Category: Holiday (page 1 of 6)

Why New Years Are Special

happy-new-year-1097521_640Happy New Year!

New Year’s Day seems to be one of those holidays that people overlook. Sure, it’s a day off work for many of us, but other than that, it’s pretty much bowl games and hangover cures.

Not for me.

There is no other holiday better suited for wishing a happy one to not just family and friends, but to everyone we meet.

The best part about a new year is that it applies to everyone. It’s not a religious holiday. It’s not even a national holiday. This is the only holiday that every single person in the world marks. It’s the best time of year to focus on our similarities rather than our differences. And couldn’t we all benefit from more things that bring us together rather than divide us?

Pepperoni and onions in sauce. Photo via B. Smith.

For my family, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are marked with tradition. We attend a vigil mass for the Solemnity of Mary on New Year’s Eve, followed by pepperoni sandwiches (thick cut pepperoni and sliced onions slowly simmered in tomato sauce until the onions are tender and the onions and meat have flavored the sauce) for dinner. When my kids were young, the pepperoni was a bit spicy for them, so we added hotdogs to the tradition. At midnight, after a toast with Asti Spumante (and several phone calls to family) we eat bagna cauda (tuna and anchovies simmered in olive oil and butter… with copious amounts of garlic) with bread and veggies. After a late night, we get up and tear down all the Christmas decorations. (Yes, I know it’s still the Christmas season in the church, but that’s what we do.) Then we watch football until the traditional dinner of pork roast in sauerkraut, mashed potatoes, green beans, and applesauce. Again we toast in the new year, and then we wind down with Christmas cookies, tiramisu, and coffee. Any cookies left will become a cookie torte the next day.

Tradition is so important to us.

beach

Not tradition, but not a bad way to spend a holiday, either.

And this year we barely managed half of what we usually do. We were just coming back from a week at the beach (also not part of our usual tradition, but it was my in-laws’ 50th anniversary, so we took the party south), and the drive took a lot out of us. Bagna cauda and undecorating didn’t happen until the 2nd. Tiramisu and torte didn’t happen at all. And I fell asleep during football, so I guess that was a wash, too.

But that’s okay.

The most important part of tradition isn’t what the activity is, but who you do the activity with.

We weren’t with extended family this year. Haven’t been for several years, actually, as we just live too far away now and school and work resume right after the holiday. But we were with each other. And while our activities shifted or just didn’t happen at all, we were together. And that’s what matters most.

So if you know me, you know family time is important to me. And if you know my writing, you know family and tradition are important to my characters. Out and About just released in December, with more family drama for the Kellers. Book three of the series is already in process. Mind Control will be coming out a few months from now, with more Italian tradition from the Notaros and the Brotherhood. I’m so excited about both of these series, and I hope you are, too. I’m pretty sure the Kellers enjoyed a cocktail party with a few close friends and the Notaros and the Brotherhood definitely had pepperoni sandwiches and bagna cauda. Now they are all ready to see what 2016 will bring.

I’m ready, too. I’m looking forward to all the possibilities 2016 offers. So, I’m happy to wish you all—heck, I’m wishing the entire world—a happy, healthy, peaceful, and prosperous new year.

Do you have any expectations for 2016? Let’s talk about it below.

Christmas Romance… And a Cat, Too!

If you know me at all, you know I love to help support fellow writers. And if you’re a frequent reader of mine, you’ll recognize this name. I’m pleased to invite back to my site Mae Clair. She’s here to talk to us about her new Christmas-themed release. Take it away, Mae!

Cats, Christmas, and Romance by Mae Clair

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is looming just around the corner. I have no complaints though, because Christmas is my favorite holiday. Not only do I enjoy December 25th and Christmas Eve, but I love the entire month of December. It’s like one long holiday with all the merriment, festivities, and spirit of goodwill that leads up to that very special day. I’m a Christmas sap.

So it stands to reason I’d eventually get around to writing a Christmas story.

Those who know me also know there are two things (other than writing) I’m passionate about: folklore and cats. When it came time to dream up a Christmas story, I decided to weave both elements into the tale. The result is FOOD FOR POE, a short Christmas novella that is also a tale of sweet romance, twined with the paranormal, and even a wee smidgen of horror (just a smidge, I promise!).

Take a look:

BLURB:
When a blizzard strands Quinn Easterly at a handsome stranger’s house on Christmas Eve, she doesn’t realize her newly adopted cat, Poe, is the catalyst responsible for bringing them together.

