Moving On

Since my last blog entry, two years ago, much has happened in my life. In November of 2015, I retired from my full-time job editing the Homescape section, and doing other writing, in the Special Sections Department of the Record daily newspaper. Around the same time, two other momentous and amazingly coincidental things happened. Amber Quill Press, the e-publisher that had been putting out my novels for the past 13 years, closed its virtual doors. I would have been devastated about this, but just before I heard that announcement, I was offered a contract for a three-book mystery series by a major “traditional” publisher!

All my life, I’ve dreamed of being able to work full-time at writing fiction, but I always needed to have a day job and had to shoehorn my “own” writing into my evenings and other spare moments. Now it felt as if the universe was giving me the nod and all these opportunities had aligned to make my dream a reality. My new series involves a change of style and subject matter, but that’s also something I felt ready for at this point in my life.

Not having to stay in northern New Jersey for work reasons, I’ll be moving farther south this summer. Just a few counties away, but it might as well be across the country, for the amount of work involved! My present home dates to 1922 and I’ve lived here for 18 years. The lawn mowing, weed-pulling, snow shoveling and other outdoor chores helped keep me in shape, and the indoor repairs and upgrades taught me a lot about home maintenance. But now they’re harder for me than they use to be and I want to spend my time on other things. Where I’m going, the outdoor upkeep will be taken care of, I’ll have almost as much space and privacy, and there will be common places to stroll, swim and socialize. I’ll also be nearer to cultural venues in New Brunswick and Princeton, which is exciting–I’ve missed live theater, museums and other urban offerings. At the same time, I still should be able to carry on my more suburban interests such as horseback riding.

But the packing–! You accumulate a lot of stuff over 18 years, and not only am I a book junkie but the paper files in my home office are enough for a small business. (I also did paid and unpaid nonfiction writing and public relations over the years.) I’m discovering a lot of material that I can discard or just keep electronically, and yet there are still things I want to hang onto for sentimental reasons. Those souvenirs represent almost two decades of overcoming some tough challenges! It’s been a “moving” experience, in more ways than one, poring over half-forgotten memorabilia of events that brought me to where I am today.

Has anyone else out there moved and/or downsized recently? Did you also feel “your life flashing before your eyes” as you tried to weed out decades of accumulated stuff? What did you find most interesting about the experience?

About Eileen Watkins

Eileen F. Watkins specializes in mystery and suspense fiction. In 2017 she launched the Cat Groomer Mysteries, starting with THE PERSIAN ALWAYS MEOWS TWICE, from Kensington Books. The second book in this series, THE BENGAL IDENTITY, comes out in spring of 2018. Eileen previously published eight novels with Amber Quill Press, chiefly paranormal suspense, and most recently the Quinn Matthews Haunting Mysteries. The first of those, DARK MUSIC, received the David G. Sasher Award at the 2014 Deadly Ink Mystery Conference. The second, HEX, DEATH & ROCK ‘N’ ROLL, was a Mystery finalist for the 2014 Next Generation EBook Awards. Eileen is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Liberty States Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. She serves as publicist for Sisters in Crime Central Jersey and also for New Jersey’s annual Deadly Ink Mystery Conference. Eileen comes from a journalistic background, having written on art, architecture, interior design and home improvement for daily newspapers and major magazines. Besides these topics, her interests include the paranormal and spirituality as well as animal training and rescue. She is seldom without at least one cat in the house and frequently visits the nearest riding stable. Visit her web site at www.efwatkins.com.
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