‘22-02 Fortnightly Focus: Inquisitive

I’ve been extraordinarily inquisitive lately, so much so I’d probably be able to retire if I had a quarter for everything I’ve looked up using searches and the wealth of online resources provided by my local library. I bet I have amassed a year’s worth of knowledge and wisdom in these first sixteen days of 2022. The word “inquisitive” has many definitions, but for the purposes of this two-week focus, I suggest using the definitions below, courtesy of Merriam Webster:

inquisitive: adjective. tending to ask questions; having a desire to know or learn more; curious or inquiring.

I’ve always been an inquisitive creature. For instance, every time our town’s emergency siren would sound to summon either the first aid or fire department starting when I was very young, I’d be concerned and want to know more. My empathy and curiosity combined to spark such questions as, “I wonder what happened. Who do you think is hurt? I hope everyone is okay.” I clearly remember such instances from very early in my life. Anyone reading this who grew up with me in my hometown may remember a certain siren that would blare three times every day at noon: long, short, long. I can still hear it in my mind. That siren was a time indicator, not an emergency indicator, and I was relieved when it was just those three blasts because nobody was in danger. Anyway, ever since I can remember, I’ve always desired to know more, then write about what I’ve learned and the connections I experience along my journey. My curiosity is one aspect I most appreciate about myself; instead of abandoning my childlike wonder as I matured, I nurtured it and allowed it to shine. I still do, and I always will.

At first glance, it might seem impossible that the ocean can be inquisitive, but if I look closer, I see the ocean is, like me, a living creature. She is alive with life. Each of her waves she reaches and spreads across the sandy land is an extension of her curiosity, and her waves are full of new knowledge when they retract back into her mass. She then imparts her learned wisdom upon us through our connection with her. We are both inquisitive, forever curious and always learning.

I invite you to embrace the word “inquisitive” over the next two weeks and allow it to guide you. Take some quiet time to connect with and ponder the questions lurking in your mind and in your soul, then vow to seek answers. Cultivate your curiosity and learn something, no matter how small it may be.

As always, if the time is not right for you to be inquisitive, it’s okay. No shame and no beating yourself up for having a bad day or for not making progress towards your goals, whatever those may be. All vibes matter in this space, as the human experience comprises ALL vibes, not just good vibes. Embrace your reality and feel what you feel without guilt.

Wise Words About INQUISITIVE

“When you are inquisitive, Jane, you always make me smile. You open your eyes like an eager bird, and make every now and then a restless movement, as if answers in speech did not flow fast enough for you, and you wanted to read the tablet of one’s heart.”

― Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“Be inquisitive. Open your eyes, open your minds to things you don’t necessarily know even exist. I think that’s an important part of learning and growing. The more [you]’re willing to ask, the more [you]’re going to get out of it.”

― Jay Rinaldi

Thank you for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With love and gratitude,

Jill

‘22-02 Fortnightly Focus: Inquisitive” was posted on jillocone.com on January 16, 2022. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

‘22-01 Fortnightly Focus: Initiative

Today I’m sharing a sneak peek into a new “initiative” that my soul has ignited. There’s much more to come, believe me, but for now, allow my soul to invite you to embrace the word “initiative” over the next two weeks and let it guide you. The word “initiative” has many definitions, but for this focus, I suggest using either of these definitions, courtesy of Merriam Webster:

initiative: noun. the power or opportunity to do something before others do; the energy and desire that is needed to do something

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/initiative

I’m looking at 2022 with intense initiative: I’m calling upon my soul’s energy and desire to shine my light, and the opportunity to do something for others while shining said light from within. In fact, this post is a living embodiment of that initiative.

The ocean’s initiative is her power and energy, which she uses to fulfill her intricate role: to rise and fall, to destroy and cleanse, to excite and calm, to cycle through highs and lows while teaching us all how to tread its waters. The ocean’s initiative is innate and natural. Her energy propels her massive presence yet her desire to allow its salt water to purify and teach us keeps her in check. Her waves are full of wisdom which she imparts upon us through even her lightest caress of our toes along her break line. 

