<![CDATA[Heather M. Riccio - Blog]]>Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:44:57 -0800Weebly<![CDATA[Love Letters to Myself, Part One]]>Sat, 14 Feb 2015 00:47:30 GMThttp://heathermriccio.com/blog/love-letters-to-myself-part-one1
Love Letters to Myself- a reflection on 2014, two months later

Dear Me,

As far as you’re concerned this year can take a match, stick it up its ass and light itself on fire. You lost your best friend of almost twenty years over jealousy. Jealousy can be a bitch and bring out the worst in all of us. It’s brought out even the worst in you in the past. You found love on Match.com of all places. You never wanted to do online dating, but she convinced you after you had another set up horribly wrong. She was the one who told you to give it a shot and you found your boyfriend. He’s sweet and he gets you. He’s okay with you having bad days. Everyone does. He hates to see you cry, but is there for you if you need a shoulder to cry upon. 

You cry ugly tears. Big ugly tears. Ones that make your face all puffy. No one wants to see that, but it happens. You cry alone when no one is home. Sometimes the dog comforts you. She knows something is wrong. She knows when you’re in pain, but you tell her you’re okay and hope she’s listening. She tilts her head as though she is and that’s good enough for you. 

You finally let go of everything and start to move on. You even get a tattoo on your right wrist with a few others in Vegas, a lotus flower to symbolize rebirth and growing from the ashes because you feel like this year has done that. It’s been a rebirth of some sort. Though you don’t quite understand everything just yet. 

And then later in the year, at the end of September, your grandma ends up in the hospital from falling unconscious and hitting the concrete. She’s bruised badly, but a fighter. Like I said, it can stick a match up its ass and light itself on fire. This year has been one of many ups and downs. Almost twenty years down the drain over jealousy, but understand, this wasn’t your fault, and it wasn’t hers. People grow apart and that’s what you did. You grew apart. Those who love you stuck by and those who didn’t, left. 

Those voices in your head may tell you otherwise. They’re so quick to judge. So quick to make you feel small and worthless, like there’s no point to your life sometimes. But understand, whether or not you get it, there is a point to your life. There’s a point to everyone’s life. Sometimes we just don’t know it yet. We go through the motions. We wake up. We go to work. We strive to be the best we can be. We break down, and when we break, which we haven’t broken like this in years, it feels as though a Mack truck has run over you several times, paused, waited for the pain to sear through every being of your body, and then runs over you again. An almost malicious smile on its face as its doing it that is if a Mack truck had a face. In the end you feel drained, helpless, confused. 

That pain, those voices who tell you can’t, they drive you to be better. They make you strong. They say that only the strong survive, but some of the strongest people you know are the most vulnerable. They break down. They have bad days, horrible no good, very bad days. The ones that make you want to not wake up ever again. The ones that make you question your very being. Those kind of days. But know that in the end only you can make you happy. Only you can cause yourself pain. Only you can make yourself unhappy and only you hold the key to your own happiness. 

Staying with your grandma several days a week at night while she becomes stronger again, you realize several things. That woman has the angels on her side. God works in mysterious ways, but that woman is one of the strongest and calmest women you have ever met, and she makes you strong and calm by just being around her. Two, sleeping beside her in the bed, you learn that she will either have nightmares or some of the most hilarious dreams depending on what she’s last read. You wake up to her blood curdling screams as though someone has grabbed a hold of her and won’t let go. You shake her and calmly whisper, “Grandma, it’s okay,” and she breathes normal again. Or you wake up to her laughing. A laugh straight from the gut and you wonder who she’s talking to. Who she’s with. You tell her the next morning and she tells you it must be the gentleman from the romance novel she was reading. He was telling her this most hilarious story, but she can’t remember all the details. You smile. You ask her about her nightmares and those come from her reading murder mysteries at night. 

We all love curling up to a good book, the feel of the paperback in our hands while we turn the pages, and while you love a good murder mystery yourself, you think you’ll stick with romances. Because in the end our lives should be one big romance novel anyway. Full of joys, sorrows, trials, disappointment, romance, and happiness. You want to wake up smiling, and not screaming. Because who wants to scream bloody murder anyway? 

I want you to tell me your love letters to yourself. Every Friday I'll be posting new love letters. New affirmations. If you're interested, either tweet me @HeatherRiccio or e-mail me.

