What HOPE Means to Me

I’ve been accused of being the ultimate optimist. If there’s a bad situation, I’ll find the silver lining. You’d think this would mean I’m a positive person, and always smiling in my unicorn-prancing rainbow-skied world. But the truth is it’s just a coping mechanism. It’s how I SURVIVE. I focus on the good, and avoid the bad completely until it burrows into the recesses of my mind. Paired together, optimism and hope are my weapons in battling all that is bad in the world. It’s worked so far, but I’m no psychologist. And if you’ve read THE GLASS CEILING, you may recognize these very traits in my main character, Heart. So many of you are amazed at how caring and hopeful Heart is after her terrible childhood. Well, now you see where these traits were born from. Just like me, it’s her coping mechanism. If she doesn’t keep hoping there’s more out there, a way to escape, she’s lost to the tunnels forever.

Hope is a wonderful thing. It’s like standing at the bottom of the hill and not knowing what lies beyond the crest. Success? Love? Happiness? That’s the magic of hope. You just don’t know. It’s my absolute favorite part of querying agents. The not knowing. Every ding of your email could be an agent wanting to see your manuscript or better yet, offer you a contract. It’s like Pavlov’s bell, except instead of salivating, my heart does a parrump when I see that glorious envelope at the top of my phone’s screen.

I remember a friend complaining a few years ago that she was 28 and still not married. Of course, I kicked in my silver lining booster. I told her that although she’s unmarried now, there’s still “hope” she’ll marry a doctor. As opposed to me, who at that time was stuck in an unhappy marriage, and was most definitely not married to a doctor. I stressed to her that even though she didn’t have happiness “now,” she still had a chance of happiness in her future. (Years later, she ended up marrying her dream Italian guy and was able to use her favorite little girl name, Giovanna. And I found renewed happiness in a second marriage. Yay!)

Book sales also promote the feeling of hope. Each sale is important because you never know where your break is going to come from. A debut author’s “success” (and I realize success means something different to everyone) is like a river being held back by a massive rock wall. Each sale removes a pebble. Obviously, pebbles aren’t going to put much of a dent in the wall, but if just the right pebble is removed, no matter how small, it can cause a leak, which can then gain speed of its own accord until it begins breaking down more pebbles, and more pebbles, then rocks and boulders. And before you know it, the entire wall has been obliterated, the water has rushed through, and you’ve become successful. All because the right pebble was removed. The right person bought your book. It could be a huge blogger who took a chance on you. A sorority sister who has a popular Twitter feed. A celebrity who just happened to see your book come across Instagram. For me, each sale promotes hope. I’m living Christmas every day of my life, surrounded by packages wrapped in shiny paper and bows. Every fan is a gift and my hope is higher than ever that my time will come, and I will succeed.

But if we want to be honest with ourselves, hope is only the start of something greater. Something even more powerful. And that’s faith. That’s where true success comes from. It isn’t until you have FAITH that good things will come your way, and you’ll find everything you’re looking for in life.