The Romance Reviews

Friday, December 28, 2012

Looking back and looking forward

The year is drawing to a close.  In spite of all the hype, the world as we knew it did not end on December 21st, as many of us claimed it would not.  The best explanation I ever heard for the Mayan calendar was that the guy carving it just ran out of rock.  Perhaps not totally accurate, but funny enough to make me smile about it repeatedly.

The end of the year is a time to take stock, to evaluate, and even to make goals for the coming year.  Looking back on this year, I’m a little bit amazed and even stunned with what I have accomplished and what I have learned this year.

This year saw me learning new skill sets: canning, learning to cook over an open fire (not as easy as the romance novels I write make it out to be), making bread completely from scratch (and I do mean scratch, as I even ground the wheat in a hand grinder), and those skill sets leads to the first of my goals for the new year.  I want to learn to cure a hide and make leather. 

While working on the edits for The Devil’s Own Desperado, I learned that there are times I need to walk away from the manuscript.  When it went “live” on Amazon, I discovered that a review can have me dancing around the house for days, and another could leave me scratching my head in utter confusion.  I also learned to appreciate the good reviews, and take the less than good ones as a learning experience.  It’s true, you cannot please all of the people all of the time. 

I’m still learning this “self-promotion” thing.  It’s time consuming but in the long run, I am certain it will pay off.  That’s my second goal for the year: becoming better at self-promotion and not being embarrassed by bragging about myself.

I promptly began to polish the second manuscript in the series of romances set in the town of Federal, Wyoming Territory and sent it to my editor at The Wild Rose Press.  I’ve learned to have patience, whether or not I want to have such a “virtue.”  Because the second went to my editor so close to the Christmas break, I know I won’t hear anything until after the New Year.  I must keep reminding myself that patience is a virtue…sigh…

I learned that no matter my intentions, NaNoWriMo is NOT a good thing to attempt while teaching a full course load (125 freshmen students).  Because I committed myself to be the best teacher I could be to those students and they trust me to be that good teacher, the manuscript took a definite back seat to my students—as it should have been.  But, once the semester was over, I jumped into that WIP with both feet.  When I’m working on a new manuscript, I immerse myself in the time period, the mores of the day, and even the speech patterns.  (Can I say it drives my DH mad when I do this?)  I rediscovered the joy of historical research, because even though I knew a lot about the American Civil War, it wasn’t detailed enough for the current WIP.  A lot of what I learned about the prisoner of war camps run by both sides was distressing.  Reading about the acts of heroism (on both sides of the Mason/Dixon line, I will add), the acts of self-sacrifice, the sense of honor and chivalry that defined that war, as well as the complete and utter destruction of a whole generation of the best and brightest that both sides had to offer was humbling and uplifting at the same time. 

Appealing to that romantic in me was the history of the famed 1st Kentucky Cavalry, part of the “Orphan Brigade” under General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee.   In a passage of self-discovery, I realized that no matter what I learn about the American Civil War, my heart will always be with the men who donned the grey.  Perhaps it’s the romantic in me who buys into that “Lost Cause” mythos of those men who swore allegiance to the Confederate States of America.  Or perhaps, even though more than a century and a half have passed since the end of the American Civil War, the issue of states’ rights still has not been settled.  Some things never change…

I spent part of the year showing a dog who is near and dear to my heart, Bronze GCh. (Grand Champion) Bandor’s The Wyching Hour.  I love to show Vander.  He makes dog shows fun, because for him it is fun.  He’s the type of dog who believes that life is a party being thrown just for him.  As much as my attitude moves down the lead to him, his attitude creeps up the lead to me.  That’s the way it should be.  We should complement one another. 

I was honored to show a very promising young champion collie—Ch. Cliffstone’s Dreams of Thunder—to an award of merit at the Collie Club of America, while his incredibly proud owner watched.  I don’t know who was more proud of Thunder, me because he can be a “princess” and decided on that day he was a show dog, or Nikki, the young lady that Thunder owns.  Another honor for me this year with the show dogs was to put a championship title on Genny (Moosebrook’s Any Dream Will Do) for her owner, Nancy.  And, I apologize here and now for not adding all of Genny’s performance titles to her name, and she has a very long string of them.  Genny is a very versatile champion. 

I’m looking forward to the new show season and want to wish all of my readers a very blessed and safe New Year.  May 2013 bring you all that your heart desires.

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