Peace, love and lots of wisdom,

<![CDATA[It's all about follow through]]>Tue, 18 Feb 2014 20:48:50 GMThttp://heathermriccio.com/blog/its-all-about-follow-throughI can’t even count on both hands how many times I’ve told a guy I’d always be there for them, that I support them, that I will always care for them and love them. Sometimes they listen and other times they shut me out completely. Truth be told, it drains me and takes a lot for me to be that open, but that’s also who I am and how I was raised. I’m the girl who flew to San Francisco at the drop of a hat because her childhood friend’s mother was in a coma and she needed support. I’m the girl who helped not only her best friend, but helped her with her niece in her time of need. I’m the girl who watched her cousins for months right after her uncle passed away from a heart attack at the age of 43. I’m the girl who stayed with her grandma right after her grandpa passed away from cancer a few years after her uncle passed. I’m the girl who worries when her friends are down, when they are depressed, when something bothers them. I’m the girl who is always there for her family and been with them through every struggle, taking hits financially when needed. I’m the girl who wants everyone to be happy even if she isn’t at the time. I’m the girl who wants to help those in need.

I’m not telling you all of this for sympathy. I’m telling you so you understand who I am and where I came from. Loving someone means that no obstacle will change your mind. No matter what situation. You love someone unconditionally. You’re there for them no matter how big the struggle because that’s what friends do. You help each other out in their time of need and hope that they love you enough to reciprocate.

I could dwell and sometimes I do, sometimes more than I should, but it’s better to let it be what it will be. My last ex hurt me emotionally. I was with him for almost a decade and at the end of it all he was indifferent, which is worse than hating someone in my opinion. It meant he just didn’t care. I recently opened my heart back up to loving someone and it was left at a standstill. He had his reasonings and I respect that, but I often wonder how he feels, if he knows I care, if he knows I’ll always be there for him if he lets me in, or if he wants to shut me out completely. The uncertainty of it all drives me mad, but with this uncertainty also came a gift and that’s my ability to write again. The ability to write from the heart, and it’s a gift I will always be grateful that it came back to me.

Sometimes we have to walk in complete darkness in order to find the light again, and it might take days, or it might takes weeks, and sometimes it might even take months, but if we trust that there’s a bigger picture, then in the end it’ll all work out if we just keep believing. It’s all about follow through. Trust yourself and your emotions because if not you’ll live a life full of what if’s and regrets and that’s not a life worth living so be brave and tell someone you love them. Follow through and remember where there is darkness there will always be light, and love will always be there if you allow yourself to open back up again.

Dare to dream big in every aspect of your life. Go ahead. I dare you! :)]]>
<![CDATA[The art of letting go in the new year!]]>Tue, 31 Dec 2013 22:18:01 GMThttp://heathermriccio.com/blog/the-art-of-letting-go-in-the-new-yearPicture
It’s a new year and a new me. It’s about letting go of the past and embracing the future. All of it. I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret. I had been hesitating of letting go of my ex completely. The very last tie I had to him was Facebook, but he was hardly ever on and seeing his picture brought up both the good and the bad, and our fantastic memories were just that. Fantastic. He made it hard for me to completely hate him because he wasn’t all bad. One Christmas he wrote me twelve, count them, twelve different cards with sayings from my favorite authors and words of encouragement to keep on going and write my ass off. To keep reaching for the stars. My gift from him after reading those cards, which also gave me tears of joy? A shooting star necklace, which I still wear from time-to-time. He just had his asshole moments, but what person doesn’t? And that thought of the good times, like the shooting star necklace, are what kept me holding on. Maybe one day he’d turn around. Maybe one day I’d get my Cinderella moment. Maybe one day he’d come back to me and tell me he was wrong and I was the one for him and that he suddenly liked travelling and wanted family and kids, but I kept holding my breath ( I find myself doing that often) and nothing came. Not even by horse drawn buggy.

My roommate, in her infinite wisdom, said, “just let go and unfriend him. Do you talk anymore?” I had to really think about it for a second. She hadn’t been the first person to ask, nor was it the first time she had asked me that question, but this is the first time I was even seriously contemplating what she was asking of me. I had tried contacting him in the past, but it had been a long time.  “Well, no. We don’t. Last time I spoke to him was last Christmas and that went well (insert sarcasm here).”

