2017 was an exciting year for me. I completed a large “bucket list” item for me and published my first book, Healing Tears. My goal was for it to be available for purchase in March well after Valentine’s Day. I met my goal however if you look at the inside cover the actual publication date was February 14, 2017. When I received my author copy of the book for final approval and saw the date I just smiled and thought to myself, “Thank you children. Happy Valentine’s Day to you too. I love you!”

The following few months were spent beginning the marketing phase of my book and getting my social media up and running. There were a few interviews with newspapers and Hay House Radio. These can be viewed or heard from my website: www.theresajames-author.com.

I received my Kirkus Review of my book. My publisher, Balboa Press, told me that Kirkus would give a review and share with me the good, the bad, and the ugly, if you will. The thought of having a bad review or very critical one was very frightening to me. I poured my heart and soul into this book, shared my story, and I knew that I opened myself up for criticism. I was so relieved to read the incredibly positive words from Kirkus. For me it was another sign that this was the right decision and year to publish my book. The full Kirkus review is available on my website as well.

On to the next “bucket list” item for 2017 – publish my first children’s book. I was blessed with an introduction to Jack Foster through a mutual friend. Jack has been illustrating children’s books for many years and his talent was exactly what I was looking for. His pictures were full of brilliant, vivid color and the characters were drawn with large eyes. I was thrilled when he accepted to illustrate my book, I Love and Like You!

I wrote I Love and Like You! from my son, Jarod’s point of view telling the story of learning the difference between liking and loving someone, and/or their behavior. It was so important to Jarod to tell me every night at bedtime, “I love and like you Mom” and for me to tell him in return. When I received my author copy of this book, I was so happy with Jack’s work, bringing my words to life in the pictures. He also added the special touches, like the actual photo of my children as a wall hanging near the staircase in a couple of the pages. Thank you again, Jack, from the bottom of my heart. You’re such a gifted artist.

While my children’s book was in the final stages of publication, my husband, Todd and I made the decision to leave the Chicago area and move to Indiana. I so wanted to be back home and closer to my family. Everything fell into place rather quickly as we sold our house in 5 days of listing it with the realtor and I was hired by another financial services office and started my new job within 2 weeks. May and June were a whirlwind of changes but the pieces fell into place so quickly. We purchased our new house and Todd was wonderful in handling majority of the move.

The publication date for my book was in June and I was set to leave for my Germany trip in mid-July. Talk about “not enough time in the day”. I was working 12 hours a day minimum at my new job to have everything in place before I left for my trip, marketing I Love and Like You!, finished writing my second children’s book and it was in the illustration phase with Jack, and making a couple of trips back to Chicago on the weekends to pack up the rest of the house. Shew…that wears me out just reliving those couple of months. The closings for both the sell and the purchase of our two homes scheduled the day I was to fly out of Chicago airport for Germany. Thank you again, Todd, for handling everything so I could leave knowing you would take care of it all. I love you!

“Bucket list” item number 3 – Germany! My dream vacation has always been to travel Germany. And what a trip it was. 14 days touring all over Germany, then I spent 5 days in Norway. You can check out my blog and some pictures from my trip on my website or Facebook page: TheresaJamesAuthor

After such an incredible adventure, I returned home refreshed and rejuvenated. Todd had all the furniture in place and was working hard at our new house. I settled into a slower pace at work and began unpacking boxes at home and settling in. Even though we were so busy, there was less stress and we loved our new surroundings.

Jack finished the illustrations for my new book, Ornaments of Love. This book was written as if my oldest son, Sean, was telling the story. Ornaments of Love is a Christmas story about family tradition and sharing memories. When I received my author copy and saw the publication date, it was October 12, 2017 which is actually Sean’s birthday. Again, I smiled and thought, “Happy Birthday Sean!”

The holiday season is now coming to a close as I write this. I was able to fly to Dallas, TX on Thanksgiving for the weekend with my cousin, Kim, to attend the Thanksgiving Day football game. Kim has been a faithful Cowboys fan since she was young and we were able to cross this off her “bucket list”. When we returned, we had our Thanksgiving dinner with family and I celebrated all that I am thankful for and feel truly blessed with all that has happened in 2017.

This past weekend was joyous as my family celebrated Christmas and we were all able to be together. My son, Connor, deploys to Kuwait in January for 6 months and we cherished this special time together before he leaves. The New Year weekend proposes to be fun-filled with friends. I foresee lots of laughter, competition as we play cards, and some relaxing time with their children coloring. I love coloring books and find it very therapeutic to sit for a while and color.

So 2017 has been one of many changes, crossing off “bucket list” items, and destressing. I remain open to the New Year and all that it may hold.

Happy New Year! May your new year be filled with love and laughter!