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To: My Fans!
From: Ann
Hello, 2004

March 2004

Hi, readers! Between writing and traveling, I'd have to say that 2003 was one of my busiest years since the heyday of the Baby-sitters Club series. I love being busy, but I was definitely ready when my work year officially ended on December 1st and my long-awaited, much-anticipated, month-long vacation began! I've been taking December off for several years now, and nothing makes me happier than having the time to get my house, my gifts, and myself ready for the holidays.

I try to make many of the presents for my friends and family, and I especially love to make clothes for the children on my list. My goal is to get started on these projects early in the year and then use the time in December to put on any finishing touches. My partially completed works usually include knitted sweaters, vests, mittens, or hats for the boys, and fancy dresses (usually in floral fabrics) with detailed needlework or hand smocking for the girls. After taking inventory this year, I was a little dismayed when I realized how few of these tasks I'd actually started! Because of the time crunch, my final creations had to be a little less elaborate than those in years past, but I was very happy with the way all of them turned out.

I still get a kick out of opening presents. (I don't think you ever outgrow this!) One of my favorite gifts came from my five-year old nephew. At a party he'd attended, he got to go into a karaoke-type booth and select a song from a long list of possibilities. The music was provided and the lyrics were written out on a screen. My nephew decided to sing "La Bamba," a rock-and-roll song from the 50's sung completely in Spanish. Since he'd never heard of the song before, he doesn't speak Spanish, and he doesn't know how to read yet, I have a great CD of him happily singing his own made-up lyrics to this classic oldie. It puts a big smile on my face whenever I listen to it.

If you get a chance, please click on the "photos" link to see the picture I sent out with this year's holiday card. It was taken on a snowy day a couple of winters ago. In it, you can see my cat, Gussie (at least the back of his ears!), looking out the window at two deer that have come right up to my house in search of food. I wasn't surprised to see them, because I often scatter corn feed when there has been deep snow for several days. These deer obviously knew my routine!

The holidays are over, the new year has begun, and it's back to work for me. My plans for 2004 include finishing up some smaller writing projects that were set aside last year when time just ran out. My new book (not yet titled) will be published in the fall, and I'll do some traveling to attend book signings and author conferences. I'm also hoping to spend a week on my favorite island off the coast of Maine this summer, where I plan to read, hike, walk on the beach, and work on all my sewing projects for next December!

Wishing you a happy and healthy 2004,

Ann

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