I have a birthday coming up soon, and that always makes me a little more introspective. This year, however, seems like I'm even more so.
Last Saturday, I gave a presentation to my RWA chapter on revisions and rejections. I tried to encourage fellow chapter members who haven't been published yet to follow their dreams of publication, and gave them advice on revising a manuscript to achieve those dreams.
Later in the day, after I was home, a man riding in a motorized scooter was hit and killed in front of our neighborhood's entrance. He was crossing as an elderly lady was turning. Obviously, it was a freak accident. A very bad, upsetting one. His fishing pole was lying in the middle of the road. He was going to the lake by our house.
I didn't know the man's name, but I remember him well. He always rode down the sidewalk to the lake by our house. Smiled and waved at everyone.
I wondered if that man knew that Saturday was his last day, what would he have done? Maybe going fishing was all he wanted, a quiet, peaceful lake, sunshine, and solitude.
Today I was listening to Nickelback's new Dark Horse CD and the song, "If Today was your last day." Great music, but it is the lyrics that made me think. Basically, the song asserts to follow your dreams because it's never too late and to not let anything stand in your way.
Such good advice.
This month was the release of my last Egyptian historical, The Lady and the Libertine. When my first Egyptian historical was published, I never imagined I'd have 7 books published about the subject I love so much.
It was a dream just to have my first book published.
A dream that nearly became derailed. I started writing in 1997, for a variety of reasons. Entered contests, got some criticism, sent off queries and manuscripts and gathered rejections.
Then for a year, I quit writing.
I started again when I finaled in a contest, which gave me the confidence to start over. And then I realized what I really wanted. I wanted to see my dream of being published come true, but I also wanted to write a book that I wanted to read. A book I could have fun with.
That summer of 2001, I wrote The Falcon and the Dove. I entered a few pages in a contest and got discouraging results.
I wanted to quit. The dream seemed like it would die. Then my husband came home one day with what he called my "magic wishing star."
He'd heard a motivational speaker at work talk about such a star. A little girl was given a wishing star by her father, a charm to hang on necklace next to her heart to keep her hopes and dreams alive. My husband gave me a small wrapped box. Inside was a small starfish charm. He couldn't find a star, and bought the starfish instead.
He told me, "This is for you to put on your necklace next to your heart to keep your hopes and dream of being published alive. And whenever you feel like quitting, just touch your star and remember how much I love you and how much I believe in you and your dream."
A few months later, my editor from Dorchester called with an offer to buy The Falcon and the Dove.
My dream of becoming published came true...with a great deal of work, and a lot of support from someone who cared. Being an author has had its ups and downs, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. Because I had that dream in my heart, and seeing a dream come true is an experience I wish for everyone to have.
My advice to everyone is to hold a dream in your heart, be it little or grand. Whether it's publishing a book, visiting a country you've always wanted to visit, singing in front of a crowd, running in a marathon, whatever, follow your dream. It may take a lot of hard work, some frustrations and disappointments along the way, but in the end, you'll know you did your best to see your dream come true.
If you need inspiration, watch the movie Rudy. It's about a young man who had a dream of playing football for Notre Dame. I love this movie because it shows that determination, hard work and sheer guts can overcome the odds, including naysayers who declare it can't be done,
And speaking of being published, next Friday and Saturday, April 24, 25, I'll be at RT in Orlando. I'll be signing copies of The Lady and the Libertine, and hanging out with friends. It's a low pressure RT for me, just chilling. No workshops or networking, just hanging out. Jimmy Gaskin, who portrayed Thomas, the hero of The Scorpion and the Seducer in last year's Mr. Romance competition, will be portraying Nigel, the hero of The Lady and the Libertine in this year's Mr. Romance competition.
I thought that was kinda cool, seeing as Thomas and Nigel are twins!
So if you're at RT next weekend, stop by and say hello, whether you see me at the bar, in the lobby or the booksigning. I'll be the one in the crazy flamingo shirt. It is Florida, after all!