florence italy

Beautiful Florence and the Renaissance Butt Movement

Any time I mentioned that we were heading to Italy for a vacation, people wanted to know all the non-gory details. I dutifully listed off the travel itinerary in order:

Rome.

Ah, Rome!

Florence.

Florence?! Oh, Florence is so beautiful!

florence windows

It was interesting, because everyone that had visited Florence called it beautiful. Nobody said that about Rome.

Rome has plenty of other descriptive words to attempt to do it justice—”beautiful” not being the typical reaction, because its stunning qualities leave us at a loss for words.

So, I wondered what it was about Florence that made it unanimously beautiful. Being that it was a mere 90-minute high-speed train ride away from Rome, we thought…why in the hell wouldn’t we go there?

train to florence

I kicked back and watched the Tuscan countryside whizzing by, with the perfect soundtrack to complement the picturesque scene, courtesy of the great Billie Holiday.

Side note that Grandes del Jazz 8 is one of my all-time favorite Billie albums, and though I listen to it religiously in the bathtub, I made an exception for the Florence train ride.

beautiful florence

I felt the energy from Rome slide out of me onto the train flooring. I imagined it seeping onto the tracks before being swallowed up by the rich hills, turned into a sharp herb or fat produce, and eventually—a mind-blowing meal.

I sighed loudly. The beauty had already begun…the butts came later.

WHY I Call florence Adorably Beautiful

When I first saw the city, I didn’t think Florence was beautiful. I thought it was adorably beautiful.

Perhaps I was jaded after being in the powerful grip of Rome for three days, but the city was a lot smaller than I expected. Still the culture, history, and food seem to burst from the pocket-sized city limits.

florence church

There are colors that I find adorable and they graced some of the most intricate architecture I have ever seen.

The Duomo di Firenze reminded me of The Nutcracker, Act 2 specifically in the Land of Sweets. I kept aiming my camera at the church to catch the Sugar Plum Fairy pas de bourree by a window, but sadly it never happened.

florence streets

Since we used Florence as a travel base for Cinque Terre and Venice, we didn’t get to see as much of the city as we would have liked. There are so many lovely nooks and crannies that I imagine anyone could spend plenty of time soaking in the culture and food.

Speaking of, the food (oh man, the dessert!) was excellent in Florence. Not a single place, even in the tourista zone, disappointed us.

However if you’re short on time like we were, there is really only one food mecca you need to visit…Mercato Centrale. Spend hours there, share and try everything—you won’t regret it.

florence dessert

I know, I know. Where’s the art already?

Now don’t bring out the pitchforks, but I’m not much of a Renaissance art buff. Give me Hitler’s bunker or a Communist museum and I’m the inappropriate weirdo that jumps for joy. This can be a bit of a problem in Florence—because, good morning—Renaissance art is kind of a big deal.

But, there is other art for the taking…plenty of it! Unfortunately the dedicated exploration day we had in Florence was a no-go with the two attractions we wanted to see.

Mr. H is a huge Dali fan, so we hunted down an exhibit that was supposed to be happening—supposed to be. Alas, we found an empty outdoor gallery. I won’t show you the picture, because it was too depressing.

florence bridge

Nice hair. : )

The Museo Galileo was closed by the time we arrived from Rome and got settled in our apartment—at 1pm on a Tuesday. Sure, why not?

The Florence art gods seemed to be playing with us and we were sick and tired of it. And, that’s how we ended up in Poop Corridor.

Poop Corridor and the Italian Toilet Debacle

Feeling that it was blasphemous not to go into at least one museum, we paced in front of the art mothership, Uffizi Gallery, while plugging our noses.

Why? Well, in front of the glorious museum, it smelled like shit. Assuming it was an “old city sewage in the summer” kind of deal, but I didn’t inquire.

I felt bad for Machiavelli, who lives in Poop Corridor for all eternity. Assuming by this pose, that he’s masterminding a prison break with the other statues.

machiavelli statue

Being that the wait was well over an hour we decided we just couldn’t do it. So, we bolted away from Poop Corridor and wandered into Palazzo Vecchio, because…

1) The obligatory Florence rooftop shot seemed attainable from inside.

florence thunderstorm

Up yours, ominous thunderstorm! You won’t ruin our Florence vacation. You will make our rooftop images even more beautiful. Muah haha!

