Bucket-O-Dreams

I recently read an article where someone implied we should get rid of the term “Bucket List”. Apparently it’s overused and no longer trendy.

I don’t get that. How can a list of goals and dreams to achieve before you die go out of style? Who decides this stuff?

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Not only do I have a list but I had to break mine down into categories…and I’m proud of that!

I have places I want to visit. Beautiful, peaceful, exciting, breathtaking and exotic locations that I’ve only dreamt about.

I want to sleep in a bungalow on the water in Bora Bora, and roll the dice in Las Vegas – to be honest, I would have loved to elope in Vegas but I’m about eight years too late on that one! A pub crawl in Dublin, Ireland, visit castles in Scotland. Can’t forget to hike up avolcano in Hawaii (this is seriously the only reason I’d attempt hiking of any kind). What about seeing Alaska’s Northern Lights, or eating a croissant and a macaroon at Pierre Herme Patisserie (Bakery) in Paris, and theGreat Barrier Reef in Australia and although I’m not exciting enough to do these two justice, maybe one day Carnival in Rio de Janeiro and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

I want to experience silly and fun things with my kids. The first is a biggie for me. One day, when they’re old enough to remember it, I’m going to take them toWalt Disney World. Sure, I’ll tell them it’s all for them, but I’m pretty sure my husband and I will find a way to enjoy ourselves too because we’ve never been either. But I want to do other things that I think will hold just as much magic. I want to catch fireflies with them. I want to bring them horseback riding.

I’d love to take a dip in a natural hot spring with my husband, drive through a redwood (you can actually do this!) and ride a streetcar in San Francisco.

I want to try street food trucks all over the USA. Pulled pork and tacos and desserts, the list is endless. Some goals are not as fancy but still fun! I’ve never eaten at Carl’s Junior, Jack in the Box, White Castle or In-and-Out!

Finish compiling my notebook with all of my favorite family’s recipes (photos included) and then share them with the rest of our family so we don’t lose all the wonderful and special traditions they brought back from Italy.

Lastly, if I work hard enough, I hope to be a published author one day. This one is just as farfetched as the rest, but no less impossible. I think all dreams start off on equal footing. It’s our job to find a way to make them happen. It all depends how bad you want them to come true.

I’d love for you to add to my list. You can never have too many dreams.

Bucket-O-Dreams.

RWA Conference – Day 3

Claudia had access to the hotel Concierge Lounge so on Friday morning I was lucky enough to get to eat a really nice breakfast there. We were enjoying
our meal with author Silver James when this adorable woman popped in and sat with us. She dropped her purse on the chair across from me, said hello to Silver and ran off to get herself a coffee. I guess Silver saw the way I looked at the new girl (the I know you from somewhere look) and she helped me out. I was about to have breakfast at the same table as Sarah Wendell from the romance novel review website http://www.smartbitchestrashybooks.com. So fun!

Sarah Wendell

After breakfast there was a “Spotlight on Harlequin”. We wanted to go but chose a workshop instead, figuring that we could get the spotlight a a recording later. I loved every workshop we chose today.

9:45am The Choreography of Action with Cherry Adair. Cherry is an outstanding public speaker. She’s engaging and enthusiastic and so funny. I highly recommend any of her workshop recordings. I have them all!

Harlequin SigningAvon Signing

9:45am-11am Avon and Harlequin Book Signings. We managed to make it right after Cherry’s workshop. This was so great.

I for one had no idea what this really entailed. They were spread out over the course of two days and surprise, surprise, every publishing house attending hosts a book signing where their authors autograph FREE copies of their latest work. Some authors had up to three books with them (a series for example or two representing the different styles they wrote).

I don’t think I need to tell you how incredible this opportunity is. It’s insane, and although I loved meeting every author (some for a second time), the best moment was when Victoria Dahl gave me an autographed copy of the first book in her yet to be released (September 2012) new series, Close Enough to Touch. I might have blacked out a little at the table. Not sure. Plus a lot of them brought along promotional items. At the Avon signing, Tessa Dare had the cutest buttons and at the Harlequin signing, Victoria Dahl had coasters promoting her Donavan family series (the own and run a brewery!)

11-12pm Building Characters Who Breath with Jodi Thomas while Claudia whent to Grab Them! How to Seduce an Agent or Editor to Read Beyond the First Five Pages with Jennifer Miller. She enjoyed her workshop as well.

