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.[http://www.jonimfisher.com]
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.
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/jonimfisher
Joni’s website: http://www.jonimfisher.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.jonimfisherWordpress blog: http://email@example.com
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: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007QO8JRE
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.”
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.