Petit Fours » A group blog of authors writing in different genres

Masthead header

Welcome Guest Authors, Karlene Conroy & Mia Crews!

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.

  1. Put yourself first.    Stop putting the needs of others first.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. De-stress and enhance your productivity. Stress hormones tend to shut down the parts of your brain that handle goal-directed behavior.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

Marilyn Baron - January 9, 2013 - 12:51 am

Karlene and Mia, great post and great advice. I love the idea of your book. I wish you much success. I collaborated with my sister on a humorous women’s fiction and I see many similarities with your writing partnership. I live in Georgia but was born in Florida so I know I’d enjoy your book.

Pam Asberry - January 9, 2013 - 1:51 am

Karlene and Mia, thank you so much for blogging with us today. This sounds like a story I can relate to. And your tips for navigating life’s roadblocks are very timely. I wish you much success!

Laura Russell - January 9, 2013 - 2:14 am

Hi Karlene & Mia, Your advice was just what I needed to read today.
Thanks.

Mary Preston - January 9, 2013 - 4:02 am

I think that #1 Putting Yourself First is a tough ask sometimes. THE DON QUIXOTE GIRLS sounds fabulous.

Mia Crews - January 9, 2013 - 8:55 am

Thanks to all for stopping by to learn a bit about us and our novel. January is the month to refocus and set goals for the entire year. Every one of us will encounter roadblocks, so when that happens, I try to step back and reevaluate. Yes, Mary, putting yourself first is very tough, especially when you have family members who depend on you daily. I was my mother’s sole caretaker for 15 years, and this past year was the hardest, as she went in and out of the hospital. I also have a grandson who is on the autism scale, and I help my daughter out with his homeschooling and other activities. There never seems to be enough hours in the day, so carving out time for myself is a big issue. But I am slogging on with my writing and editing and co-leading our writers group down here on Florida’s space coast.

Karla Darcy - January 9, 2013 - 9:51 am

Mia and Karlene,
What a great post! It’s just what I needed at the beginning of the year. Time for goal setting. I think everyone can relate to the sandwich generation. Even if you don’t have both sides, there are a ton of pressures pulling at us daily so it’s hard to stay on track with our own dreams. I’ve read the Don Quixote Girls and it really does a great job in showing how our friends can really help us get through the tough times. Sort of like the friendship between you two! Much success.

Debbie Kaufman - January 9, 2013 - 10:08 am

Hi, ladies! Welcome to PFHT. Wish I couldn’t relate to those kind of years. I have had to work very hard to carve out time for myself and am struggling to deal with the lack of organization that came out of a difficult year. But, I can so testify that it is important to take care of yourself first or you have nothing left to give the people that need you.
It has also helped me to enlist the aid of others to keep my writing on track. Making an appointment to write with someone else had helped to keep me on track when the distraction of life’s stresses takes over.
The Don Quixote Girls sounds like a fun and interesting read. Glad you both persevered to get to this point.Congrats.

Mia Crews - January 9, 2013 - 11:02 am

Debbie, I am so sorry to hear that you had one of those difficult years. I think making an appointment to write with someone else is a great idea, exactly what Karlene and I did to help one another get our book written. I wish you the best in your writing.

Karlene Conroy - January 9, 2013 - 11:07 am

Thanks for the warm welcome and wishes for success, Ladies!

Pam and Laura, I’m so glad you can relate to our story and found our advice helpful.

Yes, Mary, putting yourself first can be tough when life throws you a major curve ball. The best we can do is get through the crisis, or whatever pulls you away, then return to writing, or another goal. The important thing is to persevere despite the roadblocks. (no matter how hopeless – Don Quixote!) :hugright:

Marilyn, your book sounds fun, too. While our story is set in the Florida panhandle, the adventure spa the girls go to is in the Elijay area of Georgia. They go horseback riding and whitewater rafting. Beautiful area.

Debbie, scheduling writing time with someone else helps with motivation and completing goals. I’m glad you’re doing that for yourself.

I wanted to add one more thought regarding following your dreams, though I hope it won’t cast a depressing shadow on this exchange which is supposed to be encouraging. I recently read an article in the Huffington Post by Bronnie Ware, ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying.’ Number 1 was unfulfilled dreams. So, while life sometimes gets in the way of our dreams, the important thing is to at least try so we won’t have regrets later on.

Thank you all for stopping by and commenting.

Mia Crews - January 9, 2013 - 11:19 am

Hi, Karla, nice to see you on this blog. Thanks for the kind words and for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit with us.

Maxine Davis - January 9, 2013 - 1:39 pm

Mia and Karlene, Welcome to PF&HT. Just yesterday I visited your site. I tried three times to write and tell you I really liked it, buy my email was wonky, so you either got no mail from me or three. Anyway, I thorougly enjoyed your post. The timing was great. There is something I really want to do tomorrow, but decided I “needed” to stay here, wash clothes, etc. Now, I am putting me first, so I will be out of town tomorrow! Thank you both!

Sia Huff - January 9, 2013 - 3:07 pm

Hi Mia & Karlene,
It’s wonderful that you can find humor and write about during those roadblock times. The Don Quixote sounds like fun. I have to admit, I’m hearing …To Dream the Impossible Dream, in my head. :)
Wishing you both much success and an easier path for the next few years.

