Friday, May 29, 2009

Keep Your Dreams Alive

June Shaw is the author of the humorous mystery series featuring feisty widowed Cealie Gunther and her sometimes-ex hunk Gil Thurman, owner of a chain of Cajun Delights restaurants. One reviewer said their relationship sizzles more than Gil’s hottest hot sauce. Deadly Ink nominated her first book for its new David award for Best Mystery of the Year. Readers say the books and characters are lots of fun. June will send one of our commenters a copy of her latest, Relative Danger, by June 4. Please comment on June's blog to be eligible for a copy!

Maybe you’ve hoped to achieve some dream you carried, possibly for so long you often thought you’d never achieve it. You don’t have time. You have children to raise or a parent to tend to and a job where you have to report every day. You’re getting older. Will you ever have time for yourself? Is it possible to reach your goal? You could be a multi-published author with many awards, yet there is something else you want to achieve. Should you go after that dream?

If you reach for the moon and catch only a star, will you fail?

My deepest desire began in ninth-grade. My teacher said he was sending me to a district literary rally for English I. That was the first time I appreciated that my mom constantly corrected my grammar.

I didn’t, however, appreciate literature until many years later. What my teacher sparked that day was my passion for what an author could do. During most of my school years, we read stories by old dead European men. Being a young teen girl, I couldn’t relate. I could never imagine that I would want to be one of them. (Okay, not just being a man or dead. For each story, we needed to spend tons of time figuring out what the author meant. Why couldn’t he just tell us?)

So my teacher said I was going to the rally, and to prepare, I should practice writing a paragraph while the rest of the class practiced grammar (which I knew so well because of my mom’s annoying habit. “Mom,” I’d tell her, “I know what’s correct, but if I answer the phone and say, ‘This is I,’ and it’s one of my peers, she’ll probably never talk—speak—to me again.”)

I needed to write a paragraph about a splinter. I skulked to my desk, thinking my teacher was the most boring person alive to come with such a topic. Scribbling a paragraph that described a sliver of wood, I edited my work and carried it to his desk. “June, this is boring,” he said. I agreed but said he’d told me to write it.

And then he worked magic. He suggested I start like this: “Ouch!” He said to write from the splinter’s point of view. Someone just sat on it.

Wow! That was it—my inspiration and instruction for creative writing. I don’t recall the topic we had to write on at the rally, although I came out first. (The test was almost all grammar—Thanks, Mom.) I have, however, always recalled that splinter. No teachers ever had us write creatively. We wrote term papers. Uggh.

What my English teacher did with the word Ouch was make me realize an author could create any object or person and make it or her do or say anything. “Ouch!” also introduced me to modern writing and humor, which I discovered I loved much more than pieces written by old dead men from across the ocean. (I have since come to appreciate—and teach—stories and poems those guys created.)

Occasionally over the years I would recall the splinter and get excited, but I remained busy after school with band and clubs and my buddies and boyfriend, who was a few years older. We married soon after I completed high school and during the next six years, had five children. As they started to grow, I sometimes thought of trying to write, but then one of the kids said, “Mom, I need to go ….”

When the oldest was eleven, my husband died. I needed to support the children and wanted to be a writer but had only read of cereal boxes for years. I completed college and started teaching (English I.) Over time I read and wrote and occasionally sold an essay and story (that did not need an explanation).

My kids grew. Some married. Mom became almost blind and moved in with me (and kept correcting my grammar). I became her caregiver and the grandmother of eight—and then sold a novel! I sold the second one in the series. It was recently published.

Do I believe you can hold a dream for years before finally fulfilling it? Absolutely. I sincerely hope you realize your own goals—or at least grab a handful of stars.

** Please note: I’ve never used terrible grammar. Mom corrected everyone, especially movie stars she heard on TV, until she passed on this January. She was 102—and still happily correcting people’s speech. You can see her dancing the Macarena for her 100th birthday on my Web site, http://www.juneshaw.com/. There’s also a lot about my humorous mysteries, RELATIVE DANGER and KILLER COUSINS, which I hope you will consider reading.

