C. D’Angelo’s Blog

Author, Debut Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

New Roles, New Growth

Lately, I have had to get used to more differences in my daily life than I ever imagined, and I’m sure I’m not alone. This year has brought all of us many shifts in the way we live, work, and play. I feel like I am constantly trying to adapt to the newest change. Have you felt like that too? I think more than a few of you are probably thinking “Yes, yes, my God yes!” And all of this shifting doesn’t necessarily have to do with the world situations occurring, for my author life at least. So, guess what; I’ve realized these adapting times are bringing thrilling changes, which have brought me incredible chances. It’s only one small letter variation between the two words, but one large opportunity.

In reflecting on the first half of 2020, I realize how many roles I have taken on in the most natural manner. Just as I have said before, my artistic expression influences more artistic expression, but I never knew my art would extend to aspects like, say, marketing and promotion. Whoa now, that is pretty business-y, but still inclusive of my art and a way to explore creativity. Oh yeah, it’s also a necessary part of author life. One role has led to another in my journey and I seem to be collecting them as I go along. I know many of you have also taken on new roles this year, often ones we never expected, so you can most likely relate to my surprise and intrigue, as well as the satisfaction that you can accomplish the task at hand.

Ok, what are these roles I speak of? Two began before this year, but I still need to state them. Well, the first, most important, and starting role is obvious; it’s the novelist role. Ta-da! This remains my most important role, no matter what else develops from it. I write because I have stories to tell. I love to express myself in this art form and to have others enjoy my tales as well. I’ve always been fascinated by creating something of beauty from nothing. Words creatively placed into phrases turn into books that remain forever. That carries huge meaning for me.

What came from writing was, of course, the next step of getting myself out there in the world; my website and social media. From here, other roles emerged. When I started engaging in this manner, I never thought this blog would stem from it, for example, but here I am…and loving it. I have the opportunity to write for my behind the scenes lovers and have a more frequent outlet for my writing expression. Plus, you guys get to see more of my writing style. It’s a win-win situation.

Next came my newsletter, earlier this year. When my publisher said I need to think about having one, that was all it took. I want to do anything that will help my name get out there so more people experience The Difference and my future endeavors. See, newsletters help an audience to stay connected. They allow me to send you news and fun info. Being the first to know what’s happening is exciting so I want to share it there first, with my biggest fans. I feel privileged to be able to connect with people in this manner because they are trusting me to provide quality content and they specifically want to hear from me. They took the time to sign up, after all, and I’m flattered. So, there I went with yet another role added on in my life.

Now I started to be a newsletter writer and role carrier of 3 categories, all with a lot of learning on my end. Anxiety, check. Fear, check. Questioning what I am doing, check. Just to have a newsletter I needed to find a site that can provide the service of sending to a list of people, connect it to my website, and create the “campaigns,” or emails to my audience, as they are called. Whew. Who knew all the IT knowledge I would gain just by being an author?! It’s not just the writing, my friends.

My personal and professional growth continued to happen in a burst with my Pitch Party Prosperity program that I released last month; role 4. This is a variety of services for writers who want to pitch their manuscripts in pitch parties on social media, most often on Twitter. During the party time, agents, publishers, and editors can show interest for the writer to send their material to them by liking their post. This is challenging for us writers because the pitch needs to be within the 280 characters Twitter allows, as well as leaving room within that range for the genre and other identifiers. I found that the 2 times I participated last year I had success; the 2nd being how I obtained my publishing contract. So, why not support others with this challenging process, right? I’m a helper by nature, so my intuition told me to move forward with paying my knowledge and experience forward.

I ended up developing a variety of packages for people interested in my help, including an eBook with step by step guidance for writing the pitch and how to manage the party, personalized pitch evaluation, and coaching services for those that want longer term assistance. I also have a free tip sheet for those that sign up for my newsletter. Offering these services included coordination of 3 more programs with my website. Wow, huh? It looks so simple when you view that page on my site, but so much behind the scenes work goes into every decision. Guess what though, it is paying off! I have already helped people in pitch parties and they are having large success. In one party alone someone had interest from a huge agent and another had 24 industry pro likes, including 3 of those from large names. My mouth literally dropped open when I read that news. This is why I do it! I want others to flourish with me. That is what us writers do; we uplift each other.

So, do you think my roles stop there? Nope. Those are the main ones, but you can say I also can add marketer/promoter to my list. Besides using social media and word of mouth so far, I did an interview this month and will have more press type events in the future. I added an Events and Media page on my website to track book signings and many more events that will occur. My roles continue and I continue to learn and grow in my varied skills of being an author.

The changes that have evolved in my writing career have allowed me the chance to grow as a person. Last year at this time, I didn’t even have my publishing contract yet. I had a basic website, a query package, and a publishing dream. I have proven to myself that I can do this! I can write a novel (that others want to read!), I can build a website, I can do a blog and newsletter, I can keep up social media, I can create a supportive business for writers, and I can market and promote myself and my brand. I’m learning as I go, but I. Am. Doing. It. I have even more roles I want to take on in the future, but they will happen when the time is right. My passion for my art and my helping heart drive me, but I think I have enough to keep me occupied, don’t you?

I hope you embrace your chances for change, especially during this unusual year. You never know the wonderful places they will take you and make you. Thanks for coming along for my ride.

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Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Unexpected Gifts from the Online World

When I began my author social media sites, I never imagined where they would take me. I just knew that they are a must nowadays in the writing world. An author needs to build a platform so readers and industry professionals can see more about them, as well as see what products they are marketing. That’s pretty straightforward, so bam, I started them. I thought how I will post pictures and content related to subjects pertaining to my brand (you know by now that means writing, reading, Italy, and inspirational topics basically) and see what happens. Well, what happened includes a depth and meaning in my life I never expected.

See, I’m an only child. Yes, I am going wayyyy back. I know the phrase “only child” conjures up many stereotypical thoughts for most people, and you are not completely wrong, but I also don’t fit that entire mold. I didn’t grow up wealthy with getting anything and everything I wanted. But the qualities I did gain from this birth situation is that I am independent and a leader (when my shyness doesn’t get the best of me). I had to function on my own, entertain myself, and pave my own path in the world. Nobody was there to show me, including the big feat of going to college because my parents did not. I always had to find my own answers. Entering into the online world for my authorship, why would I think I needed or wanted help from others? Let’s continue.

