I’ve really been busy during the pandemic. Honest. But I took a week off to go to a vacation spot I’ve been thinking about for a few years now. It’s a tiny coastal village in Massachusetts called Mulligan’s Cove. The people are so friendly and it’s the perfect place for me to put myself in a great mood – even when the whole world is going crazy.
Mulligan’s Cove is really a romantic spot, filled with rocky beaches, stretches of sand dunes, and a harbor. I even have a map that shows all of the places I love to visit. I go there to see friends, catch up on their lives, and lose my own problems and worries for a few days.
And all without leaving my office.
So I know most of you read my Urban Fantasy books, but I’m changing it up right now because I’ve been in Mulligan’s Cove for a while and I decided to just stay there and see what’s going on. This is the perfect time to escape and have a little summer romance out by the ocean.
For your first adventure, I’d like to introduce you to Collin Landry, a local celebrity chef who grew up in Mulligan’s Cove. Everything is going really well for him. His friends are fun and he taking a break from the whole globe-trotting chef scene to guest-chef in the fabulous Harborside restaurant in Mulligan’s Cove.
I think you’ll really love Collin (I do), and when Hollywood Defector Angeline Kent shows up in Mulligan’s Cove, things in the kitchen at Harborside come to a slow simmer that’s going to really be a perfect escape from all of the craziness we’re living in.
So I’d like you to buy your ticket for Wednesday, and spend a while in this beautiful seaside town with me. You know you want to come to the beach and hang out. So let’s make this a memorable summer!
At the start of this pandemic, I heard so many people talking about isolation and the negative impact it would have on people. There were online groups for people to talk to complete strangers springing up all over the internet. I even found myself in a chat group for an hour with a group of women I sometimes do critiques with. Women whose screen names I know, but that’s about the extent of my knowledge about them.
They were nice enough, and we were all of a similar age with similar interests, yet I struggled to find something to talk about. Even talking about myself seemed strained – not that I’m shy, really…it’s just odd for me to talk to people I don’t really know. I’m not a fan of small talk. I admit, I only went to the chat room because I wasn’t motivated to do anything more interesting that night and it gave me a convenient excuse to spend the night on the couch with the dog and not feel compelled to be productive.
So a few weeks went by and I was isolated in my nice little house – seeing only close family and one friend – all from a responsible social distance. I worked from home, taking a 15 step commute to my office and being engaged in my job until quitting time (and often well beyond quitting time). Around week two, something magical began to happen.
I realized I was sleeping 8 solid hours. I had no bouts of my occasional insomnia. My house was tidy, and even the mail that tends to pile up on the kitchen table disappeared. I didn’t feel tense, time pressured, or exhausted at night. I began to feel more creative, but without the pressure to produce something. I became the person I am – free from outside distractions or expectations – and I started to THRIVE.
Granted, I am very fortunate that my job immediately went to remote work – I didn’t have to face the financial stress and pressure so many people are facing. My point in writing this is not to diminish the struggles which are very real out there for so many people. But for some of us blessed with healthy families and some degree of economic security this time has been the ultimate luxury.
I’m an introvert – in a very extroverted occupation – and doing that for a lifetime has been exhausting. Being home and secluded has opened up a whole new world for me – a world filled with imagination, creativity, and a calmness I have never experienced on this level.
For years I have thought I’d be 100 percent okay all by myself in a cabin in the woods. This pandemic has taught me that I was completely accurate. If I find out tomorrow I can’t leave my house for two more years, I’m going to go take a hot bath, drink some tea, and order more cleaning supplies from Amazon. I’m not going to protest. I’m not even going to give it a second’s thought. I’m just going to snuggle in with the dog, breathe a sigh of relief, and get on with entertaining myself.
For those of you who are desperate for human interaction – I’m not without pity. I think it would be horrible to just want to see somebody and have a conversation and be unable to connect on this most basic human level. This isolation is very hard on most people, and I don’t deny or minimize that at all. But when the doors open and we’re once again all together there will be those of us who are struggling to reintegrate into our old lives and ways of behaving. Some of us will go home exhausted after a day of endless distraction and conversation and we will long for the seclusion, for the opportunity to be alone with our thoughts.
