Looking Back…and Ahead

Is it  me, or does time fly by faster and faster each year?  It seems only yesterday we were welcoming in the year 2012, and now the page has turned again. This past year was a mixed bag for me, as I imagine it was for you, too. Some good mixed in with the bad. The extraordinary with the ordinary. On the good side of the ledger, I published two new books. BEAUTY FOR ASHES and EVERY PERFECT GIFT, finishing the Hickory Ridge series. And I finished the first draft of CAROLINA GOLD, due out in late fall. Ron and I had an extraordinary day with our river guide exploring the Pee Dee and Waccamaw Rivers for the new book, and we spent some pleasant days just vegging on the beach at Kiawah. My favorite home away from home and my favorite way to decompress.I spent a lovely few days with my mom for Mother’s Day in May and then Ron and I went home again in November to see her at Thanksgiving.

If you follow me through cyberspace, you probably already know that 2012 was also a year of deep loss, as my brother succumbed to cancer. I’m grateful for the love and concern of friends and readers around the world who sent words of hope and comfort during that time. It was one of the “necessary losses” Judith Viorst wrote about in her book by the same name. But still.

Last year, I read some amazing books including two by a new writer, Kelly O’Connor McNees, The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, based on  actual events in Louisa’s life, and In Need of a Good Wife, about three women who make new lives for themselves as wives of Nebraska settlers.  I read Kate Morton’s  The Forgotten Garden. I enjoyed it quite a lot, despite the numerous time shifts and shifts in POV characters. Fewer would have made for a more seamless read, but still, it was one of the best books I read in 2012. On a trip to South Carolina, I discovered Lawrence Hill’s Someone Knows My Name. What an incredible story of slavery and triumph. I loved it.  Robin Olivera’s My Name is Mary Sutter, about a young midwife determined to become a doctor during the Civil War blew me away. Historicals are my first love, but I also was mesmerized by Anna Quindlen’s shattering contemporary novel, Every Last One. I’ve been a fan of Sue Miller for ages. The Senator’s Wife remains one of my favorites. Last year I read The Lakeshore Limited and was not as glued to it as to other of her books.

Looking ahead: This year will see publication of CAROLINA GOLD and I am writing THE BRACELET for 2014. It’s set in Savannah in 1858, during the city’s heydays, and it will contain more suspense than my previous books. So I’m learning and growing as a writer as I tackle this new twist in my tales.  I’m looking forward to seeing my favorite jazz artist, Diana Krall, in concert in May, and to a few beach days in June. Maybe a trip to a Tennessee Civil War battlefield later in the summer. There is another Kate Morton book waiting to be read this year: The Distant Hours. And rumor has it that there may be a new Pat Conroy novel, The Death of Santini,  coming out sometime this year. Prince of Tides remains one of my all time favorite books. Beach Music also is a favorite PC novel. I was not as taken with his last novel, South of Broad, though it was a love letter to Charleston, a city I love as well.

Mostly in this new year, I’m grateful to be doing the work I love, writing novels. Grateful for my family and friends, for the readers who have taken my characters to their hearts and who encourage me at every turn. I’d love to  know what’s on your agenda this year. What books are you planning to read? Where will you travel? What simple pleasures will grace your life in the year ahead?  Let me know. It’s always a pleasure hearing from you.  From  my house and heart to yours, Happy New Year.