Wednesday, December 12, 2012


Two Things I Know: Negative opinions only motivate me.  Hard work pays off.

Hi Everyone,

Today, I’m honored to introduce you to an amazing young man, songwriter, David Brandon.  I first heard of David on Facebook. He wants his music to be heard. Well, it sure got my attention. The first thing I thought when I listened to David on YouTube was “Wow, I can write to this.” His music brought me back to my late teens, early twenties—my wonderful college years―and listening to contemporary blues of Eric Clapton. 

When I write, I use music to stir my emotions. For some reason, Keane’s music stirs up action-packed fight scenes. Jason Mraz, Norah Jones, Mika, Adele wake up that heart-wrenching emotion I need to write not only love scenes, but moments when my characters are at their worst. David Brandon believes he still has a lot of work to do. Well, his music fits right alongside my favorite musicians on my playlist. Get ready music world, he’s on his way.

David, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time during finals to be part of this series. Please take a minute and tell us a little about yourself.

David Brandon

I’m twenty years old and a junior at Towson University. I love to travel and meet new people.  I’ve always been a very active person.  I tend to spend a lot of my time out in the country or on the water; I love to surf. 
I’ve always had an interest in music, it just makes me feel good, you know? When I play, or write, I feel like I become a different person.  I’ve been playing the drums since the sixth grade. The drums are what introduced me to music. My freshman year in college, I picked up a guitar and tried to play a few chords. I couldn’t put the guitar down, and soon after, I began to write.  Now, I write about everything, and probably couldn’t stop writing if I tried.
I love to relate to people, and it is an awesome feeling when people tell me they can relate to my lyrics, or how my lyrics helped them get through their day.  I tend to listen to artists like Jack Johnson, John Mayer, Eric Clapton, Jason Mraz, Norah Jones, Sublime, Soja, and so on.  I don’t spend a whole lot of time practicing or playing other people’s songs. I can play covers, but playing covers isn’t where my heart or interest is.  I’m more interested in perfecting my own tunes and my heart lies within my own lyrics. 

People of all ages have forgotten how to dream. What inspired you to dream?

Hmm, I’ve been dreaming since I was very young.  I dream about traveling, meeting new people, and maybe even inspiring them with my music. Something believing in the power of a line in a song is an inspiration. I want to change the way people think through music.  The dream of being able to stand on a stage with hundreds or thousands of people in front of me, waiting for the strum of a string, or a voice to come through the speakers inspires me.  

We all place obstacles in our path which brings our dreams to a dead stop. I call these obstacles dream killers. What was your dream killer and how did you overcome it?

I think that everyone probably has had a 'dream killer' experience, but these comes in different waves.  I haven’t necessarily had a dream killer experience because I’ve never doubted what I am capable of, but negativity can be hard to overcome. 
Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I’m use to strong criticism and other synonymous forms of negativity.  I’m sure every artist has at least a few people that cut them down.  But part of the fun in writing is seeing whether or not you are going to elicit a response from your listeners, and seeing whether or not they will care enough to develop an opinion.  Being able to change an opinion is an accomplishment.  Succeeding and following through with your plans is overcoming a 'dream killer.' 

How do you keep the dream alive under extreme adversity – external or internal?

You have to believe in yourself.  When people get you down, or when you get yourself down, you need to take the punches and build from them.  One strike only makes you more prepared for the next.  Learning to channel adversity in a positive direction is what gives me the ability to keep my dream alive.  Show people what you are capable of!
When you reached the top, how did it feel?

I think making it to the top can be interpreted in a lot of different ways.  I have not reached the top yet, so I’m not sure of how it feels.   In order to get to the top- going on tour, or signing a record deal-, would give me the ability to market myself.  Being able to use a record deal to my advantage in order to inspire and communicate with the people would be a huge accomplishment.  Making it to the top for me is when I know I have been heard. 

How did realizing your dream change you?

When I finally realized what I wanted to do, I felt changed in a sense of really knowing and believing that I could make it.  I am here for a reason.  Learning new instruments and having the ability to play by ear is also an advantage.  Every time I listen to a new song, or listen to the radio, I think of how I could change that song to make it my own.  I have only been playing the guitar and singing for a little less than two years.  I am constantly editing my lyrics to make sure that I can relate to the people in the best way possible.  I still have a lot to learn.  I am open to all new styles and ways of playing.  I like to listen to other artist’s styles and combine them to create and enhance my own sound. 

