Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Dreaming with Julie Cohen

By Anna Sugden

(well, Julie did all the hard work and wrote it - I just posted it and added the pics *grin*)

I'm thrilled to welcome my very dear friend, award-winning author Julie Cohen, back to the Bandita's Lair.

Whether you're published, almost-published, just starting or just dreaming, I know you'll find inspiration in Julie's post ... as well as hunks and humour!

Yo Banditas! Anna asked me to do a post for you about dreams.

See, when I first met the said beautiful and talented Ms. Sugden, I had a whole list of dreams in my pocket. I wanted to have a book published by Harlequin. I wanted to write mainstream single-title romance, too. I wanted to give up the day job as a teacher and become a full-time writer. I wanted to have a baby. I wanted to have a wild passionate affair with Owen Wilson.

It’s five years later. I’ve published six books with Harlequin Mills & Boon, and the one that’s released in the US this February, Harlequin Presents HIS FOR THE TAKING, has been shortlisted for the UK Romantic Novelists’ Association Romance Prize . I’ve published two mainstream single-title romances with Headline’s Little Black Dress imprint. I’ve had a baby, a gorgeous and noisy little boy. And between the little boy and the furious writing, I’ve been able to give up the day job to become a full-time mother and writer.

The only dream I haven’t achieved is the affair with Owen Wilson.

I don’t think I achieved these dreams through any magic. My secret was pretty much that I worked my ass off and I had a lot of sex. (With my husband, not Owen, though I’m not complaining.) I had some real highlights on the way--finalling in the Golden Heart, getting that first Call, my first publisher party, my supportive and wonderful writing friends, my first book signing. The moment, two days before Christmas 2006, when I first held my son.

I’ve also had some real setbacks. Rejection after rejection, of course, even after signing with my agent. Sarky contest feedback. Crap reviews. Days at work so stressful that I couldn’t write. Writing so stressful I couldn’t do my work properly. Interviews where I said appallingly stupid things. Those nights at the computer where I banged my head on the desk, convinced that I suck, I suck, I suck. And I lost three pregnancies to miscarriage, too.

I don’t know about you, but I always thought that when I’d ticked off that list of dreams, I’d be a different person. That somehow I’d be transformed into a Successful Author and magically all my self-doubts would fly out the window and I wouldn’t have to clean any toilets any more.

But it’s not like that. I’m constantly juggling writing and everything else--even more than when I was working full time, because a child is a hell of a lot more difficult than a job. People say that they don’t understand how I can keep motivated when I’m working from home, and for me, actually, the reverse is true: as my work is right there in my house, on the dining room table in fact, I feel that I have to be at it every spare minute I have. It’s more difficult for me to give myself time off.

No matter what my editor and agent and crit partners say, no matter how good the reviews are, no matter how many books I sell, there are still nights when I suck, I suck, I suck. And I want every book to get better, but God does it hurt to make it better, because you have to challenge your comfort zones, give that little bit more, dig that little bit deeper, all on a deadline.

And dude, do I ever have to clean the freakin’ toilet.

Anyway, I have a whole new set of dreams now. I want to make enough money from my writing so that we can move somewhere I can have an office of my own, away from sticky little fingers. I want to write bigger, more complex books. I want my little boy to grow up happy. And I wouldn’t mind having a wild passionate affair with David Tennant.

What (and who) are your dreams? Have you had any come true, and how did you feel about it? I’ll choose a poster from the comments to win a copy of my UK single-title release, ONE NIGHT STAND, about an erotica writer who gets pregnant by mistake.

Don't forget, you can find out about all Julie's books at her website http://www.julie-cohen.com/ and, as always, you can order them through Amazon by clicking on the cover pictures on this blog.


Tawny said...

JULIE!!! **waving like crazy**

hey you :-)

now... brb, have to see if I snagged me a rooster...

Tawny said...

hehehe... I'm reveling in my glory moment here, my dream was to snag the GR. Okay, that was my in-the-moment dream. My real dreams are coming true daily. Like you, Julie, back when we finaled in the GH in... oh man, was it 2004? My dream was to write for Harlequin. To have 3 books out in a year and to call myself a Harlequin Author. They dreams are expanding, I'm revising and polishing my ST hopeful and I'm ever-so-hopeful to see some contest success that will remind me that I don't suck suck suck *g*. You're right, though. I thought checking the dream off my list would me feel different. But nope, I'm still obsessive, neurotic and a dreaming away. I'm so excited for your dreams come true, though!!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Dang it, Tawny!! Oh well, at least the GR is back in the states.

flchen1 said...

Congrats, Tawny! On the GR and on the fulfillment of some of your dreams!! :)

Thanks for the post, Julie! Congrats on your writing and on your little one! (And yay for your supportive sexy husband, too!)

I dreamt of having a family, too--that's one dream that's come true in spades! I'm oh-so-thankful!! For a while, I had a lot of related mini-dreams, like sleeping all-the-way-through the night--that's come true for the most part now. I've moved onto the next dream--a diaper-free, clutter-free house. We're close on the first, and way-way-far-away on the second... but I can dream! :)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Tawny, congratulations!

Julie, huge congratulations on all your success. And especially on the RNA nomination. I had the great pleasure of going to the RNA conference in 2004 in Leicester and had a marvellous time and I'm still in touch with people I met there. Would love to do it again one day! Anna, thanks for inviting Julie back to play in the lair!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Hey there, Julie, welcome back to the lair! What a lovely topic. Dreams are food for the soul. I'm sure someone famous said that, but as writers we have to not only believe that addage, we have to embrace it.

When I picked up a pen and started writing the scene that would eventually propel me to finish the entire story, I had no idea that I dreamed of being a writer. But with every word that finds it's way onto my computer or yellow pads of paper, that dream gets stronger and stronger.

When I entered the GH in 2006, I sort of blitzkrieged the contest. Four books, each in a different category. I guess I really, really, really, really wanted recognition. And I got it, two books in two categories finaled! But from it I gained so much more. 19 friends I spend time with every day. Friends to laugh with and cry with, and angst over our books/careers.

