Life as I know It

My photo
San Luis Obispo, California, and South Bristol, Maine, United States
Author ~ Illustrator ~ Lecturer

Monday, November 17, 2014

When a Dream Becomes Reality it can be SCARY!

My "friends" Zenobia and Lark run for a hide-out.

Dear Friends,

Ok, so now I've confessed to you all that turning a dream into a reality is SCARY, really scary. That's exactly what happened to me on November the 11th, 2014. A book I began writing many years ago and that I never dreamed would be published, well, it was, and I am trying to grapple with disbelief and joy, two warring elements in my brain.

First you think to yourself, "I can write a book. If he can do it, then I can do it." Then you may sit at your desk and stare at a keyboard or pen for hours. It happens to us all.

For me the dream began in 1969 when I found an old suitcase filled with family letters that dated back to the late 1700s. I soaked in the cadence of their words, the thoughtfulness, the history, the Quaker dialect, the landscape. I rolled in the old letters the way a kitten tumbles around in a bed of

I began copying the letters in 1969...

...and continued in 1974.

Some of the letters were faded, and this particular one had blood spots on the top. I copied the letters every time I visited my Cousin Margaret Macdonald, who is the one who first took me to Quaker meetings at Goose Creek, Lincoln, Virginia. What a life-changing experience.

I made notes, copious notes; I copied every word in the letters; I visited the Virginia and Pennsylvania countryside and fell deeply in love with it and the people. I began to write, but I never really believed that anything other than a heartfelt story would emerge for my family to enjoy.

Enter my husband. "You can do it. Just keep shooting for the stars, and you'll do it." So I began to work on my book (which I still didn't believe would ever be a book), and I began to carry pages to my Cambria Writers' Workshop and Kiddie Writers, two critique groups that proved to be invaluable to my process.

Every day I wrote a few pages. Every Wednesday in Cambria I received critiques, drove home, and worked for five to six hours to remedy anything that needed to be remedied. Over and over, hour after hour. My friend, screenwriter Janet Brownell, once advised me to always walk away from my writing when I knew that I had more story inside me to tell. So every night I would get to a point that felt like the story was ready to flow, and I would close the lid to my computer, lock the studio door, and head back into my home and life.

Sometimes, because I spent so many hours working on the book, I actually dreamed out parts of the plot. Those dreams were an amazing gift. I'd get up in the morning and sprint into the studio to make note of them.

So now the book is out there in the world. It is like walking your son to his first day of kindergarten. How can I let this precious part of me face the world alone? It is as though you slice open your chest and fillet your heart into thin, thin pieces. Some critics will gobble up the pieces and spit them out as though they are spoiled, others may treasure their pieces and share them with their loved ones. I can't choose what happens, but I know that some will care for their book, others will toss it aside. I did my best and that is all I can do.


You were all invited to the party, but I was so out of it (yes, I am still in the wheelchair) that I relied on word-of-mouth and Dr. Dan Krieger's wonderful Tribune newspaper story to alert my friends about the event held at The Steynberg Gallery in San Luis Obispo, California.

My sister Laurie, my dear friend Ginny, and Jeff start working the day of the party.

I am supervising!

Is this outdoor table fabulous? YES! My friends Susie Bassetti (Bassetti Vineyards), Cindy Steidel, Penny, Carol, Ginny, and my sis and brother-in-law, and Jeff worked hard to ready the area. Pomegranates, sunflowers, pine cones, Grenache grape vines cut by Ellis Bassette, my dear ones pitched in.

Jeff rolls me through the garden as we leave for The Steynberg Gallery. "Nobody will come," I tell Jeff. He says, "We will have a heck of a lot of cake to eat then." That does NOT reassure me.

"See," I said, "nobody is coming. Get out the cake knife."

When he wheeled me through the door, I wanted to kiss everyone there.

My friend Dee Dee Osborne drove down from Carmel. Dee Dee and I knew each other many years ago in Santa Barbara. Talk about an amazing reconnection. We "found" each other because she wrote me after watching an episode of Central Texas Gardener, on which I appeared. Imagine, Central Texas Gardener has such outreach. (Linda Lehmusvirta, Tom Spencer and staff, amazing).

I looked out into the audience and saw so many who are my beloved, long-time friends.

Throughout the event my friends, musicians, composers, singer extraordinare, Mary Anne and Ames Anderson of Simple Pleasures, performed music of the 1850s. They were superb!

Back at my home Cindy, Susie, Ginny, Carol, and Penny (who was outside finishing bouquets) slaved in my little kitchen.

I celebrated, signed books, saw old friends I hadn't seen in years.