Don’t get me wrong, before I established my social media and website, I did ask for help from trusted people in my life. I had three outstanding beta readers for my book, The Difference (I know I can’t do everything alone, sheesh). But, I know these people. I didn’t meet them online. They are safe for me and are long-lasting friends, so it wasn’t scary to let them help (beyond being vulnerable about my creation and worried about any and all thoughts, but that’s a given). Also, I obviously looked to other authors or experts in the field who have gone through the stage I was in at the moment, including researching articles, podcasts, and you name it. That’s expected help along the road in this field, as well as doesn’t include any risk of sharing myself. It’s a one-way deal.

Cue the two-way online relationships. I started to have comments on my posts from people I didn’t know in my personal life. So, I dipped my toes in the water of communicating with strangers. Slowly, I conversed with a few followers; mostly at this point fellow authors. Many times, I found their posts and comments helpful, insightful, and inspiring for my own journey. So here I was commenting, responding, and learning. And guess what; some people didn’t remain strangers. How wonderful to feel that someone else feels the same as me about certain topics, wants me to succeed, and is going through, or has gone through, the same things in this crazy business. Hmm, comfort started to build. And hmm, I needed their opinions and experiences sometimes.

I remember one day, shortly after establishing my account on Twitter, a kind soul posted to the “writing community” (people who follow hashtags like #WritingCommunity) how I was new to the platform and to give me a follow. How could someone who didn’t know me want to offer help like that? Just out of the blue! This was the first hint that online relationships can be…relationships. They can be special.

When I did my 1st pitch party on Twitter, my online relationships flourished even more. One person I had gotten closer to was there to answer a question as the party started. She was experienced and knew how to help me. And during that day, I had the privilege of SO many members of the “writing community” help me out by retweeting my pitches (side note, this helps get them seen for industry pros). See, I need other people! And some I still communicate with often.

I stared at the screen in awe and shock that day, feeling a sense of love from…strangers. How could this be? Yes, I would share their pitches also, but the fact that they took the time to help me out filled me with tingles and chills, you know, the good kind. I had felt touches of this camaraderie before this pitch party here and there, but this day sealed the deal. It also brought joy to know they feel the same as me as far as us not being in competition with each other. We can all bloom. If anyone has seen this famous quote in Zen Shin meditation, you know what I mean:

The cheering on of others continued in the grandest way in the next pitch party I participated in (the one where I got my publisher!). A friendly follower decided to not only share my pitch that day but wrote a little about what I told her my book is about, then tried to get her friends/followers to retweet it. This occurred each time I had a new pitch that day (3). She continued to check in on status and offer support. Well, now my mind was blown. How can someone I hardly spoke to, online, spend so much of her own time and effort on little old me?! I’m convinced her efforts contributed to my publisher seeing my tweet.

My heart was filled with gratitude to all of these sweet people, followers, and now…friends. What? How could I use that term with someone I never met in “real life?” I am a Gen X woman, so the idea of meeting people and trusting them when only having met online didn’t come easy for me (not to speak for my entire generation, but you know what I mean). And then the next circumstance shook me up even more, yet led to yet another impactful part of my life.

The person who helped me during the 1st pitch party developed a private group with her closest Twitter friends. One day she messaged all of us and said she felt that we needed to all be connected. Wow, was she right. Of course, my first instinct was to leave immediately due to fear. I only knew her and (ironically) the person who went above and beyond for me in the 2nd pitch party. There were 8 other women in the group who I never even saw on Twitter. But, I trusted my friend at this point. I allowed myself to be open to staying in the group. Thank God.

Months later, I can’t imagine not having these intelligent, beautiful souls who just happen to be writers as well in my DAILY life. We started talking shop, you know, writing stuff, but quickly expanded our topics of conversation. You name it, we talk about it. I check in usually multiple times a day and look forward to chatting with them. We read each other’s work, offer guidance any anything industry related, and give each other heads up for events in the field. We root each other on constantly. So, not only are they there for me no matter what, as I am for them, they continually inspire me, motivate me, help me with my confidence, and best of all, make me laugh hysterically. We help each other get further along in our goals and have a bonus of unconditional love and support that I would have never dreamed of… all online. We have never met in person (yet).

Being an only child (and Italian), my friends are my family. I have heard that many only children feel this way. Once you are a good friend who I can completely trust, I will be loyal to the end. These women in my private message group are in my heart forever. They, along with a few other amazing people I’ve met online, are people I never knew I needed. Not wanted, needed. The writer world can be harsh, so why not get a little help from your friends. It’s a time of people helping people in the world, and the author world is no different. As one of my favorite shows of all time has in their theme song, “I’ll be there for you.” And I am forever grateful for my friends I’ve met over the last year or so. Let’s keep helping each other, building friendships, and remaining open to possibilities. I know I am.

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Please follow and share my blog if you enjoy reading about my author journey.

  1. Just click on the “Follow” hover button in the bottom right corner. You will be emailed when new posts are created.
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Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Vulnerability: Steps and Lessons 

If you follow my social media (and I sure hope you do! 😊), you know that I just submitted my first round of line edits back to my publisher. During this process, I started to think about the amount of vulnerability that is needed in the author world, as well as lessons I have already learned. Let’s look at the meaning of the world “vulnerability” before I go any further.

Vulnerability- the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. (Oxford Dictionary)

These words strike me especially strong at this time in the world. They are powerful, anxiety provoking, and just plain scary! What is your reaction? What have you been vulnerable with or are being vulnerable about right now in your life? (Pause for self-reflection, lol…but seriously)

Okay, you’re back. So, I’ve given deep thought to the concept of vulnerability in the past, due to my role as a mental health therapist. I’ve thought about it for my clients and in my own life, but never as much as lately. I’m happy to share some insights here, in hopes you can connect to them for your own benefit. But first, a slight backstory. You know that’s how I work by now!

From the moment I opened myself up to the public as an author, when I started my website and social media platforms in December 2018, I had to get more comfortable with the risk of others’ thoughts, responses, and opinions…risk meaning the possibility of something negative or hurtful. I hoped and thought that most people would be kind souls, but you never know. “Attack” is always possible. That was level one for my vulnerability, in my mind, as I reflect back. It’s a constant threat, as I open up my heart every single time I post something or respond to other people’s posts. Of course, it’s a risk I’m willing to take. Just as the next steps.

Level two came as soon as I sent my first query letter in June 2019. Now, you see, I was not only exposing myself to the public, but specifically to experts in the publishing field. Cue the racing heart and flood of second guessing my work. But I persisted. I had to in order to meet my dream of getting published.