Being an introvert has advantages in times like these – so to my introverted pals out there we will adjust when this is over – but I know I’ll be taking a closer look at how I plan to continue to live after having been allowed this wonderful luxury. I know the creative spree I’ve been on will end, but I’ll have to find new ways of reengaging with my (exhausted) creative side.
I bet I’m not the only one who coughed or sneezed in the past week and thought “Oh no!” I’ve put my forearm to my forehead to check my own temperature. I’ve taken my fair share of deep breaths, just to make sure my lungs are clear. I wonder if that slight headache is due to allergies, eyestrain from being on my computer, or if it’s the first sign of Coronavirus.
I might have tendencies toward hypochondria – there have been a few times when someone told me – after I’d spent a lot of time in close contact with them – that they had just gotten over the “stomach bug”. The next time I ate something, I’d focus in on my own G.I. tract to make sure there were no indications of nausea. But this is different because nausea is unpleasant but Coronavirus can be deadly.
Unfortunately, the pandemic is hitting at the same time that the dead wet leaves from last fall are starting to mold. My allergies are kicking in as a result. My eyes itch and burn, there’s a slight pressure to my sinuses. I know it’s just allergies, but to be on the safe side…
I’m not going near people. I’m staying home – as strongly suggested by the government – because I’m not so self-centered that the thought of infecting someone wouldn’t bother me. Should this not be allergies (which I’m pretty certain it is because I don’t have a lot of contact with people to begin with), I don’t want to pass it on to someone else. Hell – even if I have the common cold and pass that on to someone, their immune system will be impacted and this is a time when none of us can afford a compromised immune system.
So I won’t be at the grocery store for unnecessary items. I won’t go to the post office to chat. I’m not visiting friends or relatives. I’m certainly not going anywhere near a hospital or doctor’s office. I’m staying home and I wish everyone else would as well.
There are nurses and doctors fighting this virus who need to stay as healthy as possible. There are people with underlying health conditions who could die from this. It’s not worth the risk.
So today is the day I really settle in to this self-imposed isolation. I have done what I could to prepare for this. I’ve started to take an inventory of everything I have on hand (and discovered an odd obsession I have with soap) and yes, I have decided I really do possess enough toilet paper to last me a month.
It strikes me as a wondrous thing that of all the items people were worried about, toilet paper became the number one obsession. Honestly, I would have never given that a second thought. I was more concerned that I didn’t have three bags of Doritos and my stash of Reese’s Peanut Cups were lower than I would like. Perhaps I’m just a hedonist – screw the basics of human comfort and sanitation, I just want my snack supply to be secure.
I did not make a panic run to the store. In fact, I haven’t seen the inside of a grocery store in about two weeks. I stocked up the best I could (mainly on dog food) and figured as long as I have a few boxes of pasta and some cheese, I’m pretty much good to go. I’m fortunate in the fact that I’ve never been food insecure – but it makes me incredibly sad that others are not so lucky. So this will be a true test of our ability as Americans (and as Humans) to look out for the less fortunate among us.
Have you heard about the Eight Oaks Distillery in Rural Pennsylvania? (Here’s a link to their site: https://eightoaksdistillery.com/). They saw a need for hand sanitizer and set about creating a way to produce and distribute it to those in need. It’s pivots like this that will make us come out of the crisis stronger. They’re not the only company using this time to make a difference – education sites are opening up their resources for free to help the nation cope with school closures (another link to a great site: https://kidsactivitiesblog.com/135609/list-of-education-companies-offering-free-subscriptions/). So maybe this crisis has a chance to move us all toward a more collaborative society – one where those who have something can help those in need.
I guess we’ll find out in a few months if we’re evolved enough as humans to do this gracefully and compassionately. I think we are, but the fact that everyone seems to be out of toilet paper does put a dent in my optimism.
