2014's Shaping Up to Be a Busy Year!

Hey There! Goodness, do I feel like I’ve been MIA lately. And my how the year is flying by so quickly. It’s already March! What happened? It feels like it was just yesterday we took out the Christmas tree.

As fast as the new year may be moving, it's bringing with it many exciting and new things! If you’re up for a lengthy post and one of a more personal nature, then please read on. So, what’s shaking?

I closed 2013 with the release of Jackie’s book (When Girlfriends Let Go), while finishing the rough draft of the next When Girlfriends novel and getting that sent to the editor. Jackie’s book has been moving really well and it’s always so delightful to hear from happy readers. Thank you for your support. That novel was a real labor of love, and encouraging and excited readers like you helped me push through and get that baby published!

“The Spring” has a big pink circle around it on my calendar because I’m opening 2014 with the seventh and final novel in the WG collection. I know, right? Talk about a bittersweet moment. One of my favorite characters, Sophie, is getting the last word in the collection; she opened it with When Girlfriends Break Hearts, and the girl just has to close it. Plus, she’s always had a second novel in the works. Her story is unfinished and she must have that sequel, so to speak. That project is undergoing editing right now and I am really excited to have you read it! I’ve got some fun ideas to share with you soon in regards to its release, so stay tuned. (One Hint: Major Sneak Peek.)

While I’m working on saying goodbye to my Seattle group of girlfriends, I’ve been trying to mastermind a new world. I’d been chewing on a lot of half-formed ideas but nothing really stuck like peanut butter (the way a novel idea has to stick for me).

But, alas, I struck peanut butter gold the other weekend (both literally during snack time and when traipsing about Novel World) and I am very excited (and anxious, nervous, and totally curious) about how this seed of an idea will flower into my next novel, perhaps series. I don’t want the muse to play games with me so I’m going to keep my ideas under wraps right now, but once my fingers really tap-tap-tap away, running their wild way they like to do, I’ll let you know what’s cooking!

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On a more personal side of things, my writing world hasn’t been the only thing keeping me on my toes. Turns out 2014 is going to be a very busy (and exciting!) year. I’m having to put on my serious scheduler’s hat.

Last month I must admit I got distracted for a couple weeks, letting Sophie’s novel marinate a bit with both the editor and on my desk, post-edit, because of a very good and excusable reason. (Apologies to my sister in advance if she thinks I’ve lost my mind posting some personal photos, but he’s just too cute. How could anyone resist?) My reason for distraction last month was because of a visit to Texas to visit my sister and her positively precious two-month old son, Owen. He’s the first grandbaby in the family—my first nephew—and I think he’s the real bee's knees. Yes, he’s a very fun distraction. I’m so happy for my sister and her husband. It’s so exciting to have a baby in the family. And though I wish I were a quick car ride away for a visit, it was so nice to get to visit last month.

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Luckily the fun isn’t about to stop. I’m getting to travel back to Texas for another visit, in May, both for my little brother’s college graduation and wedding, and because this cutie just has to see his favorite aunt, right?

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I’m really jazzed about my next trip to the US because I’ll be getting to visit lots of family thanks to my brother’s nuptials, and seeing how Oklahoma is a dash above Texas, I’m going to meet up with some of my close girlfriends from college. It’ll be 5 weeks of some great catching up! (And, surely, plenty of inspiration for new novels will occur on such trips…that’s usually the case.)

To add more adventure to the agenda, I’ve been wearing my brave helmet and getting behind the wheel here in Berlin for about a month now. That’s right, I’m getting my driver’s license! Eek! It’s something that needs to be done because A) My Oklahoma license has long been expired, B) I kind of need some sort of legal ID that’s not my passport, C) My husband and I got our first car together over Christmas and I…well…can’t drive it, drats, and D) It’s about time!

Obtaining a license here isn’t quite as easy or quick as it was at sixteen in California, but I can use all the practice I can get seeing how I’m learning stick shift…and the lessons are all in German, naturally. I’m understanding the twice-a-week evening courses without a hitch, but when I’m under stress in a crowded city intersection, yielding green against a mad rush of oncoming traffic, set in a lane whose width is still intended for horse and buggy, cyclists buzzing by, pedestrians rushing past, I waiting in what I think is first gear but is really third, causing me to stall in the middle of two-way metro tram tracks, light-gone-red, cars-gone-honking, fingers-a-flying, hearing, “Links! Abbiegen! Links!” from the dismayed instructor, and having to remember that I was instructed to not only, “Turn left at this light”, but that I also must “Turn right at the next light”, it’s no wonder I’m K.O. at the end of most weekdays lately. Oh, and I shan’t forget to practice the 960+ possible test questions online. Umph! It’s utterly exhausting.

