When does a new year start for you? I can remember the year I started Latin class (ninth grade) and discovered that the year used to start in March. Why March? Because that was the end of winter. The Roman army could come out of winter quarters and go back on the "march" to war (Mars = god of war )That explained why our ninth through 12th months had names that suggested they were the seventh through the tenth months. Who knew! It certainly made more sense to me than starting a new year in January, when everything was cold and dark.
For most of my life, however, my real "new year" started in September with the start of a new school year. Nerd that I have always been, I counted my years by the new grade I was entering, and that attitude carried over into all the years I spent teaching. Put me in a classroom, send in a new crop of students, and it was a bright shiny new year.
But this year? This year has felt different. We've just weathered about eleven months of various health crises -- none of which has turned out to be as serious as prognoses suggested. So, after a year of saying, "We'll maybe do this, if we're still around and able, " I realized that I was making firm plans again. I went to Staples and bought a huge academic calendar that started with July 2012. It now hangs on my office door, and I've already filled it with plans for the future.
What's scheduled? Well, three book launches, for one thing.
(1)I have a very short collection of character sketches and scenes that failed to find a place in the novel I've been working on. It should be available on Kindle by the end of July, or sooner. I'm limiting it to the Kindle Select program, just to see how that works.
(2) Then there's my doctoral dissertation, a biographical analysis of a cantankerous 12th-century bishop, who had his nose and interfering fingers into most of the crucial events of that period. The book was published by a prestigious university press, but they have let it go out of print and returned all publishing rights to me. When I discovered that CreateSpace could photograph it and republish it in trade paperback format, I jumped at the chance. It should be available to a new generation of medieval scholars by the end of August.
(3) And then, in October, the work to which I have devoted the last three years will finally appear. The story of Laura M. Towne, abolitionist, teacher, and doctor to the newly-freed slaves of South Carolina, is, I think, an important work. Although I have cast it as historical fiction, It is really a historical account of the Civil War years, during which Laura and her lifelong companion Ellen Murray, struggled to establish the Penn School, a model for Negro education in the South.
Once I have sent all my literary "babies" out into the world -- what then? Well, we have lots of travel plans again. We head for Tampa in mid-September for a Lions forum, and then go on to my old hometown, Massillon, Ohio, and then to Dayton for a writers' conference. And in November and December, that brand new calendar show trips to Nashville, Charleston, Beaufort, Panama City and Myrtle Beach.
And will there be another book coming? Well . . . maybe! There's an idea brewing, but it needs some incubation time before it hatches. That's another task for a new year.
So Happy New Year, everyone. My new year started just last week!