2021 Year in Reflection + Shit I’m Digging: Volume Twelve

Whew! Happy New Year, Y’all! 🎉🎇🎉🎇

I’ve been trying to get this blog post up for the longest time (I started drafting it on December 28th), but the last quarter of 2021 was WILD and then the first week of 2022 came in with a bang. 2021 was quite the ride, but that last quarter really tried it. 😑

I figured I’d give you all a rundown of what 2021 had to offer me:

January-March was amazing! I set my goals for the year, and I was determined to have those mf’ers manifest. I had a consistent writing schedule, and I was nearly finished with a project I started back in 2017. I received a promotion at work, which meant a lot more responsibility, longer work hours, and of course, greater pay. 🤑

April-May began great. I had a couple thousand more words to go until I finished my project, and then May came along. After Mother’s Day, things went downhill as my sister passed suddenly. And let me tell you, her death upset the natural order of things. A domino effect set off a chain of events that were not necessarily great for my family. 

June-August was a blur, but my sister’s death put many things in perspective for me. After a loooooooong hiatus, I started dating again. LOL, peeps, I should have video chronicled my experience. The good news? Your girl still got it. 😏  I had suitors out the wazoo. Sadly, after going on multiple dates, there wasn’t anyone I wanted to connect with long-term, but it was great to dip my toe back into the dating pool. I also realized I am way better off single than dealing with what’s currently available. It’s rare to find people who are secure and comfortable in their skin. And to possess self-awareness? Whew… unicorn status. My light is too bright to dim and foolishness and has no place in my orbit. #aintnobodygottimeforthat Anyway, it was a great learning experience.

Post-dating I tried my best to revert to my first quarter mindset. I will admit it was a tad tricky to do when grief continuously crept in. But the beautiful thing is after the dating experiment; I became highly selfish with my time. I had already begun to taper off social media within the last two years. I did a lot of deep reflection, and the life I wanted to lead was outside of a keyboard and phone. It may have seemed like I cut ties with many people, but truthfully, I began centering myself (okay, if we’re keeping it 💯 I may have also cut ties with some folks). I let go of anything and anyone that didn’t elevate me or make me happy. I read TONS of self-improvement books. If you check me out on Goodreads, you’ll see the list of books I conquered for my 2021 reading challenge. I also returned my fitness routine. In 2016 right before I published The Sweetest Taboo, I was in the best shape of my life. I was going to the gym daily and lifting heavy, but my fitness dedication began to wane once writing entered the chat. In August, I committed to returning to my formerly physically fit self. 

September-October I began doing nightly sprints with my editor. This helped immensely with moving forward in my manuscript. I mentioned in earlier blog posts that after getting home from a long workday, the last thing I want to do is look at a computer screen. The sprints with my editor took place online, but if not for her prodding me to “get it in,” I would have gotten zero words on the page. Sometimes we have to look at the bigger picture. THESE BOOKS AIN’T GONNA WRITE THEMSELVES. Get yourself an accountability partner! I also turned forty-three in October. Peeps, I’m over here aging like a bawse. When you drink water, mind your business, have a solid skincare routine, tend to your physical, spiritual, and mental health, you age like a fine wine. I highly recommend it. I’m trying to keep that energy consistent throughout 2022 and beyond. I also wanted to finish my manuscript in October, but work deadlines prevented that from happening. It’s not like I could tell my bosses, “I have this book I’m trying to get out into the world… can you put all this other stuff on pause?” 🤔

November-December were a hot mess. My sister would have turned fifty-five the first week of November, so grief was like, “👋🏾 Hey girl, heeeey!” Then a week before Thanksgiving, my parents were in a car accident. The accident was 100% the fault of the other car’s driver. So, I had to do a LOT of heavy lifting. Assisted my parents with shopping for a new vehicle, hired lawyers, and took my parents to doctor’s appointments. With my sister no longer around, I am the only person who can tend to my parents. My parents are also elderly, seventy-five and seventy-nine respectively—shoutout to all the caregivers who have full plates all day every day. Elderly parents and car accidents don’t mix, ya’ll. Then, there are other family issues I’m dealing with. I will likely become a guardian for tiny humans ages seven, four, and two. The holidays were a bust, but I still managed to keep an extremely positive outlook because, hey, I am incredibly blessed despite hardships that cross my path. I no longer question why things happen but what’s the lesson embedded. A positive outlook makes all the difference. Oh, and since recommitting to my fitness routine in August, I’ve lost twenty-six pounds. YASSSSS! 🙌🏾

So what does 2022 have in store for Ms. Harper? 

Becoming a pro at learning how to pivot. You can make plans, but plans can also be like, “TUH, YOU THOUGHT THERE WOULD THERE WOULD BE NO HICCUPS? You only had Plan A? That will not work. Not today, ma’am. Not today.” Having contingency plans B, C, and D will always be something I think about and have in my back pocket. Losing a loved one suddenly will make you audit your life. 

What else is on tap?

Transparency! I have always been pretty private about things I’m working on, but I intend to change that moving forward. I used to think it was bad luck to talk about a story until it was at least 70% completed, but NEW YEAR, NEW ME! If you put your desires out into the universe, you have no choice but to follow through and make them come to fruition. 

