Auld Lang Zinger

I have no particular New Year’s Eve plans, other than to stay warm. My day will be spent revising My One and Only Duke, which you lovely folks won’t see on the shelves until November 2018, when the Rogues to Riches series launches.

And yet, the time of year does get me thinking about where I’ve been in the past twelve months, and where I want to be. 2017 was a year of losses for me, some of which–like those twenty pounds I won’t miss–are cause for celebration. Others, like the law office riding slowly into the sunset, are simply life moving along, and one–my dad’s passing three weeks shy of his 97th birthday–hurts like blazes.

If there’s a silver lining regarding Mom’s death in 2016 and Dad’s death earlier this year, it’s that my six siblings and their spouses and kids are terrific people, and they are all still mine to love.

2017 also saw gains. I aspire to write and publish about half a million words each year, and I met that goal with titles I’m proud of. I got back in the saddle (wheee!) something I’d been muttering about for several years, and I saw some new sights on the Number One London country house tour. I traveled too much (again), but am nowhere near ready to throw in my frequent flyer towel.

Next year, I’m slated to attend the New Zealand Romance Writers’ conference, and what the heck, I might as well pop over to Australia while I’m in the neighborhood. I’m also scheduled to attend the Historical Romance Retreat in San Diego, and I’m even considering having a Regency ballgown made for that occasion, because I missed out on playing dress-up as a kid.

And that’s probably my theme going forward: I want to play more. Being self-employed, it’s easy to fall into a work-all-the-time habit. Even when I’m traveling in the UK, I’m usually working on a manuscript, reading copy edits, or both. When I was in Northern England this year, my hotel was across from a lovely little park. On one of my down-time days (meaning working on a book instead of touring a house), I toddled over to the park to get some fresh air, because–altogether now–sitting is the new smoking.

I soon noticed that I was walking faster than anybody else in the park, barreling along, consulting the step-counter on my phone, debating how many laps around the pond I should do…. I’m sure the nice people spotted me for an over-wound Yank before I’d completed my first circuit.

I like that version of Grace–she’s productive, mostly solvent, and mostly happy–but she needs to find a lower gear sometimes, so she too can make it well past her three-score-and-ten, and write lots more happily ever afters along the way.

So how was your 2017, and what are you looking forward to in 2018? To one commenter, I’ll send a signed copy of the book of his or her choice.

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41 comments on “Auld Lang Zinger

  1. 1

    I made a bucket list a year ago when I finally retired from a very demanding job.But it did not go to plan at first,family life and all it brings jumped up and hit us all in the face.My eighteen year old grandson was rushed to hospital in a diabetic coma and after two days of intensive care came through it.Then four weeks later my son and his partner of fifteen years broke up.My ten year old granddaughter was devastated,the rest of the family had not realised they were having difficulties.My son had a breakdown and was not managing very well when a friend offered him a room in their house to recover,the only problem was it was the other side of the country,he went and eight months later seems to be doing okay.I revised my bucket list to include a visit to Cornwall a very pretty part of the U.K to see him.My bucket list started late in the year but family comes first and always will.This coming year I will continue ticking off the places I have visited because that is what my bucket list is about_Beautiful parts of the country of my birth.So much to see Scotland Wales Cumbria Yorkshire Devon and many more,it may take a while but I will do it.Health being the mainstay of this plan and we all know about plans! Wishing you Grace a happy and healthy New year.

    • 1.1

      Wow. You did get hit with a lot, and when family is in need, there’s nothing else to do but mom-up. The UK is my kinda beautiful, and I hope getting around to see some of the phenomenal varieties of nature you have will be an antidote to a very stressful year. I envy you your public transportation system, and if while wandering about the sights, you see a well fed American romance author among the other tourists, let’s hope it me!