Breck Lansing gave up on relationships after his wife, unable to cope with their daughter’s illness, left him. But the pretty blonde he rescues from a snowstorm has him rethinking his stance—especially when Quinn’s arrival coincides with a dramatic change in Sophie’s health.

Unfortunately, that change also attracts something only whispered about in folklore. Together, Quinn and Breck must defeat a sinister creature intent on claiming the ultimate payment.

Warning: A clever black cat, Christmas magic and paranormal trouble

~ooOOoo~

I’m happy to announce that FOOD FOR POE has just released. YAY! In celebration of the holidays, you can grab a copy for $.99 at Amazon. If you don’t have a Kindle, you can download a FREE Kindle Reading App for your PC, MAC, iPad, iPhone, Android or tablet here. Cats and Christmas. What could be better? 🙂

Merry Pre-Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Mae Clair Bio
Mae Clair
Mae Clair opened a Pandora’s Box of characters when she was a child and never looked back.  Her father, an artist who tinkered with writing, encouraged her to create make-believe worlds by spinning tales of far-off places on summer nights beneath the stars.

Mae loves creating character-driven fiction in settings that vary from contemporary to mythical. Wherever her pen takes her, she flavors her stories with mystery and romance. Married to her high school sweetheart, she lives in Pennsylvania and is passionate about cryptozoology, old photographs, a good Maine lobster tail and cats.

Discover more about Mae on her website and blog at MaeClair.net
Sign up for Mae’s newsletter here

You can find Mae Clair at the following haunts:

Website | Blog | Twitter (@MaeClair1) | Google+ | Facebook Author Page | Amazon Author Page | Kensington Books Author Page | Goodreads | Pinterest | Newsletter Sign-Up

Purchase FOOD FOR POE from Amazon

Thanksgiving Gratitude

thanksgivingSometimes we forget to appreciate our blessings—big or little. At least until November rolls around. Then it’s not just about that Thursday at the end of the month, but rather every day is spent in gratitude for something.

thanksgivingThanksgiving used to be a one-day commemoration of Native Americans and Pilgrims sharing the fruits of the harvest season. Now, though, for many of us, it’s grown into a month-long celebration of the things we’re grateful for.

I count my blessings every day, but I don’t often share them aloud. Particularly with respect to my vocation. So right now, I’m going to tell you some of the things I’m most grateful for professionally.

  • Mystery Heir AudibleOne of my publishers surprised me. They took my novel and had it converted to an audio book. Mystery Heir is now available on Audible.com, and I’m full of gratitude that they had such faith in the story to convert it.
  • CrimsonDirt-FinalA talented group of authors invited me to join them in writing anthologies. Crimson Dirt was a collection of chilling shorts that released in time for the Halloween season. It included my prequel to the Whispers series, “Malevolent Whispers,” and it made the top-sellers list on Amazon. This group has asked me back to participate in a Christmas anthology (details of which are forthcoming). I’m so appreciative of all of them, and so glad to be a part of their group.
  • Another of my publishers is set to release the second installment of the Cathedral Lake series. Out and About is Jensen’s story, and it will be available soon. I’m grateful to Oghma Creative Media’s CEO and staff for making this possible.

So yes, things are going well for me. And I’m truly grateful. Most especially, though, I’m grateful to my fans who have supported me and encouraged me, who have reviewed my work and requested more. For you, I’m eternally thankful.

IMG_2244All that said, it is time for another installment of fiction. (All installments can be found on the Freebies page.) This First Friday Fiction Feature (#FFFF) is all about Thanksgiving, and I could think of no better way to pay homage to the holiday than by writing something in the spirit of the iconic “Over the River” by Lydia Maria Child. So, without further ado, my tribute, with a Western Pennsylvanian flair…

Over the Bridge and Through the ‘Burgh

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
To our parents’ house we go
A breathtaking view for a moment or two
Of the city sprawled out below

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
For turkey and pumpkin pie
There’s way too much food even for this large brood
Even after the cousins drop by

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
The football games have begun
Dessert by the TV, many cups of coffee
We’re all laughing and having fun

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
Now it’s our time to play
The food’s set aside, we all go outside
For the family football game

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
The weather’s growing cold
Our cheeks are flushed, the adults’ team got crushed
We go inside feeling sore and old

Over the bridge and through the ’Burgh
It’s no longer time to play
By the fire we rest, this was by far the best
Celebration of Thanksgiving Day


So, this November, keep in mind the things you’re grateful for, and remember to share your appreciation—not just this month, but all year long.