What's next? What new dream would you like to reach for?

My goal is to really branch out and market my music in the next year.  My dream would be to collaborate with a few artists who are known in the industry.  Landing a record deal would just be icing on the cake.  I have a lot to learn and a lot to work on.  But with proper guidance and a good mentor, I believe I could learn new things and succeed in record time.  I’ve always been a quick learner.  I plan to have a few new songs written in the next couple of months and schedule some studio time to record them.   Once the songs are completed, you will be hearing from me, hopefully through your radio.  Success takes time, and I am patient, but look out. 

David Brandon

David’s Music:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


 To find an interesting future, one with different challenges each day, a chance of excitement and yet security, and the opportunity to love and be loved.

Happy Wednesday Everyone,

Meet amazing dreamer, historical author, Kate Dolan.
Personally, I think Kate has super powers. This extraordinary woman has published nine novels and three novellas while being a full-time mom and working part-time. Having lived the life of a full-time mom for years― kids pulling at me in every direction at once―I don’t know how she was able to rub two words together. Thirteen books…that is incredibly impressive.

What I find so inspiring about Kate's life is that she seeks out challenges. I see my daily challenges as a burden I have to overcome. She sees her challenges as a source of excitement, opportunity.

Kate, after reading your interview, I have decided I need to adopt your definition of challenge. As for your― THE DREAM―it’s my primary dream as well. It’s should be everyone’s primary dream. I can’t thank you enough for being part of this series. Please take a moment and tell us a little about yourself.

Kate Dolan

I have an eclectically suburban life. Married with two kids in high school, I’m fortunate enough to not work full time at a paying job at present so I can write fiction, blog about history, coach my daughter’s jump rope team, and earn a little money doing some part time administrative and bookkeeping work for another writer. Since I’m a history nut, I like to participate in living history events whenever I can. I write historical fiction that has too much romance to please pure history readers and not enough to satisfy true romance fans and is probably a little too goofy to fit in either category. I also write contemporary mysteries under the name K.D. Hays, but those, too, focus on relationships more than the "whodunit" aspect of a classic category mystery. But real life doesn't fit in a category, and I do think that focusing on the goofy, fun aspects of living make the journey a lot more enjoyable.

When I started to write this, I realized that while I feel I had achieved many of my dreams, I couldn’t really articulate what they were. Oh, there were some easy ones – my dream of owning a new car was realized when we bought our minivan eleven years ago. I still think of it as my “new” car even though it has 160,000 miles on it and I’m afraid it will break down every time I pull onto the highway.

The fulfillment of smaller dreams like this can be satisfying, but unfortunately more often, as soon as I get what I want, I forget how much I wanted it and just take it for granted. Maybe that’s why it is hard to figure out just what major dreams have come true in my life.

Having a novel published was a dream but not THE dream. It’s part of a series of dreams – being able to finish the first draft of an entire novel, allowing someone other than my mom to read it, finding a publisher who deemed it worthy of publication – those were all part of the series. Later on came success in tiny increments which, while frustrating when watching the more direct path of others, does make me appreciate each step just a bit more.

But even the dreams related to writing are not THE dream.

I think for me THE dream was to find an interesting future, one with different challenges each day, a chance of excitement and yet security, and the opportunity to love and be loved.

And I’m there. Sometimes I have to remind myself, though.

Challenges are just that – they are challenging. They require thought and effort to solve. They keep me from growing bored, but at the cost of frustration, tension, anxiety and exhaustion. I am in a love/hate relationship with challenge, but I cannot truly live without it. And the fact that my challenges may be mundane does not make them easier to get through. On a given afternoon, my challenges may include (1) getting my son to a baseball game in county X at 5:00 when my daughter and I are coaching jump rope in county Y from 4:30-6:30 and we live in county Z (2) getting my heroine to stop seeing the hero as a bacon-brained nincompoop (3) translating the terms of a contract from legalese to something approaching English, and (4) trying to get the dogs to pose for a blog picture in front of a simulated place setting of a medieval banquet staged in my dining room.

