Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Sweet Scents of a Summer Walk

I got my flowers planted. That's for my daughter in case she checks in on the blog this week. She was here last weekend and we went to the greenhouse so I could pick out a belated mom's day present from her. She's quite the gardener and loves planting and making things beautiful. So we picked out this big patio pot and plants to put in it for my deck that's not built yet but soon will be. Then last Monday when she had to go home she was regretting that we hadn't gotten the pot planted. I know why. She thought I'd let those beautiful flowers die in their seedling pots. But I got it done. It was on my list of gotta do's yesterday, but then I had to go get some potting dirt and so the gotta do got pushed back until today. The flowers look great. I'd tell you what they are, but I'd have to go hunt up the little pot stickers to know the names. I just know they are very pretty and are supposed to thrive in the sun.

It was a busy day. My granddaughter, Jillian turns big three tomorrow and she had her party at the park today. It was a fantastic blue sky and lots of sunshine and fun day. She got clothes she was actually excited about, a fishing pole, and a bike. There were plenty of cousins there to help her celebrate and a dad to go down the slide with her. Her little sister slept through the festivities. She's almost seven weeks old and growing. All the way up to nine pounds now. And Jillian is still enjoying being the big sister.

When I came home I had to pick the strawberries, so it was after sundown before I got to take my walk. That's a good time to walk on the farm. Peaceful and fragrant. When I wrote my first Hollyhill book, The Scent of Lilacs, the sweet fragrance of lilacs and of locust blooms played a part in the story. But tonight the sweet fragrance wafting on the early evening air was honeysuckle. And fresh mown hay. It was great. Thank goodness I'm not allergic to pollen. Of course on my farm sometimes a not so pleasant fragrance can break through in the cow pasture. My sweet big old Saint Bernard neighbor dog, Roxie, loves to roll in the cow piles. Then of course she wants to come be petted after she's put on her perfume. She's a mess.

But scents can bring alive memories faster than almost anything. The smell of Wrigleys' Spearmint gum takes me right back to my dating days at the drive-in movies because Darrell used to love to chew gum when we were going out. Maybe to make sure his breath was fresh, you think? Jergens lotion makes me think of Mom because she always liked that kind of lotion best. Still does. Isn't it funny how such little things can trigger a memory? Sounds can do it too. And of course a song can take you back to a memory time in an instant. Writers use that kind of thing to make their characters come to life too.

I'm chugging away on my book. I'm hoping and praying I'll write the end next week. But it's going to be crazy around here. They're laying my new floor tomorrow. They painted Saturday. The guy put in the lights on Friday. It's coming along. Faster than my book, actually. But I'm hoping to be fast next week. A fast writer, that is. Good would be nice, but that's optional. Fast is necessary.

Hope you have a lot of things trigger all your best memories this week. I'm going to draw the winner for my book giveaway tomorrow. You've still got a little time to get in on the drawing if you send me an e-mail - fast. By sundown Monday. Sounds like a line out of an old Western - only that might be high noon. I'm giving away one of my last four books (winner's choice) and Virginia Smith's Age Before Beauty. Then starting next month I'll start a two a month give-away for my new book, The Believer. Stay tuned for details.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Kindergarten Smiles

Any of the rest of you on dinosaur dial-up internet? I live out in the boonies and so unless I want to go satellite, this is my only choice. But the dinosaur is moving slow tonight. He must be in deep water or maybe those tar pits they talk about on the movies. It's taken me fifteen minutes to even get to this screen to begin.

Maybe my biggest problem is that I'm feeling rushed for time right now with my book not finished and everything else needing to be done. Or at least a lot of everythings. My problem is now and has always been that I think I should be able to do it all. Write books, keep the house shoveled out and the laundry done, build new rooms, paint walls, pick strawberries and cherries, bake strawberry shortcakes and cherry pies, take care of the grandbabies and share in and enjoy all their special events, go hear Darrell's group sing, help my mom, do church stuff, take walks, play with the dogs, and blog. And that's just some of the things I don't want to give up doing. You notice I didn't mention sleep. I'm trying not to give that up, but the nights are getting shorter. And I'm getting sleepier. Plus, I've read that sleeping helps you lose weight, so the opposite is probably true. Not enough sleep helps put the pounds on. So does that mean more walking or less making strawberry shortcake?

