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Fresh starts are a good thing

This year has been a study in contradictions.

As far as writing goes, it was a fabulous year. Two books released, my series picked up by Harlequin Suspense, a boatload of author events, a whirlwind summer including two writing conferences. Eventually, the whirlwind settled and I got to take a breath. The breath included the news that my editor was retiring and leaving my publisher (it's a hard adjustment to work with a new editor!), and the following month, my agent died. (RIP Dawn Dowdle. Your chicks miss you.) In addition to these punches to the gut, my youngest kids' father died, which was a torturous journey for them. All to say, my writing mojo vanished somewhere between November and December.

I'm always looking for the lessons of life, and this time I simply heard the nudge to 'be still'. When I'm discouraged or depressed, I tend to overdo - work out more, write more, clean house more...things that make me feel validated. Productive. Valuable. Are you like me? I certainly don't see the value in being still, but often I make the mistake of ignoring the nudges to my detriment. I'll do all the things and then get frustrated when the things don't get the response I desire, so my hard work meant nothing, my expectations weren't realistic, and my timing was off.

I'm learning to persevere through the hard stuff, but also I'm learning to trust.

Maybe that's my word for the

I haven't picked my word yet. I do it every year, but this year I'm late.

I'm okay with that.

It's kind of cool, actually, when I cast worry or fear aside and look at the bigger picture. A new agent is actually a fresh chance for an elevated threshold, and a new editor is an opportunity for a different perspective on my work. I'm learning to let go of the things I have no control over, and cling to the things that are momentary and, good health, an uplifting, transparent conversation, an especially beautiful day. A church service that makes me feel more alive and purposeful. And gratitude. I embrace gratitude, because the alternative makes me and everyone around me miserable!

As I ponder the upcoming year, I realize that all the stories that pour out of me are mostly a product of the hard seasons of my life, and if I hadn't had those hard seasons, or worse...if I'd GIVEN UP during those hard seasons...I wouldn't have the stories. Through all of those years, I refused to sink into the swamp of despair and instead chose to focus on all the good things that were left.

Mostly, anyway.

What a wonderful year it's going to be! I am sure of it. I look forward to a new season, another fresh start (maybe several fresh starts!), a new spurt of optimism and joy if I'm careful to keep my daily appointments in the morning with God, and new releases! I've finished a new manuscript and it's out to beta readers. Soon it'll be all polished and shiny and ready to send out to potential new agents, and book four is halfway there and I will be full of fresh zeal by the time I get back to that manuscript in a week or so.

Wishing all my readers an opportunity to exhale...long and the start of this new year, and enhanced hope and optimism for what is to come! Grab that bag of gratitude, lay aside the heavy weights of fear, doubt, and insecurity, and run with me!


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