I'm opening up my blog to guest bloggers and the first is Sandy Lender. My blog is just on of the many during Sandy's virtual book tour which began June 1st and will end July 3rd. Be sure to leave Sandy a comment to win an autographed, hard cover, first edition copy of Choices Meant for Gods.
God Bless the Other 99
By Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
As Nicole reminded us a few days ago, rejection sucks. But true writers only sigh (or drink) over the rejection letter (or e-mail) for a little while, take what we can from any suggestions the publisher (or judge) was willing to take the time to offer, and move on with the job of writing. When I read Nicole’s post about the rejection letter from the Demon Clash of Steel folks, I felt that stab-in-the-gut moment of empathy that all writers feel for each other when a rejection lands in the in-box. But I was pleased to read in the same post that she’s continuing to submit her short story and is contemplating some edits.
It reminds me of a Barry Manilow song.
Hear me out! I’m a huge Barry Manilow fan, and have been since age 5. He’d probably roll his eyes to hear (read) that number, but, hey, it’s not every musician who can say they have 34-year fans. Here’s the scoop on the song:
Barry has a song titled GOD BLESS THE OTHER 99 in which he sings, “I learned more from failure than I learned from success; I learned so much more from no than from yes; I learned to be willing to lead with my chin; and if I were willing to lose I could win.” He has no idea what that song has meant to me as a single, solitary little fan out here in the world, but, on more than one occasion, I’ve stared at a rejection thinking, “Criminy, what else do I try? Is this worth it?” and heard his voice in the back of my head. “If I were willing to lose…”
Now, having been a successful stalker of Duran Duran for 25 years, you would think I could get up close to Barry. I mean, I know he performs at the Las Vegas Hilton and I know his schedule. But due to his fabulous security, I’ll probably never get the chance to tell him that my main character is named “Amanda” Chariss just so Nigel can call her “Mandy.” I’ll not get to tell him that I MADE IT THROUGH THE RAIN was a theme song for me for most of winter 2008/2009. But I certainly hope he realizes his fans are moved by more than the romantic, lovely songs like WEEKEND IN NEW ENGLAND (although that one brought tears to my eyes when I saw him in Vegas in March 2008, and that usually only happens with MANDY).
So why this rambling tribute to Barry Manilow when I’m on tour to promote my first fantasy novel CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS? (and, according to an answer he gave in his fanzine, he doesn’t particularly get into fantasy novels) Why wax poetic about how his song inspired me to keep submitting my work despite past rejections when what I’m supposed to do is entice all you visitors to read about the latest and greatest in sword and sorcery, good versus evil, and prophecies twisting out of control? Well, simply stated, today is Barry Manilow’s birthday. I have the special honor of sharing this birthday with him. How cool is that?
Many songs inspire my muse to peek in on me and suggest a writing spree. I have a folder in the iTunes called “Music to Write to” that contains wonderful, moody, esoteric kinds of stuff like Arcadia, Groove Armada, Moby, Radiohead, Dido, Kula Shaker, Enigma, Low Pop Suicide, etc. You get the picture. But there’s a plethora of moodier Duran Duran and the almighty Barry Manilow in there, too.
Without Barry’s GOD BLESS THE OTHER 99, would I have kept plugging away at finding a publisher for CHOICES MEANT FOR GODS? Quite likely. I have a stubborn streak in me and the characters in the series deserve to have their stories told. But I have to say…on those dark and dreary days when a rejection letter is in one hand and a glass of amaretto-on-the-rocks is in the other, hearing Barry’s advice makes it a little easier to get on with the business of writing. “I learned more from no than from yes…”
(And just so no one worries, I don’t actually “stalk” famous pop stars. Well…maybe it could be classified as mild stalking. Is it stalking if you note the license plate number of the vehicle they’re in as they leave the concert hall so you’ll recognize it when you get to their hotel? Mwuahahaha. This is where Chariss gets that strategizing mind from, you know. But I’m a really nice and calm little fan. Trust me. I’m a pleasant stalker. I swear. Mwuahahaha.)
Thank you to Nicole for the time here today, and thank you to everyone who’s stopped in to visit.
“Some days, I just want the dragon to win.”
The blurb for Choice Meant for Gods:
Not even the gods noticed when Chariss was born with the mark of The Protector. Now she and her wizard guardian seek shelter from a mad sorcerer in a household not just full of secrets and false hope, but watched by the god who will unwittingly reveal her role in an impending war.
When an orphan sets aside a lifetime of running and fear to accept the responsibilities of guarding an arrogant deity, can she face the trials in the prophecies she uncovers? Will Nigel Taiman of her latest refuge dare to use his dragon heritage to bind her to his estate or to help her in her duty?
And an excerpt:
This is a romantic scene as Nigel Taiman and Amanda Chariss ride from the estate at Arcana to Arcana City. Her wizard guardian has already clued her in to the fact that Nigel wants to court her, and she's upset over it. The scene mentions the bear-like ryfel creature that nearly killed Nigel in the training arena...
Nigel frowned at her. Spurring his horse slightly, he reached out to take hold of Shadow’s bridle. Bringing them both to a stop, he turned in the saddle to face her.
“Hey!” she objected.
“Indeed. Have I done something to anger you?”
Her cheeks reddened with embarrassment.
“You’re staring at me.”
