2016: A Year in Review

I’ve seen a lot of posts today with people sharing 16 things that went well/made them appreciate 2016. My first thought was, Wow, 16 things is a lot, especially when the year has ended with so much negativity. Do I have 16 significant life events to discuss that will make me appreciate this past year? My second thought was, Shit,  I haven’t blogged since sometime in 2015. Do I really want to start back up now? 

The answer to the first question is YES. No matter what challenges I faced in 2016, personal or otherwise, I am, without a doubt, always grateful for another year on this planet. Another year with my kids. Another year getting to write romance. And when I went back through my camera roll on my phone, I found tons of evidence for what made this past year a good one for me. The answer to the second question…about blogging…I’m not so sure. Let’s maybe start with baby steps with more pictures than words. With that, I give you my sometimes writing related/sometimes not look back at the highlights of 2016.

1. The end of 2015 gave us The Force Awakens, and from there the Twitter handle of @VeryLonleyLuke was born. Literally a great start to 2016.vll

2. A fun first! I was part of a self-published anthology of NA stories that took place in the 80s, and for this I wrote my first novella inspired by The Stone Roses’ 1989 song, “She Bangs the Drums.”80s

3. I binged Hart of Dixie on Netflix and regret NOTHING. #teamwade


4. My good friend and fellow author, Lia Riley, turned me on to Liane Moriarty’s books. Not only are her stories compelling reads, but she writes women so brilliantly. I’m hoping some of this brilliance rubs off on me. bll

5. I published three of four books in my contemporary romance series, the Kingston Ale House series, starting with The One That Got Away. I loved getting to work on these four books with my amazing editor, Karen Grove, at Entangled Publishing.

6. I got asked to present at Writers Week, an amazing event at the school where I used to work, and was honored to share some program space with some pretty impressive names.

7. I really felt like I made it when I was asked to sign someone’s arm at another school visit.

8. This pic of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was saved on my camera roll (originally from Details magazine). Definitely a 2016 highlight.

9. I got more ink, writing related and personal. I added more birds for more published books, and an infinity symbol with my kids’ initials because I love them infinity. (I’m actually due for two more birds!)

10. Captain America: Civil War released, and it was everything. Any guesses whose team I’m on?

11. As librarian me, I attended the School Library Journal Day of Dialog conference in Chicago. One of the keynote speakers was YA author, Laini Taylor. Her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is by far one of my all-time favorite series. Period. And her lyrical, masterful, prose is too gorgeous for words (how ironic). I fangirl hard for her.
laini-taylorI also attended the Anderson’s YA Literature Conference with a couple of my YA Lit loving writers/friends/educators.


12. I participated in my local RWA Chapter’s (Chicago North) conference, Spring Fling. It was my very first romance-related local signing, and I had so much fun meeting readers…especially one of whom was a sorority sister from college I hadn’t seen in years!

13.  Spring Fling also meant a weekend with some of my lovely writer friends who I only get to see once or twice a year and fangirling while I was in a Christina Lauren sandwich.

14. In July I made it to RWA Nationals in San Diego where I got to hang out with MOAR of my talented friends I only see at events like this, including some of the amazing crew from Heroes and Heartbreakers (where I sometimes guest blog) and two of my critique partners, Lia Riley and Jennifer Blackwood. Natalie Blitt and Megan Erickson (not pictured because I have not seen them this year *cries*), I will see YOU at RT in Atalanta. Cannot wait.
15. The Kingston Ale House series got a sexy new cover makeover (still just as sexy between the pages…as it already was).


16. And finally, I signed a contract for my first print deal with Forever Romance, a three-book series that will be out in early 2018. AND, I co-authored a book with my talented friend, Lia Riley, that was acquired as a four-book series for Harlequin’s new sexy category line, also releasing in 2018. A great end to the year.

Okay, so I just learned a couple of important things. First, how the past year looks is all about perspective. Are there things that happened in 2016 that I wish hadn’t? Yes. Of course. But I also learned that there is a lot (big and small) that was positive for me. Second, as a first foray back into blogging after over a year…doing a post based on pics rather than text is NOT faster than just writing a post. I’m just sayin’.

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you had 16 or more highlights this past year and am wishing you many, many more in 2017.