Most people who know me know I have the patience of a five year old facing her still wrapped presents on Christmas morning. My timeline for accomplishing tasks or goals is significantly abbreviated, compared to most people's. A former co-worker bought me a mug with the phrase "Make it Happen." That's what I'd like to think I do - make stuff happen. Not soon, not tomorrow. Now. Today.
So you can probably imagine me rocking in a corner, muttering to myself as I awaited final editing and proofs of my long awaited second novel, Queen Makers. As you may recall, I submitted it for publication on March 3rd. It was a long, quiet eight weeks. I'd check in for a status every few days, which is the publication equivalent of watching a kettle on the stove, waiting for the water to boil.
After weeks of finalizing the format and the cover art (thank God for the talent of my cousin, Kayleigh Rynar), Queen Makers, my follow up novel to Trinity, was released in print on Wednesday by Amazon. Surprise! Believe it or not, although I was waiting and waiting for it to become ready to publish, this release for sale by Amazon happened before I was ready. The strategy was to offer it for pre-order for a few weeks in order to build a marketing presence. That was the grand plan.
Well, instead as I sat in my chair in my home office, and just happened to have a moment to update my author page on Amazon I noticed Queen Makers was available for sale. What? So Plan B - start telling people and hope they buy it. I'm scrambling a bit to play catch up- thanks for that Amazon (and for Amazon's part, they said - "oops, sorry but there have already been a few sales, do you really want to pull the plug now?" Good point Amazon. And that was without me telling anyone!).
I'm particularly pleased with this volume of the Trinity of Kirana series. Yes, it's shorter than the first installment and perhaps a bit less tedious in detail, but the character development makes me proud. My girls are growing up, quickly. And hopefully, I leave you all surprised and wondering what happens next. To be honest, I'm not sure where we end in the third book. I imagine, however, that my characters will tell me.
Please, if you are looking for a good weekend/beach/vacation read, this is it. Grab Trinity (if you haven't already (shame) and Queen Makers. Until May 16th, Queen Makers is on sale on Amazon for only $10. Then it goes up to it's regular price ($13.95). The Kindle version will be released on May 10th. ($5.95). And many local bookstores will have signed copies of Queen Makers and Trinity in the coming weeks. Specifically, if you are in Branchville, NJ, my friends Sue-Ni and Ethan DiStefano will have signed copies available for $12.00 next week at Broad Street Books. No one has been more supportive of my endeavors than the DiStefano's and I am so grateful.
While I'm at it, I do want to publicly thank my friends, Kirby Maragulia (Kirby Wine), Kathy Marrero, Janine Cerra, Emma Cerra, Kim and Eric Scalise, my mom, Meredith Chapman and Jennifer Hamilton for taking the time to read and comment on the first draft of Queen Makers. You guys are amazing and your thoughts were so helpful. I hope you like the final version.
I do hope Queen Makers holds up to the standards of my Trinity readers. I've already begun the third book, Rose of the Field and can't wait to share that as well. Thank you to everyone who has purchased a book, attended one of my events and helped me along in this journey over the last 3 1/2 years. I am humbled. The adventure continues...
Thanks for helping me "make it happen."
I have been at a loss for words or more specifically, the right words for the last two weeks. Certainly, I have been busy juggling - I presented at a large New Jersey lawyers conference to hundreds of attorneys continuing their educations; I put the final touches on my novel, Queen Makers and created a loose publicity time line with my amazing publicist; I am creating programming for yet two more conferences; and I have been rehearsing for my upcoming recital in addition to shuffling my little peanut to her dance rehearsals and social engagements.
To add to that, this Monday, I suffered a rather surprising and debilitating injury to my right eye. Naturally, I chose to share my misfortune with my friends and family on social media because, dammit, I wanted sympathy and also I needed a public announcement that a) I couldn't see, b) whatever people were asking of me would have to wait and c) I could use a ride...anywhere.
For those of you who need a good laugh, I took a tennis ball in the eye - directly in my eye. Literally, did not see it coming. Gives "keep your eye on the ball" a whole new meaning. Terribly embarrassing and worse, painful. Although my vision is still quite blurry, turns out I will live and hopefully see just fine once this steroid wonder-drug kicks in.
In between the busy stuff and temporary blindness, during those rare quiet moments, I have been thinking about regrets. I have more of them than I did a year ago and they haunt me. It is unnerving. And I'm not including rushing the net for a volley in the eye as a regret, yet.