The challenges are different every day. Many of them aren’t terribly interesting, like trying to walk the dogs, empty the dishwasher and clean the rabbit cage before I have to leave to pick up one of the kids for an orthodontist appointment. But even if not particularly exciting, the challenges are different each day, and I know myself well enough now to see that I need variety in my day. When I worked at a traditional 9 to5 job the routine was pure torture. I went to law school thinking that when I got a "real" job, my days would be interesting. But the work was still the same, and the routine bored me beyond belief. In the eclectic life I live these days, there’s still work, and that means there’s still torture, but it’s interrupted by moments where I truly enjoy what I’m doing, whether it’s taking down the sarcastic exchange between characters in my head, listening to my son and his friends rib each other during the carpool home from cross country practice or helping a jumper do her first double under.

I can escape to another life any time I sit down at the keyboard. It’s excitement with security because I can leave that world behind any time it becomes uncomfortable (or if I want a fresh cup of coffee or the clothes dryer goes off). If I was an underworld spy living a real life of excitement, I wouldn’t have an “escape” key. And excitement is all well and good, but at the end of the day, coffee motivates me more.

 Have I achieved critical acclaim? Not really. Have a million people read my books? Definitely not. Am I happy with the stories I’ve created? Sometimes, it depends on when you ask me. Have a made a lot of money? Definitely not (times ten to the infinite power).

But I have challenges, I have family and friends to love (and use in my stories!) and I have variety. That dream is real. And I hope I can keep it that way!  

What's next? I guess that my next dream is just a continuation of the one I'm living now. My dream is to keep the variety of challenges in my life, and to be brave enough to take on new tasks even if there's a very good chance I'll humiliate myself in the process. One of these days I will need to start earning real money so part of the dream will be to find a way to derive more income without losing the variety and spontaneity that I crave. And the ability to get up and get coffee whenever I want--that's something I'll need to keep as well.

This is Kate Dolan's new release, Change of Address, just in time for Christmas.

Excerpt from Change of Address by Kate Dolan

Though he could see no flames coming from the house, smoke poured out the open front door and drifted up from the behind the building as well. The pungent aroma of burning rotten wood filled his lungs as he drew closer.

“Mary?” he called out, hoping she was out in back of the house.

There was no answer.

“Mary? Mary Puckett?”

He stopped for a moment, wondering whether to look around outside but decided to go inside before the fire grew any worse.

He saw no sign of Mary or any flames in the smoke-filled kitchen or parlor, so he charged up the stairs. Puckett may have been smoking his pipe in bed and set the straw ablaze. “Mary!” He could imagine tiny little Mary trying desperately to wake her drunken father or using all her weight to drag him from the—

His pace slowed as he realized there did not seem to be any fire upstairs. The first chamber he glanced in was empty of everything save a few trunks. And when he stepped inside the chamber next to it, he found more trunks and a young lady of uncommon beauty standing next to them with her back against the non-flaming wall, eying him warily.

“I think you must have the wrong house.” She spoke in a deliberately slow and calm voice, as if trying to soothe an excited horse. But shaking in her hands and the trepidation in her expressive gray eyes showed that she was plainly afraid of him as an unknown intruder. “There is no ‘Mary’ here, sir, so please be on your way.”

“I was looking for Mary Puckett, the girl who lives here,” he said stupidly. Obviously this striking blonde incomparable was not Mary or even vaguely related to her. The young lady’s speech, manners and dress plainly revealed gentle breeding. But why was she here? The Pucketts had lived in this old house as long as he could remember.

But now that he thought about it, Isabel had mentioned something about new tenants somewhere. If he’d realized who the new tenants would be, he would have paid more attention.

“I’m sorry, I…” He really could not think of how to apologize properly for his shocking intrusion.

When she nodded for him to leave, he immediately bowed and stepped out of the room, but despite his wish not to frighten or offend the young lady any further, he could not resist the urge to peek into the last bedchamber.

“She said to be on your way!” From behind the door came a screaming banshee wielding a handful of sticks which she used to swat him on the side of his head. The banshee couldn’t have been much more than Mary’s age but she had obviously enjoyed a healthier diet over the course of her life because she was as stout and strong as a ploughman.

“Ouch! There are thorns in—” His words were cut off by another swat from the banshee’s bundle of branches.

“Out, vile intruder!” the girl demanded in an imperious squeak. “You have no right to invade our home.” She raised her weapon to strike again but this time he was ready and was able to intercept the blow, grab the bundle of sticks and twist them out of her hands.

“Hey!” she protested. “Those are mine.”

“No, they’re mine, actually. And I do have the right to be on the premises. We own the land here and everything on it.” He glanced down at the bundle in his hands. “Including the thorns.”