Thinking about him both makes me happy and brings tears to my eyes.  But letting go of him on Facebook, unfriending him, it meant that it was really over and that the last eight, almost nine years, were gone, and I truly had to start over again, and that scares me a little (okay, a lot!). No lost hope. No what if’s. Letting go meant it was done for good.

The truth of the matter is I think he had let go since 2010. I believe I had limited access to his profile. Though I couldn’t be certain because he wasn’t one for social media either. But I held on tight because the last half of our relationship we were on a break and then back together again so in my mind I think I wanted it to be the longest break we had, but someday it would be better again. His family loved me and I loved them, and I loved him, but I knew I wasn’t in love with him anymore, and yet I wanted to wake up and have the perfect life. The kids, the doting husband, the white picket fence, the whole nine yards.

But that’s not the case. I wake up in an apartment. Granted a fabulous one. Two bed, two bath. Walking distance to everything and amazing neighbors and a roommate I can also proudly call my sister, but it’s not where I pictured myself at 32, and that has been the harsh realization that I needed to wake up to. Life isn’t perfect and it doesn’t always go according to plan, but sometimes if we hang on longer, it’s better than we ever imagined. I have an amazing job and love all my authors. I love what they bring to the table. I love how strong this job and my authors make me. I love how strong I’ve become with everything that’s happened to me in the past. I love that I can dream past what dreams I had back in the early part of 2002 to about 2010 and I dreamt big. I helped amazing people like Scarlett Williams and Hilary Rowland with their dreams, and now I’m big on chasing my own dreams and thinking big so as I sit here typing I have to consult our trusty magic eight ball. Yes, we have one…

“Magic Eight ball, will 2014 be my year?”

“Without a Doubt.”

I smile. It did it’s job. It made me happy.

Okay, one more question, “Will I find true love again?”

“Concentrate and ask again.”

You have to love the wisdom of the Magic Eight ball. I’m sure it wants me to be specific. Concentrating and asking again, “Will I find true love in 2014?”

“Cannot predict now.”

I should be upset at the Magic Eight ball for that response, but life is unpredictable so I’m going with the flow. I have my big girl panties on and I’m ready for whatever comes my way. So, world, bring it. I’m ready for you. The question is, are you ready for me? Are you ready for all of us, universe?

<![CDATA[25 things you might not know about me, but now do.]]>Tue, 24 Dec 2013 19:53:00 GMThttp://heathermriccio.com/blog/25-things-you-might-not-know-about-me-but-now-doPicture
I'm going to open up the door and let you into my life a little and hope you let me into yours. 

