Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Hi Everyone,

Today, I would like to introduce to a wonderful romantic suspense author, Joya Fields. After I finished my first novel, I began to look into the mysterious world of publishing. The first bit advice I ran into was how crucial it was to find a critique group. After months of searching, I was accepted into this amazing group call Lethaladies through the Romance Writers of America. I polished my first chapter for days then loaded it on the loop--- and couldn't catch my breath for several minutes after I hit send.

Well, talk about acting like an over-dramatic ninny. I received back this amazing chapter critique from Joya which helped my story so much, I could have cried. Our friendship began. Joya has not only become a great friend, but amazing mentor. And I love her writing. Breathe the Surface is a fantastic story.

I discovered something very important about dreams from Joya. No one can reach their dreams without support. Joya, thanks so for your friendship and being here today, sharing your dream. I pray everyone with a dream in their heart will have someone like you to help them achieve it.

Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

Thanks very much for inviting me to your blog today, Nancy. What an honor to be here chatting about dreams. Such an awesome topic. My dream, even as a child, was to be a published author. I’ve been writing since I was little, kept writing through high school (on the newspaper staff at school), took creative writing classes in college, and majored in English. After graduating, I worked at The Easter Seal Society of Maryland where I used a lot of my writing skills to create fundraising literature.
I put my dreams on hold for a little bit as I raised my family, and then tackled them again when my youngest started middle school. I submitted articles and short stories to magazines, and after lots of rejections, I started to get lots of acceptances. While publishing short stories and articles, I wrote novels and collected rejections for those. BENEATH THE SURFACE, my third full-length book was the one that finally got me a book contract.

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

This is a great question! You’re right about people forgetting how to dream. Honestly, I think I’m one of the lucky ones because I’ve found my “calling.” Not everyone does, and that’s kind of sad, isn’t it?
As far as what inspired me to dream, I’d have to say my family. My parents always encouraged me in my pursuits, and my grandmother had a major influence on my ability to dream. My grandmother and I would sit on her front porch swing for hours and I would tell her stories. Ridiculous stories. Things that could never realistically happen. But she never told me that. She’d just say, “tell me more.” She made me feel like I was good at story telling.

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?

Dream killers in the publishing world would probably be rejection letters. They are never fun, and you’re right—they can bring your dreams to a dead stop. I think the trick is to let the rejection bring you to a dead stop (gasp!). But only for an hour. It’s like the grieving process. Go through the steps of denial, anger, etc. and then have some ice cream and chocolate. Or a glass of wine. Then get back to work. So if something kicks you off your dream track, don’t ignore it, give it value. Then get past it and get back to work on your dream. You are in control of your dream. Nobody else. Just you.

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

Keeping your dream alive under extreme adversity has to do with work ethic. I treat my writing as a job. Every day, people experience a bad day, or have something bad happen in their life, but they still have to get up and go to work. Life loves to throw curves our way, doesn’t it? Showing up is half the battle.
I also think experience can help you get through adversity. Do you have one big dream? Maybe lots of little dreams is a good thing, too. In college, I dreamed of being a professional cheerleader. Without telling anyone, I tried out for the Baltimore Colts’ Cheerleaders. Honestly, I didn’t think I had a chance, but I figured why not try? Imagine my surprise when I made the squad! One of the coolest experiences of my life, but if I hadn’t tried—and been willing to fail—I never would have had that experience. Setting goals of ANY type—even if they’re not your “big” goal—can help you remember that, even in adverse conditions, you’ve made your dreams come true before, and you can do it again.

When you reached the top, how did it feel?

For me, this question might tie back to the “extreme adversity” you asked about in the previous question. When my first book was released, we were going through a major move, my daughter was starting college, and my husband had a health crisis. We had so much going on that my book release almost took a back seat. I had to laugh, though, because it certainly kept everything in perspective. Dreams are great, but family comes first. Everything worked out fine. Again…life throwing curve balls, but dreamers need to learn how to duck out of the way or hit those curve balls out of the park.

How did realizing your dream change you?

Oh my gosh. Hopefully achieving my dream of being published didn’t change me at all. Maybe a little—in that it reinforced that when you set high goals, you can achieve them.

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

You’re right! Dreamers should never stop dreaming, and should always set the bar higher. I plan to keep chasing my dream of being an author by writing more, writing different genres, and going out of my comfort zone. My next dream is to be a best-selling author. How about that? May as well dream big, right?

Thanks very much for inviting me to be a part of this awesome post, Nancy. Obviously, I’m a big believer in dreams, so I appreciate the opportunity to talk about them. I hope you continue to pursue your goals and dreams, and that everyone who reads this does, too! 

Joya, thanks again for sharing your dreams with us. For more Joya Field, you can find her here:

Joya Field's webpage:

Twitter: @joyafields

And here is Beneath the Surface
[Is that a gorgeous cover or what!]