“Oh,” said a hard feminine voice from behind him. “I suppose we must apologize, then.”

He turned to see the young lady he’d seen initially, an older and more refined version of the blonde banshee who’d hit him, glowering at him with an expression as dark as her face was fair. It was without a doubt the single most unapologetic apology he’d ever received. 

“Are we to expect visits such as this on a regular basis?” She eyed the bundle of sticks as if she wished to seize it for her own use.

Bride of Belznickel is Kate's first and only ghost story.

Hannah Brown is forced to spend the Christmas holidays far from home with cousins who ridicule her at every opportunity. To get revenge, she tries to scare them by making up stories about the Belznickel, the Christmas demon.
Then her stories start to come alive…

How to find Kate Dolan
Her website:
Her very interesting blog:
Facebook pages 
twitter is

Kate and I would love to hear from you.  To leave a comment, click on the tiny word, comment, at the end of the post. Sorry it’s so hard to see.
If you are having trouble leaving a comment, here’s the trick: The text image is a security feature called a captcha. It's designed to ensure there isn't a computer (or a robot) entering trash on a website. Supposedly, only a human can read an image containing scewy text. There are actually two images you must type in. One contains only one character - typically a number. The other contains a series of letters that sometimes spells a word. To leave a comment, you must enter both the characters and numbers. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


Rejection is an opportunity to learn. It means I missed the mark, not that I failed.

Hi Everyone,

I’m so honored to introduce this week’s dreamer extraordinaire, Romance Author, Sharon Buchbinder.  I met Sharon the day I joined Maryland Romance Writers. I can’t tell you how nervous I was rolling into that meeting. I was the first to arrive and Sharon [the chapter’s President] was alone in the room. The hospitality committee hadn’t even arrived. I introduced myself and Sharon welcomed me like we were long lost friends.  She made me feel so welcome, that I relaxed immediately, and thoroughly enjoyed the meeting. That night, I downloaded her first book and read it cover to cover.

Sharon reminds me a lot of the gutsy, strong-willed, independent heroines I like to write about. What is so inspiring about Sharon’s journey is that no matter how much the world beat her down, both physically and emotionally, she never gave up on herself. In fact, she used her dreams to help rise above the abuse and become the woman she wanted to be―and that is no easy task.

Sharon, your amazing words: "Rejection is an opportunity to learn. It means I missed the mark, not that I failed," will be posted where I can see them daily. Thank you so much for sharing your dreams with us. Would you please take a moment and tell us a little about yourself?

I’ve been writing fiction since I was in high school and have the rejection slips to prove it—including a script for “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.” submitted in my hand-writing (I didn’t own a typewriter) on yellow legal paper.

After I graduated with a BA in Psychology and no job, I realized my dreams of working in the attic writing great prose would have to take a back seat to the simple pleasures of eating, drinking, and having a roof over my head.

Fast forward a few decades, and I had a career path that would make all but the kindest say, “What were you thinking?” After working in health care delivery for years, I became a researcher, then an academic. I had it all– a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son, and a wonderful job. But that itch to write (some call it obsession), kept beckoning me to “come on back” to writing fiction. I spent one whole month away doing nothing but writing fiction, the first of many drafts of my first novel. After almost eight years, that first novel has finally been published as SOME OTHER CHILD.

People of all ages have forgotten how to dream. What inspired you to dream?

As a child it was a way to escape an abusive environment. An unwanted child, my mother made a point every single day of my life to tell me I should have never been born. She followed that message up with physical abuse. Dreaming took me away from that bad mother to a story in my head where I had a good mother and was loved.

We all place obstacles in our path which brings our dreams to a dead stop. I call these obstacles dream killers. What was your dream killer and how did you overcome it?

I have been writing since I could hold a pencil. I stopped my creative writing when I married and worked 80 hours a week. Then I had a baby. Then, then, then…at age 52 I had my mid-life realization that if I didn’t go back to my passion of writing fiction then, when would I?

How do you keep the dream alive under extreme adversity – external or internal?

Every rejection is an opportunity to learn. It means I missed the mark, not that I failed. I adjust my course and keep going back. My mother said I was stubborn, like my grandmother who was deaf and non-speaking. I call it persistence.

When you reached the top, how did it feel?

Well, I’m not at the top—yet! LOL! But it felt wonderful to have DESIRE AND DECEPTION nominated for the 2011 RT Best Erotic Fiction category. It still feels good.

