Now that my first book, Chaysing Dreams, has been out for about nine months, I’ve slowly been learning some tough lessons.
So you write your so-called “masterpiece” and think that it’s going to be an instant best seller. You think people all over the world will somehow know that you just released this novel—the one you put your blood, sweat, and tears into—and immediately buy it because they can’t wait to read your book.
And then, the reality hits. Yeah, aside from a few close family members and friends, nobody knows who you are and couldn’t care less about your “masterpiece.”
Overall, I’ve been lucky. I’m slowly building fans, and I’ve got some pretty cool reviews. I’ve even had a fan send a fan-made trailer for Chaysing Dreams! Now that’s exciting!
As an author, I can tell you that reviews are so important. Really, the reviews are what get your book noticed. So if you read a book, please do that author a favor and leave a review (even if it’s a brief one). Trust me, every review matters.
Again, I’ve been lucky on this as well. Majority of the reviews have been five star reviews. I can’t even describe the ecstatic emotions when you receive these reviews.
But of course, I’ve also received a couple of low star reviews as well. When I say a couple, I literally mean two. The emotions you go through when you read these reviews is quite funny. It goes something like this: “Wait, did I see this right? Maybe they’re confused with another book. Did they even read the book? How did they not understand what the story is trying to convey? They must be young and immature.” Then, when you accept that somebody really didn’t like your book, your thoughts shift to the following: “Maybe the stories are not as good as I thought. Maybe I’m a terrible writer. I hate this–this just doesn’t feel good- I’m just not going to write any more books. I don’t need this negativity in my life.”
Finally, when acceptance sinks in, you are a bit more rational about the whole thing.
Here’s the bottom line: Everybody is entitled to their own opinion. As hard as it may be to believe, NOT EVERYBODY IS GOING TO LIKE YOUR BOOK. I mean we’re all different individuals, with different tastes. I know it’s a shocker, but that’s the reality.
I’ve decided that perhaps I can learn from these reviews. I’m still growing as a writer. I’m no way near where I need to be- so hopefully, I can utilize some of the criticism to my advantage. If I can’t use anything from it, I’ve learned to shrug it off. Life goes on.
If you’re a reader, thank you so much for your support. It’s the readers that keep the authors motivated to keep writing, so please don’t forget those reviews.
If you’re an author, do yourself a favor. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for writing your “masterpiece.” Be proud because it takes a lot for not only writing it, but also putting it out there for the whole world to scrutinize.
Hold your head up high, grow some tough skin, and yell, “Are you ready for my masterpiece?”
Remember, at the end of the day, your “masterpiece” is your baby, and nobody can take that away from you.
April is Autism Awareness Month. Since in my own life, I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some kids and adults with Autism, I’ve created some pretty amazing memories. These guys are truly a treasure. And their intelligence always blows me away.
There are different levels of autism. Some are mild, and some may be severe cases. I can promise you this much, these guys have always been able to bring a smile to my face. They have a heart of gold, and they just need their own way of dealing with things.
Maybe you’ve been as lucky as me and have encountered somebody with autism. Maybe it’s your family member, a friend, or an acquaintance. If you haven’t, I would recommend you volunteer at places that serve kids or adults with autism. I promise you, not only will you learn from them, but they will make your heart smile.
In Chaysing Dreams, Tess, the main character volunteers periodically at a place called The Angels, which serves kids with Autism. Here’s a little excerpt from the book when Tess is only sixteen and enters the facility.
I sign into the volunteer sign-in book at the front desk. “Good to see you again, Tess. Welcome back,” says Tina, who works at the front desk.
“Thanks, Tina! I’m looking forward to hanging out with my buddies,” I say, smiling back at her. I begin heading back toward the residential sites.
“Tess!” I hear Tony yelling as I enter one of the sites. Tony comes running to me with a big smile. He’s eighteen and has autism. He doesn’t make eye contact, clasps his hands together, and starts rocking.
“Hi Tony, I miss you so much!” I gently pat his back, and he gives me a shy smile.
“What are we going to do today? Did you drive? Where’s your car? What kind of car do you drive? You look really pretty today. I like your hair.” Tony shoots off rapid-fire questions.
“Whoa, slow down, Tony!” I say, laughing. “No, I didn’t drive, but I’ll be getting my license soon! I’m sixteen today!” I’m excited to share my special day.
“Tess, it’s your birthday today?” Jennifer, the nurse, asks me. I nod, smiling at her.
Amy comes running to me. “It’s Tess’s birthday, it’s Tess’s birthday. I want cake!” Amy starts yelling and spinning. Amy is fourteen, and she is adorable. She gets over stimulated easily though, so I have to be careful not to stress her out.