The next dream, the elusive contract. Oh yeah and dinner with Clive Owen would probably be fantastic!

Cassondra said...

Hi Julie!

Welcome! So glad you're here. The inspiring blog isn't lost on me, I'll tell you. And it comes at a very good time in my writing life (angst, angst angst) So THANK YOU for telling it like it is.

Tawny, congrats on the GR. Has he been to your house before? I have no memory of this.....

Egads. I'm hearing myself type in a British accent. I think it's two blogs in one day by Anna Campbell. Even Caren Crane's haiku can't overcome it. Maybe I was British in a past life.

Julie, I'm so pleased that you've met so many of your goals. Was there a method to the meeting of the goals, or do you think the "universe" sort of met you where you set them?????

What's next for you?

Christine Wells said...

Hi Julie! Welcome back to the lair and thanks for inviting her, V-A!

I was pregnant around the same time as you, Julie (my second was born in October 2006) and I remember reading your column on Romancing the Blog and you said all the things I was feeling at the time. The next column I read (after the birth) you were powering along with your writing while I was still in a daze from lack of sleep. I think I swore at my monitor:) But don't worry, I don't hold a grudge.*g* Congrats on 'living the dream' and on the RNA nomination!

As for dreams, I get carried away thinking about awards and sales and such sometimes, but my real ambition is to just write the best book I can each time. That's it. Oh, and stay published.*g*

Thanks for dropping in, Julie. Congrats on snaffling the GR, Tawny!

Keira Soleore said...

Before I read the blog and the comments, I have to say this: I loved and laughed my way through Julie's last book. I absolutely cannot wait to get hold of her latest.

Keira Soleore said...

OK, I'm back. Owen Wilson to David Tennant—now that's progress, reaching for bigger goals.

Congrats on the RNA nom.

I've been lurking on your blog. I especially enjoyed the one where you talk about attending this huge music festival and sit on the grass back-stage with your little son.

Julie, what were the baby steps you took from conceiving the goal of writing for Harlequin to being published by them?

Tawny: In-the-moment dream? Heh! How very Zen of you.

Christine and Fedora: Ah, yes, sleeping through the night, being diaper-free, having a mess-free writing space...those certainly are good dreams that at times seem to be impossibly far away.

Julie: How in the world do you find the energy to power through with your writing and everything else that you do?!

Christine Wells said...

Keira wrote:
Christine and Fedora: Ah, yes, sleeping through the night, being diaper-free, having a mess-free writing space...those certainly are good dreams that at times seem to be impossibly far away.

Keira, the incredible Susan Seyfarth and I are blogging on that very subject on Friday at RNTV. If you'd like to share some strategies, we'll be all ears!

Anna Campbell said...

But Cassondra, you nice lunatic, I'm an AUSSIE!!! I don't have a British accent. VA will be shuddering at the mere thought!

Keira Soleore said...

Christine, on the topic on sleeping through the night, I could write a series of volumes. If you want to read, I shall delightedly hold forth at length. Do you have specifics? Perhaps we should take this offline to e-mail, so that the blog stayed focused on Her Marvelousness Julie Cohen.

jo robertson said...

Yay, Tawny! Great article, Julie, welcome to the Bandit Lair. You are such an inspiration.

All those dreams. All those dreams fulfilled. Abandonment of the naughty dream. Owen Wilson will forever be deprived, but right now Luke's probably the best companion for him.

And I so get the cleaning the toilet thing. Even when you hire a house cleaner, you feel you have to clean the toilet first. Or at least pick up the clothes off the floor.

Tawny said...

Tawny: In-the-moment dream? Heh! How very Zen of you.

*g* Keira, I strive for Zen, but am always too neurotic to really achieve it LOL.

Cassandra, the GR has visited before. At least once, maybe twice... its now getting comfy on the couch, bowl of popcorn and remote at hand for a night of mindless entertainment while I write LOL.

Julie Cohen said...

You know, Anna told me there was this thing with the golden rooster, and I thought, "Nah, these people are not so crazy."

Of course you are. :-)

Julie Cohen said...

Tawny!! (((hugs))) Girl, I was so, so happy when your Harlequin dream came true. You said exactly what I was thinking about myself when you wrote "Nope, I'm still obsessive, neurotic, and a dreaming away."

Good luck with the ST.

Thank you for the congrats, flchen1. I can understand the dream for a diaper-free, clutter-free house. (She says, having spent the past ten minutes picking up scattered toys.)

Hi Anna C, and congratulations on your successes too! The RNA conference is great, isn't it? So different from RWA--much more intimate. I was at Leicester too, giving a talk on writing sex, did we meet?

Julie Cohen said...

Hey Suzanne, I think you are right about dreams bringing you even more than you thought they would. As you say, I've found so many brilliant friends because of this writing journey. Good luck with the contract and with Clive Owen!

(Oh and by the way, yes, that is a photograph of me with a giant scrotum, on the right there.)

Julie Cohen said...

Hi Cassondra. Agggh, writing angst. It NEVER goes away. Then again, it's a sign that you're working hard, putting yourself out there, and really learning. Right? Right? Tell me I'm right, please.

Was there a method to the meeting of the goals, or do you think the "universe" sort of met you where you set them?????

I think my only method was to keep trying. With the writing, I know I set myself very definite goals: "I want to write for Harlequin Temptation" rather than "I want to write a novel and get it published". That gave me definite steps, definite guidelines. I am a goal-oriented (some may say anal) person. ;-)

What's next for you?

I've got another LBD book, HONEY TRAP, out in July. It's about a private investigator turned aromatherapist who goes on tour with a rock band, only to find that the bass player is the man whose marriage she broke up five years before.

I'm currently working on my fourth, GIRL FROM MARS, which is about a female comic book artist who takes a vow never to get a boyfriend.

Meanwhile, I'm developing ideas for what my agent calls my "big book", which hopefully will be a more complex, mainstream women's fiction novel.

Julie Cohen said...