How did realizing your dream change you?

I felt validated. Pursuing my crazy dream of writing fiction wasn’t irrational.
The added bonus is that my fiction writing has improved my non-fiction writing. I’m using fiction techniques in case studies and teaching students and other faculty how to make their cases come to life and engage the reader.

What's next? What new dream would you like to reach for?

New York Times best-selling author, of course! LOL! In the meantime, I’m working on my latest book, KISS OF THE VIRGIN QUEEN, the story of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon and the impact of their epic romance on their descendant, Eliana Solomon, Jinn Hunter. 

Other books by Sharon:

                     Nominated for the 2011 RT Best Erotic Fiction

To learn more about Sharon, you can find her here:

Twitter: @sbuchbinder

Where to buy Sharon's books:


Sharon and I would love to hear from you.  To leave a comment, click on the tiny word, comment, at the end of the post. Sorry it’s so hard to see.
If you are having trouble leaving a comment, here’s the trick: The text image is a security feature called a captcha. It's designed to ensure there isn't a computer (or a robot) entering trash on a website. Supposedly, only a human can read an image containing scewy text. There are actually two images you must type in. One contains only one character - typically a number. The other contains a series of letters that sometimes spells a word. To leave a comment, you must enter both the characters and numbers. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.―Thoreau

Happy Wednesday, Everyone,

I began this blog series because I thought our young adults somehow stopped dreaming, and the very idea scared me to my toes. Well, my guest today, Hanna Yangilmau, has blown my previous assumption right out of the water.

My daughter and Hanna met in freshmen English on their first day of high school. Hanna, Megan and five other students bonded that period. The English Mafia was formed: friendships for life.

From Left to Right
Chris, Shannon, Melinda, Megan, Hanna, Joe, Cole


I have always considered Hanna to be the quiet, peaceful member of the group. After graduation, like the other members of the Mafia, Hanna set off to college. But sadly, circumstances beyond her control forced Hanna to place her college dreams on hold. What Hanna  does not tell you in her interview is that today she holds down two jobs, helps her sister with her tuition bill and has started her own business. Check out her shoes below. They are brilliant! And she doesn't just paint shoes. Hanna can paint anything on almost any surface.

Hanna still has a way to go to reach her dream, but this incredible young woman won’t be able to stay in the background for long. Her strength, determination, and amazing talent one day very soon will burst her into the world and she’s going to soar.

Hanna, I am very honored to have you as a guest today. Thank you for sharing your dreams with us.  Would you take a minute and tell us a little about yourself.  

My name is Hanna Yangilmau. I'm twenty years old, currently taking some time off from school and figuring out where I want to go to study while I make lattes and frappes at Starbucks. I'm an illustration major, a hopeful animation major, and currently make a little bit of money on the side decorating accessories. Shoes, for the most part.

People of all ages have forgotten how to dream. What inspired you to dream?

My parents have always been very supportive of my art. It's sort of surprising, considering how many kids you hear of who have talent but whose parents want them to go into something more practical, something that makes more money. Maybe it's because they're so spiritual, but my mom and dad have always put less emphasis on practicality and money-making and more on doing what makes me happy. Most of the time they're more enthusiastic about my chances than I am.

We all place obstacles in our path which brings our dreams to a dead stop. I call these obstacles dream killers. What was your dream killer and how did you overcome it?

I'm still in the midst of mine, actually. Not being in school is difficult, especially when I have friends in universities like MICA and CIA and I can see the leaps and bounds they're making in such a short time under awesome instruction. It's disheartening, and when I'm disheartened the inspiration comes to a screeching halt. But my teachers, family, and especially my friends are all so encouraging and believe in me so much. I remember one professor telling me that I had an unteachable talent, and a friend who almost exclusively hangs out with art students telling me that I'm better than all of them, and that's how I know I need to make time for art and I can't let my love for it die. Because I'm not imagining that it's what I'm meant to do. Other people can see it as well. Sometimes I just need reminding. 

How do you keep the dream alive under extreme adversity – external or internal? 

Honestly? I watch movies. I read books. I look at the changing leaves. I see a pretty girl. Every time I feel my dreams slipping and my future changing into this hard, unhappy, unfulfilled expanse, something small will remind me that I need to be painting. Sometimes it's reading about other amazing artists, sometimes it's a gnarled old tree or an interesting face or a weird pose my cat's sleeping in and my hands will just itch for a sketchbook and pencil. It's, uh, really cliche and all that. But it's true. 