Lunch Awards12:00pm Awards Luncheon Featuring Guest Speaker “Robyn Carr”. Lunch was great and I enjoyed listening to Robyn Carr’s speech. I have to admit though, I would have enjoyed it a lot more if I weren’t sweating and terrified at the time. All I could think about was my upcoming appointment with Gail Chasan, Editor for Harlequin Special Edition.

Immediately after lunch, I ran back upstairs to my room to shower and change for my Editor appointment at 2:50pm.

I managed to get ready pretty quickly despite my nerves and I decided to swing by the bar (not for the reasons you’re thinking about, I swear!) The Bookends Agency hosted a meet and great at 2:00pm. I figured it would be a good idea since I had an appointment with Jessica Alvarez from Bookends the next day! The place was packed, but I managed to introduce myself and shake Jessica’s hand before I had to make my way to my editor appointment.

2:50PM Gail Chasan Editor Meeting. The most shocking thing about this is how wonderful Gail was during our meeting. She put me at ease immediately. I received a few great tips about the editor/agent meetings from other authors.

  • Smile, be pleasant, ask the agent/editor how they are doing (these items seem obvious, but when you’re nervous it’s easy to forget basic manners, trust me I know!) Also, they’ve been sitting at these tables all day for a few days at this point. They’re most likely exhausted. A little kindness goes a long way to making a good impression.
  • Know your story/character. Try to tell your story from memory instead of using notes. Pretend you’re explaining your novel to a friend. It will help to get your story out in a natural way. Reading from notes usually makes you sound robotic.
  • It helps to compare your story to a movie. It gives the agent/editor an idea of the kind of story they can expect.
  • Time passes quickly. You have ten minutes. Make sure you speak about your hero, your heroine, the setting, their conflicts, black moment, and their happily ever after. Keep it short and sweet. This also gives the editor/agent the opportunity to ask questions.
  • Be prepared. Research the editor/agent you’re sitting down with. Know who and what they represent. What they’re looking for.

The most important thing I learned from this experience is to try and relax. The editors and agents who meet with you are there because they want to find new talent. This is your chance to move past the slush pile! Enjoy it and take advantage of this incredible opportunity for a face to face meeting.

The Samhain and NAL Book Signings were our next stops from 3:00pm to 4:30pm followed by another great workshop from 4:30pm to 5:30pm, Write This! Not That! A 10-Point Guide to Getting Published Faster by Avoiding Common Mistakes with Leanne Banks and Charlene Sands.

This day was just as jam packed as the previous, but I loved every stressful, exciting moment again. I remembered feeling so sad that the week was quickly coming to an end. There was still so much I wanted to experience and learn and I only had one day left to squeeze it all in.

Scene Setting and My Sort-Of Green Thumb

Every once in a while something happens that triggers a memory of my late father. It’s usually the oddest things.

This time it’s the plant that’s shrivelling on my windowsill. It’s been sitting there since last year when my mom gave it to me. I have no idea why. We both know I’m horrible with plants. But she did and I even kept it going for a little while. But then we left on vacation and I forgot all about it. I came home to a gnarled little twig. Poor thing.

Just to add insult to injury, I kept forgetting to throw it away. It sat on my windowsill for a month before I noticed something unusual happening. A leaf had sprung from the wreckage I’d left behind. The twisted branch I had neglected for so long had decided to come back. To try again. Resilient little bugger.

I started watering it again after I noticed the change and now every time I look at it I can hear him. “You know if you add some more earth to the pot you can save that thing.”

It came over me quick. My chest tightened with the memory and I was there again. With him in his garden. So much green everywhere around us, the sun bounced off the plants and I had to squint for a moment to fight off the glare. Tomato plants taller than me and a fig tree that might as well have held gold on its branches as far as I was concerned. Near the end the tree had grown so large that it took my dad, my husband and my brother-in-law all working together to drag the pot inside every fall to protect it from our harsh winters.

He’d explain things to me that I hadn’t learned anywhere else. Taught me what the air smelled like right before a rainstorm. Crisp and damp and heavy with the impending downpour. I still love that smell. He showed me how the plants knew that the rain was coming just like the animals sensed it. How the trees knew to protect themselves, their leaves turning over so the rain and wind wouldn’t cause damage.

Now, I don’t know how much of this is scientific truth. But I do know that my father grew up around nature and every time he’s ever told me something, I opened my eyes to the world around me in a way I had never noticed before.

I honestly believe that if I am in any way capable of describing a scene when I’m writing it’s due in part to him. He taught me to understand scents, sights, sounds, textures and tastes in a way that made me feel grounded in the moment. In tune with the elements around me.

Maybe I’ll add the earth. Well, probably not. What fun would that be…