Taking stock. It’s what people do at this time of year. We reflect on our accomplishments and what we’ll do next year. I’ve never reviewed my year publicly before, but 2012 was different. It was my first full year as a published author, and I celebrated my sixty-fifth birthday.
One of my goals was to travel to Wisconsin more often, and I achieved this one. I participated in the Fox Cities Book Festival in Appleton in April and signed books at Artstreet in Green Bay in August.
I love spending time in Wisconsin with friends who go back to grade school or high school. As for signings … just like the guidebooks said, authors who aren’t already famous don’t sell many books at signings. More typical was my encounter with a woman who came up to my table outside Bosse’s News & Tobacco at Artstreet. “I grew up here,” I told her. “My book is about my fifty-year friendship with three other Green Bay women. We bonded over our mutual infatuation with the Packers.”
“Oh, I know,” the woman gushed. “I read the description inside the store. That’s such a great idea. I’m so glad you wrote that book!”
“I had a lot of fun writing it,” I responded with a broad smile, wondering how many copies she’d buy. And then my customer simply turned and walked away. “Well!” I said to the author sitting next to me. “I guess she wasn’t THAT glad.”
Although sales haven’t met my inflated expectations, I’m proud of the book I created. Incomplete Passes became a finalist in the 2012 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Midwest Review’s Carl Logan wrote, “With a heady dose of nostalgia and plenty of life’s humor, Incomplete Passes is a strong addition to any coming of age memoir collection.” And baby boomer author/reviewer Lynn Schneider said, “It was flawlessly edited, I did not find one error, which is unusual and welcome.” That last point might not be important to some authors, especially those who are not of Lynn’s and my generation. It is important to me.
I certainly don’t know everything about marketing via social media, but I’ve learned a lot this year. I practically live on Facebook. Twitter accompanies me to Packer games and broadcasts. I’ve taken photos in Wisconsin and posted them on Pinterest, and to my delight, people have repinned them. Triberr and LinkedIn have been great sources for contacts. I’ve made so many new friends this year. I may never meet most of these wonderful Packer fans, reviewers, and fellow authors, but I do regard them as my friends. (I was lucky enough to meet the ladies pictured above–new friends from a Packer-themed Facebook page–on a beautiful day at Lambeau Field.)
I’ve had a chance to do things I haven’t done in decades. I gave a speech at a ladies’ luncheon and was interviewed on WNFL-AM, the Green Bay radio station where I had my first summer job in 1966.
The past year also brought my 65th birthday. I don’t regard that as a stopping point, the way previous generations did. Most of the time, I don’t feel “old.” But I’m using my advanced age as an excuse to turn down tasks or projects I don’t really want to do. I’m streamlining my life, reducing stress, to concentrate on the things I find essential. Although writing and marketing are central, I’m also trying to make more time for my husband of almost forty-four years. I’ve re-invented myself several times in this life, and now I’m doing it again.
So 2012 was an adventure, and I imagine 2013 will be as well. I plan to start drafting another book. When I’m not writing, I volunteer at an animal shelter, and my new idea is to set a novel in a shelter. The purpose will not be to tell sad or inspiring stories about rescued animals; that has already been done. Rather, I’d like to examine the relationships between the people who work at the shelter, many of whom relate better to animals than they do to people. At the same time, I hope to educate people who have no idea of the enormity of the homeless-animal problem.
So, the adventure continues. It’s good to be 65 and still having adventures. I wish you the same.