Fresh Blood Podcast Episode Guest - Tosca Lee
Tosca talks about the greater influences in life, how she has overcome struggles and the things that caused the most positive impact on living a successful life.
Tosca Lee is the multi award-winning, New York Times, and Indiebound and Amazon bestselling author of 11 novels. Her book series, A Line Between and A Single Light were written as a pandemic - before our current global pandemic - and Tosca effectively predicted many of the situations that were happening globally. Her series is garnering strong positive acclaim including being optioned and is in development for television. Tosca has not only experienced endless awards and success in her writing over the past 13 years but also tasted success at the beginning of her career in the beauty pageant world becoming Mrs. Nebraska and first runner up to Mrs. United States.
· 2017 Realm Makers Book of the Year (Firstborn
· 2016 ABA IndieBound bestseller list (The Progeny)
· 2015 Finalist, ECPA Book of the Year Award (Legend of Sheba)
· 2014 Library Journal “Best Of” list (Legend of Sheba)
· 2014 ECPA Book of the Year Award (Iscariot)
· 2012 New York Times Bestseller List, Hardcover Fiction (Mortal)
· 2012 New York Times Bestseller List, eBook (Forbidden)
· 2011 New York Times Bestseller List, Hardcover Fiction, #17 (Forbidden)
· 2013 ECPA Bestseller List (Sovereign)
· 2013 CBA Bestseller List (Sovereign)
· 2012 Christian Retailers Retailer’s Choice Award (Forbidden)
· 2008 Foreword Book of the Year Bronze (Havah: The Story of Eve)
· 2007 Foreword Book of the Year Silver (Demon: A Memoir)
· The Line Between listed as one of the top 15 medical thrillers by Pop Sugar
· She is a former Mrs. Nebraska-America 1996, Mrs. Nebraska United States 1998, and first runner-up to Mrs. United States.
· Her episode on The Beautiful Writers Podcast was selected as one of the best of for 2019 sharing billing with Tom Hanks, Dean Koontz, and others
Jolie: [00:00:00] Today we are talking with Tosca Lee. She is the multi award-winning New York Times and Indiebound and Amazon best-selling author of 11 novels. Her book series A Line Between and A Single Light were written as a pandemic, this is before our current global pandemic, and Tosca effectively predicted many of the situations that were happening globally.
[00:00:29] Her series is garnering strong, positive acclaim, including being an option and is in the development for television. Tosca has not only experienced endless awards and success in her writing over the past 13 years, but she also tasted success at the beginning of her career in the beauty pageant world, becoming Mrs. Nebraska, and first runner up to Mrs. United States.
[00:00:50] I am really excited to learn more about her journey, Tosca, thank you so much for joining us on the Fresh Blood. Please, could you tell us a little bit about your story and how you ended up on this road to becoming an author?
[00:01:03]Tosca Lee: [00:01:03] Of course, thank you so much for having me. It's been a really winding journey and I have heard very few stories where people have landed in wherever they've landed and straight lines. And mine follows that same windy windy path, I never really set out to become an author though.
[00:01:21] I did write most of my life. And when I was in third grade, I was published for the very first time in a pet lovers newsletter because the teachers told me I should write a story in there about my dog dying. My, my English bulldog had passed away. So I did this and this was way back. This is when newsletters would show up in real mailboxes through real mail and they were printed.
[00:01:49]Jolie: [00:01:49] That is exciting for a third grader too, it's a big deal.
[00:01:51] Tosca Lee: [00:01:51] It was exciting. It was like, wow. And they had a picture of my dog and in there. And I never really. I thought of writing as a thing I loved to read, but my, my big love growing up was ballet.
[00:02:03] And I was very serious about pursuing this dream of becoming a ballet dancer. And I went after that very hard actually. And I would, I live in Nebraska, so there's only so much you can do here, especially during the school year. I would dance with the Omaha ballet and things like that. My parents carted me an hour to Omaha from Lincoln and in the summers, that was my real chance to go, so I'd go to Kansas city or New York or different places and go study elsewhere.
[00:02:33]But I had an injury when I was 14. Right at the start of a long summer that I had lined up in three different locations and I tore a muscle and, it's ballets it's it's like gymnastics. You can't lose time when you're young, because it's so competitive. And some of those things can take quite a long time to recover from.
[00:02:55] And sometimes you never get back to quite where you were. So at some point in my teenage years, it became apparent that ballet was probably not going to work out. And and it was still competitive.
[00:03:07] Jolie: [00:03:07] What was that like for you? Was that hard? Were you, did you come to terms with it okay?
[00:03:13]Tosca Lee: [00:03:13] It's a gradual realization. It's kinda my extension, isn't what it used to be. And, Other things were starting to capture my interest too. So it was a little bittersweet, but at the same time there were other possibilities, so
[00:03:28] Jolie: [00:03:28] Yes. Exciting time of life in general.
[00:03:31] Tosca Lee: [00:03:31] and when you're at that age too, and you've spent, you've devoted so much of your life to this you've given up a lot of things to like your social life, and I was also a pianist. And so from a young age, I had practiced an hour and a half every day. So I do 45 minutes before school and 45 after, and then I'd be off to go dance or drive to Omaha with my mom and or whatever.
[00:03:51] So I had no life really.
[00:03:54] Jolie: [00:03:54] You were dialed in with those talents.
