I remember the day when I first learned what a manhood was.
I fell in love with romance novels when I was ten. My mother would let me read the sedate ones, like Dorothy Eden’s classic gothics or Phyllis Whitney’s books. But when publishers began churning out huge, sexy historicals with titles like The Flame and the Flower, Mom hid them in the closet. I ferreted them out. Fascinated by The Flame and the Flower, I read others. I expanded my vocabulary, learning new words that would never win spelling bees, such as ""ravish" and "throbbing hardness."
I dreamed of becoming an author. My first poem, written in third grade, seemed like a good start. I had big dreams, dreams as wispy as morning fog burning off the lake where we once swam. Dreams worthy of a good chase.
Dreams are important. We need dreams to cling to, to keep us hoping and working and longing and envisioning possibilities. Sometimes the dreams sputter and stall out. Sometimes they die. But you can always replace them with new ones.
When I remarried for the second time, we were blissfully happy on our honeymoon. I dreamed of having a family at last, and spending an old-fashioned Christmas with my parents.
One week after returning home from our honeymoon, my husband and I received a call that my mother was hospitalized. The diagnosis was colon cancer. It didn’t look like she’d make it to Christmas.
That dream was dying, along with my mother.
Dad wanted hospice, but I couldn''t accept that the woman who was my best friend was dying. As I nursed her, books she loved reading lay gathering dust. One night, to escape the never-ending whir and click of the oxygen machine, I picked up Barbara Delinsky''s For My Daughters.
As I read about a dying woman and her daughters, my heart admitted what my mind knew. The next day, Dad called hospice. Mom admitted to the social worker that she knew she would die of cancer. Not wanting to spoil my wedding, she kept her pain and her knowledge silent, living for the day when her shining eyes proudly watched me walk down the aisle.
That was her dream, and she’d held on to see it come true.
She died a few days before Christmas. Dad died six weeks later from sudden heart failure. My husband and I started trying for a family. During this time, I began writing romance novels to pursue my childhood dream of becoming an author. Each rejection slip delivered frustration, which my husband beat back with encouraging words. "Keep writing," he’d say. "You can do it. Your mom would want this for you."
Gradually, after years of painful, agonizing fertility treatments, a boatload of money spent and three miscarriages, I came to realize the dream of trying to have children was dying.
I cried a boatload of tears, packed away the infant clothes, tossed out the catalogs with baby furniture, and let the dream go. I kept writing. I had a dream of being an author, and this dream was going to come true.
A few years later, I stopped writing what everyone said the market wanted. I wrote a historical set in Egypt. I felt certain no publisher would touch it. But it was my book of the heart—a book for my mother. I wrote The Falcon & the Dove in two months, the story of a sheikh and a spirited archaeologist destined for each other through time.
More rejections followed and I was ready to quit. Then one day, my husband handed me a small box. Inside was a tiny gold starfish pendant. "This is your magic wishing star," he told me. "You keep it next to your heart where you keep all your dreams alive. And every time you want to give up, just hold your star and keep those dreams alive."
Two months after that precious gift of hope, I received news. Falcon had won first place in a romance contest and the judge, an editor at Leisure, wanted to see the whole book. I sent it off.
Weeks later, I finally got the call. Leisure wanted to publish The Falcon and the Dove.
I dedicated my first book to my mom and dad, who taught me to dream, and to Frank, my husband, who kept those dreams alive.
This week, my 11th book, Immortal Wolf, is released from Silhouette Nocturne. It’s always a happy time when book release day comes. When I walk into a bookstore and see my name on the shelves, I feel a quiet sense of pride, accomplishment and wonder. I chased a dream that seemed impossible, and it came true.
In Immortal Wolf, Raphael, the sexy, leather-clad biker immortal werewolf, is assigned to end the life of a female werewolf. Everyone she touches dies. And yet, from the moment she lays eyes on the powerful rebel, he awakens all the longings she's kept bottled inside and gives her hope. Raphael knows something enormous is at stake. Not only does Emily’s blood can restore life—but she is his destined mate. Somehow Raphael must convince her to put her life in his hands. Only then will an ancient prophecy be fulfilled and a terrible evil destroyed.
Immortal Wolf is a dark book with light moments, because I always put a little humor in my books. The message is one of hope and trust. If any one of my characters is in desperate need of dreams, it’s Emily, who has lived a life of isolation and loneliness. Raphael helps her dream come true.
Chasing dreams is important in life. As I write this, another friend has cancer. Two other friends each have a parent who was just diagnosed with cancer. This year, I’ve been to one funeral for a friend’s brother who died from liver cancer. If I’ve learned anything, it’s that life is precious, time is short and you should never put off your hopes and dreams until tomorrow, because sometimes today is all you have.
If you’ve had a longtime dream and kept saying, “Some day I’m going to…” then start today. Write down your goal and keep it where you can see it daily and affirm it.
Whether it’s finding that special someone, having a family or being an author, dreams make life worthwhile. You’ll sweat and struggle and work hard and sometimes curse or cry or just want to give up, but this is life. It’s your life, go live it and live it to the best of your ability.
Go chase your dream. You never know if you’ll catch it until you try.
I'll give away a copy of my other release, Midnight Cravings, to one lucky commenter. Midnight Cravings is the parnormal anthology I'm in with Michele Hauf, Karen Whiddon, Vivi Anna, Lori Devoti and Anna Leonard. Just leave a comment to enter, and tell me about YOUR dreams and hopes.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
I remember the day when I first learned what a manhood was.