What a Year, What a Future

What a Year, What a Future
March 6, 2024 Maggie Lynch
In musings
colorful mosaic with human head emerging from pattern

Here I am, once again apologizing for not blogging for a year, not sending out a newsletter for a year, not publishing a book for more than a year. Let’s say the past year has felt like I’m a character in one of my novels. Someone who is making “heroic” choices one messy moment at a time. Notice I’m questioning the “heroic” part and emphasizing the messy part. The past year has been messy, chaotic, frustrating, often filled with grief, and a whole lot of prayer and reflection. But, like the characters in my novels, I’m managing to find a path forward. I am just now seeing how to navigate the quagmire of the past year and forge a future again.

The Past Year

In March 2023 I wrote the blog post, Thanks for COVID. I talked about my challenges with my mother and sister being moved to a living situation where they didn’t have to cook their own meals or clean their rooms. And that I had taken a part time job in order to help pay for those services which were more than they could afford on their social security. Things began well, they were both happy there. My sister had a hospital visit but then seemed to be recovering. Then two more hospitalizations occurred.

In April 2023, my sister died at the age of 65 from multiple organ failure. I knew her health was difficult, but no one knew how difficult until she went to the hospital in an ambulance once again and only lived three days. In August, my mother went to the hospital in an ambulance with a heart attack and fluid building in her body from her legs to her stomach and near her heart. At 90 years old, I was prepared that she might not make it. Fortunately, she didn’t die, but her three weeks in the hospital exacerbated her dementia. I had to find a memory care place for her to be discharged. Fortunately, I did find a wonderful place, where she has now lived for six months.

Finding this place was truly miraculous, as every place I looked had a two-year waiting list. A couple places that didn’t have a waiting list were places I wouldn’t want anyone’s parent to stay. When I found the one where she’s living now, they had three residents on hospice. I put my mother’s name on the waiting list, and a week later they had a room. This memory care facility had been family built and staffed for their own mother, because there was not sufficient places in the area. It’s operated for more than 50 years. Ownership has passed down in the family and it still remains a place that feels as much like home as possible. It is a place where everyone, from the owners to the management team to every nurse and care giver, has a passion and commitment for caring for people with dementia or alzheimers. In fact, they have taken such good care of my mother over the past six months that her health is the best it’s been in five years.

Now, when I visit, I tell her I’m looking forward to her turning 100. Her dementia is getting worse. But so far she still remembers her children, and she still has some memories of her past–though they are getting garbled in terms of the timelines and locations. In the end it may be that her loss of memory will be the cause of her death. I understand that in the end, her brain will no longer remember how to chew or swallow, or perhaps how to breathe. My prayer is that she goes to sleep one night and simply doesn’t wake up. But we will deal with whatever comes. The facility has a contract with hospice care. I’m confident it will be the best it can be when the time comes.

For now, I am grateful for every day I have with her. She is loved not only by the caregivers, but by many of the residents. She has always had a loving personality and been one to accept each person on their own terms. That was her gift to her nine children and many of their friends and extended family.

 

My Journey and It’s Impact on My Author Future

Cover for the anthology Whispers from Windtree PressBack then, in March of 2023, as I recovered from COVID, I talked about “control” and being reminded of how much I cannot control in my own world. That was a hard lesson, and it was one that carried me through this past year. During that time of grieving my sister, working to find the best situation for my mother, taking an hour trip each way to visit her in her new facility, and working a part-time job I never was able to schedule time for writing. I tried to fit it in on a weekend, or squeeze it in on a holiday. I did make time to edit my middle-grade novel, and to submit a novella to the Windtree Press anthology, Whispers. However, I couldn’t even contemplate working on a novel. I couldn’t make enough space in my mind to hold that long of a story. And I felt guilty about that…very guilty.

Fortunately, I had several people in my life who reminded me I’m not superhuman. I knew that…but I didn’t act like I knew that. Picture a slap to my forehead each time someone reminded me. Those authors reminded me that when I had more time, when my brain could process all this, I’d be able to write again. My fears of losing fans and readers forgetting I existed may be true. But compared to losing my family or losing my health, it wasn’t equal. Perspective is important, especially when you aren’t a superhero who is able to shift time in order to make everything happen the way you dreamed.

 

The Future as I See It Now

I’ve made it through those very messy, scary, emotional moments that kept reoccurring in the past year. With my mother in her new place, and the financial burden being shared by Medicare and Medicaid, I can return to “retirement.” At the end of this month, I will no longer be working a part-time job. I have already started getting back in the habit of writing.

This month, for one week, I am participating in a multi-author price reduction of all the books in my catalog, the Smashwords Read an Ebook Week. All of my novels are 99 cents until  March 9th. Anything shorter than a novel is free. Even my boxsets are highly reduced (between $2 and $3). I’m hoping this will encourage my current readers to try a new series maybe that hadn’t tried before and help new readers find a book of mine they might like.

In April I’m releasing my SF novella–Pax Reborn–that appeared in the Whispers antholology, and the mystery novelette–Two Turtle Doves–that appeared first in the Crime Never Takes a Holiday anthology.  Toward the end of the month my new Middle Grade novel, The Power of S.A.D., will hit the shelves in ebook and paperback. The fourth and final novel in the Sweetwater Canyon Series, Two Voices, is scheduled for publication in the fall.

Covers for Scheduled New Releases

Covers for 4 books being released in 2024: Two Turtle Doves, Pax Reborn, The Power of S.A.D., and Singularity.

 

Scheduled for publication in 2025 is another series ender–Singularity from the Cryoborn Gifts series in the Obsidian Rim shared world. Also in 2025 will be the second Mariposa Lane middle-grade/YA series. I haven’t yet decided who’s story is next. If you read the first one, The Power of S.A.D., do let me know whose story you would like me to write next. There are six foster girls in that book. Which one intrigues you the most?

The future is bright. I can’t wait to see how this next year turns out!

 

 

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