Do you have someone you’d like to single out? Tell us who and why you appreciate them.

Fireworks Aren’t Always in the Sky

Here’s a short story starring Franki and Gianni. This takes place after the end of Bleeding Heart. (Part way through Mind Controlactually, although this won’t be found in that book.) I hope you enjoy it.


Fireworks Aren’t Always in the Sky

villa lanteFranki stood on the travertine-tiled patio and rubbed her arms against the night chill. Weather in Florence, Italy reminded her of weather at home in Pennsylvania—nearly ninety degrees (Fahrenheit) during the day and low sixties at night, but for some reason, that evening’s breeze blew exceptionally brisk. Unprepared for the cool wind, she’d stepped outside in a tank and shorts. And regretted it immediately.

But the view captivated her, so she stayed and braced herself against the cool air.

The Brotherhood’s home in Pennsylvania was beautiful. Their compound in New York was gorgeous. But their complex in Florence? It simply stole her breath. And she and her sisters knew quality properties. They’d been raised in the construction and design industries, and since the death of her father, were the owners of one of the most prestigious building and design firms in Pittsburgh.

It didn’t take her construction knowledge to know she stood on private property overlooking one of Italy’s most beautiful—and non-touristy—creations. The house behind her rivaled any palace or basilica she’d toured in her first visit to the country. The grounds, however, captured her interest at the moment. The hedge mazes and topiary created shadow-play on the paths as marble statuary gleamed a luminescent hue of white and water in the grottos sparkled from moonlight, star shine, and discrete lighting fixtures. The burbling fountains composed an organic melody, harmonizing with the chirping crickets.

Gianni walked up behind her and wrapped his arms around her. The warmth she felt from his arms over hers and his torso against her back spread through her body.

And caused her to shiver all over again.

“Cold?” he asked. “It’s a beautiful night.”

She smiled and leaned back against him, not revealing what caused her latest shiver. “The wind just gave me a chill. It is a beautiful night, though.”

“The glow flies are out. June’s nearly over.”

She tipped her head up and looked at him. “Glow flies?”

nighttime gardensHe nodded toward the hedge maze. “Glow flies. Those little floating blinking lights in the garden. You have them in the States.”

A chuckle escaped her. “Yes, we do. But we call them fireflies. Or lightning bugs.”

He kissed her neck and said, “Hmm.” The vibrations from his lips on her skin gave her another shiver. “I don’t like the sound of lightning bugs.” He nuzzled her neck. “Fireflies is kind of nice, though.”

“I think I like glow flies. And I love it when our cultures merge.”

He kissed her neck again. “Mmm. Me, too. I love it when we merge even more.”

Franki giggled. “I love it here. But I wish we were home for the festivities next week.”

His lips grazed against her shoulder. “Festivities?”

She sighed. “The Fourth of July.”

Gianni didn’t answer. He continued pressing his lips on her arms, her shoulder blades. The nape of her neck.

She shuddered again. “Independence Day?”

“I know what it is,” he murmured. “I just didn’t realize it was next week.”

“The food, the fireworks, the festival… music and dancing and seeing the whole town come out to celebrate.” She sighed. “I love that. I’m going to miss it.”

“Let me see if I can take your mind off it, then.”

He led her inside, and she saw fireworks that night.

*    *    *

They continued their work for the next week, and Franki tried not to fixate on missing yet another hometown comfort. She was pleasantly surprised when, on July 4, Gianni and Donni threw together a picnic that would rival any festival back home.

fried doughPlatters of pasta salads, grilled vegetables, and antipastos sat on the table between pulled pork, sausages, burgers, and dogs… all with fresh-baked rolls to put them in. Trays of grilled chicken and barbecued ribs nearly overflowed. Two huge bowls held fresh cut fruit, and sugar-dusted mounds of fried dough sat ready to be topped with gelato, fruit compotes, chopped nuts, homemade hot fudge and salted-caramel sauces, and vanilla-flavored whipped cream.

Why those two idiots loved to work in the kitchen, Franki would never understand. And she’d never complain. Everything was delicious.

