Monday, January 1, 2018

2017 In Review

Welcome to 2018! I can't believe it's already here. 2017 was an interesting year to say the least, and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2018 holds.

To start off, about half my library branch retired at the end of last year, meaning a new boss and new coworkers. It's been different for sure, and interesting. This fall, we had one of my newer coworkers and the new youth coordinator who took some of her duties decide to move one after the other, which is sad, and now we're looking for a brand new youth coordinator. I've been told I should apply, but I'm barely keeping up with life as it is, and I'm not THAT crazy.

I found the earliest map of Calhortea while cleaning out my desk in January, which was a trip down memory lane. That world sure has changed.

Original Version of Calhortea

I added another student to my music studio at the beginning of the semester. She's a really fun kid, and I've really enjoyed working with her.

I also started a Bible study for elementary school-aged girls. Over the course of the year, we studied the Fruit of the Spirit and learned knitting, crocheting, and various sewing projects. It took me out of my comfort zone in a good way, and it's been really great. I've learned a lot, and really loved pouring into these little girls.

Materials for a Bible Study Sewing Project and Music Planning

Kendra E. Ardnek held the first annual Indie e-Con, which I participated in. That was fun.

My sister made a pie for Pi Day. Because of course we had to celebrate it.

I participated in another convention cycle. And actually, my work schedule worked out so that I could go to precinct, county, and district this year, which was great. I'd only been able to go to county last year.

My congressman threw out the first pitch at one of the first baseball games in Atlanta's new stadium and we got to go. I don't really care about baseball, but it was fun to hang out with our friends. And yes, I brought a book. Yes, I know I'm a dork. I wanted to read In Over Their Heads by Margaret Peterson Haddix.

I tried to write the third draft of the Cassie story, but it kind of didn't work. The writing style was all over the place, from terrible head hopping to Dickens, and the story was sort of messy too. So I stopped. I wrote the sequel to Espionage instead, which was an adventure. I tried to write it as a middle grade, but it just wasn't working. It really needs to be a YA. Still, I managed to get most of a first draft written. I say most because there was a good bit of summary. It needs to be three or four times as long as it is now, more fleshed out, and include more points of view, but it'll be great when I rewrite it.

My middle sister graduated from high school, I helped out at a dance, and I had my first recital for my students. They all worked very hard and did a great job. I was very proud of them. Then my parents went out of town for a week, and we survived. There was even a tornado while they were gone, which was scary, but we made it. Also during that week, my sister and I catalogued and arranged by difficulty all of our piano books. We have a LOT of piano books. I have made slight adjustments to where a few books are placed, but on the whole, it's been very helpful. It also keeps the music room a bit neater.

Sorting and Cataloguing in Progress

Summer was overall pretty great. I had time off from teaching to regroup and plan for the next semester, including the aforementioned cataloguing, we had many fun game nights and movie nights with friends, and my mom and I went on a girls' trip up to Charlotte for one weekend to visit some very good friends who moved away. My friend Destiny and I stayed up way late both nights talking and playing music, we went to lunch and got stuck in a storm blocks away from our cars, and we went to a play Destiny was in. It was a WWII retelling of the story of Hosea and Gomer, and Destiny was the female lead. It was really good, and really powerful, and it made me cry, which is very rare for stories and just goes to show how good it was. It was a great trip, and definitely one of the highlights of my summer.

Me, Destiny, and Her Costar "Willie"

I recorded an audiobook of Creighton Hill over the course of the year, but decided the quality wasn't what I was looking for, so eventually I broke down and bought better equipment. Unfortunately, I just haven't had time to sit down and figure it all out.

In August, I released Twisted Dreams along with Kendra E. Ardnek's Poison Kiss and Rachel Roden's Rosette Thornbriar. We had a blog tour and it was great and if you follow my blog, you already know all about it. Here's a picture of the three books anyway.