  2. 2
    Make Kay says:

    As long as one’s budget can stand it, I firmly believe there’s no such thing as traveling too much!
    We had to be creative with our 2017 budget, but a big travel opportunity presented itself that I’m so glad we took! We spent yesterday plotting out our 2018 travel, which I’m heartily looking forward to.

    • 2.1

      I’m honestly intimidated by the flights necessary to get to New Zealand and Australia, but what the heck. I will never be this young again, I might not be even this fit again, and I have READERS to meet in both locations, so this is me, packing my undies and bookmarks…
      I do love the fresh eyes that travel gives us, both for new places and for our return home. For a writer, that’s catnip.

  3. 3
    Teenie Marie says:

    2017 has been a tough year for our family as well as exciting and happy.

    My father-in-law will not make it to next year’s holidays. In fact, we hope he will last the month of January. At 88, he seems resigned to his death but his daughters are not. They are making things tough for the rest of the family—my husband says it’s like the stages of grief a la Kubler-Ross but by proxy.

    My Hubby was diagnosed with malignant melanoma just before my birthday in October. After surgery, he is cancer free and his scar is healing.

    Our middle son started a MSL program at one of the country’s best law schools and is thriving. He was floundering for a bit but seems on the right track for him.

    My Dad celebrated his 90th birthday earlier this month and is sharp as a tack. We are grateful he is doing so well after he lost Mom three years ago; it wasn’t looking good for a while and now he seems to have adjusted.

    I always make rather vague resolutions. And this year is no different. I have been giving my youngest son and I a mini-barre five days a week, so will continue…..it’s made such a difference in how I feel. I have always tried to be a Lady (note the capital *L*) in my profession and feel many do not take me seriously….so no more Lady-like behavior……think women conductors need to be shrews? Okay, I’ll try it for a bit…..this is not for my choir, but in the community……my choir respects and follows me so no need to be shrewish with them. I have a few conferences I need to get to in June and July, and maybe I’ll take Hubby too.

    So sorry to learn of your Dad’s death. Tough so soon after your Mom’s.

    Happy New Year, Grace……and happy writing!

    • 3.1

      Sounds like your elders are in the same boat mine were: They signed up for life at a time when three score and ten was venerable, and then somebody extended the warranty on them. The hardest thing about watching my parents toddle past ninety was that so many of their friends and family pre-deceased them. When the last high school buddy of Dad’s died shortly before Dad did, we just agreed among the sibs not to tell him. I hope they are enjoying a game of cribbage wherever the good geezers go.
      And yeah, that business with “unconstructive grieving….” everybody from the estate lawyer to the appraiser, to distant acquaintances has warned us: When the second parent goes, things can get strange among the surviving children.
      So we’re determined to not let that happen (fingers crossed….)

  4. 4
    Susan Gorman says:

    I am in a reflective mood this morning.
    Trying to find the positives of 2017 and not having such good luck!

    I miss my Celeste. Work is stressful due to a buyout and pending layoffs. And daughters car accident and repair was another unexpected event.

    I am walking almost everyday at lunch, my blood pressure is down, am back to obedience school with the dogs. And we have a new corgi puppy who is fun, active and smart.

    I am kissing 2017 goodbye with hopes that calm waters prevail in 2018 !!!

    • 4.1

      I don’t think too many of us want a repeat of 2017. No matter where you fall politically, economically, gender-ly, or otherwise, it was a contentious and upsetting year. I hope to some extent we’re all “contentioned-out,” and that we’re smarter about spotting people who are just trying to shoehorn conflict into every discussion. They’ve had their turn to wave their troll-swords around, now we need to get on with some creative problem-solving. Says me.
      I’m glad your blood pressure is down–that has to be encouraging. I hope to walk OUTSIDE more in 2018, and get off the dread-desk (sic). Though I’ll wait until we’re back up into double digit temperatures first…

  5. 5
    Carol Luciano says:

    I wish I could have traveled more but maybe next year. 2017 had a lot of sadness. My sister in law was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and passed away 9 days later. Now my other SIL is in intensive care because of her COPD. Hopefully 2018 will bring more happier times and better health. Happy New Year to everyone.

