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! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Happy Wednesday Everyone,

I am so excited to introduce you to another fascinating dreamer, Joni Fisher.  When life gave Joni a hard punch smack right in the middle of her dream of writing, she didn't take it lying down. Instead, she reached out and accomplished another dream, her love of flying. That didn't just take courage, but incredible spirit. Today, she's found true contentment from living both dreams to their fullest. I'm so thrilled to have her here to share her journey with us.  


Would you please tell us a little about yourself?
Thank you, Nancy, for inviting me to your blog. I’m a book lover, author, journalist, wife, mother, Christian, and instrument-rated private pilot. My signature scent is aviation fuel and I believe that flying is the most fun a person can have with clothes on.

People of all ages have forgotten how to dream. What inspired you to dream?
In grade school my mother told me two things that encouraged me to dream big. She told me my IQ and that she wasn’t going to let me skip a grade because it would cause problems later. My childhood dreams included flying, breathing underwater, directing movies, writing novels, and falling in love. Dreams are like novels, because through them we can experience audacious things. In dreams, we have no limits. Later I learned that dreams can be harnessed. For example, one can pose a riddle or problem to the waking mind and the subconscious mind will explore answers, options and meaning through dreams. Some refer to this phenomenon as lucid dreaming or controlled dreaming. I audition scenes of my books in my dreams. I keep a pen and notebook near my bed to capture random ideas, solutions and images that wake me up. Inspiration doesn’t work on the clock, but I give it all my attention whenever it speaks.
I also do free writing first thing in the morning whenever possible. Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way boosted my creativity with her free writing exercise. Dreams play out the goals of the heart. Goals are dreams with a deadline. Deep down, my sweetest dream was to write the kind of stories I loved to read.
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?
A brutal critique followed by a rejection from a respected agent killed my dream for a while. It was a crushing double punch that knocked me out of my writing chair for two years. I resumed non-fiction writing and made enough money to discover that money can buy freedom, but not happiness. I read a book a week, joined a book club, got tossed from a book club, started my own book club, and earned my pilot’s license. I had to recapture my courage and flying did it. I published articles on flying for a number of magazines. Some examples are on my website.[]
Finally, I overcame my fiction writing dream killers by deconstructing them. The brutal critique—my book wasn’t as good as John Grisham’s books. Well, heck, I’m not writing legal thrillers and I can learn from Grisham’s writing strengths and his style. The agent has since gone on the speaking circuit and published three books on writing. He didn’t have time to develop a new writer because he wanted to coach hundreds to write better stories. I dove back in to improve every aspect of my fiction writing. 
How do you keep the dream alive under extreme adversity – external or internal?
I keep my dream alive by working for it every day. Internal adversity—the inner critic—is far more damaging than external adversity, at least in my life. When I need a reminder of how far my fiction writing has come, I drag out a chapter of my first novel. After a good laugh, I hide it in the far reaches of the attic.
When you reached the top, how did it feel?
I’m still climbing to the top. I do freelance editing and some journalism to make money, but the majority of my work day is dedicated to my writing. To demonstrate to a publisher that I could format manuscripts for electronic publication, I uploaded my old science fiction manuscript and tested it on Amazon and Smashwords. Within three minutes, someone had purchased a copy. I was floored. Since then, I’ve received three royalty checks. There are two places I love to see my name in print—on a byline and on a check. That feels terrific.
How did realizing your dream change you?
After a decade of struggling to get a book published, it feels odd to have one out there. I still want to publish a print book and have an agent, but that path to publication is changing. It would be my weird luck to have the very last printed novel published. I am already blessed with a wonderful life, so print publication probably wouldn’t change me too much. Okay, I would carry a box of my books in my car everywhere....but, naw, no big changes. Now, option my book for movie rights, then yeah, baby, I could go Hollywood on my family and friends and wear my sunglasses indoors. I could get insufferable.
What's next? What new dream would you like to reach for?
I’m still flying and writing. My new dream is the next book. It will be the third part of a suspense trilogy. The characters from all three books overlap, so it feels like they are waiting on stage for me to give them their story—like Luigi Pirandello’s play Six Characters in Search of an Author. I’m dreaming and writing as fast as I can, but we plotters can’t be rushed. The outline must come first. I won’t start the first draft until November for Nanowrimo. But in November, don’t be offended if I don’t answer the phone, or the door, or my emails...I’ll be hammering out two thousand words a day and downing liters of Dr. Pepper. At that speed my inner critic can’t keep up, so the dream flows faster than the sound of typing. Mach 1 here I come. 

