“If you want to make God laugh, tell him your future plans.” –Woody Allen
I met Ronda Rich when she was a senior in high School and I was selling cosmetics at the local department store. The girl needed some lip gloss! If you know Ronda you understand. She was fashionista before we knew the word. She later worked part-time at the store with me. Eventually I left my glamor job at the cosmetic counter to work in advertising at the local newspaper. Ronda was there doing her college internship in the sports department. Our friendship grew. I eventually moved to the metro Atlanta area to seek fame and fortune. Ronda graduated, became an award-winning journalist then moved away to become a NASCAR publicist. Somehow we lost touch.
Fast forward about twenty years. I was in a Barnes & Noble on a Saturday. I never go there on Saturday. There was Ronda Rich! She never stops at that Barnes & Noble. Her first book was about to come out so she was a writer who was starting to speaking. I was a corporate trainer and speaker and was just beginning to write. Fate. Serendipity. Kismet. “Hello, God! You talking to me?” Friendship rekindled. It’s been my experience that when someone from the past comes back into your life there is a purpose.
Ronda published more books, each with a major publishing company and began a speaking career.
I wrote chapters for two anthology books and collected a stack of rejection letters while pitching a book that was shelved when my co-author divorced, moved across the country and bought a Harley. Then finally I had a big idea for THE BOOK! I spent years researching THE BOOK, studying the publishing industry, collecting a few more rejection letters, perfecting my proposal and building a platform. Finally I had an agent in New York! She was already talking to some publishers about THE BOOK and getting favorable feedback. Yes! I was doing the happy dance.
Just as I was about to click “Send” on the final materials to the agent, my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor. A stage 4 Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM). The most aggressive and deadly brain tumor known to man. I sat beside him as the brain surgeon told him he had twelve to eighteen months to live. I talked with my agent, put THE BOOK on hold and steeled myself for the biggest challenge of my life.
I sat in his hospital room and read Ronda’s latest book. Eighteen months later the love of my life was dead. Ronda had another book deal. “When we get to heaven,” I told her, “I’m gonna ask God why he likes you better than me.”
People expected me to throw myself into my work, finish the book and go on with the plan. I had such a good plan. A detailed plan that I read every day. I put the plan in a drawer and did some grief therapy with Ben & Jerry. And some with Jose Cuervo. I threw myself into eating, drinking, shopping, traveling and hanging out with my friends. As another author friend, Lauretta Hannon says, “Bad decisions make good stories!” I’m a writer. It’s all research.
Now Ronda has published six books and built a very successful business with writing, speaking and a syndicated newspaper column. Last year she married a wonderful man.
It’s been four years since Phil’s death. I’ve self-published three books and written a chapter in another anthology book. I’ve had more articles published with magazines, taken on some corporate writing clients, written for an arts and entertainment blog and started about four blogs of my own. A couple, which were great learning ground, are now being discontinued as I readjust my focus. I’m starting a new blog, Recreating Joy: How to build a life you love after losing the love of your life. (Starts in September!)
Two people. Two paths. One has traditional publishing with six-figure contracts, speaking business and a syndicated newspaper column. The other has self-published books, magazine articles, business writing clients and diverse experience with blogging.
A breadth of experience between the two of us. Now we’re joining forces to do a writing workshop together. Check out the “Writing Workshop” pages on this blog for information on the very first writing workshop with Ronda Rich and Myra McElhaney!
Maybe God had another plan. This is exciting! (But I still want to talk to him about the whole dead husband thing! It just ain’t right!)