I was a big, big fan of "Ally McBeal" when it was on television. One of the lines I adopted was "bygones." The character, Richard would say something off the cuff or without diplomacy and follow the statement with "bygones." So, for whatever reason, I picked up the phrase. It became a way for me to articulate that I had moved passed a particular issue or that I didn't really care that someone was spreading rumors about me, for example. "Really? She said that about me? Huh. Well, bygones." Everyone deserves a free pass once in a while, right?
One of the reasons I have been able to live with so few regrets is my deep and full mental adoption of letting go. Not always forgiving and forgetting, but more like a refusal to spend too much energy worrying about negative events or people. Of course, I don't ignore bad things or bad people, but bygones had become my way of looking ahead and moving on.
The last few weeks have been a challenge to my bygone methodology. My regrets came upon me like that contagious stomach virus I suffered through in March - suddenly, violently and traumatically. All of a sudden, I was faced with all of the consequences of decisions I made all at the same time. Trying to tackle them all at once became impossible because one seemed to feed off another. I couldn't offer "bygones" to anyone or any thing because I couldn't see the other side of the problem. I was unable to push forward.
Instead of trying a little harder to move on, I went with plan B; listen to Adele records (yes, I said records. Of course I have her on vinyl), sing loudly and pretend all of the demons attacking my well being never existed. I wished them away. I wished X never happened; I wished I never met Y; I wished I never said Z; I wished I hadn't gone to A; I wished I hadn't done B... Poof! None of it ever happened. Automatic bygones. No need for regrets. No need for overly solicitous apologies. Just moving on.
Well, plan B is a failure. First of all, some Adele songs are kind of hard to sing. I just don't have her range - even in the shower where I am a true rock star. But second, I realized I can't really wish away this pack of regrets because they aren't true regrets. They - the events, the people involved - are actually the catalysts to the changes coming in my life. Without the most recent chaos in my life disrupting my status quo, I wouldn't have moved toward this goal of a more satisfying and fulfilling life. I would have continued marching forward in quiet misery, disregarding my most basic emotional needs.
I don't want to wish any of it away after all. I'm not willing to hand out free passes this time either. I am willing to close the door - I'm not throwing away the key so fast, but the door is closed so that I can open the next one. I may be half blind, but I'm smarter. I'm stronger and in the musical words of Elle Woods, "I feel so much better than before." Bygones.
April Fools! This title is a complete misrepresentation of my Friday morning. The opposite happened; I lost my match...again. More precisely, my sister and I lost together at First Doubles to a very nice team of women that we should have decisively beaten. But I did look pretty cute in my new skirt and top, so there's that. (And yes, I do own a selfie-stick, every self respecting "look-at-me-girl" should.)
My younger sister is an excellent tennis player. In fact, both of my younger sisters are excellent tennis players. Both had terrific high school records and went on to play Division-I College tennis on scholarships. And there is me. I was a decent high school player. My doubles partner and I even won our Interscholastic League tournament and the county title. Of course, that was 24 years ago, but who's counting?
I probably picked up a tennis racket for the first time when I was 10 or 11 years old because both of my parents liked to play and I wanted to try tennis too. I had no training, other than what my dad showed me and whatever little I picked up in gym class. But I was athletic - remarkably so for a runt - and I picked up skills rather easily. But tennis is unlike any other sport, except maybe golf. The nuances of the skills you need to succeed are practically endless. And it can be so frustrating. One miscalculation and you lose a point.
It was not until fall of 1989 that those nuances actually became important. That was the moment in 8th grade I recognized that I was no longer going to be able to play boys' soccer. Back then, neither my grammar school nor the high school I was planning to attend had a girls' soccer team. So, since I had no interest in getting hit with sticks in field hockey, I joined the boys' soccer team in 6th grade. I was ok. Not a stand out, too small, and not overly skilled. I was good enough. I played JV, mostly and then some Varsity in 7th and 8th grade. I was a forward and scored here and there - most likely when the goalie tripped over himself or fell asleep on the job. I was good enough, but not good enough to play Varsity soccer on an all boys high school, which was exactly what the high school coach told me when he came to scout my team. Like ever. He wouldn't play girls on Varsity. At least he was honest.
So, I went home and cried. I railed against the "system" and "the man." And then my dad suggested, "Why don't you try to play tennis?" Huh. I never thought of that. Up until that point, I thought tennis was just something we played at the public courts or rich people played in Florida. Tennis? Brilliant!
That spring and summer, I think I played every day for hours with my dad, who is unpleasant to deal with as an athletic coach. But he did his best, picked up every Vic Braden book he could find from the library, and started teaching me about top-spin, slicing and ground strokes. He put rackets in my 11 year old and 5 year old sisters hands. He was on a mission. He was going to make us into tennis players.
