At the beginning of this year, I told myself I would do an end-of-the-month recap to let everyone who cares know what I’ve been doing. I often get readers asking me for updates, both in my writing life and just life in general.
I have to tell you I’m always surprised when readers are interested in what I have going on because I don’t view my life as interesting. However, I guess it shouldn’t seem such a surprise because I watch a lot of bad reality television simply because I find other people’s lives fascinating. Sometimes it’s like a train wreck that I can’t look away from.
Anyways, as you can tell, it’s March, and I didn’t recap January. So, I will sum up January and February in this post and try to get better at writing recap posts from now on.
So here goes.
In the last few months of 2020, my husband and I begin to seriously contemplate what the next phase in our life might look like. Caden’s in college and Neave goes to college in the fall. Sydney is a freshman in high school, so she will also be a college student in a blink of an eye. Initially, the last few years, as I’ve thought about us getting to the point of being empty-nesters, I wanted to spend half our time in someplace like Belize or Panama. Ex-pat-friendly countries that were warm and reasonable to live in from a financial standpoint. Since both of us have remote jobs, we can go anywhere.
Covid changed that thinking a little. Not that I don’t think we will ever be able to travel again, I hope that if not in 2021 that 2022 will bring the vaccinations needed for everyone to safely travel as we used to, even if in a different way. But it did make me pause about the thought of going out of the country and something happening, like another pandemic and maybe not being able to get back in to see our kids.
The other fanciful dream we had over the years is buying a fixer-upper in a smaller, quieter town. Rehab it and live in it until we were ready to downsize. I wasn’t as gung-ho about that idea because Matt wanted to find a house pre-1920s. He’s into antiques and that period of architecture. I don’t know anything about either, so I didn’t have the same excitement he did.
But then we took a camping trip to Virginia in October and around a campfire started to look at what was on the market. The more we looked at houses, the more excited I got and started to like the idea of owning an old home we could restore and make beautiful again.
On January 29, we closed on a 1902 Queen Anne in Logansport, Indiana, about an hour from where we currently live. The house is condemned due to lead paint and has some other issues, but there are also many positive aspects. February was all about figuring out what to do with the house and where to start.
We started by hauling out the trash (2 – 40 yard dumpsters of trash to start) and now are cleaning it, so it doesn’t smell or have 3 inches of dirt and grime inside, and we can think about painting to encapsulate the lead paint.
In other personal news, Caden was diagnosed with a rare strain of mono in October. I know who gets mono in the middle of a covid pandemic. Apparently, he does, and he swears he wasn’t kissing anyone. As I’m writing this post, he is just now having more days without a fever than days with a fever. The first 3 months were constant 101-102 temps, chills, fatigue; the poor kid was miserable. He goes next month for another blood test, and hopefully, it will be out of his system.
Our other daughter Neave has been working at a senior retirement community as a food server and loving it. She’s finishing up her senior year and wants to pursue musical therapy in college. She is a very talented musician and loves to help people.
Sydney has been a little annoyed at us the past year because we did make her quit competitive cheerleading for a while and rugby. But now that things seem to be going in the right direction, we’re hoping she can ease back into her sports.
As far as me, you guys know I adopted our third dog in December (Luna), and I have to tell you, going from 2 to 3 dogs is like going from 2 to 300. Since they are about the same age and the same size, Luna and Macy just love playing. However, they play hard like they are WWE wrestlers in the ring. That prompted my latest project that I just finished with, and that is creating a dog-only portion of my yard because they have torn up our yard, and with the spring thaw, it was a muddy mess. So, I fenced off a nice big spot for them and put in rubber mulch. So far, it has greatly decreased the amount of mud in my house.
Now with all the personal stuff out of the way, I can catch you up with what’s going on in the writing world of Laina.
As you may know, I had book 6 release in the Read Wine cozy bookstore series called Dunes and Dead bodies in February. I also declared 2021 is the year of the fine-tuning of my backlist. I’ve been writing and publishing for 12 years now, and I’m a much better writer now than I was 12 years ago.
So first, a shout out to all of you that have been with me for the last 12 years as I’ve grown as a writer.
I took the Presley series off of sale last year to completely overhaul the series, and I am working with a new editor. I soon realized that it wasn’t just Presley that I needed to update. I felt I owed it to my readers, to myself, and my characters in the Read Wine series and the Spencer University series to take my better skills and lend them to those books.
I spent February working on Read Wine, and that series is completely overhauled. Not from a storyline change but just from an elevated writing change. Focusing more on show versus tell and trying to dig a little bit deeper into the characters. Things that I’ve gotten better at as I’ve been writing.
Now that I’ve finished updating Read Wine, and I feel great about it, I’m working on Spencer University. That series has never sold as well as I thought it should. I think the premise of a college professor in a university setting is a great one. But as I’ve been going back there with my editor. I can see why it hasn’t sold as well, and so the month of March and probably a little bit into April, I’m going to be sprucing that series up, and then I’m digging into Presley. It’s been tough to keep putting her off because I am so excited in the direction I’m going with her. You can go to my website and see the fantastic new covers that just finally I think will do her justice. Now, I need to develop her story to the best of my ability, and I’m looking forward to that. There are 16 books in that series, so it will take me the rest of the year to finish. However, I will have to pause and write a short story for a new pet-themed anthology. Some of my other friends and I are going to be putting out the summer. Between the house, the dogs, the kids, and all this rewriting, I’ve been crazy busy. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Oh, and Sydney and I are heading to Corpus Christi for spring break in the camper. The vacation we had planned in October when Caden got sick. It’s the first time we have been able to use our new one. If you have any suggestions on what we should do there, make sure to let me know.