[00:03:57] Tosca Lee: [00:03:57] It's those things really do take time. And I remember when one time I felt so insulted, a friend of mine said, I took ballet and I could never dance like you. And I'm like, there's a difference between taking a class and devoting all your time, your thought and your obsession to it, anyway, I went off to college and I still continued to dance and I do to this day, still do ballet because it's what my body knows, even at 51. So I went off to college and I remember Coming home for spring break. I'm probably the only person that goes to Nebraska first. And I was in a car with my dad and we were driving somewhere. And I was talking about one of my favorite books of all time, which is the mystery. Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. And it's the giant tome of a book. And it was written in the, I think late seventies or early eighties.
[00:04:50] And, at a time when attention spans and reading habits were a little different. And so it's 807 pages and it's a retelling of the women behind King Author's thrown there's thrown in. It's got fantasy elements and lots of history. And I loved it. And when I was talking with my dad that day, I just blurted out and said I had said, great book, it's like a roller coaster.
[00:05:11]It's got twists and turns and all these things. And I blurted out that day, I think I'd like to try to write a book. And my dad who has always supported my, artistic dreams, ballet, piano, whatever it was said. Okay, I'm going to make you a deal. I was supposed to work as a bank teller that summer for the second summer in a row.
[00:05:31] And I was so bad at it. It's not even funny, but one of his friends owned the bank and got me this job. So anyway, it has is not bad. I was not good at it because the numbers are just not my thing. And remembering faces, I'm terrible at faces. And you have to be good at those things to be good.
[00:05:51] Jolie: [00:05:51] Yes
[00:05:53] Tosca Lee: [00:05:53] yeah, my dad said, I'll make you a deal. I'll pay you what you would have made the summer working at the bank. If you will write your first novel and do it full-time and treat it like a job. And I was like, that's a no brainer. I was like, I'm on it.
[00:06:12] Jolie: [00:06:12] Good job Dad, I want to give him pats on the back right now.
[00:06:14] Tosca Lee: [00:06:14] I know. And at the time I didn't really think much of it.
[00:06:17] I just thought, boy, I got out of that job easy, now I look back and I'm like, what an incredible thing to say to somebody, not even knowing if they're going to , apply themselves or take it real seriously.
[00:06:29] Jolie: [00:06:29] And to give that belief to someone, it is a gift, It was a gift he gave.
[00:06:32] Tosca Lee: [00:06:32] It was a huge gift and I don't know what inspired that I, I should ask him some time.
[00:06:37] I my dad's in his eighties now, but I should talk to him about that sometime because I tell the story all the time. But so I did, I wrote my first novel that summer and I had no clue what I was doing and I didn't realize that part of a summer, cause I, I went away to study for a month out of that summer too.
[00:06:53] My dad had signed me up to go to Oxford, to study economics, more numbers that I'm not good at. Just give me a chance. You get a bunch of really cool books on Stonehenge, which I wanted to write about. So that summer I wrote this Epic neolithic historical fantasy novel about the Stonehenge people, the neolithic Stonehenge people.
[00:07:16] And I did it in a couple months. Cause I didn't know any better that, maybe you shouldn't be able to.
[00:07:20] yeah, and I did it and the next summer I tried to get an agent and got soundly rejected. I had done everything wrong. I, everything from my query letter to my synopsis, all of it wrong.
[00:07:33] But and I found that rejection letter the other day and it was it's so cringe-worthy it's funny because it starts off with, even after reading the 23 page synopsis, which you're not supposed to do. One or two pages, that's it? reading, Oh yeah.
[00:07:49] One or two pages’ tops. Even after reading the 23 page synopsis, I'm still not sure what the book is about. Your characters are two dimensional, your plot, lacks tension. And so I'm reading this and I'm like, huh. And then you get a little further down in. This poor reader who had to read this for writer's house.
[00:08:06] Cause I went to one of the top agencies of course, and he said but however, it is reminiscent of clan of the cave bear, which was one of my other favorite novels of all time. And so what I took away from that was, it's like clan of the cave bear, and maybe I should keep going.
[00:08:26] Jolie: [00:08:26] You kept the positive and dumped the rest.
[00:08:29] Tosca Lee: [00:08:29] I, I was like, okay, I can learn to do these other things, I think. But yeah, it was hot.
[00:08:35] Jolie: [00:08:35] that's fantastic. So you're telling me, you've been writing since then. So your dad gave you the deal. If you will deal there, you do this
[00:08:42] Tosca Lee: [00:08:42] 1989, this was 1989. Yeah. I didn't get my first novel published until I think 2007.
[00:08:56] Jolie: [00:08:56] How many years?
[00:08:58]Tosca Lee: [00:08:58] Seriously, you're asking me a math question. So I, that's like 11,
[00:09:03] Jolie: [00:09:03] It was many years
[00:09:05] Tosca Lee: [00:09:05] 18 years in between.
[00:09:07] Jolie: [00:09:07] 18 years, and you wrote through all those years?
[00:09:12] Tosca Lee: [00:09:12] I did I, I spent I spent nine years writing a different fantasy novel that I never quite finished.
[00:09:19] And I did some magazine stuff and I did some other copy editing type things for a little money here and there. Oh. And out of college, my first job out of college was I wrote for smart computing magazine, which published in Lincoln. Nebraska didn't know anything about computers, but they said, you can write and we'll teach you the computer stuff.
[00:09:38] Jolie: [00:09:38] yeah, you can learn the computers.