I look around and notice that there are six more of the residents surrounding me. They are all very excited. I decide to distract them. “Ok, guys, how about some games first? Who wants to play some basketball?”
It works like magic. All of the residents are now focused on the game. We set up the indoor basketball net and play HORSE. It’s so fun to laugh and run around with them.
After playing with them for half an hour, I decide to visit the residents in the other rooms. So, I take Amy with me for a walk. I figure she probably needs to escape for a bit, and she can visit her friends in the other rooms as well. After notifying Jennifer, Amy and I head out.
The facility is fairly large, so it is a pretty good walk to visit all of the ten rooms. As we’re walking down the hall, suddenly, Amy starts running away from me.
“Amy, wait for me! Don’t go anywhere!” I yell. I’m fearful that I won’t know where she might end up if she keeps running. She leaves me no choice but to run after her. I remember her history of hitting other residents when fueled by too much excitement, and I cringe. “Amy, stop!” I yell.
She disappears into the multipurpose room. I run in after her, determined to use my stern voice on her. I don’t even get the opportunity. As I stumble in, I hear music. I see Amy standing there, mesmerized, and slowly swaying in the corner to the sound of the music. I also notice there are at least thirty other kids in there, some sitting, and some standing. All of the kids are quiet and looking very peaceful. I can’t believe it. Usually, when too many of the kids get together in a room, they become excited or agitated, and it’s harder to control them due to their disability. To my surprise, nobody is making a sound. All I hear is the music.
As I scan the room, I find the source. He’s sitting on a folding chair in the middle of the multipurpose room. He’s playing his acoustic guitar, and I hear him singing.
Interview with Tessnia Sanoby
- Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? Sure! My name is Tessnia Sanoby. Most people just call me Tess. I am an only child, but I have two best friends. Both of my parents are physicians, and one day I hope to be a physician as well. I am eighteen years old, and I’m currently a freshman at Stanford University. I also have a very cool dog, named Gem.
- Can you tell us about your two best friends? Jack and Kylie are awesome! We’ve been best friends since kindergarten. We’ve helped each other through all of our growing pains. I actually ended up going to prom with Jack. It was amazing how he asked me. He played a huge boom box outside my window in the middle of the night. It was funny because he copied that scene from one of my favorite movies, “Say Anything.” And you guessed it! The song he was playing? “In Your Eyes.” I know it’s a very old movie, but I’m really an old soul.
- What is your relationship like with your parents? I love my parents. Dad’s a big time neurologist and Mom’s a geneticist. We are very close. I don’t know what I would do without them.
- Do you have any special guys in your life? Guys are just a pain sometimes. I mean who has time for that drama? I just want to focus on my goals and not let anybody distract me.
- Oh come on, you’ve never had any crushes on anybody? Ok, I’ll admit that I was drawn to this guy a few years ago. I actually met him on my sixteenth birthday. His name was Joe. He was very mysterious. We totally clicked, and before he left, he tried to warn me about something. I didn’t really understand what he was saying, but he disappeared just that quickly. I never saw him again.
- How about now? Do you have anybody in your life now? Anybody you’re particularly close to? Well, Chris and I are getting close. He is my trainer for track at my university. It’s hard to read him because he’s aloof most of the time. But I won’t deny it—he’s hot.
- What are some of your fears? I don’t normally like to talk about my weaknesses, but I do have these horrible nightmares. They’re always about a girl being chased through the woods. It’s always dark and scary. I can feel the girl’s fears. But right before she’s caught, I wake up. These nightmares freak me out. Recently, I’ve also been having black fog surround me. It’s very unexpected but when this happens, I start having panic attacks. I haven’t told anybody of these episodes. They’re too terrifying. I definitely don’t want my parents to worry about it.
- Have there been any challenges in your life? To be honest, so far, my world has been very sheltered. My childhood was perfect. I always excelled in school and sports. But maybe it’s not good that everything has been so great. I mean, if your world is always so perfect, what happens if things become not so perfect?
- Tell us about your dog. Oh, Gem is amazing! I got her as a Christmas gift from my parents. She is so smart. Sometimes, I think she understands everything I’m saying to her. I know it sounds crazy.
- What makes you happy? I’m generally a happy person. But I enjoy hanging out with my friends, Jack and Kylie. I love going for runs with my dog. I love it when Chris comes to watch my track meets to support me.
- It seems as though you’re taken with this Chris guy? What? No, not at all. He actually gets under my skin.
- Really? You’ve brought his name up in this interview quite a bit. I have? Ok, if I’m going to be absolutely honest here. I’ll admit that I find him awfully sexy. But, I’ll never let him know that.
- Sounds like you have a love/hate relationship going on here? The man drives me insane. There’s no relationship here. Let’s not talk about Chris anymore.