Hildie McQueen - January 9, 2013 - 4:24 pm

Great post, so glad I read it! I admire your positive outlook in spire of what life threw at you. A big “Go Girls!” to you. Great post. :-))

Karlene Conroy - January 9, 2013 - 5:57 pm

Maxine,
Sorry we didn’t receive your emails Thanks for visiting our website. Nice to hear you’re putting yourself first. Have fun!

Sia & Hildie,
Thanks for the welcome and wishes for success, and for stopping by to comment.

All you PF&HT ladies are a great group and we appreciate the opportunity to be guest chefs!

Annette Clifford - January 9, 2013 - 6:11 pm

Greetings Mia and Karlene. Congrats
on seeing your dream through to publication. I look forward to reading DQG!

Anna Doll - January 9, 2013 - 7:52 pm

Mia and Karlene, your book sounds like fun! Can’t wait to read it. Thanks for guest blogging…Anna :-)

Karlene Conroy - January 9, 2013 - 8:06 pm

Thanks Annette. So glad you dropped by.

Susan Carlisle - January 9, 2013 - 8:08 pm

Ladies,
So glad to have you today. The book sounds so much like my life–too funny. I look forward to reading it.

Karlene Conroy - January 9, 2013 - 8:18 pm

Thanks for having us, Anna. Mia and I enjoyed our visit.

We’re just about ready to launch our blog and would love to have everyone who has commented today visit and leave a comment. We also hope to have guests and will be extending invitations to you all when we’re ready for that. Our blog is attached to our website: http://www.donquixotegirls.com and should be up and running by the weekend.

Karlene Conroy - January 9, 2013 - 8:47 pm

Thanks for the welcome, Susan. So glad you can relate to our story,

We have a page on our website entitled “Join the Club”. We start out with ‘You may be a Don Quixote Girl if…” and we’ve posted our own and a fan’s blurbs about frustrating situations. Example: “You may be a Don Quixote Girl if you deliver groceries to your elderly mother and she tells you she just used the last of her toilet paper which, of course, wasn’t on the shopping list she gave you that morning.”

Turning an irritating situation into something funny helped us maintain sanity in the face of craziness. We highly recommend it! :giggle:

If you or anyone here would like to send us your blurbs, we’d be happy to consider adding them to our page. See our website for contact information.

Dianne m - January 9, 2013 - 9:29 pm

Love the way the authors take as along on their writing journey and then offer a list of breadcrumbs for the rest of us to follow. Great advice!

Sandy Elzie - January 9, 2013 - 10:00 pm

Hi Ladies,
I loved your post…and can’t wait to read your book. Thank you so very much for being our guests today. I’m headed over to your site right now!

jean thomas - January 9, 2013 - 10:03 pm

Mia and Karlene, What a great adventure! Your book has quite a bit I can identify with, too. I’m going to keep your advice so I can review it with regularity. Thank you!

Carol Burnside - January 9, 2013 - 10:14 pm

I too love the idea of your book and can identify with many of the trials you mentioned. Several of us here can relate a bit too closely, perhaps. ;) Humor is essential in such circumstances! Thanks for introducing us and our readers to The Don Quixote Girls.

Barbara W - January 10, 2013 - 6:12 am

I loved reading how your book came together. I am sorry for both of your life trials. I can relate to some of them. Good luck with your blog. I look forward to reading it.

Carol Ann Didier - January 10, 2013 - 6:31 am

Hi Ladies, great post. Since I know you both well and have lived some of the same experiences that you have had with parents and family, I am happy to see this being received so well. It was a labor of love for both of you and I am proud of you. It is a great read and I’m sure many others will identify with the characters in there as well.
Best Wishes for much success. Hugs, Carol

Karlene Conroy - January 10, 2013 - 11:15 am

Dianne, Sandy, Jean, Carol B., Barbara, and Carol D,

Thank you all for your supportive and complimentary comments. Mia and I appreciate you all taking the time to drop in on our guest blog appearance. Hope to see you on our blog in the future!

Connie Gillam - January 10, 2013 - 5:37 pm

Ladies-

I understand all to well the obstacles to your writing. I’ve been there-from a mother dying after a long illness to taking care of grandchildren.

Your book sounds wonderful. Thanks for blogging. Looking forward to reading your book.

Shara Smock - January 10, 2013 - 9:10 pm

Karlene & Mia,

I’m sorry I missed the blog yesterday but see I’m not today’s only entry. Fun that it carried on Thurs.

Writing has served you well, getting through the parts of life that tend to be overwhelming, and coming out the other side with books that are deservedly recognized. Way to go, ladies!

Shara

Mary Brotherton - January 10, 2013 - 9:45 pm

I am such a Don Quixote Girls fan! You came into my life just as I began tilting at my own windmills with my mother.

Karlene Conroy - January 11, 2013 - 9:54 am

Connie you’ve been through so much and yet you’ve continued with your writing. Hugs to you as you follow your dream.

Shara thanks for the compliment and for stopping by and commenting – better late than never!

Mary, hugs to you, too, as you continue windmill tilting.Time for yourself is so precious right now. Creating your blog to map your journey was a great idea to indulge your creative expression and keep your sense of self. .

Sandy Elzie - January 12, 2013 - 4:55 pm

Congratulations to Jean Thomas! Her name was chosen to receive a download of The Don Quixote Girl!!

Jean, go to the top of this blog site and click on “Contests” and follow the instructions to get us your e-mail address so we can let the ladies know and you can receive your gift.

Thanks ladies!

F O L L O W   U S
R E C E N T   T W E E T S