For this challenge, look inward and contemplate an opportunity to do something meaningful or helpful for yourself or for others. What energy do you need to make it happen? If you don’t know the answer to either/both questions, take some quiet time over the next two weeks to connect with your soul and ask what it most desires. Perhaps it’s something as small as lowering the number of carbs you eat or increasing the number of steps you walk each day. Perhaps it’s something larger, an unfulfilled dream or wish that has been subtly tugging at your heartstring for a day, or a month, or a year, or a lifetime. Take the initiative to make progress, no matter how small the steps may be.

And if you cannot accomplish this task, it’s okay. No shame and no beating yourself up for having a bad day or for not taking those baby steps. All vibes matter in this space, as the human experience is made up of ALL vibes, not just good vibes. Embrace your reality and feel what you feel without guilt.

Wise Words About INITIATIVE: “The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.” ― Barack Obama

I’m looking forward to connecting with you a lot more this year. I hope you have a wonderful first week of 2022! Shine on!

Thank you for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With love and gratitude,

Jill

“‘22-01 This Week’s Focus: Initiative” was posted on jillocone.com on January 3, 2022. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2022, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

2,657 Days…

I’ve always been in tune with the universe and its breadcrumbs, even as a young child, but I spent more time ignoring them than following them. I’ve always known I am different, and for far too long, I tried to fit in through vices or by wearing a variety of masks, each of them a flat-out denial of who I really am in my heart and in my soul. I’ve always known I’m a writer, but I allowed doubt, indecision, and distractions to deny my calling. I’ve always known there’s a unique light shining inside of me, but I allowed too many sources of darkness to extinguish it over and over and over…

It’s time to let my light shine, and to hell with the consequences.

I am in tune with the universe.

I am different.

I am a writer.

I will live, and my light will shine bright forevermore.

For over seven years and counting, the universe has been leading me in a particular direction, and if you’ve been following me or personally know me, you’ll understand what I mean. I never questioned the breadcrumbs, but I did allow the path to become obscured, the reasons why no longer important because they no longer matter.

Today, I understand everything with crystal-clear clarity, all the signs and the ‘whys’ behind all the heartache and all the joy.

It’s taken 2,657 days of faith and determination to ensure my novel, Chapter One-A Novel, is ready for publication, and it’s finally there. I’ve made this announcement before, albeit prematurely, but I assure you that this time it’s the real deal, and it’s the right time. Years of toiling to write and to revise have finally produced a wonderful and compelling story, one that will inspire others to trust the universe and believe in themselves, one that will illustrate the power of friendship and the triumph of personal ambition over setbacks and detours.

I am confidently querying agents and publication houses and wholeheartedly know I will be led to the right opportunity for me, and I will keep you informed along the way.

My only future request for you is to keep in mind that, when you read Chapter One-A Novel, you separate me from the main character as I am NOT Kelly Lynch. I am Jill Ocone, author and writer, and Kelly Lynch is her own person in her own right.

I’m working on five other writing projects (three novels and two non-fiction books), and look forward to bringing them to light like I did with Chapter One-A Novel but in far less time, for I am truly a writer now.

The wave is here. And I’m not sleeping, oh no…

On a side note, I am reading The Storyteller by Dave Grohl. Do yourself a favor and GET THIS BOOK. Dave Grohl has always been a cool cat, but I admire and respect him even more now. I’m planning on writing a post about this book soon.

And I’ll end my post with celebrating fact I scored tickets to my BUCKET LIST BAND, the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS! It’s finally happening in August, and I cannot wait!

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“2,657 Days…” was posted on jillocone.com on November 4, 2021. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Published in “Stay Salty: Life in the Garden State”

I am beyond elated to announce that my piece titled “SynJersey” was selected for publication in Read Furiously’s forthcoming anthology Stay Salty: Life in the Garden State, which will be released on Tuesday, October 12, 2021.

The book features essays, prose, photography, poetry, and comics, all of which explore the fascinating stories that make New Jersey and its people some of the most interesting people you’ll ever meet.

I’m honored that my piece was selected for publication alongside many other talented writers and artists, as I don’t have to tell you how much the Garden State means to me.

