Goodbye 2022, Hello 2023!
Updated: Jan 10
A Year in Review
As I write this, the hours are slipping away, counting down to the last minutes of 2022. And, as is the overarching custom, I'd like to take a moment and review how far I, and my family, have come in the year.
Two new books published!
Despite serious sleep deprivation until the second quarter of this year, and multiple rounds of illness, I managed to publish two books. I'm pretty darned proud of that! My plans at the end of December were to write four books, which was a lovely dream, especially with an infant in the house. I gravely underestimated the number of colds, viruses, and more such darling creatures tend to bring back from daycare (not to discount the 1st grader and 10th grader who brought back their fair share from their own schools). I also recognized I had multiple, half-done projects that needed to be finished.
Winter's Child was the book I was most keen on completing, since I had already written 60k+ words in it. And finish it I did. It released on April 26th and currently has 25 reviews, all 4 star and above. I've taken notes on a sequel, but that won't be for a while. When? Couldn't tell you. Meanwhile, read Winter's Child, you won't be disappointed!
And on the first of this month, Short-Term Rental Success was released! I was excited to share my knowledge of short-term rental tips with others. I believe we can re-define hospitality with short-term rentals, make them better than hotels ever could hope to be. And we can do it with efficiency and ease.
The book is available on all major bookselling platforms. Get your copy today!
Lastly, for bookish goals for 2022, I had said that I wanted to get all of my remaining fiction and any new fiction recorded, edited, and published into audiobook format. I did that by uploading everything to Google Play and using the AI audio narration. And before you pooh pooh that and say AI audio isn't for you, I urge you to at least listen to a sample. Here is a link to all of my AI narrated audiobooks on Google Play.
Take a listen and tell me what you think! Even better, the AI narrated versions are only $3.99 each. Perfect for downloading and listening to as you drive, work out, clean your house, etc.
Adopted our littles
I started on the foster/adopt journey in late 2017. I was heartbroken over a schism with our eldest, and even as I knew children can't replace other children, I longed for the sound of littles in the house again. It was a chance, a huge chance, filled with no small amount of concern that we would get our hearts broken all over again. And for sure, there were ups and downs. We had a lovely little boy stay with us for five months and we were devastated when he returned to his father, but in 2022 the foster care system saw fit to allow us to adopt our little girl, Angela, on June 30th, after fostering her for over four years. And then we adopted Ethan, our sweet little boy on October 7th. What a year! To see their names ending in Shuck is still pretty darn cool. We look forward to the years to come, but we were also happy to close our foster license and pronounce our family complete. No take backsies, these two kiddos belong here with us!
Proud Mary - Coming Soon!
When I saw a 1969 Holiday Rambler on Facebook Marketplace, I was so stinking excited. I could see it in the yard, near the back fence, and imagine the guests who would seek it out. It is a complete gut and remodel, and we have zero idea of what we are doing, so this should be both challenging and interesting. We hope to finish gutting it this winter and have it ready by spring. That said, nothing is for sure when we take on projects like this. Time seems to stretch, prices double, and, well, tempers flare. Life gets in the way. So we shall see.
No matter how long it takes, I look forward to seeing the interior rocking the feel and vibe of 1969. The summer of love. I think guests will get a real kick out of it! Eventually, we hope to also take it on the road for family vacations.
Made Progress on Cottage East
We dug into Cottage East (quite literally) and began the demo. In fact, most of the upstairs has been demo'd and now we just need to get it all out of there.
Had glass block windows installed in the basement - these let in light and make it impossible to break into
Finally got the electrical hooked up-this meant power for a Ring camera and doorbell, with the installation of another 1-2 Ring motion sensor floodlight/cameras planned by mid-2023. This protects us from potential break-ins. I receive notifications of any disturbance and can then call the police.
Had new cement stairs laid at the front porch. The old stairs had measured 6 inches, 9 inches and 13 inches (!!!!) respectively in height. Yikes! That last one was a doozie, let me tell you! Now, they are all uniform height and look great. Our neighbor does great work. He is the same guy who handled the cut-in for our driveway over by Cottage West.
