that the purpose of letting a field lie fallow--giving the soil time to recover?

If I weren't such a townie, I'd know, of course!

PJ, wow! A $56 electric bill? That's amazing. How did you do it? That's so sweet of you to help the rescue group. All our dogs have been adopted, two from rescue groups and two from former owners.

Annie Solomon said...

Love the idea of writing as an agricultural project, especially since I'm not much on the outdoors.

I think every book is a similar process, from sowing the seeds of your story, to cultivating the world you build, weeding out those passive verbs and cliches, and watching your characters grow.

And I agree with Anna--you have to have some fallow time to let your creative soil rest. I'm fallowing now, as a matter of fact. I've got these seeds and I'm not sure where to plant them. But I know I'll figure it out eventually. Maybe have to go to the way back 40 and clear some space...

As for rewards, I can only echo what has already been said. New friends, new discoveries about oneself, the thrill of seeing your book on the shelves, and the knowledge of one's own accomplishment. Pretty heady when you look at it that way.

Nancy said...

Marisa, I seem to be doing more sowing and less reaping. I'm hoping to put them more into balance.

Caren, I'm also sowing, cultivating, and fertilizing in the story garden. I share your wish that things would bloom a little faster.

Joan, having friends is a wonderful way to keep tilling, fertilizing, and weeding, isn't it? I actually feel another Restoration coming on, in part because of your loyalty to your Romans.

Trish, I thought dishes were the never-ending cycle? I like doing them because I feel so virtuous, but there seems to be another dirty one inside an hour. *sigh*

Terrio, planning chapter events can be a huge load! I hope you get corresponding satisfaction when the conference happens.

Keira, the way their little minds work really does look like magic, doesn't it?

Louisa Cornell said...

Congrats on the GR, Jane. Don't give him any seeds to sow. He'll just eat them!

What a great post Aunty Cindy! And I am so glad you are finally able to reap the rewards of all that hard work!

Of course I may have to take a hoe to the postal service if my copy of The Wild Sight doesn't get here soon! Why is it the bills always get here on time, but if I order a book it takes FOREVER!!

I have to agree that writing is very much like planting a crop. You never know what will happen between digging in the dirt and actually taking your produce to market. I had to laugh, Joan, because the very first writing contest I entered was Avon's FanLit. That is where I met LaCampbell who sowed quite a few seeds of encouragement and friendship for this completely clueless writer wannabe! When I sent my entry to my BFF to read I said "This is crap, but it is all I can come up with."

When they posted that it won she found out before I did and sent me an IM saying "Hey, sister, that piece of crap you wrote? Well it won!"

So I am a true believe in the power of MANURE! After all, Stephen King says that more often than not, writing feels like you are shoveling "manure" from a sitting position!

I started on this little garden project a little over two years ago and I have to say that the rewards have been things I never imagined. My trip to San Francisco and the generous scholarship that made it possible come to mind. Fortunately I have gathered a great "farm co op" of friends around me. As a result I have been fortunate enough to final and win some contests. My two guardian angel master gardeners - Diane Gaston and Anna Campbell - have definitely helped me out on that score.

Another reward has been the opportunity to join this wonderful community and others online. The Banditas are such a big part of my daily life. Writing can be such a lonely business and this group makes me feel like I am part of a big family of loud, rowdy, smart, gorgeous women who KNOW how to work and KNOW how to have fun! You just can't put a price on that.

So I keep plowing through, throwing lots of manure and hoping for a bumper crop of whatever the market is buying!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Foanna said: "...who could disregard the cornucopia of wonderfulness that is the Banditas?"

