The January Blisses

This time of year can get a little trying. For my area, we’re coming up on the coldest week of the year, and we’re still in the darkest season. As I type this, it’s snowing, and we’re on track for six inches by morning. Enough to make the driving interesting.

I’ve begun that daunting annual ritual of preparing to file my personal and corporate taxes. No matter how many times I tell the nice CPA people, “Please don’t waste $300 looking for $3.00,” they are extraordinarily vigilant in matters of accuracy. Accuracy with numbers is not my best thing ever. I’m better at concepts and trends, you see… But in January, I must fine-tooth-comb pages and pages of data entry, down to the penny, and it maketh me to howl.

I am also looking at all the writing I have signed up to do in 2019, and preparing ritual sacrifices to the deities of creativity in hopes that I can come up with brilliant stories to go with that ambitious schedule. I’m a little down to think I won’t see family again until summer, and the usual anxiety about uncertain markets and career viability seems to crest a little higher as the holiday sales-boost (for some books some of the time) wears off.

January can be a challenge, in other words.

BUT, I also love January. It’s quiet, after all the holiday hoopla. I did just get to spend time with family and love the sense of renewed connection. The days are already getting longer (yay!), the evenings are plenty long enough to lend themselves to a writing session (yipeee!), and there are NO BUGS in January (raptures abounding!). In January, in addition to my book deadlines, I also look ahead to adventures on the calendar.

The entire Burrowes clan will get together on the West Coast this summer. I’m scheduled to tour Scotland with friends in September. My next book launch–Love the by the Letters, is coming up in little over a month–already! I always get more writing done in winter than during other seasons, and this year has been no exception. I’m well into a story for Hawthorne Dorning and a lady named Margaret Summerfield.

She’s a nose, having–much like my father did–phenomenal olfactory sensitivity. He’s a swain, meaning his heart is as perceptive as her nose. Fun times! I hope this story will be on the shelves by June as the next True Gentlemen, but the whole business of conceiving, drafting, refining, packaging, and presenting a book enthralls me. How I love being able to write for a living, and how much harder it was to slog through January before writing became my calling.

Does January get old for you? Do you dread to see the  hotter weather coming closer? How do you accommodate the challenge of winter, or are you one of those people who’d live at the north pole if you could? To one commenter, I’ll send a $50 Amazon gift card.

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39 comments on “The January Blisses

  1. I can’t wait for January to be OVER! It’s a long, cold, dark month. My 2 older corgis are not amused by the cold weather or the ice or snow. Neither am I.

    Warm socks, a new sweater and floral scarves get me through the first month of the year. I like to think Spring when it’s cold.

    January is a good month count your blessings & to set goals. I have a lot to look forward to this year- graduation, wedding shower & wedding (godchild). Am hoping to get into a therapy dog training class with my male corgi. Gregory and I are working towards the CD, companion dog title. Training him keeps me busy. And when he remembers to heel and sit & look up at me- life is good!

    I think January is a great time to read- nice way to escape on a snowy day. Am looking forward to your next novel- and hoping you are able to write after you find your tax stuff!

    • I hadn’t considered that Corgis would be snow-challenged, but anatomy is what it is. Maybe that’s why they are such great agility dogs–because only the smartest of the bunch coped well with winter.
      In recent years I’ve also been more apt to keep bright colors around me in winter, especially flowers. I’m also wearing more colors, though it’s funny–I put more thought into what I’ll wear to the horse barn than I do into what I wear anywhere else. Yoga pants are yoga pants, but for my horse, I want to look put together.

  2. Oh, I’ve said this before. The holidays get me through the first part of Winter, and the promise of Spring gets me through the second part. Even though it is still too early, I’m already checking out my back window to see if my daffodils are popping through the frozen earth. When I see those little green sprouts popping up through the snow my heart sings.

    I just started reading MY ONE AND ONLY DUKE. Loving it. I love that this titled family is out of the ordinary.

    • I tried forcing some paperwhites this year. It has not gone well. I have about one and half blooms for twenty bulbs, but even to see something green and growing on my bedroom windowsill has been a boost.

      As for Quinn and Jane…. I thought to myself: Who is the complete opposite of typical suave, well educated, charming duke? A convicted murderer? That’ll never work… or will it?

  3. January isn’t trying for me because I’m still enjoying the cold weather and outdoor activities. February is where it starts getting a little dicey for my mood

    • We sometimes get some teaser days in February, when it gets up into the fifties, and everybody is running around half-dressed trying to get the flu. Right now, I see single digits in the forecast… time to cuddle up with some Bedwyns.

