Once again, the annual Christmas newsletter has morphed into an annual New Year newsletter. Oh well. Maybe next year I’ll get my festive act together and have this posted in time for Christmas. In the meantime, here’s a quick run down on the 2013 activities of the Wilson/Loftin clan.
While it would have been difficult for 2013 to live up to the lofty standards set by the banner year that was 2012, we certainly can’t complain about this year. We’ve avoided all major disasters and end the year in good health and with sanity intact despite the pressures of school and work. No-one has changed jobs or schools this year and life is trundling along nicely for everyone.
Although Nikki had no new books published this year, sales of “<The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy” appear to have been good. The paperback hits the shelves at the end of January followed closely by the launch of book number 2, “Nightingale’s Nest” in February 2014. She’s had a busy year writing her third book for Razorbill and has made many school visits and had several conference speaking engagements including as the keynote speaker for the Houston Writers’ Guild conference.
The headline of Nikki’s year was likely a book-related trip she took to Japan to visit several US Department of Defense schools over there. The week-long trip also happened to coincide with the peak of the cherry blossom season. Dave, Cameron and Drew were all suitably jealous having been left back at home but did rather enjoy the collection of Japanese sweets and trinkets that she brought back with her.
Outside the literary world, Nikki is still very active teaching Zumba at the Town Lake YMCA in Austin.
Dave continues to work at Texas Instruments and is still spending a lot of his time outside work doing photography. He is now teaching at Precision Camera in Austin and is the photography mentor for Dripping Springs 4-H Club (which, for the benefit of UK readers, is a service organisation for kids which teaches various skills relating to agriculture, animal husbandry, arts, crafts, shooting, etc.). Photographic highlights this year included a long weekend in Utah with a bunch of photography friends from around the country, photographing the Longhorn Band at Texas Memorial Stadium, a business trip to Taipei with enough free time to take pictures around the city, shooting from behind the scenes for Dripping Springs Rodeo and, of course, many visits to Circuit of the Americas to shoot motor racing events including MotoGP and the US Formula 1 Grand Prix. The year ended with a solo exhibition at the Nancy Scanlan Gallery in Austin and he has another exhibition booked in a local library for March 2014.
Cameron is now thoroughly entrenched as a teenager having turned 14 in September. He’s in his last year of Middle School and has developed an interest in cooking to add to his previous reading and video game addictions. The family is enjoying the fruits of his new labours! He’s been offered the chance to intern at a local cooking school so we’re looking forward to even more culinary treats over the next year.
He continues to play his baritone horn and was in the Dripping Springs Middle School Wind Ensemble, the top band in the school, for the second year. In June, he once again attended Longhorn Band Camp at the University of Texas, a week long, live-away camp which ended with a great concert for all the parents. This year also so him gaining membership in the National Junior Honor Society.
Drew is in 5th Grade and getting ready to move on to Middle School at the end of this academic year. He’s still involved in Cub Scouts and will cross over to Boy Scouts this coming February. He’s also taking guitar (he got an electric guitar for Christmas after proving that he could stick with lessons on the acoustic for over a year) and his composition and performance entry in this year’s PTA Reflections competition at school has so far made it’s way up to the state level. As if all that wasn’t enough, he is also very involved in 4-H (hence Dave’s involvement too) and is keeping two rather charming goats to show in the Hays County Show in late January. If things go to plan, we expect there will be some kids (of the small goat variety) to add to the livestock collection come next summer.
Drew also had his own literary highlight this year when, during a visit to the Texas Book Festival, he was asked to help author Lemony Snicket during his standing-room-only presentation in the State Capitol.
Our big vacation this year was a major road trip from Austin to the Grand Canyon in Arizona and back. We took a rather circuitous route that included Palo Duro Canyon in north Texas, Santa Fe and Taos in New Mexico, Pagosa Springs and Mesa Verde in Colorado and Petrified Forest National Park and the Grand Canyon in Arizona. On the way home, we stopped for a couple of nights in a great B&B in Fort Davis, Texas too. The trip was a welcome respite from the Texas heat and the national parks were all fantastic. Highlight included white water rafting on the Rio Grande near Taos and taking the ranger-guided tours at Mesa Verde, most of which involved scrambling up ladders perched high on rock faces, much to Dave’s dismay.
So that’s a potted history of our year. 2014 is shaping up to be a good one with Nikki’s new book, all the associated parties and visits and a planned trip back to the UK for the summer. Check back in a year and we’ll let you know how it went. In the meantime, though, we wish you all a very Happy New Year and extend our best wishes to all our friends and family around the globe.
The gallery below contains some photos of this year’s highlights click on any of the thumbnails to see the full-sized image.