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Happy New Year!

Well, 2013 is in the bag, and it was quite the year for my family and for me.

Things started off badly in January as my wife, Kristy, battled metastatic breast cancer. She went through a round of radiation treatments to her spine that nearly killed her, but she fought through it and began to improve in March and April. In the meantime, her doctor at Vanderbilt put her on a medication regimen that stabilized her blood counts, which had gotten dangerously low. She has done remarkably well and we had a truly special holiday season together.

Back in February, because Kristy was having so much difficulty, our daughter, Kody, moved back home from Knoxville to help Kristy with the dance school. Kody grew up at the school - she took dance from the time she could walk - but she had gone off to college at the University of Tennessee, had graduated, and had gotten a job working for the city of Knoxville. When she came back to the dance school, it was though she had never left. She pitched right in, and by the end of the year (the dance year ends in May), she was practically running the place. She has decided to stay on, thank goodness, and she and Kristy are like a couple of clones. Things are good at The Dance Company, which is what Kristy calls her school. Kody also illustrated a children's book called "There's an Elephant Standing in There" that I wrote a while back, and it turned out beautifully. We're having it formatted now and will put it on the market some time in the next few weeks. I can't wait to see how it does.

My son, Dylan, and I formed a corporation called Phoenix Flying, Inc., early in the year and began publishing my books through the company. Dylan had graduated from college a year earlier with a degree in business management and marketing and was working at Verizon. We made him president of the corporation, and in June he left his job and began working with me full time. It was a good decision. Working together, he and I managed to sell more than a quarter of a million ebooks in 2013. We also sold more than a thousand print books and almost two thousand audio books. The money is great, but the feeling of accomplishment is better, as is the satisfaction of being able to work with someone I love, trust and respect. Dylan has since published another writer - a young lade named Rebecca Harris - and will pick up a few more this year, I'm sure. I don't know which direction my career will end up going, although I have no doubt it is going to get better and better. There are people from New York interested in my work now that I've laid a solid foundation and gained a solid following. I can't say much about it right now, but it's all good. We'll see what happens.

In May, Kody's boyfriend, a young man named Andy Rowe, moved back here from Knoxville. He proposed to Kody in July, and then, in October, he got himself admitted to medical school at the Quillen College of Medicine in Johnson City. They were married on December 20th in a beautiful ceremony and then we threw a heck of a party at the Johnson City Country Club for three hundred of our family members and friends. It was truly a beautiful thing, and I'll never forget it.

The day after Kody was married, on December 21, I ate lunch with a group of family at Cheddar's in Johnson City. I left my phone in the car, which is my habit. When I got back to the car, there was a text from my brother telling me that my mother, Shirley Pratt, had died. She had been battling metastatic breast cancer (the same thing Kristy is fighting) for more than a year. I knew the time was near, but it was still a shock. I'm sure my mother is resting in peace. She had come to terms with God, and I can honestly say that I never heard her utter a cross word to another human being. Not even to me, and Lord knows I deserved it more than once.

The year we had is a reminder of something I've learned as time has gone by. Life is going to happen whether you like it or not. Sometimes life happens good, and sometimes life happens bad. You might as well learn to live it.

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