Never give up on your dreams. Small dreams, big dreams. Keep them right on the horizon where you can see them. Maybe it takes a few years or a few decades or, if you’re me, just about your whole life to make one come true. When I was a child I was told not to be a quitter or a whiner so I’ve kept moving toward that dream year after year.
I kept writing and dreaming. I’m still doing it.
Sometime in the late spring or early summer of 2017, I received an email about an author awards contest sponsored by a Pittsburgh group called The Author Zone. The only requirement was that the book be set in S.W. Pennsylvania or the author live in S.W. Pennsylvania. There was a fee to enter and an additional fee if you bought a ticket to the awards dinner.
I submitted my novel, The Narrow Gate, and my memoir, Seven Thin Dimes, paid the fee and then put it in the back of my mind. I didn’t buy a ticket to the awards dinner because I didn’t think I would win. There are some excellent writing schools in Pittsburgh and, although I think my work is good, I’m a small, self-published author. I figured I was the underdog or the long shot, but it was worth a try. I’ve wanted to publish a book and win an award since I was about 7 or 8 years old, so I sent in my submission and went back to my day job.
Four months later, after I’d booked a round trip plane ticket to Los Angeles for that day job, I got a notice that both of my books were finalists – one in Fiction and another in Memoir. I had one vacation day left and, if I used it to go to the dinner, it meant 24 hours on an off planes, with little sleep, to travel from L.A. to Pittsburgh and back. Every friend and family member I knew – the solid people in your life who cheer on your dreams – told me I had to go. So, on October 19, I took the day off, left L.A. at 6 a.m., and arrived in Pittsburgh at 3:35 p.m. where my cousin, Jill, picked me up and we headed in to the city to attend the awards dinner. It was a bit crazy (the keynote speaker went on a rant about the current U.S. president), and a lot of fun (wine, food, and interesting people).
I won 1st place in Fiction for my novel, The Narrow Gate. I’m now the 2017 TAZ Author Award winner in Fiction. (It feels like the coolest kind of blessing to say that out loud!)
Two of my dreams have come true! Yes, you guessed it. I still want a book made into a movie, and I’d still like to be able to write full time, for a living. I keep eyeing the New York Times best sellers list and dreaming. I keep watching movies and dreaming I’ll see one of my books on the big screen.
Even when one dream comes true, there’s another just around the corner. That’s called hope. A human being can’t live without hope.
When I have a tough day on the job, and the royalty checks average about ten dollars, I can look in the mirror and say “hey, you’re an award winning author!”
The 2017 TAZ Author Award for 1st Place in Fiction – that’s called satisfaction!