After dinner, everyone took drinks out to the patio and settled down to digest their food. Franki sipped on coffee laced with Frangelico. The twins had glasses of Galliano. Jo and Vinnie had beer. The other guys had wine. She’d be content to taste everyone’s drinks, and after feeling comfortably fuzzy from the liquor, slip off to bed.

She sighed.

“What’s the matter?” Gianni asked.

“Nothing,” she said.

“Franki, you’re a lousy liar. What’s wrong?”

“I don’t want to sound ungrateful.”

He waited, staring at her. The others had broken into pairs and talked quietly to each other. She turned toward Gianni, took his hand, and squeezed it. “You worked so hard today. Everything was wonderful. Delicious. I couldn’t ask for more.”

“But you want more?” he said.

“I just miss the fireworks. Despite the perfect picnic, it just doesn’t feel like the Fourth without fireworks.”

“I see.” He fumbled with something in his pocket.

“When I was little, I used to call them ‘a glittery extravaganza in the sky.’”

“Big words.” He sent a text and then looked at her. “How little?”

“I don’t know. Papa teased me about it for years, though.”

“It’s cute.”

“I guess he thought so, anyway.” She looked away from him, out over the gardens. Talking about her recently-deceased father still made her sad.

“Would fireworks tonight make you happy?”

Why dwell on something she couldn’t have. “I’m happy now, Gianni. Really.”

“So, I should cancel tonight’s festivities?”

She so loved his ‘festivities.’ She’d never say no to that. He’d provide her with her own personal fireworks, and that would be an excellent cap to the evening.

“Do you want to go upstairs now?” she asked.

He laughed and shook his head. “You and your one-track mind.”

She looked at him and raised her eyebrow. They didn’t have a language barrier, but every now and then, he confused her. “What are you talking about?”

Gianni sent a final text, then he nodded toward the gardens. “Watch.”

Italy_fireworksShe heard a faint whistle, then the sky exploded into sparkling embers of violet and gold. A loud boom echoed over the gardens, so loud she felt the air shake with the strength of it.

Fireworks.

Spinning toward Gianni, she flung her arms around him and planted a firm kiss on his lips.

He laughed and pulled away. “Turn around, cara. I don’t want you to miss the show.”

She leaned against his chest and watched as the sky sparkled with explosion after explosion of colorful mortars. The finale rivaled any she’d ever seen before.

Franki turned and wrapped her arms around him, and this time he didn’t turn her away. “You did all this for me?”

“Well, I am a joint citizen…”

She kissed him.

“I just want to make you happy, Franki. Always.”

She held him tight, head pressed against his chest. She felt the heat of his body, heard his heartbeat through the thick silence the end of the show left behind.

She pulled away and looked at him. “How about one more show?”

He frowned. “I think they set everything off, cara. I could call and—”

Franki put her finger over his lips, stopping him from continuing. She shook her head and smiled. “I mean the kind of festivities I thought you meant earlier. A private show.”

He stood, pulled her to her feet, and addressed everyone sitting outside. “Donni and I cooked. The rest of you are on dishes. Goodnight.”

They didn’t wait for an answer. He swept Franki off her feet and carried her upstairs for the second finale of the night.

Do You Take Time to Rest and Recharge?

Things aren't this bad. Yet.

Chores. Ugh. At least things aren’t this bad. Yet.

I spend a lot of time working. A LOT. Much more than my family would like. I work more than 40 hours a week, and then I still find time to turn around and work on my fiction. And then there’s social media… I love talking with all of you. My family doesn’t always appreciate that, though. And my household chore list is woefully long because of my hours. But I digress…

After all that computer time, the eyes get tired, the body gets sore, and the mind gets muddled. At least, that’s what happens to me. And after several months of that? I’m pretty useless to anyone.

At work or at home.

Surf and sun... all to ourselves. Gorgeous!

Surf and sun… all to ourselves. Gorgeous!

That’s why I jumped at the chance to vacation at a private beach. Two weeks, surf and sand and silence. Lovely!

I didn’t expect to have no Internet or cell service, though. I admit, that gave me anxiety for a while. But then I embraced the concept. It was like my childhood again. I wasn’t attached to any tech. It was liberating.

Yeah, my kids didn’t necessarily agree, but I needed the downtime. The sunny days, the lull of the waves… how could anyone not love that? (tweet the thought if you agree)

Then Tropical Storm Bill hit. We lost power. We lost beach days. But we still had fun. Card games, jigsaw puzzles, old stories… It was wonderful. And yes, I think even the kids enjoyed it.

