From Rejection to Spectacular Success

By Joanne Guidoccio

While querying the Gilda Greco Mystery Series, I kept myself motivated by reading the success stories that started with stacks of rejection slips.

Here is one of my favorite success stories:

In 1992, teacher and motivational speaker Jack Canfield decided to compile all the stories he had shared on the self-help circuit. Intrigued, promoter and salesman Mark Victor Hansen joined this venture.

While culling his stories, Jack searched for narratives that were “inspiring, healing, motivational, and transformational.” Jack wanted to include 70 stories but was persuaded to increase the number to 101. During his years as a student ambassador in India, Mark had learned that 101 is the number of completion.

The title “Chicken Soup” appeared to Jack in a dream: The hand of God scrawled these words across a chalkboard.

Once the first volume was completed, Jack and Mark found an agent and flew to New York to meet with publishers.

They struck out.

None of the publishers could relate to these “positive yarns.”

Their agent suggested they obtain guarantees that at least 20,000 copies of the book would sell. A daunting task but one that the two men were able to accomplish within months. They placed “Commitment to Buy” forms on the chairs of every motivational conference they attended.

These inked promises from audience members persuaded Peter Vegso at HCI (a publishing house in Florida) to release the first anthology in the summer of 1993.

Since that time, more than 250 books have been published and over 500 million copies sold. In 1999, the series made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records for having the most books on the New York Times Best-Sellers List at one time.This past Tuesday, Chicken Soup for the Soul released Angels All Around: 101 Inspirational Stories of Miracles, Divine Intervention, and Answered Prayers. My essay, “Prayers and Positive Thoughts,” was selected as one of the 101 stories for this anthology.

Blurb

In this book of 101 inspirational stories, contributors share their personal angel experiences of faith, miracles, and answered prayers, which will amaze and inspire you.

More than what we experience, it’s often the memory of who we experience that lasts. And sometimes, we experience an angel. You will be awed and inspired by these true personal stories from people who are certain that there are angels right here on earth. They know this, because they’ve met them, and if you open your eyes, and your heart, you may find that angels don’t live too far away after all.

Excerpt from Prayers and Positive Thoughts

“Are you praying?”

In many circumstances, this question would be deemed intrusive and inappropriate. But considering the source—my mother—I didn’t take offense. If anything, I was embarrassed to admit that prayer was the furthest thing from my mind.

Over a month had passed since the specialist oncologist had delivered the diagnosis: Inflammatory Breast Cancer, Stage IIIB. While I had shared the stage, I had kept those first three words to myself. I didn’t want family and friends Googling IBC and discovering the seriousness of the diagnosis. In 2004, the five-year survival rate for IBC was 30 percent. As for the ten- and fifteen-year survival rates, the percentages were in the single digits and not even worth considering

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Entertaining?

Do you like to entertain? Do you do it often? Do you do it in your house/apartment/condo or restaurant? For you writers, do you put entertainment scenes in your stories? Usually, I put questions at the end of these posts, but this seemed right this time.

Over our married life, we’ve done more and less entertaining. As a younger married, I can remember having “dinner parties.” Six to eight of us. I did the whole meal back when I actually cooked and didn’t just set out the food. 😊 It was stressful but fun. IMG_1256

Then there were years where we were working such long hours, the idea of entertaining anyone in our home was beyond considering. Now that we’ve moved to the lake, we’ve moved into another phase where we entertain every couple of months. One of the things I missed after we left our old neighborhood, where we’d lived for over twenty years, was our neighborhood coffees. Many of us took turns having folks over for a Saturday coffee. These were lots of fun and pretty easy to do.

After we got settled here, I asked some of the neighbors I’d met to come by on a Saturday morning, and we chatted, snacked, and drank coffee and iced tea. Folks were curious to see what we’d done with our lake cottage which had still been mostly in the 50s when we bought it. Quite a transformation. (But that’s a post for another time.) IMG_1023

People liked the idea and several folks signed up to host. The first year we had three other coffees after ours. This is the second year, and every month is spoken for. Several folks have specifically thanked me for getting these started. This past Saturday was our turn to host. It was fun to catch up on people’s lives as opposed to waving as we pass by.

