With the holidays drawing ever nearer, members of the LIRW gathered together yesterday to hoist a glass or two of wine and hold our annual elections for Board members. This, of course, means that I come to the end of my tenure as Chapter President. It’s been an exciting, eventful, eye-opening experience. (How’s that for alliteration?) I survived hosting my very first LIRW meeting with a Newsday reporter in the room. I bounced back from the abdication of one or two board members who found their positions too overwhelming to continue. I never once made it to a Presidents’ Retreat at RWA National, despite attempts both in Reno and Atlanta. I learned to love public speaking, thanks to my monthly gigs and time at the podium during the LIRW’s June Luncheon. At yesterday’s affair, my chaptermates presented me with a beautiful basket of wine from Long Island’s own East End (complete with two lovely hand-painted wine glasses) and a gift card to Barnes and Noble. Wine and books…who could ask for anything more? Well, maybe a tub full of hot, scented water to enjoy both in style. Come January, I’ll take over as Newsletter Editor for the chapter. Out with the old position…in with the new.

Speaking of old and new, on my critique site, Romantic CritWits, I was forced to say goodbye to several long-time members. It wasn’t an easy decision, but I stick by it. I think in each case the members weren’t really interested in being members any more; they just didn’t know how to leave the group or didn’t have the motivation to move on without a nudge. I wish each of these ladies well and hope they don’t harbor ill will. Their release may have come as a surprise, but I believe if they really think about it, they’ll see that this action was for the best. When disinterest leads to apathy, it’s only a short step to hard feelings. Luckily, the rest of the group has moved forward, anxious to welcome several new members now and celebrate the return of one or two former members after the holidays. In the last week, we’ve seen more activity than we did in the entire month of November! So much happening there and I’m glad to see the sparks flying again.

Timing for this flurry is ideal since I’ve decided to take a break from writing until January. With my revisions for my second book completed on Thanksgiving morning, I’m concentrating on family and friends, reconnecting with those I love and those who make my life a joy. I’m also squeezing in a bit of “reading for pleasure,” something I don’t get to enjoy as much as I used to. It’s often difficult for me to remove my “critiquer’s hat” and simply read without worrying about Point of View shifts or Goal, Motivation, and Conflict. Luckily, a few favorite authors (J.D. Robb and Jane Heller to name two I recently read) write such fabulous works, I manage to lose myself in their magic.

Wishing all of you a magical holiday season filled with love and laughter. What else is there in life?