Today, I’m going to start with one of the highlights of the year, and it has been handwriting letters to readers. I’ve handwritten over 100 letters to readers thus far. Without a doubt, this has been one of the most fulfilling aspects of being an author, for without readers, we are lost. When I published The Letters in the Books in July, I knew I wanted to do a special promotion with an independent bookstore. (If you order through Amazon or B&N, there are no letters inside). As well, since the protagonist of my book, a bookstore owner, handwrites uplifting letters that she slips inside books, I wanted to do the same. Park Books loved the idea of this promo, and it’s been my pleasure to handwrite letters that are tucked inside my own novel for readers to receive. If you can’t get to the store, you can order one through my blog here or via Park Books online.
And that’s why I decided to end the year with a letter to my readers, whether you follow me here on the blog or on social media. Please know that while it’s not handwritten, it is heartfelt. What follows is a recap of 2022.
Exciting Moments of 2022
To start, my son Matthew graduated college! In May, we celebrated his success with Widener University and celebrated his success in navigating college, especially under circumstances of a pandemic. We are very proud of him. He’s working for a cyber security company and is loving it—and is off to a great professional start. As parents, the best thing we can do when raising kids is to raise happy, healthy, and self-sufficient ones. Anthony and I are incredibly proud of his accomplishments.
My daughter, Ellie, had a big year, too. At Towson University, she is making strides in her Mass Communication and Deaf Studies programs (you should see her use her sign language skills—it’s amazing)! She’s also active in her sorority and is on the Fusion Dance team. We were thrilled to see her perform on the stage in April, and she even had a solo performance in the show. From the days of her being in middle school and wondering what to take as an arts class (I said, “Why not try dance? I think you’ll love it!), she has lit up our lives with her love of dancing.
In April, I received the Distinguished Teaching Award from the Eastern Communication Association (ECA); it was such an honor. I’ve been a part of ECA for years and have helped plan conventions, helping my colleague Leeanne Bell McManus as she served in her leadership roles. It’s been a wonderful experience, and I’ll look forward to presenting at the 2023 convention in Baltimore.
In May, we were able to take a trip to the Dominican Republic to celebrate Ellie’s graduation from high school (celebrating late due to the pandemic) and Matt’s graduation from college, as well. We bonded over the seven-day trip to lovely Iberostar Grand Bavaro and loved every minute of it. From taking dance lessons to participating in events on site, dancing in the disco, attending shows, swimming in the pool, enjoying the beach views, and making new friends, it was an absolute dream come true. My kids loved it, and my husband and I enjoyed the time away with them.
As well, in May I decided to step down from my full-time teaching position at Stevenson University. Working at the university since 2000 when I was pregnant with Matthew, I felt it was the right time to step back. Luckily for me, I was asked if I would consider moving into Stevenson University Online part-time to teach undergraduate and graduate courses. Thinking it through, this truly was the happy medium I was looking for in what we call “semi-retirement.” But the funny part is, I’m hardly semi-retired. I have a full plate of things I’m working on—writing for Maryland Road Trips, working on the second edition of our textbook, and working on my novels, in addition to other personal things I’ve wanted to do.
Yucky Moment of 2022
In October, 12 days before our 25th Anniversary trip to Italy, I herniated a disk in my back again. This was no ordinary herniation—it was awful. Our trip had to be cancelled, and I was pretty distraught (as was my husband about cancelling a trip we had planned for years). The herniation caused tremendous sciatic pain, and it was taking forever to heal. Physical therapy was helping a little, but it was a friend’s suggestion to see a chiropractor that made the difference. My chiropractor has helped me heal, and while I’m not perfect, I am WAY better than I was. We are going to reschedule our trip for next year, though we don’t know where we will travel just yet.
Fun Stuff in 2022
Anthony’s job at the Orioles is exciting, and it comes with lovely perks (and is so special to us as we met there!) This year, I attended more games than I have since I worked there back in the dinosaur ages. It was fun to be at the ballpark and be a good fan. As an added bonus, the team was really good and made the season super exciting! We also attended concerts, as the Orioles scheduled post-game concerts this year and a big concert at Camden Yards. Seeing Paul McCartney, The Struts, Flo-Rida, and other bands was exciting. As well, the team lets fans go on the field to stand in front of the stage when the groups perform. Super fun. The Orioles Christmas party was lovely, and I was so happy to be included.
Being invited to be on two podcasts was also a thrill. My colleague, Dr. Heather Harris, invited me on her podcast called It’s a WondHERful World, and my critique partner and fellow author, Sayword Eller, invited me on her podcast called About This Writing Thing.
We also took two short trips to Charlottesville, Virginia, and Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where we enjoyed our time away. In Virginia, seeing the University of Virginia and Monticello were highlights. In Lancaster, just ten days ago, we enjoyed the annual Christmas Show at the American Music Theatre called Home for the Holidays that I felt was on par with the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular, which we have seen many times. While the Lancaster show did not have the Rockettes or camels, it did have an extraordinary amount of Christmas songs and carols, and it kept Jesus in Christmas, which was moving.
This year I published The Letters in the Books in July. It seems to be doing rather well, and I’m so glad to hear from so many people that this book makes them (1) happy, and (2) want to do something for others to lift their spirits. That truly was my intention with the book, and I love knowing I’ve brightened readers’ days with this story.
My former student and illustrator, Adrianna Murphy, agreed to partner with me in the reissuing of my Scrooge story. So, she tackled creating original drawings for the novella From Humbug to Humble. I’m so pleased with the way it turned out, and I even got a call from someone asking what I thought about turning the book into a play. Stay tuned. We’ll see what happens.
I also enjoyed attending events and local book clubs this year, and already have a couple on the docket for 2023. If you read one of my books, I’m happy to attend your meeting and answer any questions I can! Simply contact me at email@example.com to set something up.
Dodging Love: I am in the home stretch of writing Dodging Love, my newest work of historical fiction. Set in the late 1950s, the novel follows two newspaper writers right before the Brooklyn Dodgers leave for Los Angeles, and features a love story, an influential mafia woman, family secrets, and the noxious relationship between two sisters.
An Untitled Christmas Novella: I’ve said it a million times, but inspiration is all around us. After visiting an outdoor train garden in Pasadena, Maryland, I’ve been inspired to write a Christmas novella. I’ll be working on it this year, and hope to have it out by Christmas.
Anna in Tuscany/Anna’s Tuscan Christmas: Additionally, I published a short piece of fiction for Kindle called Anna in Tuscany. Wanting to continue Anna’s story, I’ve decided to write a second story called Anna’s Tuscan Christmas, and will publish them in book form this year.
While there isn’t just one best moment, the most significant one for me has been my return to faith over the last few years, particularly this year. Somewhere along the line, I lost touch with my faith. Understanding it’s the most important aspect of my life and journey has been enlightening. I’m thankful to Walking with Purpose for helping to guide me, for the connections I’ve made, and for all that God has bestowed upon our family. This Christmas, more than ever, I feel incredibly blessed.
My Wish For You
So, readers, you’ve heard what’s been important for me this past year. What have been the most important aspects of 2022 for you? My wish going forward is that you have a wonderful, happy, successful, and fulfilling 2023. And as I like to write in the letters I stick in the books, always remember to be kind, and that small acts of kindness and doing good deeds for others is what life is all about.
Thank you for reading.
Wishing you many blessings and sending much love,