  4. I find something to love in each month of the year. Yes, there are downsides to each one but the good outweighs the bad IMHO.

    I like January for its beginnings–of a new year, the clean and blank slate of snow falls, the ability to hunker down and think about new endeavors because, here in the Midwest, it’s better than running around after a storm. I cook differently–hearty things–I do not have time to make the rest of the year. The weather forces us to slow down, to take time to contemplate and at the beginning of a new year, I think that’s good.

    For me, personally, I like January because I’ve finished my professional obligations in December and have a few months of freedom before I start it all over again in March. It would be nice to not have to worry about ice and snow but hey, this is Chicago, ice and snow are to be expected!

    I don’t dread the warmer months as I don’t dread the colder months. It’s all a matter of being prepared; there are no surprises, it’s always the timing that catches us off guard. Dress for the weather and you’ll be fine and that’s goes for the HOT as well as the cold!

    • I’ve wondered if I wouldn’t be suited to the garden center schedule, where you close up shop December 24, and don’t see a customer again until March 1, or sometimes, March 15. They have their spring rush, but after that it’s business as usual, then a winter holiday.
      What I don’t understand are my brothers skiing and snowboarding friends, who fly down to New Zealand as soon as spring hits here, because for them, only winter will do. All winter all the time. I don’t think I could thrive without changing seasons.

  5. I love January because it represents fresh starts and new-ness; however, I do not love the cold weather. I get through it with lots of cups of tea and enjoying the excuse to stay inside and read delicious books.

    • Sounds like a plan to me! I read a lot of my keepers in winter–Mary Balogh, Loretta Chase, Judith Ivory, Joanna Bourne. It does pass the time and helps me churn the creative compost. Some people just have SO much talent.

  6. January for me has many mixed blessings. I married my sweet man in January, have three siblings who celebrate birthdays in this month (they were born in the hot tropics though). I like fresh snow and tolerable temperatures so going out is fun. As a child I loved winter, but now that I am creeping up in age and retired it is not quite as much of a joy.
    I do love the bleak whiteness, to watch the birds at the feeder, to walk in the cold – but only for so long. I very quickly long for the best time of the year – Spring. I cannot wait to see the first flowers in bloom and to see the birds returning from their warmer winters spent in the south. The joy of Spring is something to look forward to when the sky is gray day after day and it is cold.

    I am a recent widow and miss my companion so much. He did not like winter too much but we were not snowbirds and were happy to deal with what winter brought us and happy when it departed. Now I am able to stay home if I want to. I am enjoying books which I did not have much time for in the past. My husband loved British mysteries and books about trains and now I can enjoy the mysteries and the romances as well.(the train books have found a new home) Trouble is reading too much of the romance makes me miss mine. I am learning to live through the characters I read about.

    Note to Grace – I lived in your neck of the USA for many years. Maybe not exactly where you live but very close and we explored all the corners of the state. I am so loving your set of Sweetest Kisses as they sound so familiar and I can visualize the surroundings. Thankyou also for your historical romances which I am in the midst of as well. Thankyou for those wonderful characters. – – Margot

    • Margot, I am sorry for your loss. The greatest sadness I’ve witnessed is my dad outliving his “bride of seventy-one years” (his term) by eighteen months. He soldiered on, but a part of him was always with Mom. I will wish you many good British mysteries this winter.
      I like Miss Fisher, and Inspector Lynley. Broadchurch was pretty good, and what few episodes of Miss Radley I caught were also entertaining, but other than that… I’m still looking.

  7. That howling sound from south of you is me doing taxes in four part harmony. The amount of mileage spent trekking to doctors is truly depressing. But January down here is also no bugs + open window weather, so I’m happy as a clam. Keep those books coming! I’m informed by the local quack that the only way I’ll be enjoying butter is between the covers of one of yours and I do love how your characters scarf baked goods by the pan load loaded with churned moo juice.

    I’m really liking your new series (talk about leaving us – ahem! – hanging) and can’t wait for the next installment.,

    • Beth… what do quacks know? Butter is good for us. Tell the quack to do some research on omega-7, which is pretty much only available through dairy products…. The last meta study I saw was OK with all dairy except whole milk. (Bummer that.)
      I figure some things had to be better about Days of Yore, like all the food being organic and locally sourced, also fresh, and seasonally variant. I’m not sure that makes up for the lack of Charmin, but it IS a consideration.