    • 5.1

      That is a miserable double whammy, and once again, we have cancer to thank for leaving a trail of heartbreak. I hope 2018 is new leaf for you and yours, and that you get a break from whammies of any sort.

  6. 6
    Marianne says:

    Doing my annual purge of my electronics, I found more had happened this year than I really remembered. Going through my receipts I also realized that I’d bought (and read) a pile of books…

    Sorry to hear about your dad’s death, Grace, if only because of the hole it leaves in the life of a family. Love them or hate them, whether by blood or affection, family is our connection to mankind.

    I appreciated Brenda’s words on flexibility. This New Year’s finds my husband and me in bed with the ‘flu, in spite of the shots. In stead of starting this year with carefully measured yardage, we’re going to have to punt!

    All the best. Looking forward to lots of happily ever afters, even outside of Grace’s books!

    • 6.1

      The medical folks claim that even if you get the flu, the shot can lessen the severity, so we’ll still commend you for taking steps in mitigation. I’ve read a pile this year too–thank heavens for books!

      I loved my parents, and for the past twenty years have gotten along well with them both. Because I am without spouse or sons (have a great son in law), my dad was never deposed from his position was the guy who loved me most in the whole world. He was not a demonstrative guy, but he came through for me on numerous occasions–with advice, cash, wisdom, and good will. I will try to be like him in those regards where my offspring is concerned.

  7. 7
    Ona says:

    Hi Aunt Grace,

    2017 was a year of highs and lows for us. With children who are about to turn three and one, life is very full, to the point I sometimes feel bedraggled and discouraged. I want to be more present and enjoy more of the small moments in 2018: bathtime, storytime, playtime. I want to internalize that I am, day by day, living the life I always wanted. More flowers, more art projects, more smiles.

    I hope you get that regency ball gown made!

    XO

    • 7.1

      Ona, you’re in a compression phase, with two toddlers underfoot. Time goes sideways in those years. You’re smart to focus on moments–take pictures too!
      The histrom retreat is in San Diego. This is your only warning.

  8. 8
    Diane Sallans says:

    Today I’m at the end phase (hopefully) of a week that started with an achy virus and move into a coughy congestion – no energy – no appetite (not even for the yummy Bergers Chocolate cookies my niece brought me from Baltimore for Christmas). Fortunately, it didn’t start til after Christmas, but I did miss out on more visiting with family because I felt lousy and I didn’t want to infect them. It’s also incredibly cold out. No big plans for 2018 yet – just the thought of all the traveling you’ll be doing exhaust me right now – I hope you have wonderful times and I look forward to reading about your adventures.

    • 8.1

      Diane, easy to say, “Get well soon,” but the stuff that’s going around this year seems to be packing a wallop (in addition to bad timing). The travel exhausts me too, but I’ll never be this young again, may never have this much energy again, might soon not have the disposable income or health I have now. New Zealand, here I come!

  9. 9
    Colleen Perry says:

    My Dear Grace. I am so sorry for the loss of your Father. I have lost both of my husband, both parents, and my sister in the past, and it still hurts. Also sad for you loss of your law office, know how much you enjoyed it. I am so glad about your weight loss. Wish I could lose some much needed weight, but holidays are hard time to do that. I am happy about your new book in 2018. You can be so proud of your wonderful books, I love them. I still have some I bought with your gift card that I have not read, waited to keep having them to to look forward to. I have a lot of thing I need to complete that I have been putting off. I look mostly forward to reading my beloved historical romance books, yours at top of the list. Love. Colleen

