Out with the Old…

As 2019 draws to a close, I’d like to wish everyone a happy and healthy 2020! Normally on the last Tuesday of the month, I like to share what I’ve been reading. I’ll get back to that schedule in January, but today I’m going to share a few of my (many) New Year’s resolutions.

FYI, I have a love-hate relationship with resolutions and there have been years I’ve refused to make any, but this year I’m determined to make them, stick to them, and succeed at them.

First, I am committed to releasing four books in 2020, beginning with Be My Valencrime (Book 4 in the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery Series) and including Ghouls’ Night Out (Book 5 in the Juniper Junction Holiday Mystery Series), Dutch Treat (Book 2 in the Libraries of the World Mystery Series), and Cape Island Menace, a tentatively-titled historical mystery set in Cape May, New Jersey. This will be the first book in a new series set in Cape May.

Photo courtesy of pixabay/alexas_fotos

Second, I want to eat a more plant-based diet. My family has done pretty well with eliminating meat for at least one or two meals a week, and I would love to continue the trend and make it three or four meals a week. This only includes dinners, by the way. Breakfast for us is almost always meat-free, and lunches are meat-free about half the time.

This is neither my house nor my backyard. 😉

Third, by the time 2020 is over, I WILL have a plan to landscape my backyard. I may not start the work, but a plan will be in place. More on this later.

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I would love to read about your resolutions, the goals you’re setting for yourselves, and your reflections of the year that’s coming to an end, so please share in the comments.

Happy New Year!

Until next time,

Amy

Decking the Haul

20160104_105642

No, I didn’t misspell the title. I wanted to make one more reference to the festive season we have just left behind while referring to the way I spent my Monday morning. See photo, above.

That white car belongs to my husband.

Here’s how it went down: my husband left for work before dawn, as he usually does. Twenty minutes later he called me and said, “Can you please bring me a flashlight? I’m in the driveway.”

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“Flat tire.”

I hurried outside with a flashlight and found him using the air compressor to fill up one of his tires. “Where did you notice the flat?”

“At the end of the block. I’ve been down there trying to fix it in the dark. I couldn’t find anything I needed so I backed up very slowly until I got to the driveway.”

Long story short (is it too late?), he finished pumping up his tire then took my car to work. By the time he got there, I had sent three kids to school, cooked two pounds of sausage for two loaves of sausage bread, done the breakfast dishes, and made an appointment at the tire place. When I took the car in, they fixed it in a jiffy (here’s a juicy piece of information: did you know there is a sticker inside the rim of the tire that contains a UPC code and that can cause the tire to lose it’s seal when it’s cold? I didn’t.).

Afterwards I went to a store not far from the tire place to replenish my Christmas wrapping supplies. As I put my husband’s car in reverse to pull out of my parking spot, the car refused to move more than an inch or two. Uh-oh, I thought. I parked on something and it’s stuck under the car. I got out, looked under the car (because that makes me look like I know what I’m doing), saw nothing, walked around it to make sure all the tires looked full (ditto), and got back in to try again. After several more tries, I called the tire place. “Hello. I just left there and now my car won’t move.”

They sent someone right over. He tried moving it, too, I assume to make sure I wasn’t lying or just stupid. Nope, sure enough, the car didn’t move. He got underneath it and poked around. “I think the problem is the emergency brake.” What he said next was a jumble of words like “shoes, pads, e-brake, seized up, corrosion,” etc. Sounded to me like blah, blah, blah, blah.

Long story short (?) I had to wait for a tow truck so I could go the 2,000 feet back to the tire place. The tow truck driver’s solution: “Hmmm. I’ll have to haul’er ass-up.” See photo, above.

Just a short while after the car got to the tire place, the emergency brake shoes (or something like that) had been removed, the car would go forward and backward again, and I was on my way to the grocery store. The tire place didn’t even charge me for the second visit.

By now you may be wondering whether this story has a point. It does.

Here’s what I planned to do with my morning: get some words written on my work-in-progress, come up with an idea for this week’s blog post, update social media, and go to the grocery store. Obviously, Plan A went awry. Most of that didn’t get done, except for the trip to the grocery store and a blog post idea.

