As 2018 draws to a close, I thought it would be fun to look back on the year, month by month, and remember my journey. It’s been quite a busy one!
|The fantabulous Rachel Dixon
The year began with the release of A Song Unheard
in the first few days of January. A book release always brings its own excitement…and extra work. Given all the deadlines I was under, this added load led my brilliant husband to say, “Maybe you should seriously consider hiring a virtual assistant.” He’s suggested this before, and I always waved it off. I can handle it, man!
But I’d reached the point where I really couldn’t. So a bit later in January, I hired the amazing Rachel Dixon
as my VA, and it has been awesome. Not only is she great at picking up my slack, doing extras I never would have gotten to, and keeping me on schedule (seriously, I long knew I needed an extra brain…), it’s always proven a chance to become friends with a great young woman with whom I click.
At the end of January, we went to our first whole-family professional sporting event–Penguins hockey in Pittsburgh. We all had a blast, and I was enthralled by the collective
atmosphere at the event. In February I also read and reviewed the wildly successful and critically acclaimed The Alice Network
. Which I loved…but it also got me thinking about the sacred in historical fiction
. Namely, how we as historical writers have to choose what beliefs of our historical figures we honor. And how sad it makes me that authors can choose to dismiss what would have been so important to people 100 years ago.
In March, I got to re-release my first historical romance–previously Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland
–under WhiteFire. Summerside granted me my rights back with the stipulation that I change the title and cover, which I did with a big, “Aw, shucks. The cover designer has to design a new cover?? What a shame.” 😉 I had so much fun re-imagining the face of Lark’s story
In April, we got the news that another small press, Ashberry Lane, had announced they were closing their doors. I knew the owners of AL and had mentored Christina a bit as she got everything started, so I was sad to hear this–I knew she’d put together an amazing line-up of books and authors! My husband immediately suggested we contact her to see if she’d be interested in selling Ashberry Lane to WhiteFire. And within days, we had a verbal agreement! It took us several months to get everything completed, but we now have a three-pronged publishing company, with Ashberry Lane as our romance imprint
. So exciting!
|Me and Stephanie at the house
In May, it was time for one of the highlights of my year–my annual writing retreat
with my best friend/critique partner, Stephanie Morrill. We met this year in Arnold, Maryland (close to the closest airport to me, though not really close to me
…though Arnold is where we lived when our daughter was born, so it was fun to revisit the arera!). We rented a house through AirBnB, which worked out great, and we both finished the manuscripts we were working on! For me, that was The Number of Love
. And I still had a day left after I finished, which was just enough time to get an idea hammered out for my second Guideposts book, All the Inn’s a Stage
. Also in May, I had the joy of attending the Gaithersburg Book Festival
! It was raining and dreary, but several thousand people still turned out, and I had so much fun on a panel with authors Carrie Turansky and Cathy Gohlke. I got to meet some readers I’ve known online for years, as well as some fans who came just to see me, which made my day. 💗
|Me, Cathy, and Carrie at the Gaithersburg Book Festival (weeeee bit muddy!)
In June, my daughter danced in her last ballet with Appalachian Ballet Theatre, where she’d been taking lessons since she was 5. Insert me weeping. The directors at ABT decided to close the studio after they received word that their landlady was selling the building. The mother of this team was ready to retire anyway, and the daughter was having baby #2. So it made sense for them…but still, we were heartbroken to lose our ballet home! Over the summer, the search was on for a new ballet class. It was made a bit trickier as Xoe was ready to transition to pointe, but we found a studio she likes. Frostburg Dance Academy doesn’t focus solely on ballet, but their technique in it is great, and I’m confident that Xoe is getting wonderful instruction. Going on pointe has made her double-down in her love of dancing, and she’d been practicing at home a ton. Lovely to see!
|Xoe with her class–she’s the one looking at the camera, far left
Over the summer, I decided it was time to stop being lazy and finding excuses not to exercise. I in fact decided to find reasons to
exercise. So I began listening to audio books and working out 30 minutes each day–all my sanity can spare, with the work always awaiting me. In the last six months I’ve listened to some amazing books! I asked for recommendations at the start of this new adventure and compiled a list of the results
here on the blog. (Yes, I count my exercising success in terms of books listened to, not time shaved off my mile or something weird like that, LOL.)
