"Dreams to Reality" – isn't that a great title? Dreams. . . can you think of anything more elusive? Can you think of anything you want more than for your dream to become a reality?
As a child, my dreams were small—I was going to rob the rich with Robin Hood, or sail the high seas with Captain Blood, or help King Arthur find the Holy Grail. Obviously, I spent far too much time reading books and watching old movies. As many times as I changed those stories in my head, to include my much needed participation, I never once thought of writing my own. Oh, sure, I daydreamed to ward off boredom, but the idea of writing anything more than a book report would have appalled me.
If you're reading this, I assume it's an even bet, that you are a writer. How did you come to that decision? Had you always dreamed of someday writing a novel, short story or epic? How did your dream evolve?
I read a romance novel, by my most beloved author, and was so unhappy with the ending that I declared – "I could write better than this!" LOLOL! Sorry, I still remember that night so very, very long ago. I'm still amazed at how naïve I was about the whole process. A process that took over ten years.
Wait! Don't faint. I'm the first person to admit that I tripped myself up more often than not. If there was a mistake to be made, I made it. Degrees in Secretarial Science (read typing and shorthand), Accounting, Business Management and Data Processing had done much to damage my ability to form a proper sentence. On my first rejection letter—you know the one, it's badly copied, uncentered, addressed to "Dear Author" – yeah, that one—someone hand jotted at the bottom of the page "nice idea, take a writing course."
Five rejections later someone else penciled in "double space the manuscript". I got another tip a few more rejections later—"get some books from Writer's Digest". I'm not a complete idiot, eventually I "get" it. If I didn't want to look like a complete fool, I really needed to study this writing thing.
That started my formal writing education. I subscribed to Romantic Times and Writer's Digest. I took advantage of RT's manuscript evaluation program and WD's Novel Writing Course. I attended local seminars on writing and went to a Romantic Times convention where I learned about Romance Writers of America. I did all of the things they told you to do. I helped form a local chapter, participated in critique groups, got my hooks together, my snappy synopsis, my polished manuscript. When people tell you that they've garnered enough rejections to paper their office—they aren't lying. Crossing your T's and dotting your I's isn't always enough.
I don't know about you, but I can't give up a dream. And by then, those words spoken in disappointment had become my dream.
I didn't give up. I could no more stop writing than I could stop breathing. And then, like a gift from my guardian angel, it finally started to happen. Contest finals and wins. On to the big one—RWA's Golden Heart in 1999. On my birthday, March 25, 1999 at approximately 12:50 PM, while I was home for lunch, Deb Stover called. I think the chili stain is permanently plastered on my sofa. I don't remember what she said, or what I said—but I did get the gist of the conversation—the manuscript that I had worked so long and so hard on, made it to the finals in the Long Historical category.
Life hasn't been the same since. It's only gotten better. Dream Knight didn't win the prize that year, but I made some wonderful, life-long friends and the editors started sending handwritten rejection letters (only a writer would qualify that as a good thing). After another year of sending my "baby" out on the rounds, the woman who had won in our GH category introduced me to her editor. At the editor's invitation, I sent Dream Knight to Starlight Writer Publications.
A week later, May 1, 2000 at 7:30 AM I got up, flipped on the PC, made coffee, sat down to go through e-mails and spilled the coffee all over the place (another permanent stain). The first e-mail that greeted me wasn't a rejection or an offer, it wasn't the contract—it was an e-mail titled "ISBN for Dream Knight". HUH? And it contained just the ISBN. That's it. Well, like any sane, logical, calm person, I tore through 108 e-mails before I finally found a contract for my book. To say I was happy is an understatement.
The wise people at Starlight read Catheryn and Gerard's story—a story about revenge, love and dreams coming true—and saw not just a "well-written, engrossing tale", but a dream whose time had come. So far, the reviewers seem to like Dream Knight and as I write this piece, I realize it will be only be a matter of a few days before the reading community will be able to make their own decision. That thought is as terrifying to me as it is exciting.
It's been a long road. It still is—I had no idea the amount of non-writing work involved between signing that glorious piece of paper and the release date. The up's have been high enough to touch heaven. The down's have literally been hell. But I wouldn't give up a minute of this wonderful roller coaster ride for anything.
Never, ever give up on your dreams. Hold tight. Believe in them. Do whatever you must to make your dream a reality.
Take care and be your dream.
Alexis Kaye Lynn
Dream Knight – SWP StarDust release Feb. 2001