A Look Back at The Year That Was…

It’s the last weekend of the year and as I look back on the happenings of 2012, I see plenty of ups and downs. Probably more ups, but a few of the downs were really low.
We started the year in warm and sunny Mexico. At a charming resort, Royal Decameron, in Bucerias, which is near Puerto Vallarta.
1 Pool 6 view from our balcony

298 on our deck

363

387
Our resort is known for its Iguana tree, and we enjoyed several iguana sightings during our stay.23 @ Iguana Tree

137 Iguana tree

336 Iguana @ pool 6
345 Iguana @ pool 6

My youngest son moved to Vancouver in January. He hadn’t been living at home for awhile, but he was always near at hand, so I hadn’t noticed the empty nest quite so much as when he moved to another city several hours away. In April I blogged about adjusting to the empty nest, which you can read here: Adjusting to the Empty Nest

February was an exciting, yet terrifying month. I decided to submit my novel Show No Weakness to a small epublisher, Secret Cravings Publishing, and a week later they offered me a contract. That sparked a flurry of internet activity, setting up a Facebook Author page (https://www.facebook.com/Joyce.M.Holmes), a Twitter account (https://twitter.com/Joyce_Holmes) and this website. I had little experience in these areas so was thankful for the tutelage of my youngest son.

Another exciting event that happened in February was my daughter-in-law’s Call to the Bar. We have a lawyer in the family now and we’re so proud of her.
1202-63 Call to the Bar

March found me busy creating story blurbs and thinking up ideas for cover art. Really new territory for me, but a fun experience.

My middle son received his Engineering Iron Ring in March. The Iron Ring ceremony is an important ritual for graduating engineers and we wished we had been able to share the occasion with him. He has since been hired by an excellent engineering firm and is already a field engineer.
1203-8 Iron Ring Ceremony

In April it thrilled me to find out the original name of my book, Show No Weakness, would be its official title. My struggles with self-promotion continued and I started working on edits. I imagine most authors go through a similar experience working with an editor the first time. Wanting to get it perfect, yet worried whether all the changes are the right ones for the story. And the biggie, trusting ‘your baby’ in the hands of a stranger. Thankfully it all worked out well and my book was stronger for it.
Working with the cover artist was lots of fun and her willingness to find the perfect cover for my story impressed me. I love the final product.

Hubby and I made a trip to Vancouver in April to move the last of our son’s possessions down there. His new Yaletown apartment had a million dollar view and great location, but I worried about the high rent. Once a mother (and worrier) always a mother (and worrier).
5 View from Yaletown
7 View from Yaletown

My dear little dog, Sweetie, had been battling illnesses for quite awhile and I struggled with the knowledge that, at 15, her life was coming to a close. As much as it broke my heart, in May we decided to end her suffering.
1003-2 Sweetie
I blogged about the sad experience here: A Final Heartbreaking Goodbye to a Dear Friend

A funny thing happened that month. My youngest son returned home for an extended visit. After moving to Vancouver to find work, and renting an expensive apartment, his first real job was located here in the Okanagan, working on the movie A Mother’s Nightmare. As well as holding three positions of Director’s Assistant, Camera Operator and Visual Effects Assistant, he also had brief appearances playing two different extras.
2 A Mother's Nightmare
1 A Mother's Nightmare
3 A Mother's Nightmare
5 A Mother's Nightmare
4 A Mother's Nightmare
6 A Mother's Nightmare
So proud of him. Oh, added bonus, he was able to include a picture of our little dogs in a scene at the vets. So my girls are now movie stars.
1205-2 Sweetie & Roxy

We ended the month on a high note with a trip to Atlantic Canada. First to Halifax, NS, for our middle son’s convocation and on to St. John’s, NL, for a visit with him and his wife. It was such a proud moment for me to watch my son cross that stage.
12
We had a whirlwind couple of days sightseeing in Nova Scotia and I realized a long-standing wish when I met a dear computer-friend for the first time. She and her family showed us some genuine maritime hospitality and it was such a delight.
Our week in Newfoundland was crammed full of sightseeing and basking in the pleasure of being with our kids who we see so rarely. We even got to share my son’s birthday with him and had drinks with bergie-bit ice cubes. I did a series of blog posts complete with many pictures, which you can find starting here: Nova Scotia in a Day  Then scroll through the rest using the ‘next’ button.

On June 25th I experienced such a feeling of pride and excitement to have accomplished an incredible milestone with the publication of my book, Show No Weakness.