From the Amazon listing:

The book you hold in your hand is as relaxing as a day at the Shore, as tense as the traffic you hit on the way down to get there, and as expansive as the Pine Barrens you find yourself lost in after that wrong turn off the Parkway. Stay Salty, the second volume in Read Furiously’s popular New Jersey Anthology series, once again reminds us of everything we love and hate (and love to hate) about the Garden State. Following the tradition of storytelling of The World Takes, Stay Salty features prose, poetry, comics, and photography that showcase the mysterious and fascinating elements that make up New Jersey and its inhabitants. Grab some salt water taffy and listen to voices from Sussex County to Cape May. Because in New Jersey, there’s always a story to tell.

Editors Stephanie Atzeni and Adam Wilson put forth their utmost effort in creating an anthology that is honest and beautiful.

To give you a bit of a teaser, here’s the first two lines of “SynJersey”:

Jersey.

She’s an addiction I simply cannot overcome.

You’ll have to buy the book to read the rest!

Stay Salty: Life in the Garden State can be ordered through any of the following links:

Click HERE to purchase through Read Furiously

Click HERE to purchase through Barnes and Noble

Click HERE to purchase through Amazon

Click HERE to purchase through Target

If you buy a copy, I’d be happy to sign it! I’m extremely grateful for your continued support!

Stay Salty!

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Published in ‘Stay Salty: Life in the Garden Sate’” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on October 6, 2021. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Published in “the leaves fall” (The Red Penguin Collection)

I am beyond elated to announce that my poem “The Impromptu Gig” was selected for publication in The Red Penguin Collection’s the leaves fall, a poetry anthology of autumnal poems.

From the description: With poems ranging in content from specific moments in nature, and the beauty within each one, to more abstract examinations of temperature, isolation, and progressing forward, this anthology is sure to be one that speaks to the hearts and minds of all who read it.

You can purchase your very own copy by clicking here. If you purchase, please consider leaving a positive review on Amazon if you are happy with the anthology! And I’d be thrilled to sign your copy!

Thank you for your support!

Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Published in ‘the leaves fall’” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on September 19, 2021. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2021, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Thankful for 2020’s Roller Coaster

2020: What a long, strange roller coaster ride it’s been for all of us.

We collectively entered the queue together in January and followed the long path that snaked through February. We stored our belongings and removed our glasses, hats, and shades and reached the front of the line in early March. We sat next to each other in neatly arranged rows and locked in our seatbelts and harnesses. After a quick safety check, the car pulled away from the loading zone and rounded the curve to ascend the first massive hill.

We didn’t realize each click-click-click upwards represented a faction of life as we knew it being left behind us.

It became more difficult to see what was ahead of us the higher we climbed.

We reached the top, looked down, and…..bam.

Insert appropriate expletive here.

The drop was immense, like nothing we ever experienced before. Our stomachs were left 230 feet above us as we screamed in futility. Some of us worried, some of us cried, some of us laughed, some of us got sick, and some of us were unimpressed, claiming the drop was nothing, no big deal. They taunted, “Is that all you’ve got?”

The closures, the orders, the face coverings, the scrambling for necessary items, new rules and regulations, the rise of the essential and front-line workers, honk parades, eating outside in tents, sanitizing the whole shebang…everything its own hill with its own form of up-and-down-and-loop-and-invert.

However, if we looked hard enough, we were able to find a number of hidden silver linings along the metal tracks.

The coaster’s trail evened out a bit during summer and briefly morphed into a straight line. Smooth sailing, but we had to scramble mid-ride to leave the seats to our left and our right empty.

We expected the ride to end, but instead, found ourselves at the bottom of another enormous steel-tracked hill that looms even higher into the sky.

This is our location right now, today, on Thanksgiving 2020.

We’re ascending speedily yet ever-so-slowly and are currently near what we hope is the middle of that second, massive mountain with no hand to hold on either side and the path ahead completely obscured.

It’s dark. It’s cold. And it’s no longer fun.

Everyone is screaming, but nobody is listening. We scream louder and louder until we drown each other out and all that is left is white noise.

Some are still worried. Some are still crying. Some are still laughing. Some of us are sick. And some are still taunting.

We have no idea when we’ll reach the summit or accelerate at top speed on the downside while descending towards terra firma, or how many bumps we will encounter along the way to this bizarre ride’s finish line.

For me, the paradoxical roller coaster of 2020 has certainly had its ups and its downs, pun intended. Love and loss, gathering and isolating, fear and calm, laughter and tears, beginnings and endings, empty and full, lost and found… the full gamut of the human experience is thriving in 2020, that’s for sure.