She’s fighting to stay independent—he’s determined to protect her no matter what…

Brooke Richards survived the earthquake that took her parents and most of her leg, but she needs time to regroup. A trip to Florida for a state-of-the-art prosthesis and to visit her best friend Linda seems ideal. But the trip turns traumatic when Brooke witnesses Linda’s boat disintegrating in a fiery explosion.

Police officer Garrett Ciavello believes the blast was intentionally set to hide something Linda found on a dive. When Brooke offers her expertise in underwater archeology, Garrett accepts her help with the investigation. But since his fiancĂ©e’s death years ago, Garrett has become overprotective, and as they are drawn to each other, Garrett realizes he will risk anything to keep Brooke safe.

Brooke is fiercely independent. Garrett is fiercely protective. Will they heal each other’s wound and find a killer…before it’s too late?


          For the first time since the accident, Brooke forgot about her leg. Forgot about all she’d lost and focused on the way Garrett made her feel.
          She knew she needed to stop him. She should find a way to resist the temptation to be with him. But for a few minutes, she could enjoy the taste of him, the feel of him, couldn’t she?
          He dropped his hands to her waist and softened the kiss before trailing a line of kisses down her neck. A weak cry slipped from her mouth. “Garrett,” she whispered.
          She should stop this now before it got any more intense.
          He lifted her chin and forced her to meet his brown eyes, smoky with desire. Heat spiraled to her middle and she caught a whiff of his sawdust scent.
          “I…I can walk you back to your own room before I head to mine.” His voice broke as he whispered.
          She swallowed hard. She couldn’t do this right now with him. Too many obstacles stood in their way. But as she looked in his somber eyes, she realized none of those complications were bigger than her need for Garrett.
          “Let’s go to your room,” she said, her voice shaking. She moved her hands inside his shirt and ran them over his tight abs and chest. Heat soared through her body at the feel of him. “Together…”

Wednesday, September 19, 2012


Hi everyone,

I have always been inspired by people who follow their dreams.  Today, I’m so excited to introduce a woman I have been in awe with for years. Dr. Joy Crisp, the Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Project Scientist, is here to share with us how she learned to dream, and how her dreams led her to Mars.

Joy, I know that since the new Mars rover Curiosity’s landing in August, you have been living on Mars time.  I can’t thank you enough for taking time out of your crazy schedule to share what keeps your dream alive and how you handle the constant ups and downs.

Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

I received a bachelor's degree in Geology from Carleton College in Minnesota and a PhD in Geology from Princeton University.  My scientific expertise is in the mineralogy and formation of volcanic rocks on Earth and Mars. I have been a scientist at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1987, carrying out NASA-funded research on volcanic eruption clouds and lava flows on Earth and Mars.  For the Mars Pathfinder Project, I was the Assistant Rover Scientist and Alpha Proton X-ray Spectrometer Investigation Scientist.  After that, I was the Mars Exploration Rover Project Scientist for the Spirit and Opportunity rovers for six years.  In my current job as Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Project Scientist since 2005, I have worked to maintain the science integrity of the mission and to prepare for and carry out science operations for the Curiosity rover on Mars.

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

What inspires me to dream is being a “rock detective.” I like trying to figure out how rocks formed by studying and interpreting the clues revealed by textures, mineralogy, chemistry, and the local geology.  The rover missions on Mars have allowed us to answer a lot of questions about what Mars was like in the past, and have also taken us to the next level of interesting questions for us to ponder.  To be on the very edge of these discoveries, and to see the detective work as it unfolds, is awesome and exciting.  I am also jazzed that kids and people in the general public find the rover missions interesting and that it inspires kids to be more interested in science and engineering.

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’ve never come to a complete dead stop.  But my work on the Mars missions has been a never-ending cycle of encountering problems and either overcoming them, working around them, or accepting them and resetting expectations.  The problems span a wide range of things that the whole team faces: tight schedule constraints, budget issues, technical challenges, complexity challenges, and new bureaucratic challenges!

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

What keeps me going is seeing new pictures come down from Mars with amazing surprises and hearing about new things the science team is figuring out.  When working on a Mars rover mission that is years in the making, before it gets to Mars, the dream stays alive with the realization of how exciting it will be when the rover finally gets there.  It also helps that a whole team works through the problems together. The wide variety of people helps bring different ideas, attitudes, and team spirit into the mix and strengthens our ability to get through it.
        When you reached the top, how did it feel?

When each of the rover missions have landed successfully on Mars (Sojourner, Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity), I felt a huge sense of relief and happiness, but also realized my life was about to change tremendously once again as my workday life suddenly changed from planning and preparing for a mission to actually carrying out a mission. Each mission has been more difficult than the previous one so the psychological and scientific payoff keeps increasing.

         How did realizing your dream change you?

         It made all that hard work leading up to the success feel worth it. And it makes me really proud of the team – that we pulled it off.