1. I'm a native Palm Springs. There aren't many of us. 
2. I spent most of my summers in NY. People thought I was spoiled because I went to NY so often, but if their families had have been from Washington or Mississippi, my summers would have been spent there instead. My dad was from the Bronx, Riverdale area, and my mom from Blasdell, NY. It's a small town right outside of Buffalo, NY. They also thought I was spoiled because my family is in the restaurant business, but I will tell you right now we're not rich and I've worked many jobs over the years (some without pay to gain experience, and sometimes as many as four to make ends meet). We're not rich, but we are a family of hard workers. 
3. My Great-Uncle Tony (aka Sonny) managed Martoni's in Hollywood in the late 60's and early 70's. Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were also seen in there. My great-uncle even denied the late Sonny Bono entrance into his restaurant because he wasn't dressed properly. It's rumored that Sonny retaliated by writing the song "Laugh at me." It's ironic that I work for the PS film festival sometimes since that was Sonny Bono's baby. 
4. My grandpa was part of NYPD's finest. He was part of the Times Square police force for almost 21 years. I tried bringing up the Mafia and Black Panthers a couple of times, but he changed the subject. I learned to leave it alone. Though I wish I would've pushed harder because those secrets and those times died with him years ago. 
5. My great-uncle opened up Riccio's in Palm Springs after he realized all the celebrities were retreating to PS. His friend, Frank Sinatra, still frequented his new restaurant. In fact, it was Frank's idea that my great-uncle open a restaurant in Palm Springs; Though he needed help so my grandpa moved everyone out to Palm Springs to help out. Nothing like family to help out in our times of need. 
6. In college I was part of Sigma Kappa. I love those girls and will love them for life. They taught me it's OK to be me. I like me. No, scratch that, I love me. 
7. In college I also joined the school newspaper, the Highlander. I was the assistant news editor and also the Features Editor. They entered me into a contest. 
8. That contest opened up so many doors. It was to be part of Teen People's news team member team. Out of thousands of applicants only twenty were chosen. I was one of those twenty. I was the eyes and ears of Teen People for over two years. I was also published in that magazine. 
9. At Teen People, I met a girl from Florida named Scarlett and I helped her start Beautiful Girl magazine. In a year we managed to get it into Barnes and Noble, Walmart, Borders and Books a Million. Not bad for two girls still in college. :) Scarlett now owns a fabulous online boutique, Scarlett Lillian,  and her own photography business with her husband, Steven. 
10. Through that I met Hilary Rowland, an amazing model and business mogul. I started working for her on and off helping her with Urbanette and New Faces. I love learning from her. I still help her out to this day with another company, Project Migration, a fashion accessories company with a charitable initiative. 
11. I started out as a drama major in college, but realized I was way too shy so I switched to bio. That lasted a year. I hate math, but my roommate, Sarah, from college stuck with it and she is a fantastic biology professor who is also getting her PhD at Fordham University now. 
12. I spent the next year searching for what I loved. I realized I loved reading and writing so I majored in literature. I minored in creative writing. I also realized I loved anthropology so I double majored. 
13. I love monkeys and I love studying other cultures. I still use my anthro background to this day in my writing. 
14. I'm a spa baby. I don't think there are too many procedures I haven't tried. 
15. My freshman english teacher, Mr. Pascualini, said I would never make it as a writer and to quit while I was ahead. I took offense to it and showed him. I moved into AP English and Dr. Linn kicked my butt. I will always love her for that. 
16. I'm an extreme sports junkie. No, really, I am. I've been skydiving, Zorbing, paragliding and ziplining. I want to shark cage dive and bungee jump still. I wrote an article for one of Hilary's websites once about this. You can read about it here.
17. I will be forever grateful to my professors in college who constantly push me. Tod, Mary, Susan, Gayle and Stephanie. Thank you!!! I will repay you someday. 
18. I love to travel. I have been to Australia, Costa Rica, England, France, and throughout most of the US and parts of Canada. I have made travelling every four years around the presidential election a tradition of mine. I vote and then take a long vacation...just in case. Haha. 
19. Thanks to my mom living in Blasdell when she was younger, I have been to Niagara Falls many, many times. More times than I'd like to count. I have been on every tour of Niagara Falls imaginable at least twice. It's alright though. I love Niagara on the Lake. Fabulous shopping there. 
20. I have learned great discipline and patience by working for the family business. 
21. GQ once did a photo shoot with Benjamin Bratt right after Ocean's Eleven came out at the restaurant. Also, I love movies. I cry at the thought of one of my books eventually being turned into a movie. I hope to write a successful screenplay someday too. It's part of my bucket list, but that's for another list, and on another day. 
22. Many celebrities have frequented Riccio's including all of the girls from Friends, Brad Pitt, Mariah Carey, Sidney Sheldon, Mr. Sharp (he owns all of the Four Seasons hotels), and some of our former presidents. Oh and lots of music people. I'm almost never star struck thanks to my family. Hell I hung out with Kevin Rahm from Desperate Housewives during the film fest and loved it. They are no different than everyone else, and would like to be treated as such most of the time. 
23. My Uncle Bob used to work for Sony music when he was a little younger than me as a promotions assistant. He became friends with Tommy Shaw from Styx. My uncle made work his life. It's also what killed him so young so I take that lesson to heart. It's okay to work, but you have to find balance as well. 
24. Tommy Shaw used to see me a lot when I was younger and then saw me again when I was 21. He asked my Uncle Bob, "That isn't Heather is it?" My uncle paused, looked at him, and sarcastically said," No, that's not Heather." Then he laughed and said, "Of course it's her." I think I made him feel old. :( He's a nice guy though. 
25. I met Ellen Hopkins at an SCBWI event a couple years ago and was in awe. I also met Robin Benway while in the UC Riverside MFA program. I strive to be just like them. Successful enough to do what they love and write like there is no tomorrow. I wanted to be just like Susan Straight and Gayle Brandeis as soon as I started working with them. Both of them poignant, successful female writers.

