The December 2015 Edition

Looking Back at 2015 – and Ahead to a Sweet ’16

It’s hard to believe (well, not really, if you were there), but over the weekend of December 12-13, an estimated 100,000 people jammed their way into downtown Franklin, Tennessee, to celebrate the 31st annual Dickens of a Christmas event. Wall-to-wall with folks having fun, getting into the holiday spirit and doing some Christmas shopping.DICKENSES C

I was there with nearly a dozen members of the Authors Circle and, for the first time since I’ve been doing this writing thing, I dressed for the occasion. Lemme tell you, it was a blast. I sold out of copies of my true-crime thriller Vendetta Stone, and also sold several copies of the anthologies in which my Western short stories and other pieces appear.

But that’s not the reason why this year’s event was so fulfilling. I saw it in a whole new light – what the spirit of season is really about. Maybe it was the Dickens costume I was wearing, but I don’t think so.

I recently posted this on Facebook, and will explain more afterward if you’ll indulge me.

“In the spirit of Star Wars week, the Force was with me this past weekend. Flowing out of me, in fact, into the massive crowds who walked past our booth at Dickens of a Christmas. All I had to do was smile and say ‘Merry Christmas to you,’ and frowns turned upside down. ‘Merry Christmas,’ was the reply from youngsters and the young at heart. Over and over again, faces beamed and the joys of the season touched hearts and eyes that moments before had looked frazzled, frayed, tired and worn down by life (or maybe the kids). The Spirit of the Season was truly alive, and it was exciting to be a part of the magic. Merry Christmas to all!”

What I didn’t say was I, too, felt the positive vibes flowing back from the crowd, and it kept me energized throughout the event. It demonstrated to me the connectivity we all share. Not everybody who was there would share this feeling, but I was truly lifted by the experience, an ebullient, almost giddy feeling that will extend through the rest of the holiday season and into the new year.

NOIR MA great as 2015 was – from appearances at major events like the Jack Daniels World Championship Barbecue Invitational to the Franklin Main Street Festival to the Decatur Book Festival to smaller events like Made In Nashville and Noir at the Bar (a really cool fund-raising event for the Nashville Adult Literacy Council, where we all dressed for the occasion and partied like it was 1949) – I think 2016 will be even better.

I’ve already got a number of events planned for the coming year, the first major one being the Dahlonega Literary Festival on March 12. I am also tentatively scheduled for a signing in Indianapolis on May 28 at Indy Reads Books. I’ll be in the Hoosier State that weekend to attend my first Indy 500 – the 100th running at the Brickyard of the greatest spectacle in racing. If you have family and friends in the area, please let them know the date.

I can’t give you a publication date yet, but the Vendetta Stone sequel will be out in the next 12 months – hopefully sooner rather than later. Turn to Stone picks up where Vendetta Stone ended and will follow Jackson Stone and his friends from Nashville through Georgia and the Carolinas. Much more later!

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I would be remiss when talking about 2015 to say that while the past year was wonderful in so many ways, there was also loss. My cousin, William Bainster Wood Jr. – Chip to family and friends – died in early November after a courageous 17-month cancer battle.

We also had to say goodbye to our sweet dog Molly in April. She had a seizure while I was attending the North Carolina Writers’ Network spring conference in Greensboro, and my wife Bennie had to have her put down.

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I’ll close by again wishing you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I’m looking forward to a Sweet ’16, and I hope you are, too.

As always, thanks for reading.

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