2) Alright truthfully, we needed to use the loo.

I will digress here for a moment by declaring that the Italian bathroom culture both intrigued and horrified me, and when I got home, I had to research the subject (thankfully, I’m not alone in this declaration).

Trying to find a public bathroom was freaking impossible in both Rome and Florence. It’s truly a great business model, because you have to buy something from a cafe to use the WC.

You might think this loo will somehow be nicer than the public toilets you’ve squatted over in some midwestern park, but it won’t be. Ladies…don’t count on a lid. You’re better off paying for a museum admission as these toilets are bearable.

Or better yet, see if you can get invited into some Italian’s home, since unlike public toilets, here everything is immaculate. Bonus, an astounding 97% of Italians have bidets in their homes for those who are into that sort of thing.

Okay, anyway the other reason we ended up at Palazzo Vecchio…

3) This beautiful angel fountain in the entryway sucked us right in, which of course didn’t help the aforementioned loo situation.

florence architecture

What I did love is that you don’t even need to go inside one of the many, many museums to enjoy the art. Incredible statues greet you everywhere as you’re walking around the city, and this is an example that I would love to see more cities following across the world.

I understand that not all art can survive outdoors, but the kind that can should be available to the public, without an admission ticket.

The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting for…Butts

If you’ve made it this far, nice work! Don’t be bashful—if you just wanted to read another “Florence is beautiful” post, you certainly wouldn’t have clicked on this one.

So, butts. I’ll never apologize for the observations I make, because hey, I’m a writer. If a writer saw the world in a remotely sane way, any reader would be bored out of their mind. Right, right?

medici palace

Somewhere in the Palazzo Vecchio, I came to this startling conclusion about the art in Florence…a fascination with butts.

Horse butts, angel butts, god butts, child butts, man butts, but…no lady butts, just tatas. Fun game: see how many butts you can spot in the above picture!

florence attractions

I turned to Mr. H, my forehead wrinkled as I stared at yet another floor to ceiling painting with this common theme. Even as a grown ass woman, I still don’t understand how to use an inside voice, so my observation echoed throughout the museum:

“Hey, did you notice there are a lot of butts in here?!” (The “butts in here” part was the echo, I swear it.)

florence art

I threw my hand over my mouth right after it escaped. Whoopsie.

Distasteful loud-mouthed American woman, some might say. Luckily, my man continues to love me for better or worse after 11 years of marriage.

romantic florence

So, Mr. H laughed and nodded. “Yeah, babe. There are a lot of butts.”

See? Actually here, read this article called A Brief History of Butts in Art, so I appear smarter than I actually am.

Florence Brought Out our Ass Side as Well

Because I just went from the no-frills toilet discussion to my compelling observation about Renaissance era butts, I’m going to take the ass idea a little further and say that we acted like complete asses while we were in Florence too.

Not really sure what got into us. Butt inspiration was everywhere, so when in Florence…

statue pose

turtle statue florence

gold turtle

I can explain…these are our turtle faces.

museum fun

florence lions

florence activities

All butt jokes aside, the time we spent in Florence was truly awesome, and I have nothing but nice things to say about the city and the people there.

The two nights we came stumbling back from the train station to our apartment after long days exploring, we always felt at home. It’s a rare place that can make a weary traveler feel that way in only a few days.

florence at night

Maybe that’s a hidden part of Florence’s charm, beyond the obvious. Maybe that’s what really makes everyone say it’s beautiful.

Missed the Rome blog last week? You can read it here if you’re still in the Italian mood. Onward to Cinque Terre next time!

underground-colosseum

They Call it The Eternal City Because Rome Gets Inside You

Rome. Just the name of the city spoken or written does something all on its own. It gives us a rush, a sensory high that hits hard, leaving us in a state of wanting.

The Rome I knew was from textbooks, lectures I yawned through because I’ve never been the ancient history kind of girl. Later in life a predictable attraction with Rome happened through films, as the city’s boisterous seduction came at me through the screen.

