Saturday, December 6, 2008

Dawn's Christmas Letter for Family, Friends and Random People Who Have Stumbled Upon This Blog


2008 has been a year of a lot of transformations for me (and oddly, a lot of traveling). I’m very excited about next year and what it may bring. Below is the reader’s digest version of the highlights of my year (and feel free to peruse the previous blog entries ). Feel free to leave comments. I would love to hear from you.

After the stress, etc. of juggling work and graduate school (I got my MA in Dec. 07) I decided it was long past time to take better care of myself. Joining our company’s “Biggest Loser” contest, not only did my team win, but I ended up losing 20+ pounds (and counting.) I’ve actually even started to develop (gasp) muscle tone. I know. I'm amazed, too.

I've still been very blessed to get some things published. In February, The Wild Rose Press published my second novel, “Leaving the Comfort CafĂ©.” This is NOT a vanity press (meaning you pay to have it printed or published) but it is a small royalty-paying press specializing in romance books (insert irony here) For the record, I really consider this book more Southern fiction than romance. It’s sold well, but not enough to quit my day job. You can get it on Amazon, special order through bookstores or at the Wild Rose Press Website.
And it makes a nice Christmas gift (wink, wink, nod, nod).

I've had a few readings (if you look at the March and April entries on the left, I think you'll find the video of the readings.)

I’m still completely addicted to kayaking, and my friends and I (weather permitting) generally paddle about six miles (give or take) each week during the spring and summer Through our paddles, we’ve discovered some gorgeous areas. We've seen a BALD EAGLE NEST (We call him “Sam.” ), multiple blue herons (you have no idea how huge they are until you get close to them). We have even run across a random goat and peacock on our paddles, in addition to more geese, turtles, and cranes than you can shake a stick at. (By the way, the beavers and muskrats on the Tar River are bleepin' HUGE).

We've even experienced the random unwanted company-- six water moccasins along the waterway with us. Fortunately, they don’t seem to want to be around us any more than we want to be around them (at least, that’s what we keep telling ourselves). Inspired by these events, I wrote a short story that will be published in early 09 by Glass Fire Magazine called "Things Seen While Kayaking." I'll send you a link when it's online.

My niece came up for a wonderful visit (she's becoming quite the oboe player, btw) and we went to the Duke Primate Center to visit the lemurs. I’ve always loved lemurs because they look so stressed out---so much like me. I also took her to see the large gothic cathedral at that School that Shall Not Be Named and then disinfected ourselves by spending a great evening at the UNC Planetarium.

In September, I did a reading and participated in an arts festival in Augusta , GA. I had never been to Augusta before and really enjoyed it. While there, I got to meet LOUISE SILVERS—the world-renowned writer who wrote “Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail” which was later made in to the movie “Summer Heat.”

Also in September, I was blessed to be selected for a writer’s residency at the “Wildacres” retreat in Little Switzerland, NC. You can see photos and information on the book I was working on there on the links at the left called “blogging from the mountain.” It was truly a great experience (shout out to Mike, Catherine and Teva, the poodle caboodle). I stayed in a gorgeous cabin WAY WAY WAY back in the woods. It was then that I discovered that small, baby black snakes look exactly like cell phone charger cords. I was also greeted several mornings by wild turkeys in my driveway. (no, not people, but actual turkeys).

Mom and Dad and I enjoyed the official opening of the UNC basketball season with "Late Night with Roy," which was a blast.

I am hoping that some day, I will be able to relocate closer to Mom and Dad and my niece and sister (who are still in Asheville.) Charlotte and Greensboro and Winston seem to hold a particular appeal for me...I am dedicating these items to prayer and trying to remember that it is not my time schedule, but God's that is most important.

However, I found myself oddly falling in love with the wide expanses and flat farm fields that seemed to stretch forever. I had never seen cotton grow and bloom and it was amazing to me how it looks like long fields of snow. I did a double take when I first saw the HUGE bales of cotton like giant white plastic boxes. I've made some of the most amazing friends that I will cherish throughout my entire life. I have been "adopted" by not just one, but several different families in the area.

Other new things I've been doing this year?
I've learned to play the didgeridoo (albeit, not very well).

This fall, I have been teaching two nights a week at the local community college-Composition Strategies ("strategery" as I call it. ) I've really enjoyed it. I'm going to teach another class in the spring--Technical Writing.

I'm also learning to play the guitar (thus far, I have only mastered "Smelly Cat"---I'll be coming to a coffeeshop near you.)

In wishing you a Merry Christmas---