As much as I hope that you all had a wonderful year, and that you’ll have an even better 2019, honestly, I was done with this 365-day period about six months ago. It was a great year in some ways, but mostly, it was the most difficult, emotional, and rotten time of my life.
Here’s a short retelling of an incident that summed up 2018 for me.
P.S. It’s graphic. And involves poop.
To make a long story into a single sentence because this part is all that matters, Dorian (my oldest son/one of my Great Danes) took a diarrhea all over my shoulder… and yeah, if you’re wondering, it dripped all the way down my arm. And then, (and I’ve seriously gained some cred with my friends that are moms), I tried to catch the rest of what his body expelled with my bare hands cupped into a bowl.
Yeah, you read that correctly. I caught Great Dane diarrhea with my hands after he pooped all over me. During the first 30 minutes of a 3-day road trip. Yes, it was as warm, stinky and traumatizing as you might be capable of imagining.
That was my 2018 in a nutshell.
As some of you know, my aunt was very sick, and I haven’t updated over her condition since, but she passed away at the end of August. I can’t even write that without tearing up. She fought as hard as she could from when the cancer was detected in April until August. Two days after losing ten years off my life because Dorian broke his leg, she took the high road. It’s been rough.
Maybe it’s human nature to think that our lives are endless. That we have forever or at least that we constantly have “more time.” But if anything, this year has taught me that we don’t.
The last conversation I had with my aunt before we found out she was sick, just two or three weeks before, she told me she’d had her best birthday ever, and then went on a fifteen-minute rant about how much she loved FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE and how I needed to write her a sequel. She gave me the gift of telling me that she had stopped reading years ago but that my books got her back into reading, and that she was proud of me. I told her I wasn’t sure I’d write a whole Ivan and Jasmine story, but I’d write her at least a few more scenes.
I thought I had time. The book at that point had just been published, and I was sorting out what I wanted to do with the next one. I had a hazy idea what I wanted to do and it wasn’t anything like LUKOV.
I flew back home a week later to see her because we had thought she was going to have a really dangerous surgery to remove the tumor pressing down on her spinal cord, and my aunt—who at seventy-five loved LUKOV, so that should tell you something about her freaking sense of humor—asked me when I was going to finally dedicate a book to her. “It won’t count if I’m dead,” she had laughed even though we knew she was in the worst pain a person could possibly be in, and I promised her that the next book was going to be for her. I promised.
Grief is this weird thing. I’ve heard of other authors going through the same thing I did during the next six months. I was sad and depressed and angry. She wasn’t just my ‘aunt.’ Chris called her my second mom. This was someone I was glued to for the first fifteen years of my life. I ate lunch with her five days a week for five years in my twenties.
(This is just as hard as I thought it would be to write, by the way.)
Anyway, the book (LUNA) kept coming out wrong, and I was trying to make it something that I couldn’t. Something that I wasn’t feeling. But I had to finish it, you know? So I started over again and kept having to push my dates back. And LUNA became something that I wasn’t expecting. Something that I hadn’t planned. This wasn’t the first time something like that had happened. Winnie and DEAR AARON are my testaments to life taking a crap on me and changing my emotions so much that I couldn’t write because I wasn’t the same person I had been before.
I’ve had a few people say that LUNA is darker, that it’s grittier and that they wished I had done something else with it, but that’s all I have/had in me. I worked on it and reworked it until it felt right. It’s my tribute to my aunt even though I’m sure she would have been disappointed that it wasn’t LUKOV 2. She was a Jasmine. Unapologetic, tough, and more of a warlord than anything.
But I think LUNA was like the love I had for this woman whom I stole Harlequin romance novels from. If it wasn’t for her, chances are, I wouldn’t be writing this right now. (And there I go making myself tear up and cry again as I write this.)
I didn’t get to finish LUNA in time for my tia, but it went #1 on all of Amazon the same day it was uploaded, and I know she would have been proud.
2018 gave me so much. FROM LUKOV WITH LOVE hit the top 10 on all of Amazon. I got to go to London and had an amazing, nonstop signing there for seven hours. I did a signing at Nora Roberts’ Inn Boonsboro and that sold out. THE WALL OF WINNIPEG AND ME in Italian (IL INFINITO TRA ME E TE) hit #1 on the Italian charts while I had a wonderful signing there. I went to Denver, Asheville (for the first time) and Orlando for great signings too. And of course, LUNA shot up the Amazon charts like a meteor.
I am so grateful for so much, I really am.
I hope you all go into this new year without regrets. With love in your hearts. With hopes of having the best year ever, or at the very least, a better one than the year before.
I heard in a movie once that time is the only thing we can’t buy. And it’s so true. That was my major lesson that I hope to pass on to you guys. Wishing you all nothing but the best. I need to go work on my boards for my next book now after I wipe my face off. I’ll be back soon with random news about audio books and random stuff. <3