July continued to be a month of excitement and achievement as I searched out and found my book listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Strand and All Romance eBooks. I got a real thrill out of seeing my book hit the Number One spot on my publisher’s website.
Sweet Cravings No 1

It was also a thrill to set up my own author page on Amazon. That’s actually me, listed on Amazon as an author!!  Amazon Author Page

In July I finally decided to purchase a new computer. I love XP and the version of Word I had on the old computer, but the browser could no longer be updated and I was starting to have too many issues, especially with this website. It was not an easy transition to Windows 7 though. There were so many hiccups along the way, some I’ve managed to sort out, some I continue to struggle with to this day. I had a little rant about it here:  Feeling Frustrated

In August I started a new job. As jobs go, this one’s pretty wonderful. For a few years now I’ve felt under-employed and/or unappreciated at the various part-time jobs I’ve held. My current boss is a joy and he does everything he can to make my work experience positive.
It’s been an adjustment though. Not only for me, but also my hubby and little dog. I’m out of the house all day, every day and I come home tired – every day. I’ve had to scale back my computer time, including time spent on promotion and marketing, and I usually only write on my lunch break at work because I’m too tired to be creative in the evening. But I love my job and at this point in my life, I’m willing to accept the drawbacks.

As much as possible on the weekends throughout the summer, Hubby and I tried to get out and do something fun, mainly boating. We were very fortunate to be able to stretch the boating season into September and for the first time, we took our grandsons out. The four-year-old took to the experience like a natural and even enjoyed ‘helping’ Grandpa drive.
1209-39
The (almost) two-year-old wasn’t quite as sure, but I think the extremely uncomfortable lifejacket played a role.
1208-28

In September, I got the news no one ever wants to hear. One of my sisters had a rare but aggressive form of cancer and she was very sick. She was flown to Vancouver where they immediately started chemo. The poor dear, what she has gone through in the ensuing months. Many of our family have taken a turn staying with her, offering support, doing whatever we can to lighten her load. I visited her in October and was so glad to have that time together. She’s a fighter and she’s going to get through this.

I received my first royalty cheque in October. It only covered the last four days on June, so was almost comically small. I took a good photocopy of it and one day plan to frame it with a photo of my book cover. Show No Weakness also became available in print in October, which was really exciting for me. I quickly ordered some copies in eager anticipation of holding my own book in my hand. So wouldn’t you know it, the shipment was lost and I didn’t receive the replacement batch until the end of November. The wait only made its arrival that much more special.
1211-14 Show No Weakness

My youngest son became a world traveler in December, when his work took him to Europe and Africa for three weeks. As much as I was happy for his opportunity to not only travel to Rome, Paris and Tanzania, but to also get paid for the experience, I have to admit I was quite relieved to have him back on Canadian soil.
1212-7 Tanzania

I received a very special slightly late birthday/slightly early Christmas gift on December 23rd with my first Five Star review on Amazon. Such a lovely and appreciated gesture. You can read it here: Amazon review

Christmas was a very different experience this year and it worried me a little at first. Not only would my youngest two sons not be home, but for the first time, we wouldn’t be hosting anyone. Instead we were invited to our oldest son’s home to share Christmas with them. We had a quiet start to the day, we opened the few gifts under the tree, ate some cinnamon buns as was tradition and then went over to see the grandkids. The day got a little livelier at that point as we exchanged gifts and the little boys showed us all the wondrous presents they’d received.
After lunch we returned home to make some phone calls. First to my son and daughter-in-law in Newfoundland. They’d recently purchased a home in St. John’s and this was their first Christmas alone in their own place. While talking to them, my phone kept beeping with another call from my youngest son. When I told him I’d call him back, he sounded disappointed, and then the doorbell rang. When Hubby answered it, there was our boy on the doorstep. He had arrived in Vancouver on Christmas Eve, after two nine-hour flights and a five-hour flight and his dad had instructed him to not try to drive home alone for Christmas while I tried to contain my disappointment that he wouldn’t be coming. That kid never listens. It truly was such a wonderful Christmas gift! And we finished the day off with a glorious feast at my oldest son’s home. My concerns were for not.
1212-2

I’ve recently finished another book and it’s ready to submit, as soon as I decide where to submit it. And I’ve started brainstorming a new story idea. For those of you who’ve read Show No Weakness, I plan to tell Maggie Lepage’s story. She deserves a good one so I have to come up with the perfect storyline and an even more perfect man for her.

As I write this, our furnace is broken and won’t be repaired for several days. It’s quite chilly in the house. I seem to remember our air conditioner breaking down in the heat of the summer too. I hope the universe isn’t trying to tell me something.

This post has become very long and for those of you who have stuck with me to the end, I applaud your tenacity. And I wish you all a very happy, healthy and prosperous New Year.

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