Oh, and we all ate cake, glorious chocolate fudge and carrot cake. Whatever was left over was sent (with the cover intact) on to Hawthorne School.

My stepson Jim efficiently handles book sales. This one is to my dear friend Elizabeth Spurr who has many, many children's books to her credit. She is a fabulous writer. All net proceeds from the sale are to benefit the historic Dallidet Adobe and Garden in San Luis Obispo, California.

I especially loved talking to children who are also interested in becoming writers. We need more programs for young writers. 

Jeff watches over me and everything going on. Since I couldn't walk around and visit, he did it for me. What a partner he is. Thank you, Jeffrey! 

Great friends begin to arrive at my home. Jeanie Greensfelder (left, who recently had her poem read on Writer's Almanac), Connie Higdon Gannon, who is the new director of Greenspace in Cambria, Annie, a wonderful photographer and ceramist, and Thomas, who writes beautifully. 

The farm table is slowly being filled with foods for fabulous friends.

Dear friends Matt Spurr, Ginny Holihan, Susan Branch, Diana, Lee, and Penny (who finally sat down for a moment of rest).

More friends (fainter of heart and not so wild about the cooling weather outdoors) moved inside.

The candles lit, the food available, and some brave souls ventured outdoors to eat and talk.

Writer/photographer Lorin Cary shoots some photos. Check out his Facebook page.

My adopted daughter Skydrea serenaded me with her newly written song and her amazing, thrush-like voice. Thank you dear, Skye.

The day was a looooong one, but one of the most wonderful of my life. Thank you to all my dear friends and readers who helped me celebrate the birth of my book. You make my life richer and fuller.  A million thanks to my brother-in-law Jeff Prather and my sis Laurie. Jeff took most of these photos.

Love across the miles and thank you for joining me. I think I posted too many photos, but I wanted to share the experiences. I know that I am not posting blogs very often. Sometimes it seems like days are not even 24 hours long now.  


P.S. The winner of the book An Ocean Garden by Josie Iselin was chosen by the random number generator. Congratulations to Cathi Lamoreux. Cathi, I don't have your address. Please send it along to me and we'll ship the book to you.


Pom Pom said...

I'm so excited about your book and so eager to read it! Yay! Mend that ankle, Sharon. Congratulations!

Vee said...

Absolutely thrilled for your dream to come true (with lots of hard work through the years). I am making a beeline for my Amazon account.

Lorrie said...

Congratulations, Sharon! What a fabulous party.

Julie Marie said...

Congratulations dear cousin Sharon!... I am so happy and excited for you!... I cannot wait to buy the book and read it cover to cover... especially since I know a bit about the history behind it, and your letters and research on family history and all... (which brought us together in a way, along with cousin Veni!)... I am so proud of you!!!... you are such an inspiration to me... and everyone else whose lives you touch... I especially love it when you reach out to the children... they adore you too!... what a wonderful party that must have been... you look beautiful, as always... just wish you can be up and out of that darn wheelchair soon... hello to Jeff... yes, he is a wonderful man and I can see how very proud of you he is as well... loved seeing more of your family members too... lots of love to you sweet lady, xoxo... Julie Marie PS Congratulations to your winner!...

The Joy of Home with Martha Ellen said...

Congratulations on your new book! I can't wait to read it! It sounds wonderful! Take care as you recover! ♥

Bonnie K said...

You are so lucky to have such a special day shared with family and friends. Congratulations on seeing your dream come true. Thank you for sharing the day.

Pat said...

What happiness for you and what joy for readers! Heartfelt congratulations to you on such well deserved recognition.

kj said...

i am so proud of you. kick up your feet (when able) because this book is going to soar. i heard your reading on fb today and manohmanohman.

i love you, sharon honey

Beth said...

Hi, Sharon! Stop being nervous. You're book is going to do great. I couldn't put it down! love, Beth

La Table De Nana said...

I think I would have been bawling my eyes out.
What a turnout etc..Congratulations on the book..your family..your friends..your fans..And continued wishes to get to hop out of the wheelchair soon.

Susan J Tweit said...

Such a book of the heart, and what an education and inspiration it will be to all who read it (and they will be legion). Congratulations! What a story.... Loved the photos and the sense of celebrating with you. May that ankle heal well, drawing on the wave of your joyous book launch. Love to you from across the many mountain ranges.

Barbee' said...

Thank you for including us and allowing us to peer into your life and party. What a wonderful event! Thank you, and congratulations.

One Woman's Journey - a journal being written from Woodhaven - her cottage in the woods. said...

Oh my
how exciting
and so much to take in
as I read line after line.
What a wonderful celebration
and yes
your book will be
a best seller.
Get well wishes from
a cottage by the woods.

