by Catherine Anderson
2016 is truly going to be a year of new beginnings for me. In November of 2014 I lost my husband of 48 years, who was my best friend and the inspiration for every hero I ever wrote about. Sid encouraged my writing career from Day One, and willingly took on the burden of supporting our family singlehandedly while I wrote and dreamed and hoped.
2015 brought many challenges. I had a book to write on deadline, I moved, I had to decide many legal issues alone, and I had a mountain of details relating to Sid’s passing to take care of. I also came to the wrenching conclusion that I had no real choice but to put Cinnamon Ridge on the market. I staggered through the first few months with the help and support of my family and close friends, and the incredibly, unflagging, and heartwarming support of legions of online friends and readers whose posts, e-mails, and cards made such a difference in my life. Gradually I began to come alive again. I finished NEW LEAF, sent it in, and began to outline the third book in the Mystic Creek series, MULBERRY MOON.
For the last few years of Sid’s life he was virtually housebound, chained to a 50-pound oxygen tank 24 hours a day. I left only for emergencies such as doctor appointments. It was my choice, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I wanted to spend every moment I could with him. But after he passed, it was difficult for me to realize that it was okay to leave home, and it was even okay not to have to race home in a panic to see if he was all right.
My recent month-long trip to New Zealand has been a turning point. My son John and grandson Joshua and I left in mid-December to spend the holidays with my older son Andy and his family. We visited a number of different parts of the beautiful country of New Zealand while we were there. I had been to New Zealand on several previous occasions, but always with Sid, and so this was my first trip there in a number of years. It was a delightful interval, filled with family fun and spectacular surroundings, and I am returning home ready for a new year – and a new life – to begin.
NEW LEAF was released on January 5th. The launching of a book, to me, is a bit like grabbing your newborn child and dropping it headfirst down a mail chute to fend for itself. To my joy, readers and critics alike have embraced the second book in my Mystic Creek series, and NEW LEAF has hit the New York Times Bestseller list at Number Three! My editor contacted me the same day with the exciting news that sales are skyrocketing!
At John’s mini-ranch, where I am currently living, I have become the unofficial mom to Quarter Horses, cattle, chickens, cats and dogs. It fair to say they keep me busy. I bake homemade horse treats that cause my appearance outside to be met with whickers of joy. The two cows and their heifer calves moo happily when I approach the fence, because they know who is going to throw hay over into the pasture.
The chickens are my special babies, and they should be – for the first month of their lives they lived in a cage on the dresser in my bedroom. Supposedly all of my babies were girls, but the hatchery chicken sexers had a bad day when they filled my order. I got five roosters; three Buff Orpingtons and two Golden Laced Wyandottes. They grew up with the great big Cookoo Maran rooster I bought because I didn’t think the girls would be happy without a resident male. I was terrified that they would fight…but they haven’t, bearing out Julia’s insistence that roosters raised together would not quarrel. I lost several of them before they matured, but I now have nearly twenty laying hens and I am inundated in eggs…usually about 18 a day! I get white, brown, light tan, olive green, and sky blue eggs from the different breeds.
My six rescue cats have adjusted well to the move. Sissy, the tiny tyrant, still rules as Queen, lording it over Sammy, Sasha, Lexie, Callie and Julius. John’s cat, Frankie, also willingly ceded dominance to her. Even the cows avoid her when she minces into their pasture, tail erect and tiny paws barely skimming the ground. The other cats get so much deference. All of them seem very happy to be outside most of the day, with a snug and warm Cat House that is about six times bigger than the one they had before.
Buddy and Talili, my two Aussies, still have a little separation anxiety when I leave, but they are adjusting to the idea that even though Dad is gone and Mom leaves a lot more than she used to, Mom always returns. They enjoy their new dog run and like spending more time curled up at my feet while I write.
And I am writing! I am hard at work on MULBERRY MOON. I have a number of book set in Mystic Creek planned. I have about ten stand-alone books I’d love to write. I want to write a fifth Comanche series book. And I’m seriously considering a book on the misadventures with the chickens and other critters.
So I won’t be retiring any time soon. Maybe in another thirty years!
I hope you will visit me on Facebook and join in our daily fun. And if you’d like to receive my newsletter, which is partly reader-written and is packed with information, stories, recipes, household hints, contests and laughter, just send an e-mail to LightofLove@ykwc.net, and I’ll add you to the list. You’ll find my personal e-mail included in every issue, and I usually respond within 24 hours.
I’m wishing all of you much joy in 2016. I’ll be taking the journey right along with you.
NEW LEAF is available at the following retailers.