The stakes kept rising with each risk I took; the pitch parties I participated in, the interactions with agents and publishers, going to classes, and joining webinars to build my skills. Every bit was allowing a piece of me to escape, without knowing where the piece would end up. This is wayyyy out of my comfort zone, let me tell you.

But then came the call with my now publisher. Level three was in action. She already knew I had not published books in the past, but during this call she mentioned a popular website I hadn’t heard of, which I told her I didn’t know, and I’ll never forget her response. She commented on me actually being a newbie to the field (not in a rude way at all, more like a “oh yeah” moment). The comment stayed with me because I always want to be known as knowledgeable and intelligent (that’s just a part of my personality). I love to be as prepared as possible for any circumstance, but can’t be, obviously. Also, what stuck with me was that it was okay with her that I was new. It wasn’t an issue at all. In that conversation, nor in future correspondence, did she ever have an issue with my past experience.

From that point on I felt a large increase in comfort with being able to be myself during our work together. The lesson of “honesty is always the best policy” is one I abide by and it was reinforced from the start of my relationship with my publisher. There is always going to be a first time for people. We all have to start somewhere and thank God she is giving me a chance.

The next lesson I learned from the requirement of being vulnerable in the author domain is that my desire to learn works for me and my success. Although I want to know everything I can, I know I don’t. Even if I was one of the experts in this field, I still wouldn’t ever consider myself an expert. I have a mentality that I’m always learning. There is always better and more I can do. I love to learn, as written about in last’s month’s blog, so why would this journey be any different? I know I need to listen to my experts (editor and publisher; also, another lesson) to make my book the best it will be. Otherwise, I may as well have self-published.

As I have read through the editor comments in my manuscript these last two rounds, I always try to keep an open mind. I need to be flexible and be able to ponder other people’s opinions of my writing, in order to make it shine. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I don’t agree, but that is okay. We can have conversations about both of our thoughts and go from there. Sometimes though, it may be that I first don’t agree, think about it more, come back to it at a later point in time, and then see the opinion is correct. Sometimes, even after thinking about it, I come back and still don’t agree, but change the issue anyway, just to see what it would be like. Then, magically, it does work better. Most of the time, the editor is spot on, in fact. It’s not easy to see some things within your own work; you need others. When your art includes your heart, which it always does and yes I rhymed on purpose, it can be difficult to know what can make it better. Even some published books can still be better, I’m sure. The experts are there for a reason, so let them help you. They are on your side. Defensiveness or ego be gone. They won’t get you anywhere, in my opinion.

Maybe the steps are endless in my journey, as I continue to embark on new and exciting aspects in the author world. I know I will be expanding in the future for areas in marketing and such, so there may be a hundred steps of vulnerability. Who knows? What I do know is that as I continue to open my heart and soul, I am becoming a stronger person. This gift is earned and takes time. I’m curious and excited to know all the steps and lessons that are to come in my future as an author.

Tell me if you can relate to being vulnerable at this time and any teachable moments you have had, below in comments. Thanks for reading!

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 Please follow and share my blog if you enjoy reading about my author journey. 

  1. Just click on the “Follow” hover button in the bottom right corner. You will be emailed when new posts are created. 
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Author, Italian American Author, Uncategorized, Women's Fiction Author

A Time of Learning

Let me tell you a little secret; I’m a big nerd. Yeah, I said it. I don’t mind yelling it from the rooftops at this stage of life because it’s so darn true (unlike in my youth, but we won’t go there). I am a nerd in multiple ways, but one of the ways is that I love to learn.

I’ve always adored knowing everything about everything. Even things I don’t care about, I care about, if you know what I mean. It’s just for the sake of knowing more that thrills me, so sometimes the subject doesn’t even matter. I know I drove my mom crazy as a child with my million questions of “Why?” and “What does that mean?” She would try to answer until I got her to the breaking point, though that was not my intent. As I got older, I realized it is just that my mind doesn’t stop. Imagine a marathon of the mind. That’s me. Don’t even get me started on taking a multiple choice or true or false test. I could go on for hours for each answer’s possibility if time allowed.

So, this brings me to the present. The endless wonder I have within has done me well in life overall and continues to help me succeed in the author world. My lust to learn has allowed for a continuum of necessity and pleasure in my years, from retaining countless useless facts about topics of interest (hey, you never know when a Titanic fact may come in handy in conversation though), to providing me new worlds of hobbies (teaching myself the ukulele for one), to succeeding academically and in my therapist career, and navigating the publishing world to get my book in all of our hands. I thought last year was a year of major learning for my book and its process from how an idea goes to eventual physical book, but boy was I wrong. Last year only included writing, although learning to write to get signed as well, which I have told you is a whole different animal. This year of 2020 is only 3 months in and has 2019 almost matched, so I expect it to surpass last year.

Now, let me just say, because it would be strange not to address at this time, that I typically do not post on social media or put out on my website anything negative in any way, even in my personal accounts. I am a believer that what you put out comes back, so I want to say and write what I want to happen or just about spreading joy in general, be it through actual inspirational/growth quotes, travel pictures that are related to reading and writing, or Italy/Italian posts. That’s why you may have noticed my topics for posting include these themes, which I believe all have a cheerful vibe. Right now, in the world, there is a health challenge, so I had to decide recently whether to continue my inspirational path, when it would be easy to post only about the difficulties of this time. I don’t think people want or need the sadness and negativity (ahem, plain old reality) all the time, so I learned to listen to myself and the path I set out on over a year ago when interacting with the public. I am continuing to learn to keep that boundary, but there is a fine line sometimes. I do not want to ignore what is on everyone’s minds, so I find creative ways to address it and try to uplift others (which I sometimes need myself of course, and I appreciate when others do this as well).

So, there is the unexpected learning that has occurred from the world health issue at this moment, including the above and how to continue the focus on my writing with swirling changes in work and personal life. Then, there is the straight up learning for the editing and marketing process for my book, which was expected, although still has its surprises. What does that include you ask? Well, let me tell you what I’ve been up to since the last blog.

I have exciting plans for my website, all of which include a lot of, you guessed it, learning for me. Changing anything on my website was always scary for me because if it works, I don’t want to mess with it…except that I have to mess with it! Not being a web designer, these things are scary to an author, ok? Although I love learning, I sometimes have to push through fear, as I am sure you understand. But, I wanted to and did add new pages (a super secret writers page with upcoming fabulousness and a newsletter!). Go me! I also had to use an external app to get the newsletter mail list working; yet another layer of discovery. I secured my new and tighter domain name as well (no WordPress name appears in it anymore). This all sounds pretty simple, but for a Gen X’er new to this web creation world, it isn’t so cut and dry. But I did it. And continue to do it. Stay tuned for more website changes as we get close to my debut in Fall.

