Any of my family and friends who follow my blog or Facebook postings are well aware that 2013 was a very stressful year for me. How stressful? I took the Life Stress Test the other day and, despite fudging some of the answers (in a few cases, if I was borderline on a response, I didn't count it against my score), I wound up with a stress rating of over 450. Is that bad? A relative who works for the VA told me that he used to admit for observation patients who ranked over 300 because of their potential for heart attacks or strokes induced by the stress factors.
Looking back on 2013, I sometimes find it difficult to believe all that happened. I retired from the Central Intelligence Agency after a twenty-three year career that took my around the world and allowed me to see places and things that most people only dream of (or have nightmares about), sold my house in northern Virginia, and drove down to Florida with a car full of rabbits. After going through an arduous process getting our mortgage (if you want to know how intrusive and useless the federal government has become, apply for an FHA-backed loan), we purchased a lovely older home that flooded one month after we moved in because of poor drainage in our backyard due to decades of neglect by the previous owners. This was followed by the joy of having to live in a torn-up house for nearly four months as we dealt with the ultimate ponzi scheme known as insurance companies (even though we had federally-backed flood insurance, FEMA felt we were not entitled to a claim) and a glacially-slow contractor who couldn't get his ass in gear to get our house back in order. And during those months, I lost three of my rabbits, including my beloved Ruby and Cocoa, whom I had for nearly eleven years, and, on the day following Christmas, my father-in-law.
That is not to say the entire year was bad. I married the love of my life and my soul mate, Alison Beightol, on Halloween, and we honeymooned in Germany. I also have a lovely daughter, Madeline, who I am watching transform from a child into a young woman, and a second family in Florida who cares for me very much. Although I still grieve for Ghiridelli, Cocoa, and Ruby and will always miss them, three new pets now share my life -- our two Boxers, Walther (who has become my best buddy) and Bella (who only allows me to be the pack leader because I have opposable thumbs and can open the refrigerator), and our rambunctious cat, Archer (who we affectionately call Dickhead).
On a professional level, my writing suffered because of everything that went on this past year. I was only able to get three short stories published. I was able to finish off one novel and complete the rough draft of a second, but those are still far from being published; the completed novel, my first Young Adult adventure, is sitting with a literary agent friend who will either take me on as her client or broker an introduction to someone who will, and the submission deadline for the second novel is fast approaching, but I am far from finished with the final edits.
However, I am very optimistic about 2014. All the issues in our personal lives that made 2014 an emotional nightmare have been left behind as bad memories or are being resolved, and I know our love will see us through whatever lies ahead. Alison has also been encouraging me to undertake a career path that I had long since abandoned the idea of pursuing, but with her in my corner I just may accept the challenge.
As for my writing, things will pick up significantly in 2014. In the next few months, I will have a new novel published and an out-of-print book reissued, and will have a new short story included in an upcoming anthology; both the novel and short story are a new step for me as I try my hand with giant monsters instead of the traditional zombies and vampires. The sequel to Rotter World should be published by the end of the year, and hopefully I will have completed the final book in the trilogy by September. I am lining up conventions to attend throughout the year, some of them will my fellow author Alison. Looking ahead to 2015, I am hoping to start my series tentatively called OSS - Office of Supernatural Services (about the Allies battling Nazi occultism) and possibly co-author a vampire novel with Alison. I'll be posting more on these events as they get closer.
So as 2014 begins and I try to get my head back in the game, I want to thank all my fans and friends who have supported me over the years, and look forward to having you accompany me on the journey ahead.