Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The importance of chasing dreams

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.


C.L. Wilson September 29, 2009 at 9:17 AM  


What an incredible post, hauntingly poignant and utterly true. Thank you so much for reminding me how precious is each day, each moment of love, and each second spent in pursuit of what makes our lives fulfilled.

Your husband definitely sounds like a keeper.


Allison Chase September 29, 2009 at 9:49 AM  

While I love being an author and hope to continue being one for a long time to come, my fondest dream is to grow very old with my husband and explore as much of the world as we can together. Your post reminds us that it isn't what you have but who you have that makes life special. Thank you, Bonnie!

Terri September 29, 2009 at 10:07 AM  

I've been chasing dreams for years. Sometimes you get results you don't expect which while don't fit the original picture are just as good or better. We wanted a huge family. After two premies and three miscarriages, the doctor told us to forget it. We ended up having two more children and one more miscarriage before giving up. Then, we ended up with guardianship of our godson bringing our child count to 5. Currently we have 12 grandchildren and two children haven't started. I guess we did end up with our huge family!

Now, we're counting down to retirement to see the world or at least, more of it. I think my husband and I are living our dreams for this point of our life.

Dreams are special and sometimes you need a reminder. Thanks for reminding us to go after them and cherish those that we love along the journey.


EmilyBryan September 29, 2009 at 6:30 PM  

Bonnie, now I know why you're such an incredible woman. You've been tried by fire and come out pure gold.

I'll look for your latest on the bookstore shelves.

Razlover's Book Blog September 29, 2009 at 7:14 PM  

Hi Bonnie,

What a wonder post and I'm glad you never gave up your hopes and dreams!

One of my dreams is to go visit Egypt to check out the tombs in the Valley of the Kings and Queens.

etirv September 30, 2009 at 12:58 AM  

It's simple and boring. I dream of a comfortable, healthy retirement! I hope for normalcy!


Virginia September 30, 2009 at 11:06 AM  

One of mine dreams is to go to Scotland but I don't think that going to happen so I guess a comfortable life for the what's left of mine will work for me now!

Linda Henderson September 30, 2009 at 9:09 PM  

I dream of having a beautiful garden with all kinds of herbs and flowers.

RachieG September 30, 2009 at 9:29 PM  

Please don't count me in on the giveaway, I already have the book. :) BUT I did want to say what a sweet and wonderful post you wrote. I'm sure your mother was proud of you! You have accomplished so much and are an amazing writer.

I have a simple dream...I would like to see England. Castles, knights...the whole shebang!

orannia October 1, 2009 at 2:44 PM  

Thank you Bonnie. I came here via CL's blog and...that was a beautiful, poignant post...

*wipes away tears*

Someone commented once that life isn't fair...and it's not...but you're right, you have to keep hoping and keep dreaming for something better. Thank you :)

Mary Ricksen October 1, 2009 at 3:32 PM  

I used to look at playboy magazine and read a very old book called Fanny Hill, apparently the very first book of it's kind with so much sex in it.
Strange that so many couples die so close to one another. They can't live without each other. I think my mom wants to follow my dad, she says he sleeps with her every nite. If it gives her comfort.
You remind me that we have to appreciate life much more than we do. I went through the pregnancy stuff, no one can imagine how horrid it is unless you've done it. It just wasn't meant to be for us. My DH woulda been a fun dad too.
But you have left your legacy in words. Life is not fair, but it is what it is.

Cindy Holby

Gerri Russell

Joy Nash

Bonnie Vanak

Emily Bryan

C.L. Wilson

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