What a crazy busy year this has been for me! It certainly feels like one of the wildest years I have had in a good long while. Although, come to think of it, 2011 was particularly insane… Maybe the odd years?… hmmm… I’ll have to search the mental archives on that one. For now, here’s a retrospective synopsis of my year.
My year began in California, in the Central Valley area near Fresno, as it had for over twenty years before. I worked at Kaweah Medical Center in the Neonatal ICU, and as I have for most of my nursing career, I was at work ringing in 2013 with my pals. We had a potluck and toasted with sparkling cider. No fireworks, unless you count the flashing numbers and lines on the monitors, but we had fun anyway. I remember searching high and low for a can opener, finally using the hinge on the door to open the cider bottles, and then having a discussion as to the words of Auld Lang Syne. Thanks to iPhones galore, we listened to dozens of versions and read about it on Wikipedia! Here’s a nice rendition by a true Scotsman, Rod Stewart–
In other January news, over at Austen Authors we launched our Pride and Prejudice Reader’s Choice project with The Bennet Brother. We introduced Edward Bennet to the mix, and it ended up a phenomenal success. The story began with Abigail Reynolds, had chapters written by nearly every one of our authors, and ended in September with a final epilogue by Jack Caldwell. That story can be read on the Austen Authors Writers Block “The Bennet Brother”.
In other Austen Author news for January, our ad in Jane Austen’s Regency World Magazine appeared. That was very cool. The ad, as seen below, was on the back cover for over half the year.
Later in the month I received the “advanced reader copies” ARCs of The Passions of Dr. Darcy. Yeah! It is always a thrill to see my work in a bound format the first time. As a thank you to my fans, I began a two-month giveaway with 8 lucky readers getting an early peek at the novel.
January 2013 was the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s “darling child” – that being Pride and Prejudice – and around-the-world celebrations were plenteous. A major article in the Wall Street Journal covered the power of Austen in popular culture, and featured pictures of me and the plethora of Austenesque souvenirs and gifts I have accumulated. To read the article, click here:
The month of love! So of course I spent some romantic time with my wonderful hubby. I also partook in the “Hearts Through History Blog Hop” with a giveaway and love story piece on Jacob and Rachel from the Bible. You can read that here: Valentine Blog Hop All month I shared bits of Valentine history, romantic videos, some games on literary lovers, and my favorite vintage Valentines. All can be accessed via an Archive Search (on the left sidebar).
It was also the month for the Oscars, so I had two posts on favorite Oscar moments in history, and gowns I loved.
Another busy month as I prepped for the release of The Passions of Dr. Darcy in April with numerous posts on George and India. Amid that fun, I helping my local Romance Writers of America chapter, the Yosemite Romance Writers, hold our first writers conference. It was a huge success, thanks to hard work, dedication, and the excellent speaking of romance novelist Jane Porter. It was also my first year as the chairperson for our writing contest, The Smooch. I loved doing that! So much so that I am again the chairperson, and The Smooch for 2014 is nearing its deadline. Check it out here: YRW The Smooch
In other fun news, I traveled to Southern California with a handful of my writer buddies to attend the SoCalRWA Writer’s Conference and Book Signing. Loads of awesome people and fans to meet, and as always at these events, I learned SO much!
The Passions of Dr. Darcy was released!! I am incredibly proud of this novel! George Darcy’s story, IMO, is amazing, and I was merely blessed to be able to share it with the reading world. April was all about sharing the news of my eighth’s books release. I blog hopped, garnered lots of nice reviews, and basically rambled on about my favorite man to everyone I met!
May was Mother’s Day, always bittersweet for me since my mom passed away three years ago. But my family always spoils me! Plus, with the success of my new book still generating a warm glow inside, it was impossible to be overly depressed.
Book Expo America, or the BEA, was in May, and in lieu of actually traveling to New York City, I joined in the online portion. Armchair BEA, as it was called, was a fun week to celebrate ALL books in ALL genres. For my part, I shared my favorite books, and those posts can be read via the archives for May 2013.
In my writing world I was flipping back and forth between three projects. Not a good plan, as I began to realize. With numerous plotlines dancing in my brain, and writing bits and pieces, nothing was getting done. Yikes! Reason #1 why I fell behind in finishing a publishable manuscript.
Halfway through 2013, and June is when my personal life started ruling over my writing life – Reason #2 why I never finished a novel in 2013.
My husband turned 62 on June 11, and by the end of the month had officially retired. WOW! He had worked for Pacific Gas & Electric, a California public utility company, for over 35 years, so had accumulated enough time to take most of the month off. A high point was plotting with one of his co-workers, Margaret, for a surprise retirement party for him. We pulled it off brilliantly! Totally got him, as you can see in the pic to the left. LOL!
We began the back-breaking chore of preparing our house for sale. Our long time goal had been to move after he retired, for a long while not sure where, but we eventually deciding on Kentucky. This month was all about planning, meeting with a realtor, doing tons of research, beginning the process of digging through closets, having a yard sale, and mostly sprucing up our very nice but very lived in seventeen year old home.
On top of that, I frantically finished the research, power point, and speech for a workshop I was to give in July. In all honesty, aside from a Summer Banquet Blog Hop where I virtually sipped on Orgeat, and my blog and P&P Reader’s Choice chapters on Austen Authors, I didn’t get much writing done. *sob
June rolled right into July for us. We continued to prep our house to officially place it on the selling market, and were still doing that, in fact, when the first couple who viewed it made an offer. Yikes! It was wonderful to have it happen so fast, but My, Oh My!
