What a Decade!

The end of a decade. As we prepare to ring in the new year and the new decade, I find myself looking back over the past ten years. So much has happened in such a short time.

After winning the Ann Peach Award in 2009 and joining Romance Writers of America, I started truly thinking about being a published writer ending the last decade on a creative high.

In January 2010 we lost our home to fire. While this was mind-numbingly devastating it wasn’t the worst that could have happened. It may seem that this decade started with tragedy but with every bad blow we were also given a blessing.

The night after the fire I went with my daughter-in-law to the hospital, it was the last chance she’d have to tour the hospital before our grandson Harley was born. My son, and her husband (at the time) was stationed overseas and trying his best to get home before the birth of his son. We lost nearly everything in that fire, but we walked away with our lives and a few short weeks after, we gained a grandchild.

When I think of all we lost, it’s not the Christmas presents we haven’t replaced that fill me with regret but those items that can never be replaced: the horse whip that belonged to my husband’s grandfather from his time in the wild west show, or the quilt his maternal grandmother made, my baby sister’s baby shoes, my children’s baby books, photo albums and high school annuals.

But both sons who were living with us at the time, are still alive. The youngest whose room was in flames had to leap from his bed to the stairwell, became a firefighter. Our other son has always been someone we could call if we needed anything. The fire was devastating but many blessings came out of it.

We stayed a few months with my parents. It was stressful at the time. I wasn’t sleeping good. I was having nightmares and the added stress of trying to conform to someone else’s schedule made it more difficult. Adding to the stress was the fact that my daughter-in-law wasn’t happy living in such a rural environ with two small children. She was ready to get back to Savannah and her life and friends. I was thankful for the time with my family but there were days I was barely functioning.

Our community were a great asset to us. People brought us clothes, household goods, and money to help us during this time. Moving into our present home that spring was thanks in large part to the physical help of my sister-in-law and her family and to the financial help of our friends, family and community. With each blow there has been a blessing, most times the blessings have outweighed the trauma.

On New Year’s Day 2011, my dad was found dead in his bathroom. The EMTs believed he suffered an aneurism and died suddenly. His death was followed by the birth of our granddaughter Ava. My son calls the day of the funeral, he’s not going to be able to be a pallbearer, he’s on his way to the hospital with his wife. He tried to convince us that as soon as she had the baby, he’d come to the funeral, but I knew my daddy would prefer he stay with his wife and child.

In the spring of 2011, Mom, my youngest son, oldest grandson and myself went to Savannah to visit. We spent a week with my Army son and his family. We explored downtown, Tybee Island and went on a ghost walk. I want to go back again.

Late in the season, we had our first hurricane. It was the first since my daddy died and I insisted my mom come stay with us. It didn’t seem all that bad, it was down to a category one. Hurricane Irene destroyed my parent’s home with flood waters and devastated our community. We had several rescues the night of the hurricane, our niece and her family and a couple of friends. When mom and I went to check on her place I was shocked to see the damage. The tide waters had been pushed ashore through two high tides, flooding even the church which was on the highest piece of land in the community.

My sons came with a generator and began helping us sort through the salvage in Mom’s house. The fire was easier, there was nothing left to sift through. This loss was probably harder than any other because everyone was going through something at this time and there was no one to offer comfort. Everyone was overwhelmed and exhausted.

Just when we’re returning to some sort of normal, later that year, my mother, who was living with us at the time, fell and broke her hip. 2011 was not a very good year for us but we did get a new granddaughter.

2012 Vietnam Homecoming with my father-in-law and started writing articles for the Pamlico News. My first stories were interviews of Vietnam Veterans and their families. I was also able to follow my youngest son around the track for track and field and use my role as reporter to promote my community and special interest. Many of the stories I covered while writing for the paper inspired my fiction.

The next few years were a blur of babies, weddings, separations, divorces and graduations. Blake graduated from Pamlico High School. Dustin got his master’s degree from East Carolina University. Aries graduated from Pamlico Community College. My in-laws, Wayne and Verna’s celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary 2014

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In the past ten years we’ve been blessed with Trinity whose big sister Alijah came along when her mom married into the family. Sophia, followed in close succession by two sisters, Sabrina and Carol to parents Chris and Shannon also married in this decade. Conner whose brother Cody and sister Hailey joined the family just ahead of him, along with their mom Brandi who married my soldier son, Jason, who is now a civilian. We have another Brandy, making three Brandies for one family (my niece Brandy informs me she was the first and our first baby girl), and a Sherry (spelled with an I) but then I do work at the ABC store. What does ten years look like? Well, coming into this decade we had five grandchildren, only one a granddaughter, and at the close of this decade we have 20 grandchildren, standing about half and half. The third Brandy in the family just gave birth to a handsome little boy, Jessie David and he was greeted by big sister Sylvia who is two and half years older but rules the roost. Our youngest son, Blake married Katelynn Scott and they have two boys Elijah and Kaysen.

I met Louise Penny at a book signing in Fearington Village when I went on a girls’ trip with Marni Graff and friends.

Became chairperson for the Pamlico Writers’ Group in 2015.

2016 I had my first stories published in a book, the Pamlico Writers’ Anthology, “A Carolina Christmas,” and had my first book signing.

Published my first book in 2017, “Chrome Pink” and had my first solo book signing.

Went to my first Comicon in 2017. I even dressed up. We had a lot of fun.

In 2018 I published my second book, White Gold and in 2019, I’ve published two books, Titanium Blue and Evergreen Crystals. I’ve also had two novellas published with The New Romance Café anthologies, Love in Bloom and a historical in Kisses and Other Scandalous Pastimes.

Gave my first writer’s talks in 2019 and published my fourth book.

So much more has happened in the past ten years. We’ve lost good friends. Buried friends and husbands of friends, my great aunts and a few cousins. We’ve gained weight, lost weight, turned gray and turned loose. Some of us aren’t as mobile as we were before but those that are left keep marching on. As difficult as the first of this decade was, I still believe it’s been a good one. I miss my dad and friends who have passed on. I mourn them but life goes on and I don’t think they would want us to stop living.

As 2020 peers around the edge of 2019, I’m working on my next novel, Red Steel which is part of the Leeward Files series and a bridge for my new series, The Harrell Family Chronicles. I’ve also had a historical series on the back burner for years I want to start working on. It’s going to be a busy year but I’m looking forward to it. I plan to spend as much time as possible with grandchildren and family, writing and reading good books, and just enjoying each day. Remember we are not guaranteed tomorrow, the past is done, today is a gift that is why it is called the present. Have a happy new year.

May your 2020 be amazing!

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