Based on a meme my neighbor shared a couple of years ago, I started an experiment. Some of you might have seen my “Positive Jar” on social media, and if not, here’s a photo.
It works like this: Starting at the beginning of the year, write down good things that happen in your life, big and small, and put them in the jar. Then on New Year’s Day, read them all. The unveiling is kind of fun—a little bonding exercise with my husband—and a reminder that while doom and gloom does exist, there is also good. Sometimes where you least expect it.
This past year came with a lot of challenges. Car trouble. Household repairs. Loved ones going through tough times. Headlines that made me want to run to my doctor for a prescription for Xanax. But in a lot of those negative events, I found lessons or silver linings. A flashing engine light came on right near a service station that has since become my “go-to” place for car problems. A broken air conditioning unit on the hottest day of the year led to meeting the owner of a small HVAC company…that also repaired our furnace for not very much money. (After another company tried to fix it twice but failed.) You get the picture. Each adversity I overcame made me feel a little stronger.
In my writing life, I also had challenges. For the last couple of years, I’ve been working on a novel that’s different than anything I’ve ever published. I’ve written action/adventure before, but never anything dystopian. Never anything that takes place in the future. I’d fallen in love with the idea, a wonderful bit of therapy for me, but I fretted if it was tenable, or if anyone would want to read it. Finally, “Finished novel!” went into the jar. So did the positive feedback I’d gotten from several early readers and my editor.
The Kitchen Brigade takes place in an increasingly isolationist United States, embroiled in civil war. Russia, one of America’s few remaining allies, has sent peacekeeping troops—but they’re doing everything except keeping the peace. Attempting to get through this war is a brigade of female chefs forced to cook for a Russian general occupying New York’s Hudson Valley. But the women may be serving up trouble as well as five-star meals. If it’s true that an army travels on its stomach, can a cook find a way to win the war?
I’m excited to tell you I’ll be publishing the novel in January. You can read more about it here.
Happy New Year to all of you and the best of everything in 2019. May your positive jars be full!