Thursday, December 31, 2020

So long, farewell


2020. What a long, strange trip it's been. I have to say, like everyone else, I'll be happy to see the back end of this year, where so many bad things have happened to so many good people.

I'm thankful that, all in all, this year touched me pretty lightly. While I know people who have been sick, all my nearest and dearest have stayed healthy - with the exception of my mother-in-law, who tested positive twice but stayed asymptomatic. Whew! 

Being asked to stay close to home hasn't been the hardship for me that it has for some; while I'm somewhere between introvert/extrovert, I'm a happy homebody, because I put a lot of time and effort into making my home a place I want to be. (Also something I'm lucky to be able to do).

Living where we do, instead of in the city, has made this year a lot easier, too. We have good neighbors who look out for each other, and we have enough local stores that we can patronize who run a tighter ship regarding masks and hygiene than some of the larger chains. While I'm feeling hug-deprived, I'm not deprived of people - I see my neighbors regularly, and we're having a socially distant, masked New Year's Eve gathering in the middle of the street tonight.

I can also say that keeping close to home has made me very productive this year. I finished and submitted A Wider World in May, for publication this coming April, and I just emailed the publisher a completed draft of the third book, Lady, in Waiting, for publication the year after. I wrote an entire book this year, plus edited the second one, and did audio edits for Songbird. Busy is also how I keep myself from thinking too much, so it's not been productivity for its own sake; it's been to keep me from running off the deep end when the existential dread sets in.

Though I'm looking forward to the vaccine being rolled out and things going back to (a slightly different) normal, I'm not sure if any of us will ever completely resume our pre-pandemic existence. As annoying as masks can sometimes be (though far less annoying than oxygen or a ventilator), I have to admit that neither Mario nor I have gotten sick at all this year. Even our allergies have been greatly reduced. That could also be because we're exposed to less people, but I can't think of the last unmasked conversation I had with anyone close enough to pick up a germ.

I miss faces.

But it's New Year's Eve, and we're supposed to be looking ahead and trying to be positive. I'm going to try. Hard. 

Happy new year to everyone - I hope you and yours are healthy and stay that way. Thanks for stopping by and listening to me ramble. There will be more to come.

Friday, December 11, 2020

The saddest story in Tudor England


I'm currently working on my third book, titled Lady, In Waiting, which is set during the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I. One of the side characters - someone I hadn't planned to write about but whose life and story couldn't be avoided - is Lady Katherine Grey.

Younger sister of Lady Jane Grey, the unsuccessful Nine Days Queen, Katherine's life was slightly longer, but just as unhappy. Because of her proximity to the throne (she and Mary Queen of Scots were Elizabeth's two natural heirs, unless she married), she was watched and not permitted to marry.

But she did. And she got pregnant. And she didn't get caught until her eighth month, at which point she was put in the Tower - separately from her husband - to think about what she'd done. She gave birth to a son, which must have made Elizabeth furious.

Remaining in the Tower, she managed, by way of a sympathetic jailer, to have conjugal visits with her husband, and eventually gave birth to a second son! That did it. Elizabeth separated the already separated couple, sending the husband and older son in one direction, and Katherine and her baby in another.

Katherine died in 1568, at the age of 27. She's not the most sympathetic character, despite her unhappy circumstances, and because of the prominence of her story, she couldn't be ignored and is now an important side character in my story.

Pictures: the real Katherine, and a photo I snagged from the internets which is my inspiration for her.

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The other stuff

For the curious, I do still sew, though not as much for myself these days. (My pandemic wardrobe is rather limited).

Craft shows have also been limited this year, as in limited to the ones I've produced on my front patio. In a bastardized version of the words of the Grinch himself, "If I can't find a craft show, I'll make one instead."

I did have one event scheduled, for Thanksgiving weekend here in town. They'd put so much work into it,  cutting the number of vendors by half, organizing it so that everyone had 8' of space between their tables, having mask checks and sanitizer stations at the doors, Ikea arrows on the floor so that customers could only travel in one direction...and then the virus numbers for Pennsylvania spiked again, and it was canceled.

Logical, yes. The right thing to do, also yes. A freaking shame, because we all want to get out and pretend to be normal? Yes yes yes.

So I made a Facebook event and invited all my local friends and neighbors to show up on the patio on that same weekend - properly masked and distanced, of course.

Everything was set out on tables for people to paw through. It wasn't as profitable as an indoor show would have been, but it was still good to get out and talk to people again, and I didn't get frostbitten because we have a glass front door and I spent my un-customered time on the couch, finishing Etsy products for shipment. I love a good multi-task.

I also did some writing in between, because of this pesky end-of-year deadline that I agreed to. Which will be met, somehow or other. Good thing I've only promised a "readable first draft" at that point.

Readable, it will be. Can't guarantee much else.

So this was the new normal of my holiday selling season. What about you? Did you get to do any in-person shopping? All online? What do you want to find in your stocking this year, other than sanitizer and masks?