Hi Christine! My fellow crazy pregnant person. Congratulations on your second and for keeping the writing going. I started writing again when the baby was six weeks old. I'm not sure how I did it. It was probably the marvellous incentive of a deadline and needing to get paid.

With two kids...well, I don't know how you do it. I'll have to check in on your blog on Friday.

I think you are right--writing the best book every time is the main part of the dream that we have control over. It's also often the most difficult (see post above to Cassondra, ANGST ANGST ANGST).

Julie Cohen said...

Hi Keira! Thank you for your comment about my book! I hope you enjoy the next one, too.

what were the baby steps you took from conceiving the goal of writing for Harlequin to being published by them?

I read a lot of their books, chose my favourites, and analysed why they were my favourites. I read mostly in the line I was targeting, but read other lines too to see the difference (it's often easier to define what something isn't) and to see how category romance was structured across the board. I joined eHarlequin's community and learned from their Q&As and from writers and editors on the boards. I got myself a couple of critique partners. I joined RWA and the UK Romantic Novelists' Association. I got rejected. I got rejected. I got rejected with some good suggestions. I got rejected. I went to the RWA conference in New York and pitched to an editor, who wasn't interested, and then got drunk and pitched to another editor, who was. I revised and revised and finalled in the Golden Heart. And then I sold it. This whole process took four years.

How in the world do you find the energy to power through with your writing and everything else that you do?!

I guess some would call it OCD. ;-)

Julie Cohen said...

Hi Jo. Well, I'd hate to think of Owen being lonely, so you know I'd always find room for him. ;-)

I can only dream about a house cleaner, but I agree, if I had one, I would be cleaning up first.

Keira, I strive for Zen, but am always too neurotic to really achieve it LOL.

Again, you said what I was thinking about myself, Tawny. That's why I've given up looking for Zen-like calm and have settled for Zen-like clam.

Anna Campbell said...

Julie, you know, we might have but I can't remember. You'd probably remember me - I had the world's worst flu and I sounded like Louis Armstrong. I was at a Regency romance seminar when you did your writing sex thing! As I said, I'm really hoping to get back there one day - tentatively 2009!

Helen said...

Congrats on the GR Tawny I hope he enjoyed his flight and some cooler weather.

Hi Julie and Anna what a great blog dreams are the best aren't they who could live without them My dream was always to get married have children and a wonderful fun time with my family which I have had I even have two beautiful grandchildren now and love being with them.
My dream now is to be able to retire so as I have more time to read all the books that I keep buying because of all the wonderful authors that visit here and from the wonderful recomendations from some wonderful people that I have meet on the net.
Congrats Julie on your success.
Have Fun

brownone said...

Congrats on the GR Tawny! :-)

What a great post Julie! And congrats to you on achieving most of your dreams (Owen Wilson being the exceptions ;-) )

As for me, I don't think life turned out ANYWHERE I expected it to go. When I was in high school my dream was to travel the world as a sucessful business woman, not getting married OR having children until my mid-thirties. Let's just say, I'm the EXACT opposite. I'm a stay-at-home working mother (HIGHLY underpaid) of three children and I'm not in my mid-thirties yet! In fact, my eldest child will be ten this year. I wouldn't trade any of this for the world though. Oh, and my dream since high school of becoming Mrs. Johnny Depp is sadly shattered unless bigamy becomes legalized in the US, which is unlikely. :-0

Beth said...

Welcome back to the lair, Julie! What a wonderful post. Congrats on seeing so many of your dreams come true *g*

So many of my dreams have already come true, I have a wonderful husband and three terrific kids (okay, sometimes they're terrific, mostly the older two are just...teenagers *g*) and I sold a book to Harlequin :-)

Now my dreams are to sell again. And again. And again *g*

Guess I'd better get to work if I'm going to make those dreams come true ;-)

Suzanne Welsh said...

Uhm, Julie, can I ask why you're hugging a giant stuffed scrotum out in public?

Anna Sugden said...

Yay Tawny on snagging that rooster *grin*

I know your ST rocks and I know we will be celebrating that sale soon too!

Flchen1 - diaper-free and clutter-free? I'm there on the first with no kids, but the second ... forlorn hope I'm afraid LOL. Hope you make it though! I like the idea of little dreams to help you get to the big dream.

Anna Sugden said...

Suz - you'll make it! Determination plays a huge part and we know you have that in spades (to go with your obvious talent). Yum on Clive Owen - just been watching Second Sight again *sigh*.

Cassondra sweetie - no need to angst - just write!!! I wanna read the books we worked on!!

Gillian Layne said...

"got drunk and pitched to another..."

Thanks for the smile this morning before I head out the door to work (brrrrr!)

Julie Cohen said...

Suzanne...well, why wouldn't I!??!

*waves at everyone* I will be back to post properly when I've finished doing the last little bits of paper revisions on my ms...meanwhile tell me your dreams and what it's like to have them come true!!

Anna Sugden said...

Christine - I'm in awe of what you manage to do with two kids. And after reading the fabulous Scandal's Daughter - I know yo'll be published and winning those awards for a very long time!

Keira - my fellow Nutella fanatic - welcome back. We missed you! If you're talking about SPIRIT WILLING, FLESH WEAK - it was awesome! Though a certain chicken scene in MACALLISTER'S BABY is a side-splitter.

Anna Sugden said...

Foanna - you havea cute Aussie accent though! And we'll go to the 2009 RNA together - that will probably be my first RNA conference after we move back home. I'm so looking forward to partying with the Brit Pack!

Jo - to go with my dream of getting a contract is the reward of hiring a cleaner. (And a cute pair of shoes)

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Julie!!!

Okay, so I'm never getting that GR again, am I. There goes that dream.

I have to agree finaling in the Golden Heart was a dream come true, especially since I was at a low point and figured there was no way it would make it. And when I hit another low point and assumed it would never sell, my agent called me with the offer from Kensington. Again, another dream come true. Most recently, when my author copies arrived from FedEx and I was able to hold them in my hands. Talk about a dream!

I actually had to open the books and make sure my words were still in there.