Want to listen to this blog instead? Hear Britt butcher Italian (and some English) by pressing play…


…OR, if that idea terrifies you, carry on!

scooter in rome

I began to wonder what the real Rome would be like. Truthfully, I thought it was overrated and it was never high on my wanderlust list.

Seemed like everyone I knew had been there or wished to be there, and at the very mention of the city, a whimsical daze fell upon them as their busy minds surrendered to the alluring distraction.

“Rome is the city of echoes, the city of illusions, and the city of yearning.”
– Giotto di Bondone

rome wedding

After a layoff this year, for some crazy reason I knew Rome was the place I needed to escape to. I wanted to see the city they called “eternal,” because I’ve always liked that word. To me, it means surviving beautifully.

That’s what I wanted to do after a rough year. Survive beautifully—to scrape up a little grace and live on.

rome river

But, I wasn’t prepared for Rome’s everlasting pull.

Days later, typing up this blog post in my robe on my couch—with the Portland drizzle letting me know there’s not a chance in hell for an Indian Summer—I can still feel the golden sun soaking into my eager bones, see the woman’s bare olive arms wrapped around her man’s torso on a zippy scooter, hear the honking melodies and the jeering Italian conversations that sound like fighting when they’re only discussing the next delicious meal.

When you visit Rome, it’s not about what you do. It’s about how you savor it.

selfie sticks in europe

How to Savor Rome’s History

While I’m more in the “live like a local” camp while traveling, tourist attractions are attractive for a reason. In Rome the exploration options are endless, and you will turn a corner to catch a random site that will stop you right in your tracks.

Choose your top must-see site and a few secondary sites—but don’t choose them all. Be sure to spread out your adventures, so you can truly soak in the majesty.

If you’re cramming in too many attractions, you can’t fully digest the experience and you’re being counterproductive to the reason you’re traveling in the first place.

colosseum metro

For us, the Colosseum was our top must-see site and we splurged on a VIP tour with Walks of Italy to be able to see the underground and third tier. Included in the tour were the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill to round out a very hot summer afternoon that was chock-full of tales and tidbits over the course of 3.5 hours.

walks of italy colosseum

The tour guide, Angela, was cute as a button and she managed to keep us entertained and energized—despite the fact that we all felt like we were being slow-cooked in a fine coating of ancient dirt.

colosseum history

How do you know if you’re truly savoring Rome’s history? You will get emotional.

palatine hill rome

I teared up multiple times while we were walking across the ruins. I wasn’t prepared for it, how well everything was preserved, the painstaking details, the jaw-dropping size of it all.

These ancient sites should get under your skin a bit. Because if you stop and feel the history right beneath your feet, it’s pretty damn humbling.

roman-forum

Secondary sites for us were more of a drive-by rather than racing through the interior of each. The Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, the Mouth of Truth, and the Spanish Steps all fell under this category.

pantheon rome

trevi fountain rome

mouth of truth rome

Be prepared for a letdown, because invariably there will be a site under restoration. Case in point, me pouting in my new pretty dress I wore just for the Spanish Steps, my illusions shattered before the Plexiglas.

spanish steps rome

How to Savor Rome’s Food

The main focus of our Italy trip (and pretty much any trip for that matter) is food. While it’s easy to get wrapped up in Rome’s bountiful history, you are doing yourself and the city a disservice by merely treating food as fuel.

You’ve probably heard warnings about the tourist traps, with English menus and the salesy host casting his wide net in front of the expansive patio to see how many hungry tourists he can catch. This is all true.

piazza navona fountain

And—she admits with her eyes glued to the floor—we ate at a couple of these restaurants when we were too desperate to care. As expected, we paid extra and the food was so-so, but thankfully nothing was terrible.

On a positive note, the service was decent enough and the scenery and people-watching were terrific, since most of these restaurants have commandeered Rome’s historical center.

So, my dear foodies, you know what to do.

