|BWS Stories - "My World is Empty Without You Babe"...Losing Loved Ones|
"My World is Empty Without You Babe"...Losing Loved Ones - In My Own Words
Carol A. Miller, award-winning author of The Master of Plans ISBN 0-9771641-1-X and The Master of Plans Part II ISBN 0-9771641-0-1 published by Defiance in Print 11/05. www.carolmayomiller.com
In My Own Words
In writing this article my desire is to give hope to the many women out there that may have had to shift careers unexpectedly—whether willingly by choice—or due to a terrible tragedy or hardship. If I can do this, so can you!
I didn’t even think about publishing a book! But it’s never too late to discover a new passion in life. We had it all…a happy marriage, a thriving business, an eighteen-year partnership that was only getting better through the years. Our full-service interior design firm established in 1979 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was extremely successful. We had only begun to enjoy the best of times. We completed thousands of commercial and residential projects, regionally and nationally, to include Fortune 500 companies. It was a satisfying and viable career. The best part was that my husband and I were able to work together in harmony 24/7.
We were working towards our retirement to Gainesville. He was a staunch University of Florida fan and graduate and thought about lecturing at the college. I was planning to open an antique shop and perhaps write short stories. We settled in Orlando in 1992 as an interim move.
That fall Larry became sick suddenly with a terrible illness. Horrified that no treatment in the world could prevent the spread of the disease, he died five short months later. He was only forty-six years old. In one fast swoop, I lost my best friend, lover and partner. Along with this great loss, I had to complete on-going projects, and then formally close a lucrative business.
I was bereft. Since Larry and I co-founded the corporation, we agreed to close it. I didn’t want another partner. He was irreplaceable, and it simply wouldn’t be the same. I couldn’t even think about returning to the business we had built together. My daughter, concerned about my well-being, encouraged me to work through my grief by writing it all down. I sat at the newly purchased computer — tentatively at first. Spending countless hours rambling on about my vast experiences in life, from the time I was a little girl growing up in Middletown, New Jersey, to Larry’s death, I realized that there might be a story to tell. I forced myself to get up each morning to peck at the foreign keyboard.
Working through a myriad of mistakes, one time I completely delete the entire text, and start all over again. Since I am not a quitter, and I always finish what I start, I plowed along. But then my father passed away only fifteen months after my husband. The grieving started all over again.
I meet a publisher/author in Orlando. His reviewer critiques what I have written thus far. She suggests and advises that I write the story in the first person and to embellish. With this input, and after many months, the time, effort, and hard work produced a manuscript of love written through grief. But, now what do I do?
The birth of my first story, The Master of Plans has become a reality. The saga parallels my life—an adventure and journey through failure and success. I feverishly enter all the contests. Painstakingly query traditional publishers and agents. Rejection! Rejection! Rejection! You can’t take criticism too seriously. Regardless of unfavorable or distasteful opinions writing has become a catharsis!
I attend a seminar presented by a successful woman, a local author, who encourages me to self-publish. The on-line publishing company she used did provide an attractive, finished product. Internet publishing companies provide a relatively easy way to see your book in print. If you thoroughly understand the process, the cost is quite reasonable. Sounds like a plan!
When I read the statistics that only two percent of manuscripts submitted to traditional publishers are accepted each year, I decide to go the on-line print on demand route. I do this not fully understanding the traditional publishing business, its alternatives or offerings: subsidy, vanity, short run, off-set, digital, blah, blah, blah. Then I am horrified to find out that there were 150,000+ books published that year alone. Further disappointed that retail bookstores, newspapers, some organizations, agents and traditional publishers frown upon self-published authors. They do not even acknowledge the POD existence—won’t even print a press release. The unsatisfactory working relationship and the lack of communication or promotion by the publisher disheartens me. They are not author-friendly. Don’t promote your book.
I join various associations, spend countless hours researching on the computer, and I enter every contest I find. Frustrated and disillusioned, I almost throw in the towel. Just about ready to retreat, I become an award-winning author, placing second in the 2004 Royal Palm Literary Book Awards, in the published fiction romance category, sponsored by the Florida Writers Association. This provides hope and the desire to forge ahead.
In the interim I continue to write the next story— not certain if I can pull off a substantive sequel or not. I chronicle the experiences in my life since Larry’s death. The novel focuses on the many life-style changes that I’ve had to make handling what I now refer to as — the widow’s lament. Expounding on the main characters in the first novel, The Master of Plans Part II continues to follow the precarious, winding path.
I experience many stages and harsh realities. It’s a difficult journey, a real-life adventure on the rocky road to acceptance and forgiveness. Although I have no idea as to how this love story may end—maybe it doesn’t have an end? I remain hopeful, enthusiastic and determined. I continue to write and to plan.
I so enjoy expressing myself in the written word, that I’ve recently made an executive decision. Although writing has truly helped me through my grief, I aspire for much more than that. I want writing to provide an income. But…would it be—could it be— possible? I am writing a third novel, and much against what the critics say, that you should stick to your genre, I am also formulating a children’s series. If I have to promote the books and myself—why not become my own publisher? The blueprint of life is, after all, a plan. Deciphering how you fit into that plan, or don’t fit into that plan, is “another” long story.