I’d been thinking recently about coming up with a list of New Year’s resolutions, but decided on January 1st that a whole list of resolutions just doesn’t work for me. Instead, I’m going to try to get better at finding the silver lining in unplanned and unwelcome events, to take things as they come, and to “make lemonade,” as they say, when things don’t go my way. This doesn’t mean I don’t have goals, but it means they’re flexible. If you’ve followed my blog for a year or more, you may recall that I had lots of resolutions last year.

Update: those resolutions were a miserable failure. The garage isn’t clean, the office isn’t clean, and none of my kids’ closet doors got replaced, among other things.

So I may not have gotten any work done on my novel or social media this morning, but I found more than one silver lining!

First, the tire didn’t go flat on a major highway, but instead on a quiet street when it was too early in the morning for traffic.

Second, I could have driven the car much further than a quarter mile from the tire place before realizing there was a problem.

Third, I sat in the car for a little while waiting for the tow truck guy. I had a book with me, so I was able to get some reading in! Note to self: always keep a book handy.

Fourth, I eventually got out of the car so the tow truck driver could find me. Standing in the freezing cold and whistling wind while I waited made me appreciate the eye-drying, moisture-sucking heat he had blowing in the tow truck’s cab. Also, I have a renewed respect for the work tow truck drivers do.

Fifth, when I was on my way back home and realized, too late, that my husband had removed the EZ Pass from his car, I quickly found six quarters and paid the toll with them. Silver lining? The change in my wallet weighs less now!

And finally, I began the day without an idea for this post. Now the post is written and I can get back to work on my new novel.

So here’s the takeaway for me: 2016 has a sense of humor and doesn’t care what my plans are. The best I can do is find the good when things go wrong. And there’s always something good.

Happy New Year, everyone! I hope 2016 is happy and healthy for all of you!

Until next week,

Amy

New Year’s Resolutions 2.0

Happy 2015!

Last year at about this time, I shared with you the things I wanted to accomplish in 2014. I was successful with some, not so much with others. This year I’ve decided to give resolutions a different name: a wish list. The word “resolutions” has a do-or-die sound to it, and I don’t want to feel bad at the end of the year when, inevitably, I haven’t accomplished everything I wanted to do.

For example, you may remember (I know certain people do and they keep mentioning it to me) that I wanted to clean the garage. Didn’t happen.

I also wanted to clean the attic. Also didn’t happen. I  tried, believe me. But it wasn’t to be (nor was the replacement of my kids’ closet doors).

But I did write more and I hope I improved, I took more pictures, I became more active on social media, and I ran a 5K.

So I know you’re dying to find out what I have planned for this year. Not surprisingly, I’d like to clean the attic and the garage. I’m not going to call these resolutions, but I will simply refer to them as two items on my 2015 wish list. By the way, these will probably be on my wish list every year until I die. Replacing my kids’ closet doors should also go on the list.

Here are some other things I’ve added to my wish list:

1. start another new novel (more on this later in the year) (this is actually more of a resolution than a wish);

2. start writing a series (again, more on this later in the year–hopefully) (ditto about being a resolution);

3. replace the garage doors, one of which is held in place with a broom handle;

4. landscape my yard with something other than dead plants;

5. run another 5K; and

6. help my daughter sew the tote bag I’ve been promising to help her with for two years.

Wait! I’ve already done #6! Cross that right off my wish list!

Want to see pictures? I knew you would (some of you may already have seen these on Facebook).

tote bag 1tote bag 2

As I think of other things I want to add to my list, I’ll let you know. In the meantime, what’s on your wish list for this year? I’d love to know!

Until next week,

Amy

 

Farewell to 2014

I have mixed feelings about leaving 2014 behind. There were times when it was great and times when it really wasn’t. I guess every year is like that.

So what were the highlights?

1. My first novel, Secrets of Hallstead House, was published in July. Woo hoo!

2. I finished my second novel, The Ghosts of Peppernell Manor, and started a third.

3. Our family went to Europe over the summer. All things considered, it was an amazing experience and I want to go again!

4. Two of my kids started new schools and love them.

5. My third child got a great score on her first attempt at the SAT.

6. Kayaking!

7. I got a little more involved with Facebook and Twitter.

8. I completed a few of my New Year’s resolutions (more about that next week).

9. I had my first book signing! Thank you again, Corbin’s River Heritage!

10. I ran my first 5K and got to watch my husband finish the Maui Warrior Challenge in September.

And what were the not-so-highlights?

1. I have learned that having a book published isn’t all fun. It’s hard work, very time consuming, and each book, even after it’s published, is a long-term commitment.