In all honesty, I am most grateful for those ups and downs this Thanksgiving, for they have shown me what truly matters:

  • My loved ones…family, friends, colleagues, students…staying connected and relishing the time I am able to safely spend in everyone’s physical presence, especially my nieces and nephews.
  • My daily life and the glorious moments of sheer awareness and indescribable beauty that I’ve experienced as a result of slowing down. I am no longer a slave to a “to do” list but mindful, awake, and enlightened.
  • My true self… embracing the person I am becoming and becoming the person I am meant to be. I don’t believe I would have found her if the coaster was closed for maintenance or never constructed at all.

I am most grateful for the wisdom to never again take anything for granted, especially my health, and for all that I have and all that I am.

Hopefully, we will soon reach the end of this unsettling ride and emerge from its tunnel as unharmed as possible. I don’t know when that will be, but I DO know that next year’s Thanksgiving is going to be one hell of a shindig.

Wishing you good health and the happiest of Thanksgivings wherever your table may be this year.

 Thanks for joining me on my journey. I’m glad you’re here.

With gratitude,

Jill

“Thankful for 2020’s Roller Coaster” was posted on jillocone.com and on soulseaker.com on November 26, 2020. Views and opinions expressed in this post are solely those of the writer, who was not endorsed or compensated in any manner by any entity; views do not represent any employer. Copyright 2020, Jill Ocone. All rights reserved. Contact jillocone@gmail.com with reposting, licensing, and publishing inquiries.

Still SEAking, and Still Reflecting

Dear Friend,

In the months since I’ve been “retired” from posting at my personal blog titled SoulSEAker, my heart has felt its loss. It’s true that I found my voice and my purpose, which was the mission of SoulSEAker, but what I didn’t expect is the hole its absence would leave in my soul. I miss posting about life and what-not, although to quote Samantha Baker from Sixteen Candles, “Life is not what-not, and it’s none of your business.”

I have come out of retirement and will resume posting on SoulSEAker with (hopeful) regularity like I used to back when I established it, and I plan to cross-post here as well. Writing is therapeutic and nourishing for me, and I assume there are others who might feel the same as I do. Perhaps my words will nourish them. Perhaps my voice will provide them with some much-needed hope and therapy.

OC1_16IRE_0822_2055
I include a picture from my 2016 trip to Dublin to accompany today’s post. Demolition on the former Tara Towers Hotel was completed last month. The Tara Towers Hotel played a huge role in my mission from the universe which led me to find myself. Its demolition coincides with both completely re-crafting draft seven of my novel titled Chapter One – A Novel, and with re-launching SoulSEAKER. Just as the owners of the former Tara Towers Hotel set their sights on building a brand-new, state-of-the-art and architecturally savvy hotel on the site, I am focused on re-crafting both my novel and SoulSEAKER to make each as appealing to my readers as possible.

Tara Towers serves as a visual reminder that it’s okay to tear it down and rebuild because its lessons and its influence will always be a part of my foundation. I’m grateful for the role Tara Towers had in my journey, for I would not be who I am today without it. Might sound silly to be grateful for a building, but to me, it’s so much more than that. And because I can see it as more than a dated hotel that needed a facelift, that’s what makes me unabashedly me.

I’m glad to be back at SoulSEAKER, and I’m glad you are with me for the ride. Thanks, friend.

With gratitude,

Jill

Copyright 2019 – Jill Ocone. This post originally appeared on both the SoulSEAker blog (www.soulseaker.com) and the personal blog of Jill Ocone (www.jillocone.com) on July 3, 2019. Views and opinions contained in this post are solely those of the author, who was not compensated in any way by any entity, including Maldron Hotels. All rights reserved.

Digesting the Goodness

521c8921-b020-4a92-ae9c-89830ae4d8c2I sit here enjoying the silence, exhausted yet satisfied, after spending four intense days at the Yale Writers’ Workshop at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut.

Had to insert a nod to one of my favorite songs from my own college experience, which did not end on a good note.

This experience, however, DID, on so many levels.

