2020: The Crappy Year in Review by Rebecca Heflin

2020: The Crappy Year in Review by Rebecca Heflin

It’s my pleasure to introduce Author Rebecca Heflin as my guest today. Rebecca captured my heart with her dedication to help others, to help organize the blogs for Soul Mate Publishing, and read on for the other million things about this amazing working woman.

Author Rebecca Heflin

This time last year I was making my holiday preparations, which included the honor of presiding over the marriage of my nephew and his fiancée on Christmas Day—a truly joyous way to spend the holiday. This time last year, I was looking forward to a new year, fresh with the promise of a new start. Which meant, this time last year, I was blissfully ignorant of what was to come. Instead, I was naively planning two international trips, a local canoe and camping trip, several charity events, two weddings, countless family and social gatherings, and the celebration of my 25th wedding anniversary.

Who could have imagined it wouldn’t be long before the world would be living the plot of some sci-fi thriller?

January and February bumped along as normal, with work, exercise classes, dinners with friends, and preparations for the release of my 10th novel. By the end of February, the dark edges of the coming storm were visible.

The first weekend in March was my birthday. I celebrated it that Friday with dinner out and a show at our local performing arts center. There was also an out of town wedding that Saturday, which my husband and I attended. Looking back, being in those very public venues probably wasn’t the smartest decision on our part, but the tidal wave had not yet hit our area. March 17th was my last day in the office, as the university I work for shut down and sent its employees home to work remotely. It would be only a day or two later when the entire state would go under lockdown.  Again, in my naiveté, I thought things would be back to normal in a month or so. Silly me.

Zoom meetings would become a regular occurrence in my daily life, and the next few months were a blur of fear and adjustments, as my husband and I created new routines for ourselves. We limited our grocery shopping to once a week. If we didn’t pick up an item during that weekly visit, we just lived without until the following week. Toilet paper (when the store had it) was priced at roughly the equivalent of a gram of gold. Preparing for grocery shopping felt a little like preparing to enter a contaminated laboratory: masks, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes at the ready. After returning home, it felt like entering a decontamination unit: washing hands, wiping down groceries, and disinfecting everything we touched.

We watched in horror as the numbers rose and people died—many of them frontline workers. I obsessed over the daily case counts, horrified when we hit 1 million cases in the U.S., not even considering that we would reach double-digit case counts in a few short months.

It wasn’t all bad, however. We also watched the world come together in a common experience. Music and voices rose from city terraces. Drive-by birthday, anniversary, and graduation ceremonies became a thing with horns beeping, lights flashing, and signs waiving. Humanity found a way to celebrate life’s milestones even amid a pandemic.

For me, working from home meant no commute. This freed up time for other things. And the lack of social engagements and other commitments meant time for jigsaw puzzles, minor home improvements, and gardening. Not to mention more quality time with my husband. We had a beautiful spring—cooler than average temperatures, and beautiful low-humidity days—which gave us the opportunity for more outdoor activities like corn-hole games, bike rides, and long walks. Life slowed down, and I couldn’t complain about that.

2020

As we learned more about how the virus was spread, and businesses opened up again, we developed a routine that gave us a little more flexibility. Masked and otherwise following the public health guidelines, we gradually began to leave our sterile cocoon. We had friends over for outdoor socially-distanced dinners (BYOF). We began supporting our local restaurants with take-out or delivery, eventually feeling comfortable dining outside at our favorites.

In May, my husband and I celebrated a quiet, but romantic 25th wedding anniversary—not exactly how we had imagined, but nice just the same.

We took three short driving vacations, 2 to the mountains of North Carolina, and 1 to the beach in the Florida panhandle. The change of scenery provided a welcome respite to the sameness of the daily routines.

After working remotely for 6 months, I returned to my office, but still isolated from my co-workers. I only see them masked and walking in the hallway or on Zoom. It was surreal when I entered my office in September to see the calendar still on March.

Here we are again with Christmas past and New Year’s fast-approaching. There is a light, in the form of vaccines, at the end of this long dark tunnel that is 2020. It will take some time, and more patience is necessary, but we will get there. We will overcome this. The world did it in 1918-1919, and we will do it in 2020-2021.