    • 9.1

      Colleen, all I can tell you about the weight loss is I’ve tried EVERYTHING, and I finally hit on something that a) worked and b) I could put up with… for a while. The Whole 30 diet is not supposed to be about weight loss, but most people do lose some on it. All you do is cut out all alcohol, ALL sweeteners (even Stevia, saccharine, coconut syrup… anything but fruit juice in moderation as a sweetener). Cut out ALL grains even the good ones like guinoa, cut out ALL legumes–no peanut butter, no hummus–and cut out all dairy except clarified butter. That’s it… just live on meat, tree nuts, eggs, veggies and some fruit, with plant-based oils making the whole thing possible.
      My energy level did not improve, my aches and pains did not go away, my sleep did not become magically restorative, BUT I did drop some weight. Like you, I’m on hiatus with the dieting until tomorrow, and then I’ll get back in the saddle. Then there’s always the question of keeping off the weight you lose…

  10. 10
    Florine Kreeb says:

    In 2017 I found that I was back being involved with politics as I hadn’t been for years. I couldn’t just assume everything would be ok…there was someone in the White House tearing up all the beautiful parts of this country. 2018 will bring promise to all of us who live in hope. Your fabulous stories take me away from all the mess and I hope, bring me hope and a bit of joy. Next year will be a good year…….I pray.

    • 10.1

      Florine, I found politics screaming at me from every window too this year too, to the point that I had to start building in breaks from social media. I think even many of the people who voted for POTUS find the tenor of this year’s political dialogue upsetting. We have always had differences of opinion among voters–we’re a very diverse country–but the nastiness out there in 2017 was very disappointing.
      Here’s to a more civil and constructive new year.

  11. 11
    Amy Ikari says:

    Happy Sunday! 2017 was a horrible health year for both my mother and me. Being 86, it was more serious for her. In 2018, I am looking for improved health for all of us. Thank you for your great books! Have a blessed start to a new year!

  12. 12
    Karen H near Tampa says:

    2017 was a year of highs (my Mom turned 90 in January and my partner turned 65 on Christmas) and lows (his sister died last spring and Hurricane Irma visited us here in Florida, though except for some of our relatives being without power for 4 days, we were fortunate and all came through in good shape). I know I should feel lucky but with the current administration and Congress tearing down as many of our social nets as they can get their hands on, I still count 2017 as a mostly negative experience. I honestly hope 2018 will see their horrible deeds reversed. So, I guess I’m a little hopeful for 2018. Happy New Year to all of us.

    • 12.1

      I share your hopefulness, in that much of our system of government is built to adapt to change–we can un-elect underperformers, courts can overturn precedent, laws can be repealed or revised. Where I can’t be so optimistic is when it comes to the earth and our natural resources. Once you start uranium mining, you can’t put the radiation back in the bottle, for example. So I’m focusing on environmental concerns, which–optimism again!–seem to be an area where voters across the spectrum have a lot of concerns in common.

  13. 13
    Glenda says:

    I worked a lot in 2017, but I was also able to travel more and take more time off than in previous years. Next year, both our children our set to earn degrees. Our daughter is earning her Batchelor’s degree with a double major here in Texas. Our son is earning his Master’s degree in Colorado. We are looking at the logistics since their graduation ceremonies are a day apart – which is better than the same day but complicated.

    Happy New Year, Grace!!

    • 13.1

      That is a HUGE milestone. Anymore, I feel that if somebody is walking across the stage to pick up a bachelor’s diploma, then their parents ought to get to walk with them. I know my daughter has struggled for years to earn credits that count, from institutions that are accredited, in degree programs that will lead somewhere… and when she graduates, I will be in the front row dancing like nobody’s watching.