[00:09:39] Tosca Lee: [00:09:39] Yeah. So I did write, but not any, didn't get published till 2007. And then the part of the winding road was in the nineties. Somebody said why don't you run for Mrs. Nebraska? So it was actually the Mrs. Pageant because I got married right out of college. And I said, I've never heard of, no, I did.
[00:10:00] I had heard of that. Cause I knew a lady who had been Mrs. Nebraska, but I had not grown up doing any of that. Pageants stuff.
[00:10:07] Jolie: [00:10:07] So you had no part of this industry before joining? Oh, wow. That's a big deal.
[00:10:14] Tosca Lee: [00:10:14] no. The thing I looked back and I think, it's something I never would have considered possible for me because I had never grown up feeling like anything related to that was part of my identity. Growing up, I'm biracial. So growing up in the seventies, I never even felt particularly attractive a lot of the time.
[00:10:30] So for me to even consider doing something like that was really off the wall, but it's when somebody says, why don't you go do that? That something suddenly that has never been possible before suddenly seems huh? Maybe this is a possibility. So having somebody say that was really a big, I was like I'll try it.
[00:10:54] Jolie: [00:10:54] It's interesting because we all know, we know that's true, but when you put it that way and you can see how impactful making a statement like that is to someone and how it can send them on this a different track or a new way. It really just opened up their own mind to believing that it could be possible. We all need to be sending the right messages to people.
[00:11:14] Tosca Lee: [00:11:14] I think so because, there's plenty of negativity already. People are surrounded by it and people generate so much negativity about themselves every single day. And so to have somebody say, I think you could do this, or why don't you consider that? Or you'd be great at this, it can mean.
[00:11:32] I think it just opens the door sometimes. And so that's what happened for me. It was like, Oh, maybe I'll go try that. And yeah. So that's how that happened. And it was a weird thing to do too. I went to the super feminist college. I went to Smith college in Massachusetts, super feminist, all the stuff. I had friends who were like, why are you doing that? I was like and it turned out to be a really strange means to a good end because when you have this title of, Mrs.
[00:12:01] Nebraska or whatever it is, You get invited to go speak at things like charity events and you get invited to represent really worthy organizations like the American cancer society, or, raise money for breast cancer research or take part in these amazing cultural festivals all over and stuff that, I probably may not have taken part in,
[00:12:24] Jolie: [00:12:24] that's pretty amazing experiences to have. Yeah. And really great experiences personally, to have that build up your character, but also really great experiences to have professionally as well and exposure meeting people. Now I'm curious though, cause I'm still thinking about the whole 18 years.
[00:12:44]I love that you kept going. And so I want to know what kept you going and trying, because this is, that's the key right there, is not giving up. So what was it for you that kept you from not giving up?
[00:12:54]Tosca Lee: [00:12:54] And I didn't give up. I guess I've just always felt that anything was possible. And I didn't try every single day. I would go months without writing or I would, during the time that I was doing all this pageant stuff, and I kept a really busy schedule with making appearances and things that took up a lot of time.
[00:13:11] And so there was not really much writing happening during different periods of that 18 years. And then towards the end of that 18 years, I ended up let's see. I, yeah, I ended up getting divorced. And there's a lot of noise and distraction and things that were going on in between that, were very draining.
[00:13:27] So you don't always have the time to keep trying, but it's something that, I just kinda, in my mind, I identified myself as a writer and I just kept plugging away at it. And I guess I just believed that. Yeah. I like the idea of fishing, whether it's and I'm saying this figuratively though, I do fishing too, but I like the idea of, when you're trying to get a job for instance, or whatever it is, throwing your hooks out there and seeing what comes back. So writing was like that. And I think you have to enjoy that process to pursue this career just because there is so much there are so many nos and there's so much rejection in it. Just so many things,
[00:14:04] Jolie: [00:14:04] Oh, I agree. And I think what you said is really a key to it that you, you said in my mind I was always a writer I think that's very powerful because what starts in our mind is what we create in our world. And it is, starts and ends there. Now were you doing other things in between before, before finally being published, a writer doing the circuit the beauty circuit, were you doing other things as well?
[00:14:27]Tosca Lee: [00:14:27] I had written for the magazine and I ended up, then while I was married, I ended up quitting that job. My husband was so successful that it doesn't make a lot of sense for me to be putting so much time in, to make as little as I want. So it was kinda like, man. So that's when I started freelancing and doing some articles and things, but I also did volunteer work, so I would volunteer around here and I became active.
[00:14:48]With that even more so after being Mrs. Nebraska, because by then you have ties to these different organizations and things like that. So I was doing some volunteer things and then in between I was still trying to,
Oh, and I, Oh, I took a job at Gallup organization that's best known for the Gallup poll. So I became a management consultant and that was around, I don't know, 2003 I think I took that job. And that was one of those, if I needed to get a job and support myself, cause I wasn't sure the direction my marriage was going, could I do it?
[00:15:24] And they ended up recruiting me and saying, why don't you just come work for us? And technically I was part-time, but it, it's very easy to get it, extended that job and put more than part-time into it. So I, for about eight years, I I traveled the world and I I taught and I spoke and I coached for them.
[00:15:40]Jolie: [00:15:40] Wonderful.
[00:15:41] Tosca Lee: [00:15:41] Yeah.