And then I came home, where I found over 4,000 emails had backed up, my company had reorganized, and my work had piled up. And the anxiety came right back.

But I was able to better deal with it. Because I had rested, recharged, refocused.

I’d go back to my private paradise in a heartbeat. But I’m glad to be home. Back in the familiar. Back with my characters. Back with you.

medici protectorateMy novel Bleeding Heart will be coming out soon. And now I’m around to actually talk about it, so that’s exciting. Visit often; I’d love to talk about it with you.

What about you? What do you do to recharge? Do you have a favorite activity? Or a favorite place to visit? Tell me about it.

In the meantime, if you can’t get to the beach, maybe you’ll enjoy a few pictures from my trip.

Casey loved to jump the waves.

Casey loved to jump the waves.

Sammi reenacting a photo from her infant-days.

Seth and his dad posing for a picture like Corey had taken with his dad years ago.

Max had a blast... until he swam out too far and got frightened. But he rebounded soon and got back in.

Max had a blast… until he swam out too far and got frightened. But he rebounded soon and got back in.

After the storm passed, this was my view.

After the storm passed, this was our view.

15 Valentine’s Day Tips, 5 for Each Situation (Infographic)

valentine staciIf you know anything about me, you know that I’m all about relationships. In my fiction, I write about all kinds: healthy ones, dysfunctional ones, romantic/familial/friend ones. To me, fiction doesn’t work unless you have strong characters and passionate bonds between them.

You’d think that would lead to a mushy post about love and Valentine’s Day, but to be honest, I’m not a huge Valentine’s Day fan. My husband and I give trinkets to our kids, and I usually bake a heart-shaped cake (a tradition passed down from my mother), but I think love should be expressed every day, not just on the day a greeting card company designates.

So, to that end, this year’s Valentine’s Day post is a simple infographic. Five tips for people in a committed relationship, five tips for single people who are happy to be single, and five tips for people who have recently endured a breakup. Just little suggestions for how to spend the “holiday” that many people stress over.

What should I give him?

What should we do?

Where can I go?

How will I get through the day?

The answers follow.

Valentine's DaySo, writers—Keep writing those relationships into your stories; play with the dynamics and really work your character arcs.

And everyone—Regardless of your relationship status and your feelings about the holiday, I wish you the happiest Valentine’s Day.

Birthdays and Growth

happy birthdayI make a big deal of birthdays. Well, let me be clear. I make a big deal of other people’s birthdays. Today, one of my dearest friends (whom I’ve known since 7th grade) is celebrating her birthday.

Happiest Birthday, Amy!

I remember birthday parties and sleepovers at her house. Going to the movies, school dances, football games. We’re still friends today because we have a lot of history. (And because she’s nice. Can’t discount that!)

I’m at a point in my life where my birthday seems like just another day. My kids are older, my husband and I work, I don’t live in my hometown. Nothing special happens on my birthday. It’s just a day.

Amy, on the other hand, has one grown child but two new ones. She’s experiencing the wonder of life all over again. She sees first hand why not only birthdays, but all days, are adventures.

See, when we get older, we take the little things for granted. We work so hard for the big things, we barely appreciate them when we get them.

Life seems tedious to adults who rise, work, sleep, and do it all again the next day. But it doesn’t have to be that way. (tweet that)

It shouldn’t be that way.

When was the last time you stopped and smelled the roses? I don’t mean metaphorically. I mean literally. When did you last enjoy a blooming flower, the smell of a rain shower, the wonder of a single flake of snow?

The world is precious, and it’s marvelous, and it’s here for us to appreciate, enjoy, savor. (tweet that)

Maybe we should all celebrate birthdays—all days—with the same unabashed joy children do.

For Writers:
I’m working on book 2 of my romance series. The female protagonist celebrates her birthday near the end of the novel. She has spent years avoiding such attention, but her hero convinces her otherwise. It’s a touching scene, because her character has grown and changed so much to get to that point. (It’s also a steamy scene, romance lovers, but that’s fodder for another post 😉 …) Do you have a character who needs momentum? Consider writing about his or her birthday. How old is the character? How has his background shaped him to view his birthday, his life? How would he respond to a surprise bash with 100 people? An intimate celebration with his significant other? A birthday could be an excellent vehicle for character development.