I admit it, the thought of social distancing appeals to me. I’m not very social to begin with. My idea of a perfect day is really being alone in my house with my dog and having the freedom to bang out a few chapters of my next novel or work on my graphic design projects. The thought of not seeing people for a few weeks (months?) really doesn’t cause me any anxiety or sadness. I know I’m probably in the minority with this, but I’m a true introvert, and being an only child prepared me well for times like these.
With that being said, I also know that at some point I’m likely to find myself stretched out on my couch binge watching some series or another. In fact, last summer I devoted weeks to the entire Boston Legal series and I loved every moment of that. In this current situation, though, the mere thought of engaging in slothful behavior causes me to feel a flutter of anxiety. That could be because last summer binge watching was a luxury that I chose while totally in control of my life and secure in the knowledge nothing big was looming outside my door.
Times are different now. Oh, how they’re different! There’s economic chaos on a Global scale. People are in real danger of hunger and homelessness. At best, we will feel some minor discomfort from this. At worst, we face loss, grief, and horrible sickness possibly of ourselves or our loved ones. Yeah, binge watching isn’t on my calendar today.
I rolled out of bed at 5 a.m., made myself tea, told my dog that this was our “new reality” – and turned on the news for about an hour. When I had taken all I could of the calamity that’s now our daily experience, I set about being productive. I cleaned my kitchen. I did two loads of laundry. I changed my sheets. I checked in at my office – via email – and did a few small projects that I had kept for this morning just so I could feel some sense of normalcy.
Then I sat down to write this post and after three different opening sentences realized that my need for productivity comes from a complete loss of control over my life. I’m not unhappy being here with the dog. I love having the flexibility to telecommute. I feel very fortunate that I’m not worried I’ll starve over the next month. But even I – with my love of solitude – feel anxious that I can’t control any part of this situation. All I can do is sit tight and count my blessings – and be productive in the hope that when this is over, I have done something to make my life – and those of others – a little less stressful.
Stay safe. Practice Social Distancing. Wash your hands. And do whatever you can today to help yourself or someone you care about feel a little more in control in these crazy times.
I’ve been back at my writing desk for a few weeks now, working on some new projects and finishing up some old ones. The new blog is all about where I’ve been for four years – caring for my husband and my mother – and I said I’d share it as soon as I went live. Not all of the posts are up yet, but more will be coming in the next few weeks. They’re written and formatted, but I want to double check them one more time (part of being a control-freak writer, I guess). In the meantime, you can check it out here.
Here’s what else I’m working on:
The 4th book in the Arienne Cerasola Series
A brand new series that has a lot to do with feathers (more on that later…)
A new romance series I started last year as my NaNoWriMo project.
I’ll be publishing snippets and teasers over the next few months so stay tuned and thanks for all of your support over the years.
I know, it’s been a loooong time, but I have a really good excuse…honest.
In 2014 – right as I was publishing Legendary Magic, my husband had a medical crisis that hit us completely out of the blue. One day we were wandering the art galleries in Vermont, the next we were in the Emergency Room. Thus began the hardest time in my life. Three years of worry, stress, and eventually savoring every moment until the inevitable happened.
I should mention that half way through my husband’s illness, my mother’s heart condition worsened…so I learned how to be a two-location caregiver. I should also mention they died four months apart.
Four months. Yup.
My two biggest supports were both gone and I had to learn how to stand completely on my own and recover from repeated trauma and stress. Fortunately, I have those skills (and a whole bunch of other ones I was surprised to learn were within me).
But it’s time to put my life back together and that means balancing my writing with my art, but first there’s something I absolutely have to do: start my own resource blog for caregivers. It’s not an easy lot in life, but (if you can keep your sanity) it is rewarding.
Needless to say, there wasn’t a whole lot of time to write. There wasn’t a whole lot of time for anything, really. But I have mental notes and all sorts of new angles running around my head and now that my powers of concentration are back, I’m diving right in. I’m drafting the blog posts right now, and I’ll put up a link as soon as I title it (I might need a bit of help on that one) and figure out if I want the entire thing to go live at once or to space out the posts. Decisions, decisions…
So as soon as the blog is ready, I’ll let you know. Then it’s back to Arienne and the gang, as well as Cally, Cleo, and a few new characters I want you all to meet.