Joni’s website:
Wordpress blog:

Phobos: Manned Mission
Published under J.M. Fisher:
Phobos: Manned Mission explores the basic cycle of emotions that drive scientific discovery—curiosity, pride, and fear—through the example of five astronauts in their fifties sent to recover an alien artifact found on Mars. Mankind’s curiosity demands the mission; pride endangers it, fear dominates it. Told from multiple points of view, the story presents deadly conflicts among the multi-national crew of three men and two women forced to share close quarters during their three-year journey.
Available for $2.99 in Kindle format from Amazon at:

An excerpt of Phobo: Manned Mission:
Mankind has a neurotic disorder, an intense, irrational phobia—if you will—regarding the planet Mars. To the Babylonians who called it Nergal, Mars represented the home of the god of death and pestilence. The Romans named it after their god of war, as did the Greeks. But aside from one little meteorite that killed a dog in Nakhla, Egypt in 1911, Mars has done nothing to earn our fear.
Geologist Travis Chancellor Whitcombe (1986-   )

On December 7, 1986, Dr. Dmitri Rykov ached for a few hours of sleep before facing the media. On this his first field assignment, he had spent the flight from El Segundo, California, studying engineering specifications and memorizing vital information. He clipped his CORDS ID badge on his jacket pocket, grabbed his small duffle bag and climbed down steep metal stairs to the tarmac. With his ears still ringing from the flight, Dmitri decelerated at last on solid ground. He took in a deep breath of humid air that smelled like melting tar. Palm fronds flapped in the breeze.
“Welcome to Tyndall, sir,” said a young soldier wearing a Canadian Forces uniform.
Disoriented, Dmitri kept his questions to himself. “Thank you.”
“This way, sir.” The soldier pointed his open hand toward a hangar door flanked by two armed soldiers.
Dmitri kept pace with the soldier. “Do you like living in New Orleans?”
“New Orleans is two-hundred forty nautical miles due west, sir.”
“Then where am I?”
“This is Florida, sir.”
Of course, the soldier could neither confirm nor deny the plans he was not privy to. Dmitri was quite irritated. Why had he been deceived? When he reached the doors of the hangar, an armed soldier took his bag. The guards patted him down and searched his overnight bag before they slid one creaking mammoth metal door sideways far enough to create a man-size opening. One soldier hefted the bag and led Dmitri into the hangar. Keeping the bag between them, the soldier carried the bag in his left hand while his right hand swung freely past his hip-holster with each step. Dmitri believed in his bones that this serious young man would shoot him on command without hesitation. Remorse might follow, but history had repeatedly proven that bullets moved faster than a man’s conscience.
Dmitri kept pace with the young soldier. Despite his work with a speech pathologist, his Russian accent persisted, an accent that tended to attract unwanted questions. Dmitri took long strides toward a mountain of equipment and the dozen camouflage-dressed soldiers in the middle of the otherwise empty hangar. Their footsteps echoed off metal and cement surfaces of the massive hangar attracting the attention of the waiting group. They turned toward Dmitri and his armed escort.
The escort set down the bag and saluted the black U.S. Air Force major who smartly saluted back. Dmitri had grown up in a predominantly Caucasian region of the Ukraine, so he was unaccustomed to meeting blacks. His curiosity, he had learned, could be mistaken for discrimination. Dmitri estimated the major stood under two meters. He remembered that in all the world only America and Burma did not use the metric or Standard International system. I must practice thinking in American. Two multiplied by 3.281 equals 6.562. Less .5, I think. Six feet tall.
The escort spoke in a loud, clear voice. “Major, this is Doctor Dmitri Rykov.”
Dmitri extended his right hand. “Major Hudson of Langley?”
Hudson shook Dmitri’s hand. “Yes. Please join us for the briefing,” He dismissed the escort with a nod.