Now, if only I could get Johnny Depp to stop by my house while my husband was out of town...

Anna Sugden said...

Yes, Julie - they are a crazy lot. A golden rooster with painted 'nails' ... what can I say?

Wooohooo - zen-like clam!!!

Anna Sugden said...

Helen - how wonderful that you've managed to achieve such a lovely dream. We'll all be pulling for you to achieve your retirement dream too.

Brownone - you never know when your earlier will dream will come true (though you'll have to fight Tawny to be Mrs Depp). Life could take yet another unexpected turn ... once those kiddies have grown up!

Anna Sugden said...

So, did your older daughter get her dream of a cell phone Mean Mom, Beth? LOL.

And I know you will sell over and over again - readers will be clamouring for your sassy heroines!

Suz - Julie is as crazy as the rest of us ... 'nuff said!

Gillian - hope your day at work is good.

Anna Sugden said...

Christie - we can't wait to get our copies of your dream come true. Not long now!!!

And you know full well, Johnny is babysitting the rooster at Tawny's house ;)

Anna Sugden said...

Julie - happy revising, love. Give your lovely boy a big hug from me.

Kirsten said...

Suz, THANK YOU for asking that question! Lord, I thought I was losing it when that precise thought jumped into my mind.


Joan said...

Ohhhhhh....so this isn't about that dream where you're walking down the street in just socks? Ohhhhh..


Welcome back to the lair Julie.

Ah, dreams. I'm with Suzanne that sometimes accomplishing your dreams brings more than just that one wish come true. Being a finalist in the 2006 GH with my ROMAN manuscript was a wonderful validation..on a lot of levels. But then....meeting up with 19 Banditas..well as the song goes, Dreams Really Do come true.

And Tawny Depp....so glad the GR is relaxing. I had an image of him dressed up like your hero LOL

Kirsten said...

Dreams...good question. I had my dream come true when I got a call from my agent with an offer for my YA book. Still don't have a signed contract or a revision letter, so between you and me, girls, I'm still not sure it's real. But there ya go.

I think I blogged/whined/shared this before, but I went into a deep hibernation/shock when I got that call. I had dreamed big and got my dream, but was completely unprepared. Had never considered I might actually get what I yearned for.

And since then...well the Banditas have heard me whining about how stressful my day job is, and the delightful La Campbell has gently asked, "Why don't you quit that day job?" several times.

So here's the question: what do you do when your dream is offered on a silver platter and you aren't sure you should take it? What if I quit and get bored? What if I quit and go crazy taking care of my kids? What if I quit and realize that I actually LIKED the crazy, stressful day job that I always complained about? What if I quit and have to redefine myself from working-mom, lawyer, manager, BlackBerry wielding stress case, to something else? What IS that something else?

pant, pant, pant...

Okay, you got more than you bargained for, Julie! By the way, I loved the blog and am so wonderfully happy for you that you snatched that dream and ran with it.

But there's one part I can't quite understand...having lots of sex with your husband? Seriously? I mean, that was before the baby, right?

Julie Cohen said...

Well, I've finished the paper revisions and here I am, to find you are all squabbling after Johnny Depp. There's plenty of him to go round, ladies...

(As long as you leave me David Tennant.)

Julie Cohen said...

Anna C, I don't remember meeting Louis Armstrong. I shall have to make your acquaintance in 2009. Even better if Anna S is there to party! Or possibly in San Francisco?

Helen, what a wonderful dream--to have people who you love. In the end that is the most any of us can ask for, I think. Thank you for sharing it. I hope you get to retire soon so you can read all day!

Brownone, don't stop dreaming!!! You can always become Mrs Johnny Depp! Nothing is impossible! ;-)

It's funny though, how what we thought would make us happy when we were younger, as a matter of fact, isn't what does end up making us happy. I never planned to be a teacher, and yet I loved my ten years of teaching secondary school. Thanks for that.

Hey Beth! You make a good point. Before I sold my first book, I think I sort of forgot that once I'd sold, I'd have to keep on selling and keep on working. And congratulations on your sale!

Julie Cohen said...

(And as an aside--come on, ladies, if YOU saw a giant scrotum strolling around Paddington Station, wouldn't you run right up to it, throw your arms around it, and get your photo taken?!

I rest my case.)

Julie Cohen said...

Anna S, you don't need a contract to get cute shoes, do you!? It is a very good excuse for another pair, though...The boy is dutifully hugged.

Christie! ((big hug)) HOORAY for your author copies! It's quite extraordinary, isn't it? I have trouble letting any of mine leave the house, to be honest--whoever wins this copy of One Night Stand is going to be very lucky if I can prise it out of my death grip at the post office.

Congratulations babe and I cannot wait to buy a copy at the literacy signing in SF. You'll be doing that, right??

Julie Cohen said...

Joan--LOL! My dreams are usually about appearing on stage wearing only pyjamas full of holes.

The GH really is a dream, isn't it? You're suddenly transported to this kind of magic circle, and if you're lucky, the other people in there with you are really special. Then there's the parties, the photos, the ceremony, the publisher/agent interest--it's like a whole new world. God, I loved every minute and I hope you did too!

Julie Cohen said...

Kirsten, congratulations!!

I love your post. You've touched on an aspect of what I was talking about--that even when your dream has come true, you're still yourself and those worries are still there.

I had the same sort of worries about quitting my day job, too. They define you, don't they? And when you've quit you need a whole new definition. Except actually you don't, so much, because you are the same person. But it does take some adjustment, and thought about who you are. I'm still doing that.

I think the toughest part of quitting for me is that I miss my colleagues, and I miss going out of the house every day and becoming a professional person, rather than being a mum all the time. Being a professional is easier than being a mum, and I loved teaching. I do get to go to meetings and launches and seminars and things where I can be a professional writer, but not five days a week.

I also miss having an excuse to put on makeup and wear something other than jeans.

In the end, my decision was obvious: I realised I could not be a good mother, a good teacher, and a good writer all at once. One of the three had to give, and though the teaching was the best paid, it was the least necessary.