I do finally have strawberries this year after three years of the deer eating the plants off to the ground in the fall and spoiling the next spring's crop. Strawberries right out of the patch, full of sunshine, can make a person practically float off the ground with their sweet goodness. Go pick you some if you get a chance and enjoy.

But I didn't really intend to go on and on about my totally out of control list of "gotta do's." What I wanted to talk about is kindergarten smiles. I went to my granddaughter's kindergarten graduation in WV last night. She was so proud and so cute. One of the teachers or maybe the principal said that there is no way you can look at a kindergarten kid and not smile. At least not when they're on their good behavior. These kids wore blue caps and gowns and got diplomas. They also each got a reward for doing something the best. Ashley got the kindest and friendliest award. Her dad was wondering if her little sister would have voted on that one, but it's great that she is considered such a sweetheart in her class. Other kids got awards for things like most energetic, sunshine attitude, best improved, most artistic, and then the math and phonics stuff too. But the teachers came up with a special and unique award for each kid. What a great pat on the back for those kids who left feeling appreciated and good about themselves! And all us moms and dads, grandmoms and pops, aunts and uncles left smiling. Because the principal was right. You couldn't look at those fifty kids in their caps and gowns marching in to receive their kindergarten diploma and not smile. And take pictures. The kids probably still have spots in front of their eyes from all the camera flashes.

Now back to work on the book. I know where I want to go. I just need a trail of words to take me there.

Hope you have lots of reasons to smile this week. By the way, last chance to get in on this month's book giveaway if you haven't already sent me an e-mail or commented here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Remembering Loved Ones

Hope all of you are having a great Memorial Day weekend as you dwell on happy memories of your loved ones who have passed on. Of course the day originated in the years after the Civil War to honor those soldiers who died during that war. Now we honor our soldiers who have given the supreme price for their country in all the wars since that time as well. And the day has expanded to include our loved ones whether they served as soldiers or not. It's time to decorate their graves if you can and remember good things about them and why you loved them. Sometimes I think it's more important to share stories about our loved ones, our grandmoms and pops, and moms and dads, with our younger generation so that we can all know about our roots and what has been important to our family.

A lot of the people in my family - grandparents and others - liked books. That passed on to me for sure. When I was a kid, books were my friends. And they still are. I was at a book event on Saturday. It was a reading celebration for the Estill County schools and there were so many kids there. It was great! One young girl and her mother stopped by my table. The girl was looking at my book, The Outsider, and her mom turned to me and asked, "Have you read this book?" Well, I guess. Only about two dozen times. When she realized I was the author we both had a good laugh and she did decide to let the girl take the book home with her. I'm hoping she won't be disappointed with the story.

I always hope that and worry about that. I want readers to be glad they picked up my books. Anyway we had a good time in Estill County. It was like being at a giant fall festival only all the games and activities centered around books. That's my kind of festival.

I've had company the last couple of days. Four of the grandkids were here, but of course baby Raegan at five weeks old is too little to make much noise yet. The other kids had fun in the big empty almost built room. It echoes nicely and that made them a little noisy but happy. My grandson, Austin, caught two salamanders and a tadpole out of the pond, so that made him happy. My granddaughters got to play with their Uncle Gary and the dogs so that made them happy. My daughter is as beautiful as ever and she got to eat fresh strawberries straight out of the patch. That made her happy. I cooked and cooked, but at least the fridge is full of leftovers. That will make Darrell happy. And me too, if I can skip a couple of days cooking stuff. I got to see my family, play with my grandkids and hold the new little one. That made me happy. And blessed. It's fun taking time to count some everyday blessings of life.