  14. 14
    Chris L. says:

    Happy New Year, Grace! There are so many things about 2017 that changed me, and I can’t say if they were for better or worse. My husband and I spent many, many months trying to help our 15YO adjust to living with anxiety and depression, and it’s been an arduous fight for us all. Luckily with counseling and meds, he is persevering. Yet, my heart aches when I think too much about what my son deals with – high school (socially and academically), hormones, and looking after his mental health. It’s so much for one sensitive soul to carry around. But he is doing it, and we couldn’t be more proud. Tired, but fiercely proud. So, while I have added some unwanted pounds, grey hairs, and scads more worries and would definitely like to lose said pounds and worries (the grey hairs i don’t mind so much as long as they stay attached!), what I long for most is an easier, lighter, healthy 2018 for my family. I wish those things for you as well!

    • 14.1

      I feel like those years between fifteen and twenty-two should be counted like dog years–every one is worth seven in living-time. My daughter’s issues began to crest as she turned fifteen, and it breaks your heart to see somebody so young suffering so profoundly. What I told her, and what I believe, is that when we hit some rough patches early in life, we’re getting a jump on learning to be resilient. Some people save that lesson for too late, and as a consequence, when a marriage gets frayed, when mid-life descends, or a job loss happens, they have no resources with which to process the hurt and move on.
      The people who do some heavy lifting even before adulthood starts gain wisdom and self-awareness, and it’s theirs to keep forever.
      I will keep you and yours in my thoughts. Scary times, but love will see you through.

  15. 15
    Tammy earnest says:

    My 2017 was good. Ended the year with a cold but I am healing now. Looking forward to what the new year brings!

  16. 16
    Sarah says:

    2017 was tough. All the men in my life (father, husband, son) had a really terrible 2017 which meant a lot of intense care taking on my part and I am exhausted. I am not making any resolutions that involve removing anything or curbing any habits, because sometimes you need unproductive time or chocolate cake or breakfast for dinner. But I am going to study ASL as an add on resolution. No pressure, no set goals of so many words in so many days etc. but steadily and slowly learn basic sign. I need something that opens up and broadens my life after a 2017 of domesticity. I am also going to volunteer at a horse rescue, and go back to bookbinding.

    • 16.1

      I’m sorry you had to be on give all year for your menfolk. Seems to be part of what women do, though–love others when they really need loving. I’ll be in pretty much the same mode you are–no heroic measures, get adequate rest, don’t overdo.
      While having some fun. Kudos to you on the ASL project. That’s something that has tempted me from time to time. My mom lost most of her hearing as she aged, and who’s to say that the same fate won’t befall me?

  17. 17
    Lolly Latimer Howser says:

    I have not commented before – to any author (except one who sent me her book and asked for feedback). I have enjoyed getting lost in many of your stories, but from the first I had wondered if you had ever traveled in the British Isles as you always have your characters taking tea with cream. I have visited England multiple times since my Paris student days (mid 70’s) and never have I seen anything but milk offered with tea. The only cream I have seen/tasted is clotted cream with scones served with afternoon tea. I remember being distressed that such delights were not available earlier in the day. An avowed “milkaholic” I was thrilled that milk cups (about 4 X size of our 1/2 & 1/2 little cups) were in the tea service in hotel rooms. Also I have British friends in the U.S. who only use milk in tea. Just wondering…

    • 17.1

      Lolly, welcome to the blog!
      Yes, I have traveled in the UK fairly often, and you are not the first person to ask this question. My usual response is to remind folk that back in the day, almost all milk was separated skimmed so that the cream could be made into butter, which lasted longer than raw milk (and is wonderful). Jane Austen does refer at one point to the milk at some vicarage having a bluish tinge, which we take to mean that it was skim milk–also Jane being snarky. There are references to whole milk, meaning milk that hadn’t been skimmed, so somebody is shaking it up to do a historical version of homogenizing it.
      Many, many period references from the Regency cite the wealthier households drinking cream (yeah–down the hatch with their breakfast beefsteak), putting it in their tea, making hot chocolate with it… So it’s period correct to put cream in tea.
      Nowadays, though, you’re right: Unless a hotel caters to Americans, I usually have to ask for cream, rather than the ubiquitous semi-skim (2 percent) milk most establishments serve. They seem to have it upon request, but I can understand why the cheaper alternative is what’s on offer.