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Nevertheless, the instructor says he’s sure I’ll pass the test. I’m getting the hang of the stick shift, slowly but surely, usually stalling just once or twice in each 80-minute-long practice session. I’m not half bad at parallel parking, as it turns out. (Years of university street parking is paying off!) And I’ve only nearly run down one pedestrian to date, but I waved apologies. The ped seemed to understand my plight as I zipped by, thanks to the “Fahrschule” sign intelligently emblazoned on the rear of the car.

I just have a good month more of training and classes, a first aid course tomorrow, a lengthy four-hour trip to Poland on Thursday, and another lengthy four-hour trek on the Autobahn next week that I have to power through. First time on the Autobahn! Wish me luck.

The prospect of having a license, though, once again, is helping me keep my head up. Knowing that I am capable of driving a car, stick shift or automatic, and am legally able to take to the Berlin (and US, during vaca) streets, will be a nice and independent comfort.

Though not much less stressful than driving, the next and biggest endeavor right now is really and truly thrilling! After much deliberation and planning, and after agreeing that Berlin is indeed going to be home for many more years to come, my husband and I are going to become homeowners!

It’s still very surreal right now, even though we’ve been in the home planning stage for a couple of months. It does seem like it happened quite quickly, but isn’t that what many say? You’re looking at flats and homes, you’re looking at lots, then you stumble upon an opportunity that is too good to pass up. Next thing you know, you’re signing an agreement to reserve a lot, you’re meeting with the bank, you’re breaking out the rulers (and the inches/feet to centimeters/meters converter, of course), and your fantasies of optimal locations to put the vegetable garden are actually not all that fantastical anymore. You’re planning your home!

Initially we had scouted out flats for sale, assuming home-living in such a city meant we'd be living in the 'burbs. I’m a concrete-jungle-loving kind of girl and can't imagine living outside of the city. I love gardening and having a backyard, but a bit of traffic noise and people walking the streets can be rather warming. Of course, if we could find a home still somewhat central, some nice space of our own, that would be grand...

Then, while looking around town and at all of the exorbitantly-priced flats, feeling slightly dispirited that a reasonably-sized and -priced flat with some sort of a garden space would be difficult if not impossible to obtain, we stumbled upon a gem. We found a residential development site in an up-and-coming part of town, still very much in town, where evidently artists and some hipster types are said to be flocking. It’s family-friendly, homes and new flats are being put up, and, well…we knew there was no going back.

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While we’ll be living about 15-20 minutes from where we are now, we're still in the city, and that puts a big smile on my face! But I’m wearing an even bigger smile because we’ll be living in a house. Searching outside of our immediate neck of the woods turned out to be a grand idea!

It’s been an adventure getting to plan the floor plan together, my husband and I deciding where windows and doors will go, how to make the most practical use of the space, where to put the future garage, the gardens, etc. And, naturally, where my new writing space will be. It’s really exciting and I’m looking forward to moving in to our first home next summer! Perhaps this undertaking will provide some material for another expat book. Learning to drive…buying and building a home…all German-style. Yes, I see another expat book in the future.

But until the big move, I’m going to live it up living in our charming, homey apartment in Berlin-Mitte. I mean, the hubs gave these to me for Christmas for my office. Home, wherever it is, is home, and this Christmas gift makes the home office an A++. Until the move, and in between driving classes, and around exciting trips back stateside, I’ll be working on closing my When Girlfriends saga, and opening up the fresh can of what will be my next fictitious world, made with care, especially for my fabulous readers!

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A bit more of a personal post than most, but if you’ve read this far then I’m assuming you’re interested. :) Thank you for reading.

I’ll be blogging again soon with some updates regarding my next book’s release, so be sure to stay tuned. If you follow me on Facebook then you’ll be notified of when I do another Blog post. Keep in touch! I love hearing from you!

Happy Reading,