Sure enough, I made Varsity as a freshman - sort of. I started the season playing second doubles after winning enough games in our ladder match challenges, but was just not very good at doubles, since I had never played before. So after losing at that spot 3 or 4 times, our coach decided to make a change. And luckily, my good friends ended up sliding into that second doubles spot and did a great job, helping our team win the county championship that year. Thanks to them, I still got a cool "champions" jacket in 1990.
After that first season, my parents recognized that I needed tennis lessons. That winter, my middle sister and I started playing with an area pro and we got better. The next season, I made varsity decisively and had a winning season at the first doubles spot. Again that winter, both sisters this time and I played with a different tennis pro. This was the coach who trained the #1 girl on my team (who also happened to be the #1 girl in New Jersey at one point, by the way). Fall of my junior year, teamed up with the same doubles partner, our team once again took the county title. But now our winter, spring and summer needed to be serious - our #1 girl was graduating, my sister was joining the team as a freshman and she was beating me. A lot. I wasn't about to let my younger sister beat me out for the top spot. What would everyone think?
My senior year was reasonably successful. I ended up with the #1 spot on the team and won most of my matches. My sister had one loss, maybe two all season. Really, she probably should have taken the top spot. I graduated high school and ended my tennis career, deciding to focus on academics since a tennis scholarship to Rutgers where I had a full academic scholarship was just not in my future. (Of course instead, I focused on fraternity parties, but that's another story for another time.)
My sister finished her high school career successfully and her college career even more successfully. She even became a teaching pro for a short while before entering a corporate career. But once she began her own family, she too gave up the game. The other sister, 9 years my junior followed a similar path - amazing high school career, great college career at UNH, teaching pro at some of the most exclusive clubs in the country, but then she opted for law school. However, unlike the middle sister, the little one never gave up the game and she still plays amazingly well. Tennis skills are not like riding a bike. In tennis, if you don't use it, you lose it.
And that brings us to today. My sisters and I never played doubles together when we were younger for a lot of reasons. One of those reasons was the middle one and I used to fight like maniacs. So when the middle one and I took court #5 at the Center Court Tennis Center this morning, I was excited. We had a fairly good shot at winning the match, we thought as we eyed up the competition. We even won the first three games of the first set. And then, the wheels came off our wagon. Lets just say, we should probably practice together a few more times before we decide to play again.
The first problem was that our adversaries did not hit with any pace on the ball whatsoever. We call them dinkers. Neither my sister nor I have ever played well against dinkers. Our second problem was my lack of experience on the court in a competitive match. 9 times out of 10, my sister had to remind me where I should be on the court which led to a lot of shots I should have been able to return, missed. Third, our lack of opportunity to play at all over the past few years was a problem. We both just started playing again after about a 10 year hiatus. You can say we're a bit rusty. Best line of the day from my sister, "Well, I would have gotten that one...in the 90's!"
After losing the last point of the last game in the last set, frustrated, we immediately started rehashing what we were doing wrong. We spent another hour talking about it in my sister's kitchen.
Here's the point: we're winners. Or at least we have a strong desire to win. Losing, although never the end of the world, isn't fun. If we had played better and lost, we would probably have had more fun. But we tanked and we knew it. We are so much better than we played, and we knew it.
The generation of kids who grew up with "participation" trophies don't feel what we feel. Earning an award or a win feels great. And sure, we didn't feel great not winning today because we didn't want to let each other or our team down, but even as middle-aged adult women, we understand that we need to do more (i.e.: stink less) next time around to succeed. Just showing up may be half the battle, but it's never enough and unfortunately, there are too many people in our society who disagree (but we can save that debate for another time too.)
In the scheme of our lives, does it really matter all that much that we lost our match this morning? Probably not. We're still alive and all that good stuff. But in a way it does matter a great deal. We refuse to compromise in any aspect of our lives. We continue to push ourselves to be better. To be winners. And we know we won't always win, but it doesn't mean we don't try. Because earning the trophy or even just the high five from your team after a win feels great. We don't give up - we work harder.
In this age, maybe that makes us complete out of touch jerks who don't want our kids to "feel good" about themselves. I think it makes us the exact opposite - winning and losing are important parts of life. It is how we measure and define success. In order to win at anything, you have to lose sometimes too. I want my kid to understand both so neither event comes as a shock. I want her to understand that losing isn't the time to give up, rather it is the time to work harder. Also, being both a gracious winner and loser are also good life skills.
Today my sister and I were gracious losers. We thanked our opponents for a "nice match" (even though they made some terrible, terrible line calls...bygones, we still lost) and we thanked our team for giving us a chance to play together (we're just substitutes on this team). And then, my sister and I planned how we are going to win the next time we play together. That's just how we roll.