2. Our family went to Europe over the summer. Someday, when the memories aren’t so raw and I can laugh at them, I’ll tell you some of my stories.

3. One of our children was hit by a car in August and is still recovering.

I would like to thank all of you for your support over the past year. I have enjoyed blogging and love reading your comments and hearing your thoughts. Let’s grow it in 2015!

New Year’s Resolutions: Breaking News

I am happy to announce that I have completed one of my New Year’s resolutions: this past weekend I ran my first 5K! I was on Maui to watch my husband compete in the ‘Ulalena Warrior Challenge (10K, followed by a mile race, then a full marathon the next morning) and he convinced me to give the 5K a try. I was passed by everyone from a 5-year-old to an octogenarian, but I managed to finish the race and I am very happy with my results. I even plan to do another one someday! My training for this race consisted of walking a 5K on the treadmill exactly three times before the race, so I figure that I can do even better in the next race if I actually do a bit of training! At some point I will post pictures of the 5K, but I haven’t quite gotten around to doing that yet.

If you remember my list of resolutions for 2014 (not that I expect you to), I also wanted to improve my writing. I don’t think that kind of resolution can be quantified, but I do know that I’ve done a lot more writing this year than last year, and that’s definitely a step in the right direction. I’ve also spent more time this year reading what other authors have to say about writing and hopefully learning from them.

I’ve also increased the number of Twitter and Facebook posts that I put up, so those resolutions are being fulfilled, too. If you’re on Twitter or Facebook, I invite (is “beg” too strong a word?) you to follow me and “like” my posts!

I am not as happy to announce that some of my other New Year’s resolutions have gone largely ignored for the first two-thirds of the year. My kids do not yet have new closet doors and my garage and attic are still nothing short of dangerous. But it’s only September, so I’m optimistic!

I know I’ve been remiss the past couple of weeks getting blog posts up on time, but I intend to be back on track next Tuesday.

In the meantime, I’d love it if you would share with me the status of your 2014 resolutions!

Until next week,

Amy

Happy New Year!

On this, the last day of 2013, I would like to take a moment to wish all of you a very happy and healthy 2014!

Since I copped out on writing a real blog post last week, I thought I’d give you all a thrill today by sharing some of my New Year’s resolutions with everyone.  My immediate family is sick of hearing about them, so I’m inflicting them on a whole different group of people.

First, I want to improve my writing.  It is said that practice makes perfect, but is there such a thing as perfect writing?  I don’t believe there is.  I believe that practice makes better, so I’m going to get more practice.  My second novel is due to the publisher on June 1st, so I know I’ll be writing and revising until then.  I have some ideas rattling around in my head for my third novel, so I’m hoping to start it right after the manuscript gets sent off to my editor on June 1st.  And after that?  Who knows?  Maybe I’ll even try my hand at NaNoWriMo in November.  The important thing for me is to keep writing and keep improving.

Second, I want to get better at using social media.  I want to Tweet more often.  And I want to update my Facebook status more often.

Third, I want to take more pictures.  Pictures of people, of things, of places.  Posed pictures and candid pictures.  And I want to print them out and put them in albums that my kids can hold in their hands and peruse.  We took so many pictures when the kids were small, but we’ve slacked off as they’ve gotten older.  And those we have taken remain on camera cards or phones or the computer.  We love to look through the old albums, and I’d love to have more of those.

Fourth, I’m going to replace the closet doors in each of my children’s rooms.  They’ve been off their hinges for two years now, and that’s just embarrassing.

Fifth, I want to clean out the attic and the garage.  If you haven’t seen my attic or my garage, consider yourself lucky.  I could work on nothing but those two spaces all year and probably not finish them, so I’ll be happy if I just make some visible headway.

Finally, I want to run a 5K.  I am not a runner, but I’d like to give it a try.  I have one in mind, and if I actually sign up I’ll let you know how it goes.

Next year at this time, I’ll let you know how I did with my resolutions.  While I hope to accomplish everything on my list and many more things I didn’t mention here, I guess my main objective is to, at the very least, make some progress toward each of my goals.  And if I think of a new resolution before the end of 2014 (I can guarantee I will), I’ll try to implement it right away and not wait until a new year begins to make changes.  Do you have any resolutions for 2014?  Care to share them?

Until next week,

Amy