[00:15:41] Jolie: [00:15:41] That's amazing
[00:15:44] Tosca Lee: [00:15:44] And it's weird because, the pageant thing is when I started doing some kind of motivational type speaking, but that helped me too to speak and teach well in that Gallup. And I learned how to speak and teach better through Gallup. And it served me super, super well as a, an author. Because now I speak and teach about writing.
[00:16:02]Jolie: [00:16:02] That's great. And did you leave because your writing career was taking off?
[00:16:06] Tosca Lee: [00:16:06] I did. And it was I had been offered a contract to write a series of books with another author. And it was either, it was one of those situations where you've either got to leap and go and do it now. And I had to leave the job because there's no way I could put out these books and this volume of work while doing my job, or I would have to pass on that and say, no, I'm going to stick with my corporate job and the corporate job.
[00:16:31] I, I loved it. And I loved the company and I loved all the perks of being able to travel and see the world. But my dream was not that,
[00:16:41] Jolie: [00:16:41] you had to go after your dream. Absolutely.
[00:16:43] Tosca Lee: [00:16:43] but it was scary. It's scary to give up health insurance.
[00:16:49] Jolie: [00:16:49] Taking that leap of faith. It really is a leap. It is.
[00:16:55] Tosca Lee: [00:16:55] it is. It was scary. You know what I mean? Thank goodness. I've got, I had living parents and, people I knew would not let me start. If I failed utterly,
[00:17:03] Jolie: [00:17:03] Yes. Very lucky for the people who support us most. So through all of this, what would you say has been one or two of your greatest successes in life and what have you learned from it?
[00:17:14]Tosca Lee: [00:17:14] I feel like I. It's easy to look back and say I won this award or I hit this best seller list, but I think one of the greatest successes for me is just to be able to become a published novelist. I was really excited when I was signed by Simon and Schuster. And, but just to be able to continue to do this, and that's something I'm really happy for every day because I get to do this and I also get to help support my family, doing it.
[00:17:40]So I think that's just a series of small successes that kind of allow you to basically do what you love to do.
[00:17:50] Jolie: [00:17:50] yes. Doing what you love to do and being able to support your family and live the life the way you want. That's a dream, that's it to me,
[00:17:58] Tosca Lee: [00:17:58] It is. And, publishing has its ups and downs.
[00:18:02] Jolie: [00:18:02] Oh, I'm sure.
[00:18:03] Tosca Lee: [00:18:03] because there are days that I pull my hair out or I am not happy with the marketing situation or how publicity is going or, or whatever the thing is. But, but when this is your dream, those are all like first world problems. I dreamed of complaining about these things.
[00:18:22] Jolie: [00:18:22] This whole year has put a lot of that into perspective.
Yeah. So I gotta say, cause I read your books and Oh my goodness. The pandemic books, reading them in the middle of the pandemic.
[00:18:38] Tosca Lee: [00:18:38] I should apologize.
[00:18:41] Jolie: [00:18:41] Everyone listening, her books are about a pandemic happening. So reading these books while you're living the pandemic was interesting. And I'm super curious. What did you think, how did you feel when this all started going down?
[00:18:58] Tosca Lee: [00:18:58] It was really surreal because I remember when the first news stories were rolling in and it was like, hon, but I don't think too much of it, because I remember when the bird flu was a thing, and I was often traveling in Europe and never too worried about it or anything.
[00:19:14] And that was just like, Oh, it's another thing like that. But. As it started to pick up speed and everybody started hoarding toilet paper, was, at some day, historians are just going to wonder what was wrong with us. But anyway I remember thinking, wow, this is so crazy because I had just done all this research to write these books.
[00:19:31] And everybody, who works in that field has basically said, it's not a question of if, but when the next pandemic comes along. So hopefully it's not something like the flu of 1918 that it's not another Spanish flu or something like that. But yeah, so it was just odd and surreal to watch it roll.
[00:19:52] Jolie: [00:19:52] you have any like freak out moments, like start preparing and
[00:19:57] Tosca Lee: [00:19:57] I, I did say, okay let's lay in some supplies in the pantry and things like that. I didn't worry too much. I live on a farm. I live on a farm with a family of hunters. Nobody's going go hungry. We're prepared for the zombie apocalypse
[00:20:11] Jolie: [00:20:11] Yes you are.
[00:20:12]Tosca Lee: [00:20:12] Yeah. we've got a well, and we've got, I'm married to a champion trap shooter who's in my oldest son is also a champion trap shooter. They can pick off the zombies as they're coming up.
[00:20:24] Jolie: [00:20:24] Yes, no. That's great.
[00:20:25] Tosca Lee: [00:20:25] we're good.
[00:20:31] Jolie: [00:20:31] What kind of research did you do for your book? So you were taught and was this just right before I didn't look to see what years they were written, actually.
[00:20:39] Tosca Lee: [00:20:39] wrote them. Let's see, I wrote them in 17 and eight. I would have finished A Single Light at the very beginning of 19. And it came out that's the second book. It came out in September of 19, right before? Yeah. Yeah.
[00:20:54] Jolie: [00:20:54] I thought of you as I was reading them, I was like, is this author just spinning right now?
[00:21:02] Tosca Lee: [00:21:02] Aye. It was weird. It was, and the research was fascinating and horrifying. So the premise of the book is basically for those listening it's this idea that an extinct disease comes out of the melting permafrost, which is melting in places like Alaska or Siberia and It starts, getting people sick.
