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Endings and Beginnings

As in, the end of one year, the beginning of another.

And what a year it has been!

Don't you feel like last January was about ten years ago?

2020 has felt like a year which lasted interminably. We all know the troubles and turmoil that the year has brought, but for me, it has also brought many positive moments.

In February, my eldest son got married. Jenny is a wonderful addition to the family, and she adds so much to Eric's life. She draws him out and pushes him to try things he otherwise wouldn't. She is a warrior in a tiny package, a dynamo of vibrant energy, a dreamer with the motivation to make her dreams come true. She also spreads my books across the world, for which I am extremely grateful!

In March, I was promoted at my day job. The very next day, Covid shut my store down for three months. My company decided to pay employee salaries while we were closed, and with my promotion came a very nice raise. For three months I was paid the higher salary to stay at home and write. I may have been the only person on the payroll who wasn't desperately eager to return to work!

Also in March, I published two novels. The Way of Things is book two in the Lakeland Series. Rock Bottom Ranch was scheduled to launch in 2021. With the Covid world, I decided to release it as a Kindle Select title and offer it as a free gift to those stuck at home in quarantine. In January, Rock Bottom Ranch will be released in extended distribution, and will be for sale at all major online distributors.

In 2020, I wrote and released the last two novels in the Lakeland Series -- The Best of Things and The Merry Kind of Things. I also wrote and released the second novel in my Near and Far Magazine Christmas series -- Santa's Surf School. As well, I wrote book two in 2021's launching Peachland Passions series -- Sunflowers and Sweet Peas. Finally, I completed and won NaNoWriMo 2020 with my novel, Shutter's Eye. That, for anyone counting, is five books written in one year!

Shutter's Eye is an interesting situation, because I was given the opportunity to publish that novel one chapter a day at Any Stories. This was a whole new way of publishing for me. The novel will also be released on Amazon in April, 2021.

In the summer, I was given an amazing gift -- my parents gave me a trailer which is set up on the back end of their twenty acre, forested property. They even named the road leading up to the trailer site after me. (Best parents, ever). In a year of incredible stress and anxiety, I had this amazing oasis of seclusion, peace and healing in the backwoods. I liked the deer which trustingly traipsed by my front door, and Lily went a bit crazy for the chipmunks and the crows which taunted her every chance they got. When I wasn't writing, I was sometimes sunbathing on the patio, doing yoga on the patio, photographing or picking wildflowers, or even playing guitar while Lily slumbered. I ate healthier and drank vodka in my passion tango tea. It was blissful. I can't wait to get back and open her up in the Spring.

In 2020, at the trailer, I began (but admittedly didn't get too far) a teaching series -- The Backwoods Writer on YouTube. I also started a merchandise line with LMCreates where I now sell notebooks with hunky covers and Yoga with Lily mugs.

I participated in an online writer's conference with a focus on marketing and learned so much. I also studied several marketing courses with LinkedIn. I dabbled in Amazon Advertisements and Facebook advertisements. I created my first free merchandise giveaway (winner to be announced in January's newsletter). For that matter, I created a monthly newsletter. I did some editing for some people, did some reviews for others, and was given the opportunity to do a Zoom reading with BC Writers Federation. It reminded me of a few years earlier as a musician, where after laying down the groundwork, the momentum suddenly began to take on a life of its own. Like a barrel rolling down a hill. That is how my writing life has felt in 2020 -- like the steam is building, and things are on the move.

That is an exceptionally good feeling.

For as many writing accomplishments as 2020 saw, even more significant were some of the things this year taught me. One of the strongest lessons I learned this year was that so much of what we in the Western world considered essential pre-covid simply was not important at all. Trips. Sports. Parties. Shopping. Dining Out. All of these quickly fell off my list of essential services. Your list may differ from mine, of course. What is essential in my life is much more fundamental after Covid than it was last year at this time. Health. Hydro. Toilet Paper. Food. Family.

Mostly family.

I have felt, this year, more anger than I can ever remember feeling before in my lifetime. I came to the reluctant decision this year to delete social media contacts who publicly incite rebellion against health recommendations by legitimate health sources. I decided listening to wild conspiracy theories simply destroyed my equilibrium, and with regret, those spouting them had to go. I also, on the flipside of that, have tried to reach inside and understand the motivation behind these points of view. I haven't been totally successful, although fear is part of it. I can accept fear. That is an emotion designed to keep humans safe and to warn us of danger. I have a more difficult time with willful ignorance. I have a huge antipathy to selfishness leading to resistance and community endangerment. Some of what I've learned this year are my own boundary lines. You know those questions interviewers give such as, what are things you hate? I hate stupidity emboldened by arrogance. I have learned this year that I am not as tolerant or as nice a person as some have believed me to be. I have boundaries. Sorry not sorry.

Contrarily, this year I have also felt more universally connected to the human race than I ever before remember feeling. Covid has been a global killer. The grief over lost loved ones world over has been wrenching. This has been a threat to humanity -- not to states or countries. That has meant we are all in the same situation, the same fight. I have felt this sensation of the world pulling together instead of against each other as we try to beat this disease.

This year, I discovered Twitter. I love the fact that via Twitter, I can be speaking with a writer in Northern Ireland one moment, Alaska the next, and just down the street from me in Penticton moments later. Twitter, for me, has made the world both small and accessible, and larger than it ever has been before.

There have been mornings on Twitter when the first thing I have read is the heartbroken announcements of people who have just lost a loved one. A mother. Friend. Father. Grandfather. Entire extended family. There was one tweet I read which asked how non-USA countries were handling Covid, and the responses came from around the world. The consensus was, most of the world is in jeopardy. Only one or two countries have handled outbreaks with enough efficiency to largely eradicate the virus. New Zealand in 2020 was apparently the place to be.

Twitter, with its tweets from all across the planet, has also cemented in me the fact that this is the human race. We are not just Canadians, Nigerians, Russians, Americans, Europeans, Columbians, Brazilians, Japanese, or Chinese. We all are one species. The demarcations of country designations are arbitrary. All it took was a virus to show that much. We all have basically the same essential needs and the same structural weaknesses and fragilities. We, the human race, are interconnected and interdependent. I've never felt that more strongly than in 2020.

Perhaps, if I am not the only one emerging from this year with this reaffirmation, Corona Virus may actually get us all on board enough that we realize we also have tougher problems to corporately tackle -- like climate change, and how to save our planet before it is too late. From the micro of individual lives sickened by a virus to the macro of a potential mass extinction scenario presented by climate changes we are all responsible for.

In 2021, I have a new series coming out, another series finishing up, a stand alone novel on the way. I also am working on writing new stories all the time. Some themes in the novels I am writing this year are forest fires, mindfulness, opposites attracting, urbanization. I absolutely, positively adore that I get to spend my time this way. I love that all of you are supportive and enjoy the worlds I map out on paper. I also have a daughter -- my youngest -- graduating from high school, and the hope that as she enters a new phase of her life, I will have new opportunities in mine. Above all, as this new year approaches, I want to remember the lessons of the year before and to continue to strive to live as a global citizen, as well as simply mom within my family, supervisor within my day job, and author in my dreams.

What have you learned in 2020 that you will carry forward with you?

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