Though your English-speaking will be far from coddled, head to the neighborhoods. Feel free to gawk at everyone’s laundry on display, which for some unexplainable reason is completely mesmerizing.

pigneto

We stayed in an amazing AirBnB in Pigneto, a Southeast neighborhood they call Rome’s Brooklyn. (Huge shout-out goes to Fabrizia and Antonio for being the best hosts…EVER!)

Though several of the restaurants were closed for the August holiday, we found great cappuccino at Bottiglieria and even greater mortadella sandwiches at Dar Ciriola, which thankfully opened on the last day of the month so we could try their yummy food before traipsing off to Florence.

dar ciriola

The Jewish Ghetto should also be a non-negotiable stop, because believe it or not, Italian food lovers—you will be totally sick of pasta and pizza after a few days.

Thanks to our hero Anthony Bourdain, we were armed with restaurant knowledge to avoid any mishaps, and enjoyed a mind-blowing lunch at Nonna Betta. The fried artichoke looked as beautiful as it tasted, and everything else we tried, from the fish of the day to the potatoes, made us smile like absolute fools.

jewish ghetto

Where’s the pasta, you ask? Well…

It took us a while to find pasta worthy of a photo after several misses in the tourista zone. But a few blocks away from the Spanish Steps, we hunted down one of Rome’s classics, Cacio e Pepe—a seemingly simple spaghetti dish with olive oil, pecorino cheese, and black pepper that will move you when it’s done right.

italian pasta

I can’t tell you which restaurant this lovely pasta came from, because we paid with cash and I was too spaghetti drunk to remember. Like we did, you’ll just have to try all the pasta in Rome until you find the right one.

rome travel

How to Savor Rome’s Gelato

Not all gelato is created equal, so I challenge you to try as many Gelateria as you can. I didn’t think there was a such a thing as lackluster gelato, until I had a forgettable fruity cup near the Colosseum.

The one tourista zone you will find excellent gelato at though is Trevi Fountain. Competition is fierce here and each quaint shop is hell-bent on wooing you with a cheerful canvas of creamy, colorful gelato piles.

You will seriously be dazzled by the window displays, because they are like art installations.

gelato

Gelato isn’t supposed to be eaten inside, as it is designed to be enjoyed while you walk around the city. Choose your weapon—cup or cone—but I vote cone, for the guaranteed sense of childish joi de vivre.

trevi fountain at night

If you struggle with doing multiple things at once, find a perch next to a fountain to slowly devour your gelato. You’ll know you’re savoring your gelato properly when your hands are sticky from the drips that overcame your flimsy napkin.

Favorite flavors for me: mint chocolate, tiramisu, and nutella. And yes…I’ve been having gelato withdrawals since coming home.

the eternal city

Rome is really too much for words, so I won’t go on anymore. For me, the hidden layers inside the city competed easily with the most popular attractions.

If you don’t know what I mean, walk into the smallest cafe and drink a proper cappuccino standing at the bar. Lick the most incredible milky foam off your lips, listen to the lyrical Italian language mingling effortlessly with the city’s energy, and then you’ll understand.

Rome just has a way. It gets inside you.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts on Florence, Cinque Terre, and Venice. Because there is no way to fit all of the gorgeous photos and videos from this trip into a blog, check out my Instagram this month for more on Italy.


P.S. If any of you crazy kids decide to listen to the audio version of this blog, I’d love to hear what you think! It’s all part of my “less screen time” campaign.🙂

collard greens

How to Travel this Summer Without Going Anywhere

I’m really just a gypsy masquerading as an American woman.

I can say that with confidence, because A) I’m half Czech, and the Romani people were highly concentrated in that region of Europe throughout history and B) I have nomadic tendencies I fight constantly, and occasionally I settle for travel.

This year I REALLY felt the travel bug after I suddenly lost my job in May. 2016 was the first time in many years Mr. H and I had solid plans to take an international trip.

I’m sure some of you are thinking: You got laid off and you started crying over travel? 

box of belongings

Well…yes, dammit.

You see, this is where the gypsy part of me can’t be subdued. Fortunately I was able to jump into freelancing right away to help cover bills and food. Crisis averted, but after that crazy change in my life, I wanted nothing more than to hop on a plane and get the hell out of dodge.

