The world may not have ended in 2012, but the year was certainly special for me. It’s the first year of — I think — my life with no significant angst or drama (thanks to several difficult, but wonderful, decisions I’ve made in the last couple of years), but plenty of creation, learning, travel, and laughter.

Here are the highlights!

(Scroll your mouse over the pictures for extra notes.)

I visited New Orleans in February for a nursing conference. I arrived on the night of Mardi Gras — alone! — and stayed holed up in my room while the city went wild.

(But my classmates and professors arrived the next day, and I had a fun time out on the town with my friends — eating gumbo, going on ghost tours, and visiting my favorite landmark: Cafe du Monde!)

My second novella, the M/F steampunk fantasy Beauty in the Beast, was released on March 5, 2012 by Carina Press.

I visited Oklahoma near the end of March to spend time with the Cherokee Nation for a cultural diversity class. I won’t lie: The beauty here surprised me.

In May, I went on a writing retreat to Disney World with my writing partner, the exceptionally (multi)talented @ehfoster. In truth, it was more of a retreat FROM writing. The iPad pictured here was mainly just a prop. ;)

Epcot’s annual Flower and Garden Festival was going on while we were there. The park was filled with gorgeous flower arrangements and topiaries.

And I found this neat hat that ACTUALLY FITS ME! (I wear large hats. It’s hard to find hats that fit me!)

In June I went to Utah for another nursing conference. I took a ski lift to the top of a mountain then decided to hike back down (in backless shoes, no less). I roped my friend into joining me. We, uh, got lost on the mountain side for a while and almost walked off a cliff. Finally, we found the path again and somehow made it back in time for dinner. For days after, I was so stiff I was limping. A preview of what it’ll be like to get old. Great. Sign me up.

From Utah, I flew to Vermont for my second — and final — week of herbal apprenticeship. One of the best weeks of my life.

The beauty there in Vermont was just…indescribable.

It was magical.

Just magical.

For my birthday in August, I visited my good friends Bender and Quazi in Southern Oregon.

My heart lives in the Pacific Northwest.

For Halloween, I went to my first witch’s ball. (It was probably also my last. Partying with strangers is just not my thing.)

In December I graduated with my master of science degree in nursing…

…visited Disney World for my family’s annual holiday trip…

…and wrote a 19,000 word novella in 15 days, from handful of notes to completed manuscript with a synopsis and query letter. Seven of those days were spent in Disney World, and the manuscript was half written on my iPod touch. A manuscript in half a month is a record for me — even if I HADN’T been on vacation when writing half of it!

I also made my walk-in closet into a micro-office. Finally–a place all to my own to write! :D

And that…is it! I finished the office a couple of days ago. Now, I’m getting ready for a new semester of university to start in a few days.

I’ve got a lot of stuff planned for this year: three manuscripts to rewrite and polish, three rough drafts to write, my doctoral comprehensive exams to complete this summer, and my doctoral dissertation proposal and defense this fall.

Cracking my knuckles!