2019 was a year I will never forget. I read an article recently on The New York Times about how the “2010s were the end of normal”…and 2019 undoubtedly put a resounding exclamation point on that statement. I won’t get in much detail, but for me…it was a good thing.
For what it’s worth, I feel like things got better from 2010 to 2020, as indicative in this photo below. Since 2018, though, life has shown me greater things than I ever thought imaginable.
Following a very trying part of my life, I met a woman named Courtney Moser in the summer of 2018. We had both been through our own difficult times, and I will never forget the first time we met. It was at what has become one of our favorite spots to drink a cold one and play chess… Joymongers Barrell Hall, a small brewery near downtown Winston-Salem. I walked in and didn’t see her, and from her picture I had seen before on social media, I knew I would recognize her as soon as I saw her. Then she walked in the door farthest away from where I was seated at the end of the bar, and the smile on her face that day as she walked toward me and I rose from my seat to greet her was and still is one of my favorite things about her. Just two days ago when we were enjoying another cold beverage at a place called Juggheads in Winston, I said something in which made her smile the exact same way. We have been making each other smile ever since.
Soon after I met her, I told Courtney I was writing a book. She seemed impressed, which obviously made me want to write even more, but at that point I had only written about two chapters. Writing a novel, though, had long been one of my biggest goals in life, and after a few failed attempts… it was becoming clearer to me that I may not be cut out to write fiction. I, like many others, began to believe crafting a novel… one that people really wanted to read that had a real plot with real characters that actually worked was something I just could not do. But just days after I started to feel this way, Courtney began encouraging me to continue to pursue this dream. I don’t think she has ever really grasped how instrumental her support from that day on was in me completing this goal of mine, but I’ve always told her I would never have finished this book without her. She always downplays her role, but I still feel strongly that her support and encouragement is the reason A New Requiem became my first published novel. And according to the publisher, albeit young and relatively small, the novel is in the top 10% of sales all-time for their company. What I hear when they say that is that people are reading the novel, and from the bottom of my heart, I can’t thank you all enough for giving A New Requiem a chance and reading my work. If you ever wonder how I had it in me, all I can tell you is that I don’t think I did. But with support from Courtney and so many others, it happened and it’s the start of many more to come (we’ll talk about that later in this post, too).
Courtney and I have enjoyed so many adventures together since we met. A couple of trips to The Homestead, perhaps our favorite place to visit (and now memorable because it is where I proposed to her), stops in Clearwater Beach, Florida, New York City (twice), San Francisco, San Diego, Charleston, Washington DC, all the way to brief apartment living until we bought a home together and the many competitive tennis matches and stops at a bar to watch football, talk sports, and enjoy good eats… it has all made me realize Courtney is my best friend and always will be. I don’t know what I’d do without her. That’s why we are getting married this Friday… and it’s safe to say I am one blessed man.
Not only has this year brought the realization of spending the rest of my life with Courtney, it’s also made me realize how much fun being a stepdad is. I met Courtney’s two kids, Avett (7 now, 6 at the time) and Kynlee (9 now, 8 at the time) in late summer 2018. I brought a Papa John’s pizza for them to enjoy at a nearly empty pool where Courtney and the kids had been playing that day, and the rest is history. I slowly transitioned from living solo with my dog, Elle, to trying to be another father figure for these two amazing kids. And from day one, I told myself I wasn’t going to take myself too seriously. And as you can see in the picture below from the first day playing with all of them in the pool, I was pretty set on not taking myself too seriously.
Since then, I’ve become a stepdad and try my best to be a good role model for two amazing kids who look up to me like I’m somebody special.
Early on after I met them, I swore up and down I was THE Batman, and Courtney told me I would soon need to let that go as it wouldn’t last. One day, me and Avett were having a boys day while Courtney was out with Kynlee, and he asked me, “You’re not really Batman are you?” I remember telling him, “I’m not the Batman you know… the one you’ve seen in cartoons. But if you set your mind to something, you can be anything you want to be.” I hope my actions and my example will help Courtney continue to raise her amazing children and I pray I will always be another good father figure for them. I know I’m not their real dad, but I love them like I am… and I always will.
2020 will be a year for Courtney and I to grow as husband and wife, and also a time for all of us to grow as a family. And I can’t wait.
Now, back to the books! I am so grateful for all of you reading A New Requiem and I hope you will continue to tell your friends all about it… but I’m excited to announce a three-book series that will begin with my next release, Queen of a Gentleman’s Game. Courtney has been an incredible inspiration for this book… particularly because it features a strong female lead, much like the woman she is, in a male-dominated political arena of the early 1970s. It’s fun, it’s action-packed, it’s dramatic, it’s scandalous, it’s romantic… and my hope is that you will think it’s good. Stay tuned to my blog, I’ll be back after our wedding this Friday and the honeymoon in Barbados! See you soon.