24 December 2020

Notes from Exile: Of Crooked Christmas Trees and other Leaning Towers

The Dunne Family Christmas Tree
Well, normally I would say it's almost that time, almost Christmas Day, etc. But not this year. This year, it feels like Thursday. I'm not planning how to get food two hours down the road to Atlanta for Christmas Lunch with my sister and her family. I'm not anticipating spending time with my American niece. We aren't waking up in Northumberland with Simon's parents. We just are.

I admire others that have been able to find ways around the general malaise that 2020 has spread. Especially those of you with children who have gone the extra mile to keep the magic in this holiday season when we have ditched the sugar plums in favor of vaccines and masks dancing through our visions.

Our Christmas tree has a permanent lean, as you can see in the photo. We don't have normal ceilings in this house, so we have to get a smaller tree than I'd like - but it is still too far from the outlet for me to feel comfortable plugging in the star at the top. It leans, as though it is trying to reach that outlet, and I'm reminded how we are all leaning this year. Leaning forward into the future with a vaccine and a return to in-person life. Leaning back into those moments we wish could have lasted, with family and friends that for whatever reason aren't here. Leaning into the "new normal," or leaning back into "the before time." 

We are all like leaning towers, and the key is not to lean so far that you fall. I remember a Christmas evening spent with one of my favorite people and his family, where the tree was crooked and we spent a great deal of time tying it into place with twine. There was a lot of clapping of hands and slapping of backs as the tree stood straight and tall...until something that I did to loosen the twine caused it to fall...on my friend's dad. He caught it, and while I don't remember what he said, I remember his booming laugh as he straightened it up and tied it again - and told me not to touch it.

That laugh is braided into the twine that holds me up this Christmas, along with my dad's decorations and my brother in law inexplicably under the Christmas tree at my parents' house in north Georgia. I'm remembering the ding that the MARTA train makes at every stop, and how my college friends and I raised our hands every time we heard it on the way to see the big tree in Atlanta - the start of the  Christmas season when I was younger. I think of my Daisy Mei Mei wearing the tree skirt like a 1950s salon cape and how every dog that is new to the Dunne family at Christmas has a picture in that same skirt.

I remember the Leeds German Market at Christmas and the sparkling lights in The Vue where we would grab a cheeky Nandos before seeing a movie. I remember Christmas Eve Mass at the church my inlaws attend in Seahouses. I can hear my mom saying, "Well, Merry Christmas!" on the phone when we lived 5,000 miles away. All of these memories and more hold me up this Pandemic Christmas as well as hold the promise of next year and our triumphant return to parades and late nights out, to massive meals with family and opening presents, to us. To normal. 

But for now, I will hang on to my crooked tree and my little family here in my house, safe and warm and healthy, and I will be thankful. Merry Christmas.

14 December 2020

New Year, New Novel Series

Coming next year: A new series set in the world of Orana: Guardians of Orana. The origin stories of the characters from the Nature Walker Trilogy and the Tales of the Forest War intertwined with the ongoing story of Orana, due out in the autumn of 2021. 

Watch this space, and visit nancyedunne.com for preordering information.

11 December 2020

Notes from Exile: End of a Weird Nano/Semester/Year/etc.

Well, that's that.
Well, that happened.

It happened a week ago, and I don't really have anything to say about it other than I am clearly NOT a horror writer and should stick to what I know, which is character-driven, has paranormal elements, and possibly includes some romance. 

I don't know what Legacy is going to become, but I haven't completely thrown it in the dumpster fire that has been 2020.

So here we are, in the last month of one of the weirdest years on record. I'm sure that the survivors of the Spanish Flu felt a similar sense of relief/trauma/fear mixed with a healthy dose of What the Hell was THAT? I'm also battling a lot of apathy, if I'm honest, about everything in my life, and I know I'm not alone in that.

My semester at the DayJob™ ended this past Friday and the students are in exam week now. They all went home at Thanksgiving and everything was online afterward, a decision that I think was very well reasoned. I mean, until we have a vaccine for this thing for a few months, I think that online everything is the way to go, but no one asked me. 

The end of the semester also signals the end of the calendar year, and as it always seems now that I work in academia, suddenly there is a flurry of things to do for Christmas/New Year. Only there isn't. I had so hoped that we would be going to the UK for Christmas this year. We were supposed to go in August for my father-in-law's 80th birthday but that didn't happen either.

Christmas hasn't been the same, if I'm honest, since we lost my father in April of 2018. Thanksgiving is hard now, without my mother, but Christmas was always my dad's holiday. The man was not cheap in his decoration of their house - garlands hung from every low hanging light fixture and there were wreaths with big red bows on every window. They had stockings on the mantel with a tangle of garland and plastic reindeer/Santa above it. Candles were in the windows that burned all night every night. Once he was no longer able to do these things, some of the sparkle went out of Christmas for me. 

I haven't found it since. Being unable to travel, unable to even go out for a long, loud, boozy meal with my friends here has made me just want to get this season over with and move on to 2021. I mean, I tried - I put up our tree and got hives from "Artificial Christmas Tree Syndrome." 

And this time next week I will be on Winter Break from Clemson - maybe then I can find my mojo. Or maybe I can get some editing done, or at least write a better, more uplifting blog post. Thanks for spending this year in exile with me. I hope you're well, and that your holiday season is as magical and bright as you can make it this year.

07 December 2020

Music Monday: Hiatus

I'm going to take the month of December off from posting my Music Mondays but you can bet I will be back starting 1 January with new tunes for you to discover (and hopefully some editing done!). Have just the best Christmas, listen to lots of Christmas music, and watch out for sneaky Whamageddon traps, y'all. 

03 December 2020

Second Verse, Same as the First: #PITMAD

I'm hoping that I'm not turning this into the definition of insanity. You may remember that in September I pitched my New Adult Paranormal Historical Fiction Mystery, Luminous Beings to the PitMad event on Twitter. I got one bite from an agent (that wasn't part of a vanity press). I sent the requested material.

(insert the sound of sad crickets here)

So I'm trying again with this manuscript today and I hope that with a slightly tweaked pitch I can attract some attention. If I don't, or if it ends up like it did in September I don't know that I will shop this one around for the third time. I mean, I'm an indie author at heart because 1) I'm not dependant on my career as an author to live and 2) I really like the control I have. If that turns agents off...well, I'm going to keep on being me. I just want to bank some experience in the traditional publishing world if I can.

All that to say that if you follow me on Twitter (and if you don't, come on, I'm delightful!) and you see me post my pitch, don't hit the like button - that is for publishing types that are interested in the manuscript. You can certainly retweet it if you like, and I would be very grateful. The more eyes on it, the better the chance it will end up in front of someone that wants to work with it and me! :)

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