For Everyone:
A birthday is a holiday that everyone will celebrate over the course of the year. Do you like your birthday? Love it? Dread it? What are some birthday traditions you have? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

And happiest birthday, Amy! I hope it’s the best yet. (I had a great picture of us to post, but I can’t find it. Sorry!)

The Importance of Down-Days

down-daysI remember when I was young; stores and restaurants remained closed on holidays and Sundays. I don’t know if it was our local government ordinances (I come from a small town in Pennsylvania), if it was the owners wanting time with their families (and expecting us to want time with ours), if it was a religious matter (I don’t think anyone in our town celebrated the Sabbath on a Saturday), or if it was merely a matter of habit.

But somewhere, sometime, for some reason along the way, commerce encroached on our Sundays and holidays.

Now, I admit, I am guilty of taking advantage of this change. My family often goes out for brunch after Mass. I often shop on Sundays, because there are things we need and we’re passing the store, anyway. Laundry needs to get done sometime.

But losing these rest days, those down-days, is detrimental to us. On many levels. (Tweet this.)

  • It takes time away from family.
    People are far busier now than when I was young. Kids have sports and clubs and travel teams. Adults work longer hours and more days. Housework needs to get done at some point. But when we fill our rest days with mundane tasks and club events, we separate our family unit. We need that time together. It strengthens the family bond. When I was young, we visited my grandparents every Sunday evening. Not just my family; my aunt, uncle, and cousins, too. That’s why not just immediate families, but extended families as well, used to be much closer. It was the time spent together. We should all use our “down-days” to make time to strengthen these familial bonds.
  • It prevents us from recharging our batteries.
    Working more than a forty-hour week. More homework than in years gone by. Traveling several hours for a tournament. These things take their toll. The human body needs rest to function properly. The human mind needs downtime to prevent memory loss. The human spirit needs a break from the bustle of daily life to stay healthy. Without a “down-day,” we court trouble for later on.
  • It takes focus away from what’s truly important.
    For some people, explaining this is as simple as saying: Keep Holy the Sabbath Day. But not everyone belongs to a religion with this mandate; some people don’t belong to a religious group at all. Having one day a week to focus on what is most important in our lives is so important. It takes away from the drudgery of everyday obligations and reminds us of our priorities. We don’t (or shouldn’t) work to make money. We should work to care for our loved ones. What’s the point of working to support our loved ones if we’re never with them? It’s time we take those “down-days” back and spend that time doing things that truly matter.

How do we do this?

Plan.

Sure, it’s convenient to run errands on our down-days. But if we change our priorities just a little, we can have that one day to ourselves.

  • Do one load of laundry a night instead of waiting to do it all in one day.
  • Stop at the store on the way home from work one evening.
  • Make extra food during the week or utilize leftovers so you aren’t out at a restaurant or in the kitchen all day on your down-day.

A little forethought and planning will give us the time we need at the end of the week for the things that are most important (and the things we’ve neglected the most).

For Writers
Do you have a character who is always working? Give him one rest day and see what happens to him. Or, if you have one who makes use of his down-days, take them away and watch what happens. These down-days are essential for physical, mental, and emotional health. Adding or removing them can add tension, conflict, and drama to a character that is falling flat.

For Everyone
This is a three-day weekend for many of us here in the United States. It gives us the opportunity to group two or more down-days together, to really make the most of our time off. Are you going to use the time wisely or waste it away? Let’s discuss how you spend your down-days, or whether you even have any. I’d love to hear your ideas.

Why You Shouldn’t Make a New Year’s Resolution

2015 new yearHappy New Year, everyone. I hope your 2015 is off to a happy, healthy, and productive start.

My last post was in December and was kind of a State of the Union address. Well, the part of the address that states where I’d been and what I’d accomplished. The part of the address that talks about where I’m going and what my new goals are should likely be today. It would include the ubiquitous New Year’s Resolutions.

This may come as a surprise to you, but I’m not making any this year. And I don’t think you should, either.

I’m not trying to tell you what to do. If you do/did make any resolutions, I really hope you hit your goals. But I’m going to tell you why I didn’t, and why I probably won’t ever again.

See, people have a fascination with beginnings. We have a tendency to wait until Monday (the beginning of the week) to start anything new. And if it doesn’t work out on Wednesday, we scrap the whole plan until Monday rolls around again. Starting over on Monday, again and again, is defeating on several levels.