I am also learning more about marketing, including getting a logo and working with a graphic artist. Yup, I’m also not a person with a degree in marketing or graphic art! Go figure. And it seems like this career of being an author requires knowledge of many different fields. Thank God for knowing geniuses in the various fields. Specifically, being part of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association has been one of the best decisions I have made in my author career because their webinars are outstanding. The amount of marketing tips and ideas I have complied just from some of their expert talks is pages long.

Nerd Alert: All of these roles I have had to learn about and semi-take on has me even more excited about my path for my novel. It’s just that I didn’t realize 2020 would include all of these tiny pieces. A writer just has the idea, writes it, and then goes totally out of their element to get out there in the world (which seems to be the majority of us introverts anyway). It’s an interesting combination of knowledge to acquire, which continues to draw me in. I am not one for the same old boring job day in and day out, so this author life keeps me on my toes…and I love it.

Who knew (not me) that I would get to experience all of these interactions with others as well, be it in social media or otherwise? My main person in this whole process is my publisher (and I’ve learned so much from her already- she’s amazing). I have had some discussions with her for setting up my editing schedule recently, right through to a tentative release date (yet another I-can’t-tell-you-yet, but will soon enough). Right now, I am moving into the second phase of editing (out of 4; refer to my last blog for a nifty little guide picture), called line edits. This phase examines and fixes any issues with sentence structure and wording (so I don’t repeat something 5 million times; you might get tired of that, right?). While this is happening, cover design, the start of the marketing plan, and finding a narrator for the audio book is beginning as well. I am listening to actress voices to see if anyone feels like the right fit for The Difference. All this learning, all of the time; it’s wonderful. Keep it comin’!

I hope you enjoy your learning about the writing process from my behind the scenes posts. Don’t let me stand here alone in my nerdiness, please. I know I’m not alone! So let’s keep rolling with learning from life’s changes together, as well as this whole making my book a reality thing. 😊

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*Please follow and share my blog if you enjoy reading about my author journey. 

  1. Just click on the “Follow” hover button in the bottom right corner. You will be emailed when new posts are created. 
  2. Feel free to comment or share (click comment and share buttons appear). I’ll always respond to comments. Thanks! 
Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Behind the Scenes of a Book’s Life

Have you ever thought about what goes into getting a book in your hands? I have had a fleeting thought about it in the past, but must admit, I never put much thought into it…until I decided I wanted to write a novel. But, even at that point, my knowledge was low. My method was just to write and figure out the next step later. I knew that I would freak myself out with the requirements of the process if I looked it up any sooner (you know, the whole actually getting it ready to be published part, AKA the most important part). So, I just wrote the first draft of The Difference and when starting edits investigated the process. Thank God I waited because anxiety may have gotten the best of me.

Recently I finished my first round of content edits for my publisher. Content editing means analyzing anything that needs to be changed to make sure the story makes sense developmentally, including deleting, pulling a switch-a-roo with parts, or adding to the story. During my edits, I thought about how I have to share this behind the scenes experience with you! So, now you will know a little more of that burning question of “What is a book’s life before I read it?” I bet you always wanted to know.

Let me give you a general overview of the process, or at least my process. I created the manuscript, edited, revised, asked what we call in the writer world “beta readers” to read it (mine are 3 close friends who also are brilliant for various aspects of what I needed in a reader), continued to edit, oh and then edited again. Basically, think about continuing edits infinitely, or until publishing, but more on that in a second.

Once the draft was sent to my beta readers, I started working on establishing my website and social media. This is a necessary component of the process in this day in age because agents and publishers want to see more about you, want to see how many followers you have, and the platforms also show how marketable your book may be if they sign with you (more followers = more interest, logically at least but not always in reality). I am glad I started when I did because it does take a long time to build the connections. I’ll have to write another blog on this topic because I have had some fascinating and surprising situations.

Anyway, I then created my query letter, which is a cover letter in the general world, but it has a specific format in writer world. Us writers call this part “querying.” Letters need to include the word count of the book (oh yes, different genres have different word counts and they REALLY matter), a hook-type description that states the central theme and stakes of the character if they don’t solve some sort of problem, and anything of note about you as an author (awards, past successful novels and such). The letter must be 1 page, usually, and written in the tone of the book. Writers need to make sure the person reading it wants to continue reading, meaning the synopsis of the book the writer may have included or some of the first pages (submissions all have different requirements).

Speaking of the synopsis, writing that was next…and the absolute hardest part of my whole process to date. This document needs to be 2 pages max (sometimes 1) and tell the main points of the story, without any flare of fun in it (straight up facts only). Fitting a novel into this amount of space was a nightmare. Part of my outstanding beta readers’ help was reading the query letter and synopsis, oh, a thousand times (Nah, really 999).

So, once all of that was done, guess what. I edited and edited (and edited) the documents. But also, I listened to the beta reader feedback and edited my manuscript more. During this time, I also started to build a list of agents who I wanted to submit my documents to in the future. At that point, I wasn’t open to going straight to publishers (usually an agent helps you navigate the field, but going this route also means a writer needs to be ready to add yet another step. Publishers need to accept the mauscript from the agent “selling” it; so that’s 2 people to say “yes”). Luckily, my next step brought me to where I am today.

I decided to do a pitch party as another means of querying. These parties take place online where writers could pitch their book to gain agent and publisher interest, usually on Twitter. If the industry professional hearts (likes) the tweet, a writer can see their submission criteria and send them their documents. Many more rules exist, but that’s the gist. There are a few different pitch parties out there, but for my Women’s Fiction genre at the time, only PitMad was an option. So, I worked diligently on my 280-character pitch. Let me tell you how difficult that little task was, BUT extremely worth it. The tiny tweet needed to convey the hook and stakes of the character, plus leave room for comps (comparable books in some manner; topic, writing…), hashtags for the pitch party (#PitMad), and elements of the book, such as if it is a story including mental health (#MH).

I was all ready to go on the first PitMad date on June 6, 2019, having newly “finished” my manuscript (I had be ready to send to industry people right away if requested). I received wonderful interest that day, my official first day of querying. How exciting that my new Twitter friends helped me by retweeting my 3 different pitches I carefully crafted ahead of time, as well as real-life friends signing on for that day only in some of their cases. But, after sending my materials to the interested parties, I got the dreaded rejections.