  18. 18
    Anne Egger says:

    Hmm… 2017 I worked on my health, I lost 10 pounds, I went to the doctor, I went to the dentist. I stood up for myself. I took a class in Russian History. I guess for 2018 I hope to continue to work on my health, I have some trips planned, I am taking another class in Russian History. I think to work on my connection with God and to stay humble.

  19. 19
    Amy says:

    2017 saw some incredible highs for me. I went to Paris for the first time. I finished writing my first book. My youngest went off to kindergarten. I finished my first draft of my second book. But the lows of 2017 (lawsuits, broken bones, crappy dental work, boatloads of writerly rejections) were so challenging that it’s hard to remember the victories.

    I hope 2018 brings more wins. I hope 2018 brings me agent and editor love. I hope for less trips to the ER, and I very much hope to find myself in a position of not having to drive for upwards of two hours for dental care. But I welcome all victories: an excellent dinner, please and thank you’s from my kiddos, a good night’s rest, titles for my WIPs.

    Australia is high on our bucket list. Some people really want to see a platypus. I hope you have wonderful travels!

    • 19.1

      Oh, that does sound like a daunting year. Dental work alone… yikes! By way of commiserating, I will rat myself out a little bit here: The first person I pitched bought my books. It took a few months, and I did get a few rejections in the meanwhile and since, but not enough to matter.
      When the first horrible review from a major site came along, I went down in author-flames. I could not believe people would be so mean, and the comments that piled onto the review were astonishingly vicious. To make the situation more bewildering, the reviewer was wrong in a few major particulars and nobody called her on it. My then-editor’s response was to ask me what I thought I’d done wrong (with the book she’d chosen to buy and line edited?) and the publisher was dismayed at what an inferior product I’d put out.
      I got a wonderful view of the underside of the bus.
      My first two books had hit the New York Times list, strictly–only–because of discount pricing, and this was book three, which did not hit a list because it was sold at full price. I was so naive (at age 50+), that I didn’t connect the price with the number of units sold. All I knew was book three tanked, and the big reviewer hated it.
      I couldn’t write for weeks. My career was over, I had no straps on my boots to even yank on. I’d not had to persevere in the face of anything, as a writer, and one good punch about knocked me out. Fortunately, one commenter on the review site from hell said, “I love her voice, I don’t care about silly historical details, and I’m going to read everything she writes.” The wolf pack slunk away to gnaw on somebody else’s bones, but the damage had been done.
      That won’t happen to you. You won’t go smurfing into the buzzsaw of bad will like a kitten crossing an eight-lane highway. In an odd way, those rejections are money in your confidence bank. You’re paying dues, you’re getting back up and writing some more. That’s what real authors do–they get up and write anyway.
      It worked for JK Rowling, for Somerset Maugham, for Christie Craig. Christie has a whole suitcase full of rejections which she brings to a talk on this very subject. She’s signing six-figures deals for YA series now. Some fine day, that could well be you.
      Hang in there. I’ll see what I can do about snagging some platypus swag.

  20. 20
    Kelly Feinberg says:

    Dear Grace,

    Thank you for your wonderful books. They have made my 2017 more enjoyable! I am working my way through your stories – and really enjoy the depth and stories you bring to life. 🙂

    I am looking forward to an exciting 2018 – with my first trip to London and Paris happening this summer.

    • 20.1

      Kelly, thanks for those kinds words, and please take lots of pictures of London and Paris for us. I LOVE seeing other people’s adventures on social media, especially when they travel to Merry Olde.

  21. 21
    Sue Lucas says:

    My husband and I moved from our lake home into a town 15 miles away. While I have been sad to leave the lake we are now in town and much closer to grandchildren!
    One downside to the move was that we had to cancel a trip to Wyoming!
    Hopefully this year I can reschedule the trip!