  8. I always find it somewhat perplexing that the joy of days getting longer is restrained by the onset of more intense cold. And likewise, the summer days start getting shorter just as the heat intensifies! I think I’d fix that little glitch if the universe were mine to reorganize. But no matter. Hope your writing goes super well and the snow stops short of being problematic.

    • Hey yeah–what you said. The corollary to that is that livestock start growing their winter coats as soon as the days stop getting longer–at the end of June, in other words. By September, they are no longer sporting their sleek summer coats, but around here, it can still get into the nineties. They also start losing their winter coats in January, though the Big Shed doesn’t really hit until March.

      • In stroking my mare this evening, I noted the beginning of the shed. Spring is coming. Thanks for all of the great stories that help pass the cold days right into spring!

  9. I absolutely detest winter months. For health reasons it causes me more problems so I end up being a hermit during Jan through March. When younger I Loved being a out in the snow. Times change, so I read the many books on my shelves to get me through & lots of baking & hardy meals.

    • Even I am known to cook this time of year. Nothing fancy, but an occasional loaf of bread, maybe a pot of soup. It changes the feel of the house (I write at my kitchen table), and in a nice, comfy/cozy way. Oh, for the days when I could have baked goods in the house all the time…

  10. I live on Long Island, NY, and love all four seasons. We are currently looking into moving to SC sometime in the future, and it’s a good, sound idea for many reasons – but oh how I will miss my beautiful island! (*sigh*) We may see a snowstorm next weekend, and while I always pray for those on the roads or stranded because of the weather, I have to admit to loving a day by the fireplace, especially if we can’t get out to shovel and snow-blow until the storm abates. A glass of wine, a great book on my iPad, feeling toasty warm across from the hearth – yeah, winter here has its pleasures as much as spring, summer, and autumn, do, too.

    • My horse buddies head out for South Carolina for all of February. It’s about ten hours due south, but many climate zones kinder, even though the summers are about what we get in Maryland. If you do move, I hope you end up in a book-loving community with lots of lively people. You can go back to NY to visit in spring and fall, and I GUARANTEE you, in January, friends from back home will find their way south.

  11. Here in the U.K it is very cold and windy snow in the north and worse to come.I live in the south and my home is on the coast l can see the North Sea from my Windows and it rages dark and cruel.It is a challenge when walking out,it becomes difficult to keep upright,despite being wrapped up in my winter coat and having my hood up wearing a big scarf and gloves the wind cuts through me.I arrive home frozen with a bright red nose and cheeks.The kettle goes straight on for a hot brew.I sit down and feel pleased with myself for getting through the battle of taking on the weather.I’m not fond of January or February they are dark gloomy months,I am a spring person who loves the arrival of new life beginning.Winter months to have some benefits like soups,stews and dumplings and warm homemade bread.Worry about the weight gain later .The aim is to stay healthy and dodge all the colds and flu that seem to be every where.The bonus to this season is I read much more so I ‘re_read all those books I have of yours and look forward to your new ones.Thank you for keeping me sane in these cold months.

    • Merry Olde is considerably north of where I am, and the difference in the light is one of the first things I notice–especially if I’m in Scotland. The light is sharper, no matter what season I’m there. I think it’s beautiful, but when I visited Lewis and Harris, the locals said you need to give it four winters there before you decide to buy. The first few winters you’re all enthusiastic about the challenge… then it just gets dreary. Maybe Maryland isn’t so bad?

    • What a fine compliment. Thanks! I do like writing summer stories in winter, and the winter stories just as the weather is turning chipper. But as for what I read? Good stories, set any time.

  12. January is old for me on Day 1. I am not a cold-weather fan at all so I live in the South. But we have days that make me uncomfortable, too. In fact, this week we are predicted to have daily highs only in the 60s and that is below our normal of 70 degrees. My sister in Ohio is definitely not sympathetic when I complain about these temperators. My Mom and I tease that we are going to move to the Equator in the hopes that we will be warm all the time!

    • It’s all what you acclimate to. Some of my Maryland friends moved down to Orlando. The first year, their AC was a seventy, and anything over 85 was gross and awful, and man… A year later, the AC is set at 80, and anything under 72 is chilly and cold and miserable.
      As for the equator… I visited my sister when she was living in Brazil fairly close to the equator. The very strangest part about that was it being 95 degrees (August), but pitch dark at 6 pm. I finally got what “long tropical nights…” meant. Very strange to me.

