Happy New Year! Goals for 2016

Did I just type “2016?” It blows my mind. How did 2016 get here so fast?


Sweet little Solstice is also wondering where 2015 went.

Well, 2015 was a pretty good year around here. It was truly wonderful to have a calmer year after the losses, sadness, and stress of 2013 and (though to a lesser extent) 2014. And I’m happy to report that, in the fiction-writing department, 2015 has been the most productive year I’ve enjoyed in quite some time, and it feels great to get my mojo back. In 2015, I published:

Plus, I wrote two short stories for inclusion in the upcoming Mind’s Eye anthology (“Beautiful Dreamer” and “Guitar Traveler”), I resurrected an older novel (formerly known as Maestro) for a rewrite, and best of all, I have sunk my teeth into a major (and very fun) fiction project, with which I’m utterly obsessed and which I envision as an ongoing series.

In what has become a yearly tradition on this blog, I’ll offer the New Year’s goals I made last year at this time, in bold type, with commentary (in regular type) on whether or not I accomplished each goal. Then I’ll present my New Year’s goals for the coming year. Without further ado:

Old Goals

1. Keep flying high on the music and enjoying my church pianist job. It truly is such a blessing in my life. Write new music. And make progress on my next album, Reflected Moon.

I’ve done pretty well at this with regard to flying high on the music and enjoying my church pianist job. It continues to be a joy. I haven’t done so well at writing new music. I’ve fiddled and fardled and written one actual, completed new piece. Though I’m spending a lot of time at the piano, I’m still in a bit of a dry spell as a composer. And I haven’t made one shred of progress on a second album. My recording equipment has spent most of 2015 gathering dust, I’m sorry to say.

2. Make a serious commitment to my fiction. Get productive again. Finish my projects. Get them out there. Believe I can do it.

On this goal (well, actually, these goals), I have completely and totally kicked mega butt. See above for projects published and in progress.

3. Blog. Yeah. More than twice a year *ahem.*

Ha! Well, I did a little better here. I guess I blogged three times last year?

4. Take good care of myself and count my blessings.

I have done better here, too. Since 2015 has been a calmer, more peaceful year on all fronts, it has given me much-needed space to recharge and rejuvenate, which has fed into my creative efforts and also into better self-care and blessing awareness. :)

My Goals for the New Year

  1. Compose new music and get a second album off the ground.
  2. Publish Come Back to Me (the new version of the novel formerly known as Maestro).
  3. Keep up the momentum I built in 2015 with my fiction — write, polish, and publish.
  4. And this goal remains the same: take good care of myself and count my blessings.

Happy New Year, Everyone!

Random Bits in the Life of TL

Good grief, nearly two months have passed since my last post here. *headdesk* Guess I’ll brush off the tumbleweeds yet again and put up a post, this one comprised of random bits. Pun on “bytes” most certainly intended.

1. I decided to create a dedicated Dharma blog especially for my Zen-related posts. If you’d like to check it out, I’d be most pleased. The name of the blog is Green Mountains Walking, a phrase from Zen Master Dogen’s Mountains and Rivers Sutra. I copied the older Dharma posts from here, re-homed them on Green Mountains Walking, then put up a brand new post on the brand new blog about — guess what — Dogen’s Mountains and Rivers Sutra.

2. My muse has been in high gear with music and writing. While music has been getting the lion’s share of the creative energy, I have a novel in progress and recently cracked 56,000 words. But the novel will be plenty longer than that. I’m taking my sweet time with the novel, allowing the story to unfold. I also have another novel in mind. Not sure whether to attempt NaNoWriMo this year. I’m really not ready to start the next novel, as it involves quite a bit of research. We’ll see. I probably won’t know whether I’ll undertake NaNoWriMo until October 31 at 11:59:59 p.m.

3. I’ll still compose and share piano sketches, though intermittently for now and probably on the Dharma blog. I’m spending plenty of time with my piano, but my current focus is on working up vocals for Reflected Moon, my second music album which is in progress. I’ve already recorded the piano tracks for the album, and my current task is to record the vocal tracks and grow more and more conversant with my audio software. It’s a learning curve, a delightful one. It’s a bit bizarre, too. Usually, I play and sing my songs at the same time. Who doesn’t? Recording, on the other hand, is rather like karaoke! :)

4. I’m still getting up on the Magic Mountain for hikes from time to time. The fall foliage is nearing its peak in East Tennessee. Fall is a marvelous time of year — my very favorite season, though followed closely by Spring.

random bits, fall foliage, east tennessee, appalachian mountains

Interviewed on BlogTalkRadio!

Well, today has been a lot of fun: just had my first interview on BlogTalkRadio. I was interviewed by Coral Russell from Alchemy of Scrawl, and we had a great talk about books, publishing, and even music. If you’d like to give it a listen, just click play.

Listen to internet radio with alchemyofscrawl on Blog Talk Radio

Alternate Realities

Let’s ponder the notion of alternate realities. It’s a heady idea. Alternate realities are speculated upon by physicists, and they make marvelous fodder for stories, whether books, television, or film. I’d venture to guess that a significant percentage of the popular old Twilight Zone episodes related to alternate realities.

Who hasn’t wondered, in looking back on the twists and turns making up her life path so far, what things might have been like if she had taken, at a crossroads long ago, the right path instead of the left? The middle path instead of the right? The path whose sides were sprinkled with wildflowers instead of the path whose sides were piled up with rocks?

thomma lyn grindstaff, heart's chalice, alternate realities, magical realism, women's fiction

When you combine the lure of alternate realities with the regret of love lost, it’s strong stuff indeed. Many people experience that poignant tug from the past: the One Who Got Away. Maybe the tug comes up in dreams, or even in waking thoughts.

If you feel the tug, it doesn’t mean that the paths you’ve chosen are wrong. Perhaps your path suits you fine, and you feel you’re exactly where you need to be. Truly, it’s my belief that wherever you are is where you need to be. If it’s a difficult place, then it’s possible to learn from the hardships and move farther down to a point on that path where there are as many wildflowers as rocks.

No matter how your life has turned out and continues to turn out, though, there’s a powerful urge to wonder, “What if?” and to contemplate how different life might be if you had said yes to that man you loved years in the distant past, and perhaps to contemplate how much of your life might even be pretty much the same. It’s human nature, I suppose, to speculate whether or not the grass in the field of another choice would have been greener.

A wonderful outlet for those speculations is fiction. In fiction, anything can happen, and it often does. In fiction, a woman can be shaken to the core of her heart and soul by the possibilities of a crossroads which she has regretted for many years opening up to her in the now and presenting her, again, with a choice. And the question would be, as it would be for any of us if such a thing happened in our real lives, what would we do? Would be choose to leave the “nows” that we know in favor of new “nows” that reflect the different direction we might have taken?

If I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s this: things change, and the ripples from our choices perpetrate themselves in unexpected ways. What we think was the right choice often doesn’t turn out so well, and what we think was the wrong choice might actually be one of the best things we could have done in order to learn and grow and get better at loving and caring for ourselves and other people.

So… right path, wrong path. Wildflowers or rocks. It’s a good thing to know when to stop and admire beauty, but climbing over obstacles can be a handy skill, too. The world needs it all, so perhaps the ultimate answer is, “Who knows?”