I ended up sending my documents to more agents in the field, not just the people from the pitch party requests, but continued to receive a big fat “No.” I am sure I can write more on this specific section of the process in the future, but for now, I’m going to keep moving…as I had to do last year in querying. Like that transition?

So, I continued to, you guessed it, edit and query agents. It wasn’t until the second PitMad that my eyes opened to more possibilities for my book baby. Well, I actually took a webinar with the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and learned about the different publishing paths. The combination of the two events allowed more flexibility in my thinking. By the second time I participated in PitMad, September 5, 2019, my lucky tweet from the first time around brought even more of a gift to my life; my current publishing contract. Here’s the golden tweet:

EAT PRAY LOVE feel + SHOPAHOLIC quirkiness: Rachel has “it all” but feels empty. Going on an ancestry journey to reveal a family secret has to also bring fulfillment (right?) or she may lose her relationship and worst yet, herself. #PitMad, #A, #WF, #CON, #IMM, #MH

I submitted to the requests I received and then waited for the rejections, but held out hope for a resounding “Yes.” Both results came from the interest from PitMad day, but all that mattered was that I got an offer from one of the requests; a small publisher named Kindred Ink Press, which turns out to be a perfect fit for me. I only queried 5 months total, so in the author world, that is nothing! I expected years of querying. I had put in so much time and effort by that point so don’t get me wrong, I worked for it, but also did not expect publication to happen so fast. I definitely feel blessed.

And after the signing of the publishing contract, on November 15, 2019, I’ve been in the true publication process. My content edits came last month, and I submitted the corrections in the manuscript a week ago. Now, I will have more rounds of edits until publication later this year. Yup, it takes a year to get in your hands from the point of the publisher contract. That doesn’t even include all the other elements I laid out for you above, plus many more details and querying paths, if you could imagine. Here are the main areas of editing:

(I’m in step 1)

Yet another topic of a future post (or two or three…) will be marketing my book. That’s a huge part of bringing it to you, obviously. And that part of a book’s life is open ended with boundless possibilities. But there you have the life of a book before it gets to you as a reader. Can you believe the amount of steps and hard work involved? Can you believe I will be starting it all over again with a second book? LOL! Well, what can I say; the writing bug has captured me. I’ll catch you soon with more of my journey, you know, between edits.

***

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Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

New Year, New Decade

Here we are, folks. It is not only another new year, but’s it’s a whole new decade. I don’t think I ever felt as much of an impact in past years when I moved on to another decade (well, except the whole Y2K madness because everyone was on the edge of their seats). There’s a budding type of feeling that I can’t quite put my finger on yet. This new sensation has me thinking about the reason this decade change feels different for me. It’s obvious that I am beyond ecstatic for my first novel to be released in this year, but there has to be more contributing to my excitement. Hmm, let’s analyze together.

If you have followed my posts, you would know that The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is my favorite book of my lifetime. I fell in love with it in 9th grade when I was forced to read it, thank God. Fast forward to this past decade and the movie The Great Gatsby was released. Not only was I thrilled about an updated movie version being made, but it also starred my favorite actor, Leonardo DiCaprio (Leo, if you are reading this, please reach out so I can finally meet you! Ahem, life goal). I ended up loving the movie for more than just the facts above. The movie was beautifully done and is one I can watch repeatedly, as well as endlessly listen to its soundtrack. It’s pure genius, people! Therein began my heightened interest in the 1920s.

The decade of the 20s were always interesting to me, due to the stylish dresses and bags, as well as that little thing called prohibition, but after I watched that movie, my fascination exploded. I read books about it, watched more movies and shows set in that time period, and listened to more music of the time. So, of course I find it humorous that we are entering into a 20s that I can experience. And I know I’m not alone since there are loads of Roaring 20s parties being advertised in my area this winter. But is this fascination the reason I feel different changing over to this new decade? …Nah. It just must add to the fun. My reason has to have deeper meaning.

When I think back on the last decade, I’m hit with the fact that I have changed drastically; probably more than ever before in adulthood. Now that I am in my 40s, I speak my mind more, have more confidence in myself, and do not care as much what others think of me. I am what I am and if you love it, great; if you don’t, that’s OK too. I especially have changed my views on what life satisfaction means for me, though.

See, I’ve always been a driven person and have had a successful career as a therapist for the last almost 20 years, but in the last few years I’ve realized there needs to be something more in my life that I was doing for a purpose. I didn’t realize I needed something more and especially did not know what that something was, until recently. I think the key to my deeper life satisfaction has been to integrate my artistic urges into the work I do as a therapist (which I have done) and to devote more personal time to my art as well (also, check). It fulfills my soul. Writing my novel has increased my satisfaction (not that I wasn’t satisfied before, but this is a whole new unexpected level). It ignited a fire within that keeps on shining bright. It’s a fire that can’t ever be put out and was dying to grow and be seen. Who knows how big it will get? Not me. And just like in Survivor, fire is life (yeah, I still watch that show).

I’ve noticed much more happiness and grounding in my life since I started writing my novel, especially when being more mindful of dedicating time to writing it in the last 3 years or so. Part of that shift internally has been to actually recognize the identity I have as an author; to be brave enough to say it publicly. The identity opened many doors emotionally and physically (seeing that my book will be in my hands this year!). I can’t wait to keep finding out where my writing will lead me. It was, after all, the genesis for the change. I’m doing more art than ever before and am back in touch with old art forms I did as a child. I also will learn new art skills in the near future because I obviously need more to do! It ends up that The Difference made all the difference in my own life, not just main character Rachel’s life.

Yes! This. Is. It. The reason I’m excited for 2020 is for the HOPE that exists! There is hope and anticipation in my new career as an author, with a fresh new set of years gleaming before me. It’s just like the green light in Gatsby, except I can and will reach “it.” I never thought I would have any other job besides counseling, but here I am, entering a new decade with a new career. I learned in graduate school that people have 3 careers in their lifetime. Within my therapy career I have had 2, so maybe this is my 3rd one. I’m not saying I want to stop doing therapy because I love it and can’t live without it actually, but it’s just that there is more in me to pay attention to now.