Plus, an extra fact thrown in for good measure. I love my job. I work for Entangled Publishing and have for a few years now. You have to do what you love and the rest will fall into place. There will always be doubters, always be people who say you can't follow your dreams. People who say you can't have a personal life and a work life, but it's all about balance. Find that balance and you'll be golden. 

Now I'd love to know more about you. What makes you tick?  Where did you grow up? Dish. On this day before Christmas, I'm asking you to dish away! :) 

<![CDATA[What are you doing this holiday season?]]>Thu, 19 Dec 2013 18:58:13 GMThttp://heathermriccio.com/blog/what-are-you-doing-this-holiday-seasonThe holidays are all about spending time with your friends and family. Remember that and everything will go well. It's not about the presents, but it's about being with your loved ones because if you can't be with them during the holidays when can you? Remember you are powerful. You are loved. You are amazing and you are you. Remember that this holiday season. I'll be spending it with family. It's always crazy and fun at the same time so you can bet there will be posts soon. So what are you up to the next few weeks? Dish! Ready and go! :) ]]><![CDATA[Lucky 7: Peek at a new story ]]>Thu, 22 Mar 2012 15:13:12 GMThttp://heathermriccio.com/blog/lucky-7-peek-at-a-new-story
The Rules:

  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
  2. Go to line 7.
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences, and post them as they’re written. No cheating.
  4. Tag 7 other victims …er, authors.
Thanks to one of my fabulous authors, Kate Avelynn, for tagging me!

 I picked SEMI DORK because, not only is it my current WIP, it's a bit of my past. Anna is like me in so many ways. Anna has be talked into going to fat camp over the summer by her so-called conniving friend, Beth. Beth is not who we think she is, but find that out later. 

In this scene, Anna finds one of the camp counselors, Chrissy, pill popping. She's afraid she's suicidal: 

“Death isn’t the answer,” I said rubbing her back. I knew the lioness could tear me to  pieces, but she leaned into me instead. Black smudges stained my white polo shirt.

“Yes, it is,” she said. “People would move on if I was gone, and I would be at peace.”

“You wouldn’t be at peace. Your soul would wander in turmoil,” I said.

“Ok, Dr. Phil,” Chrissy said wiping the snot that was pouring out of her nose.

“It’s true,” I said, “and what you want to do is selfish, not courageous.”

Chrissy looked at me a bit shocked. Her tears temporarily stopped flowing. “You know way too much,” she said.

I rolled my sleeve up to my shoulders, revealing the scars I had left there years ago. “Cutter,” I said. “I wanted to feel the pain. I wanted to know I was still alive. I felt everything. I have those scars as a constant reminder.”


And now I get to pick 7 victims! I’m going to tag:

Nicole Steinhaus
Candace Havens
Jessi Gage
Tori Scott
Paula Altenburg
Cindi Madsen
Jenna Bennett
<![CDATA[My December 2011 YA Stands post on revising and rewriting ]]>Fri, 16 Dec 2011 20:27:42 GMThttp://heathermriccio.com/blog/my-december-2011-ya-stands-post-on-revising-and-rewritingRejection hurts. Body aches and head spins around and around trying to figure out if we did anything wrong as writers. Is what we wrote not good enough? Did we not think everything out? Was the idea already out there and we just didn’t know it? Or was it because we sent the piece out prematurely? Often times, it’s the latter. Agents see an increase in submissions after Nanowrimo or National Writing Month that takes place throughout the whole month of November. More often than not those pieces shouldn’t have been sent to the agents that fast. Why you might ask? Because we need to revise and revise again. The first day of class in my MFA program we were all told two things: one, writing isn’t instantaneous and two, if you’re not into rewriting, get out now. Writing is all about rewriting. No one, not even Edgar Allen Poe, wrote a great first draft, but they might have written a killer second, third, or fourth draft. This is something we need to keep in mind. In one of my classes I was given a revision checklist, which has helped me over the years and it’s something I think can help us all.

So here’s what I was told and it makes total sense. The first draft is for you and the finished draft is for them. The first draft, or the creation of the novel, was our gift to ourselves. Now, through revision, it’s our contribution to others. There are seven steps for a successful revision.