In August, I began working on a series of book covers for Lauraine Snelling. This was not only fun as a designer, but it was exciting as a fan-girl. I grew up on Lauraine Snelling books. I read her Golden Filly Series for teens and adored it, but I also read her Red River books as a teen. I’ve got probably a dozen or more of her books on my shelf, so when her agent contacted me about doing these, I was a wee bit giddy. It was a 5-book series we were doing, so took quite a while, but what fun I had getting to know Lauraine and her agency team through the process! (My daughter is also in 3 of these covers…her hair in 2 [#2 and #5] and her entire profile/head/scarf/hair in #4, LOL.)
As an editor, I had the Joy
of representing WhiteFire Publishing at the Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conference. It was a great time! The whole family went, and while I was teaching classes and taking appointments, David took the kids to Legoland and the aquarium. We’d planned on going into the city to see the Liberty Bell etc., but we were battling colds, and opted to just come home. We did, however, squeeze in a trip to the National Zoo in August, which was fun! And as we launched into our homeschool year, I was surprised to realize my daughter’s work was all independent this year! She’s doing a fabulous job with that, and I’ve been rather delighted to discover that the year I decided to redo with my son (one he’s done before, but long enough ago that he didn’t remember it all) is so much shorter
each day than what we’d been doing! LOL. That extra time in my morning has been invaluable!
In September, I celebrated TWO book releases…in style at the beach! 😉 My first book in the Secrets of Wayfarers Inn series released from Guidepost, directly to consumers. Greater Than Gold
is book 4 in the series. And the final book in the Shadows Over England series released while we were on vacation in the Outer Banks of NC, An Hour Unspent.
We were vacationing this year with family friends, and we had lots of fun. Moreover, it was a much-needed time of refreshing for me. I’d been laboring under some intense deadlines and was running on empty. I came home from vacation rejuvenated, relaxed, and bursting with ideas again…which was great, because I’d just turned in my second Guidepost book and needed to get started on the second book in my next series for Bethany House!
Though October is usually one of my busiest months, this year was different. Thanks to a year of torrential rain here in WV, things like my family farm’s fall festival were cancelled. (And also thanks to that rain, it was a year of SNAKES!! Ack! We spotted two venomous copperheads in our yard this year, in addition to the black snake that snuck into my office! YIKES!) So we enjoyed a more relaxed fall. You may have noticed a few changes on the blog round about then, though. That’s when I decided to start sending out a weekly newsletter with my blog posts, focusing on my Thoughtful post. I’ve been touched by the encouragement and feedback I’ve received from readers as a result! Also in October, I got to reveal the cover of The Number of Love
…which may possibly be my favorite cover ever!
November was, as always, a month to focus on gratitude. And one of the things I’ve been grateful for is the launch of our young reader imprint with WhiteFire, which we’ve called WhiteSpark
. It went live in November with two books–a young adult by the prolific Melody Carlson, and a middle grade by debut author Bonnie Swinehart. I was tickled to be able to introduce my daughter to the world as an illustrator with Bonnie’s book! She did small pictures at each chapter head and a few larger ones throughout the book as well. And what a great job she did! Pure Mama-pride going on over here…
In December, we got to go on an adventure to New York City. =) We decided that our kids could each choose a 13-year-old adventure around said birthday–something out of the ordinary, something we wouldn’t usually do. Xoë (the older) decided she wanted to see a professional ballet–specifically, The Nutcracker. We’d toyed with the idea of taking her to Europe for it, but ultimately we decided on NYC. One of the things she really wanted was to dress up in a long gown, so even though this particular ballet crowd wasn’t all that fancy, we went all out–and had a wonderful time!
2018 is ending with me finishing up that second book for my Codebreaker Series, which is due on January 2. I cut it a bit closer than I’d like, and the book is longer than I wanted it to be, but it’s finished–phew!
Overall, 2018 has been a year of hard work. There have been so many unexpected blessings and opportunities, unforeseen growth with our publishing company, and lots of awesome reading and experiences. It’s been a great year. One with many (literal) headaches as I spend too many hours in front of my computer, but when I look back at the growth, the many books written and read, edited and designed, I know they’ve been hours well spent.
When you look back over 2018, what stands out to you the most?