Hope you are being blessed on every side this weekend and through the week ahead. Enjoy!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Blessings of Walls

Hey everybody, we've got walls!! No more airy rafters. Plus the heat and cool is operable so we're fixed. Well, actually I'll be complaining about it being too cold (air conditioned cold) and Darrell will be complaining about it being too hot (not air conditioned cold enough) in short order. Isn't it that way in every house?

But walls are nice. And a blessing. Maybe one of those everyday blessings, but definitely a blessing. Of course it might be nice if the vent covers were here. I was ordered to absolutely not cover up the intake air vent, but the cover was on back order and I wouldn't step in that hole, would I? No, of course not, I promised with great confidence about ten minutes before I did just that. Now I have a table sitting over it. I'll run into the table for sure, but maybe my foot won't land in the duct work. Graceful was never my middle name. I never could do a cartwheel although as a little girl I dreamed of being a graceful dancer. But even when I was doing the dreaming, I knew it would never happen. Perhaps if I had wanted it badly enough I could have practiced and practiced and learned a few graceful dance moves. Perhaps. But I didn't want to dance that badly. I wanted to write and so worked more on graceful word arrangements. I'm still practicing on that.

When I was signing in tonight the blogger opening page had as its blog of note Words Not Written Yet. Boy, have I got some of those. I did make a good run on my new book this week and got past a couple of sticky spots. And this was in spite of those nice heat and air guys sawing holes in my office floor and banging around in the crawl space under my feet. Maybe this is all good practice for my concentration. I only had to resort to deserting my office and going to the lap top once. Of course a lot of writers only use a lap top, but the differences in the keyboards and the little square mouse give me pause.

Besides I like writing at my desk where I can look out the window at the birds and have an excuse to get up and go fill the birdfeeders instead of buckling down to work. I mean I have to do that. The birds might be hungry and go away and never come back. Then I have to pat Oscar and Dub and throw the ball for Oscar a few times and pick the strawberries and go for a walk and you should see the dust.

I actually dusted some last weekend and then the plasterers came today and gifted me with another layer of fine white powder on everything. I'll have to buy Pledge in the economy size. But eventually I usually get down to work and I've got one more week to meet my own personal deadline for the first draft. I'm not going to meet it, but I'm hoping not to be many days off. The publishers and me have decided on the new title. The Seeker. What do you think? A lot of sci-fi books have a similar title, but this is a Shaker book and the seeker is an artist seeking pictures and answers. But first comes The Believer, not so far away now. August will be here before you know it. And I'm hoping to have a couple of book launches. I'll let those of you nearby know the plans when I get them figured out.

Company's coming this weekend. My daughter and her husband and maybe my son and his family, too. I've told them not to expect much, that my house is an absolute wreck, but the best part of that is there's no way I can really clean it up yet so I might as well not even try. Another of those little blessings - right there along with walls.

Hope you have plenty of everyday blessings in your life this week. If you're reading my ramblings, you're a blessing to me. Send me a message or a comment (with contact info) if you want to be in my book giveaway drawing. I'm drawing the name the end of next week.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sleeping in a Barn - Almost

Well, it's not as big as barn, but it is pretty airy. My in-the-process-of-being-remodeled house, that is. I've got holes in the wall, remember. Big holes. And a new basement garage door that isn't hooked up to the electricity and won't stay down without a plank holding it there. And a new heat pump that is saving me big bucks on electricity because the duct work is in various stages of completion so it's not hooked up. My new front door lacks a window glass and my old front door has a three inch crack at the bottom. Like I said, airy. Like a barn.

Up till last night, the Kentucky weather had been cooperating with nice warm days and nights that didn't get all that cool. Things were fine. I could put up with the occasional gallinipper or big old fly that made it into the house. The dust from sawing out the plaster wall openings was thick enough to write a sonnet in, but at least it covered the dust already there. I did finally find my tea this morning in the boxes of stuff that I had to empty out of the cabinets, so I was good.