The escort executed a pivot turn and marched back to his post outside. After the hangar door squeaked then clanged shut, Hudson addressed his team.
“NORAD headquarters has asked us to bring along a specialist to handle the media. Dr. Rykov works for the Center for Orbital Reentry Debris Studies, also known as CORDS. Basically, that organization keeps track of the trash we leave in space.”
Dmitri stared at Hudson’s mouth. He estimated it was seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit yet he could see the man’s breath against his dark skin. Such humidity seemed to defy the natural order of things. Yet there it was, this phenomenon demonstrating itself in front of him like magic, like dragon’s breath.
Hudson stared back. Hudson reacted with a raised eyebrow. Dmitri snapped out of his reverie on the physics of the temperature and dew point spread. He looked down and watched his own breath cloud up.
“As far as the outside world is concerned,” Hudson said, “this is just another chunk of space trash coming home. Remember Skylab in ’79? Well, this reentry is being attributed to a booster rocket.”
A hand rose from the cluster of seated soldiers.
Hudson’s head swiveled toward the hand. “Question?”
“Major Hudson, sir?” the soldier said in an Alabama drawl, elongating his vowels. “Was Skylab really Skylab?”
Hudson flashed bright straight teeth. “Yes.”
The soldier, seemingly satisfied that the world was safe again, slouched back into the pile of duffle bags.
“The object’s ETA is twenty-four hundred hours. We will be airborne at eighteen hundred hours, so please fit yourselves with a gas mask.” To Dmitri, Hudson said, “We wear them as a precaution against back contamination.” Hudson checked his watch. “Mess will be served at seventeen hundred. We are under a communications blackout. Understood?”
The soldiers answered in unison, “Understood, sir.”
Dmitri scowled. The booster rocket would land around dusk in swamp land. There were alligators in the swamps that fed at night, or so he’d read in National Geographic magazine. He glanced at the mountain of equipment, tools and duffle bags. There sat a stack of canvas rifle cases. Excellent.
“Dr. Rykov,” Hudson said approaching him. “Here’s your briefing packet. You have temporary clearance. Please sign the disclosure statement at the end of the packet and return it to me.”
Dmitri reached into his jacket pocket for his pen and noticed that it had been moved. The fact that his pen had been moved from one side of his pocket to the other without his notice instilled in him a deep respect for the soldiers who had so quickly searched him. He pulled out the pen with one hand while he took the TOP SECRET folder in the other hand. Why all this fuss for a booster rocket? Did it contain a secret spy camera? He sat on his overnight bag and opened the folder.
“Is he Russian?” one of the soldiers whispered to another.
Dmitri answered in a matter-of-tact tone, “Since the breakup of the U.S.S.R., I call myself Ukrainian. You may call me Rykov, or doctor. I do not answer to Smirnoff, Ruskie, or Red. And may I ask your nationalities?”
The soldiers introduced themselves by name and rank representing an even mix of U.S. and Canadian soldiers working for NORAD.
“And NORAD is an acronym, yes?”
The soldiers nodded.
“What exactly does it represent?” Dmitri tugged his trim beard, smoothing it to his chin.
“The North American Aerospace Defense Command,” said a Canadian.
Dmitri raised his eyebrows and said, “My English is poor but how does one get N-O-R-A-D from this?”
“It’s a government thing,” the Alabama soldier said pronouncing ‘thing’ as ‘thang’ which further confused Dmitri who returned to reading the report.
The report began with paragraphs warning about unauthorized reading of the document and details of the criminal charges that could be pressed against anyone other than the intended reader who happened upon the report. Following the warnings was a descriptive timeline starting with a call from an astronomer in the Hawaiian Islands and continuing as the news of the discovery of this object traveled up the chain of command and back down naming every hand it passed through except the writer of the report. Dmitri read to the fifth page before he realized why the report had been stamped TOP SECRET. He read the fifth page twice. Ultimately, the regular stages of deceleration signified that the object could not be a booster rocket. Dmitri felt his heart rate quicken. He stood and looked for Major Hudson.