When you reached the top, how did it feel?

I still haven't gotten there yet! I'm hoping it'll feel pretty nifty.

How did realizing your dream change you?

Well, right now I'm focusing on me, for the most part. Hopefully realizing my dream will give me the time and peace of mind to help others. I'm still a kid, kind of, and I know I make mistakes and I'm pretty selfish right now. But someday I want to be a lot more about other people. I want to adopt some cute kids with names like Harper and Gideon and volunteer a lot more and travel to other countries, not just to see all the touristy areas but to know what it's like for people who don't live in the richest nation in the world. That's just what I hope, anyway. That being an artist will make me a better person.

What's next? What new dream would you like to reach for?

Well, my dream first and foremost is to be an illustrator and to travel. After that, I have some other ideas in mind - animator, writing my own children's books, having a family, owning a dozen or so pets - but who knows? I have time. I can change my mind. That's the beauty of being young and imaginative.

For more about Hanna Yangilmau, you can visit her blog at:

Leave a comment:
I would love to hear about your dreams. Please click on the word comment below to leave me a message

Wednesday, October 31, 2012



-Hans Christian Anderson-

Hi Everyone,
Today, I'm honored to introduce you to another wonderful dreamer, composer, Douglas Buchanan. 

William Shakespeare called music the food of love. I consider music food for my soul.  And to be able to masterly arrange notes on a page of sheet music that have the power to touch a person’s soul is in my opinion a true gift from God.
But Douglas Buchanan does not only compose. He inspires young musicians by teaching music theory and composition at universities in the Baltimore area. And if that’s not enough, he brings both old and new music to life directing and performing in various choirs.
Doug,  I can’t thank you enough for sharing your dreams and wisdom with us. Please take a moment and tell us a little about yourself.

I'm a musician living and working in Baltimore. For most musicians who are making some sort of income with their art, "living and working" end up being two points on a spectrum of musical involvement. For instance, though I'm employed at several institutions, I am a volunteer in others. My primary job is serving as Director of Music Ministries (Organist/Choirmaster) for historic Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church in downtown Baltimore, where I run the volunteer parish choir, a professional chamber choir, a parish children's choir, the St. Paul's Boys' Choir, and oversee the Ensemble in Residence program and the annual concert series. I also teach Music Theory and Musicology at the Peabody Conservatory, where I'm working on my Doctorate in Composition, and I teach Music Theory, Conducting and Composition at Towson University. However, I also volunteer with several organizations, including singing with the Baltimore Choral Arts Society, along with my wife, Kelly. It sounds like a pretty hectic schedule (which I don't deny), but it's not much different than what most musicians are doing: performing, teaching, making music for causes or groups they believe in regardless of pay, studying. I've been fortunate in that most of my work is musical, and that I've had family that's supported me in pursuing music as my career (including our recently adopted puppy, who is a real boon in helping to relieve stress).

People of all ages have forgotten how to dream. What inspired you to dream?

My family, as I mentioned, was extraordinarily supportive of both me and my brother (who is also now at the Peabody Conservatory) in exploring those creative enterprises in which we were interested. We both experimented with violin, percussion, piano, composition, visual art, computer graphics, animation, poetry, storytelling, singing--music (and art in general) was and is our drug. Both our parents were, in some sense, countercultural--our mom (Carol Adams) is a vegetarian-feminist author and animal rights activist, and our dad (Bruce Buchanan) is a Presbyterian minister who specializes in urban ministries and interfaith relations, overseeing The Stewpot, a homeless day shelter in downtown Dallas, Texas. Pursuing a vision, particularly a vision in which we deeply believed and which may not be tangible to those around us, was part and parcel of our family life.

That being said, teachers play an incredibly important role for inspiration. To think about the literal meaning of the word, to "breathe in to," particularly to "breather life in to" someone, makes a lot of sense when referring to the teacher's role. Teachers who stick with you while you grow up (and here I give shoutouts to Paula and Jerry Stephens of Garland, Texas, and Ken and Mary Jane Cooper of Dallas), teachers who give long-shot students a chance (Roland Muzquiz, percussion director of Richardson High School), teachers who help you achieve your goals, even if they are at first impractical (Profs. Peter Mowrey, Bryan Dykstra, Jack Russell and Jack Gallagher of the College of Wooster), even teachers who keep their distance and let you grow into your own at your own pace (Prof. Michael Hersch and the late Prof. Nicholas Maw, both of the Peabody Conservatory) are certainly integral to a student's development.

