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Heartwarming Small-Town Romances and Thrilling Mysteries

One of the hardest things of being a writer has been the business side of it. I’m a small business owner which has brought a plethora of issues I’ve had to learn about and deal with, not least of which is paying sales taxes in different states. But to be successful, advisors say to seek opportunities to sell my books and make connections. This summer, I’ve taken their advice and traveled to different conferences and events to sell my books. Time will tell if it’s worth the money and effort.

The first part of August, Hubby and I traveled new roads to Oklahoma City for a romance writers conference I first saw on FaceBook. I knew some of the attendees from the West Texas Writers Academy I used to attend every year. That event is no longer held so this gave me an opportunity to see friends from there. All the rooms at the hotel where it was being held were taken so we had to find our own accommodations in Bricktown. Hubby was gracious and drove me to and from the conference for two days.

RomanceLahoma, the conference’s name, included workshops I attended and the chance to pitch to an agent (that means talk to a literary agent about your book in the hopes they’ll want to represent you to major publishers). I volunteered to help with the conference by introducing some of the speakers and helping with the pitch sessions. The workshops were informative, I got to see my old writer friends, and meet new ones. It was great!

One incident I never planned for happened there. While helping with the pitch sessions, one of the agents came out to talk to me and Stacy Gold, the other volunteer. She was lamenting she wanted more people to pitch to her. We asked what genres of books she was looking for and she mentioned a genre I’m working on. I told her and she said, “come pitch it to me.” On a whim I signed up for a pitch session the next day. After she left, Stacy asked me to pitch it to her so she could help me with my spiel. I had told her about my other pitch session that ended disastrously, and that I’d decided not to do that again. I was ready to erase my name, but Stacy wouldn’t let me quit and helped me with it. The next day, I pitched my book, and the agent was excited about it. Asked me to send a full manuscript and a synopsis of it. That’s like hitting a homerun for the underdog team! I spent two days getting the manuscript in shape and writing a synopsis. When I wrote the email and hit the Send button, it felt surreal. I hear about it happening to other writers but never dreamed it would happen to me. My first request. Now I have to sit and wait to hear from her for up to eight weeks.

Before we left Oklahoma City, I had to go by the OKC bombing memorial. I remember that day vividly because they said a federal office had been blown up. I knew someone who worked for the Feds there, in the same agency Hubby worked for at the time. We later found out it wasn’t his office, but there was no relief. People having Federal jobs, working on and enforcing the rules enacted by Congress, died that day, along with innocent bystanders and children who had nothing to do with any of it. One of them had been a student of mine not many years before. She’d been married five days previous and was there to change her name with the Social Security Administration. She was killed there. Wrong place, wrong time. I’ve never forgotten her, and I had to pay my respects for her at the memorial.

I found her chair and couldn’t keep the tears from falling. I leaned there and wept out the grief I’d kept inside for all these years. She was one of the good students, smart, ambitious, kind, and pretty. She didn’t deserve to die like that.

As I stood there, I understood some things. Hate caused that catastrophe. A man hated an entity. He dehumanized that entity, so he felt no remorse in trying to destroy this thing he wanted to be rid of. He never saw the people. His hate blinded him to the fact that people made up the entity. His brain had been so manipulated by rhetorical speech, beliefs, and self-talk that he had no critical thinking ability. He wouldn’t believe anything other than what he believed. That belief drove him to hate, and hate drove him to dehumanize and destroy.

I learned this: don’t trust anything or anybody who encourages me to hate a group or entity. Hate is a destroyer of your mind and critical thinking. Never dehumanize either. People, all kinds of people, make up groups, factions, races, agencies, and so on. Agencies/Entities are people doing their jobs. Real people. Never trust those who promote hate. I don’t ever want another memorial to be built to honor those who died because someone hated or grieve for someone who was killed because of it.

Hubby and I listened to 60s music all the way home. You know, the peace and love songs. Love one another. At least give it a try.

But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for he makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:44-45

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandments greater than these. Mark 12:30-31

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother who he has seen, how can he love God who he has not seen? And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves God loves his brother also. I John 4:20-21

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