But will the world ever be the same again? I, for one, won’t be. I am forever changed by this experience. I will never again be blissfully ignorant. I have lost my innocence.

Even so, not all the changes are bad. I have come to appreciate so many things I took for granted: my health, my family, freedom of movement, hugs and kisses shared among family and friends, big gatherings and shared social experiences. And my good fortune. Throughout it all, I have wanted for none of life’s necessities. I can’t ask for more than that from the crappy year that was 2020.

Rebecca Heflin is a best-selling, award-winning author who has dreamed of writing romantic fiction since she was fifteen and her older sister sneaked a copy of Kathleen Woodiwiss’s Shanna to her and told her to read it. Rebecca writes women’s fiction and contemporary romance. When not passionately pursuing her dream, Rebecca is busy with her day-job at a large state university.

Rebecca is a member of Romance Writers of America (RWA), Florida Romance Writers, RWA Contemporary Romance, and Florida Writers Association. She and her mountain-climbing husband live at sea level in sunny Florida.

Rebecca can be reached at rebeccaheflin@hotmail.com. Feel free to touch base with her.

All of her books are available on Amazon
as well as Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Eden Books.
The third book in Rebecca Heflin’s Seasons of Northridge Series, A Season to Dream, will be released mid-2021.

Twelve Days of Christmas Goodwill Challenges

Twelve Days of Christmas Goodwill Challenges

This year Christmas will be different for all.

Who doesn’t love to spend time with family and friends to celebrate the holidays? This year’s parties are off our go-to lists. We’ll be hunkered down in our bubbles. Let’s seek the best holiday cards to shout our cheer, celebrate with virtual games and dress in our finest.

Check out my list below for this year’s Twelve Days of Christmas (and one more).

 

 

Suggestions?
Email me: gailingisclaus@gmail.com.

Twelve heartfelt challenges and one more!

  1. Bring a plate of cookies to your neighbors.
  2.  Make a batch of goodies for doctors and nurses and drop them off at the hospital.
  3. Send an electronic gift card to a single mom.
  4. Send a funny ecard to your co-workers. American Greetings and Jacquie Lawson are my favorites.
  5. Buy a coffee card and ask the cashier to use them for the next person.
  6. Pay for a take-out meal for the person in line behind you.
  7. Drop off holiday cards to a local nursing home.
  8. Volunteer in the community.
  9. Help a neighbor clean up their leaves.
  10. Write a note of encouragement to a retail worker.
  11. Declutter and donate. Give to a homeless person and include a face mask and hand sanitizer.
  12. Donate canned goods to churches, synagogues, inside the entrance of Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and your favorite supermarket.
  13. Contribute to Toys for Tots at your local police station.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My current books to be edited and have cover updates.

 

Possible future book cover circa 1886,

WOMEN OF CONVICTION

WOMEN OF CONVICTION

Annie Kenney&Christabe Pankhurst, England early 20th century

It’s downright painful to think about the women who fought for their vote and their freedom in the nineteenth-century. Women were kept in the kitchen, away from the real world, but they were cunning, seeking education, politics, and forming organizations to fight collectively. Among those who worked for our future are twentieth-century, Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem, and nineteenth-century, Florence Nightingale, it’s a long list of women.

What do you think of when you think about the Civil War, the bloodiest war of all? What about the strong women left behind to work, to survive, to raise the kids? Acknowledged finally, women veterans are recognized.

North and South

I

Here’s an unreal statistic according to Google: Nearly as many men died in captivity during the Civil War as were killed in the whole of the Vietnam War. Hundreds of thousands died of disease. Roughly 2% of the population, an estimated 620,000 men and boys lost their lives in the line of duty.

So what happened? Has slavery disappeared? No, slavery still comes in many forms, caused by greed and passion for excess. Women are working hard to break the mold. Are we there yet? Are you part of the Me-Too fight? We still have work to do, do you agree?