The Herbalist's Cottage said...

Congratulations on your book launch how very very exciting for you. You have some wonderful friends so that must mean you are a wonderful friend too.
Love Leanne NZ

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Beth Curtin,

Thank you, I am so glad you couldn't put it down. I guess the nervousness is natural. Right? I bared my soul and inevitably someone will stomp on it with cleated shoes. Yikes.

Thanks for your words of encouragement!


Peg H. said...

My granddaughters, Ella and Sarah, loved meeting you and being at your book release party. They were also thrilled to see themselves pictured on your blog.
Thanks for being an inspiration for me and for them.

Lori ann said...

wonderful!! i loved every bit of this dear sharon (except for the wheelchair part). get well soon and keep reaching for the stars (it must be easy, for you are among them).

sending love and hugs up the coast


p.s. you know i would have come if i had not been traveling!

Sharon Lovejoy said...

My dear pal Lori Ann,

Hope that your daughter's shower was wonderful. I know it must have been and can't imagine all the glorious hand made things your future grandchild will wear.

Sending love,
Sharon (thanks for stopping by)

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Peg,

YOUR GIRLS ARE LOVELY! I did not want to put their names on the blog posting, but hope they know how much their presence meant to us.

Sending love,

Kay G. said...

Dear Sharon,
I am so happy for you! Wishing you the very best of luck with this new book!! Big hug to you!

Kay xx

Mim said...

What a wonderful post. Congrats on this amazing achievement.

Kristina said...

Congratulations, dear Sharon! You have made your dream come true! What a lovely party with dear friends...perfect! Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes!


Sharon Lovejoy said...

Thanks Kristina and Mim!

I so appreciate your support.

And thanks to all you other friends (IF I haven't already thanked you). Your words and thoughts help so much.


Dee Nash said...

Tears of joy sprung to my eyes as I read this. I am over-the-moon happy for you! Also, when I read these words, "First you think to yourself, "I can write a book. If he can do it, then I can do it." Then you may sit at your desk and stare at a keyboard or pen for hours. It happens to us all." Oh yes, it does. Your words give me hope that novel is still inside me somewhere. I wrote three that sit dusty in drawers you know. Or, maybe another gardening book? I don't know. Love, love and love to you dear Sharon. I'm so happy for you!!!~~Dee

Vicki Boster said...

Blessed is the soul who searches for his dream and makes it come true...

You are proof positive that we should never give up on our dreams--I am so proud of you and so happy for your success. I can't wait until I can cuddle up and read every word of your incredible story. After that I want to share it with all my friends-- spread the word:)

I can't believe you thought no one would come to your party-- are you kidding?? Love love to you--

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dee Nash,

YOU have the gift of communication. I KNOW you can do it. I don't know if you want to do another garden book, but YOU are a writer.


Anonymous said...

Dear Sharon,
CONGRATULATIONS!! I am so happy for you with the publication of Running Out of Night. The book signing event looked like such a wonderful party evening for all! I love all of the pictures and was glad to see Susan Branch attended. I love her blog as well as yours! Again, Sharon, a big Congratulations to you dear friend. Hugs and Blessings to you. Barbara Stillman from Cumming, Georgia

jerilanders said...

Sharon, What a journey you took to get to the final destination;I loved the background story on how your book came about. I assume we can get a copy from Amazon? Fabulous bash for you to reward you for your work. I'm feeling a bit sorry for myself after seeing the great outpouring from your friends and fans at your book launch, I've never had so much as a cupcake after finishing a book! But, You deserve the kudos and I am happy for you, wishing you sell a gazillion copies!

Lemon Verbena Lady said...

What an amazing journey and to have so much family history Sharon with your letters! What a blessing for us as readers and to be friends is another blessing! Very blessed! All blessings come to those who do good! You know what I mean! xo Nancy

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Dear Nancy,

YOU are one of our blessings. Yes, even "Phone Man" feels that way.

I am so happy we became friends and I will never forget you and Bonnie driving all the way to Cincinnati with your fabulous herbal concoctions (and even real wine glasses).

Happy holidays,

Love, Sharon

La Petite Gallery said...

Congratulations on your book. sending
good wishes for a great 2015,
Yvonne St GEO Maine

Sharon Lovejoy said...

Thank you dear Yvonne,

And the same to you. All joys and good health in 2015.

Kiss a Maine tree for me!


Anonymous said...

Just bought kindle edition and look forward to reading it.
Best wishes for a happy, healthy 2015
Gail, Quinton, VA

Sharon Lovejoy said...


Thanks so much and best wishes to you too! Happy 2015. I hope you enjoy the book. I love Virginia. It is about as cold as Virginia here tonight.