I wanted to be in a place I didn’t know, where nobody else knew me. I didn’t want to understand anything—the language, the culture, the street names—I wanted to get lost, wander, and find my way. Because these are the things I love about exploring new places, and that feeling is amplified when life throws me a curveball.

Without anywhere to go, and no money to spare, I renewed my passport. I prepared for the possibility of a great adventure without having one on the calendar.

passport renewal

Now I’m going to be cliché and bring up a line from the movie, Eat Pray Love. Some of you are rolling your eyes right now and others are smiling foolishly, but hear me out. It goes a little something like this…

“There’s a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, ‘Dear saint-please, please, please…give me the grace to win the lottery.’ This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated staTue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust, ‘My son-please, please, please…buy a ticket.'”

So, I did. I bought two tickets actually. To Rome. (Permission to roll your eyes again, since that’s the first stop in Eat Pray Love.)

I’m seriously not going because of the movie. I chose a place that would heal me, that would remind me to slow down and enjoy. I chose a place that was undeniably beautiful with great food, so I could indulge my ass off.

Truthfully, I couldn’t afford the tickets and I threw them onto a credit card. But I knew if I planned the trip late enough in the summer, we could swing it with lots of freelancing. And a month ago, one of my clients ended up hiring me full-time (she breathes a sigh of relief) so it all worked out.

Because this was a big trip for us, that meant we were on lockdown with summer travel. That also meant we had to get creative with getaways on the cheap (or free) to appease my gypsy ways.

So, for those of you looking for ways to feel like you’re traveling without going anywhere, here’s a little inspiration for you.

Grab your sweetie, go for a hike, and take a sunshine shower.

hiking in the sun

Forest Park in Portland

Brave the cold water closest to you on a weeknight to beat the crowds and the heat.

sauvie island beach

Sauvie Island in Portland

Nerd out at a museum with a big ass plane in a small town, and do an overnight.

spruce goose mcminnville

Spruce Goose at Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum in McMinnville

Trade in the patio beer for a ridiculously satisfying strawberry milkshake.

mcmennmins milkshake

McMenamin’s Pool and Tavern

Get your fitness on and be sassier in your bathing suit.

barre 3 online

Barre 3 Online Workout at Home

Bonus points for doing your core workout with a cat weight.
(Hence, the hairy yoga pants in the previous image.)

barre3 with cat

Yoga Cat is Also Barre Cat Apparently

Become a library regular and go to bed with a stack of books.

catch up with reading

Rediscovering Reading in Bed on My Belly

Choose a healthier happy hour option by hiking with one of your favorite people.

hiking to pittock mansion

Pittock Mansion Hike with Mount Hood Lurking in the Back

Befriend somebody with a houseboat, so you can crash their 4th of July party.

portland house boat

Houseboats on the Columbia River

Take a walk after dinner and see as many sunsets as you can.

sunset peace

McMinnville Wine Country

Save A/C energy with a collard fan, and support your farm community with a CSA.

collard greens

Gigantic Collard Greens From Hood River Organic CSA

No matter how hot it is, hug someone every chance you get.

sauvie island getaway

Sauvie Island Beach Hugs

The summer adventure montage is the perfect segue into my next bit of news that I will be taking a blogging break for the rest of the summer. (Come on, you knew it was coming!)

Don’t worry, I’ll be back with some Italy posts to make you all jealous. : )

Until then, I’ll be working on my fourth draft, a big freelance project, and enjoying some sunshine. I’ll be around a bit on social, but otherwise I will be totally vacationing away from the blogosphere.

If you’re not already, follow me on Instagram. Though I’m not a believer in the vacation play-by-play on social media, I imagine a few Italy pix will magically end up on my Instagram account.

Hope you lovely people all enjoy the rest of your summers away from screens! And tell me what free/cheap summer adventures you’ve been having.

northwest 23rd avenue

I Gave a Man My Sandwich on 23rd Avenue

So, I was walking down 23rd Avenue last Saturday. It was such a nice evening, after a nice dinner, and 23rd Avenue is one of the nicest avenues you can walk on—with lots of ice cream, shopping bags, music, and toasts. People celebrating the good life.