Good but chilly. And tonight is supposed to get even cooler. The weathermen are saying a possibility of scattered frost in places. Now frost outside is bad enough this time of the year, but frost on my hair sticking out of the covers is a whole different matter. Guess I'd better pull out the extra blankets.

Actually when I was a kid, I slept in a bedroom that received only a whiff of heat from time to time from the woodstove downstairs. I burrowed down in the featherbed and slept like a log. Woke up quick in the morning too when I had to put my feet out on that cold floor to get ready for school. You notice I didn't say bare feet. I had enough sense to wear socks to bed! But I guess I've gotten spoiled since then. Now my feet hit the nice warm carpet and the house is warm. At least it used to be before we decided to knock holes in our walls.

The new room is going to be great though. I'm enjoying it already and it's just walls and windows and roof. With lots of fresh air holes.

It was quiet here this weekend. Darrell was off singing up in Ohio somewhere. Nobody here but me and my computer. I'd hoped to really make a run on the new book, but naturally I hit a stubborn spot and the words came slowly. I did get past that spot, but there'll be more. I've got to get a year to pass in a couple of chapters. How about I say, And then it was fall. It snowed in the winter and warmed up in the spring and the Shakers enjoyed every season. Somehow I don't think that's going to work. But I've got to get something to work and soon.

I can see the end. I just haven't figured out how I'm going to get there without writing too many words. Sometimes I get too wordy. I'm sure none of you are surprised by that after you've read these blog entries. Hope you'll stick with me.

Oh yeah, and don't forget to post a comment or send an e-mail if you want to be in my book giveaway contest. I'll be drawing for a winner in a couple of weeks. I'm giving away an autographed copy of Virginia Smith's newest Sister to Sister book, Age before Beauty and a copy of my book, Summer of Joy. Then in June I'll start some giveaways for my new Shaker book, The Believer, due out in August. I had great news about it last week. It's going to get a spot in Wal-Mart's New Releases section. Who knows? My Wal-Mart here in town might even carry a copy. I've been told they've had it at times, but I've never seen it there. Maybe I don't shop at Wal-Mart enough. Truth is, I'd rather shop for books at a bookstore. Corinth Christian Bookstore in Frankfort has been kind to carry my books and let me do book launches in their store. We're hoping to do something special for the new book, The Believer. If we get it organized, I'll let you know what and when so that if you live close enough you can come be part of the fun.

Can you believe it? My mouse just quit working on this computer. Somedays are just like this, I guess. I'm hoping it'll wake up so I can get this posted. How do you wake up a mouse? Maybe you wave cheese under his nose. I'll bet you can come up with better lines than that, but I don't think cheese or anything else is going to work with this mouse.

P.S. I pounded on it and pleaded with it, but it wouldn't wake up. Just had to go find a new mouse.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Writing in the Midst of Chaos

How many of you have done remodeling in your houses while you're trying to live there? And work there? Believe me it's not the easiest thing to do. We're building on a room to accomodate our growing family. We tell people we're building a big room for one day a year when we celebrate Christmas with the kids. With nine grandkids and a grand dog and the mommies and daddies, things were beginning to get over full in our little house. You see we moved into this house when our kids were young. It was a starter house, but we built it on our farm and we've never wanted to move anywhere else. I think I've told you before that my roots go all the way to China and I'm attached to the place. The girl in my current book has something of the same problem. She's attached to her place, too, but things are making it hard for her. Me, I'm doing fine here and not anticipating any reasons to need to loosen my roots.

So the house was small but big enough for us when we moved in over thirty years ago. It had conveniences I'd never had and so we were very happy with the house. Then about twenty years ago, we added a second bathroom (a definite improvement) and an office for me. Before that I wrote at a desk in the kitchen. But having my own office with doors that closed was a fantastic blessing. Still is. My room has four big windows where I can look out on the fields and yard. But you know, when I get into my story, I don't see the trees and grass outside. I'm looking inward and it's only when I get stalled that I see the outdoors that's actually in front of my eyes.