I think the larger issue at hand is that we live in a culture that denigrates the dream, or, at best, re-frames the dream in Lockean terms where life and liberty are on the same grounds as the pursuit of property. This is frequently cited amongst my liturgical colleagues in terms of the increasing secularization of America and the "Western World" (if we can pigeon-hole international relations into such a title). As someone who grew up in a rather diverse area (I once noted in High School that a lunch table of me and my friends made up four of the five major world religions, and had important aesthetic and philosophical discussions with atheist and agnostic friends who to this day remain essential confidants), I firmly believe that we each must find our own path, and for some this is the secular world. So I disagree that the "problem" is secularization--what I see at issue is the de-liminalization of our culture. The liminal--that unformed, unknown space-between-spaces--is where dreams and creativity live and breathe. When boundaries become so desiccated that all that matters is the absolute value on either side, then dreaming withers. There seems to be less and less place for confusion, wandering, wondering and unsureness. Teachers--and I devoutly hope that I espouse this in my classroom, and to the musicians that I direct--therefore have the difficult task of not only inspiring the curiosity to ask "what?", but also the vision to ask "what if?". Helping others realize their dreams can inspire you to realize your own. I had the phenomenal opportunity to teach piano to a mentally handicapped man named Chris while I was in college. Chris was unfailingly cheerful and always wanted to learn. Some lessons saw little progress, but sometimes--like when he performed the first movement of Beethoven's Moonlight sonata, from memory, with impeccable phrasing and articulation--served to inspire me as well.

We all place obstacles in our path which brings our dreams to a dead stop. I call these obstacles dream killers. What was your dream killer and how did you overcome it?

I wish there were only one! I have a terrible tendency of holding on to what has been said by people whose relationships I value. I think we all do that, most likely. I also tend to take on too many projects at once because I'm excited to work with other people who are excited to be creative!  I'm also terribly nostalgic. And, at times I also tend to be self-deprecating and overly critical of my own work. I don't know if I will ever overcome all of these--in fact, I don't know if it would be good if I did. Each of these aspects has a negative side, and a positive side (like yin and yang, the Force, or duct tape): while I may take comments too much to heart, it means that I value other people and will (hopefully) maintain long and mutually beneficial relationships and friendships; taking on many projects is great in terms of networking, but it also expands my horizons; nostalgia might prevent me from moving forward if I indulge in it, but it means that I am emotionally invested in memory and can draw from past experience; and being self-critical also ensures humility and, ultimately, a deeper realization of what I want to achieve artistically. I believe the key is not to eradicate parts of yourself, but to learn to live in balance with them.

I often refer to some of my childhood pop-culture experiences in my classroom, because I believe that these are the "myths" of my generation: LEGOs can be used to talk about building chords, warp tunnels in Super Mario Brothers can elucidate modulation from key to key, and the music from Lord of the Rings and Star Wars offer countless examples for ear-training. Here, I think Stan Lee (of Marvel Comics) has it right: his stories always demonstrate that cutting off parts of your psyche from each other only end in harm. For the X-Men, their mutations are part of who they are, and storylines in which characters try to escape these aspects of self inevitably result in tragic occurrences. For Bruce Banner, his situation is not just that he transforms into the Hulk, it is that he is "always angry"; he must attempt to live in balance with the different aspects of himself. As I see it, the quest of the person committed to creativity is not extraction or extermination, but balance.

How do you keep the dream alive under extreme adversity – external or internal?

Time to refresh is key, and none of us gets as much as we need or deserve (in my opinion). However, finding moments that are not just filling, but fulfilling (think the difference between fast food and a home-cooked meal) are necessary for long-term survival of the creative person. This is one of the reasons my wife and I sing in Baltimore Choral Arts. Though she sings in the choirs I direct, we relish the time that we can sing together as part of an ensemble and be involved in participating in the music, and not necessarily be in charge of it. I feel very lucky to be educating young people, from children to college students. There are always questions I'm not expecting (both on- and off-topic!) that keep my mind nimble, as well as keep me laughing! And, while I use my creativity and dreams to help me lead ensembles, classes, and performances, I also have to try to make time to work on projects that might be important only to me--these are, perhaps, the most important in the face of adversity or challenge. When my maternal grandmother died, I worked on composing a brief setting of the Lux aeterna, from the Roman Rite Requiem text. Though this was eventually performed (and so, in a deliminalized world, was therefore a "success"), the true success was in the emotional follow-through of the original vision that allowed me to constructively and creatively deal with and access loss, love, and memory. Someone will think your dreams are wonderful. Someone will also think your dreams are not necessarily worthwhile. When I have time for myself, I have to pursue (and have to keep reminding myself to pursue) those dreams that are first and foremost important to me. These dreams--the ones with personal meaning--are the ones that don't just fill the time, but fulfill the time.

