#ROW80 check-ins,  Be Your Wild Authentic Self,  Chronic Illness & Fibromyalgia

A Quiet Magic: Looking Ahead to Spring 2020

2020 is weird. When the year began, I had lined up four live author events—group signings featuring fantasy and romance authors from all over the country. One was canceled. Another rescheduled. But who knows at this point what the future holds?

And in the madness, we each have our own journey through. This is mine.

In January, I’d just begun to reach the acceptance stage of living with fibromyalgia. It wasn’t that I’d never grieve again all the things I couldn’t do—or couldn’t easily do—in my body’s new normal. It was just that I’d adapted, accepted the new normal.

The grief had been unexpected, heartbreaking, and raw. That was 2019. I’d been prepared to launch my indie author career, only to find myself unable to move forward with many of my admittedly lofty, grand schemes. My pace slowed way down as I searched for ways to manage my symptoms.

But as 2020 dawned, I realized I’d changed. I started tuning out the voices who demanded crazy publishing schedules and a mad rush to the finish line. I dug deep into the book I’d been working on, finding joy in just tinkering with the language, in deepening the storytelling.

Years ago, a blog post called “What if all I want is a mediocre life?” was the talk of the town, if the town were all my friends on various social media platforms. I remember feeling a sense of connection with the piece, all while thinking that mediocre wasn’t the right word. What the author described was an immersion in everyday beauty, an ability to elevate the ordinary to the extraordinary:

What if I am not cut out for the frantic pace of this society and cannot even begin to keep up? And see so many others with what appears to be boundless energy and stamina but know that I need tons of solitude and calm, an abundance of rest, and swaths of unscheduled time in order to be healthy. Body, spirit, soul healthy. Am I enough?

Krista O’Reilly Davi-Digui

Turning simple things into magic is a gift. My grandmother made the best scrambled eggs. No one could ever replicate her results. She didn’t use anything other than standard ingredients, and you could watch her, try to memorize her technique. It was no use. She had a gift for turning an ordinary, run-of-the-mill dish into something magical.

Because of my diagnosis, I had to slow down long before the world went topsy-turvy. But, like so many of us, I hadn’t realized just how many energy leaks I had until now. An age of distraction, an age of now-now-now. Everything must happen immediately.

And the writing world has been drawn into that. Everything must happen now. Better yet, publish yesterday. Publish the next book tomorrow. Rapid release. More hours. More social media. Higher word counts. Write more, faster. Can’t outline? Someone will teach you. An introvert who sucks at social media? Learn to be an extrovert. Always be on. Always be doing. Go somewhere. Do something. Is your life insta-worthy? Is your career? If not, why not?

I realized in January that, if I continued on that path, I would be burnout. I wouldn’t enjoy writing anymore. I would quit.

So I was already in the process of slowing down when the world went sideways. Now, we’re inundated with articles about how to slow down, what to do when you’re stuck at home. But I’d already been learning. Or, more accurately, remembering.

After this, what could rightly be called a Black Swan Event, the world will, according to Kristine Kathryn Rusch, find a new normal:

After a Black Swan event, the world never returns to “normal.” It establishes a new normal, and sometimes that new normal is so very different from the old normal that the old normal seems like it belongs to a previous century.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch

In the meantime, it’s painful, it’s scary, and it sucks.

I am continuing down the path my spirit called me toward earlier this year. In February, hubby and I went to Daytona Beach. Most days were stormy and gray, the ocean wild.

But one day, while hubby was out adventuring, I sat on the bed, looking out at the ocean. A blackbird landed on our balcony, and chirped a sweet song. It felt like a message. Be still. Listen. There is quiet magic everywhere.

Out of the stillness of that moment, magic rose, like a blossom in the spring, a raindrop of thirsty earth.

Blackbird, I’m carrying your message with me.

Back home, now, in early spring, Leo and I enjoy long walks. Hubby is working from home, taking over my office from 9 to 5, but I’ve accepted that I work better at night anyway, when the rest of the household is asleep. My productivity has improved from last fall, and my satisfaction in my work has skyrocketed.

