The Power of Perseverance


[pur-suhveeruh ns]

1. steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained. — Marie Curie

Photo credit: tricky (rick harrison) / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Photo credit: tricky (rick harrison) / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Yesterday I received some wonderful news about one of my close friends from my college / theatre days. Joe Calarco was hired as a resident director and director of new works at the Tony-winning Signature Theatre in Washington DC. I realize most people who follow this blog are readers and writers, so let me emphasize that this type of position at this theatre is HUGE. This announcement moved me on many levels. The first being pure joy for my old friend. He has put in his time as a freelance director-playwright having directed his first musical with Signature back in 1998, plus countless other productions across the country and abroad. Prior to that I remember the days when he was writing, adapting, and doing whatever it took to find venues for his own work. Nothing would stop him. It is a lesson in perseverance I greatly admire, one I’m sure came with many sacrifices along the way. As stated in the article, this will be Joe’s first full time job since high school. All those years of sowing the seeds, working constantly in a freelance capacity, earned him a reputation of excellence in his field which brought about this hard earned opportunity.

It made me think of not just my theatre friends, many of whom are still out there, pounding the pavement, knocking on doors and WORKING in a relentless field, but my writing friends as well. It is hard to work in a field where rejection is paramount such as the theatre and publishing. We have to develop thick skin as writers. Back when I received my first publishing contract one of my writing friends said, “I always knew you’d be published. You never gave up on your goal.”

Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other. —Walter Elliot

In many ways now that all three Brothers of Audubon Springs books are out, I feel like I’m back to a place where I’m starting all over on my path to publication. I have my list of lessons learned from my publishing experience, and three new series I am actively writing at the moment. While working on all these projects at once makes me feel like I have writers ADD, until I decide on the absolute best route and project for my future, I’m not willing to let any of them go. Just as I’m feeling overwhelmed about the RoseAnn DeFranco, Author 2.0 path, and questioning “Do I have the energy to do all this?” I’m reminded of Joe’s success, as well as the success of many of my author friends. None of it would have been achieved were it not for the power of perseverance.

What are the things that keep you charging onward in the face of a long uphill climb? Do the successes of others inspire you as they do me? Is it the support of family, your writing circle? What gets you through…other than chocolate, a writer’s best friend, of course!

Starting the Next Book

How do you start your next story? I don’t mean where, exactly. We all know the first chapter should begin with a life changing event. Ideally with a smidge of the everyday world shown, enough meat to show the character’s character, her (or his) dilemma without backstory slowing us down though.


[Gpointstudio/Young Thoughtful Woman/]

Sigh. If it were only that easy. For me STARTING the next book, period, is the hard part. I’ve attempted freeform scribbling of story ideas—you should see the disjointed pages of “maybe’s” I’ve got. Maybe he should do x, maybe this happened to her in the past, maybe that. If there’s a gem in that mess it’s hiding pretty well.

I’ve tried starting with only the most basic premise, using bold, black marker to set out the major plot points on index cards. This tactic is supposed to be so great. The cards can be rearranged so easily, you can take them everywhere! To begin, you only need a few big scenes! This major thing happened, they have to end here, something crushing has to happen about there, etc. Then you play a game of connect the dots—more index cards forming a dotted path from A to B to C. Except wait—you have to actually write something on them. And therein lies the trouble. Anyone else find all those blank rectangles laid out in row intimidating? Stilting? Truth be told, I did start my last book this way… sort of. But it didn’t get me very far. This time, index cards seem to be getting me nowhere.

Some people research heavily, all the gems of information igniting story ideas and plot twists galore. Ummmmn. If I don’t know what I’m writing, how do I know what to research?


When Disaster Strikes

We’re back! Thanks to Sandy, and lack of internet access, the Femmes took an unplanned break from blogging. Did you miss us? We missed you!

Don’t forget to enter our anniversary contest. There’s good news…because we’ve been on hiatus, we’ve decided to extend the entry period until the end of the month!  We can’t wait to award one of you a brand new NOOK SIMPLE TOUCH! To enter, click on the link below.


Surf already pounding the day before Sandy


Not too long ago, two Harlequin editors tweeted that they were looking for stories built around natural disasters. Having just been through a 7.6 magnitude earthquake while vacationing in Costa Rica, my thoughts immediately turned to how I could craft a story around an event such as that. Not once did I think a disaster right in my own backyard would give me fuel for a story. Things like that just don’t happen in New Jersey. When you think of New Jersey, you think of humid summers, sometimes nasty winters, glorious springs, sunny beaches and breathtaking fall foliage, but not natural disasters.

If you live on this planet, you can’t be unaware of the happenings in the northeast US over the past two weeks. Superstorm Sandy slammed the tri-state region, and our perspectives on life, weather, and the people of our area got knocked on their butts. Whoever would have thought a storm, creating damage of such epic proportions, could happen here?

Well, it did, and many of the citizens of the Garden State, as well as the neighboring states of New York, Connecticut and Delaware, will be brushing themselves off, cleaning up, and rebuilding for years to come. Living near the shore myself, I was without power for nearly two weeks. I am in a position to view, firsthand, the devastation in our area: the wrecked beaches and boardwalks, the destruction of some of my favorite restaurants, the washed-away homes, the depleted dunes and nesting grounds of various endangered bird species. Luckily, I can also help some of my unfortunate neighbors, people of all ages, races, and economic circumstances, to just get through one day at a time. Family and friends have endured such tremendous destruction, loss, and heartbreak, it is unimaginable, and yet, they persevere.

As I grumbled about not having power, my very helpful friend next-door said, “Just think. As a writer, now you have some inspiration for a story.”  She’s right. As I interact with the people around me, I am amazed to see the grace with which they are handling the adversity handed to them by Mother Nature.

In the grocery store yesterday, I thoughtlessly said to the cashier, “Can you believe I’ve been calling JCP&L every day for over a week, and they only just fixed my power today? All of my neighbors got their power back last week!”

She commiserated with me for a bit. Then I asked, “So, how did you make out in the storm?”

“Well,” she replied, “All the houses around me are condemned, but ours is okay. We have to gut the bottom floor, so we’re all crammed upstairs right now. Luckily, my dad is a contractor, so he can rebuild our house himself.”

Facepalm! Here I was, complaining about having to rough it without power for two weeks, and this young girl, who, I later found out, lives in one of the hardest-hit towns, was living in half her house!

I’ve seen and heard stories of people heroically coming from all over the country to help us. Then there are the stories of the looters, the criminals, the beating of a police officer at a local gas station when tensions got high, the stabbing of a clerk at a 7-Eleven. Disasters bring out the best and the worst in people. They exaggerate the human condition, in both positive and negative ways. And they provide tremendous fodder for us as authors.

The story I would have written about an earthquake is much different from the story I would write about a hurricane. Now, I have the firsthand memories of what it looks like, sounds like, feels like and smells like to live it. Before, anything I would have written would be based on research and imagination. Now, experience can inform my story. We are lucky as writers to have this kind of catharsis for our pain, and to be able to glorify the fortitude of the human spirit, so that perhaps others may have hope and begin to heal.

I leave you with a photo of the real Jersey Shore, the one that will soon be restored.




Least terns on Sandy Hook

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