Where will my author career lead me in this decade? Already in this last year, I’ve started my website, social media, and this blog right here! I also will be starting my 2nd novel. The new identity of author has led me to meet new friends, to learn new skills, and has led to the best gift of all; a publishing contract. So, it’s exciting to see where I will be led in the future. I couldn’t predict the treasures that I’ve already received and I can’t tell you what will happen with every step I take in my life path… and that’s what makes it wonderful. I’m just going to follow the lead of destiny while riding on hope (and hard work, determination, etc. of course).

So, this was not at all a typical blog about my New Year’s resolutions, your resolutions, and how it’s hard to keep them. Being ordinary is not my gig. In saying that, maybe you can think about your fire for the decade ahead. I encourage you to think in these terms instead of the hyped up, over commercialized dreaded little word “resolution.” It has too much pressure attached to it, and who wants that? Instead, just follow your urges and your heart. It may lead to places you’ve never dreamed of, just like it did for me.

Now go on and put on your flapper dress while you celebrate the 20s. I’ll see you in the speakeasy. Happy New Year! 

***

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Author, Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Christmas as an Italian American

It’s time to say Buon Natale, or Merry Christmas, again. I’ve been thinking about all the wonderful traditions I had as child in an Italian American family and I want to share them with you. Every family has their traditions for the holidays, but mine when I was a child were all Italian style, so I’m curious to hear how they are similar or different to yours.

My grandpa was an immigrant from Italy and my grandma was a first generation American, so their traditions were pretty darn authentic to the experience one may have if they celebrated Christmas in Italy, with maybe a dash of American flair to make it a true Italian American experience. I feel lucky to this day that they taught me the beautiful aspects of an Italian Christmas. 

What did the traditions include? Well, I’m glad you asked (um, I mean that you are still reading this post). I am breaking the traditions into food, food, and more food. Just kidding, but really there was a lot of food. Okay, let’s say the memories include time at home, food, music, and religion.

Christmas Eve was just as large and important as Christmas Day in my house. It was always celebrated at my grandparents’ house and Christmas Day was celebrated at my house (that’s just a D’Angelo thing and not specifically an Italian thing, to clarify). My grandparents had the standard pepperoni and provolone cheese appetizer, with plenty of crackers. Sometimes figs from grandpa’s tree were also set out. Always a variety of nuts as well. A random but delicious and light mix for apps. 

The music played softly but just loud enough to draw attention to it, from the room next to the kitchen. Crooners like Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were only a few of the many voices I heard as a child. I also loved when the children’s Christmas songs came on the radio, like Dominick the Donkey (google it and it won’t get out of your head the rest of the day; it’s the best!). 

Before I get to the dinner, let me tell you about the wine. Everyone had a small glass of red wine, even me as a kid (gasp!). It’s normal in an Italian household to allow older kids and young teens to have a small glass of wine. This way, it is savored and you learn to appreciate it, not to abuse it or seek it secretly.

The dinner we ate was huge, especially for a kid. Grandma’s special soup was always on the stove the entire time we were there and finally we were able to eat it as a first course. The soup had rib meat, celery, carrots, garlic, onion, and pasta of course. I have the recipe but could never make it like her. Another part of the first course was the fish baccala, which only my grandpa liked. Traditionally, Italians do the feast of the seven fishes, but we didn’t have that kind of money! The final first course was prepping for the main course by the adults eating hot peppers. These spicy to the max peppers were ones my grandpa grew in his yard. I’ll always remember all of the adults crying while they ate them, saying through their tears, “uh, these are good;” sniff, blow nose, eat more. It was strange to me, but now I get it.

The main course was always aioli. This simple but flavorful linguini dish had garlic and olive oil with a sprinkle parsley and plenty of grated parmesan cheese (aglio= garlic, e =and, and olio = oil, hence, aglio e olio or aioli). Don’t forget the homemade bread. While grandma’s soup simmered, grandpa made loaves of bread. His crusty white bread couldn’t be beat. The other part of the main course was salad, eaten after the meal. The European way is to eat it after so I did that nightly, and still do. The dressing was only one; grandma’s mix of olive oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, and pepper. 

Dessert was always a mix of homemade Italian cookies, including pignolis and pizzelles. If you haven’t had these, you have to try to find them this holiday. Pignolis are pine nut cookies and pizzelles are snowflake looking, thin almond flavored, traditional Italian Christmas cookies that have confectionary sugar on top. Is your mouth watering by now? Mine is.

So, after all of this, we didn’t lay on the couch; we went to midnight mass! As a kid, I slept until 11 PM, stay awake until we got to church, slept more, and then was awoken at midnight by loud singing and church bells signifying Christmas Day was upon us. It was a groggy time, but also exciting because, my gosh, Santa was coming!

Waking up on Christmas Day was pretty standard. We opened gifts and blah blah blah. But later, grandpa and grandma came and the real celebration began. 

The appetizers were set out to munch on, including a few of the same from the night before, but also one special one came with dinner. As we sat at the table, my mom would sometimes have shrimp cocktail ready for us at our setting. Then, the soup of Christmas, pasta fazool (okay, it’s really called pasta e fagioli; pasta and beans). My mom was taught by my grandma to make it our special way, which isn’t the way you would see it in restaurants. Ours had long spaghetti broken up instead of small pasta. The beans were usually northern cannellini in type. The tomato sauce base was pretty standard though. 

The main course was usually stuffed shells or lasagna. The sauce (not gravy! This is an Italian American battle of names) was homemade to perfection. Meatballs also, of course. The homemade bread was there again also. Salad came last once again. 

Dessert was again pizzelles but also could be something special like cannolis or cheesecake. Now I’m even more hungry!

So, on to music. My dad played accordion and keyboard so the radio wasn’t on after dinner, my dad was “on.” He belted our Italian classics and all of us watched and sang with him. Music is a large part of the Italian culture. There is always music being played on the radio/records/tapes/CDs, being played live, singing with the music was normal, and breaking out in dance was almost a certainty. My grandma danced around with me, while we tried to get grandpa to dance. He was more of a watcher. But the holiday ended on this high note, pun intended.

It was so much fun to re-live these memories through sharing them with you. Please tell me about your experiences. Most of all, enjoy the moments as you partake in the traditions you engage in today. These are the special times we will hold into the future.

***


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Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Creative Connections

Over the last month, something spectacular occurred regarding my continued work as an author. But I’ll get to that in a minute. First, I wonder what does the phrase “creative process” mean to you? Pause and think for a second… Have you ever thought about it relating to anything that you do in your life? If you engage in any type of art, you may have thought about it, but even if you don’t, I’m sure some of you have reflected on what led you to an outcome at one time in your life. Maybe it was a dinner you had to make for your first major holiday celebration, and you had no idea how to pull off multiple dishes needing to be ready at the same time. Maybe it was succeeding in a work project that ended up to be the complete opposite of where you thought it would conclude. No matter what the situation was, your creativity led to an accomplishment of some sort and you can still feel proud of it to this day.