Good luck making your own decision.

Christie Kelley said...

I'm doing my best to be in SF, Julie! I haven't registered yet. Of course I haven't registered for RT yet either. Yikes, I'm behind.

MsHellion said...

HA! I'd *love* to have a wild passionate affair with Owen Wilson and David Tennant. Not at the same time. They shouldn't know about each other...men get a little weird about sharing.

You have excellent taste in Affair Daydreams!

My dreams: write (and finish) a book; get published; have a wild, passionate affair with any (or all) of the following: OW & DT, obviously; Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Alan Rickman, Richard Armitage....

I want to travel to Scotland (and several other countries); visit New Orleans and San Antonio; be so famously published that I get to have signings--AND people come to them. I have dreams about people having fan clubs about my characters. *LOL*

And when I'm really fantasizing, I imagine being married...and sometimes even envision the wedding. Usually it's with Orlando Bloom, so it doesn't really count...

Anna Sugden said...

Yay Julie is coming to SF!!! And no, I don't need an excuse really for new cute shoes ... but it's less of an obsession if I can point to one ;)

Kirsten - I know how you feel, but for a different reason. When we moved over here, I couldn't get a work permit. Suddenly, after years of being independent, earning my own way, 'being somebody' ... I was going to be at home all day.

I even considered going to flower arranging classes (which if you know my total lack of artistic ability tells you how desperate I was).

You know what saved me ... and my sanity? My lovely hubby suggested a romance writing course that was being offered at Barnes & Noble online. And that started me on my writing journey. Then I joined eharlequin - which brought me in touch with like-minded souls (including the fantabulous Brit Pack ... I had to move to NJ to discover them?!)

Were there times when I felt as bad as I dreaded? Yes - especially when I put pressure on myself to clean and iron *gasp*.

But, now - I couldn't go back to working full-time.

Take the plunge - the worst that can happen is you go back! But I suspect you'll be so busy writing those YA's and enjoying your kids ... you'll wonder what took you so long *grin*.

Anna Sugden said...

Joanie - we all dream of your Romans being published ... we want our own copies so we don't have to fight Foanna for them!

And my stress dream is usually the one where I'm teaching a roomful of totally uncontrollable kids! Still! And I haven't taught for 5 years!

Anna Sugden said...

Hmmm MsHellion - hope you include England in that list of countries *grin*.

Oh dear - there will be a fight in the Lair ... you and Trish over Orlando, you and Julie over Owen and David, you and Foanna over Richard Armitage, you and me over Alan Rickman ... LOL.

I have the same dream as you (not about marrying Orlando) - I would love to be published and have people who love my books, the way I love my favourite authors books. For me, having someone come up to me at a book signing and tell me how much they love my books would be a dream come true!

Keira Soleore said...

V.Anna, how's the Nutella scene these days? Hope the hockey team has been behaving, and you making the most of the holidays to check in with them. Wasn't MACALLISTER'S BABY just wonderful? I loved it.

Donna MacMeans said...

Hi Julie and welcome to the lair!

I still keep my dream list that I made in 2004 up by my computer. I've been fortunate enough to scratch some of the items off, but there's still so many others. My family is grown- but not out of the house - so seeing them independent is a definite goal *g*.

I think having a dream list handy is good for those times when I look up from the keyboard and wonder why I'm doing this. I see that I also have listed by 2004 goals on the same page. Sadly, I've only completed one of those - selling Mrs. Brimley. The rest - like cleaning my office - are on the 2008 list. Guess I'm better at dreaming *g*

jo robertson said...

You're my new hero, Julie. I love your advice on specific goals. That's what we tell our students, right? Sometimes we have this broad notion of what we want to do, but don't have a clue about how to get there. Baby steps!

It's so true that our day jobs often define us, especially in teaching. I also taught secondary school -- English, what else? And I found it all-consuming. Writing then was very difficult for me what with the masses and masses of essays to score, lessons to prepare -- Yikes, I'm weary just thinking about it.

But once I was lucky enough to afford leaving the day job, I was amazed at how fast I could accomplish some goals. I so admire those of you who do both!

Laura J. said...

I might have to fight you for David Tennant! I love his geeky cuteness!!!!!

As far as my dreams---you do want the PG ones, right? Okay that would be just to see my kids grow up to be. So far so good, they're pretty good kids. Others I have to find a job a really, really like, get the rest of my house painted (one room is getting done tomorrow--YAY!) and of course, someday have the GR visit my house. I'll take good care of him, show him around, take to lunch at Chick-fil-a......

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, VA, good point about us going together! I tried to go in 2007 but the RNA conference was a week later than usual and the RWA one was a week earlier and the schedule just didn't work for me.

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Julie, definitely coming to San Francisco! Ouch to the airfares. But I DON'T CARE!! I get to party with my Bandita buddies (and our honorary Banditas - now you've visited twice, it's like the blood brother thing without the ouch or bleuch factor).

Julie Cohen said...

Well you have to be there in SF Christie cuz I need to get you to sign your book!!

Mshellion (love your name): well, actually, now that you mention Owen and David at the same time, that could be something to aim for... ;-) And why doesn't marrying Orlando Bloom count, pray tell?? Good luck with your dreams.

Anna, hooray for your hubby and the romance writing course. Good, good man. And good you.

And a Nutella scene?? I must learn about this...

I'm glad you liked MACALLISTER'S BABY, Keira.

terrio said...

I would say I'm late as usual but around here, yesterday was late. *g*

Talk about a walking inspiration. The fact you accomplished so much, and survived so much, is a fantastic story all by itself. Major kudos to you, Ms. Cohen.

Some days my goal is just to get some sort of control of my life. I lovingly refer to it as my controlled chaos (I think I stole that from Caren) and it takes a toll sometimes.

When I started writing I just wanted to write something. Now I yearn to finish something and that goal to get it published is like a torch under my chair.

I'm determined to finish my current WIP (under construction for longer than I like to admit) in time to clean it up and enter the GH this year. It might kill me but by golly I want to try.

