January has always been one of my favourite months, from way back in my childhood. It's a given, really, when our Australian school year ended in December and resumed in early February. I grew up on a farm and harvest, the busiest time of year by far, also finished in December. January stretched before us, a whole month with no school and no chores. Hooray!!!
If we went on family vacation, then January was the month. Some years we went to our cousins' in the city but I loved our beach holidays the best. Often we stayed with relatives in Avalon, a suburb on Sydney's northern beaches, and it was quiet and safe and we walked to the beach or down to the corner store. I loved the beach, the water, building elaborate sandcastles and collecting shells. Simple things like wearing rubber thongs (flip-flops) or going bare-footed which were absolute no-no's on the farm.
When our sons were younger we followed the tradition, taking them on beach holidays where I could revisit my childhood love of sand construction under the guise of "playing with the kids." I also got to borrow their boogie boards. Hated when they whined "but it's mine, Mum, give it back!" My husband isn't a big fan of the beach (I love him despite this blemish), so we mixed it up with holidays in the cooler high country and driving trips to Tasmania and along the Great Ocean Road.
I'm sure my memories of those happy summer holidays still colour my impression of January as the number one month. Now we tend to travel at different times of the year but January is still a relaxed time. It's also like a rebirth, the start of a new year, where you can put disappointments and droughts behind and say, "THIS year will be better." In January anything is possible in the twelve months ahead.
On December 31 I took time to clean up my office and to think about my writing year ahead. I have 3 books to write. I've booked my flights for the Romance Writers of America conference in San Francisco in July. Before then I have a writers' retreat to look forward to as well as two books coming out, both of which have special significance to me.
The first should be making its appearance in North American bookstores right about now. VOWS & A VENGEFUL GROOM is my 13th published book and my biggest challenge to date. As part of a continuity series -- DIAMONDS DOWN UNDER -- conceived and developed by the six authors involved, it took at least twice as long to write as any previous book. That's because of the work involved in putting together the whole series arc, the continuity threads, the backstory, research, and cross-checking everything with the other authors to make sure we were all on the same page.
Now the first book is out, the website has launched, our blog is running and I think I'm as thrilled and proud as when my first book came out. I guess there's nothing left to do but kick off my shoes and walk barefoot through the summer excitement.
What does January represent to you? Do you have a favourite month, and is that coloured by your childhood memories?
VOWS & A VENGEFUL GROOM is set in Sydney in January, although there is little relaxing for Kimberley Blackstone and Ric Perrini as they battle to overcome old misunderstandings and mistrust -- and to secure the future of Blackstone Diamonds -- in the wake of a shocking accident. Visit the Diamonds Down Under website for the goss on the series, to read excerpts, and for a chance to win some awesome prizes. Diamonds, anyone?