So I love my office and it's a great place to work. But it has been wild around here this week with all the home improvements going on. Monday we had a convention of pickup trucks. I think there must have been ten in the driveway as plumbers, carpenters, electricians, heat & air workers all showed up to work. The contractor was knocking brick off the wall to get ready to cut holes in the side of the house. Trust me, that's not quiet work. Right outside my office window in the place of my usually peaceful view of trees and birds at feeders three men were putting in a new heat pump. I closed the blinds. That helped a little. Then they were moving around in the crawl space under my feet and talking about cutting new vent holes in my floor. Not exactly the most ideal atmosphere for writing on my book. But the deadline looms so I can't stop. I considered taking my laptop and going out to try writing in the car. I talked to a writer who says that's how she likes to write. But I think she was on the way places when she was doing that. With a driver, of course.

But I kept on keeping on and actually got some words out of my head and onto the page. I read a "how I do it" article once by a sci-fi writer. I can't remember which writer for sure, but he's written many, many books. Anyway, he said he could write with a crying child on his lap and that he had done that. I can't write with a crying child on my lap. I know that. I wouldn't even try. I'd be trying to get the baby to stop crying. But I have found out this week that I can write with some heat and air guys yelling back and forth at one another while they crawl around under my floor while saws are cutting through concrete and bricks are falling off the walls and hammers are hammering. That's something. And I'm going to do it again tomorrow. At least I'm going to give it my best shot.

If any of you have done remodeling, hope all the hammering is done now and you're enjoying your new and improved spaces. I'm sure I'm going to enjoy mine. Someday.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers out there and to all of you who had a mama. I'll wager that gets you all. Except maybe for Wes in my Hollyhill books. Remember he always claimed to be from Jupiter and Jupiterians probably come from magic beans that old Mr. Jupiter throws on the ground and out pops a Jupiterian, each in various states of maturity. That's so things won't get boring. At least that would be how Wes would explain it to Jocie in Hollyhill. He liked coming up with crazy Jupiterian scenarios.

Back to earth, I hope you had a good mama who loved you without boundaries. Who loved you so much she made you act right and wash behind your ears and pick up your stuff and weed the garden or mow the lawn. I'm sure you can think of at least one thing you hated to do but that your mama made you do anyway and now you can see it was because she loved you and wanted you to grow up to be a responsible, strong adult able to do the things you should. That's why we have mamas. (And Daddies too, of course, but their day is in June.)

And it's not always that easy to be one of those mamas. In the bulletin today I used something I'd once gotten in one of those internet pass-along messages. This one was supposed to be what second graders answered to questions about why God made Moms. One of the questions was "What are Mamas made of?" The second grader answered, "Clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean." There are times that moms need that one dab of mean. At least in so far as proper discipline goes. So I hope you had a mom with the right balance of all the things that make a great mom and I hope you are managing the same balancing act if you're a mom now. One thing sure, a mom never retires from loving her children. And then if you're truly blessed, the grandkids come along and your love keeps growing and spreading.

You know, you might run out of energy. I do that plenty. But it seems the more you dip into your well of love, the deeper it gets. Sort of like that story in the Old Testament where the widow had no money to pay her creditors and they were going to take her children as slaves in payment of the debt. When Elisha asked her what she had, she told him all she had was one small bottle of oil. The prophet told her to collect pots and pitchers and every type of container she could find or borrow from her neighbors and go inside her house, shut the doors and windows and pour the oil from her bottle into those containers. The oil kept pouring and filled every pot she had and didn't stop pouring out until there were no more containers to fill. Then the oil stopped pouring. When she went back to the prophet to tell him what had happened, he told her to sell the oil and pay her debts. The woman was rewarded in direct proportion to how many containers she gathered in faith. I've never heard a preacher use that Bible story for a Mother's Day sermon, but I think it would be a good one. A mother's love combined with faith and trust in the Lord's providence can be powerful.