[00:21:19] And this has actually happened before in the news. So it's really, it's not that original of a thing. It's not that original of an idea. There are other books that have this kind of premise. So the story centers around a young woman who has left the cult that she grew up in and as she goes out into the secular world to start over it, it starts to look a lot like the apocalypse that she's always been taught was coming.
[00:21:43] Jolie: [00:21:43]It’s interesting
[00:21:43] Tosca Lee: [00:21:43] It was really fun. I actually wanted to write a story about a girl leaving the cult and starting over. And then I also had this idea for this pandemic a thing. And my publisher said I think you should put those two ideas together. And I remember thinking, what is he on? I went home and they did it, and it was actually really fun to do it that way. That was a really great idea. But I can't credit.
[00:22:10] Jolie: [00:22:10] What was that like finding out that this was being considered for television.
[00:22:14]Tosca Lee: [00:22:14] Yeah, that was really cool. So I'd been working with radar pictures who they most recently have done the Jumanji remakes and some things like that. Yeah. Fun movies and They were working on another duology of mine, the progeny and firstborn. And so I told them about the these books and they were like, yeah let's take a look.
[00:22:35] And they picked it up. And we got a really great writer though the pandemic, shut down Hollywood for a while and right now nobody really wants to talk about doing a pandemic TV series right now. So they're it's like too soon. Yeah. So it's on hold right now.
[00:22:51] Jolie: [00:22:51] Yeah. It'll be even bigger when it comes well. So let me ask you the flip side of the triumphs question. What about your greatest challenges or obstacles or times you've failed and how you overcame and what you learned from it?
[00:23:06]Tosca Lee: [00:23:06] I failed a lot in the publishing world I've failed since the get, go with my first, book query, and I've been rejected so many times a lot, and it never gets easier, in my personal life, I would say, go ahead the divorce was, just the whole circumstances of it and the way that it played out.
[00:23:24]I never imagined that for myself and going through it and having days that I, you just feel so emotionally wrung out and tired and, cause you're trying to work and do all this stuff too.
[00:23:37]It affects everything. And. And sometimes you just don't know how strong you are until you are in situations where you're just not sure how you're going to get through it.
[00:23:48] And then you get through it.
[00:23:50] Jolie: [00:23:50] What did you, how did you get through what helped get you through it? Because let's be honest. A lot of people are going through that right now. Or might be soon. What did you do to get through that difficult time?
[00:24:00]Tosca Lee: [00:24:00] That's hard. It's hard to say. Cause I think it's a perfect storm of lots of things that help people get through things. I, I think friends, I think when things get ugly enough, then you're ready for change. And you're ready to move through it, to get through it, just because I envisioned a better day for myself and I wanted to get to the, that.
[00:24:22]So wanted to get to the other side of that. My faith, I, I have a faith that has been tested and has evolved through the years and just, having faith that it would be okay eventually. There's no other really, big, big thing.
[00:24:35]Jolie: [00:24:35] You’re right. It's a perfect storm of things that will support you. not usually, it's not one big thing. It's many things that come together.
[00:24:44] Tosca Lee: [00:24:44] And many people, too many people and many circumstances. Yeah.
[00:24:50] Jolie: [00:24:50] Yeah. Going through all the things that you've been through, what would you say has been key for you to have continued success throughout life?
[00:24:58]Tosca Lee: [00:24:58] I think having the belief that the things that are important to you are possible. Just the sense of possibility, whether it's Career goal or, a lifestyle goal or a romantic goal. Cause there was a time after my divorce, especially.
[00:25:19] I mean I still dated and stuff, but I was like, I'm never getting married again. And then I met my husband and it was like, God's Oh,
And I remember telling him when we were doing like, I, this is great. And but I just want you to know I'm never getting married, I think a part of me had maybe not given up on that dream and a part of me had felt jaded. And a part of me had, just felt very hurt by that. But I think that dream never did completely fade. And I had a vision, a long time ago that it could be, this wonderful partnership. And it is that for me now. I'm really super blessed to have an amazing husband who is my best friend.
[00:25:59] That sounds so cliche, but it's true. And I think the dream never went away. So I think having those dreams and holding onto them, even if it's just by one thread.
[00:26:09] Jolie: [00:26:09] Oh, I agree. I love that too. It's very true to keep us going. So what advice would you give someone let's say, who is in the 40 plus category who might feel like they're struggling in life right now, whether it be personal or professional. Is there any best piece of advice that you would give people to help them move just a little bit closer to their own success or their own fulfilled life?
[00:26:37]Tosca Lee: [00:26:37] I think I would just say, remember everything you've overcome before, because when we struggle with, in our forties or now I'm in my early fifties, yeah. The struggles feel huge and the responsibility is so huge and the stakes still larger, bigger, but, we struggled so much in our teen years and in our twenties, in our thirties, with, and the first heartbreak you think your life is over.
[00:27:02] We have the benefit of wisdom and experience at this point. And maybe we haven't experienced the things we're going through now, but we have the experience of knowing that we will get through it. We have gotten through tough things before. So I think that helps a lot just knowing okay, I have been through hard.
[00:27:24] I have been through heartbreak. I have, I think being able to trust that experience and history and yourself,
[00:27:32] Jolie: [00:27:32] Oh, that makes me think of a line in a movie that I always loved. And it just popped into my head as you were saying that, cause it it's,
We are Intrepid, We Carry On
[00:27:41] Tosca Lee: [00:27:41] I love that.