A soldier handing out gas masks nudged the Major and jutted his chin toward Dmitri. Hudson turned to face Dmitri.
Dmitri pointed to the report.
Hudson walked over to him. “Yes?”
“Perhaps there is a mistake,” Rykov spoke softly. “Deceleration is not possible.”
“We’re investigating a UFO.”
Dmitri quieted the storm of questions in his head by tightening his grip on the papers in his hands.
Major Hudson’s voice rumbled soft and low like distant thunder. “Your job will be to tell the media everything they want to know about booster rockets.”
“I understand.”
The soldiers watched the exchange with amusement, some snickering. It was official. Dmitri was the last to know.
The soldier with the Alabama accent announced, “Hey, doctor, how about a few rounds of poker while we wait for supper?”
The soldiers broke into laughter. Hudson cleared his throat.
Dmitri had not played this game of chance before but he understood that bluffing was one of the key skills involved. He could lie when he had to, but the game foremost on his mind at the moment was Russian roulette. He had fled the Ukraine in May to protect himself and his daughter from harm. But for the grace of God, he and his daughter would have died with his wife if they had gone along with her to visit relatives in Pripyat that day. Fortunately, they had been spared because five-year-old Valentina had a cold. Dmitri had so enthusiastically volunteered to stay at home with her that he was accused of embracing any excuse to avoid his wife’s relatives. The accusation was true enough to drive a small emotional wedge between Dmitri and his beloved wife, a wedge that irritated him enough to call Pripyat the next day at great expense to apologize. The man who answered the phone was hysterical, shouting and weeping at once. Dmitri identified himself and tried to calm the man who cried out that unit number four was leaking and that death was overtaking them in the form of dark clouds. Dmitri shouted that he wanted to speak with his wife and the man spit out between sobs that she was vomiting like the others and her skin had turned red. He said birds fell from the sky.
Dmitri remembered his last visit to Pripyat. The nuclear reactor of Chernobyl dominated the view from the backyard.
He wanted the border patrol to believe that he and his daughter were taking an overnight trip to visit a doctor so he packed only a handful of toys to take along. He had left behind all his belongings, his house, a good job, his dying wife and the deadly radiation caused by human arrogance and carelessness. Once the news of the radiation leak spread the borders were closed. Dmitri could not have returned even if he had wanted to.
Sitting on his overnight bag in the hangar, Dmitri felt the full weight of his loss as if the last eight months had been a single long heartbreaking day.
He read the disclosure agreement that asked him to perpetuate a lie about this ‘recovery expedition’ or go directly to jail. What was a scientist to do after being welcomed into the land of the free and the home of the brave? If this event had happened in the Ukraine the government would have, no doubt, also disseminated comforting lies instead of truth. The Ukrainian government had never listed his wife’s death on the official records despite the coroner’s report. Rykov resigned himself that it was better to be on the inside of a secret than outside it, so he scribbled his signature and the date on the disclosure agreement. He stared at the date, December 7, 1986, until the ink dried. Of course he could keep such a secret. He had no one to tell who would believe him anyway, except his daughter Valentina who believed her mother was watching her from the clouds because he had said so. Forgive me, Valentina. I do the best I can.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Happy Wednesday Everyone,

