Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Follow your dreams

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!


Genella deGrey April 14, 2009 at 9:42 AM  

Thank you for the wonderful, inspirational blog, Bonnie!

I'll come by and say hi at your signing!


Gerri Russell April 14, 2009 at 10:37 AM  

Thank you for the reminder, Bonnie, to live each day to its fullest.

Can't wait to get my own copy of The Lady and the Libertine at RT.

Patti Shenberger April 14, 2009 at 1:56 PM  

Bonnie, as someone who went through colon cancer and came out the other side relatively whole I heartily applaud your blog. Truer words were never spoken!! You never know when you will get the chance to experience life and make your dreams come true, so go for it! I feel so sorry for the family of the man who passed away. And I feel sorry for the woman who hit him. I can't imagine how she must feel. I'm so happy for you achieving your goals and would have loved to hear your talk at your local RWA chapter. Maybe some time you'll come to Michigan so we can hear it (GDRWA) Take care, again great blog. Patti

Cindy Holby April 15, 2009 at 3:48 PM  

Thanks for the words of inspiration Bonnie. We so often write in a vacumn so its nice to know other writers have the same ups and downs.

EmilyBryan April 17, 2009 at 6:15 AM  

I'm so sorry about the accidental death you are dealing with. A friend of mine was diagnosed with liver cancer 10 years ago. His doctor told him to "do everything you want to do this summer." I thought at the time, it was good advice for everyone. My friend enjoyed 5 more summers.

We are all terminal, whether we want to admit it or not. That's not being morbid. It's being real. And it makes each day very precious.

Give your DH a big hug for being a real life hero! How lovely to have such wonderful support for your dream, Bonnie. I always tell people there's a reason I write romance and I sleep with him every night.

Bonnie Vanak April 19, 2009 at 5:22 PM  

Look forward to meeting you Genella!

You're most welcome, Gerri.

Patti, I'm so glad you came out through your experience relatively whole. You're a real survivor with a lot of courage. I'd love to come visit your chapter some day!

Same here, Cindy!

Thanks Emily... he is a sweetheart.

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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