Well, I’ve been thinking about my own creative process more lately for two reasons; because this blog is about the behind the scenes of me as an author so the creativity behind my work is emphasized for me at this moment and how as I get older I become more at ease with actually identifying outwardly as an artist (more on that in a future post I’m sure). Now, if you have read my last post (and I hope you did!), you’d see that I talked about my blogging process. This post is not all about process per se, but yes, I am including the word “process” once again because it’s the overall category for my topic of today. It’s that important, I guess. Or, maybe it’s just my new favorite word.

So, let me tell you how wild it is to me that without me purposely trying to think of an idea for my second novel, the characters and storyline started to come to me in a procession of glorious little tidbits (much like my first book, which completely surprised me because I was not an author at that point, but felt that I had to write it; more on that back story in the future). The details just kept and still keep on unfolding almost daily in the last two months. The way this keeps happening fascinates me because when I work on a visual art project, I have the outcome in my head and then I work toward that end picture or result. Does anyone else relate to that? But with both books now, the ideas come to me in fragments first and then I put them together to make the finished product. The puzzle easily goes together for me but why is it a puzzle in the first place? It’s completely the opposite of the way I’ve created anything in my entire life! Something about the writing artist in me works differently than the other artist selves within me.

The second book idea started to come to me when I was speaking to one of my best friends on the phone about an idea she had for a business. Out of nowhere I started to literally see pieces of a story I wanted to create. As my friend spoke, her passion about her business must have sparked a creative fire in me (and we do have a 30-year connection so that makes sense). I saw images from this new story as if they were familiar already. It continued to happen so much during that inspired phone call that I wrote down ideas I thought of immediately upon hanging up the phone, after divulging what just happened to her of course. Over the next few days, I had details about my main character, where she lived, and what she did as a career written on various scraps of paper in an accumulating pile. My main character’s personality and the actual plot have uncovered themselves to me as recent as last week. It happens when I least expect the thoughts to come, which I love. It’s all coming together in an organic way. I wouldn’t want it to be forced, after all. That’s not how I roll.

You may have seen my post this past weekend on social media where I revealed the location of this second book. Get excited because it’s happening in good old New Orleans, LA (NOLA)! Okay, I have to take a side note here. Being an Italian American author, you may be thinking that it is a strange choice to choose that city because there doesn’t seem to be any Italian heritage there. Well, that isn’t the case. When I had researched my own family history, I saw that there were immigrants from Italy that settled in NOLA (I never knew!). It’s a place with a rich history in general, plus it’s where I saw my main character living in my mind’s eye right after that notorious phone call. NOLA is a perfect next location for me for many other reasons as well; it’s a place I love to visit, there’s an emotional tie to another best friend, there is a French influence so it pays honor to another ethnicity of mine, and the Italian history there isn’t as well-known as say, the history of immigration to the northeast so that brings more of a unique aspect to it, which I thrive on. It’s screaming to me to write about it. I guess I’ll have to take another trip there in the future, you know, for research purposes.

Getting back to my creative connections now, remember also in my last post I talked about art forms informing other art forms? Well, my friend’s creative idea for her business ignited this story idea in me, so her art influencing my art occurred. Then soon after that conversation, I was listening to an audiobook about a completely different topic than my story and wouldn’t you know it, more ideas came to me almost every time I got in my car and listened to that book. I often had to use voice to text to make notes to myself for my concepts because I didn’t want to forget before I got to my destination. Somehow there was some feeling from the book that fed my NOLA story in my mind. How in the world does that makes sense? It doesn’t. It’s just how art goes. Apparently, it’s my creative process for writing.

What have I learned from this chain of events? I never know where my inspiration will come from. I never know how I will get my story ideas; be it through music, stories other artists have told, or other stimulating people who want to see their passion come alive. What I do know is that I’ll take it! I want to continue to allow the art to fill me up and lead me to what it wants me to say. I have to listen to the art that wants to be expressed because it gives me purpose. I also hope the stories I tell give other people insight into themselves, or maybe even lead them to find their purpose. I enjoy this alternate artistic experience that comes as an author. It’s unexpected, but thrilling.

I welcome you to tell me any of your stories in the comments below. I love to hear about your creative processes. You never know, it may inspire me or another reader.

***

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Italian American Author, Uncategorized, Women's Fiction Author

The Behind the Scenes of the Behind the Scenes

Okay, remember how I said part of the reason I am doing this blog is to open up my behind the scenes aspects, AKA my life, to you as the reader/audience/follower? Well, hold on to your seat because it’s going to get very meta on you for today’s post. I know you can handle it, so let’s go.

After starting to write the last post, something strange happened to me. As soon as I started to write, the content seemed to take on a life of its own. Somehow, I started the post as a different topic than it became, but the words just kept going in that new direction. It’s boggling my mind that I could write the last two posts so easily. How could that be? I’m not a blogger (or am I?), so this doesn’t make sense. I write novels; novels that have a predetermined purpose and timeline of details. Then, blogs should be the same in my mind, logically speaking. And, just letting my hands take it away without my brain having confirmed their message ahead of time is completely un-C. D’Angelo-like. That is not my style at all when writing for the public…right?

All of this makes me think about a little word called process. As a mental health therapist in my day job, ‘process’ is an extremely familiar word to me. It’s therapist jargon for sure and is thrown around almost daily as an essential part of the therapy process. See, there I go again. Process, process, process.

So, let’s break it down. The word process, when used as a verb in the therapy world, means to explore, to dissect, to search through the topic (in my words, not a famous dictionary version). In therapy notes, I sometimes write “Client and therapist processed [fill in the issue].” Processing is an actual intervention involving action. But it is also a thing (remember the whole person, place, or thing = noun?); a process. The word’s versatility is what makes it interesting to me at this moment because I am currently processing my process of writing blogs. Like, right now. Right as you read this paragraph. That’s process. And, that’s very C. D’Angelo-like. I’ll analyze anything to death, so let me keep going.