We’d been looking for change—a change of scenery, a change of pace. Now, the world is changing all around us, and I’m doing my best to send quiet, healing energy into the world. We’re holding on, deepening, seeking quiet magic.

And that brings me to my goals. My theme for Quarter 2 of 2020 is A Quiet Magic. Like spring rain, a blackbird’s song, a wave unfurled, a rose in bloom. So, here are my main goals for this round:

  • Book Launch: Tangled Fates: Send to proofreader after I enter my last-minute changes. A final read-through after I get corrections back from proofreader, then it’s launch time!
  • Series Relaunch and Continuation: Faerie Spells: Reformat the first two books and relaunch with new covers. Write six more novelettes (roughly 15K each) for this series. I’d like to finish four additional books by the end of this round.
  • Newsletter launch with free short story
  • Sage & Shadows Books Business Checklist: Update and complete all items by the end of this round.
  • Miscellaneous website updates
  • Blogging (Details pending.)
  • Vlogging (Details pending.)
  • Bathroom remodel
  • Clean/Reorganize Attic
  • Reorganize closets in guest room and study
  • Help Ryan organize his tools in our shed
  • Paint and Deepen Living Room
  • Gardening (What better way to blend witchery and practicality?)
What about you? Are you slowing down? What’s hardest for you? Have there been pleasant surprises along the way? I’d love to hear from you!

Fantasy & paranormal romance author. Witch. Tarot reader. Possibly a woodland faerie. Witches, magic, & romance await in the pages of my stories.


  • Chris Loehmer Kincaid

    Looking at your list of goals for the Round, it doesn’t look like you are slowing down to me! I would never get that much done in 3 months.

    Glad you are back from the “dark place” and moving forward with life.

    • denisedyoungbooks

      Thanks, Chris! I think I’ve accepted fibromyalgia’s role in my life more, and accepting that diagnosis is part of the healing.

      Honestly, a lot of the things on my list are things I’ve started but not finished. I’m really focused on finishing a lot of projects/tasks that have been left hanging. Part of it is “mental real estate.” Sometimes a task nags us and once it’s done, we free up that real estate for other tasks, projects, or dreams. Hopefully I can plant some seeds this spring that lead to a lovely harvest come autumn. 🙂

  • Jennette Marie Powell

    What Chris said. Your Q2 goals are more than I could do in a year! And yes, I was forced to slow down several years ago, by fatigue and chronic migraines. I’m just now getting back into a writing routine after moving six months ago. I love the idea of seeking out the quiet magic – there’s plenty of that here, and it’s one of the things I love about our new home. Best of luck in finding yours, while reaching your goals – and welcome back to ROW80!

    • denisedyoungbooks

      As a fellow migraine sufferer, you have my sympathies. Mine tend to be triggered by sudden weather/temperature changes. I can’t imagine dealing with that pain on a near-daily basis.

      I am definitely leaning into the quiet magic these days. Perfecting banana bread recipes, mastering the lost art of being a cat bed, or simply listening to the spring storms roll in. It’s hard, with so much trouble in the world right now. I’m so tuned in to the news, to checking in with family and friends, but I’m trying to make as much space for creativity, magic, and family as possible.

      Thanks, Jennette! I’m glad to be back. 🙂

  • Rui Chan

    Definitely slowing down! I came to the same realization for different reasons. I was lucky enough to have a treatable disease, but while I was waiting for surgery, I realized I could not be sure I’d actually have more stamina afterwards, and if I did, I’d rather use it for what really matters. So now I try not to get sucked in my workaholic tendencies and to use the extra time and energy (slowly kicking in) to do things with and/or for my family.

    • denisedyoungbooks

      It takes something like that to remind us to focus our energy where it counts, doesn’t it? I have those pesky workaholic tendencies too, and fibromyalgia has taught me (okay, forced me!) to focus on what matters. For me, that’s storytelling and creativity, but also my family, friends, and community. I’m blessed to have so much love and so many strong relationships in my life, and I want to celebrate that, honor it, and enjoy that as much as possible.

      Thanks! 🙂