My powerhouse Mom worked hard. The wholesale business she created within the family retail store was more than fulltime. She was a woman of great endurance, smart in business, keeper of the books, and well-respected. Mom broke the mold of domesticity. Hats off to all the Moms, strong women. I’m dazzled by those who have made a difference. Finding amazing women who changed the world is eye-opening. Who do you know that has made a difference? Will you share?

Rally

(more…)

Author Claire Gem Interviews Gail Ingis

Author Claire Gem Interviews Gail Ingis

The following is an interview that author Claire Gem did with me. I wanted to share it with you: Today I’m honored to host author/artist/Brooklyn born blonde Gail Ingis to talk about her new release, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin. Gilded Age Heiresses comes to life delightfully in this, the first installment of a new historical mystery romance series by Gail Ingis. Well researched with vividly portrayed characters, the reader cannot help but get swept into the story from the start. The author’s lush descriptions transport us back in time, the snappy pacing keeps us turning pages, and the story leaves us anxiously awaiting the next Gilded Age Heiress novel.

An interview by Claire Gem

Claire: Gail, what made you decide to set your historical romance in this particular time in our history?

Gail: I wanted my heroine to be feisty, to question the establishment–and in the 19th century it was a rigid one.

Claire: Well, Allie Baldwin certainly fits the role! But it’s not just the women’s vote Allie fights for. What else motivates her?

Gail: It was a time when women immigrants were leaving their homelands for a better life. Instead, they were working in deplorable conditions in factories and their children weren’t schooled. They had to work. Families lived in crowded tenements with so many others in the same situation.

Claire: Who helped inspire Allie’s cause?

Gail: Allie follows in the footsteps of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton and so many others fighting for the votes for women, the fight for freedom, and the fight for the right to choose.

Claire: But she runs into the same kind of resistance they did, doesn’t she?

Gail: Most certainly. Allie had to fight her father, her brother, and even turn away from marriage to work for the vote.

Claire: What was one of Allie’s pet peeves?

Gail: She hated the corset. It was symbolic of the stranglehold on women.

Claire: Well your timing couldn’t be better, Gail! 2020 is the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote. Bravo!

~~~

A little more about the book:

Opposites attract in this gilded age historical romance when a young American suffragette eschews marriage until a handsome detective is hired to protect her from a dangerous stalker.

It’s not that she doesn’t want to marry…
Allie Baldwin is tired of writing about the latest fashions for the society column of her father’s newspaper, the New York Sentinel. Determined to write about important issues, Allie can’t help but defy danger at every turn. When she narrowly escapes a riot at a suffrage rally, Allie’s beleaguered parents enlist the services of a security agent—a dashing and debonair detective, with a knack for getting under Allie’s skin.

He’s not ready for marriage…
Peter Harrison is too busy running Harrison Detective Agency to bother with courtships and conjugality. He refuses to make the same mistakes his father made—marrying too young and forsaking family for work. But when a newspaper magnate hires him to protect his willful daughter—Peter is torn between his oath to bachelorhood and an alluring attraction to the ravishing redhead with a nose for trouble.

When a mysterious fire sparks her investigative instincts, can Allie stick to reporting the facts and restrain her flowering feelings for the handsome detective?

~~~Spunky Allie Baldwin wants to write about more significant issues in her father’s newspaper than the current fashion trends. Bottom line is, Allie is a suffragette who is far from shy and, defying her father, plunges headfirst into the fray of suffragette rallies. Worried for her safety, her parents hire a security guard to try to keep her out of trouble.

You can get your copy of The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin here, and find out more about Gail Ingis at her website.

Interviewer, Claire Gem is a multi-published, award-winning author of emotional romance—contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction. She writes about strong, resilient women who won’t give up their quest for a happy-ever-after—and the men lucky enough to earn their love. No helpless, hapless heroines here. These spunky ladies redefine romance, on their terms.

Hearts Unloched
Hearts Unloched
Claire Gem

Phantom Traces
Phantom Traces
Claire Gem

from: $18.49

A Taming Season
A Taming Season
Claire Gem

Electricity: A Haunted Voices Novel

Claire has a special of short stories up for preorder on Amazon: ENIGMATA: Eerie Bits, Book 1 – A Collection of Short Stories by Claire Gem. Leaves you wondering where, why and what. It certainly ignited my curiosity, and gave me goosebumps, the kind that chilled me deep in my imagination. Want a thrill? Order now, and they’ll be ready to read on 9/29.

