2016 Year in Review.

Ah yes, 2016- a year that’ll go down in the history books as one WTF moment after the next. There have been so many unbelievable, scary moments throughout the year. The loss of life seemed unrelenting, the push for feminism and equal rights was shaken, and the future of our country has stooped to a level of uncertainty that I’m sure will never be seen again. But somewhere in there, lurking in the shadows and between bizarre headlines, beats the heart of something good.

I’ve been riding this odd roller coaster of emotion as 2016 comes to a close. I’m tore between the personal and public events/achievements that have taken place. And I’ve come to conclusion that I need to end the year focusing on the positive, the good that has happened during and come from 2016. Personally, it has been an exciting year; my first and second books were published and I wrote my third. I overcame my anxiety enough to engage and participate in situations/events I’d normally shy away from. I even pushed aside my dislike for long car rides to drive to Provincetown, Massachusetts to attend my first Women’s Week- which was one of the best experiences of my life.

I now stand at the tail end of 2016, watching the flame of its time burn out, and I think back to the person I was in January. I hardly recognize that person. Sure, a lot of the same anxieties crawl beneath my skin. I’m still apprehensive of change and do not like taking risks, but I’ve also learned this: change can be good and some risks are worth taking, even your mistakes present you with an opportunity to grow.

So now, after I’ve managed to ramble for three paragraphs, I’d like to share with you all some of my favorite things/moments from 2016. Let’s start with something entertaining and easy.

Top five favorite songs from 2016:

#5. Unsteady by X Ambassadors

#4. Can’t Stop the Feeling! By Justin Timberlake

#3. On Your Side by The Veronicas

#2. Closer by The Chainsmokers ft. Halsey

#1. Into You by Ariana Grande (All thanks to this video:)

Top three favorite movies:

#3. Captain America: Civil War

#2. Finding Dory

#1. Ghostbusters (Hell Yeah Holtzmann!)

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Top five favorite books published in 2016:

#5. First Position by Melissa Brayden – This novel hit all the important romance nails on the head, PLUS there was dancing. Even when written, everything can benefit from dancing. Get it HERE.

#4. Taste by Kris Bryant – The steam is there, the chemistry is there, there’s a delightful child that actually adds to the story as opposed to just causing drama, and the culinary speak is just as good as any dirty talk. Get it HERE.

#3. Serious Potential by Maggie Cummings – This is the second book in Cumming’s Bay West trilogy. I loved the first book and the continuation is no different. I’m counting the minutes until book three is released. Get it HERE.

#2. Camp Rewind by Meghan O’Brien – Just like everything else O’Brien does, this book is stellar. But what makes Camp Rewind stand out from the rest is the emotional aspect of a main character who struggles with crippling anxiety. Don’t let that mislead you- this book is still sexy. Get it HERE.

#1. All In by Eliza Lentzski (The final installment in the Winter Jacket series. I’m not crying, YOU’RE crying!) – I have nothing more to say than I’m satisfied with how the series ended by my broken heart will never heal unless another Winter Jacket book is released. (DO YOU HEAR ME, ELIZA LENTZSKI?!) Get it HERE.

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(So sad to see it end! Goodbye Hunter and Ellio!)

 

My favorite moments from 2016 in no specific order:

-“Upgrading” our civil union by obtaining a marriage license with my beautiful wife, Heather. It was a quick afternoon spent in court where many memories were made as I was asked to be the witness for another wedding taking place. Bizarre and hilarious- Just look at my face in the picture below.img_0110

-Opening the box when my first novel, “Fortunate Sum”, was delivered to my doorstep. I ate breakfast as I stared at it.

-The Rainbow Book Fair in NYC. It was my first outing since being published, and just displaying my book was surreal. I also got to meet a few other Bold Strokes Books authors and join in on their shenanigans. (Pictured below: Maggie Cummings, Jean Copeland, and TJ Thomas)

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-Organizing and taking part in my local Pride festival. Bringing Bold Strokes Books to the locals and getting to take in the festivities at the same time was incredible. I can’t wait to do it again this summer.

-Catching a USWNT match from a front row seat and chatting with/getting an autograph from Becky Sauerbrunn afterwards.

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(The BROON!)

-Attending Sky Blue FC’s opening day match against the Washington Spirit and not just getting Ali Krieger’s autograph, but having that million watt smile directed right at me. I’m still a little blind.

-Watching Ashlyn Harris play for the Orlando Pride.

-I had the opportunity to suit-up twice for my friend’s weddings. (Seems silly, but I do love feeling dapper.)

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-The release of my second novel, “Life in Death”, being received better than I could’ve hoped for. It was named ‘Book of the Year’ by Les Reveur, which floored me completely. (Read the review and article here.) I took a risk when I decided to forge ahead and write a book containing such devastating subject matter, but the story was in my head and made no plans to leave. I’m glad I took that risk and I’m proud of the end result.

-Attending my first Women’s Week. I should’ve written a blog post about my experience back in October, but I was foolish and didn’t. I had such an incredible time and met some of the most wonderful women; some were fellow authors and others were their partners. I came back with memories I’ll never forget and friendships that grow dearer to me as time wears on.

-I did my first public reading EVER. I thought for sure I’d pass out and I’m positive my mouth has never been that dry, but I survived and did better than I ever expected.

-I know this is technically a repeat, but having my first two novels released this year has to take the cake for me. What an unbelievable ride.

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-And finally, I woke up every day. I shared my happiness and grief with friends and family, made countless people laugh and smile, and continued to work towards being a good human I can be proud of.

I plan on spending the last couple of weeks 2016 has left concentrating on the positive, because the way you end your year is the way you’ll start your next. 2017 holds a lot of potential, and not all of it is good. I’ll stand tall and handle these things as they come, but in the meantime- I’m going to snuggle up to my wife and hug my cats harder than they like, because all I have to give is love.

I hope this encourages at least one or two people to share the good that has happened to them throughout the year. Please, don’t hesitate to share your experiences. I know I’d love to hear about them.

Peace, love, and a Happy New Year.

M.