Recently, the news has been filled with memories of 2017: the eclipse, the tragedies, the “fake news.” Each retrospective includes an In Memoriam section. And so must mine.
Two of my blog posts early this year mentioned the death of my dear friend Bunnie, who is still missed every day. But Bunnie’s life was not the only one that ended in 2017. Two friends (Barb and Jean) lost their husbands last year, and their grief continues. My husband’s older brother passed away in April. An elderly friend passed in December, a friend lost her sister, another friend lost her mother, and an in-law lost his father. One of the saddest events was a Celebration of Life service for a friend’s 14-year-old daughter. That same friend lost a 7-year old daughter about 7 months later. Both of these girls were special-needs children. I have a deep love for all of God’s “special” children. If you have lost a loved one in 2017, I offer my heartfelt sympathy. It is not an easy thing to go through.
It’s always hard to move on to positive things after an In Memoriam, but life does go on.
My newest novel (Not on Fifth Street) launched in October. The book deals with the catastrophic, record-breaking Ohio River flood of 1937, and the story was inspired by my father’s experiences in that flood. For that reason, it is a novel close to my heart.
Not on Fifth Street was my third novel to launch in three years, which has been exciting for this writer who, not so long ago, wondered if she’d ever see a published book. There will be no launch in 2018, but I am working hard every day on a work in progress. (Fingers crossed for 2019).
I traveled to North Carolina a few times to do research for my work in progress, and enjoyed the helpfulness and hospitality of folks there.
I participated in three 2017 book festivals and numerous signings. I met many readers and writers, and I made new friends. I took part in a panel discussion at a local university, and I went to dozens of critique group meetings.
My novel Empty Places was a finalist for an Ohioana Book Award. It did not win the award, but it did receive the most votes in its category for the Readers’ Choice award. I thank all who voted for it.
I talked at several schools last year, and have more school visits scheduled for 2018. One visit took me to Connecticut, where I spoke to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. It was a joy to meet both students and faculty in another state. I love seeing people who love to read.
I have often talked or written about the wonderful Highlights Foundation workshops I have attended since 1999 and how much I learned from faculty members. In 2017, I was a TA at one of their workshops at Boyds Mills, PA, where I hope I helped up-and-coming writers. I also attended a Highlights Foundation retreat, which has become an annual thing for me. On another trip there, I spent days just writing in a cabin. A great time! A group of local writers and I got together for a lakeside retreat in Tennessee also. Anytime I can get away from everyday chores and focus on writing is time well spent. I hope to do that more in 2018.
I also attended book signings for author friends and reveled in their successes. I have heard many speakers over the course of the year, who have taught me interesting things and often touched my heart.
May 2018 be a good year to all who read this. May your life be filled with peace, love, and happiness. And books!