If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that plans have to be flexible. Over the last few years, my health has prevented me from meeting many of my yearly goals. That has never really bothered me as I tend to aim high and don’t mind if I get distracted by a different project. And clearly, some things like creating audiobooks, large prints, and figuring out Amazon ads haven’t meant very much to me.
I didn’t publish as many books as I had hoped for the year, but I did improve since 2019. In 2019, I only managed to complete two books. That was the year of my MS diagnosis. In 2020, I published Mr. Darcy’s Grieving Wife, Eavesdropping, Mr. Darcy’s Secret Baby, and Lady Darcy’s Bluestocking Club.
I don’t think anyone can say that they accomplished all the goals they made for the year. Covid just threw a wrench in everyone’s plans. However, I doubled how many stories I completed compared with 2019. I moved at the beginning of March, just as things started shutting down for Covid in the US. My kids had 2 days at school before we switched to distance learning, which was a HUGE learning curve for all of us. I had to teach and manage them all day and it continued all summer too. We were finally in a neighborhood with kids their age, and yet they couldn’t go outside and play with them. Things finally turned a corner when they started school again, but then I had to focus on my health again.
My main goal for 2021 is to keep writing. In the final push to finish Lady Darcy’s Bluestocking Club, I sprinted with one of my writer besties, Zoe Burton. I wrote almost 6,000 words in a day on a story that I averaged about 200 words a week on for months. It felt so great to get that many words out.
I’ve been very cautious in 2020 with not extending myself too far and stretching myself too thin. Fatigue and stress can exacerbate MS and fibromyalgia, and that’s the last thing I need right now. When my kids were able to start school in the fall, I started focusing on my health in a few areas that had to get less attention during the first few months of Covid life. I started physical therapy for chronic shoulder pain and saw a chiropractor. I’m now pain-free in that shoulder for the first time since before my son was born (he’s ten!), aside from when I lost all sensation in my big MS attack at the end of 2018.
I lost about 30 pounds in 2020. I have lost and regained about 5-8 pounds of that several times in the last few months. I haven’t been very committed to eating healthy since Halloween. I’m hoping to change that on January 1.
I have done some light exercising. I need to make it more routine.
I started therapy again in September. I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t good enough for anything again. All those old pressures and expectations started crowding in my head. Honestly, it’s just been nice to have an adult to talk with and vent on in a safe and judgment-free place. My therapist has offered some encouragement and gentle reminders of the ground that I’ve already covered. So, not a lot of new breakthroughs, but I’m glad I listened to that inner prompting that I needed to get a handle on it. My depression has had some ups and downs during this due to medication changes, but no where near the levels I’ve faced before.
The biggest change I made in 2020 was focusing on my spiritual health. I guess an international pandemic made me take stock of my faith. It’s been really great and a unifying thing for my whole family. We’re closer than we’ve ever been before and happier than I’ve ever been before (yes, you can be happy and have depression at the same time).
I’m re-committed to taking some time for myself daily and weekly. You know what they say about all work and no play. Well, for me, writing is play. Clearly, it’s also work, but that’s mostly the pressure of a deadline, editing, crafting the story. So, while I still need to worry about all of those things, what I’ve learned in 2020 is that even when I feel pressured by all of that, sometimes I need to just take a load off and write. It can be something completely different and will never see the light of day. Maybe it’s just journaling my thoughts. Dabbling in poetry or song lyrics; writing a prayer. The days when I start with a social media post about my scripture reading and how it applies to my world really are better.
Something about writing and creating is cathartic to my soul. I’m going to listen to that more in 2021. I spent months frozen and incapable of working on projects that I had already started, but feeling guilty if I started anything new. I went months without writing a single word for the first time since 2013. Before this year, even during my worst MS attack, I would write at least a little bit during the week. I can’t let that happen again. It’s just not good for me.
I do have more concrete “plans” for the year, of course.
First, I’m kicking of the year with a new novella series called Matchmakers and Wallflowers. The first book is Matching Pemberley. It’s a gender swap Darcy and Elizabeth story where matchmaking meets wallflowers. The first draft is already completed so it will post quickly on the blog during the editing stage and then publish in February.
I am currently working on the first sequel to The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter. I am officially creating it as a series, “Impertinent Daughters and Headstrong Sons.” It will follow The Gentlemen’s Impertinent Daughter‘s events and canvass Darcy and Elizabeth’s five daughters and three sons. Of course, it will feature other Bennets, Bingleys, Darcys, and more as well!
The first book is titled Angelica, about the eldest of Darcy and Elizabeth’s five daughters–each named after an angel, inspired by little Michael Gardiner from the first book. I usually can’t keep stories to myself for long, so expect to see posts soon.
I also want to write my other planned sequels for my various series. A Sense of Obligation gets a sequel with Domestic Felicity. The Loving Elizabeth Series companion series, Friends and Follies, will launch with Restored, all about the mysterious disappearance and re-emergence of Sam Bennet, Elizabeth’s older and beloved brother, best friend to Darcy.
If there’s any time left over, I plan to finish re-vamping the Sufficient Encouragement series and insert Darcy and Elizabeth into the books covering Richard, Arlington, and Truman. Pride and Prejudice and Prophecies is getting a Christian fantasy re-write. My unfinished original Regency, Tempting Scandal, is going to be re-written as Christian Regency.
On top of all this, I want to continue to work on The Secrets of Donwell Abbey, an Emma variation. This is lowest on the priority level simply because I don’t anticipate a lot of interest.
There was also a scene I shared on here a few years ago called Hidden Hearts. It begins with Darcy and Elizabeth being trapped in a cavern while exploring with others in Hertfordshire. I am unsure how long that one will end up being. I don’t have an outline for it yet, but it’s recently been begging for more.
Oh, and there’s a Christmas story that I’ve wanted to write for the last two years.
Will I complete all of these? Fat chance. Will I finish some of them? I hope so! What order will they come in? Your guess is as good as mine!
I resolve to take 2021 one day at a time, waking each day thankful for a new start, hopeful that I can spread Christ’s love and with praise on my lips. It will be my best year yet–although perhaps not by anything that can be measured in a blog post.
I pray that 2021 brings each of you blessings!