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

My current dream (which I share with the whole science and engineering team) is that we are able to use the Curiosity rover to its fullest and make it all the way over to Mount Sharp.  We won’t know what discoveries will be in store for us until we get there, but the pictures taken from about 5 miles away are stunning!  I want to help enable the science team to get the most out of the mission we can, and participate in the learning. 

If anyone would like to follow Curiosity, you can find more information here:

Dr. Joy Crisp at the launch of Curiosity at Cape Canaveral, Florida 11/26/2011

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


I asked a group of teenagers a couple months ago what their dreams were. What did they aspire to be one day? One young man raised his hand and shared his dream of getting accepted into a great science and tech high school and entering college as an Electrical Engineering major. No other hand went up after that.  And it wasn’t that the rest of the teens were unwilling to share, or they felt uncomfortable about answering the question; over the course of the past year we spent together, they dealt with much harder questions. Then I received a comment that shocked me to my core. Why bother dreaming. They don’t come true anyway.

When did young adults stop dreaming? What changed so drastically in our world that these amazing young people no longer dreamed of tomorrow? As I stared at the fourteen young teens completely tongue tied, one thought raced through my mind. What an incredible loss to mankind if we have raised a generation who sees no value in reaching for the stars.

This question began to haunt me, even kept me up at night. But two amazing events this summer eased my mind a little: watching the best athletes around the world compete in the 2012 Olympics in London; and knowing that the new rover, Curiosity, landed completely intact on the surface of Mars.

Each member of these two groups, as different as they are to each other, had one common element, one central theme. They learned very early in life how to dream.

But how did they keep that dream alive? What motivated them? What kept them in the fight? What pushed them to challenge themselves day after day, brutal fall after brutal fall?

In order to answer the question, I have invited guests from different walks of life, different ages, different backgrounds, to share their dreams with us. Dreams come in different shapes and sizes. No one dream fits everyone. But what is so incredible about working toward your dream is what you learn about yourself along the way.

To start off my series on Keeping Your Dreams Alive, I have decided to make myself answer the questions I’ve asked others to answer. So here goes.

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

I learned how to dream as a young child. My parents taught us that there was nothing we couldn’t do if we put our whole heart and mind into something. I believed them. My earliest dream was when I was about six-years old. I watched my first ballet performance on the Lawrence Welk show and I all I talked about was become a ballerina. My mom enrolled me in dance class. As you might have guessed, that dream didn’t come true. But it didn’t keep me from dreaming. I have had several dreams over the years, but the one that nagged me until I did something about it was writing my first novel. I think some dreams just refuse to be ignored and haunt you until you do something about them.
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?

My biggest dream killer with my writing is what I call my doubt monster. It’s that horrid voice in my head that tells me that I’m not good enough. I know that if I don’t have faith in myself, how can I expect others to have faith in me? So, I yell at it daily, hourly to just shush it up. I push the doubt down and focus. I make myself write, keep my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keys. If a scene isn’t working, I sit there until it reads the way I think it should. Of course, my sweet mom, [my angel] is sitting on my shoulder whispering in my ear that I can do it!

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

This is a hard question. I deal with external and internal adversity every day of my life. As most people know, I use a wheelchair. I was in a terrible car accident at the age of twenty and was thrown from the vehicle breaking my back and severing my spine at the waist. But becoming a paraplegic didn’t stop me or stop me from dreaming. Life comes with obstacles. I guess that experience taught me how to place problems in prospective. They are only as big as I allow them to be. I push up a lot of hills. Adversity is just another hill. Once I make it to the top, I get to coast downhill.

When you reached the top, how did it feel?
My first response to this question was I haven’t made it to the top yet. But then I took a moment to define my dream and what making it to the top really meant to me. When I began to write, I never believed that I had it in me to write a book. I have such a deep respect for writers that I never in a million years believed I could be one of them. But here I am, working on my third novel. So how did it feel when I finished my first novel, then the next? If I could, I would have danced on the ceiling.

How did realizing your dream change you?

I would love to say that my dream of finishing my first novel changed me in some profound way. But honestly, while my daily life has changed, [I sit in front of my laptop for hours on end] I’m the same Nancy I have always been. Becoming a writer didn’t get rid of the horrid laundry, house work, cooking like I had hoped. But seriously, finishing my first novel did give me an incredible sense of personal achievement. Typing THE END on the second book in the series ended any doubt that I had that I might be a one-book- wonder.

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

My next dream is to publish my series so the world can read them. While that process is underway, I’m working on my third book. I don’t think I will ever stop reaching for that thing that’s just out of my reach. And what I learn about myself while working for my dreams is almost better than achieving the dream. Try it! See what I’m talking about.

I want to thank everyone for stopping by. I hope this dream series will inspire you to reach for something you believe is just beyond your grasp. If you would like to share your dream, I would love to hear about it. And come back next week to meet my first amazing guest, Dr. Joy A. Crisp, Mars Science Laboratory Deputy Project Scientist. She is going to share her dream of exploring Mars!