Thanks,

June

23 comments:

  1. June what a wonderfully inspiring blog. I guess if anyone can encourage others to not think it's too late to achieve a life long dream, it's you.
    My mother always corrected my English too and the first time I appreciated it was in Eng. Comp 1. I remember when you shared the pic of your mother the year you celebrated her 100th BD. My mother turns 91 next month and I'd love to be able to keep her as long as you kept yours! How wonderful!
    Thanks for the great blog! And I'd love to be entered in the drawing.
    Glenda (from cozy armchair group)

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  2. Thanks for sharing. It's also never too late to have new dreams. I'm the opposite--I never thought about being a writer, at least on paper. Making up stories in my head was enough. It wasn't until a few years ago that I even tried writing them--and the first time, I quit, because it was simply too much trouble to type all that punctuation and paragraph formatting.

    But with some coincidental "luck" I found out how much I loved the craft and I had a dream to follow.

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  3. What a great story. Age and health make it too late for me to realize one dream I had; to learn to fly a plane. But for lesser things, whenever I'm tempted to say no, I'll remember that splinter, say OUCH and do it!

    Shirley N

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  4. Glenda,

    You are so blessed to keep your mom that long, too. I hope you will keep her as long as I had Mom--correcting our grammar till the end :)

    Thanks for sharing.
    June

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  5. Terry,

    You were lucky to realize how creative you were. I wish I could have made up stories in my head.
    Can't believe you didn't care about writing until recently. So glad you write your stories now.

    Best,
    June

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  6. Shirley,

    Maybe you could fly a tiny plane: )
    I sure hope you do remember OUCH and go after other goals, too.

    Thanks,
    June

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  7. June: Love the cover of "Killer Cousins"! Thanks for blogging with us. Your Mom sounds like a very special lady, not to mention a hoot. Your memories of her and her teachings are very special. Maggie

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  8. I think it's wonderful that you finally starting writing and got your books published. You were very lucky to have such a great mom and teacher who helped to so much! I love mysteries with humor and yours sound very good!

    I love to ask authors how they reacted when their first manuscript was sold. What did you do when you got the call? :)

    Carol M
    mittens0831 AT aol.com

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  9. Maggie,

    Thanks so much for inviting me to blog with y'all today. I've never seen so much talent in putting my covers and the photos up today. I'm so glad I met you at Malice and look forward to reading books by all of you at The Stiletto Gang!

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  10. Carol,

    I screamed when I learned a publisher was buying my first book! And tears came to my eyes.

    I sure hope you will read my books. Let me know what you think of them.

    Yes, I was extremely fortunate to have the teacher and the mother that I had. Thanks for writing.

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  11. Great blog. It reminds me that it is never too late to get going.

    Congratulations on your nomination.
    I love your book covers. Makes me want to read the books.

    Julie Godfrey Miller
    jagmiller5@yahoo.com

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  12. I love humorous books - a laugh a day keeps the doctor away.

    Thanks for sharing the stories about your mom & congratulations on your nomination. I am sure that it was well deserved.

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  13. June,
    Way to go! I've refused to let go of my dream of being published. Networking and perseverance seem to be making a difference. Hope to know in the next few months.

    Loved hearing about your mother. She reminds me of my maternal grandmother. Always wondered how she knew grammar so well with an eighth grade education.
    Sharon Smith
    slsdpa@gmail.com

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  14. Julie, thanks so much. I hope you will read my books - and let me know what you think.

    All best, June

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  15. Thank you, Helen. I also love books that make me laugh. That's why I love to write them. I also enjoying seeing what trouble my spunky characters will get into next: )

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  16. Sharon,

    My oldest son married Sharon Smith. Is it you? : ))

    Thanks for your nice comments and stopping by.

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  17. What a wonderful story and message for us all -- there are second, third and fourth acts in life. Enjoy them all! And your mother sounded delightful!!

    Best of luck,
    Marian the Northern half of Evelyn David

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  18. Thanks so much for the inspiring words, June. You've encouraged me to never let go of my own dream of becoming a published novelist ~

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  19. Marian,

    What a sweet message. Yes, Mom taught me to enjoy each of the acts of life.

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  20. Linda, I appreciate your kind words. Please let me know once you reach that dream - and beoome a published author!

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  21. Hi June - What a great and inspiring story about holding onto your dreams for all those years!! And I loved your mother's help with grammar correction!! My dad turns 91 this year and I'm hoping he lives as well and as long as your mom. Best to you.

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  22. Thanks, Penny. I sure hope your dad lives as long and as well as Mom did.

    Thanks for writing.

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  23. I particularly enjoyed your comments on the tedium of being asked to explain what a work of fiction means. This from grade school through college just about killed the study of English for me (I continued reading for pleasure in self defense).
    Mary Ann Stewart

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