After one of the more eventful years of my life in 2009 – both professionally and personally – it’ll be interesting to see what 2010 has to offer.

From a writing standpoint, 2009 was the year of Torture at the Back Forty, my second release through Titletown Publishing and my first true crime book. The first part of the year was dedicated to finishing the research and putting together a draft. As it turned out, an unexpected opportunity created the need for me to write about 80 percent of the first draft in eight days. Now that’s deadline pressure!

We had an extremely successful book release event on Aug. 7, and Torture was off and running from there. It became the best-selling regional book through the rest of 2009 at our local Barnes and Noble store in Green Bay, Wisconsin, selling almost 800 copies in a little over four months. The people there tell me if they sell more than a few dozen copies of a regional book, that’s considered a success. That makes the extended run for Torture “unprecedented,” which is quite cool.

Torture at the Back Forty apparently is selling well elsewhere, as well, since the national distributing company told my publisher to print up a couple thousand more copies because several hundred were on back order. That’s a good problem to have!

I have five speaking appearances scheduled in the next four months, capped off by an appearance at the Fox Valley (Wis.) Book Festival in April. These types of events tend to give the book a little shot in the arm as it’s introduced to a new set of potential buyers.

Late in the year, I picked up a major new client for my freelance writing business. This grew from a business relationship 10 years ago. You never know when a simple note reminding people of what you do for a living will result in a little more financial security. Make sure to network, people!

On a personal level, 2009 was the year of the accident. My wife and I were involved in a serious car accident less than two weeks before the release party for Torture. I managed to come away with cuts and bruises, but my Bonnie suffered a severe head injury and was in a coma for a couple of days, even on a ventilator for the first 36 hours. The good news is she was released from the hospital after 10 days and actually attended the book release event. She has since made a miraculous recovery and is back to nearly 100 percent.

The whole episode turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We appreciate each other and life much more than we previously thought possible, and we don’t get as wound up about the little things as you tend to before such a life-changing event. And who knows, maybe we’ll even get a little financial help from the other driver’s insurance company.

My advice for 2010 and beyond is for you to enjoy the journey, good or bad. You never know when one of life’s challenges will prove to be a staging ground for even greater things in your future.