“By the gods, Woman. All right, I’ll look at your horse. ’Manda,” he said to Shadow, “what have I done that’s made you angry?”
“I’m not angry.”
“You’re not a liar,” he spoke to Chariss again.
“All right, so I’m a little angry. It will pass.”
“And you don’t want to tell me what it is?”
She couldn’t blame her reticence today on worry over Drake. She also couldn’t blame her health because she’d completely recovered from her telabyrinth poisoning. With Hrazon and The Master attending the summer festival, she couldn’t blame some sort of timidity at being ‘alone’ in the city. No, she had to take a deep breath and be honest with him. Considering the number of suitors she’d sent packing in the past few years, this should have been an easy thing to do again. It wasn’t. She sighed, closing her eyes as if she could make the scene disappear.
“Do you agree that you’re my friend?” she finally asked.
He watched her open her eyes then, realizing where the conversation must be going.
“Yes.” It was said with exasperation.
“And that I’m your friend?”
“And does that please you?”
He sighed, but didn’t get a chance to answer.
“You see, Nigel, it pleases me. I appreciate your kindness, and I would be disappointed if we hadn’t built such a…such a…”
“Friendship?” he retorted.
“Such a rapport.”
He rolled his eyes. “A fancier word with even less affection.”
“My stay at Arcana is much more pleasant because I have this relationship with you. But someone has tried to convince me that your…your…”
“Well…your opinion of our relationship might be somewhat different from mine.”
“’Manda, just say what you’re thinking. You won’t hurt my feelings.”
She looked miserable then. “I don’t want to say what I’m thinking.”
“No, that’s not good. Hrazon thinks you’re…Hrazon believes you spend time with me because…” She paused, searching for the words.
“Because I’m in love with you?”
She nearly fell backward. “Just blurt it out!”
He chuckled slightly. “This is uncomfortable, isn’t it? I’m sorry to embarrass you. This conversation would be better in a darkened corner of Arcana’s parlor. ’Manda, I’m not going to lie to you. Hrazon has every reason to believe I’m after his ward because I am. It’s no secret to anyone I enjoy your company. What, where are you…You’re the only woman I know who can scoot that far away on a saddle without falling off.”
“I don’t think you should say those things.”
“Aye,” he sighed, watching her fidget with Shadow’s reins. But he made a decision to press the matter. “I’m going to say them and get them out in the open. Then we can decide if you’re to die of embarrassment, or slap me across the face.”
She couldn’t help smiling, even though her heart beat as if it would burst through her bodice from the tension she felt.
“I enjoy being with you because you’re my perfect match,” he said. “Have you noticed that we agree on almost everything? And the few things we don’t agree on are intriguing to argue because you make them intriguing. There’s no one at that entire estate, The Master and every intelligent student combined, who can hold my attention as you do. None of them compare.
“I’m attracted to everything about you, including your compassion. Even now, when you’re on the verge of falling off a horse with embarrassment, your concern is for my feelings, not your own. Godric, who doesn’t deserve to wash your feet, who finds every excuse to correct you, gets your respect because you remind yourself that he’s your benefactor. Do you know what strength of character that shows? Do you know how it endears you to me to know you bite your tongue after his arrogant remarks to save my mother’s feelings?”
She merely nodded, her eyes cast down.
“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you would fight to the death for little Kaylin?”
She nodded again.
“And do you know how it endears you to me to know you instinctively threw yourself into healing spells to save my life?”
“You shouldn’t assume that means—”
“I remember sliding toward death that night, life spilling out of me, and poison seeping into me from that thing’s claws. But do you know what I remember most distinctly? I remember you commanding me not to bleed to death…and I remember your hands afterward. Once I was healed, once Master Rothahn became preoccupied with the dead ryfel, you crawled over to me and put your hands on me again, as if you had to be sure He’d done a good enough job of healing me. But you would’ve done it for any member of my family. I daresay you would’ve done it for any student in the school. And it’s because you care about others, and you want the best for everyone around you. And you’re the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
The last comment caught her off guard. It didn’t seem to fit with the logical argument he tried to make.
“I fail to see how these things tell you you’re in love. Kaylin enjoys my company. Mia enjoys arguing with me. I saved Sorne’s life once. Does this mean they’re in love with me?”
“If love could be explained that easily, it wouldn’t be real.”
“But what makes you think it’s real now? If you can’t explain your feelings, how do you know you’re not misled?”
“How does the rose know to bloom in spring?”
“Oh, now that talk I’ve heard before. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t think you should let yourself believe it now.”
“’Manda, I’m telling you the truth and I’m telling you what I know. If I’ve made you angry by falling in love with you, you’re just going to have to deal with it. Because you’re not currently interested in me, you have to give me time to change your mind.”
They were silent then; he waited for some sign that she wasn’t going to cast him aside, she waited for her heart to stop beating so loudly in her ears. As far as she was concerned, she was often a foolish girl, but her intentions at the beginning of this conversation were foolish beyond compare. She realized—with alarm—that the blood rushing through her veins, the lightheadedness, the excitement at getting to spend an afternoon with him, were all signs she had chosen to ignore.
She swallowed hard against the fear in her throat, and, with as much calm as she could muster, said: “What gives you the idea that I’m not interested in you?”
Thank you, Sandy, for guest blogging today! Here's wishing you a wonderful birthday and many, many sales!