new year, same old everything else (kinda sorta)

Hey there! Happy New Year! Welcome to 2018. I hope this will be a much better, healthier, happier, and more productive year for all of us.

But it’s also Monday, and it’s more or less a regular workday for me. I’ve submitted my latest NW Love Story draft to my newspaper editors and am busy making arrangements for the next one. I’m also hard at work on the latest revision of Chaos Magic—the next volume in my urban fantasy series—and doing other related work.

And I’m taking a few minutes to reflect back on 2017. Not all the highlights and pitfalls and such, though that’s a worthy deep dive that I’ve been pondering and attempting to learn from. Today, I’m considering the things that are different for me on this January 1st than one year ago.

Starting outside and moving in… Well, I have purple hair. For years, I’d wanted to take a stab at coloring my hair purple. Just for fun, and because purple is my favorite color. The big reason I kept putting that off was because I didn’t want to upset other people. I worried that the people I interview for the newspaper might be off-put by non-traditional hair colors, and that this would interfere with our conversations and my work. I also didn’t want to have to bleach my hair or do anything dramatic or destructive. A couple of things happened: I finally paid attention to Manic Panic—the stuff the cool kids used when I was in high school—and discovered that there aren’t harsh chemicals involved and pre-bleaching isn’t necessarily required, even for darker hair like mine; also, I realized that I was in my late 40s and I decided that I should be able to have purple hair. And the first interviewees I encountered after I purpled myself remarked, “Ooh! Your hair! It’s so pretty!” So I was worried over nothing, apparently. Which usually turns out to be the case, in my experience.

Also, I’m about twenty pounds lighter today than I was 365 days ago. Feeling bad every day means that I’ve not been nearly as active as I’d like to be overall. When the daily migraines started, I made the discovery that the physical act of eating was sometimes a (very) temporary distraction from pain. Also, I’m deep into perimenopause, which is its own special party. Put all three of these together, and I’d gained some weight. When I gave 5:2 intermittent fasting a try last March, it was just another personal experiment, but this one has been working. Progress has been slow and there have been frustrating plateaus and even inexplicable gains. But I’m down to what my doctor describes as the perfect weight for my height, and I’m feeling better than I was. I still struggle with pain, fatigue, and all the rest of it, but I have more energy and I feel somewhat reassured knowing that I have at least a little power over my health here.

Professionally, I’ve continued the newspaper series, and that remains a true delight. I also published the fourth volume in the Valhalla series—Raven Quest—and published three books in a brand new sci-fi romance trilogy. Four books in a year may sound pretty standard or even weak for an indie author, but considering that I’ve gone years between single releases in the past, I’m hugely proud of this. And, depending on health and other factors, I may be on target for releasing eight or even nine books in 2018, which frankly just boggles my mind.

About those 2018 books… Four of these will be releases, as I’m gearing up to rebrand the Valhalla books as the Rune Witch series—with new covers, new titles, and some very light adjustments to content. Why am I doing this? Because Bryan Cohen convinced me it was a good idea and necessary to find and serve the right readership. One of the big things that happened for me in 2018 was having the opportunity to spend two days in Chicago with Bryan, walking the city and talking very specifically about my author career. I had to rework the production calendar we mapped out in Chicago—due to “regular” illness and flare-ups of dysautonomia—but I’m still on an aggressive track. I’m really hoping I can pull off even half of what I’ve got planned.

Also, I applied for and was accepted into the competitive Futurescapes workshop, to be held in Utah in April 2018. This presents a personal challenge as I’ll need to launch a crowdfunding campaign to afford this workshop (plus travel expenses), and I get shy and slide into shadowy places of getting down on myself when it comes to marketing efforts in general. So I’ve put myself in a position where I need to tackle this development area.

We have two more cats in the house here than we did a year ago. My partner’s mother passed away last August, and we inherited both of her cats. The integration of the two new kitties into the existing household of two cats and one massive dog has gone better than expected, so far, but this remains a work in progress. I attended my high school theater company’s 50th anniversary event in September, an experience worthy of its own epic poetry. Also, M continues work on his app development. His project is something I’m really excited about but I’m keeping quiet until it’s ready to share. In the meantime, we’ve been enjoying the benefits and challenges of our both working from home.

This retrospective has turned out quite a bit longer than I’d intended. If you’ve read this far, I sincerely thank you for your interest—and I also wonder what you’re procrastinating on.

Whatever adventures 2018 has in store, I hope we can look back a year from now feeling stronger, happier, and wiser, with plenty more to look forward to moving forward.

Posted in thoughts from the spiral.

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