A New Gazebo, Gravel Driveway Expansion, More Plants, Another Brick Path, and Retaining Wall
In our own yard, my wonderful husband and teen installed a gazebo that had been sitting disassembled in boxes in the yard for the past 2+ years. This was a fabulous addition to our yard and I hope to paint it in 2023 and perhaps add festive string lights to it.
We planted around 500 strawberry plants along paths and created another brick path that leads to the trampoline. The yard continues to grow each year, with more plants, flowers, fruit blooming in quick succession. It's hard to keep up with, and frankly, sometimes we just... don't. The nice thing about all of these plants? They bloom and fruit again next year, and the year after that, and the year after that. They grow bigger, healthier, and more fruitful with each year that passes. That thought brings me a lot of joy.
In June, for around three weeks, I worked with our teen and occasional help from my husband, to build a retaining wall between the edge of the driveway and the backyard of Cottage West. It needs... help... but it's a start in the right direction.
In October, we more than doubled our gravel driveway. What had been 40 feet deep by 22-25 feet in width, now has a depth of around 100+ feet. It meanders all the way back to the Airstream!
Wow! That was a lot of work!
Our two Honda vehicles were 16 and 20 years old respectively. The repair bills seemed endless. We had decided to sell the van and buy/lease two new cars. The Civic we figured would be a great first car for our teen. We had just found a 2020 Mitsubishi Mirage for me, and settled on a Honda Civic sport for Dave when someone blew through a red light and totaled the van while Dave was driving it. Honestly, it was the best thing that could have happened to us. It paid us twice what we would have likely sold the vehicle for.
Operating the Hedy Lamarr Airstream through its first winter and now into its second, has been a learning curve. We've had leaks, busted pipes, and more. We've also learned a lot. I hope we can apply all of those expensive lessons to avoiding such issues with Proud Mary. Fingers crossed!
Personal Me Time/Personal Development
In August, I joined a pool league and shoot pool every Thursday evening at Side Pockets in Blue Springs. I cannot tell you how rewarding this has been! I have loved playing pool since I was a kid. It is the only sport I actually enjoy. Forget football or baseball (sorry Chiefs, sorry Royals), it's always been pool for the win! In my early and mid 20s, I played regularly at this fantastic dive bar, 'Toons, in San Jose. When I moved back to Kansas City in 1997 with my eldest child in tow, I tried to find something out here that was comparable, and just... didn't. And I've missed it, so very much! I feel rather silly that I never thought of joining a league before. What can I say, I thought it was only for pool sharks! In any case, getting away from everything for an evening and just focusing on angles, bank shots, and strategy has been wonderful. We just finished our first 16 week session and did well enough in 8-ball to go on to the Tri-Cup. Woohoo!
I returned to Julia Cameron's Artist Way and the practice of Morning Pages - writing three pages longhand each morning first thing. It's good for me, I can feel it. Clears the schmutz out, focuses my intent. Right now, I'm making my way through another of her books, Finding Water in conjunction with the Morning Pages. I plan to continue doing Morning Pages after I finish the 12 week course, though. Potentially permanently. It's an excellent centering exercise first thing each morning.
And, having listened to the Moth Radio Hour rather obsessively for some years now, I'm finally seeking out storytelling events in my area to join in. I've been a homebody for so long, it feels weird getting out and doing these things, but also wonderful at the same time. In the new year, I hope to also expand to attending regular poetry slams. The few that I have attended have left my brain spinning with possibilities. It's good, as well, to get out of my comfort zone and do things that feed my interests.
Plans for the Year to Come
I accomplished plenty in 2022. Enough to pat myself on the back. It might not have been what I thought I would get done, but it worked out nonetheless. As the month has counted down, I have been asking myself, "What do I want to get done in 2023?"
