I meant to write this newsletter in December, but things took an unexpected turn, and what was shaping up to be a triumphant end of the year was overshadowed by sudden grief… 

It’s astonishing how you can experience tremendous happiness and heart-wrenching loss in almost the same breath. When it happens in a novel, it’s an epic plot twist.  When it’s real life, it stops you in your tracks.

Just a few weeks ago, I was excitedly preparing to spread the news that my novel 48 States has been selected by the influential Kirkus Reviews as one of the Top Indie Novels of 2022. It’s a tremendous honor and cause to celebrate. and celebrate. Unfortunately, within days of the Kirkus announcement, my 92-year-old mother caught a cold that turned into a serious lung infection. She died on Christmas Day, with my sister and I at her bedside. 

My mother was born almost 100 years ago in a house in rural Tennessee with no running water or electricity. She lived through more changes than I may see in my lifetime. She knew tremendous joy in her life, and also devastating disappointment. As a teenager, I didn’t understand many of the things she said or did. Years later, as a mother and a wife, I came to understand with clarity the wounds she worked to heal. In her later years, she was unfailingly optimistic and never lost her sense of humor or humanity.  She would have scolded me for being even slightly maudlin and insisted that I remember her at her best. Over the years, she became one of my biggest supporters and best friends.

Life is a series of beginnings and endings. That’s it. An oversimplification? Perhaps. But at its core, that is the essence of things. How we manage those stops and starts determines our future and our happiness. 

Don’t give up! That’s what my mom would say right now, and she’d admonish me to get back to work. You have no time to lose.”  My father, who died in April 2021, would have agreed. Both my parents left this world too soon, but they will never truly disappear. I hear their voices every day, urging me to carry on. 

And so, reluctantly, I am back at my desk, writing. Writing for them and writing for me, because that is how I process things. I put the words into the hands of my characters, and I ask them to figure out how to grieve, how to heal, and how to forgive and live again. If they can do it, I can too. 

2023 is going to be the year of swag. My assistant Trinity has been hard at work designing tote bags and pins to use as part of a giveaway to help kick off the new year. Keep an eye out for an announcement. Twenty readers will win a tote bag, two pins, and my three novels, and the first five of those 20 will be registered as beta readers for Death Wish, the final installment of my Dark Horse Trilogy. 

A first draft of the novel is written, and I will use the rainy weeks ahead to create a second draft with the expectation that Death Wish will come out later this year. 

I’ll end this newsletter with a request. If you haven’t yet, please take a moment to rate my book on Amazon or Goodreads. I’ve heard from many readers that they enjoyed the book. If you count yourself among that group, please take a few minutes to register your view. It’s important and would mean a lot. Thanks in advance for your help, for reading my newsletter, and for supporting my writing.

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