2018 New Year, New Challenges
As always, the beginning of the new year is a time of reflection. So much has changed in my life in a mere twelve months. My wife and I moved into our new home, my nephew came to live at the farm, my wife is now a full time farmer and after years of thinking about it, I submitted a manuscript for publication consideration.
Outside the walls of my log home, we currently have ten inches of snow, or more, here in the mountains of West Virginia...AND it's freezing! Until we plowed, it was drifted shut. We knew this when we moved here, so it's not a concern…since I'm not trying to get out for work… yet. Truth is, our plan wasn't to be living here quiet this soon, but like anything in a Murphy's world, our namesake law says 'nothing will go as planned'. Things went a bit sideways. Trust me, we don't regret moving here and in some ways things have worked out exactly as they should have. I come home to a place that I absolutely love and inspires me. We are closer to our family and the farm. Selling our old home went smoothly because the right buyer showed up at the right time…a true glitch in Murphy's law. Now if we can only get our water situation solved, the place will be perfect.
We have the pleasure of watching and experiencing the world through the eyes of an eight year old…and learning that the way we formerly added 2 plus 2 is not the way we do it now. Sigh…I guess you are never too old to learn new things. (I leave the math to my wife- trust me.)
Our vegetable production farm did well, despite too much rain at the wrong time. We planted a new field of about 9000 strawberry plants and had a second high tunnel (think greenhouse) built.
For me personally, one of the biggest moment of 2017 was being introduced the woman who would become my mentor and friend. She took a chance to pay it forward and read a 'want to be' authors novel. With a wonderful sense of humor and what I termed 'wielding a sledgehammer with a velvet glove', AJ took me to school. When we were done, I took the leap and submitted it to Desert Palm Press. Extremely grateful is an understatement. When I heard from Lee Fitzsimmons, I was overjoyed that she was willing to take a chance. We are both grateful that my debut novel 'frame by frame' was so well received. There are so many people to say thank you to for believing in me. So as not to miss anyone…you ALL know exactly who you are. 'frame by frame' would not have been possible without you.
So now, while I still promote 'frame by frame', I'm deep into a new work in progress. Tentatively titled "The Bucket List", it's an adventure that leads my main character, Prof. Chan Armstrong, across the United States and back in a quest to find the other main character, Prof. Noeul Scott. Yes, I know that's not the common spelling and it's all part of Noeul's history. I'm a huge believer and lover of the National Parks System. There are so many of them out there. Some of the parks are well visited and some are smaller and lesser known, but just as important. I fell in love with Nevada Barr's Anna Pigeon series, and in some ways, it's a bit of a tribute to that.
Chan's quest to find Noeul, relies on a set of coded clues complied in a 'bucket list'. These clues have to be deciphered, sending her to one destination after another. I'm a happy ever after girl so, of course, this will have a happy ending.
I don't have a timeline on when it will be completed. It's a complicated story that requires a great deal of research. I had no idea there were that many codes in existence! Never fear, until I finish the first draft and send it through the editing process, you can check out my current novel, 'frame by frame' if you haven't yet. #framebyframe You can try a sample on Smashwords and download 25% of the book for free, to see if you are interes
ted in it. https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/761839
I'm hoping to attend GCLS conference in Las Vegas this coming year to meet all the amazing people I've come to know in the lesbian literature community, writers and fans alike. There are so many incredible authors who have given life to the stories we love to read. Collectively, the creativity is amazing! I'm stunned to be just a small part of it.
Now to my PCT's (Positive CJ Thoughts) for all of you. This time of year, leads to a great deal of reflection. I hope as you look back on the last twelve months, you can find some positives. I know the political climate has become toxic and the hard fought rights in the LGBTI Community seem to be eroding daily. I think about the Women's March on Washington and the #MeToo movement. Change is coming, slowly. I have to believe it is coming. The promises
made by deceptive 'emperor with no clothes', have turned out to be as fleeting as snow that falls in the south… few, far between and not long lasting. The vitriol, unfortunately, is still as strong and the racism and bigotry seem to have been empowered in a way we haven't seen in years. Now is not the time to sit back and wait, we have to make a difference however we can and the most powerful weapon we have is our voice….and our vote.
Find that stream of positive energy that helps you make change. Whether it be in your personal or professional life. The old question asks, "How do you eat an elephant?". The answer is "One bite at a time." Tasks that seem impossible will stay impossible if you don't take the first step. I'm resolved to eat healthy and continue to get in better physical shape. I'm resolved to keep working toward retirement in a foreseeable future. Now that doesn't mean tomorrow, but it's closer than it's ever been. As many authors will tell you, we didn't get into this to get rich. We write for the love of writing and the way it feeds the creative so
ul. We write to give others a set of characters and a storyline for the readers to lose themselves in for a few hours to be entertained and sometimes, inspired. I'm even more resolved to keep writing for all the reasons above. It was a huge leap of faith for me to submit that first novel. I'm committed to keep giving back to the readers and to Lee at Desert Palm Press because they believed in me when I doubted.
I'm committed to continue my mission to provide working smoke detectors to children regardless of their socio-economic status. I'm committed to remind everyone around me to check those smoke alarms to ensure they are in working order and have a plan on how they will get their family and themselves out of their homes in the event of an emergency.
Lastly, a few things I'm thankful for personally. I have some very close friends who are battling cancer and I am thankful for every minute we get to spend together. I'm thankful they are in my life to teach me perseverance and positive outlooks. I'm thankful for my nephew who teaches me it's ok to be a kid
…even at 49.
Beyond all these things, I'm grateful to a woman who accepted me into her world and helped me build a life I still can't believe I have. To Darla, thank you for more and more every day.
So, to all of you, I encourage you to find the positive in the sea of negative sludge. Find the sliver of white light in the gray clouds. Don't be afraid to dream and wake
up every day believing that the dream is possible.
If a born Murphy, with a namesake law promising adversity at ever turn- can try to look at the glass as if it was half full, there is hope for everyone. I wish for you peace and comfort, love and laughter, and success and growth in 2018. Happy New Year Everyone!