Julie Cohen said...

Hello Donna! What a good idea to keep your dream list where you can see it. Mine is in my head, and I think looking at the things you've ticked off and have yet to achieve could be very motivating.

Cleaning your office is a goal, though!? You are a better woman than I. Congrats on achieving some of your dreams.

Yup, Jo, I think breaking down goals into steps was something I learned from teaching it. I actually did find teaching to be energising. I was teaching full time (English too), and writing four books a year, for a couple years there. But then, when a child was added to the mix, it became too much. How cool that you've managed to leave and find time for yourself.

Julie Cohen said...

Laura--phew! For a moment there I thought you were saying you wanted to take David Tennant to Chick-fil-a. I couldn't compete with that, man.

But if you just want to fight, then have at you. ;-)

Hooray Anna C, will see you in Frisco then.

Julie Cohen said...

Thanks Terrio. Good luck for finishing in time to enter the GH. It's not easy (or cheap) but it is so worth it if you final.

You are right, everyone is very quick off the mark here, it's difficult to keep up! :-)

Anna Sugden said...

Keira - trying to keep off the Nutella until I lose some weight. Hockey is going great, thanks! My boys are doing pretty good *grin*. Let's hope they can keep it up.

Donna - I must find my dream list that I made after that amazing keynote speech by Debbie Macomber. I know I wrote it down, but can't find it!

Even primary school teaching drains you, Jo! Actually, not the teaching - all the other 'stuff' that goes with it. I still say it's the hardest job I ever did.

Anna Sugden said...

Laura J - them's fighting words! Can you take on Julie and the GR?!

Anna Sugden said...

Terrio - writing does that to you, doesn't it?! We'll be cheering you in, here in the Lair, to meet your goal of finishing by GH entry time.

terrio said...

You gals are always so supportive. If any of you would like to volunteer to do some of my college course homework (Business Law anyone?), that would really be great. *g*

I'm so looking forward to San Fran. But I have this strange feeling I'll spend the entire time gawking at all the great writers and never talk to anyone. LOL!

MsHellion said...

*snorts at thought of Terri NOT TALKING* That's a good one, Terr, tell them another one! (Hey, I can say that: I've met her!)

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Julie! Great to have you in the Lair! Cassondra and I are blogging over on Romance Novel TV, but I had to drop in and say hi.

I LOL about the giant scrotum parading about in Paddington station. On one hand, I want to know why...typical writer question. Then, on the other hand, I don't want to know the REAL reason because the one I just made up is so much more fun...

Tawny, congrats on the GR and do treat him with care. It's been hot down in Oz, he needs a break.

BTW, Terrio, you will NOT be gawking and not talking. You'll be with the Banditas, and Julie too, so you know us, talk away. Find us all at the literacy signing and voila! Instant compadres.

Dreams DO come true and I'm incredibly lucky to have had a lot of mine do so. Great husband, two great kids, a real, honest-to-goodness publishing contract with a real NY publishing house. (Still amazed over that one)

Now, the short to midrange goals are to keep writing better books, as several people have said, write more complex books, as you said, Julie, and publish in both RS and Paranormal, maybe even YA. Oh, and to have my youngest son show some remote interest in potty training. Clutter is probably a never-ending issue, but OH! to be diaper free would be so grand....

Long term? I want action figures. Snork. Yep. Thinking big here - movie, action figures of the characters. Yep. That's my dream. Oh, and international fame too, of course.

Loved your comments about leaving the job too, Julie. I went from corporate to writer and mom w/o a contract and it was a big self-esteem shaking lurch. I got better, but there are still those days...

terrio said...

MsHellion - shut up or I'll tell them you're REAL name. *g*

Jeanne - you just made my day. LOL! And I just registered! Wow that's a lot of money for four days. But worth it.

Christine Wells said...

Keira--sorry to have been awol, my internet was playing up and then I went to bed. If you're still out there, email me! I'd love to hear all about your techniques for writing with children. Email me on christine AT christine-wells Dot com and we'll trade horror stories. Er, I mean stories of courage and determination under insurmountable odds.

Julie--yes, I can see bills to pay would have been a great motivator to write. Actually, sorry to say but it's SO much easier writing with one than two. Eek. I'm sure you knew that.

Anna--thanks so much, you're such a sweety.

Susan Seyfarth said...

Hi, Julie--

What a great post! Those of us with little ones at home & laptops squeezed into a corner of the dining room table salute you.

I think one of the most positive messages I ever got was to plan for success. It's like Kirsten says: you dream big, but never think beyond the dream. Then it comes true & you're left going, "Wait, what?" I love your continuous goal setting. Thanks for dropping by the lair!

Anna Sugden said...

Terrio - as Jeanne said - you'll know the Banditas, so you won't be gawking and speechless (except if I'm wearing extremely cute shoes - then you can feel free to gawk!)

Jeanne - why does the thought of you wanting action figures and movies not surprise me?! When you succeed, remember your Bandita pals for the premiere and drooling ... um autograph sessions!

Susan - I'm supposed to plan for success? Not just whine and say "But I want it!"?

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Christine said: stories of courage and determination under insurmountable odds.

HAHA! Perfect description. And I SO agree. Easier to write with one than two. And w/ a baby rather than a toddler. This two-almost-three age is killing me...slowly, with diapers...

Anna, they'll know me wherever I go. I'll be the one with the Posse of Romance Bandits with GREAT shoes. Grins. SO many famous authors...yes, that's her friend, Anna. Great shoes...yes...oh and her OTHER friend? Wrote that bestseller? Yep, that's the one...

Grins. I have an ACTIVE fantasy life. Snork.

Terrio, you and I can gawk together at Anna's great shoes. Oh, and Tawny's too. As I recall, she's a shoe h...um, appreciator as well.

doglady said...

Congrats on the GR, Tawny!! Back in the States again!

I love this post, Julie. The fact that you kind of blitzed the GH sounds like a great way to go about it. I also found the fact that you read the books in the line you wanted to sell to and studied what you liked about your favorites. Great idea!