Today I'm honored to introduce you to another amazing woman who never stopped reaching for her dreams. I first met Teresa Reasor through her writing. Her first book in her new series, Seal Team Heartbreakers, Breaking Free was the first book I downloaded on my new Kindle.

When I joined the KOD critique group, Lethaladies, I received this very nice welcome from a Teresa Reasor. The name sounded very familiar, but it took me a moment to connect the dots. Then it hit me and I got this excited glee ―like when you are sitting in a restaurant and Tom Hanks is seated next to you. I'm not too bashful to admit that from that moment on, I was a little star struck. I wasn’t kidding when I stated in an earlier post how in awe I am of authors. Now that I have met a few, I try very hard not to embarrass myself.

A few weeks later, Teresa began posting chapters from her new WIP [Work in Progress] Timeless and the second book in the Seal Team Heartbreakers series, Breaking Through. I was thrilled to be part of the revision process.

Teresa has since critiqued almost every chapter of my WIP and her suggestions have made my story so much better. Like I have said before, no one reaches their dreams all alone. I just hope I have been as much help to Teresa as she has been to me. 

Teresa, thank you so much for being part of this series. Your spirit truly inspires me.


Would you please tell us a little about yourself?

I’m from a small town in Southeastern Kentucky.  But I’m a Marine Corps brat and we lived all over the country. I went to nine schools in twelve years.

I’ve been married for thirty-seven years to the same guy. I have three children of whom I’m very proud, all grown. Two of them are married. No grandchildren yet, but I have grand dogs and grand cats.

I just retired last October from teaching Art to primary students after twenty-one years.  I had Kindergarten through third grade for fifteen years. Preschool thrown in there for about five. Then they moved the third grade to a different school because our enrollment went up. At that point I was seeing 650 students a week.  I had Kindergarten through second grade for the last six years. Again we had an enrollment spike and I was seeing 650 again. I also taught at the middle school for a year and the alternative school for a year during that twenty one year period.

I teach night classes for Eastern Kentucky University and have for the last ten years. I’ll be retiring from that at Christmas of this year.

And I’ve been writing since I could read. I wrote my first book about a little girl who had leukemia when I was in second grade.

I’ve written ten manuscripts, but the first four will never see the light of day. The first two I felt might be publisher ready were Highland Moonlight and Captive Hearts (both historical romances) and they were published in 2007 with The Wild Rose Press. 

Breaking Free (Book 1 of the SEAL Team Heartbreakers) I self-published in June of 2011.  It’s sold 30,000 copies. I released Timeless, my paranormal romantic suspense in January of 2012.  And the second book of my SEAL series Breaking Through has just been release in September 2012. Thus far it’s doing well. So, I’m cautiously optimistic that it may do as well as Breaking Free. But it’s like catching lightning in a bottle. You never know how a book will be received and what interest it will garner. But I do think it may be one of the best things I’ve ever written.

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

My dad. He was a Marine for 23 and ½ years. He retired as a 1st Sergeant. During the time he was in the Marines, he did a variety of things. He was a drill instructor. He was on the Marine marksman team and was number five in the nation for five years. And he went through WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. He did two tours of duty at each. He’s a tough act to follow.

Another thing about him that inspired me was that when he retired from the Marines, he went back to school at the University of Kentucky and earned an Architectural Drafting Degree. He went back to work for another twenty-five years.  He never stopped growing as a person or as a professional in everything he did. He worked as a geologist and surveyor for a mining company for the last seven or eight years he worked for the company.

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?

REAL LIFE nearly killed my dream. My oldest child decided college wasn’t for her, but my two youngest went.  I had two kids in college at the same time. We didn’t want them to start a life after college with 100,000 dollar student loans so I went out and found a second job. There were days I was working fourteen hour days. I did that for eight years until everyone was out of school and every credit card, and college expense was paid off.

I’ve continued to teach for Eastern Kentucky University since then, but after retiring from my day job, I’ve been able to release the book that took me nearly three years to write, Timeless.  I’ve been told it’s different than any other paranormal book of its kind. (It’s about monoliths in Scotland.) I hope it is. If I hadn’t had it to turn to and take me away from real life, I may not have made it.

After my retirement from teaching college at Christmas, I hope to release the third book of the SEAL Team series Breaking Away by summer of next year.

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

When my dad died in 1999, I was in the midst of writing Highland Moonlight. After his death I couldn’t write a word for eighteen months. I couldn’t even focus to put two words together. I had to work through the physical and emotional trauma of that loss before I could go back to it.

Then I decided that life was too short to put my dream on hold for everyone else. It took four years of writing, working, and submissions but my first two books were published.

Then my children needed me and my work schedule made it extremely difficult to find the energy to continue, but I did. I clung to those few words I was able to put down on paper and allowed them to take me away from all the stress I was going through. 

I went through the submission process again. At one time Breaking Free was on six different editors desks at one time and every time I’d call they’d say it’s still on his/her desk. I’d think they haven’t even looked at it. But the assistants that I spoke with insured me they had.

I finally got tired of waiting. And the wave of self-publishing was just kicking into high gear. One editor called to offer me a contract, and I just couldn’t take it. I thought I’m tired of this process, this waiting, this putting my dream on hold because of work and because of the machine called traditional publishing that ran at its sluggish “dream killing” pace.

I’d waited four years, working my behind off trying to write a quality story and danced to everyone’s tune. And I just drew a line in the sand and said, “NO MORE.”

