Silver Linings…

It’s been an interesting year.

Everyone seems to have an opinion about 2016, be it good or bad. Political turmoil and celebrity tragedy aside, I have found that a number of these moments have kind of tainted my year end. With that came a skewed view of the year, retroactively. It became a dark cloud that threatened to envelope the last three hundred sixty-five days when in reality, it’s been a pretty good year.

Truly, it’s not an epiphany I came to on my own – no emotional realization is ever my own doing. It’s the work of a lot of different sources talking me off a lot of simultaneous (and metaphorical) ledges. But eventually, I usually come around.

Like always, when I finally do, I strap on the optimism and redouble my efforts to be a positive influence. Really, that is my favorite thing about this time of year. The unbridled love and kinship for our fellow man, even and especially in the face of adversity. It’s so easy to be bleak, but to cling to optimism and look with blind hope toward the coming year, that is magic. It’s a wonder we haven’t found a way to manufacture this sense of togetherness and optimism at other points of the year. It really is something we should work on.

Obviously, that ball drop at midnight is not some magical eraser. The new year doesn’t come as a clean slate that forgives and forgets. Pain and loss will still be there, depleted savings will still be depleted. But there is hope. There is always hope. And like last year and many years before it, here I am again, ready to draw back the curtain on a coming year.

I wish that you have all the best things happen to you this next year.
I hope that you find joy in all things, no matter how small.
I pray that you not only feel the goodness in the world around you, but that you push that goodness forward into all those around you.
And I hope that even if none of this happens to you, if nothing good happens to you at all, I hope that you still have a silver lining to gaze upon.

I wanted to track down some sort of inspirational quote to sign off the year with, but I kept thinking back to something I wrote myself. It’s self-serving, yes, but it’s also something I mean with all my heart. It was the first taste of holiday goodness to reach out to me this year, and I hope it instills you with the same fire that possessed me to write it in the first place.

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Thank you all for a wonderful 2016.

Happy New Year.

Round 2… #flashfictionchallenge

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On top of a glorious Farewell to Summer camping trip, this past weekend was also Round 2 of the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge.

“But Andy,” You might say to yourself. “What about Round 1’s results?”

I’m glad you asked.

Round 1 went far better than anticipated. In my group of 35 writers, I managed to place 4th. The feedback was bolstering, and I hope to have as good (if not better) news from the judges after Round 2 concludes.

It’s a scary proposition: of 2100 writers, only 300 will move on to Round 3. I’m confident that I submitted my best 1000 words for the challenge, but really all I can do is hope my stories are good enough when compared to the competition.

Keep your fingers crossed for me, I have lots of typing to do before Round 3 starts.

Christmas Wishes and Humble Thanks

When it comes right down to it, I don’t write because I want to be famous. I don’t even write because I’m good at it – that’s completely subjective, anyway. People tell me I am a good writer, I have no reason not to believe them. I’m a writer because I have stories to tell. Stories that want to be told, and they have no one else but me to tell them… those poor, unfortunate souls.

I love to write, but I wouldn’t say I’m very good at the process. I get bogged down by the difficulties inherent in world building, by characters that don’t want to adhere to their own motivations, by all of the steps required to go from that spark in my brain to a finished novel. It’s exhausting, and sometimes I think that I can’t possibly keep going.

But I keep going. And here’s the rub: I write for me, first and foremost. If I didn’t enjoy doing it, I probably wouldn’t bother. But I also keep going because of everyone else who won’t let me fail.

Obviously, there are the people who buy my books and who leave me wonderful reviews that help rejuvenate me, but it goes far beyond that. I am surrounded by talented people who are willing to invest their time and skills to help me improve mine. Wonderful friends full of heart who continue to push me forward when I don’t think I have it in me anymore. People whose lives have sometimes only briefly touched mine, but have left me so much better for having that moment between us.

I am blessed to know so many amazing people who I will never be able to thank enough. If there were time to write enough books to dedicate one to each of the people in my life, I could fill a library with my thanks. That will probably not be the case – though not for lack of trying.

I can only say thank you.

Thank you from the very bottom of my heart.
Thank you for all of the support and encouragement from my first release up to now.
Thank you for all the future support I will receive.
Thank you for being my stepping stones to whatever comes next.
Thank you for everything.

Merry Christmas to you and yours, and a Happy New Year to us all. One full of promise and potential and the best of surprises.