- Ok, fair enough. How would you describe yourself? Hmm, let’s see. I think I’m more like a tomboy. I definitely prefer jeans and t-shirt over dresses and skirts. I consider myself a strong female. Let me put it this way- I don’t back down from any challenge.
- What are you really passionate about? Oh that’s easy. I love my friends and family. I’d die protecting them.
Thank you so much for being with us, Tess. Thanks for having me.
“Run!” Her inner voice yells at her. And she runs. She runs without looking back. She is scared. Something is chasing her. The sound of blood roars through her ears as her heartbeat is racing. What’s happening? But she doesn’t turn around. She runs because she knows her life depends on it. The wind howls and moans as she keeps running. She doesn’t know where she is running. It’s dark. She can’t see anything and she trips. She tries to stop her fall. Her hands get scraped on the ground. She feels branches and twigs on the ground as she pushes herself back up. She runs faster. The bramble and vine that saturate the forest floor lacerate her feet. She doesn’t know what she’s running from, but she can tell it is closing in on her. She can hear something cutting through the fallen branches behind her. She is breathing so fast! She feels the cuts from the branches sting her face. She ducks and dodges as she tries to escape. She is gasping for air, but she doesn’t care. She has to keep running. But she knows this “something” is getting closer. She’s suffocating. She feels like she is trapped. No, no! Please! Not like this! She keeps running, but she’s losing. She’s desperately flailing her arms to fight off whatever that’s chasing her. She screams, “No, no!” It has closed in on her. She feels it catch her. Oh my god! This thing has caught her! It’s shaking her. NO, NO!
In Chaysing Dreams, Tess, the main character, is haunted by her dreams. Eventually, she is forced to face her worst nightmare.
Have you ever woken up from a dream and wondered, “What the hell was that about?” I don’t know about you, but I’ve had the most bazaar dreams in my years.
I’ve had dreams about trying to escape from tornados, snakes, people chasing me, and even ex-boyfriends whom I haven’t thought about in years! I won’t even get started on my sexual dreams.
When my dreams are scary, I usually wake up, breathing heavy, trying to forget the dreams. But many times, the dreams I’m trying to forget, continue after I fall asleep again! What kind of luck is that!
Some of my most memorable dreams have been about people who have passed away. I remember when I was only nine years old, my grandma came into my dream a week after she passed away. Although I don’t remember the details about that dream, I remember feeling happy that I saw her one last time. I was always close to my Grandma Menna. (When my daughter was born fifteen years after her death, I named her Tajmenna after my grandma.)
More recently, one of my patients (I will call her Becky) passed away about five years ago. Although I deeply cared about her, my work colleague was extremely close to other. Becky was like a daughter to her. It was a death that impacted the whole department. My colleague went through deep depression.
Within a few years after her death, Becky came into my dream- twice. She wasn’t disabled and not bound to her wheelchair anymore. She was standing and walking and talking. She was babbling about something or another but dancing and looking beautiful as ever. I woke up in sweat, wondering why I’m dreaming about Becky, when I honestly didn’t even think about her too often. But then I thought maybe it was a message I was supposed to deliver to my colleague. Maybe Becky wanted her to know that she’s fine, and happy, and to not worry. I will forever cherish my dreams about Becky because I truly believe that it wasn’t by coincidence that I dreamed about her. I believe that Becky was worried about my colleague and intentionally used me as a “vessel” to communicate.
I’ve always been intrigued by dreams. Why do we dream? And what the hell do they mean? Ok, let’s get to the basic question. What is a dream? According to Webster, a dream is “a series of thoughts, images, or emotions occurring during sleep.” Ok, sounds simple enough. We dream mostly in our REM stage of sleep, which is when our brain activity is high and resembles that of being awake.
But what do these dreams mean? There are many theories. Sigmund Freud believed that dreams are a representation of our unconscious thoughts and desires. He wrote dreams are “disguised fulfillments of repressed wishes.”
Another theory suggests that dreams are interpretation of signals generated by our brain during sleep (activation-synthesis model of dreaming). This theory suggests that dreaming may be our most creative state, and often can lead to new ideas.
Yet other theories propose that dreams are a result of our brains trying to interpret external stimuli during sleep. (ie the alarm going off, or the radio playing in the background).
Another model suggests that during dreams we are able to make connections between different thoughts and emotions in a safe environment.
Ok, so these are just theories. Nobody knows for a fact why we dream and what they mean. What do I believe? I think dreams have something to do with our subconscious. Possibly our subconscious is communicating with us through our dreams. I don’t think we’ve even tapped into the power of our brains.
What do you guys think? I’d love to hear about some of your dreams or your beliefs/theories.