Certainly not MOI! And our BBs are definitely included in that wonderfulness. I haven't see much lying fallow around the Lair... Well, maybe overnight after a particularly raucous bash but by morning we're all generally recovered. ;-)

Now mulching, weeding, and manuring I've seen a-plenty.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I'm sooo glad you will have your copy of TWS AT LAST! Talk about patience, you've got a lot. PJ and anyone else who is still looking, THANX so much for continuing your quest! Right now I'm telling folks to order from Amazon as that appears the most reliable way to get a copy. :-P

Helen, I am SOOOO envious of your TWO new grandsons scheduled to arrive in Dec. I'm still hoping one will wait around and be born on MY bday.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

You brought a tear to your olde Aunty's eye talking about that sweet dog you helped rescue! I am such a sucker for small furry creatures, esp. dogs. I'm sure I've mentioned that both my 'girls' are rescues and I would not trade them of any amount of money.

You are such a special person for doing that kind of thing! Not to mention that cornucopia of GOODIES you make...

angling for some PJ Turtles

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Marisa,
It is definitely a continuous cycle, isn't it? Even if you let one area lie fallow for a short while, you have to be sowing, mulching, and all that other tending elsewhere, but the rewards are well worth the effort!

who has a black thumb when it comes to plants

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...


I think all your tending and fertilizing is about to pay off BIG TIME! Those contest finals are piling up and some smart editor is going to make that all important call VERY SOON! Then we will have a SUPER HARVEST PARTY!

Plus, as the mother of teens, there's a LOT of weeding, mulching and all that to do. But you're right, they don't stay teens forever so there really is a light at the end of the tunnel.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hugs to my Casa Sister! I feel sooo fortunate to have published with this new line and to have met you and the other wonderful writers just getting started. May our great harvests just be beginning!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Joanie T said: "But like ya'll have pointed out the best, the strongest, the most wonderful things grow from said c*ap."

LOL, Joanie, SO VERY TRUE! We all tend to think our writing is CR*P at some point. But that's why we are so lucky to have the Banditas to thrash... er, um, encourage us. And the Lair to supply cabana boys with large drinks.

Aunty's eyes start to glaze over...
A harvest festival of cabana boys carrying trays of margaritas... it truly doesn't get much better than that!


Joan said...

A harvest festival of cabana boys carrying trays of margaritas... it truly doesn't get much better than that!

Ummmm....cabana boys covered with dirt from tilling....must bathe cabana boys.

No, no....no sponges necessary. I've got hands don't I?


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

It is a never-ending cycle, isn't it? But unlike housecleaning, this one is a LOT more FUN and with much better rewards!

I know your 4th book is going to yield a wonderful harvest for you!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I'm in AWE of anyone who can sow and tend those seeds into a chapter conference! Esp. someone who already has as many responsibilities as YOU. YOU GO, GIRL! I know the conference will be great.

As for the very long wait for the harvest of getting your degree, you'll be rewarded in many unexpected ways. Trust your olde Aunty on this one. It took me many years, but the rewards definitely came and in totally unexpected ways.

who must run out and do some errands but promises to be back later

Terri said...

Hi Cindy,
As a reader and not a writer I didn't think I would have anything to add to your blog/blog question. But I have done some planting of seeds by loaning out my copy of The Wild Sight to a co-worker.

I am so proud of you (you have mentioned about your lack of patience)and I'm tickled pink for you.

Joan said...

But I have done some planting of seeds by loaning out my copy of The Wild Sight to a co-worker.


That is the most touching thing. I know Aunty will offer her own thanks but as a writer I can think of no finer tribute.

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Your daughter sounds like she's at an amazing age -- ENJOY EVERY MINUTE! They really do grow and change so fast, and eventually they all become (Aunty shudders in her bucket boots) TEENAGERS! But maybe yours will be the rare and magical teen who gives her parents no grief. I've heard tell of such a mythical creature, but haven't witnesses one personally. :-P

But with a great mom like YOU, she's sure to bring you many more wonderful experiences.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Nancy, my sister Bandita of the Black Thumb!

Unlike my mother and grandmother (who could make a hoe handle sprout), I have a terrible time with both house plants and gardens. Pretty bad for someone whose name is likely a variation on garden (Gary= garragh= garden in Gaelic). But networks I can grow, and I definitely cherish my friendship networks!

HURRAH for you on rescuing FOUR sweet doggies! I honestly don't think I could make it through the day without my two 'girls.'