Four Books Published
Yeah, I know I said that last year, but this time I have an even better plan. One that is far more realistic. Right now, at this very moment, I have three books that are at least 50% complete. Crises of confidence have interrupted the finishing of them time and time again, but I think that now is the time to really dig in and get them done.
My plan is to finish writing three books, hopefully by mid-April, and then spend the summer editing and publishing them. I just crossed the 50k word mark on G581: Plague Tales, a series of short stories that provide some of those stories behind the stories from the first three novels. I anticipate completing the manuscript by the third week of January at the latest.
Then I want to dive in and complete Glass Forest, Book One of the Chronicles of Liv Rowan. This manuscript stands at right under 50k words as well and I estimate it will top out at around 80k words. I hope to finish this by the end of February.
After Glass Forest, I will tackle a book I have only outlined and written a tiny amount in, Broken Code, the third book in the Benton Security Services series. This will be my first real challenge - to write an entire book in just under two months. I'm not sure if I can do it, or if I will end up spending the summer slogging along to try and finish it, but I've turned up the heat by scheduling a ARC (Advance Reader Campaign) for July 31st with Hidden Gems, so I'll need to have it done or lose my spot.
And finally, I would really REALLY like to get Quit Your Job, Change Your Life done this fall and out by December 1st, 2023. I've talked about it a lot, returned and then quit it more times than I can count. It stands at nearly 54k words and is at least 2/3 complete.
That's four books. I also hope to continue, if not complete, G581: Zarmina's World, (I'm just 7,800 words in on the book) thereby completing the sci-fi series I began when I published G581: The Departure in late 2016. We won't talk about the nascent dystopian spinoff series I'm considering setting on Earth in those ten post-impact years. No, we are definitely not going to talk about that!
So, yeah, four books in 2023.
Return to Basics
I tried throwing money at Amazon ads, as well as a small handful of Facebook ads. What it taught me was little or nothing past "I suck at this. I'm generating sales, but not enough to even cover the outgo, so now I'm paying Amazon everything plus a little to distribute my books."
Until I am willing to truly learn what the heck I'm doing, I'm better off sticking to flea and free advertising. My goal for 2023 is to break even. Bonus points if I actually earn more than I spend.
Add a new STR, make progress on Cottage East
As I mentioned above, I'm planning on getting our 1969 Holiday Rambler, Proud Mary, into service by spring. How? Well, the details are fuzzy on that. It involves a lot more gutting, replacing of floors and more things we aren't entirely sure on and need to learn or pay someone else to do. So we will see. Hopefully we will see her in service by May at the latest. Getting her producing income means more savings towards our renovations on Cottage East.
As for Cottage East, I hope to see us complete the interior demo, and possibly begin laying in wiring and plumbing this year. Maybe even insulation if things go well.
When winter breaks and we can be outside for long periods of time, I plan on purchasing another pre-formed pond for the lower half of the pond. We will backfill in the lower pond around it, and then connect the upper pond back to the "stream" which will then feed into the pre-formed pond on the lower end. After that, I hope we can also do some landscaping with rocks around it, and make it look more natural.
I've managed to pull myself up to a level 3 in 8-ball in my pool league. I'd like to see my stats rise to a solid level 3 in both 8-ball and 9-ball, possibly higher, and continue to be a benefit to my team. I love playing the game so much, but I also know how important it is to help the team rise. And who am I kidding? I wanna go to Vegas and play in the championship!
I'll be attending more storytelling events, more spoken word poetry, and continuing to write my Morning Pages. I hope to not miss a single day of Morning Pages in 2023. Not health, nor travel, nor trouble to deter me. The Morning Pages help me be a better person, and a better writer.
2022 is a wrap, and 2023 has so much potential!
As I sit here, all I can think of is the potential that this next year has. For my family, for my writing, for me personally. And I hope for you as well. That your days hold more happier moments than painful ones, that you are comfortable with who you are and where you are going (and if not, that you find the strength to change that), and that the road you walk is kind to you.
Happy New Years, Everyone. I'll see you on the other side!
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