[00:27:44] Jolie: [00:27:44] Yes. No, that's fantastic. So now I'm curious, because as a writer, and this is something that I think is a popular question for people who are writing.
[00:27:54] So I'm going to ask.
[00:27:57] Tosca Lee: [00:27:57] Okay.
[00:27:58] Jolie: [00:27:58] when you're in times of struggle, what motivates you keep going?
[00:28:03]Tosca Lee: [00:28:03] I rely a lot on my husband and on the people around me, but, it's, especially with the pandemic and living out in the country, that's largely my husband I rely on a lot on, his advice and his insight. One thing he says to me a lot is about having fun, and I think that when you're adulting, it's so easy to forget to do.
[00:28:25] Jolie: [00:28:25] Cause it's the truth.
[00:28:26] Tosca Lee: [00:28:26] It may be serious and there may be money on the line and it may be a career, but you know what, if somewhere along the line, we forgot how to just play and have fun. And I think, when you're playing and having fun, you're probably on a pretty good path because you're doing what you love.
[00:28:41] And I think it's important to look for the fun. Okay. What was the question again?
[00:28:46] Jolie: [00:28:46] Oh, I loved your answer. It didn't really matter the question. I feel like that answers everything right when you're having fun. And in that moment when you're enjoying life, whether it's personal professional, you're in the right energy and you're creating that right energy, that's going to bring even more.
[00:29:02] Goodness. That's the way I look at it.
[00:29:04] Tosca Lee: [00:29:04] you're in a good place. And I think that you're thinking clearly, and you're not acting out of fear. And I think that's where we get stuck.
[00:29:13] Jolie: [00:29:13] Yeah. And you know what I asked you, what motivates you in times of struggle? And that’s a perfect answer because when times of struggle we argue, we do get stuck because of fear and for those negative emotions what moves us out of that stuckness, the positive, the good emotions override.
[00:29:29] So that's a great answer.
[00:29:29] Tosca Lee: [00:29:29] Oh, so I remember now why I was saying that because I, when I it's, like when I get stuck, when I'm writing and I have those days where I'm like, I just, I'm not up to this site. I've written myself into a corner. I don't know how to, whatever. Those are the days that my husband says to me how fun,
[00:29:43] Jolie: [00:29:43] Yeah.
[00:29:43] Tosca Lee: [00:29:43] You could go do a different job and I'm like, what?
[00:29:45] No, I'm not going to go do a different job.
[00:29:53] Jolie: [00:29:53] great
[00:29:53] Tosca Lee: [00:29:53] says. So have fun. So I was like, Oh,
[00:29:57] Jolie: [00:29:57] really good advice. So are there any habits that you've adopted through the years that have helped you reach this level of success or keep yourself successful
[00:30:06]Tosca Lee: [00:30:06] Gosh, I'm so bad at fostering good habits and I'm so bad at routine.
[00:30:18] Jolie: [00:30:18] habits?
[00:30:18] Tosca Lee: [00:30:18] guess I just, I know writers who are like, I get up at five and I am in my desk chair by six 30 and by noon, I've written 10 pages and I'm like, screw you.
[00:30:30] I just, by noon I'm contemplating getting into my chair cause I've moped around all morning and I've just come to peace with the fact that's not my forte, one thing I do and. And this is just me, I love to watch read and absorb the stories of people who are doing what they love to do.
[00:30:48] And I think that's why I love the stress, my family crazy, but I love shows like American idol, the boy. Yeah. I love people pursuing, things they love and that they're good at. But I think the habits that, form success for people are so individual and, because everybody's so different, everybody operates in such different ways and everybody's got such different, talents and, dominant modes of behavior that, the biggest habit is knowing yourself and knowing how you work and think best and what works best.
[00:31:18] There you go.
[00:31:19] Jolie: [00:31:19] Yep. No, that's very true. And a good reminder. I love, I loved the answer personally, because. There are, there are certain habits that people adopt to make them successful. However, you don't have to have that to be So it's a good reminder These help us get there.
[00:31:41] Tosca Lee: [00:31:41] I'm like, okay, this is the year I'm gonna, I'm gonna buckle down. And then it always goes out the window. And I, I'm not a very disciplined person. I don't think I ever will be, but I am a very obsessive person. And so that's how the stories get done. That's how I meet my deadlines,
[00:31:55] Jolie: [00:31:55] Yeah, we all have our way. We all have our own thing of say.
[00:31:59]This is just a question I have personally cause I'm curious about the answer and people, so it has nothing to do with anything else, but I'm curious, what are you sure of in life?
[00:32:10] Tosca Lee: [00:32:10] Oh, I'm sure that God is good. of that. And I'm sure that people at their heart, are good or at least want to, I believe that people do. The things that make the most sense to them at the time, even, and that goes for ourselves too. So that's why I don't think it's productive to look back and ever kick ourselves and say, I was so stupid.
[00:32:31] Why'd I do that. It's because if you were back there in the same set of circumstances, knowing only what, then you would have done the same thing again.
[00:32:38] Jolie: [00:32:38] Right. We're all making the best decision we can make in that moment of what we know. And that goes for everything that we're doing. And that's a good thing to keep in mind and that's how we need to view our own actions and everyone else's actions Yeah good good.
[00:32:55] This has been great. I thank you so much for spending time with us before we go, though, is there anything that we didn't bring up that you're working on or you have going on that w that would be great for us to hear about.
