LIVING THE IMPOSSIBLE DREAM
An interview with Karlene Conroy and Mia Crews,
authors of The Don Quixote Girls
The Don Quixote Girls is a funny, touching and tearful novel using Florida’s Garden of Eden legend as backdrop for the story of four long-time girlfriends who characterize the sandwich generation of today, but with an ominous twist.
Fictional Paradise, Florida could be heavenly for Don Quixote Girls™ Dulcinea, Harmony, Corky and Leah if the emotional train wrecks of life wouldn’t keep derailing them: troubled kids and troubling in-laws, divorce, widowhood, expanding waistlines, relationships with big question marks and caring for aging parents.
A girlfriend’s getaway at an adventure spa seems like the perfect escape from family frustrations and busybody neighbors, but their idyllic vacation is shattered by death threats and betrayal. In true Don Quixote fashion they prepare for battle, and discover unexpected allies as they seek revenge and retribution. But will their friendship survive?
This women’s fiction is a blend of romance, suspense, mystery, humor, and paranormal elements in just the right proportions! Almost from the start, The Don Quixote Girls was a challenge to write, much less complete. It quickly became our impossible dream as life spun out of control.
Karlene: In one year, my thirty-year-old horse had to be euthanized, a decision I did not want to make but was forced to. My favorite cat had to be operated on for colon cancer in another town because we had no electricity in our area due to a hurricane. And, my father died suddenly. That was the start of my mother’s downward spiral into depression and memory loss, and eventually I moved her into an assisted living community. Her five cats came to live with me while the sixth stayed with her until her COPD worsened. I moved him into my house and two months later he dropped dead of a heart attack because he was so overweight. That worked its way into the book in the guise of a dog. And, three years ago I was rear-ended at a red light and began chiropractic visits to treat neck and back injuries. Doctor visits for me and my mother became the norm and writing time became scarce.
Mia: My father had died a few years before that, so I had a good idea of what Karlene was going through. My mother lived alone but wasn’t handling life as a widow very well. And I became a full-time babysitter for my first grandchild.
Karlene: As life continued to present problems rather than opportunities to write, Mia and I felt like we were fighting battles anchored in futility – aka Don Quixote tilting at windmills. But being in the Sandwich generation – coping with and caring for older children and elderly parents – it kind of goes with the territory. So we thought, why not take our experiences and put them in a book to which women in similar situations could relate, and toss in some humor, suspense, mystery and romance to round it out.
Mia: We each took two characters and worked in bits of ourselves and our real life events with twists that had us laughing through the scenes we wrote. Writing it all down was our escape, and humor was what kept us sane most days.
Karlene: Our characters reflect parts of who we are. I’m a lot like Harmony, our shopkeeper who believes that there’s an herb for every ailment and that natural products are the way to go. And I gave her my love of windmills and alternative energy. Dulcie is also my character. She has to deal with an unpredictable mother and an intimidating ex-husband.
Mia: I’m more like Corky who is the mayor’s wife. My husband was the mayor of our small southern town for 8 years; during that time my waistline expanded in concert with the stress I went through from the time my father died, through the marriages of my two daughters and the subsequent arrival of four grandchildren, and my mother’s worsening bipolar and Alzheimer’s diagnoses. I patterned my other character, Leah’s mother, after my own mother, using both the deteriorating memory and expectation
that everyone should do her bidding instantly.
Karlene: By the time our book was finished and available for sale, both our mothers had passed. My mother missed the release of our book on Kindle by a few months, and Mia’s mother passed a few months after our novel came out in paperback.
Mia: There were many times when it seemed impossible that we would finish this book. That’s why we call it our impossible dream. Just like the man of La Mancha, the real Don Quixote, we had many battles to fight, battles that real life placed in our paths. It’s hard to stay motivated in the best of times, but we managed. Our friendship and lots of laughter kept us going.
Karlene & Mia: Everyone has roadblocks in life. Here’s how to navigate around whatever yours may be to keep your dream from becoming impossible.
- Put yourself first. Stop putting the needs of others first.
- Create the necessary mindset: consciously invite writing into your life. Make it real by saying out loud “I am a writer.” Believe it, live it, be it. Once you set an intention that vision becomes reality.
- Action – list your goals; make a vision board. On a subconscious level this alters underlying beliefs and replaces self-defeating behaviors with positive alternatives. Seeing is believing.
- Carve out time to write when you are ‘creatively up’. Don’t procrastinate. Say NO to things that keep you from fulfilling your dream. Prioritize your family and career roles; make sure your dream role isn’t at the bottom of the list. Make working on your dream routine.
- De-clutter and organize your work space. Everything you need for work should have a ‘home’ and you should know exactly where that home is. Note: Neat and organized are not the same thing. You can be neat and not be able to locate something when you need it.
- De-stress and enhance your productivity. Stress hormones tend to shut down the parts of your brain that handle goal-directed behavior.
- Persistence. Doing what you love will help you keep trying. As you continue on the path of your heart it becomes easier to follow your dream. Cultivate your strengths and reach for the stars.
- Courage – put your work out there and don’t be discouraged by rejection. Rejection and success are beyond your control. You can only control your work and what you will do today and the day after that. Unless you take the steps that come after dreaming, all you will ever have is a day dream.
Ladies, thank you so much for being our guests today. Now, for one lucky commenter, Karlene & Mia are offering a free download of their book…The Don Quixote Girls.…so be sure to leave a comment!
About The Authors:
Karlene Conroy grew up in Queens, New York, later moved to Long Island, and migrated south to Florida. She is an accomplished songwriter and sang with her own band;
worked in print production; designed/illustrated/ composed greeting cards for her own company; served as vice president and newsletter editor for a writer’s organization; has written four novels; and is the published author of articles on writing and a short story entitled, “Mother Goose,” about the three Canada goslings she raised. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and Florida Writers Association, currently co-leading the Melbourne chapter.
Karlene has been involved in animal rescue and animal rights organizations, and has rescued/raised/ provided a home for Canada geese, ducks, a horse, rabbits, chickens, dogs and cats. She enjoys music, reading, horseback riding, dancing and nature. Like Don Quixote Girl, Harmony, she is an environmentalist, swears by herbs and natural products, and recycles everything she can! She is married with three children.
To connect with Karlene Conroy on Facebook, click on her name.
Mia Crews was born in Germany and traveled the world as an Air Force brat and later as a wife and mother of two girls. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics and dreamed of working in the space industry. But her husband’s Air Force career transferred them to Southern California, Minnesota, Virginia and Alaska, so she decided to go for her second dream – writing. She is the author of five novels from Simon & Schuster and Silhouette Books and many non-fiction articles. She was a newspaper correspondent; owned a publishing company; co-founded a professional writer’s organization and served as president; and conducted writing seminars. She’s taught English and Creative Writing; edited a cookbook for a five-star restaurant; and was named Florida Pen Woman of the Year in 2007. She is a member of
the Florida Writers Association, currently co-leading the Melbourne chapter.
Mia feels closest to Don Quixote Girl, Corky, who shares her love of cooking and eating and the natural consequence of such activities, an expanding waistline that periodically has to be whipped back into shape. Mia’s husband was also the town mayor, so she knows all about endearingly quirky characters populating small southern towns.
To connect with Mia Crews on Facebook, click on her name.