This is the last Monday before the new year and…yes, I’m bowing to public pressure to admit that Jan. 1, 2020 is the beginning of a new decade. I still say it’s numerically wrong but whatever. I normally use Mondays to follow-up on stuff from the previous week and weekend (when I don’t blog). As for last week, it was Christmas. There was family, food, fun, and naps. It was good. Taht said, as this is the last Monday of 2019, I thought I’d look back on the previous year. I mean, all the reality shows and news channels are doing retrospectives and top lists of the year, so why not me?
First up, the meme up there in the corner? TOTALLY illustrates my 2019. It was a year of running to keep ahead of the thing with sharp teeth and big claws. It was a year of passings and new additions. It was a year of full of fighting. It was a year I don’t want to remember with fondness. It was a year of lessons.
First, the passings. My wonderful son-in-law, fondly called Baseball Boy in these parts, lost his beloved aunt and his mother, all within a few months. That was followed by ill health for his father. It’s hard because he’s here and they were there. We lost our beloved Newfoundland, Cooper. Suddenly. He didn’t want to come in one night and I discovered him the next morning. A few months later, my beloved Editor Cat, Adidas, passed quietly in her sleep at the age of 18. We’d known it was coming but still a huge hole.
By odd circumstances, two new fuzzies appeared in our lives. Jacob aka Big Jake, a Newf/Pyrenees mix suddenly became adoptable after we’d inquired only to learn that he’d already been adopted. Just over a week later, the shelter, Pet Angels, contacted us to see if we were still interested. Turned out, he’d been returned. Again. For like the fourth time. Why? Because he didn’t like crates, he didn’t like being left alone, and he got destructive when those things happened. Well…d’uh! Jake found his forever home the moment we looked at him. He’s fit right in with the family though we have to remember to put food normally left on the counter up and set the trash out if we leave him home alone. To counter this, I’m training him to be a service dog. He’s wonderfully responsive, calm, friendly, and is learning to lean to help correct balance problems (LG) and to recognize LG’s high blood pressure spiker. Why? LG had a heart attack this summer. It was scary, as I drove us to the VA emergency room at midnight one night. There’s been some changes in his life, but that’s his story to tell. Anyway, we love Jake and I really need to get pictures and update this site with them. Also, Loki. Loki arrived in May during the wettest May on record, in the middle of a rainstorm. I saw a black shadow crawling across the driveway when I looked out the office window. Grabbing a raincoat, I went out and found this tiny black kitten shivering and barely alive under a bush in our driveway island. After some doctoring here, a scramble to find a vet who could see him on short notice, and $450 later, Loki became our feral kitten rescue. He’s beautiful and funny and totally lives up to his full name: Loki, Kitten God of Mishief and Mayhem. Just ask Ol’ Boone. Loki delights in chasing Boone’s tail. Someday, I’ll have my phone out, in video mode at just the right moment. Poor Boone. I keep telling him it’s because Loki loves him. I don’t think the old man believes me. 😉
The fighting I referred to above is all about me and my on-going battle with depression (and some other health issues). I fear it’s a common malady among writers–and others. On top of the depression, I have PTSD. None of my tried and true remedies helped. Neither did new protocols. It was a battle to not curl up into a ball with the covers over my head. It was a battle to face each day and pretend that everything was all right. It was a battle to be creative and since I only wrote two books this year, neither of which will be published until 2020, I had a year with nothing to show for it. Which leads me into my lessons learned segment.
Publish or perish. It’s a well-known aphorism (a fancy word for “a pithy observation”) inside academic circles. The same can be said for self-publishing fiction. If you don’t write it, they won’t buy it. And your backlist only gets you so far. I’ve sold 6 books in December from Amazon. SIX. That barely buys a Starbucks coffee much less put food on the table–which my writing has been doing up until this past year. Without getting too personal, my career is looking a bit dire, financially. So, I have no choice for 2020. I either need to write and publish a lot, or I need to get a job. I’m 66 years old. Where the hell am I going to find a job? So, depression be damned, I have to churn out the stories sitting dormant in my brain and get them published. I look at some of the “indepedents” with the high rankings, which translates to sales and royalties, and they’re publishing constantly. And their quality, leaves a lot to be desired yet they still manage to rack in the readers. Are my standards just too high? *shrug* I have to do better in 2020. I can’t put a book a month out like some, but I’ve got to do something different. I have a book coming out in February. I hope to have another in March, and maybe a third in April. There’s a new Harlequin Red Dirt book coming from me around May or later, but I don’t see that royalty for a year. It’s up to me to put food on the table between now and then. I hope to have a new Nightrider book out, a new Penumbra Papers book out, a new Moonstruck Wolf book, a Hard Target but that’s a long shot because no ideas are perking there, and maybe, toward the end of summer or next fall, the first of my Moonstruck Mafia/Mob serials. I have an old romantic suspense that’s been languishing, with a sequel that’s was close to being finished when I set it aside, that I’d like to dig out. The first book is set back in the 80’s, with the second occurring a few years after hurricane Katrina. General consensus is they won’t do well because they aren’t set far enough back to be “historical” and they’re too far back to be considered “real” contemporary. Screw it. What have I got to lose? I also want to finish up the conpendium books in Moonstruck, MOONSTRUCK: BETRAYAL and MOONSTRUCK: RETRIBUTION, to go along with MOONSTRUCK: SECRETS and MOONSTRUCK: LIES. It’s not just a matter of sticking two novellas/books into one cover. There’s a story between that needs telling and additions to be made to the original stories which also makes those volumes interesting for readers who’ve already read the original stories. Anyway. Stupid depression which tells me I’m not good enough, no one wants to read my books, it’s a waste of time, I’m worthless…yada yada. Bastard. I will find a way to get it to STFU! this upcoming year.
So…that’s were I stand, here on the last Monday of 2019. That damn T-Rex seems to be gaining on me but I’m still getting out of bed each day. I’m still writing (and occasionally winning) flash fiction challenges. I did write two books. I didn’t give myself a concussion from banging my head against a wall. I have a wonderful and loving family. I have three furry children that make me smile more often than I get mad at them and they love me in their own special ways. I have amazing friends who stick by me even when I disappear. And I have readers who keep waiting for new words and they don’t fuss (much… 😉 ) when those words are slow in coming. I’ll do my best to satisfy your cravings for more in 2020. In the meantime, 2020 is on the horizon. New year. New decade. New adventures. Let them begin!