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Annie S said: "Maybe have to go to the way back 40 and clear some space..."

Ah yes, there's always that way back 40 we all keep in reserve for sowing we're not quite sure WHAT!

I agree, the processes are often nearly the same, but those wee differences are what sometimes result in the unexpected rewards. And you are SOOO RIGHT about new friends, discoveries and the feeling of accomplishment -- VERY HEADY indeed! Nothing better!

who needs to venture into her way back 40 very soon...

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

I have a feeling you are another Bandita whose garden is about to burst into all kinds of beautiful blooms! Hang in there, kiddo! Your harvest is about to happen.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Joanie T said: "No, no....no sponges necessary. I've got hands don't I?"

heh heh heh! (Aunty wiggles her eyebrows meaningfully) I do believe we are fresh out of sponges in the Lair. But I think I see lots of hands going up to volunteer on washing up the Cabana boys.

The line forms to the left, please!


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Thanx so much for making us Banditas a part of your life and your garden project! We love having you and all our BBs hang out with us here in the Lair.

LOVE that description by Stephen King about shoveling "manure" from a sitting position. Some days it definitely feels like that. :-P But trust me, once the book is out, you forget all about those days! Well, at least until the next one happens.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hi Terri,
No patience is NOT one of Aunty's virtues. AHEM! What is all that giggling?!?! Of COURSE Aunty has virtues, just not your standard garden variety (since we are into those metaphors today). :-P

THANX for loaning TWS to a co-worker! A new reader is never a bad thing. Also, don't forget everyone, they make excellent holiday gifts and Aunty will send signed bookplates to anyone who asks.

Okay, sales pitch over for now. Must help Joanie with those grubby cabana boys.


Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Joanie T said: "That is the most touching thing. I know Aunty will offer her own thanks but as a writer I can think of no finer tribute."

WELL SAID, my Bandita!



Suzanne Welsh said...

AC, I always love the reap what you sow proverb. It's like paying it forward. I get all choked up by those Liberty Mutual commercials where each person's action is observed by someone who in turn does a good deed. (Oh I cry at every Hallmark commercial, too!)

Speaking of Terrio's planting a seed by handing out a copy of Wild Sight...(I don't have one yet, so I gave out the postcards to readers instead). I got an e-mail picture from a nurse friend yesterday. She was in a B&N and saw both my critique partners books on the end cap. Even though she doesn't read fiction, she recognized their books and sent me a picture. I figure if my promo attempts for friends can affect a non-fiction reader, some good karma will be coming back for my romance writing friends and my own stuff at some point!

flchen1 said...

What a lovely post, AC! (And how exciting to be harvesting, isn't it?!)

Like some of the other posters, I'm sowing right now as a parent. It seems a long process though, since it often seems results are years away ;) I did get some nice comments from another parent a few weeks ago, about how well behaved my eldest was at a party without me there, and that was definitely some reassurance that we're on the right path :)

Congrats on the GR, Jane!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Hey Suz,
WHen it comes to promo-hoeing (I know, I know, I spelled it like that on purpose), YOU are the BESTEST!

I saw Jo Davis' firefighter book on the New Romance shelf too and was very happy to say, I KNOW HER!

Keep hanging in there, kiddo! Your harvest is going to be here very soon,

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Congrats Fedora!
Of course your lil darling behaved WHEN YOU WEREN'T AROUND! They are always good at that. :-P Blessings on those nice parents who TOLD you about it.

Enjoy them now! See my previous warning to Keira about impending teenhood.


Keira Soleore said...

AC, all you moms of teens always make me shake in my slippers and be thankful that the teen years are far away. Every time I think nothing can be as challenging as right now, something comes up next that's worse, er, amazing/interesting/fun.

flchen1 said...

AC, you've got to stop scary me like that! I'm getting through this one day at a time, and that's my plan! Every time I think about the teen years (or even the pre-teen years!), I can barely keep functioning--it's way too frightening to contemplate!

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Sorry Keira and Fedora,
But forewarned IS forearmed!

Chin up and keep fighting the good fight. :-)