Also in August, I started two new piano students. I hadn't started anyone from the beginning in years, so it was a learning experience for me as well. I decided to try the Bastiens method, since that seems to be most popular in my circles, and it was great until we hit note reading. Maybe I'm just teaching that method wrong, but it didn't work. In my opinion, Bastiens be like "Here's ten new notes. Memorize them. Oh, you don't have anyone at home to help you remember what they are? Too bad. Practice anyway."

So I switched them over to Step by Step by Edna Mae Burnam. Step by Step be like "Here's C. This is what C looks like on the staff and on the keyboard. Now lets practice C until you can see it on the staff and play it on the keyboard without thinking about it, and then we'll add D. You're not sure you'll remember where to find C when you go home? Here's a handy picture to help you out." Step by Step is somewhat theory-light, but that can be easily fixed by supplementing with a separate theory book. I'm glad to say they've been thriving on Step by Step, and enjoying the Christmas music and Star Wars songs I gave them as well. It's been great and I really enjoy teaching them.

I also made two pairs of jean shorts around the end of August. And yes, I was practically fangirling over the topstitching. They really look like real jeans!

In September, we had a hurricane, which didn't honestly do a whole lot of damage at my house, but I was glad the library closed for it anyway, since I was sick and didn't want to have to call in.

Then we went to Disney! I prefer the week after Thanksgiving to the end of September, but Disney is still Disney. I wrote two blog posts about our trip (Part One. Part Two.), so I won't rehash it all here, but Disney is great.

I also planned myself some school. Don't laugh. I got tired of not pushing myself academically, and I have a lot of things I want to learn, so I decided to do school. It was great for most of the semester. I learned a lot and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately, my always trying to DO ALL THE THINGS is crazy and can't last. Towards my last few weeks of school, I just had too much to do what with making new formals for a Christmas dance, making the dance cards, and all my regular stuff, and when you only have so much time in the day, the commitments others are counting on are the priority and something has to go. I still intend to finish up that schoolwork, but at a slower pace. Something a little more reasonable. But it was great while it lasted.

Post-Disney, we went on a camping trip with some friends, then had Thanksgiving with those same friends, watched a Christmas parade, my sister and I played Mannheim Steamroller's arrangement of "Stille Nacht" at the mall, we had a church Christmas party, and then there was the Christmas dance. The dance was an adventure for sure. When we arrived to set up in the afternoon, there were painters still at work. Thankfully—and definitely by God's grace—with a lot of hard work and a good bit of air freshener, by the time people began arriving, you never would have been able to tell that things hadn't exactly gone according to plan.

We had a snowstorm. In Georgia. In December. Seven inches. This doesn't happen. Global warming, right? 😜 But at least we got to stay in and watch White Christmas.

We went to visit family for Christmas, so we had our own Christmas a few days early and went to see The Last Jedi. For the most part, I really liked it, but there were a few things towards the end that I really didn't like, so I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about it. Then we drove up to Indiana, and fit all our family gatherings plus travel time into a total of four days, since that's all I had off from the library. It was good to see family, but I'm glad to be back home again.

Now I'm finishing up the year with a wonderful cold. Because it's so much fun to be up half the night blowing your nose. Yippee. It's not the worst cold I've ever had, though, so I'm grateful for that.

And now 2018! I'm looking forward to this next year. I'll be taking piano lessons again for the first time in about six years, and I'm very excited about that. I'm looking forward to this next semester with my students and another recital. They're all great kids, a pleasure to teach, and I'm truly blessed to have them in my life. I'll still be at the library until my music studio takes off, likely. I'm going to be continuing Bible study, and hopefully staying well ahead on writing the lessons.

On the author front, I hope to record and release a Creighton Hill audiobook. As far as actual writing goes, I want to spend the first few months of the year writing a newer story called Acktorek, and then tackle the rewrite of the Espionage sequel. I'm also seriously thinking about rewriting a picture book I wrote as a kid for release this year. It'll be a good bit of work, but I'm hoping to pull it off with my sister's help. Other than that, I don't know what my 2018 is going to look like, but I'm hoping for a good year.

Happy New Year!


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