When you reached the top, how did it feel?

Whenever a dream is fulfilled or a mountaintop experience achieved, or whenever someone connects with your work, it's wonderful--really, and truly, wonder-ful. However, because I am inevitably nostalgic, I tend to wish to move on to the next project to avoid the negative feeling of the loss of the moment of the dream's realization. Again, the key is in balance: it is important to realize our own successes, as they give us confidence and momentum, but it is also important to love the process of dreaming, to become as invested in the valley as in the mountaintop.

How did realizing your dream change you?

I think the realization of a dream can give confidence in one's self and one's vision. Again, balancing is in integral: self-confidence can be great ("I believe in what I am doing"), but too little can result in self-deprecation ("I believe, but don't think I can do it") or loss of vision ("I no longer believe in what I do"), and too much can create egotism ("I believe what I am doing is always right, regardless of the others or the situation"). Inevitably, realizing a dream can often boost my self-confidence, and I have to strive to fend off egotism after the peak as well as nostalgia or depression (not clinical, for me at least, though this is a common phenomena for many dreamers and creators) after the initial boost. Strive for the dream so you can realize it in your own way, but remember that it is part of a process, and not an endpoint.

What's next? What new dream would you like to reach for?

My ideas all too often overlap, and while this is frustrating because there are so few hours in the day, I hope that these dreams won't stop. So, first, I hope that there will always be new dreams. I hope that my work inspires dreams in others. I hope I can demonstrate a commitment to realizing a vision. I hope to foster creative environments--whether they last for an hour in the concert hall, or for a semester in the classroom--where people can wonder again and connect with one another. And I hope I can be honest and balanced with myself to pursue those dreams that fulfill me personally and inspire me to continue the process.

Below is a link to download two movie files; one of Douglas Buchanan conducting the In  Dulci Jubilo and another of him conducting a composition of his called O  Light and Universal Song. 

To listen to more of Douglas Buchanan's compositions and performances, visit his website:

Leave a comment:
I would love to hear about your dreams. Please click on the word comment below to leave me a message.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My Quote for the Day

Hi Everyone,
Since I didn't post a new interview this week, I thought I would give you my quote for the day. 

This whole revelation came from an email I received over the weekend from my older sister, Terriann. In the subject line, it read, Quote of the Day. Terriann and I are only eleven months apart, but she is a very wise woman. Somehow, she always knows when I need a good kick in the pants and boy did I need one at that moment.

To set the scene a little, it was early Monday morning and I was sitting at my laptop with my morning coffee cooling next to me. I was overtired, the doubt monster was particularly loud, and I guess I was feeling a little overwhelmed. I had just returned from the New Jersey Romance Writers' conference. [AND I highly recommend it to all my writer pals if you have never heard of it.] Anyway, I spent months thinking about the conference, excited about going, and then before I knew, it was over.

As wonderful as it was to spend two days surrounded by writers--actually meeting and having a conversation with two of my favorite authors, Susan Wiggs and Heather Graham-- I found myself sitting at my kitchen table second guessing this whole writing thing. Okay, I will admit it: I was a little intimidated by all the great success stories I heard. I met authors who have published 10, 20, 30, 50 books! I have written only two and I'm fifty-four years old. How do I fit in with those amazing authors? 

I opened my new WIP and read over what I last wrote... and NOTHING. My mind was blank. Instead of focusing on my task, I decided to check my email. 74 emails had come in while I was gone. I stroll down and opened my sister's email because I didn't need enhancements of any kind. This is what it said:

"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass whether you accomplish something or not." (author unknown to me)

Here's my new version of that marvelous quote: 

"Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass whether you accomplish something or not, SO YOU MIGHT AS WELL REACH FOR IT!

By lunchtime, I had written 2024 words. My sweet sister is so wise!