Then, there are those who are different. Those who aren’t celebrating the good life.

They’re dirty, hungry, and they don’t smell like food scents mixed with laundry detergent and cologne or perfume. They smell different.

Anyway we were walking home after our nice meal of oysters, craft beer, and incredible sandwiches. As usual, I couldn’t finish the other half of meal. It was a Cubano, a well-executed one that made you want to stuff your face, even though you knew you would pay for it later.

That evening I decided to hang onto it and take it home. But my sandwich never made it home with us, as it found a new home. A much better one.

matching couple

There was an old man on 23rd Avenue, homeless and alone. He didn’t ask for anything—he didn’t beg—he was just minding his own business. He was arranging his colorful blankets just so on the sidewalk, with a serene smile on his face. In a way, he seemed happier than the parade of privilege passing him by.

We passed him, and I stopped and turned around. I asked Mr H: “Can I give him my sandwich?”

He said: “If you want to.”

Without a word, he knew that was all I wanted as I approached the old man on 23rd. To be honest, I’ve never gone up to a homeless person and sparked a conversation. And for a moment, I didn’t know what to say.

I decided small talk was completely ridiculous and pushed my sandwich forward. “Do you want my sandwich?”

Looking back, I hate that I called it mine…my sandwich. It was a sandwich, or this sandwich.

writing blog on paper

The man struggled to speak. He stared at the container, then at my face several times, with his mouth hanging open. Finally, he said: “I’m a diabetic. There are some meats I can’t eat. I can’t—I can’t eat red meat. Is there…?”

“Just pork. This one’s okay.”

His eyes lit up as he grabbed the container and tore into it. He gazed at the sandwich like he still didn’t believe it was in his hands. He looked straight into my eyes and said: “Thank you, bless you.”

I squeezed his shoulder, my eyes filled to the brim with tears, and said…actually, I’m not sure what I said. Goodbye? Enjoy? Take care? Have a good night? Once again, the small talk seemed totally effing ridiculous. And so, we kept walking down 23rd Avenue.

I’m not expecting an award here by sharing this story. We didn’t do much, but we did something. We could feel it, and we will never forget it.

Because there has been so much crap happening in the world, it’s more important than ever to notices the opportunities to change that. We can’t change the presidential candidates or the terrorist attacks. Hell, we can’t really change ourselves.

What we can do is seize that glimmer, that moment that holds us and gives us a choice, to keep walking down the same avenue or stop and turn around.

publishing tips

5 Ways to Avoid Publishing Rejection by Being Human

Last week I made it my mission to get my ass out into the community. I’ve lived in Portland just over two years and had my head down for too long, grinding and whatnot. And when you work from home—no matter how terrific and cuddly your pets are—the need to be around humans intensifies.

Besides the array of local bars and coffee shops in my neighborhood, there is another convenient place to be around other humans…MeetUps.

I joined A LOT of them. Hence, the reason I ended up dancing in a Bollywood class, signing up for a marketing conference, and going to church.

Church? I know. They even let me in, can you believe it?

All joking aside, I went to church for this Willamette Writers MeetUp. The topic was all about how to get published…and how not to.

Presented by Tod Davies, Editorial Director of Exterminating Angel Press, Tod is an author herself with a colorful career track record as a radio host, screenwriter, and indie film producer. I’m not ashamed to say it—I was smitten when I discovered she co-wrote Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. (Yep, that’s pretty damn cool.)

There is a Shit-Ton of Noise

This might be the part where some of you that have known me for years are wondering why I, a devout indie author with three self-published books under her belt, strolled into a MeetUp to learn tips about traditional publishing.

The rest of you probably want me to shut up and talk about the publishing tips, because you were lured here after reading the title of this blog.  Don’t get your panties in a bunch, or scroll down if you can’t handle the suspense.

Besides the MeetUp’s promise of writerly camaraderie, I have decided to give traditional publishing another go when I finish my fourth book this year. There are things I love about self-publishing, and things I don’t.