My sisters and I went to eat lunch with my mom who is eighty-nine. She wasn't feeling real great today, but she went outside with us and sat in the sun while we planted all the flowers we bought her for Mother's Day. She likes flowers and birds and crossword puzzles. She used to travel a lot. Went all over - to England and Scotland and Hawaii and Alaska and Austria, to name a few destinations. If there was group organizing a trip, she was ready to jump on board. She can't travel now. She gets too tired. She's winding down and knows it. But at the same time she still takes joy in the beautiful things in life and in us, her daughters, and her grandchildren and great grandchildren. I've written a book with the setting and a few characters based loosely on stories she's told me about growing up in the thirties. Revell has it and will be publishing it after the Shaker books are published, probably in a couple of years. I'm hoping readers will like the story when they get a chance to read it. Before that though there will be a few more Shaker books beginning with The Believer in around three months now. And when I get my books, I'll take Mom a copy and she'll put it with my other books in a prominent place in her living room. One thing about most moms, they don't mind bragging about their kids.

So if you're a mom, go ahead and brag about your kids. It's your day and you've got a right to be proud. And don't forget to enjoy your mom if you're lucky enough to still have her with you. If she's gone on to be with the Lord, remember some of the best times and the everyday times and the "I know I was loved" times and savor those memories.

"God could not be everywhere, and therefore he made mothers."-- Jewish proverb

"Grown don't mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown. In my heart it don't mean a thing." -- Toni Morrison

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

April Showers in May

We had a day of April showers here in Kentucky today except it's not April. Guess these are May rains. The raindrops are knocking all the petals off the locust tree blooms. The road was white under the trees when I drove home from church a while ago. But when I took a walk earlier this afternoon I could still smell the blossoms all the way across the field. They have the sweetest scent. For those of you who have read my first Hollyhill book, The Scent of Lilacs, you'll know I used the locust bloom scent in it too. That was what David thought was the sweetest scent and what he smelled when he received the call to preach while he was down in the submarine during the war. If you haven't read the book, you're going to think that sounds a little crazy.

I waver between locust blooms and lilacs as to which scent I like best, but I know about locust trees. When I was growing up, our yard was full of them. In the olden days that's what people planted around their houses - maybe because of their sweet smelling blooms and maybe because they grew fast. Now I doubt anybody would even consider planting a locust tree in their yard. And there were some definite disadvantages in locusts as yard trees for a girl like me who went barefoot all summer. Locust branches have thorns and these little twig branches fall off the tree and when you're running through the yard, those thorns can stick into even the toughest feet. Another disadvantage is that a lot of people believe locust trees draw lightning. Now I don't know if a tree can really "draw" lightning. I do know that the trees in that yard did suffer several lightning strikes. Another thing about locust trees is that the wood makes a nice warm fire in the winter. In the last few years some kind of bug has been working on the locust trees around here (all out in the field), so some of them are struggling. But they had a heavy bloom this spring that filled the air with their sweet fragrance.

But back to the rainy day. It was a good day for ducks. Now there's a cliche for you, and cliches are a definite no-no for writers. But sometimes a familiar cliche can be sort of comforting. Everybody knows exactly what you mean because you're talking a common language. My only problem is that I get the cliches mixed up sometimes and say the wrong thing like fast as a fox. No, that's not it. It's sly as a fox. Isn't it? How about brown as a berry? Is that right? What berry is brown? Then there's cute as a button. I'll bet kids wonder about that one. Most buttons are pretty plain these days.

Of course there's always stubborn as a mule. I haven't gotten that one mixed up. I've heard that plenty in my day because I've had people accuse me of that sort of mulish behavior. But I read that mules aren't really stubborn. They just need motivation. Same with writers and their stories. Sometimes the story can be stubborn, but maybe it's because we, the writers, forgot to give our characters the proper motivation.