Between raising tiny humans and juggling a career as a single parent, I will be releasing new material this year. 👀 People do it every day; why can’t I? It’s good to be ambitious. With that said, I have three projects I’m looking to complete this year. 

One is a manuscript I started working on in the early days of this author gig. It’s about 50% done, but it needs some tweaks and heavy rewrites. My editor is aware of my goals and is entirely on board to help me attain them. Newsletter subscribers already have insight into the second of the projects. They had a sneak peek back in 2017 with Climax and Collision. Remember Nate and Gwen? Aden and Mimi’s maid of honor and best man? I left you all on a cliffhanger with the ending to Collision, which is crazy because I abhor cliffhangers with a passion. Well, the continuation turned into a novel of sorts. So I figured why not go back and expand the shorts and give you the conclusion to Nate and Gwen’s tale you deserve. Lordt, 2017? It’s incredible how quickly the years fly by. Hell, 2010 seems like it was just yesterday. 

The last project is going out on submission—a gay (M/M) romance. Yeah, if it ain’t your thang, I respect that, but this story has deep meaning for me. I create stories for myself based on what I want to read. I wish I could say I follow trends and look at what’s popular in the romance genre and try to emulate that, but honestly, it doesn’t matter one iota to me. Authors have to write what they connect with. It’s not a process all writers abide by, but I’m not mad at people whose craft is trend-based. Do you. If you write to get the bag—more power to you. There’s something for everyone. Readers will always select a story they connect with to scratch their itch. That’s the cool part about having a varied audience. But back to going on submission… I used to view looking for an agent as this scary process, but that’s no longer the case! I’ve provided the first few chapters of super relevant gay romance (SRGY for short - that’s what I’m calling it until it’s in the hands of a publisher) to people in the industry. The feedback was HELLA GOOD, HELLLLLAAAAAA GOOOOOD, peeps! So I do not doubt I’ll get my dream agent once I wrap it up. Me and dream agent are going to set stuff on fire once our Wonder Twin powers activate. 🤩

I’m also going to try and get a blog post up at least once a month. It’s the least I can do for readers who visit this website and sigh with disappointment that there are no new buy links, lol. I got you! 

That’s all for what’s upcoming in 2022. Now, let me fill you in on all the musical shit I dug in 2021. If I added books and TV, this blog post would be even longer, and I have a word count deadline to meet today!

Listen 🎧

Check out my playlist on Spotify to listen to all the songs I adored in 2021! A few artists featured on my 2020 jams list are back again with another appearance.

SZA - I Hate U

Silk Sonic - Leave The Door Open

Lizzo - Rumors (ft Cardi B)

Qveen Herby - Abracadabra 

BIA - Whole Lotta Money

Drake - Fair Trade (with Travis Scott) *Disclaimer*  Before the tragedy in Houston, I wasn’t fond of Travis Scott’s music, and frankly, I could do without him on this track. I was on the fence about including this song as part of my list, but when Certified Lover Boy came out, I had this song on repeat.🎵🎶 I been losing friends and finding peace. Honestly, that sounds like a fair trade to me.🎵🎶

Tierra Whack - Cutting Onions

JoJo - Anxiety (Burlinda’s Theme)

Normani - Wild Side (ft Cardi B)

Megan Thee Stallion - Megan’s Piano

Victoria Monét - Coastin’

Kehlani - Altar

This video is like a warm hug. The concept! The lyrics! Kehlani’s voice is magical. Everything she does is beautiful, and I cannot wait for her new album to drop.

Chloe - Have Mercy

I’ve been a Chloe x Halle stan for some time now, but it is wonderful to see Chloe navigating a solo career with ferocity. 🎵🎶 Lawwwwwwd have mercyyyyy🎵🎶

Lil Nas X - Industry Baby (ft Jack Harlow)

If Merriam Webster’s had a place to insert “trolling” as part of a dictionary entry, this video would be it. As of this blog post, my dude has over 270 MILLION views. Lil Nas X does the absolute most, and I’m here for it. You shine when you are authentic in all you do and drown out the noise of naysayers! Also, you can’t go wrong with a Kanye West produced song. The guy knows beats.  

 FKA Twigs - Tears In The Club (ft The Weeknd)

😍😍😍 Twigs brings originality to all she does. 

Adele - Easy On Me

I saw Adele in a small concert in Lower Manhattan back in 2011. Oh, did I mention I scored free tickets? She had just started to make a name for herself in America, and not that many people knew who she was. I swear I missed my calling in the entertainment industry when it comes to predicting careers that would take off because I just knew she would be HUGE. Well, fast forward to 2021, and 2011 Harper was on point! Adele has her foot on everyone’s neck when it comes to perfectly crafted ballads. And now EVERYONE knows who she is.

Favorite Albums of 2021

Two albums stood out for me and they are:

Zayn’s - Nobody Is Listening 

I was never a One Direction fan, but this dude is creative when mixing R&B and pop and making his mark. If Justin Bieber can get recognition for his take on R&B and pop (🥴🥴🥴), then Zayn needs to be right behind him.

Jazmine Sullivan’s - Heaux Tales

Let me tell you, when you’re writing erotic romance, this album is INSPIRATION! 😅 Jazmine went hard. It’s great seeing her finally get the recognition she deserves for being a fantastic vocalist. #webeenknew

And there you have it, folks, all the musical shit I dug in 2021. Till next time…💖

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