Without diving into a pros and cons moment here, I’ve talked about the struggle of being an indie author many times. When I wrote Why Writing Isn’t Enough—The Savvy Writer’s Guide to Success over at Kristen Lamb’s blog some months ago, I gave other writers the tough love.

We’re running a business. It’s the last thing any creative type wants to hear. But, it’s true—and we have to get our ducks in a row, like these guys.

writing as a business

In today’s publishing world—both indie and traditional—there is a shit-ton of noise. We know that. It’s not like the good ole days, when there were less authors and blogs. The accessibility of technology has opened the flood gates, and the market is…flooded.

Back in 2012, when silly me decided to pursue published author glory after I “finished” my first book, I diligently created a spreadsheet of every literary agent that seemed like a good fit from a hefty publishing book my mom gave me.

During the submission process, I acted personable and professional—hell, I was in my first marketing job at the time, so I knew a little something about PR. Still, I was ignored or rejected again and again and again, until the crazy time when a big shot agent in Manhattan actually considered my manuscript for Beneath the Satin Gloves.

I thought: This is it!

It wasn’t. He passed.

“Spectacular writing is writing that fits the category and fits the need. For example, with pornography you don’t want it to read like Proust.” – Tod Davies

Even though I didn’t get any feedback besides the “this isn’t right for us” pillow talk, I reworked my manuscript to make it stronger and I self-published it. Years later, I revised it again and republished it on Amazon, applying my recent years of writing experience to make it even stronger.

Looking back on it all, I realize I just wasn’t ready. And I think that’s a mistake a lot of writers make, whether they are self-publishing or shopping it around.

That doesn’t mean we have to spend years on a quest for writing perfectionism. That quest will make your life miserable and your book will never see the light of day. And simmer down, because you’re probably breaking it.

We absolutely have to put together the best possible work. But, we also need to consider the “now what?” phase. If you’re self-publishing, how are you going to get people to read it? If you’re going traditional, how are you going to get it picked up?

Here comes the “B” word again. We’re running a business.

publishing tips

We’re All Humans, So Act Like One

So, where was I? Oh, yes. An indie author walks into a church…

I’ll admit I was skeptical about the MeetUp, because it was the first one I ever attended. I sat in one of the back pews, close to the exit in case I needed to bolt. I was pleasantly surprised by not only the educational value, but the entertainment as well.

Tod Davies knows her shit, and she was up front about her goal to create an interactive experience for the crowd.

During the “what NOT to do” part at the beginning there was some tasteful role-playing—with the desperate writer acting out each point to the publisher searching for an escape route.

Though they may all seem like a no-brainer, you’d be surprised how many writers regularly commit these atrocities and become a part of the “guess what this writer did today” discussion when publishers get together for drinks.

What NOT To Do

Be insistent
Be confident
Be oblivious
Be pretentious
Be yammering

While I enjoyed the playful approach, the shining moment of the MeetUp happened in the second half, during the “what to do” segment.

This was when Tod went through each point from her publisher’s perspective, inviting the audience to freely ask questions to fuel the discussion. So, here they are:

What To Do

Be informed
Be courteous
Be open
Be professional
Be yourself

“Be yourself. Don’t try to be somebody else, Because that’s what you’re bringing to the party.” – Tod Davies

At the beginning of the talk, Tod asked us one no-frills question that stunned the room: How many of you know that publishers are human beings?

I wish I could have been standing where she was, taking in the blank stares. I imagine it was a bittersweet mixture of comedy and frustration for her. When she posed the same question again, cautious hands began to rise from the tattered pews and laughter enveloped the musty space.

So, if thinking about your writing as a business doesn’t resonate with you, then remember humanity. Be human, be yourself. Because there is a human on the other side of every part of this.

Who’s reading your book? A human. Who’s reviewing your book? Oh look, it’s a human. Who’s editing, formatting, designing your book? Still a human. Who’s reading your eager email when you submit your pitch to a publisher or agent? I think you get it.

We’re all humans, so act like one. Interesting concept, eh? See what that does for your success as a writer.

Have you ever been to an amazing MeetUp? Or, do you have any great tips for pitching to publishers?