[00:33:12]Tosca Lee: [00:33:12] One thing that I forgot to mention when you asked me about things I've struggled with, and I think it's just not top of mind right now cause it's not something that I'm dealing with right now is that I have had obsessive compulsive disorder. Most of my life, I first showed up. And when I was 14.
[00:33:29] And so I just want to briefly mention that because there are so many people who have, a struggle. As some kind of struggle, mentally, whether it's depression or anxiety or obsessive compulsive disorder, whatever it is, we all have something and that's something I've gone round and round about, and it has taken me down the drain a few times. And and I would say probably, worse than my divorce, worse than anything else in my life has been my struggle with that. And I just want to. I therapy and sometimes medication and supportive people around me who understand what's happening and who can know me well enough to help point it out to, but also, that same wisdom and experiencing, because I, at this age now I can say, okay, I know what's happening.
[00:34:11]I'm onto myself. And so that really helps a lot, but I just wanted to mention that because I want to encourage people that. Just because you're struggling with something, you can, that gives you a unique lens on the world that, that informs you as an individual and makes you that much more unique and that much more beautiful.
[00:34:31] And and I think, I just want to acknowledge that, we're all dealing with something, so I didn't want to leave that out.
[00:34:37] Jolie: [00:34:37] thank you because we are all dealing with something and there are so many people out there that are dealing with exactly something along those lines or anxiety or depression, or just these various other mental issues
[00:34:52] Tosca Lee: [00:34:52] Or bipolar or
[00:34:53] Jolie: [00:34:53] Oh, so many more
[00:34:54] Tosca Lee: [00:34:54] Yeah,
[00:34:55] Jolie: [00:34:55] And I'm grateful that it's getting more and more attention because it is really sad how alone so many people have felt through all of years and giving it more intention and talking about it freely, just opens up. It opens up. For everything really. And for you, for example, for you talking about this and sharing, this is something that I've dealt with through my life.
[00:35:18]But I've still gone on and done all of these other things in my I've learned how to deal with it Obviously it's not going to be easy and there's going to it's just like anything else And it can be worked with and dealt with and you can overcome these things and you can live that filled happy
[00:35:37] Tosca Lee: [00:35:37] I think that's important because even on the days when you can't get out of bed and I've had those days, or you're, you don't do anything for a week or, whatever it is, you, you can still achieve beautiful things and be a beautiful presence in the lives of other people.
[00:35:53] Jolie: [00:35:53] Absolutely. It's always a new day, right?
[00:35:55] Tosca Lee: [00:35:55] Yeah, it is.
[00:35:58] Jolie: [00:35:58] no, I really am grateful. Thank you for bringing that up.
[00:36:01] Tosca Lee: [00:36:01] Oh yeah, of course.
[00:36:02]Jolie: [00:36:02] And then I'll make sure that we have connect or link to your book sites in your website and anything is it, and is there anything else that you've got going on? I think that you haven't done yet that you're like on the horizon,
[00:36:17] Tosca Lee: [00:36:17] Oh, gosh, it's hard to think of the horizon, but this pandemic has been I am writing a new book right now and I just finished writing a short story. That'll come out this fall. But no, I think for me I'm excited to, to tell more stories and I'm excited to. I'm excited to travel again.
[00:36:36] Jolie: [00:36:36] Oh,
[00:36:36] Tosca Lee: [00:36:36] I want to leave town so bad.
[00:36:41] Jolie: [00:36:41] I have been having fantasies.
[00:36:43] Tosca Lee: [00:36:43] Yeah. Where are you? Where are you based?
[00:36:46] Jolie: [00:36:46] I'm in Santa Cruz in California.
[00:36:47]Tosca Lee: [00:36:47] You're somewhere beautiful. Come on. At least the weather's pretty decent most of the
[00:36:53] Jolie: [00:36:53] Yeah.
[00:36:53] Going through the pandemic. I thought about all of my friends and all the cold places this winter. Yeah. No, felt fortunate that I go outside and be able to stay out there.
[00:37:05]Tosca Lee: [00:37:05] When you're stuck at home, you're stuck at home either way. So wherever you are, whether it's nice weather or not, you still feel stuck
[00:37:10] Jolie: [00:37:10] Yep. Yep. Yeah, we've all been having that feeling.
[00:37:13] Tosca Lee: [00:37:13] Oh gosh.
[00:37:14] Jolie: [00:37:14] this has been great Tosca Thank you so much for joining us I been wonderful doc.
[00:37:20] Tosca Lee: [00:37:20] Oh, thank you so much. I appreciate you having me.
There is so much to learn from Tosca’s story – take the beginning of her writing experience. She tells her dad that she wants to be a writer and what does he do? I’ll tell you what he doesn’t do - He doesn’t question if that’s a good idea, he doesn’t wonder if she has the skills to do so, he doesn’t tell her it will hard road maybe she should think about something practical – no – he tells great, why don’t you make that your job this summer and I’ll pay you what you would have made working at the bank. What a gift. Giving Tosca the money and time for her to work on her first novel, to develop the beginnings of her craft was an incredibly generous gift but even more than that – the blind faith of believing she could do it. That belief can carry a person father than they ever dreamed possible.
Take for example her Miss Nebraska experience, she wouldn’t have even entered that contest had someone not brought it up and told her she would make a great contestant. How many times have you had that experience in your life? Someone mentioning something you might not have thought about and it opens up a brand new door in life.