You may be wondering why it’s important for me to write about this blogging process though, or rather my blogging process. I think it is because I am still getting my feet wet with this new world. My writing in the past has only been for me, but now I am writing for the public to view as well. That means my inner-most thoughts are laid out for all to see, anytime they want! Forever, online! Oh gosh, I can’t think about that too much or I would never post anything. But, that’s why I thought it would be more difficult to blog than to novel write. I know, writing a page or two vs 400 being more difficult seems counter-intuitive, but that’s how my mind works.

My new identity of a blogger (okay, I’m slowly starting to own it), in addition to a sort-of new identity of being an author is, well, something I am still grasping in my mind. Also, the way I write has been pretty steady for my debut novel, which includes strict planning, including outline, characters, and storyline. My blogs have been less formal, which is freeing in a way. I only come up with a topic and let loose. I feel free when writing my books, but it’s a different kind of free. That’s a free through someone else’s eyes; my character. It’s somehow safer. It’s just me and my characters in the room. These blogs are through my eyes in a more direct manner. It’s me in a direct connection to the world. No publishing process is inserted between the two. Both novel writing and blogging are creative expressions for me, but the novel writing is more designed than these blogs. Both of the past blogs have been main ideas that developed as I wrote, into the finished product. That is thrilling to me. It’s a what-will-happen-next type thing even for me as their writer.

In the therapy world, I use expressive arts therapy as one of the theories I work from with clients. This process reminds me exactly of the main tenant of that theory. The art used by the client can go from music making to painting to dancing, for example, and all contribute to the overall movement and healing of the person. One art form informs the next step; it cannot be planned out. That is what has been happening with my blogs, apparently. They have flowed from the beginning of my writing adventure (the novel) and that art has led to this art form of expression (the blog). It’s almost like I’ve been in another state of mind when writing during the blogs. That happens with the novel writing as well, but again, in a different format; a more structured and formal state of mind. I shall continue to analyze this forever of course!

I guess it just comes down to writing is fun for me in different formats. I also achieve a state of flow for multiple arts in which I engage. Maybe I’ll experiment with another genre someday or a different format, such as short stories. Who knows? I thought blog writing would feel like a task (sorry to say) but it never has felt that way and I intend to keep that up. When my writing comes from a place of a need to create, a need to express, and a need to share, I can’t go wrong. You know the difference when it comes from someone’s heart filled with joy vs a forced place. That’s isn’t how I operate for any of my arts.

I never thought that blog writing would allow me to learn more about myself, but here I am learning even in this post as I…wait for it…process. I wanted to allow people to know me more by blogging, but look at what happened instead. It goes both ways. So, this lack of planning beyond topic may bleed into my next novel. Maybe I will just see what happens from the start with absolutely no planning at all. Um, nah…I’ve already started planning. But maybe I will at least be less of a planner and can see where that takes me. We will see. I’m excited for this new art form to inform the next. That’s what I know now. Thanks for helping me to evaluate myself; what every author therapist loves to do apparently…or at least this one.

Italian American Author, Women's Fiction Author

Not Your Typical Thanksgiving Post

Many blogs and social media posts this week center around one concept; gratitude. I’m usually slightly different than the norm, so this blog post will not be about gratitude. But wait! It isn’t that I am not grateful, because I am and have SO MUCH to be grateful for in my life. I’ll just write about it at another point in time. It’s all because of what today’s post is actually about…inspiration.

Right now, I want to share more about this topic because, well simply, I feel inspired at this moment. And maybe you will get inspired also. I’m in a new phase of my author journey and the creative juices have been flowing even more lately. I don’t have a rhyme or reason for the surge, but am going with it.

I have found over the last few years that music is a key component of my inspiration for creating art. Growing up in an Italian family, I learned about music from day 1. Not only was it always playing in my house, but we all played instruments as well. I begrudgingly learned to play the organ at age 7. The organ! What 7-year-old girl wants to play a big old boring instrument like that? Not this one. I thought it was a “boy instrument” and as the epitome of a feminine girl, did not want anything to do with it. The piano, now that was a “girl instrument.” But the D’Angelos had an organ in the house, so there I was taking lessons.

After a few years, my parents finally let me stop taking lessons. I could play fine, but did not enjoy it, much to my parents’ chagrin. It wasn’t until middle school that I wanted to try another instrument. You are guessing right if you are thinking I chose a “girl instrument.” The flute was my new love. I played at home all the time, at church for services, and then in the high school band (concert and marching, thank you very much). I had a blast with my dainty, feminine new form of expression.

From college on, however, the actual playing of music faded as adult responsibilities kicked in. It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I had a burning desire to play something again. During that time, one instrument was a star and when I saw it one time in a quirky Zooey Deschanel video, I knew the ukulele was for me. Where were stringed instruments all my life? This is the one for me. So, I taught myself and now sing and play as much as I can. I can’t get enough. Look at her shining beauty (I even decorated her backside).

Over the last 5 years or so, I noticed that songs on the radio or from my playlists began to make sense with unanswered questions in my life or even related to something happening that day. Now, brace yourself. I have a few loved ones that are deceased and I do believe sometimes there are signs from them. Hopefully that isn’t too woo-woo for you, but it’s true. I especially believe my dad sends me messages through music at times. Of course that’s how he would connect to me; he was a professional musician in life, so it makes sense.

When I couldn’t think of a title for my novel, I made lists of random words and subjects it was about, but nothing made sense. I tried to come up with a title for months, but concluded nothing. I knew it would come to me in time, but never expected how it would come to me.

I searched online for certain words that were relevant one morning. Pictures, articles, blogs, and whatever else I found lead to dead ends. As soon as I stopped looking one specific day, a song came on that I hadn’t heard in the longest time. Do you remember the band The Wallflowers? They have a song called “The Difference” (hmm, does that sound familiar?). It clicked in my mind that the song title was the perfect title for my novel. Art inspired art. I immediately brought the video up on YouTube and guess what solidified my decision to use the name. There was an organist in the video. What 90s video ever had an organist in the band? What band in general really has someone playing organ? And I do not mean a keyboard, I mean there is an organ. I knew that was a sign from my dad. Ironically, right after that an Elvis song played from my playlist (yeah, I’m eclectic) and he was my dad’s favorite singer.

Okay organ, you win. You didn’t come back to haunt me, but instead finally found your way to my heart. I will continue to play my uke passionately, but that darn instrument called the organ will just have to have a small space in my soul as well. My dad says so.

I hope that you can share what inspires you in your life in the comments below. Let me know because you never know how you can touch others with your messages. I hope you’ve been inspired in some way to create, look for signs, or just let the music play. Happy Thanksgiving.