A Guest Blog by Julie Brannagh

I’m thrilled to be making a guest appearance at Jane’s blog while she takes a little time off to enjoy sweet baby Mac!

When I started thinking about what to write, I kept coming back to the same subject: Courage.

We don’t think much about courage in our daily lives, despite admiring those who seem to have it. What is the indefinable thing that causes people to decide they’re going to be brave one minute longer than everyone around them, or take a risk that leaves most people paralyzed with fear?

Over the past month, we’ve seen an example of courage on a world-wide level. She didn’t pull someone out of a burning building. She didn’t put herself into the line of fire. She didn’t persevere in the face of personal tragedy – or did she? Mostly, she walked out onto a stage in front of three thousand jeering, scornful people (and eleven to twelve million watching on television,) ready to tear her apart. She didn’t look like the person that should have been in her shoes right then. How could a less than photogenic, plump, middle-aged woman have talent that stunned the world?

I’m talking about Susan Boyle and you’ve her performance of “I Dreamed A Dream” on Britain’s Got Talent. (Jane wrote about her several weeks ago and has a link to the YouTube clip here on her site). I can’t watch the video without tears, because I can’t imagine that kind of courage. How did Susan do it? Did she hear the laughter, see the rolled eyes, and decide that no matter what, she would just keep going?

How many times have each of us been in that situation? We’re facing whatever it is we most hope for, and we either open our mouths and sing, or we walk away from the chance, maybe forever. What is the cost when we abandon our own dreams due to fear or insecurity? What is the difference between those who take a risk, and those who just can’t, and spend the rest of their lives wondering “What if?”

I am lucky enough to be surrounded by women who dared to take that chance, despite numerous rejections. They believed in themselves and their talent. They walked out onto that empty stage, facing a crowd of those they knew that told them to give up, told them they’d never do it, told them they should focus their attention on something “more attainable”. They did it, and here are a few of their stories.

Jane Porter (our lovely hostess!) wrote for fifteen years before she published in 2000. She has since sold over four million books. One of those books was made into a movie.

Susan Mallery received 50 rejection letters in eighteen months at the start of her career. She has published over 100 books in eighteen years. She reached the New York Times bestseller list last year.

Cherry Adair had seventeen completed manuscripts before she sold her first novel. She’s since published 23 books, (Cherry, I hope that’s right!) and is another New York Times bestselling author.

Anna Campbell wrote a book twenty-seven years ago. She stopped writing for most of those twenty-seven years. She published Claiming the Courtesan in 2007, and turned the romance industry on its ear. Her fourth book comes out in October of 2009.

Susan Wiggs told a group of romance authors that she wallpapered a bathroom in her house with rejection notices. She published her first novel in 1987. She’s been on the bestseller lists ever since.

I’m sure some reading this are shaking their heads and saying, “But I don’t sing. I don’t write! What does this have to do with me?” It has everything to do with you. After all, there are things you dream of that none of us know about. Do you talk yourself out of them, or do you at least try? Some dream of learning to surf. Some want to fly. Some would like to be able to give a presentation at the office without feeling like you’re going to throw up! Some would like to be a parent. There is something in your life that you want to achieve. Maybe it’s not going to happen in front of eleven million people, but you will know, and that knowledge will stay with you till the end. What’s stopping you?

Again, courage isn’t always rescuing someone, or standing up and stating what you believe to be true in the face of those who disagree. Sometimes, courage is in the small moments, when you realize your life will be richer if you take a chance.

Easy on the EyesI always look forward to Jane’s books. Easy on the Eyes, though, is special to me already. Her heroine is thrust into a completely unfamiliar situation. For her, it’s sink or swim. I’ll bet she swims, despite those who want her to fail. This is courage: The fact that each of us has the opportunity to be more. Will you take it?

I hope you’ll share some of your triumphs with everyone in the comments.

Julie Brannagh

Julie Brannagh
Julie and her husband, Eric

Julie Brannagh dreamed of writing a book her entire life, and finally did it in 2005. She is currently writing her fourth single title, and she’s now working towards the goal of publication. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing her blog, The Little Pink Clubhouse.

GIVEAWAY! Jane will be giving away a $10 Starbucks card and some fun Jane Porter goodies to one lucky winner. All you need to do is post a comment here and share your thoughts. The winner will be announced on Monday. Good luck! (And after you comment here, make sure you add your comment to Jane’s online book club discussion this week.)

Please also read an important note about blog contests

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