This year has felt like several years all squished into one. So much has happened in my tiny corner of the universe (let alone the insanity going on nationwide in the political arena).
In many ways, it’s been an amazing year. Our little boy Logan is a toddler now. He learned to say his first few words (Mama, Dada, Dog, Wow, Tree, and more), and how to crawl, then walk (and run!). It is absolutely incredible watching him grow. On the writing side of things, this has been the best year yet. 2018 began with the launch of a new book (SHADOW WEAVER!). It even got starred reviews and was nominated for the New England Book Award and the Texas Bluebonnet (still pretty darn floored about this). My superhero agent Suzie sold not one, but TWO new duologies for me, meaning that for the next 3 years, I’ll have two books out each year (yes that’s kind of nuts, but also awesome and wow am I excited about it!). I even got my first ever royalty check – not a thing I’d expected to happen for a while, but a very, very welcome surprise!
But while all that was happening, some of the hardest things we’ve had to go through also happened this year. I debated whether to include them in my year end post. I usually like to keep things upbeat here on the blog, but I also believe in transparency and leaving those challenges out felt wrong, even deceptive. Art is a part of life; we can’t create it in a vacuum. Traumatic events have ripples and impact. Yes, I had a ton of wonderful things happen–which I’m incredibly grateful for–but it was also a year filled with considerable loss.
[Trigger warning – suicide and other traumatic events]
In the spring, my brother-in-law committed suicide. It was – and still is – devastating for the entire family and has left behind a hole that can never be filled. One of my first memories of meeting my husband’s family was at his brother’s 13th birthday party. It still just seems unreal that he could be gone.
On my side of the family, both my parents’ dementia came to light and had grim results. In September, my mom was hospitalized after being catatonic for 3 days before my dad realized he should call 911 (she had dangerously low sodium levels and a BP of 233/180 – and no, that’s not a typo). While she has mostly recovered in a physical sense, mentally she isn’t the same person she was even just this past summer. Now that she’s wheelchair bound and needs round the clock care, she’s moved into an assisted living facility. My siblings and I tried to convince my dad to move in with her, but he insisted he didn’t need it and instead chose to live alone at their house, hoping that she’d be coming home very soon.
The weekend after Thanksgiving, my dad suffered a massive stroke. It’s the nightmare scenario of having elderly parents who live alone. No one knew it had happened until my mom called me on Monday morning worried she hadn’t seen him all weekend. From what we can piece together, he was disoriented from the stroke and fell out of bed as he was trying to turn off the light on his nightstand. He was on the floor unable to move for at least two days before I found him. While that was certainly one of the most traumatizing events of my life, I’m so grateful I found him alive. He spent 3 weeks in the ICU before he was stable enough to go to a rehabilitation center, and soon he’ll go to a skilled nursing facility. He can’t speak or move one side of his body, but he knows we’re there and he can hug us with one arm and answer yes/no questions. It’s awful to see my once very active father like this, but really, it could have been far worse.
Finally, add to all of the above the fact that a kind elderly friend who has been a surrogate grandmother to me for the past 2 decades also passed away this fall, and it’s been one hell of a year.
So, if you’re reading this, hug your loved ones a little tighter, OK?
Anyway, let’s end on a more positive note, shall we? Despite the hard times, there really were so many bright spots this year too. Here are some of my favorite highlights from 2018:
- Logan, Logan, Logan! First words, first steps, first birthday! So many firsts and so much joy from having this wonderful little guy in our lives.
- Selling my first YA duology (beginning with TWIN DAGGERS in 2020!)
- Selling more books set in the same world as SHADOW WEAVER (HOLLOW DOLLS, also coming out in 2020)
- School visit tour to launch SHADOW WEAVER (love connecting directly with students!)
- First royalty check
- Grand Rapids Comic Con (always a delight!)
- Newburyport Literary Festival
- Meeting the awesome folks at my new YA publisher, Blink!