As 2011 comes to a close, I know that -- as difficult as this year has been at times -- I have a lot to be thankful for... My husband and I have a New Year's Eve tradition of writing down the most memorable moments from the past twelve months and sharing them with each other. So often, until we start thinking and talking about it (I even flipped back through my calendar to jog my memory), we forget major events that happened during the year. We're so forward focused, which helps in getting work done, but it's not necessarily conducive to reflecting on all that's been accomplished and experienced.
This year, I visited a bunch of wonderful book clubs. I saw Dennis DeYoung perform live and my friends' band, The Mojo Daddies, open for him. I had the pleasure of meeting Kathryn Stockett and hearing her talk about The Help. I got a fun cooking lesson from Fabio Viviani. I released my first two digital-only novels, On Any Given Sundae and Double Dipping (which is on sale now for 99 cents!), and delved into the fascinating world of ebook publishing. My third Kensington novel, A Summer in Europe, was also released, and I got to snap pictures of it on the shelves at fabulous independent bookstores, like Anderson's Bookshop in Naperville (above left), as well as at one of my favorite local B&N stores (right). It was a December release, so I was especially honored to see it on two "Best of 2011" lists!! I was on a women's fiction writers panel with some terrific authors (Barbara Samuel O'Neal, Therese Walsh, Megan Crane and Jane Porter) this summer and got to visit New York City with my husband and son. I went on two writing retreats -- one in Wisconsin and the other in Oregon -- with lovely friends and critique partners. And I finally came to appreciate the way social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, really do help connect people, and I was delighted to make a few new friends as a result.
But I'm especially grateful to all of you who visit this blog -- for being here with me and sharing your thoughts throughout the year. I'm raising my glass to you in a toast (I followed the recipe for a Starbucks VIAtini -- see photo to the left and the recipe below ;), and I wish you all a 2012 that is peaceful, joyful, healthy and fulfilling. May your days be full of rewarding work and time spent with those you love, and may your nights be a time to dream of things that ignite your passions, fuel your imagination and inspire you. Happy New Year!
To make a VIAtini: 1 1/2 oz vodka, 1 1/2 oz prepared Starbucks VIA Ready Brew (cold), 3/4 oz amaretto, 1/2 oz Irish cream. Combine in a cocktail shaker, shake well, strain into a glass and top with a cherry.