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A Look Back

The year is coming to a close, and what a year it’s been, no? So much has happened, and looking back it’s amazing to see how far we’ve come and how things have changed over the course of 365 days. I’d like to take a few moments to recap what 2019 has held in my wee neck of the woods, if you’d like to join me.

At the very beginning of the year I joined a writers group hosted by my new local bookstore. Technically it started in December, but we meet only once a month, so I feel that, with only one meeting in 2018, the group ‘took off’ more in January.

As a family we flew out to California later in the month to visit by brother and sister-in-law. Southern California is a strange, exotic place, with plants that look like low-budget sci-fi films from the 80s. It was good to see my brother and sister again, and we got to do and see a lot of fun and cool things, like the San Diego Zoo, sea lions, nature walks, and the beach (although it wasn’t exactly balmy). But though the frozen yogurt is pretty good, I can’t say that Oceanside is anywhere I’d like to live.

In April I published a short story titled The Forgotten Hero, inspired by a writing prompt homework from previously mentioned writers group. It turned into a whimsical fantasy/cosy mystery/romance with sea dragons and cats and vanishing cabbage patches. I had a lot of fun writing it, and Skeer Umpee is a character I plan to bring back for more crazy adventures at some point in the future.

Later in the spring/early summer I cleared a patch of ground over by the chicken coop and planted some cuttings from my goji bush, which, to my surprise and delight, have all survived and grown a bunch over the summer ─ which is impressive for cutting off a branch and sticking it in the dirt. I only got one berry off my two-year-old plant this year, despite all the flowers, so I’m hoping for more next summer, although I have to keep it better trimmed this time. Uncontrolled, gojis turn into verdant krakens. With needles.

When came July we decided to try selling our maple syrup and honey at the local farmers market, just to see how it went. We proceeded to be venders there every week for the remainder of the summer, only missing one because the market was cancelled for awful weather. That really kickstarted my NovelTea business venture. In 2018 I’d only been selling a few things on the farm stand, but with the town working on the bridge down the road for about four months, traffic all but died (which was pretty nice in its own right). Taking my baked yums and jams to the farmers market was a big boost in the right direction. I found repeat customers, and even met the business owner of a coffee shop from the neighboring town who asked me to bake for them once in a while. What a blessing!

That market ended in October, and I was actually looking forward to a break, since the summer was packed with prepping for the market each week, plus hay and weeding and harvesting the garden and preserving the produce. I wanted to spend November working on my book, which I’d hardly touched. But then we learned about an indoor market going through November in the next town over, so we thought to give it a try. If anything, it proved even more successful for NovelTea than the outdoor market all summer. That ran all through the month to a grand finale on Small Business Saturday, when I had a book signing and jam tasting event at my local bookstore. It turned out better than I was anticipating, praise the Lord, and was a good ending to a long season.

In October, the first day of October, actually, I finally took my driver’s test, and wonder of wonders (literally) I passed on my first go. Praise God. I’ve since run errands, gone grocery shopping, and visited some friends all on my own, which initially doesn’t sound impressive, I’ll admit, but it’s a big step for this pigeon-hearted introvert. I also ran over a cat, which literally came out of left field. It just about killed me, and I still fee bad about it.

My brother and a couple of guys and I started a D&D campaign, which is the first time I’ve ever done any of those kinds of games. I don’t think we all know exactly what we’re doing, but it’s a riot kicking monsters’ backsides and making references from books, movies, TV shows, and all that. In one battle we faced off a ghost elf scouting party that the DM had intended for us to run away from, and jumped two levels. It was pretty awesome.

Earlier, in September, I had a flash fiction published in my library’s online magazine/blog, and in November an online magazine called Havok Publishing accepted a short story I had submitted, which they will be publishing on January 17. I will give you more info on that when the pub day comes, and y’all can read and comment on it (reader favorites puts authors in the running for awards and anthology opportunities). I’m super excited about this one, because it’s the first time I’ve worked with a professional editor and signed a contract.

As mentioned a couple paragraphs ago, I didn’t get much of any writing done in November (or this year in general, actually). It was the first NaNo that I failed, and while that hurts, I’ve still made progress on the story as a whole. There’s more plot and new characters to work with, new places to visit, which requires more worldbuilding (yay!). There is still a lot of work to do on this trilogy, but I’d rather take my time and do it right than hurry up and regret it.

Just this past month we had to replace our oven. I all but killed it over the summer, and on the last day, when I was filling an order, it took over two hours to come to temperature. Then we got our fancy new oven with a griddle burner and convection feature. It took eight minutes to preheat. I’m in love, and will someday soon be trying out how a convection oven bakes.

And if all of these things were not blessings enough, my parents gave me a Kitchen Aid Professional for Christmas. I almost cried, to be honest. I’m still flabbergasted, but I’m also stoked to use it! This’ll make making big batches of cinnamon rolls a lot easier, to say the least, and there’s no hinge pin to rattle loose. I have so many things I want to make . . .

This year has been a ride, with new adventures, goals reached, goals fallen short, ups, and downs. But we’re closer than we were last year, and wiser, and smarter, more skilled, and blessed beyond measure. God is good.

So, what adventures have you had over this past year? Learned anything new? Met a new favorite book? I know I have!

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