It’s true that everyone has their own shit going on, and most of us are orchestrated every day by a ridiculously rigid schedule, including me. My schedule from April leading up to the workshop was so slammed full, I couldn’t even fit a thin pencil line between events and responsibilities. Other writing events and conferences, editorial assignments, school-related tasks including yearbook distribution and end-of-year procedures, writing, family obligations, homework for my Yale workshop, and a never-ending list of chores related to moving and taking care of my uncle’s estate has stretched me thinner than a rubber band pulled back to its maximum length right before it breaks. I’m mystified that even though I came close to snapping a few times, I’m still in one piece like that rubber band.

As is true with my fellow sufferers of imposter syndrome, I did not think my writing was of the “Yale Writers’ Workshop” caliber. However, I literally had this quote appear in my social media feed right above an ad for the Yale Writers’ Workshop:

 

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson

With Hanson’s words resonating in my mind, I took a chance and applied despite my feelings of inferiority, believing I’d fail.

However, I realized it was time for me to fly as I wept tears of joy when I read my acceptance email on April 2.

I then cried for a different reason as I faced the truth I’d have to venture out of my comfort zone by driving on roads that frightened me to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity.

I promised myself that when it was time to go to Yale, I’d focus solely on the workshop and put all other distractions out of the way, including my feeds, my calendar, and whatever was scribbled on my to-do lists, both real and perpetual.

And I did just that, minus a few Instagram posts…hell, when I see a USPS mailbox decorated like R2D2, I must share!

59c71cb2-50ce-4535-a10f-7f59866ab7fcI’m humbled to have sat in the presence of twelve other phenomenal writers in my workshop titled “The First Ten Pages,” including my teacher, “Marlena” author Julie Buntin. Everyone was kind, enthusiastic, and inspiring as we spent four intense days workshopping the first ten pages of each other’s manuscripts, as well as hearing from speakers Steve Almond, Betsy Lerner, and Chaya Bhuvaneswar. I gained new friends, new insight, and new ideas to re-craft Chapter One-A Novel to make it the best it can be for the reader. I see it, and my intuition knows it is right. My vision will become a reality. I’m looking forward to reading the revised drafts written by my fellow attendees.

And, good news! I successfully navigated the way to and from New Haven surprisingly without any fear! I can do it!

I’m also still absorbing the wonderful advice I acquired from presentations by Neil Gaiman, Amy Tan, and Colum McCann at the third annual Rutgers Writers’ Conference held the first weekend of June.

As I finish out the school year and digest the feedback about my novel, the first steps of Chapter One-A Novel’s re-crafting will begin tomorrow.

I plan to engage more with readers on my blog and to building a better platform over the summer while working on some other side projects.

I’m finally flying…man, my spirit guide would be so proud of me.

Thanks for accompanying me on my journey!

With gratitude, 

Jill

 

Riding the Writing Wave of Inspiration

It’s been quite a writing roller coaster over the past month, replete with inspiration and learning as much as I can from some wonderful authors.

Author Tim O’Brien speaks at the Jay and Linda Grunin Center at Ocean County College, Toms River, NJ

First up: I attended a local event featuring Tim O’Brien, award-winning author of “The Things They Carried” with a dear friend. His approximately 90-minute long presentation featured anecdotes from both his days as a soldier in Vietnam and from his more recent days as a father. He read a few passages from his forthcoming book titled “Dad’s Maybe Book” which is due to be released later this year. After his presentation, Mr. O’Brien graciously stayed for autographs. A few weeks ago, while surveying my late uncle’s bookshelf, I spotted a copy of “The Things They Carried” on his bookshelf. Now, my uncle was not a reader, but he did serve in Vietnam. My eyes welled up with tears when I saw the book, and that’s the copy I brought for Mr. O’Brien to sign. When I handed him the book, he looked at my Uncle’s picture taken in Vietnam and said, “Another one. Did he come home?” I told him yes, he did, but that he recently passed away. Mr. O’Brien gave me his condolences, and I will cherish my signed copy of his work because it belonged to my hero.

My uncle’s copy, forever a keepsake and an inspiration.
March 31, 2019

One of my favorite writing events of the year is the Writing on the River retreat that’s organized by ProjectWriteNow in Red Bank. I’m a teacher ambassador for PWN and the event is not just for the teacher in me, but also the writer in me. Jennifer, Colleen, and Lisa work very hard to make the day special for all attendees, including writing exercises and time to cultivate our own creativity. It’s refreshing and renewing to talk to other educators who either teach writing or write themselves like me, and I left the retreat with new friends and new writing ideas.

