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.

I’m a Pantser, Or How My Characters Tell Me What To Do (Learning to Trust Out Now!)

No, it’s not a football match with oddly named teams…it’s the battle going on between authors. Some of you have probably seen comments or teasing complaints from authors about what they’ve outlined for their WIP (work in progress) and what the characters actually did in the book. Those confident creatures who think they can command a world are planners. They outline and organize and then sit down to write.

Me…I’m nowhere near that logical or organized. I fall into the wonderful group called pantsers. We fly by the seat of our pants with minimal planning and just see where the story takes us. It’s a different kind of confidence, like when you head out for a vacation but have no idea where you might end up. It’s more about the character and the journey and less about how you get there.

But in the pantsing world, we sometimes run into interesting problems, like when your character decides one book won’t be enough and he forces you to reshuffle an entire series. Leon’s very opinionated, if you hadn’t already guessed from seeing him in Destin’s story.

In writing him and figuring out who he is and how he loves, he decided he needed more than one book. So instead of his being the first in a new series where each book is about a different couple, he’s going to get at least two and will be either a duet or trilogy depending on how the second one goes. I’m not holding my breath on him being happy with two, so we’ll see how things go.

Even though it’s not going how I expected, the book came together quickly and they just feel right together. I can’t wait to show you what’s going to happen with my stubborn Leon (who Morgan calls his ostrich Daddy because while Leon behaves like a Daddy, he doesn’t seem to see himself the same way everyone else does) and Morgan, who is a bit shy at first but quickly warms to Leon as he sees how safe and confident Leon makes him feel.

Learning to Love is the first book for Leon and Morgan and is now live. Check out the first chapter if you’re curious.

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Learning to Trust by M.A. Innes - Gay Romance Ebook Cover