I achieved one of my dreams when I got into the Mozarteum and then sang my first role - the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute at the Festival in Salzburg. It was my first paying gig as an opera singer and it was fabulous! What I can remember of it. It is sort of like a wedding. You get all dressed up and then from the minute you hit the stage you just do it and then all of sudden it is over and you think "Did that just happen?"

I am working toward my next dream - becoming a published romance author. I love the actual writing. I enjoy everything about it. If I can just get to the point that I am published and eeking out a living at it I will never have to go in to work at Wal-Mart again!!

How do you work through the days when life just beats the hell out of you, but you still need to write?

Julie Cohen said...

ACTION FIGURES! Now THAT is a goal. Good one, Jeanne.

You are braver than I to leave the day job without a contract. Wow. You deserve those action figures.

Terrio, conference is great because everyone is so friendly. You can go up to most anyone and strike up a conversation. Of course this lot is even friendlier than most, too. Some may say crazier...not me of course. ;-)

Actually, sorry to say but it's SO much easier writing with one than two.
Yes Christine, I'm beginning to think that's why birth control pills are my best friend right now.

Julie Cohen said...

Hi Susan! Yes, planning for success is a good idea. I'm not sure I did. Maybe if I had I would freak out on a less regular basis. Then again, most likely freaking is in my nature.

Jeanne, my baby is rapidly becoming a toddler, so I know I am in for a world of hell.

Doglady, what a wonderful dream come true, to sing Mozart in Salzburg. I hope you got photographs or a video!

How do you work through the days when life just beats the hell out of you, but you still need to write?

I think it's what you said about loving the writing. If you love it, you can push through the crap that happens and just do it. And once you actually sit down and start writing, everything else will melt away for a little while. It's the sitting down that's the hard part. I often give myself a time limit--like I'll write for twenty minutes, or ten, and then go to bed. I usually find myself writing for a lot more than that.

Any other ideas?

Julie Cohen said...

Well Banditas, it's past my bedtime (I actually escaped this evening to go see The Golden Compass with a friend), but I will be back in the morning. I still haven't chosen a winner so please keep telling me about your dreams!

Nighty night!

Anna Sugden said...

Doglady - WOW!!! I'll say that again - WOW!!! Mozart in Salzburg!! That is fantastic!!

Where else have you sung?

We'll be crossing fingers for you to achieve your dream of being published too.

Anna Sugden said...

Thanks so much, Julie. It was great having you visit again - can't wait for SF (though, we may get to meet up before!)

terrio said...

I totally forgot one of my biggest dreams. I want to own a house. My parents had one for a short time when I was 6-8 but lost it and never managed to get another one.

My entire adult life I've wanted to own my own house and I'm looking into it this year but most likely will wait and actually buy next year. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Terrio, that is one dream that I had and actually accomplished! It is a tiny house but it is mine. My parents never owned a home and it was something that I strove for. In December 2002 I found a house with payments smaller than the rent I was struggling to pay. I take the insurance, etc out of my income tax return and my son will always have a home. That makes me very happy.

Wendy said...

So, Julie, are you saying in order to achieve our dreams we have to work our asses off and have sex?

Well, at least I got one down! (the working, not the sex you dirty mind you! *g*)

My dream is to become a nurse - I'm a nursing student right now - and sure it's not a glamorous job, in fact it can be pretty disgusting at times but that's what I want to do, that's what I've always wanted to do and I'm well on my way! I have quite a few more dreams but that's my no. 1 right now. :)

And oh! I'm fairly certain, no matter how fantastic of a job we have, we'll have to clean the toilets, unless we get a maid! One of the hot male maid. ;-)

Gillian Layne said...

Darling Doglady--it is SO a matter of WHEN (soon!) and not If *g*. But I hear you on the mental exhaustion, and with day jobs I think that's usually worse than the physical.

You need to remind yourself of all the folks who already love your writing. I bet that list is huge by now! And maybe you need to give yourself one or two "get out of jail free" nights, where you have permission to not write, but maybe just collapse when you need to and ponder your characters and all those lovely situations you land them in.

Terrio--they just dropped the interest rates again! Houses prices are still really low--your dream is well within reach.

I work in the school system as well, Julie. Your comment about mom, teacher, and writer hit home. There are days when it isn't possible, but as long as the "mom" role isn't the one affected, I just dust myself off and move on.

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Yeah, Wendy! My sister is an RN and I'm glad to hear that you're going into nursing. I have HUGE respect for anyone who can do that job. Go you!

Wendy said: So, Julie, are you saying in order to achieve our dreams we have to work our asses off and have sex?

WOW, is THAT why my dreams came true! (Hollers over shoulder, thinking of forthcoming dream, "Oh, Honey!!!!)

Hey Terrio - I agree, it's within reach. Don't give up on THAT dream, because it's closer than you think... :>

Trish Milburn said...

I'm late to the party, but I'm here. Hey, Julie! Waving madly. This was a really cool post. I remember when you sold, I remember when you had the baby, and, hey, I remember a certain picture of us together after the 2004 GH ceremony. People, Miss Julie looks faboo in red. Congrats on all your success.

Hmm, who would I have a fantasy mad passionate affair with? Orlando Bloom, David Boreanaz, Wentworth Miller, David Wenham.

Wendy said...

Jeanne, thank you! Right now, I'm studying to become an LPN but after graduating I'm going for my RN..and ohhhh! maybe even go for my BSN!

LOL! I very much that equation for making our dreams come true! ;)

Anna Sugden said...

Terrio - I remember having that dream and how wonderful it was to achieve it! Hope it all works out for you.

Hrdwrkmom - how cool that you got your house.

Wendy - if that's what it takes, count me in! Yes please on the cleaner (I don't even care if it's male or not!)

Good luck with your nursing studies. The nurses looking after my sick MIL have been outstanding. Oh and we have a few fab nurses amongst the Banditas.

Anna Sugden said...

Gillian - welcome back. Hope your day went well. Good to see you've got those priorities working for you.

