Happy New Year and Some Book News

Hi, everyone,

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.

Cover of The Kitchen Brigade
Cover photo by Art Husband!

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!

So Long, 2012, and Thanks for All the Fish…

happy-new-yearLoss, love, joy, grief, rebirth, pain, triumph: it’s been a rich and melancholic salad of a year for me. That canard of ancient wisdom, “Be careful what you wish for,” is definitely not one to toy with. For a while there, every shiny penny on the sidewalk, it seemed, came with a foot waiting to stomp on my hand as I reached for it.

My professional goals (Thank you, Jim Devitt, for reminding me of the importance of goal-setting) for this year were to publish two novels and continue building up my editing business. I’ve accomplished both. I’m very happy about that. Drawing Breath and Don’t Tell Anyone are both out. I’m helping some wonderful writers get their manuscripts ready for publication. Took me almost fifty years, but I think I’ve finally figured out what I want to do when I grow up. Being up to my elbows in words—my words and those of other’s—is definitely my happy place.

But this year, two additional books came out with my name attached to them as contributing author: Indies Unlimited’s Author’s Snarkopaedia Volume 1 and Indies Unlimited: Tutorials and Tools for Prospering in a Digital World. This would not be possible without the passion and dedication of Stephen Hise and K.S. Brooks, the evil geniuses behind Indies Unlimited. I sit in a little pink room filled with toys in a house in the woods, typing on a keyboard, a recluse by nature, and at times this gets isolating and a bit sad. Being a part of IU and having a virtual extended family of kindred spirits across the Interwebs gives me great joy and at times so much laughter I spit tea across the keyboard. I have actually pulled muscles from laughing. It’s much more entertaining to go to the chiropractor with a good story of how I hurt myself, rather than the usual snow-shoveling or long-car-ride excuse. I do like to be considerate of my healthcare professionals whenever possible. They want funny stories to tell people at parties, too.

So thank you to you all for supporting my writing, for sharing it with your friends, and for trusting me with your work and your words.

However 2012 has treated you, whether you’re gazing fondly in the rearview mirror or bidding it off with glee while saying, “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out,” I hope 2013 is bursting with health, peace, love, happiness, and prosperity, in whatever form that means to you.

Onward!