Our words have power.
Imagine the impact you have on other people’s lives by just giving them that gift of belief. Setting aside your preconceived notions of how the world works or suspending your disbelief and just handing over pure belief. Giving that spark the needed air to flame. Try to look at your relationships and find the ways you can give that gift of belief to other people. Find the ways you can complement them, find ways to admire their strengths, find ways to support their passions, find ways to suggest thing you’d think they would excel at. There are so many ways to leave seeds of belief that will eventually bloom and grow. There are enough negative messages being thrown externally and internally in people’s lives. Let’s all be more proactive about bringing the right positive messages to people.
When Tosca writes a book she feels ready to submit for consideration, she admits that she did everything wrong that first time and got not only all rejection letters but scathing rejections letters. I LOVE Tosca’s attitude and mind set here – there is so much to learn from her – did she allow this to deter her from her goal? Did she read that scathing rejection letter and think, oh, I guess I’m just not good enough. NO. She learned from her mistakes, took the glimmer of good that could be found in those letters, held on to that glimmer of good, picked herself up and kept on moving forward with her goal. This is what successful people do. When there is something you really want from life, you go after it. Even when things go wrong, you learn from the negative but let it go while holding on to the positive as you move forward.
It took Tosca 18 years to become a published author, she kept moving forward and didn’t give up because Tosca identified herself in her mind as a writer. That is who she is. This is really important.
The universe doesn’t give you what you want, it gives you who are – it’s the law of resonance – the world will bend and shift to who we are. You first have to be and then the world will help you become. How you do this is by shifting your identity. Just like Tosca did, she said to herself, I am a writer. So that is what she did, she wrote and that is what she became. You can do the same thing. Tell yourself you are who you want to be. When you shift your identify, the world shifts with you. What are the identity’s you want to encompass into your life?
Remember, what starts in the mind is what we create in our world.
Tosca is now living that successful dream life, supporting her family while doing something she absolutely loves.
I appreciate that Tosca opened up about her divorce and her OCD. Both things that many, many people have experienced or are experiencing. I love how she put it when talking about these struggles – sometimes you don’t know how strong you are until you are in a situation you don’t know how you would get through but then you do. When you get through the tough experience and are left standing, you realize your true strength. For those of you who are still trying to get through, whether it be divorce, OCD, an illness or another struggle, take some of Tosca’s advice – call on friends, ask for help, open yourself up to change, visualize better days, have faith that it will all eventually be ok and keep your sense of possibility.
We all have struggles and we need to open up more and share in what we are going through. You are not alone. Struggles are not a barrier to a successful, fulfilled life – your struggles give you a unique view on the world, your experiences make you that much more beautiful, they are what shapes and make you the unrepeatable person you are. Even if there are days you can’t get out of bed, you can still achieve beautiful things and be a beautiful presence in the lives of other people.
There is always a new day.
So if you find yourself struggling, do as Tosca suggested, remember everything you have overcome before. You have struggled before, you had difficult times in your teens, hardships in your 20’s, missteps in your 30’s, you have made it through every single difficult time before and now you have the benefit of more wisdom and experience. You have literally made it through 100% of your worst days to date.
You can do hard.
We are intrepid. We carry on.
Another great piece of advice from Tosca came from something her husband tells her when she’s feeling stuck, go out and have some fun! Let’s face it, adulating isn’t always a ton of fun and when you’re fully wrapped in your adulting mode, you can forget how to play and have fun. Fun and play are imperative to a successful life. When you are having fun, you are on a good path, you are embodying the right kind of energy that will ultimately bring in more goodness to your life. When you are in a good place, you are not acting out of fear, which is how we get stuck. Fear is that beast that during difficult times, rears its ugly head, consuming us and causing us to get stuck in those negative emotions. You can override those negative emotions, even during times of great struggle, you can bring those good emotions to the surface with play and fun. Do your best to consciously try and infuse those dark times with as much light as possible.
I also love that Tosca didn’t have any major habits that she has adopted. This proves that while certain good habits are a predictor to success, they are not a requirement. That’s what we’re doing here with Fresh Blood, taking a study of these stories and finding the common threads comprising the big bucket items that help lead to success and then finding all those other little bucket items that also help in a variety of ways. We find the suggestions that work for us, that help us in our journey at that time. We are all on a personal quest and must find the habits and suggestions that speak to who we are and who we want to be.
Finally, I want to leave you with a last thought from Tosca – I asked her what she. was sure of in life – she said she is sure that God is good, she is sure that people, at their heart are good.
This makes me reflect on Albert Einstein’s quote “ The most important decision we make is whether we believe we live in a friendly or hostile universe.” This is the question that everyone must ask themselves. Inherently this can never be formally answered and when there is no proof, you are left with belief. What is important is what you believe, for what you believe will be the creation of your own universe. If you believe the world is an inherently good place, then you will see the good and you will feel as if you are living your life in a friendly universe. If you believe the world is not a good place, then you will only choose to notice the negative and you will feel as if you are living within a hostile universe.
Now, when you contemplate this question again, I want to remind you that belief is a choice. You get to decide if you live in a friendly or unfriendly world.
Where do you want to live?
What would you rather believe?
As Einstein also said – “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is.”
My wish is that we all move forward seeing our world as a friendly universe and noticing all of the beautiful miracles that surround us every day.
Until next time