1. Read it out loud. –If something sounds bad, cut it out or change it. I used to be afraid to cut whole paragraphs out and now I can cut whole pages out no problem because I know whatever I come up with to replace it sounds a hundred times better.
2. Always back up your work. –You can completely decapitate your work, but always come back to the original living body of your work.
3. Revise at least two times.—Strip your work down to its bare bones and then build it back up piece by piece.
4. Go through amazing open doors. –Sometimes in the revision process our characters might reveal something to us we didn’t know was possible in the first draft. Go through that new open door in your revision stage and see what the outcome is.
5. Chop the last sentence and last paragraph out—The truth is sometimes by the end we run out of steam and sometimes the novel or short story might be stronger cutting the last paragraph out. Try it and see what happens.
6. Cut EVERY other sentence of dialogue. ---Dialogue slows down the narrative and the truth is most of us aren’t that long winded and even if we are, people tend to tune us out half way so cut, cut, and cut some more through the dialogue and you’ll be surprised at how much stronger that piece of work will be.
7. Make the last sentence the first or the first sentence the last. It’s weird how this works, but just trust me when I say it does.

Now knowing all of this, I want you to revise and revise some more. Don’t send your work out prematurely and remember that persistence is the key to everything!
<![CDATA[Why I encourage other writers to join societies like SCBWI and AWP]]>Wed, 07 Sep 2011 16:31:29 GMThttp://heathermriccio.com/blog/why-i-encourage-other-writers-to-join-societies-like-scbwi-and-awpI joined SCBWI in 2008 and it’s been the best decision I ever made. I’ve been to many speaking engagements before I joined SCBWI, through the MFA program, but many YA speakers forget to mention SCBWI. I don’t fault them for it. They have a lot to usually get through, but I do think it’s a society everyone should join if they are even remotely interested in publishing in the YA, middle-grade, or picture book categories.  It’s not exclusively for writers either. It’s also for illustrators.

If writing for teens and children isn’t up your alley, I encourage you to join a writing society. There are so many out there and almost all of them offer their own membership benefits and have conferences throughout the year. This includes AWP, the Mystery Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America, and many, many more. Personally, I love writing picture books, MG, and YA books so SCBWI feels like its tailor made for me.

The first person to turn me onto SCBWI was my professor, Juan Felipe Herrera, for children and YA writing course. A children’s book author himself he knew the importance of joining a society like SCBWI. Through SCBWI one is able to make valuable connections with other authors, editors, and agents that you wouldn’t normally be able to talk to except through e-mail (if you’re lucky). SCBWI started back in 1971 and has since then grown to over 22,000 members worldwide with over 70 regional chapters that range from board books to YA (Young Adult) novels. It’s the largest children’s writing organization in the world.

I’m glad he did encourage me. I’ve also had other professors recommend I join SCBWI as well. Since I first joined, I’ve been to several spring conferences in Temecula, CA; and am attending my first ever Working Writers Retreat this weekend. At every event I’ve attended, I’ve made valuable contacts and more importantly, I’ve built up a network of like-minded writers who are all in the same boat. We all want to be published and we are all there to help each other out.

I’ll let you know how the event goes! Even after obtaining my MFA and attending other conferences, I still get nervous reading my own work out loud. I  think because I'm reading a little part of me. Even if it's a small part. 

In the meantime, happy writing!


<![CDATA[Why I went back for my MFA]]>Mon, 05 Sep 2011 16:42:36 GMThttp://heathermriccio.com/blog/why-i-went-back-for-my-mfaAt eighteen, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Most people don’t and those who actually do know are few and far between. I entered UC Riverside as an acting major; Never mind, that I hadn’t taken any acting classes in my life, but had done some modeling in high school. The UC system allowed me to change my major right away and I had always loved science so I decided to become a science major my first year. That didn’t last past my freshman year because I hated math. Still do, but it allowed me to do something amazing. This confusion about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life gave me the freedom to explore as many majors as I wanted.

My sophomore year in university I became a liberal studies major with an emphasis in English and a minor in Creative Writing. I loved to analyze everything so this was perfect. That same year I also fell in love with anthropology so I decided to double major my junior year. Anthropology allowed me to get inside heads of people and cultures. It gave me the courage to think bigger. Something I hadn’t done till college. I wanted to do something meaningful with my life.

