Lessons From 2020

I’ve learned a lot this year…more than I thought I would. In January, my only thoughts were about the places I was going to travel to in 2020. I had a fabulous list planned filled with family vacations and tons of reader and author conventions (yay tax write-offs lol)

That all changed fairly quickly.

I got one wonderful trip to England in February for a book convention and then the world shut down. I won’t rehash details we all know too well, but as my kids and I stayed home and stayed home and stayed home, and eventually watched enough YouTube that we decided to get real work done, I learned a few things. (In truly a weird random order…)

1. My kids can watch YouTube for hours and never run out of strange and boring things to get excited about.

2. They do great at school from home as long as Mom is there to yell out “Are you actually working?” a thousand times a day.

3. My daughter can spend hours perfectly entertained by reading me memes from the internet. (I actually think it’s improving her public speaking at this point.)

4. My son has a psychological need to interrupt me a thousand times a day with random facts and questions.

5. We clearly didn’t leave the house nearly often enough before all this because it took forever to get to the point where the kids noticed they hadn’t left the house in months.

6. Their limit for finding summer vacation fun is five months.

7. I am only about half as productive when people are in the house full time.

8. I have the best readers who always keep me entertained and make me feel loved.

9. Murder She Wrote and Murdock Mysteries are the best shows to watch when life is hard.

10. Some people are put in your life to keep you sane and make you happy. (Thank you, Jennifer.)

11. Living in the moment is something I need to work on, but playing ‘what if’ about the future keeps me sane.

12. It took a world-wide pandemic to bring Door Dash to my part of the world and that is just ridiculous. (Yay for delivery.)

13. Cooking three meals a day for weeks at a time kills my soul and makes me a bit insane. (Again, yay for delivery.)

14. I really like my kids. I always knew I loved them and that they were hilarious, but after living with each other day in and day out with no breaks for almost a year, I realized I really like who they are as people.

15. The rest of my family can kiss my ass. (They haven’t been as good as my kids in all this.)

16. Traveling is part of who I am, not just a hobby.

17. My editor is amazing and has the patience of a saint because as often as she’s heard “I’m sorry…I don’t know why I’m late” this year, she’s still sweet and awesome. (Thank you, Courtney.)

18. Pulling back so the only people in my life are ones who are really important to me has made me a happier person.

19. My kids have a kickass principal and we’re in the best place I could’ve imagined for distance learning.

20. If it makes me happy and doesn’t hurt anyone else, then fuck it, that’s what I’m going to do. (This lesson especially applies to grocery shopping and meals.)

21. There’s no use fighting packrat tendences anymore because if we get another zombie apocalypse, the cords in my junk drawer might come in handy. I never thought I’d need a thousand rolls of toilet paper and look how that turned out.

As a single mom, I think the hardest part of this year has been making time for myself. Selfcare looks different for everyone, and this year has made me learn new tools for keeping my stress under control.

It also helped me look at my life with fresh eyes. It reminded me that I have a kick-ass job, hilarious kids who are truly unique individuals, and that I can find the bright side in almost anything as long as we can count irreverent and sometimes inappropriate humor.

I’m not going to do something stupid like hope I learn more lessons like this in 2021 because just no. I’m good with lessons for a while. But for next year, I hope that I remember the lessons I learned this year, and I hope that I can keep the blessings I’ve been given at the forefront of my mind.

You guys have been wonderful this year and I hope you look into 2021 with hope and love. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays no matter how you celebrate this season, and I hope you have a wonderful New Year.

Inspiration for a New Sub

Starting a book for me is always a very random process. I find inspiration in odd things like song lyrics or comments on the radio or bits of conversations I hear when I’m running errands. Sometimes it’s a picture, but not very often. Usually finding a picture that fits my idea of who the characters are comes late in the process. But once in a while, that changes.

A few weeks ago I was browsing through Facebook and I saw a premade cover (a book cover a designer had put together randomly and not for any specific author) and I knew he was one of my guys. But I didn’t know what I was going to do with him.

I had a list of ideas I wanted to write for next year, but I told myself he didn’t fit anything I’d already planned—I was wrong.

I was sitting down at a bakery a few days later, escaping my house for lunch, and I had my notebooks spread out all over the table. As I started to look at one series in particular (my new series around the Bound & Controlled club), I realized that was where my new guy belonged.

The sexy, tattooed cutie with a bit of a piercing smile is going to be a sub in the new series…he just doesn’t know he’s a sub yet.

But I’ve got the perfect Dom in mind for him, and the whole series is going to be fabulous to write because I’ll get to go back and touch base with the fun guys from the original Bound & Controlled series. The first book should be out early next year—February, I think. I can’t wait to show you what I have planned.