  1. It gives us a crutch to rely on.
    If we know we have another beginning coming up, we can scrap our resolution and wait until the next beginning.
  2. It gives the bad habit more of a foothold in our lives.
    Instead of getting right back to our resolution when we falter, we wait until Monday. That just means the behavior we’re trying to modify gets several more days in our lives—instead of just one moment of weakness—and gets more of a hold over us. It also causes more damage to us, because we have those negative effects working on us instead of being immediately suppressed.
  3. Experiencing several defeats makes us fail at other things.
    When we try and fail several times, on some level we start to believe we aren’t ever going to be able to meet our goals. Failing at this one endeavor could cause us to fail on other levels, simply because we’ve taught ourselves that we don’t have what it takes to follow through.
  4. Not following through breaks our spirits.
    Not only do we teach ourselves to fail at other things, we get frustrated and depressed. We can’t understand why we aren’t able to reach our goals, and because of the failure, our opinions of ourselves plummet.

Mondays aren’t the only beginning, though. The new year is the biggest beginning we have. All of our goals are magnified. And so are our failures.

This problem is compounded when we make not just one resolution, but several. (Click to Tweet this idea.)

The new year is our Big Beginning. We spend the end of December evaluating our lives, and we always find things we aren’t happy with. Things we want to change:

  • weight (diet, exercise)
  • health (quit smoking, drinking)
  • appearance (complete image overhaul)
  • employment (get promotion, find new job)
  • home (redecorate, move)
  • car (upgrade for luxury features)
  • future prospects (continue education, save more money, decrease debt)
  • downtime (cut TV, enjoy weekends, relax, vacation)
  • charity (volunteer, donate)

In addition to the problems listed above, the evaluations of our lives lead us to not want to take on one of these issues, but several. If we struggle to initiate a single change on any random Monday, how can we ever hope to make multiple—huge—changes in January? It’s already a difficult time of year. We’re just coming off a holiday season, and our barren rooms without decorations seem stark and sad. We’re entering a stretch of weeks where we have no holiday breaks to look forward to. And (at least in this part of the world) we have nothing but short bleak days, long dark nights, and bitter winter weather to deal with. This is the worst time to try to make any change, let alone many changes… many BIG changes.

Finally, it should be noted that change shouldn’t be dependent on the day of the week or the time of the year.

If we need to make a change, we should do it. Anytime. Not because it’s Monday or January, but because we want to be better people. We’re far more likely to reach a goal if we are motivated by desire rather than time. (Click to Tweet this idea.)

So maybe I shouldn’t tell you not to make any resolutions. Maybe, instead, I should tell you to make them for the right reasons. And if you slip up, don’t wait for a predetermined beginning to start over. Make your own beginning. Right away.

For Writers:
Do you have any resolutions for writing this year? Complete a novel? Get a publishing contract? I wish you the best of luck. If you have any suggestions or progress you’d like to share, I’d love to hear from you.

For Everyone:
If you made a resolution, I wish you all the best. If you want to talk about it, leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

2014 — A Year in Review and a Wish for You

year in accountThis time of year, we can’t help but reflect on what we’ve accomplished. That introspection can give us a sense of great accomplishment. It might result in disappointment. I wish the former for all of you.

As for me, this year seems a roller coaster of emotions.

My kids had some injuries to work through during their sports’ seasons. But both have recovered and are in better shape than they were before their injuries.

We don’t get to see family very often; we’re too far away. But when we do get to visit, we’ve learned to really appreciate our time together.

We lost some dear family members, and others aren’t doing very well. But we have a wonderful new in-law (my niece got married) and there are two new babies in our family (my brother-in-law and my nephew each have a baby girl now… so I’m now a great-aunt in both senses of the word).

Some of my friends and I drifted apart. But I made some wonderful new ones, both in person and online.

I parted ways with my agent. But I landed a multi-book contract with an independent press, and one of my novels will be out later this month.

I stopped working at the publishing house where I edited. But I took a job as a marketing director with a fabulous new publisher, and I’m having a blast.

I’m finding less time to write. But I’m writing faster and smarter.

My husband? Solid as a rock. So I guess all things being equal, he puts me one ahead in the “good things” column.

Yes, it’s been a year of ups and downs. But we all have them. I hope as you look back over your year, you find you have more items in your “good things” column than in the “bad things” column.

Thank you for taking a little time each week to read my posts, maybe even chat with me afterward. Your support means more to me than you’ll ever know. Enjoy your holidays, and I’ll see you in 2015!

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