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Sunday, October 22, 2006

Homage to a Hero(ine)

Yesterday was the LIRW's annual East End outing hosted by our very own, very loved Bertrice Small. Let me try to put into words what this day entails and why it thrills me to be a part of it every single year. Each October, Bertrice hosts our authors (and guests) to a fabulous historical tour and lunch somewhere on the East End of Long Island, near her home. In the past, we've visited historical homesites, lighthouses, and yesterday, the Wickham Fruit Farm in Cutchogue followed by a delicious lunch at the Cooperage Inn in Baiting Hollow.

I picked up my first Bertrice Small book while I was still in high school. The magic of her stories, the mix of history and passion, the idea of a strong, kick-ass heroine and the intrigue and humor Bertrice can weave into her prose left me breathless. After that one story (Love, Wild and Fair for those keeping score...), I found myself scanning bookstores for every word Bertrice had ever written. When I exhausted the list of already published, I joined the ranks of those clamoring for the next book, waiting for the day she'd finish the latest in her O'Malley Saga with Christmas-like anticipation. With each story I read, I dreamed of one day being lucky enough to meet Bertrice, or barring that, following in her exalted footsteps and writing my own stories of history and passion, etc., etc. For the longest time, that's all it was: a lovely dream.

Until I found RWA and the LIRW and actually turned a fantasy into reality. I met Bertrice on a brisk December day at the LIRW's annual holiday get-together about six years ago. For me, it was like meeting a rock idol or a movie star: one of those knee-knocking, you just know you're gonna screw up and faint or say something stupid moments. But Bertrice was, as she always is, gracious, polite and deep down wonderful to me. We talked for a while--don't ask me about what, I couldn't begin to tell you. And in the grand scheme of things, our topics of conversation probably wouldn't matter to the rest of the world anyway. What mattered was that, after that initial meeting, Bertrice left me even more determined than ever to follow in her footsteps.

Now, six years later, I'm proud to call Bertrice friend. And yes, it still tickles me everytime her name pops up on my Caller ID or in my Email address book. It's a testament of sorts to the power of determination and the magic of daring to dream.

So for those of you out there indulging your own fantasies about writing, why not take the steps to turn your dream into reality? Write that book you've got inside your head. Take some courses, join a writing organization, and as Nike says: Just Do It. Who knows where it might lead you?

And speaking of leaders, it's time for this week's football score: Wildcats 19, Connetquot 0. Looks like another pizza party this coming Friday. Current record 4 W, 2 L, 1 T.

Go Wildcats!
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