So I self-published Break Free and the rest is—still happening.

When you reached the top, how did it feel?

I don’t feel like I’ve quite reached the top of what I want to accomplish.

I’m thrilled—wildly thrilled at my success with my books.

Highland Moonlight has sold extremely well, too.  Timeless is still too young to say what it will do.

I’d like to write another medieval romance, and another paranormal. I know you’re supposed to brand yourself, but I have too many diverse interests and too many stories going on in my head to do that.

And good business sense says keep writing the military romances. Write the medieval romance.  But I have these characters going through my head begging to be heard.

When I have a book on the New York best sellers list, I may feel like I’ve made it to the top, but we’ll see.

 All I know is that I have this drive to put words down on paper and hear these character’s voices. And if I never published another book, I’d still be driven to write the stories.

How did realizing your dream change you?

I’ve shed ten tons of weight when I shed the day job. For the last five years it was MISERABLE.  That release was a dream come true.

And now I’m living my dream. Not many people can say that. And I’m so grateful for it. I thank God every day for it.

I’ll continue to live my dream as long as my fingers will work to type in the words and the voices are still whispering in my ear. 

But as far as changing me—

I know I’m more content. I know the drive I had to pour into my two jobs has shifted, and now I’m pouring it into my writing. And I’ve been told that because I’m no longer so stressed out, I’m different. I’m clearer. My mind functions again without having exhaustion dragging at my every thought.  And I think I’m turning into Estelle Getty on Golden Girls.  I don’t watch what I say anymore.  I just say what I think.

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

My friends say I need to try a romantic comedy.

Who knows, maybe I will. One day.

But the next book of the SEAL Team Heartbreakers will be my next project.

I also have a children’s book I’m trying to finish the illustrations for.  I have three more to go and I’ll be done.
I’d love to see it ready for Christmas.

And I’ve had some of my artwork printed and my prints are selling. So more drawings and paintings will be in the works. I’m working on a multimedia work right now that I think will be different.

So I don’t just write but I paint, too. But writing is my major passion and always will be.

Illustrations by Teresa Reasor for a children's book, working title, Haiku Clue.

Thank you for having me.  I really appreciate it.  I’ve loved sharing with you.


Seal Team Heartbreakers, Book 2 Breaking Through
Released September 2012 

What happens when a Navy SEAL wakes from a month-long coma to discover he’s being investigated for murder?

When Ensign Brett Weaver is accused of murder, he knows he’s innocent, but how can he prove it with Naval Investigators breathing down his neck? A chance meeting with reporter Tess Kelly offers him an opportunity to get the press on his side. But can he trust her to keep his other secrets off the record?

Tess works hard to live up to her father's expectations. When Brett offers her information about SEAL training in exchange for an introduction to her award-winning journalist father, she jumps at the chance. The situation Brett lobs into her father's lap is a major scoop. But the secret she discovers about Brett is just as newsworthy. Will her feelings for this wounded warrior win out, or will she release a story guaranteed to destroy Brett’s SEAL career?

Released March 2012

Archaeology student, Regan Stanhope, lands the chance of a lifetime when she’s chosen to work on a summer dig in Loch Maree, Scotland. The ancient monoliths hidden beneath the loch are the most important discovery since Stonehenge. And for seven hundred years, they have been waiting—for her.

Saturation diver Quinn Douglas is contracted to recover some of the megaliths from the loch’s bottom. The job will breathe life into the struggling salvage business he and his brothers are building. But from the moment he arrives, Quinn is plagued by dreams and feelings from a past he did not live. Or did he?

Regan and Quinn are drawn to each other as they research the monoliths and the reason behind their shared visions. But both sense something mystical at work, delving into their minds, manipulating their emotions. And when they finally discover the monoliths’ extraordinary secret, they know they must seal them away from those who are desperate to unlock their power. Even if it means remaining caught in a timeless struggle between the past and present forever.

Highland Moonlight
Released 2007

To find more about Teresa Reasor, visit her here:
Highland Moonlight  

Captive Hearts
Breaking Free (Book 1 of the SEAL TEAM Heartbreakers)
Breaking Through (Book 2 of the SEAL TEAM Heartbreakers)
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