Hey Trish - you're right, that was one hot red dress!

BTW folks, don't forget to vote for Trish in the latest round of AT4!!! Her entry is Out of Sight.

Caren Crane said...

Julie, sorry I missed you, but it was AWESOME having you back in the Lair! We will hunt you down--er, I mean, look for you--in San Francisco. You are my hero, writing with a bambino! While scrubbing the toilets. And hugging giant scrotums! (well, not so sure about that last bit...)

And for those in haiku withdrawal:

Fab Julie Cohen,
Writer, mother, loo scrubber
She can do it all!

Come back soon!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hey Terrio, another friend of mine went from LPN to RN, and then on to a great career in pharma sales. So, you never know where it will lead. :>

Hi Trish! Thanks for popping in over at RNTV!

Wendy said...

Thanks Anna! ooh, really?? I love talking to nurses that worked in the field for a while now, they're so helpful! :)

Christyne Butler said...

Two of my most favorite people...just had to post!

I met Anna and Julie while I was a struggling writer and yes, the dream of publication has come true for me, I am still a struggling writer and I still have my dreams!

My dream publisher...
My dream home...
My dream vacation...
My dream affair...okay, that one I will say aloud...Daniel Craig!

So happy I've been there to witness Julie's dreams and I just know Anna's is right around the corner!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

So true, Christyne, so true! Can't wait to see Anna's hockey players in print.

doglady said...

Just want to say a big thank you and a hug for my CP Gillian. You are so sweet and a fantastic writer and CP!! Thank you so much for the kind words. I like the get out of jail free days!

Thanks, Anna. I sang in Germany and Austria for the most part in small opera houses and in some big ones as well. Salzburg was our home base. I sang in Budapest, Amsterdam, and in a couple of small opera houses in Romania. Sang in East Germany before and after the wall came down. I had a ball and I was very lucky!

Anna Campbell said...

Julie, thanks for coming back to visit us. It's been a fantastic day and you've been a wonderful guest! Come back again!! And good luck with your new release!

Julie Cohen said...

Good morning! 16 posts since I went to bed...must catch up!

Terrio and dianna, owning my own house was always one of my dreams, too. I always wanted a grand old Victorian place, preferably with a turret. I ended up with a Victorian house, sure, but it's a brick box/terrace with four rooms and a lot of dust. Congratulations on yours, Dianna and good luck with yours, Terrio.

So, Julie, are you saying in order to achieve our dreams we have to work our asses off and have sex?
Wendy, I think the working your ass off is the important thing. If you want a baby, you have to have the sex, too. Though sex itself is not a bad thing. Very good for relaxing you after working very hard. You know. ;-)

Wow, a nurse. That is one job I could never do, and my mother was a nurse. I admire nurses. I hope it is everything you ever wanted it to be.

Oh, and a hot male maid...yup, that's a good idea. You think Owen Wilson or David Tennant want a job?

Julie Cohen said...

Gillian said to Doglady: you need to give yourself one or two "get out of jail free" nights, where you have permission to not write
I agree, those are so important. You can't do your best when you're exhausted. Filling the well and taking time off to think count as writing work.

I work in the school system as well, Julie. Your comment about mom, teacher, and writer hit home. There are days when it isn't possible, but as long as the "mom" role isn't the one affected, I just dust myself off and move on.
Those are words of wisdom. As a perfectionist, I always find it difficult to do that, but it's the path to sanity. You do what's important first, and then everything else the best you can. I was lucky enough to be able to leave teaching but there are still days when I have to do the best I can and hope it works.

*waves to Trish* I love your new double-sided website, lady! Very classy. You know, my students were googling that pic of you and me right up to the day I left school?

I don't know who Wentworth Miller and David Wenham are. Must go look...

Julie Cohen said...

Wow, Caren--my own haiku!! With a loo in it and everything!! Excellent, thank you!

Christyne, your dreams are on their way. And Daniel Craig...mmmmm....

Doglady, what a wonderful experience to sing in all those amazing places. Wow.

Thank you Anna C!

And thank you Anna S, and all the Banditas. You have all been so welcoming and supportive, of me and of each other. I can see why this is such a popular place!

Now I have to choose a winner for my book...hmmm. I may be a little time...

Marcy said...

Hey, Julie!

When I attended the RWA conference in Reno a few years ago, Debbie Macomber handed out file cards and asked everyone to write their dreams on it and keep it with them. I still carry mine in my purse and pull it out occassionally and stare at it trying not to get too depressed since I haven't achieved any of my dreams...yet. Here's what it says:
* To be a multi-published author
* Have one of my books made into a movie
* To have my own book signing tour
* To be able to quit my day job and make my living as an author.

OK, so some of them are pie in the sky, but a girls got to dream, right?


Anna Sugden said...

Caren - you truly are the haiku queen!!

Christyne - fab to see you Sweetie!! Big hugs. We're excited about your success too.

Aww thanks everyone ... one of these days, my hockey players and Joanie's Romans will be thrilling you all.

Doglady - how impressive. And what wonderful fodder for your imagination in your writing!

Anna Sugden said...

Hey Marcy - I was there too!! And I wrote down my dreams. Now, if only I could find the card!

Here's hoping your dreams come true. They don't seem pie in the sky at all. One step at a time, as Debbie said.

Wendy said...


Y'know, that's a great idea - working our asses off and sex can relax us! Eureka!! LOL.

I'm fairly certain Owen Wilson would love to be your maid - in fact I hear he was asking around for your number. ;-)

Julie Cohen said...

Bless you, Wendy.

Wendy said...

And you know, I hear he likes to vacuum in his underwear. *g*

Jennifer Y. said...

Sorry I am late to the party...haven't been feeling well this week.

Julie, your new books sound great!!!

As for dreams, I don't think I have had any come true really...well, other than getting to attend a huge booksigning and meeting some of my fave authors a couple of years ago.

Some of my other dreams include finishing the books in the TBR mountain (yeah, not gonna happen), getting married (maybe someday), having a family (hope so), and traveling the world (you never know).