The other way we entertain is with church friends. We have something called Dinner for 8 every month. People host in their homes or in a restaurant. It’s just a chance to get folks together for more time to really talk. Because we feel we have been blessed with our cottage on the lake, we frequently host at our house. This is really simple (after getting the house cleaned up), we provide the main dish and everyone else brings something. One of the things we do is take a selfie of everyone together. Always lots of laughter trying to make that happen.

IMG_1164

(Confession: None of these pics are from the events I’ve described. Apparently, other than taking the selfie at the end, I’ve not taken other pictures. That will change. LOL )

When I first began writing, my critique partners criticized me for always having my characters eating. I struggled to cut back, but really, we spend a lot of time with others eating. Seven books later, I don’t worry about it quite so much. 😊

So, do you like to entertain? Do you do it often? Do you do it in your house/apartment/condo or restaurant. For you writers, do you put entertainment scenes in your stories? Love to hear from you.

Pic at very top is the Book 4 in The Second Chances Series, ACT OF SURVIVAL

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Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about SENTENCE #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about SENTENCE

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.


In midsentence her pen halted, the air thickened and the oxygen whooshed from her lungs as the news anchor announced her friend Callie’s name in the same sentence as murder.

Marian Lanouette


“You told me once it wasn’t just sex–”
“We made love,” Scott completed her sentence.

Marsha West


Nate picked up his coat and gun. “What about Jack?” Cassio responded, “If you come with me, your lord will be free from the death sentence.”

Sharon Wray


His hold on me tightened as he whispered in my ear, “I’m hungry.” That phrase.

Vicki Batman


His words were cut off mid-sentence, the stunned shock turning his face into a clownish mask of pain.

Jacquie Biggar


Mercy knew when Reagan’s sentences deteriorated into single words, he was done. He’d retreated into that dark, hidden place where he lived most of the time since . . . then.

Claire Gem


Her sentence was a lighter one, and she would be out soon. Too soon.

Joanne Guidoccio


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Art and Grace of a Gratitude Journal

Previously on this blog I’ve written about the benefits of keeping a journal. Today I’d like to expand on that.

There are many types of journals–diaries, travel journals, food journals, etc, but there’s another kind of journal that does more than keep track of your life. There’s a journaling practice that’s been proven to reduce stress and improve happiness. It’s known as Gratitude Journaling.

There’s no doubt that every day we’re bombarded with negative images and messages. Everything in the world is (and always has been) dire. Everyone is stressed. And all of us eventually have to do things like pay taxes and attend funerals. If we only listened to the world around us, we’d never believe that anything good ever happens. We’d only believe that life is hard and then it’s over.

But there’s another way to look at life. Despite all of the difficulties found in adulting, there are also good times. There are weddings and comedy clubs and birthday parties. There’s the surprise reunion with an old friend and a last minute cup of tea with your neighbor who just happened to bring over homemade cookies warm from the oven.

A Gratitude Journal is one of those things in life that’s simple yet not easy. (Like dieting!) It’s nothing more than a daily record of your blessings, of things you’re grateful for, or even just the things that made you smile. It’s an accounting of the good things and people and moments of your life. Keeping a gratitude journal takes you out of the chaos in your head and allows you to clearly see the truth of your life, not what the mass media want you to believe.

There are no rules to keeping a gratitude journal. On simple way is to start by keeping a notebook by your bedside table and every night, before you go to sleep, write down five things you’re grateful for. It could be as simple as the fact the leftovers you had for dinner tasted better the second night. Or the unexpected text message with smiling emojis you received from a friend. It doesn’t matter what the five things are, just that you mentally review your day and record them.

Here are a few ideas to help you succeed:

  1. Write frequently, at least three times a week. Daily is even better. Regardless of how often you journal, pick a time of day and a place in which to work and be consistent. Do you want to journal in bed before going to sleep? During lunch in the patio behind your office building? Before dinner while your food is in the oven? Just pick one that works for you!
  2. While you’re recording these five things, be as specific as possible. When you read the entry over later, you don’t want to just remember the event or moment. You want to remember the emotions associated with it. Being specific amplifies gratitude. Saying you’re grateful that your neighbor brought over homemade cookies after she heard about your horrible day at work brings forth more emotions than just saying you appreciate your neighbors.
  3. Record events and moments that were complete surprises and how grateful you are for what happened. I don’t mean just surprise parties. It’s more about unexpected moments like someone paying for you coffee or a pretty card received in the mail.
  4. If you find yourself being grateful every day for the same thing (and that’s okay!), try to focus on a different aspect of this thing so you can elicit a different emotion. When good things happen, we often experience multiple emotions. See if you can describe the hidden ones.
  5. Treat all of these recordable events as gifts. Not like birthday presents, but like small gifts you weren’t expecting. Treating these moments like gifts helps foster gratitude.
  6. Don’t be afraid to list negative things that you’re grateful for. Sometimes negative things are a blessing in disguise, although it may take us time to realize that. But when you do suddenly realize why you didn’t get that job or why that person you dated once didn’t call you back is actually a good thing, write it down!
  7. Keep it pretty. This is not a rule, just a suggestion. By using different colored pens and washi tape and adding in small photos and postcards, etc, the journal becomes even more personal. Besides, sometimes it’s fun to write in different colors! For those who don’t like to decorate, choose a journal with paper you love and the perfect pen. When you love what you’re writing with, it becomes a joy instead of a chore.

Do you keep a gratitude journal? I’d love to know in the comments!


 

Sharon Wray is a librarian who once studied dress design in the couture houses of Paris and now writes about the men in her Deadly Force romantic suspense series where ex-Green Berets meet their match in smart, sexy heroines who teach these alpha males that Grace always defeats Reckoning.

Her acclaimed debut book EVERY DEEP DESIRE, a sexy, action-packed retelling of Romeo and Juliet, is about an ex-Green Beret determined to regain his honor, his freedom, and his wife.

Her second book, ONE DARK WISH, will come out September 24, 2019 and is available for preorder here: Amazon |  Barnes and Noble Books-a-Million | iBooks |  Google

EVERY DEEP DESIRE is available on: Amazon | Barnes and Noble | iBooks | IndieBoundKobo|  Google

Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about WEAPON #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about WEAPON

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.


While I enjoyed watching celebrity chefs brandishing knives on television, I wasn’t comfortable being in close range with potential weapons.

Joanne Guidoccio


“All that hardware—doesn’t it bother you to carry it?”

“It would bother me more if I had a situation and didn’t have my weapons with me. Don’t worry.”

Marian Lanouette
All the Pretty Brides (2019 Daphne du Maurier Finalist)


Andie Mills stood behind her weapon of choice—a slick black Nikon camera with a 70mm lens.

S.A.Taylor
Shutter (work in progress)


She palmed the weapon, the metal comforting. A quick gulp of air before she glanced under the bed. Nothing. The closet?

Marsha West


Sarah’s mouth went dry, and she turned, ready to use her camera as a weapon.

Sharon Wray


Left with no other option, she dropped, rolled, and came up fighting. “DEA, drop your weapons.”

Jacquie Biggar


He lowered his weapon, and his face softened. He smiled at me, a strange kind of recognition dawning.

Claire Gem


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about DECEIT #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about DECEIT

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.


Sara had fallen off the pedestal Tom had placed her on. He’d thought her perfect, so to find out she was a deceitful woman, like all women, he lost all sexual interest.

Jacquie Biggar


I couldn’t fathom the notion of Cassandra faking or putting on the airs of a psychic. It wasn’t in her nature to be deceitful.

Joanne Guidoccio


“The small wiry ones seem to have an abundance of hidden strength. We’re not questioning Arnie until we’re sure of the body count.”

Marian Lanouette
All the Pretty Brides (2019 Daphne du Maurier Finalist)


“This is harder than I imagined,” she rubbed her hands down her jeans. “It’s like I’m being sneaky or deceitful.”

Marsha West


Nate would lie, cheat, steal, kill, and die, but he wanted one thing in return: he wanted to remember this moment with Sarah forever.

Sharon Wray


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sneak Off and Read: Lines all about HONOR #RSsos #RomSuspense

#OneLineSunday by #RSsos Lines all about HONOR

Interested in reading more? Click on the book covers below for information about the novel and the author.


Nate had no money or job or honor. His courtesy was the only thing he could offer her.

Sharon Wray


Overcome with emotion, I shook my head. “You should honor your mother—”

Joanne Guidoccio


Still clutching the necklace and unable to hold back tears, he spoke to his sister first, “I’m so sorry I let you down, Kendra. I know how much it meant for me to watch over Lexie. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to honor that promise to you.”

S.A.Taylor 
A Twisted Fate (work in progress)