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The decorations are almost put away. The house is almost quiet. My heart is almost beating at an acceptable rate again after watching two hours of Downton Abbey last night…

Oh, my. What a show. I love it. I love being transported into that fictional world of splendour, hanging out with characters whose lives I have come to find fascinating, waiting to see what will happen next. Television, when done right, can be quite entertaining. As should be the pull of a good book. Whenever I find myself enthralled the way I am with Downton, by a movie or tv series, I always come away thinking, “How can I do that?” “Am I doing that with my books?” or of course, “Why aren’t I doing that with my books?”

We are at the start of a new year. One thing I want to accomplish is to quit comparing myself to other people. To other authors. Last time, I talked about simply being in the moment, enjoying the journey. How can I do that if I’m always checking those blasted Amazon rankings or drooling over another’s success? I know, I know, I know…this is a trap that I have been snared by since my first novel released. I swore I’d do things differently with the second. Yet, here I sit, still banging my head against the wall, wishing I could figure out a way to make those sales numbers go up. Wishing I knew how others did it. Wishing for things I do not yet have.

What a complete waste of time.

Far more profitable for me to take stock of what I do have, and be grateful for it. So, here goes…

Here’s what I do have:

The ability to craft a story. To tell it well and love doing so. To enjoy the process, because I am living my dream.

I can reach out to and connect with my readers, most of whom I am privileged to call friends. You’ve invited me into your lives and you’ve shared mine, and I have the blessing of being able to share the desires, joys and sorrows of my heart with you.

I am able to stay home and continue to craft new stories that, God willing, will one day become new books. For that, I am so grateful.

Here’s what I don’t have:

The ability to control what people like or don’t like.

That’s it. Oh, sure, I don’t have a three book deal at a major publishing house, but so what? In the end, however my books reach the public, big house, small press or self-publishing, this is pretty much what it comes down to.

I’ve known for a long time that not everyone will appreciate my writing style. Not everyone will want to read the kind of books I like to write, or want to hear the stories I have to tell. And I’m okay with that. I’m growing my audience.

I’m taking baby steps.

Today, I sent out my first ever Author Newsletter. And it was fun! (Once I figured out what I was doing…) Sure, I only have two dozen subscribers right now, but that’s better than none. Right?

It’s soooo easy to get sucked into that whirling vortex of pressure to do this and this and this…always pushing, taking great big giant steps in shoes that don’t fit. It’s exhausting, soul-sucking, and oh, so not worth it.

I’m smiling now, because I think sub-consciously, I’ve been searching for my theme for this year. You know, sometimes people choose a life verse of Scripture or a particular word that means something to them, and try to live that out over the coming year. It’s not a practice I’ve adopted. But maybe I just did. Maybe this is the year for me.

Baby Steps. 

One foot in front of the other. Walking on wobbly legs. Sometimes taking a fall. Finding joy in the journey. And always, always, always, having a hand to hold when I need one.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21