Author Paul Lisicky at the William Paterson Spring Writer’s Conference.

I also attended the Spring Writers Conference at William Paterson University last weekend, which gave me the opportunity to learn from writers Paul Lisicky, Nathan Alling Long, and David Burkowski. I left with great strategies for writing that I aim to put into practice, and with a new appreciation and interest in flash fiction. Lisicky is a master at using detail and flowing his words together in a way that makes it sound almost songlike. His work will inspire me to improve my use of detail.

And now, for the big news…As the result of being guided by the universe, I applied to the 2019 Yale Writers Workshop on a whim, which will be held in June. I had to supply a writing sample as a part of my application, so I chose the first two chapters of “Chapter One-A Novel.” It should come as no surprise that I freely admit that I suffer from “imposter syndrome,” so I never in a gazillion years expected to be accepted.

It’s real!

But I was.

After reading the congratulatory email, I was stunned and overjoyed, and yes, I’ll admit that I cried.

I’m going to YALE in June for a four-day long intensive workshop, and I am simply over the moon about it. I keep thinking of that phrase that goes something along the lines of “what if I fail? But darling, what if you fly?” or something like that. I applied thinking I was going to fail by not being accepted.

But I was.

What if I, indeed, fly?

I dream of someday being in a position where I will be able to sign my books for readers and fellow writers like O’Brien, Lisicky, and Alling Long signed for me over the past month.

I used to think it was a pipe dream, but maybe, just maybe, it might come true someday.

I Loved Pitchapalooza!

img_5332

That’s me! I’m pitching Chapter One-A Novel in public for the first time.

I reached a milestone yesterday, and that was pitching Chapter One-A Novel in person for the very first time. Booktowne, a wonderful, independent bookstore in Manasquan, sponsored Pitchapalooza. The panel featured The Book Doctors Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry and local author Patricia Perry Donovan, a previous Pitchapalooza winner.

Pitchapalooza is like an American Idol for writers. In order to qualify, authors had to purchase The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Eckstut and Sterry from Booktowne. All of the eligible author names were put into a basket. When an author’s name was randomly pulled, he/she had a minute to pitch their book. And yes, authors are cut off at the minute mark whether they are finished or not. Arielle, David, and Patricia would then critique the pitch, noting strengths while suggesting ways the author could improve. At the end of the evening, one author was selected as the winner, who would be introduced to an agent or publisher who is appropriate for his/her book.

I worked hard on my pitch for Chapter One-A Novel...it’s quite difficult to sum up over 90,000 words in about 150, which is roughly a minute. When I picked up my copy of The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published, I immediately read the section on “Perfecting Your Pitch.” On the day of Pitchapalooza, I got my pitch down to 58.5 seconds and practiced it several times.

When my name was called, I didn’t run or freak out at all. I confidently read my pitch for Chapter One-A Novel, which was over before I knew it. Patricia, Arielle, and David gave me excellent suggestions to improve my pitch, and I left feeling inspired and reassured about my writing.

It was very interesting to see the range of topics and genres that fellow authors proudly pitched to the panel, which included memoir, young adult, fantasy, children’s books, teaching memoir, and fictional novels like my Chapter One.

The winner was Gerry Gribbon. His pitch for a book that focuses on communication skills for graduates was outstanding. As an educator, I can say with first-hand knowledge that Gribbon’s book is much needed. Congratulations, Gerry! Your pitch set the bar and gave me an excellent example to strive for with my future pitches.

img_5333I am excited that both Arielle and David will be at the Rutgers Writing Conference in June. I am looking forward to revising my pitch and to hopefully having another chance to pitch Chapter One-A Novel to them at the conference. My goal is to memorize my pitch so I can flawlessly recite it without looking at it for the next go-around.

Thank you to Booktowne, the Book Doctors Arielle Eckstut and David Henry Sterry, and to Patricia Perry Donovan for their valuable advice and for taking the time to encourage, inspire, and support new writers.

PS: Fellow author Mandi Bean attended Pitchapalooza with me, and she did a damn fine job pitching her latest novel Moody Blue! It’s not every day that a former student can STILL inspire her teacher, 12 years later and counting….