I took a vacation from Christmas through New Year’s Day and, basically, went unplugged. I drove to South Carolina to visit my parents, learned to play Shanghai (a version of canasta) and Pennies from Heaven (a version of rummy) with Mom’s group of card playing buddies. Let’s just say that my card playing skills leave a lot to be desired. Mom’s friends were patient and welcoming; thank you, ladies!

Younger son Brian traveled with me. On Sunday, we effected a “prisoner exchange” in Boiling Springs, NC, transferring him to the care of his best buddy’s mother for a 3-day visit in Hendersonville. On Monday and Tuesday, Mom took me shopping, a dangerous activity that puts my bank account into great peril, especially the Swarovski store. (Hey, if it sparkles, I’m pretty much guaranteed to like it.) On Wednesday, I drove all the way to Hendersonville to pick Brian up. Magellan (the vehicle navigator) sucks. It kept trying to send me to Bat Cave (yes, there really is a burg called Bat Cave in North Carolina). What was supposed to be a 2-hour drive took me four exasperating, horrible hours in lousy weather. I had a meltdown. Thursday was spent recovering from Wednesday night’s hangover (heavy drinking being a totally understandable response to the disaster that was Wednesday’s round trip to Hendersonville) and then a wonderful dinner at the City Tavern with Mom, Dad, Brian, brother Martin, sister-in-law Deva, and nephew Dominick. Friday was quiet, too. Saturday morning, we were back on the road for the 600-mile trip home.

We never did make it next door to my mother’s neighbor to say hello to Bridget, the Bichon Frise. Sorry, Gayle. You know what they say about good intentions.

I got some reading done including an ARC of just released novel Vain (which I found barely adequate with a thin plot, one-dimensional characters, and editorial glitches), but not enough to make a dent in my to-be-read pile, which is just overwhelming. Thanks, Mom, for the offer of more books, but I can’t take on the load just yet.

What I didn’t do was write. Not a single word. I logged-in to ODJFS for the weekly filing, followed through on some job leads, checked email for anything important, but that was pretty much the extent of my computer-based activity.

So, in the words of the little girl in Poltergeist, “I’m baaaaack!” And I have every intention of hauling my posterior back into the proverbial saddle to finish those manuscripts. This year’s goal is to finish Tiger in the Snow (sequel to The Barbary Lion), The Dragon Sang Tenor (sequel to The Dragon Wore a Kilt), and at least two more stories. Ideas come easily, but following through takes time and a lot of work, you know.

So, I hope y’all had a joyous holiday season and are ready to buckle down for the long stretch until our next national holiday: Memorial Day. This week’s plans: write, ace that second interview for a part-time editorial position, write, clean house, write, cook, write.