  13. I live in central Texas and winter here is very mild compared to much of the US. That said it is just humid enough that when it gets cold it is the cold that sinks into your bones. I can not imagine a really long cold winter in an area that has this kind of moist cold. As I have lived my entire life in the Southern half of the US, I have been raised knowing that when it snows and sticks on the road, you stay home. Period. No one in the south knows – or remembers if they once knew – how to drive on snowy roads. So we stay home and stay safe. In other words, my winter is not nearly the challenge most people have. I would consider a visit to the North or South pole, but would never ever consider a move there. :o)

    • We’re the same way in Maryland with ice storms. If you have 4WD or front wheel drive, you can navigate a reasonable amount of snow, but those ice storms? Don’t even even. The governor will sometimes declare a state of emergency so everybody gets the memo, but the locals know: STAY HOME.

  14. It is cold and dark right now in my neck of the woods, but no ice or snow, for which I am thankful. I got to hang out with my girlfriend this weekend, so that’s always nice. I am taking a class on the Vikings this semester. I think it will be fun. Writing does not come naturally for me, we have two big papers for this class. The professor suggested writing 100 words a day. I think that is a good idea.

    • Many a great work was written in 100 word chunks. One of my writer buddies does her work on an iPhone will riding the metro to work. I couldn’t do that, but it’s how she can make progress. And what a cool topic you have to focus on!

  15. I drag out and read “My Mom Hates Me in January” and “Thomas’ Snowsuit.”

    Around here it’s March & April that drive me nuts being the mud season coupled with black ice and occasional sleet.

    • Black ice is the absolute worst. Never heard of it in PA, but it’s a thing in Maryland. A dangerous, little-old-lady eating thing. Can’t stand it, myself.

  16. January is knitting time, and reading, and cooking hearty soup and stews. It’s remembering winters with kids, and wishing my granddaughters were closer. It’s also still work days and evenings, and walking the dog in spite of the weather. Winter is really okay by me. I can always add another layer, and watch the snow fall.

  17. I am just not made for cold weather and that is what I associate with January. I hate winter even though we don’t really have very cold winters here in south MS. I am already counting the days until Spring.

  18. How do I get through January in particular and winter as a whole? I have been wondering all week how I would. I make an attempt to get organized, reduce clothing in boxes (“to make room for more stuff” as George Carlin had said. Bake ( no real talent but even I can make toll house cookies, and a berry crumble. (Have you discovered frozen berries, they are fabulous and pretty reasonable as far as berry prices go.) I turn m6 heating pad into a foot warmer. This is starting to sound kinda pathetic.

    Best answer (favorite thing anyway), I rediscovered an author named Grace Burrowes and am currently reading the “True Gentlemen” series. Pretty neat to discover series you haven’t read. Much better than trying to patiently wait for an author to create another masterpiece, trying to remember he or she isn’t a machine, and somewhat failing in that realization.

    Stay warm!

  19. I enjoy the snow on the pine trees outside my big window, and try to remember to be grateful it is not so hot my shirt is sticking to me [in summer]. Each season brings joy and has its little sorrows too. This year I will spend a few days visiting a friend who is dying. It is events that depress, not the seasons– at least for me. And yet spring will be here with buds on trees, bulbs blooming and all the new life making me feel like jumping up and down.

  20. January is a dreaded month for me as a teacher. Whatever bits and pieces of the honeymoon that the beginning of the year harbored for both my kids and myself has been beaten down and shredded into the tatters of familiarity and real life. It is not that those tatters are a bad thing, it is that real love between my kids and me have taken root and bloomed, but so have the everyday mundane stresses and arguments that all relationships have. And then they are multiplied by being trapped indoors, perpetually cloudy skies, increasing the rigor of learning, and just plain growing up. The little break we just had is quickly forgotten and daily I have to remind the same little darlings that yes, you have to actually try, and yes, you still can’t eat your boogers. Thank goodness I can come home and escape into a Grace Burrowes book!!!! OK, yes, I have to sneak it in, between the grading, the planning, and the grad school work, as well as my personal child’s needs and that husband thing…

  21. I have a box with my dried wedding bouquet. Almost 20 years later and now I think why do I have it? I think it reminds me of the young me with all my hopes and dreams ahead of me. But I’ve learned life gives us many turns, both good and bad, easy and hard.