It has been a challenging year… for the world, for the country, for people I know and love-- and for me. One of those years with the huge ups and downs, that cosmic roller coaster that happens some times. In one two day period in June I sold a new book and was declared a cancer survivor. In one two-day period in September, that book got announced on PW to great excitement and the husband found himself in the emergency room with what turned out to be blocked arteries he was far too young to have and a minor stroke he was also far too young to have. And yet.
It was that kind of year. The cosmic give and take. A book deal with Harper Collins! Good health! But okay, that was me. How about the people I love? Let's see what the universe can cook up for my family!
Still, I bumble along, because as I've learned, what else can you do?
As so many people have recently blogged in end of the year posts, 2013 has been an endurance contest some days. Friends have lost jobs or been downsized or had traumas or fires or deaths of people they loved. I could wax poetic on it, but so many others have written so beautifully and heart-wrenchingly, including Sarah Dessen, Jessica Spotswood, Stephanie Pellegrin. And that's just the publishing world. That does not include bombings and typhoons and government shutdowns and Ted Cruz reading Green Eggs and Ham.
I could tell you about the doubt monster that creeps into my heart many days. The riskiness of starting over with new publishers and new projects. The disappointments of book events I wanted to do but wasn't asked to. The frustrations and stops and starts and the moments when I think "What if no one reads what I have written?" Or the ones when I want to grab people by the collar at Wal-Mart and say, "Have you read THE SWEET DEAD LIFE? You would love Jenna! Really, you would! Find a copy! Read it! It's been out since May, did you know?"
I could tell you that when your loved ones face serious and lengthily un and mis-diagnosed illness that it is no fun. And that not everyone in your life can handle this. I knew this already because I am a cancer survivor, but I guess I'd sort of forgotten. Some of my friends deserve medals. Certainly my son and daughter in law deserve a million trips to Disney World for going above and beyond. Some of the people in our lives backed off or seemed angry that I wasn't 'doing it their way.' Others called or texted and just checked in and if I asked for help (something I am NOT GOOD AT) they came right away. They did not say, "Well, let me check and see what we're doing." They did not tell me what to do unless I asked. They did not tell me that I had picked the wrong doctors because I didn't go to theirs.
Or that one of my favorite and closest cousins passed suddenly a few weeks ago from serious heart disease.
But no matter.
It's New Year's Eve! In this house, we're healing nicely. Things feel normal again, whatever that means. I am crossing my fingers that it will last. The world is filled with scary stuff but also with amazing people that I love, who bring laughter and adventure and general goofiness. Plus I just caught up with Season 2 of Girls and Season 3 of Game of Thrones and am about to catch up with Breaking Bad. Plus RHONY is almost back. And the books I've read! So many! And I get to meet Charlaine Harris and Christopher Golden next week at Murder by the Book!
It is time to celebrate the good stuff.
In that spirit of fresh starts and cold weather and the fact that Lyla the basset has shaken off the doggy flu or puppy malaise or whatever made her heave up bile on my clean carpet yesterday, I bring you Joy's Top 10 List of Good Things in 2013:
10. I got to travel to fun places: New York City, Las Vegas, Avila Beach/San Luis Obispo/LA, Portland OR, Chicago. Also Dallas and Austin and Ft. Worth and Waco.
9. I was asked to do/created many lovely book events and visits: Montgomery County Book Festival; Houston SCBWI; book signings at Blue Willow, Murder by the Book, Woodlands B&N; Champions Forest B&N; B&N College Station; Pasadena B&N; Book People; Powell's and Annie Blooms in Portland; Anderson's in Naperville, IL. Also: Waco Library Jubilee; Houston Book Rave; plus school visits and book clubs and Comic Palooza and Austin Comic Con and other good stuff.
8. I already know that in 2014 I have many other events on the way: Signings with many of the above. MoCo Book Festival again and my first time at YAK Fest in Keller, TX and a panel with amazing authors at AWP in Seattle!
7. I got to go to some great concerts: Lady Antebellum, Heart, Lumineers… and some great plays like Book of Mormon and a bunch of other stuff.
6. I got to hang out with amazing friends and family. (You really should all be #1. But I am not good at this list making thing. *side note*-- you know who is good at list making? Jenna Samuels in THE SWEET DEAD LIFE! Which you should totally read, especially when it comes out in paperback on 2/4! But seriously-- my friends and my family are honestly the best. Including the family that is made by choice and not just blood. I am hugely fortunate that so many people are in my life-- friendships old and new. And that the publishing world has helped me find my tribe in ways I never thought possible! Plus as mentioned above, I have a kick ass son and daughter in law who drove the 3 hours from Dallas to Houston a zillion times this fall and never once asked if I needed them. They JUST KNEW.
5. THE SWEET DEAD LIFE released in May from Soho Press, my lovely, gorgeous new publisher who lets me write quirky wonderful books of my heart with my editor and friend Dan Ehrenhaft.
4. I finished the A-WORD, which is the sequel to TSDL and the arcs are out in the world, with book coming in May 2014! I love this book, you guys! I KNOW you will, too.
3. I sold FINDING PARIS to Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins! This is largely because of 3a. My agent/business partner/cowgirl/friend Jennifer Rofe. I was privileged to work with the best agent ever for another year! And now I get to work with BOTH Alessandra Balzer and Sara Sergeant!
2. 3 years after being diagnosed and treated for advanced stage thyroid cancer, I was declared a cancer survivor by the lovely doctors at MD Anderson. I even got a diploma!
1. I got to keep writing for a living-- a job that makes me crazy some days but is also my passion and dream.