Tenacious . . . Who Me? Why Not?

Tenacious . . . Who Me? Why Not?

This blog is a revision and a reminder that The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin will be published a few days from today. I’m preparing a letter with the link to the Amazon review page that will post just after midnight for my ARC readers. There’s no point in posting the link here as it will only be active on the 10th at publication.

Launch day! Tuesday, September 10, 2019

 

My heroine, Allie Baldwin, in my historical romance, The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin, launching Tuesday, September 10th, has a passion – to help win the vote for women.

That’s not news, thirty-four years later women got the vote. But in 1886, a battle that had been going on for almost fifty years was denied over and over and over again.

As a reporter for the New York Sentinel, the newspaper her father owns, Allie is determined to do her part and attend a rally. Not any old rally, but one for suffrage, featuring many notable women speakers. She is willing to forego marriage to do her part securing votes for women. But her father not only disapproves of her going he also threatens not to print anything Allie writes pertaining to the rally. Her father’s objections don’t stop her. She concocts a disguise and makes her way to New York City Hall where more than a hundred women and men have gathered to listen to the suffragettes.

I would have done the same, but it would have been my mother arguing with me. She would have told me to stop this behavior, to grow up, and don’t think of hiding behind a cloak. “If you go,” she would have said, “I’ll find out and you’ll reap the consequences.”

My father, unlike Allie’s, was a dearheart, I could do no wrong in his eyes, and most of the time he couldn’t figure out why my mother was so strict with me. By the time I was born, the 19th Amendment had passed only fifteen years before, and women’s lives had indeed changed. I had a working mother, she was a jobber and bookkeeper. She wouldn’t have allowed me to go to a rally yet she benefited from women like Allie.

This is why we shouldn’t take the vote for granted. It is one of our most important rights, don’t you think so?

Votes for Women

Recently, tennis trailblazer, Billy Jean King spoke at the United States Tennis Open on opening night at the Billy Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadow, Corona Park, NY. She said, “In 1920, women got the right to vote, and while we’ve come a long way, there is still so much more to be done until we truly have equality for all.”

I hope there are many more Allie Baldwins’ out there, willing to keep working for equality in all arenas. I was lucky enough to have watched the original tennis match between Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs on TV, along with a million others. We all cheered for Billy Jean, She changed the women’s world and gave us all new life. What’s really interesting about a story that takes place in 1973 is that all those issues have suddenly bubbled up again: “Equal pay, sexism, gender equality, sexual equality—all these things are live debates again,” screenwriter Simon Beaufoy told TheWrap’s Steve Pond in a video interview at the Toronto Film Festival.

My pin! Billie Jean changed scads of things, she’s like my Allie. 

With the approach of the 100th  Anniversary of Woman Suffrage – there will be many events around the country to celebrate and educate. Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum, Norwalk, CT is planning several, including Women in Office and the 19th Amendment celebration and talk by Connecticut’s Secretary of State, Denise W. Merrill on Sunday, Sept. 8, 2019, 2-4pm. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here. Secretary Merrill’s talk will be followed by a self-guided tour of the museum’s featured exhibition, From Corsets to Suffrage: Victorian Women Trailblazers, as well as tea and light refreshments.

Coincidently, I just had the most delightful visit from Sharon Pistilli, who is running with three other candidates to make the town where I live, Fairfield, even better. I will remember to vote on Tuesday, Nov 5, 2019, from 6am-8pm. It’s my right and my privilege.

The Unforgettable Miss Baldwin is available for pre-order on Amazon and iBooks, Kobo, Banes and Noble Nook. Order now and the book will appear in your e-reading device on launch day, Tuesday, Sept 10, 2019.

Read about the passionate, tenacious Allie Baldwin:

Opposites attract in this gilded age historical romance when a young American suffragette eschews marriage until a handsome detective is hired to protect her from a dangerous stalker.

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