Hope you're motivated to have a great month. Enjoy those showers and the flowers that will be sure to follow.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

You Don't Sell a Dream

Yesterday was Derby Day, and here in Kentucky that's almost like a national holiday. I've heard it said that every Kentuckian should attend at least one Derby, but I know a lot of us that haven't and probably never will except via television. They do some great coverage on t.v. which is fine by me. I can't imagine being out in the crazy infield (too old) or in the clubhouse (too poor). And if truth be known, now too lazy to fight crowds, etc. for a look at a horse race I can see much better on t.v. That is really a sign you're getting old, isn't it? Oh well. Sigh. Sometimes the truth reaches out and smacks us right in the face.

Anyway I usually watch the Derby if I can and I always pick my favorite. Good thing I'm not a bettor because I hardly ever pick a winner. Yesterday I was pulling for one of the sentimental favorites, General Quarters, owned and trained by Tom McCarthy, a retired school principal. General Quarters won the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, so the horse and owner got a lot of ink in the local papers. McCarthy has always wanted to be involved in horse racing, but life got in the way and he decided he'd best find a way to make a living for his family. So he became a teacher. But when he retired, he went out and got himself a horse. One of the stories I heard yesterday on the Derby coverage was that somebody had offered to buy General Quarters at a price that no doubt would have given McCarthy a good profit, but he told the prospective buyer, "You don't sell a dream."

And you don't. Or you shouldn't. You shouldn't ever sell a dream. You shouldn't abandon it along the road of life. You shouldn't bury it forever under reasons the dream could never be possible. You should cherish your dream and live it if you can. You don't sell a dream.

I can understand where McCarthy was coming from. From the age of ten, I have wanted to write. I wanted to write stories people wanted to read. I had that dream. I still have that dream. And I know a lot of other people have the same dream. There are many aspiring writers out there. Some will hold onto their dream and persevere until that dream becomes a reality. Others will be beat down by rejections and the often soul draining process of writing and will not.

I held onto my dream. I often tell people my best attribute as a writer is perseverance. I don't give up easily and I never gave up on my dream of being published. The dream began to look possible when I saw my first piece in a magazine in 1971. Then when I held my first novel in my hand in 1978, the dream seemed a reality at last. But you know that didn't make the dream of writing a good story and seeing it out there for readers go away. I think it just made the want to stronger. I wanted (yearned) to hold more newly published books in my hand. I once went almost ten years without that happening, but I didn't "sell" the dream. I didn't totally give up and get a job. I did get a part time job that made the writing harder but the bills easier to pay. Still, I didn't abandon my dream. I'd work a while, then quit and write a while. Even when the stories weren't selling. I couldn't give up the dream. Writing is part of me and I'm living my dream now with a book or two in the stores and a couple waiting in the wings. The Believer will be released August 1, 2009. Not so long from now.

Meanwhile back here on the farm, I'm ready to dream up a new story. A better story. One even more readers will want to read. So the dream lives on.

I hope if you have a dream that you will find a way to live that dream. If it's to write, you might be interested in going to and reading an interview with agent, Donald Maas, who has written several respected books on how to write a better book. I haven't read any of them, but those who have say they are very helpful. Novel Journey did an interview with me in February 2008 if you want to go back and poke through their archives.

So keep dreaming. And while you're at it, think about all the things that might never have happened if somebody hadn't had a dream. The Wright Brothers dreamed of a machine that could fly. Michelangelo dreamed of painting the ceiling of Sistine Chapel. Martin Luther King, Jr. had a dream of equality. John F. Kennedy spoke our nation's dream of landing a man on the moon. And Tom McCarthy had a dream of owning a horse that went to the Kentucky Derby. His horse may not have worn the blanket of roses, but Tom McCarthy still ended the day a winner. He is living his dream.