I loved writing and anthropology so much that I ended up taking several years to decide which one I wanted to go back and get my masters in. I loved studying cultures. The stories my professors would come back with amazed me. They’d talk about smoking peyote with the locals or smuggling people to freedom. They’d speak about bringing supplies back to countries where people couldn’t get basic medical care, a proper education or even a roof over their heads. They’d talk about women who had to sell themselves to put food on the table. They wanted to be a part of the solution. They’d help these women start their own businesses, even though the businesses were small, it was enough to put food on the table without having to subject themselves to the degradation they had in the past. I wanted to help so much. I even considered sending letters out to work with Dr. Weil (And get my masters at University of Arizona where he was teaching at the time).

I had letters of recommendation for both an anthropology masters and for MFA programs. I almost applied for the anthropology masters, but writing tugged at my heart and soul more. In the end, it won. It was in a Masters program that I really learned to hone my writing and to think about feelings and emotions. I could write analytical papers no problem. Give me a 20 page paper on Egyptian women and their households and I could turn that around quickly. Understand that evidence on Egyptian women was often burned so this took awhile to figure out, and yet I could do this faster than delving into a character’s emotion or mind. It took a master’s program to force that out of me.  I had to imagine myself in their shoes. I found myself getting upset at the murder of a father or sad at the desperation in a character who just wanted to find out who she really was. It opened up a side of me I never knew I had. It’s that reason that I highly recommend going back to get an MFA.

In the process, I also found a happy medium when it comes to helping others. I work pro-bono as the Director of Partnerships for Project Migration, a fashion accessory company with a charitable initiative. Proceeds from the sales go back to help single mothers and their children in Africa. No matter what happens during the day I always write. If I’m angry, I let that emotion come out because sometimes my character’s best emotions come from the pain I’m feeling. Allowing them speak, allows me to heal. Something I couldn’t have done if I didn’t learn how to write everything out. 

<![CDATA[Why I became a writer]]>Fri, 02 Sep 2011 15:08:25 GMThttp://heathermriccio.com/blog/why-i-became-a-writerI could have taken the easy way out. My family has owned successful Italian restaurants for over thirty years. When I was younger, I used to sit in our oversized dark red booths and hear about how my great uncle and Grandpa were good friends with Frank Sinatra. I remember my dad telling me that he worked out in Hollywood with my great uncle one summer at the restaurant my Uncle Sonny used to manage for years called Martonis, and at the end of the summer his reward was a trip on Frank Sinatra’s plane that was flying to Vegas where my dad would hear Elvis in concert. I would hear about how when my Aunt Tisha was a little girl sat on Cary Grant’s lap. I would hear stories about Styx and Damn Yankees from my Uncle Bob, may he rest in peace. He used to do promotions for them ages ago. 

And, recently one of my uncles, who was in the Vietnam War and had married a German woman named Bonita, told me that his ex-wife had a grandpa who was a Nazi. She was poisoned into thinking that everyone was inferior to the German race. She would often tell him in arguments, “You cannot help that you are the way that you are. You’re an American and of Italian decent. You’re not German and Germans are the perfect race.” They used to argue often over that and when she wanted him to stay in Germany with her and wouldn’t let him see his family, his answer to her was a no-brainer; they divorced.

Most people would think it's a no-brainer, why not just fall into the family business. Everything is set up, but if I did that I would be miserable. Now granted working for family has allowed me time to write my YA novel, but would I never run a restaurant. It's not my passion. Writing is. 

Writing doesn't pay well most of the time, but I don't care. It's what I love. I live and breathe for my writing. That's how my uncles feel about the restaurant business. When we had to sell one of the restaurants you could see the devastation in their eyes. Now that's passion and love for what you do. If someone told me to just stop writing, they better have a damn good justification for it. Even then I wouldn't listen. 

I often come across people in the restaurant who are eager to read my book and ask when it will come out. What they don't understand is that writing is also about rewriting. It's about rewriting some more. It's about sending it out to an agent and hoping they love it. It's hoping an editor will love it enough to sign you on as a client and it's hoping you have a fan base that will continue to grow. Otherwise you're just writing for yourself. In any event, even if it takes years, I'm not giving up. It's a persistence game. You don't tell a MLB player to stop playing baseball or a ballet dancer to give up because her feet are too big or her stance is too wide. They wouldn't give up, they'd work harder. That's what I do. Work harder to follow my passion because that is what life is about. Having something to live for and the courage to go after it! 

Happy writing!