In this time of pandemic, days, weeks, months and even years sometimes feel as if they’re blurring together. While I’m hopeful 2022 will be better for us all, as I’ve done since 2014, I’m not making New Year’s resolutions but rather choosing a word to reflect on over the next twelve months.
This year, that word is “grow.”
Growing in my writing life
I’m happy and grateful to have three books out in 2022.
Montana Reunion is on wide release from Harlequin Heartwarming on January 25.
There’s a German edition of The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls, now entitled Mein einziger Wunsch bist du, from Penguin Verlag in July.
And, as announced in my December reader newsletter and on social media, my women’s fiction debut, The Sweetheart Locket, is published in March by Orion Dash, an imprint of the UK’s Orion Publishing Group,
All these books (available for pre-order if you’re so inclined) will help me connect with new readers. However, Montana Reunion and The Sweetheart Locket are also helping me grow my career and writing craft in fresh and exciting ways.
Montana Reunion is my first western and category romance. That means it’s a book of a defined length and released as part of a publisher’s imprint, in this case Harlequin Heartwarming, a sweet romance line.
The Sweetheart Locket, a dual timeline, Second World War and contemporary novel, is not only my first women’s fiction release, but my UK and historical fiction debut.
It’s my first published book to draw on my British life too, as well as university studies in cultural geography, social history and French language and literature.
Mental and social growth
Although it seems only a brief wrinkle in time since English Rose was a newborn, she’s an adult and at university so I’m growing in my own life.
While I’ll always be her mum, I can now rediscover and focus on parts of myself and life beyond motherhood.
This year, and particularly because several of the books I’m writing are set partly in France, I plan to renew and improve my French language competency.
Listening to radio programmes, watching films, and reading magazines and news online will all help me grow and reconnect with what was once an important part of my life.
It’s also a time for Tech Guy and I to enjoy unstructured couple time including more date nights and, once pandemic restrictions permit, impromptu weekends away and socialization with family and friends.
Emotional and spiritual growth
In this new phase of my life, I want to reconnect with my inner self too.
Whether that’s starting or ending my day with a devotional reading, taking more walks in nature or letting go of things that no longer work for me, I’m focused on exploring activities and practices to nurture, heal and grow my soul.
As a writer, I have a desk-based job and sit too much. While my weekly ballet class and daily walk with Floppy Ears ward against “writer’s butt,” incorporating more physical activity into my day is another area I’m reflecting on this year.
Short workouts, desk exercises, morning stretches or another type of fitness class would not only help me grow in physical strength but benefit my mental health and emotional and spiritual growth too.
Happy New Year to all. I hope 2022 brings joyful moments and growth that’s most meaningful to you.
And for writers who follow my blog, journalist and crime novelist Susie Steiner tackled that perennial question in a piece for The Guardian, a British newspaper: “Is there any way to avoid writer’s butt?”
Happy new year to you and the family, Jen. I was wondering what your word for the year was going to be and it looks like you have found the perfect one to reflect the way your life is now and how it is going to develop over the coming months. Many congratulations on the way your writing life and career has expanded – I hope you find many new readers who will also discover your Firefly Lake and Wishing Tree books as a result of reading your new novels.
Thank you, Susanna. I chose ‘my word’ in November last year. Although I settled on ‘grow’ earlier than usual, it just seemed to fit. Thank you for your good wishes and support. I appreciate being able to share my life and writing with you. Happy New Year to you and yours in return.