I covered the craziness that was July in a series of blog posts (check the archives), but here is the synopsis: House selling papers were signed in the second week of July. I promptly flew away, heading to Atlanta, Georgia for the Romance Writers of America National Conference. Fun, fun, fun! The RWA conference is one of my favorite events each year. I get to meet my writer buddies, learn a whole ton of great publishing business news, party at the Beau Monde soiree, sign books, meet fans, and so on. This year I also gave a workshop on Regency Era Medical Care, adding to the fun and stress!
I left Atlanta, but didn’t go back to California. Instead I met my husband and son in Kentucky. The three of us then spent a harried week house hunting, scoping out the area we had chosen to relocate to, signing a ream of papers, stressing out a whole bunch more, but finally with the house we fell in love with. Yeah!
Check out this blog post for fuller details, and a fabulous video of our New Kentucky Home.
Another month of nothing but real life adventures, ie: PACKING! Our California house closed escrow on August 30, so that gave us almost exactly thirty days after returning from Kentucky to pack up all our possessions and make all the arrangements. Thank goodness for computers and detailed lists! It was exciting, but simultaneously heart wrenching as we bid adieu to our numerous friends, a home where are children were raised, and a town we loved. Saying goodbye to California was easy, but Hanford is a terrific town, so that part was rough. Below is a pic of my co-workers at the hospital, taken at a party the week before I moved. Yes, it was fabulous to shift my focus to writing, but tough to say goodbye to my nursing pals.
This is the shortest paragraph in Sharon’s Review of 2013, making it appear as if nothing happened, yet it was the most jam packed month of all!
Well, honestly, that is debatable because after August came….
How insane was September? Insane enough that I just now realized, after looking through my past blog posts, that I added nothing the entire month of September! Not a single blog post all month. That has never happened before! The lack of blog updates tells a tale in itself, actually. For starters, we went almost two weeks without internet, other than sporadically while in a hotel or thanks to the AT&T 4G network on our iPhones. However, even if a constant internet connection had been available, there was zero time to play around online. Why is surely obvious: We were setting up our new home! I still can’t decide if unpacking is worse than packing since both are horrible in many ways. Even now, typing this in late December, I still have muscles that are sore!
The work of adjusting to our new town and environment was ongoing when I again boarded a plane. This time for Minneapolis and the JASNA AGM. I was almost too exhausted to enjoy myself… or that was the fear… but I did have some fun. Tragically, my delight in seeing friends and immersing in Austen was tempered by more than my weariness. My dearly loved cousin Renee Goodman passed away from cancer while I was there. Yep, definitely a harsh month for me on numerous levels.
Click here for a full report on the 2013 JASNA AGM.
Finally life began to calm down. I returned from Minneapolis to a house 90% put together and homey. Good thing because less than a week later my daughter and son-in-law came for a visit. We hadn’t seen them since they moved to Washington DC in February 2012, so it was a LONG overdue visit. Of course I shared loads of pictures on Facebook and on a blog post HERE.
As the month unwound, I was able to relax into our new life and, best of all, seriously turn back to my writing. Whew! I had a new office, way bigger and more secluded than my previous one, so perfect to work in. One project, aside from focused writing, was to revamp this website and Austen Authors. One has to keep up with the ever changing technology of the online world!
At the end of the month I celebrated my 51st birthday and the announcement that my seventh novel – Miss Darcy Falls in Love – was chosen as a selection for World Book Night US 2014. Whoot!! This is an incredible honor, and I am still walking on air.
All the details about World Book Night US can be read on the website:
World Book Night US
In Austen Authors news, we started our second Pride and Prejudice Reader’s Choice story. This time we gave a brother to the Darcy family rather than the Bennets. Pretty cool, huh? The Darcy Brother, starring Theophilus Darcy, is currently ongoing, with new chapters posted every Wednesday. Catch up on what has happened so far on the Austen Authors Writers Block.
NOVEMBER & DECEMBER
Now we are up to the present, more or less. Happily, aside from the usual antics surrounding the holidays, life in Kentucky has assumed a normal pace. We love our new state, Bardstown where we live, and our house. Establishing ourselves with resident licenses, bank accounts, clothing for the much colder weather, a new job for my son, learning our way around the unfamiliar roads, finding doctors and favorite restaurants, and the plethora of regular details that contribute to the daily experience of living have occurred at a leisurely pace. We dived into the holiday spirit in Bardstown by, among other events, attending a Christmas Tea at Wickland Mansion, a Christmas Musicale at St. John’s Cathedral, the downtown tree lighting and Santa Claus appearance, and a candlelit tour of the plantation house where Stephen Foster penned the Kentucky State song, “My Old Kentucky Home.”
For the first time since I was a youth growing up in the Las Padres Forest in CA, (and never for my husband or son), we welcomed snow falling in our own backyard. Thanksgiving was white, a good three inches of the cold stuff on the ground, and twice more we saw snow. Unfortunately there was no snow on Christmas, but I suspect we shall make up for the lack come January and February!
In between, my husband has actively pursued his decades-long dream to share his photography professionally. He has taken pictures for over forty years, always learning more of his craft, amassing a stunning portfolio, and buying better equipment. With my help, he created a website. Check it out! I am very, very proud of him.
Luv The Light Photos by Steve Lathan http://www.luvthelightphotos.com
As for me, I have spent the bulk of my time writing. Yes! The next novel is coming along well. More on that in 2014. LOL!