I’m embarrassed to admit I have been so busy the last month that I got the date for the start of the New Chinese Year wrong. I was working towards a start on Friday, only to discover it is today… in just a few short hours.
Where has the time gone? I say it every year, but it seems as though time is speeding up.
Looking back I can say there are many triumphs from the past year, some things which didn’t get accomplished (mainly writing) and some things I guess, I would prefer to forget. But you live and learn.
On the celebration front – because that’s all I’m really going to focus on, there were:
not one, not two, but three anthologies published
You’d think I was an over achiever… or perhaps, more to the point, someone hell-bent on making her mark in the publishing arena. eMergent Publishing put out the Yin and Yang Book. I edited the Yang, and Paul the Yin. And after tredipations about the do-ability of the sliding doors-meets spiderwb concept (sounds like the potential for a sticky, annoying mess) we discovered it could be done. It involved more time than either Paul and I anticipated but the end product was definitely worth it. The paperbacks will be release in March some time.
All the guys who shared the workspace and creative space with me for those six months, they taught me more about editing, than I think I’d learnt to date. They brought characters into my life I loved, loathed and feared (Chris Chartrand…you will never live it down!) It was the ten of them, who bought the Y&Y concept alive, to not just exist on the page, but to dazzle (and occassionaly horrify!)
And the third was a bolt out of the blue. I missed out on Jim Bronyaur’s 12 Days of Christmas (we were in Malaysia on holiday at the time) and decided to put together my own… and Literary Mix Tapes was born. A stand alone, solo project of mine (we always seem to keep coming back to the bands analogies when we talk about eMergent and Chinese Whisperings!) which got legs and went from a few stumbles to long graceful strides in a very short period of time. I published Deck the Halls on Christmas Eve… and as I write, am finalising Nothing But Flowers, the Valentines Collection.
eMergent’s first signing
It was a simple DM on twitter the first weekend of November. I’d put aside the entire month to ‘just write’ – after all, it was NaNo. The DM changed the month, and the year. The DM was from Emma Newman. I’d had the pleasure to work with Em on The Red Book in 2009, and was sorry to miss the chance to work with her again, given she was on the Yin side of the anthology in 2010.
I bought From Dark Places early in the year as part of my failed short story a day for a year quest, and couldn’t help but love the diversity of the stories, the twists, the writing, but felt it could have done with an edit to make those stories shine… for them to go from being 98% brilliant to 100% awesome.
So, when she offered me the opportunity to edit her extended anthology I gave it all of two seconds consideration… and most of those two seconds were taken up wondering if it could wait until the end of November, rather than did I want to.
We started the following Monday and four months down the track we’re almost at the end. eMergent weren’t looking to sign any authors, but when Em’s project fell in my lap, it made so much sense, to both Em and I, to put it under the eMergent label.
It has been such a pleasure working with Em, who is not only an incredibly talented writer and has become a much loved friend, she’s also a visionary, a go-getter and has her head screwed on the right way when it comes to business. She’s set the bar high for all the other authors who come after her. I only said to her 10 days ago how sad I was going to be, not to be working with her on such a close daily basis. Well that quickly changed… but that’s another of those hush, hush projects for now.
‘kissed by the sun’
This has to be the story which I’ve worked hardest and longest at. In all, I think I wrote 12,000 words for what ended up being a 4400 words story. It underwent three massive rewrites and towards the end I lost faith in it being a story with legs. Russell at Ticonderoga obviously begged to differ, when he offered to include it in the Dead Red Heart antholoyg, slated for release this coming April. I’m ecstatic to be published with so many authors I admire. It feels like the next big stepping stone for me.
He’ll most probably be surprised to see his name mentioned here. Jason’s friendship and his investment in my writing were probably the two most unexpected highlights of the past year. For one, up until May we’d only ever exchanged emails based on Chinese Whisperings projects. Meeting him in person was a revelation on many levels – the main one being, just what Chinese Whisperings meant to him, and to a lot of the other writers involved on the project.
He tagged along to Byron Bay, he put me up when I scored the free ticket to go to WorldCon, we went to the Hugo Awards together, we hung out at the Sunshine Coast in November and he took the task of weekly compiling the fiction round up from me – allowing me the first step towards trusting others in business. It’s been such a long time since I’ve had the joy of a new friend, whose world is far removed from my own, and who can stand the idea of me talking a million miles an hour about writing and reading. And both the stories he helped me with ‘The Man Who Would’ (published in 50 Stories for Pakistan) and ‘Kissed by the Sun’ were published… not to mention the snappy, grittier version of ‘The Prologue’ for The Yin and Yang Book and the assurance it was fine to have a full on sex scene on the first page of the book!
100 stories for queensland
This has occupied the last month of the year… and will exist into the first month of the year, with publication slated for 8th March. Thank you to Trevor Belshaw for considering it, for assembling the team, for keeping me honest and accountable (to myself… he suggests every so often that I sleep) I have met so many wonderful writers through this, and also editors that I am a changed person for the experience. It also helps keep the nightmares away at night… knowing I’m doing something to assist and have helped other across the world to assist with the rebuilding effort here in Queensland.
I went to more festivals and conferences last year than I could poke a stick at. It started with the Emerging Writers Festival in May. Had a ball, even though we were sad to have missed out on a talking place. Then came Byron Bay… always my favourite, and spent in the company of two of my closest writing friends, ensuring there was beer aplenty, burriots aplenty and more than a spot of dancing to be had. I thought that was it… I’m rather terrible at getting to the Brisbane Writers Festival. But no – there were two more to go.
There was WorldCon, the Science-Fiction Convention due to the generosity of Kim Falconer. It was there, I sealed my path as a spec-fic writer. It felt like coming home to a place I hadn’t even realised existed. No more faffing about, not sure what genre I write in. I’ve been forever asking the questions ‘what if?’ Yes, I know how slow I can be.
Last but certainly, not least, was Logan Writers’ Week under the guiding hand of Karen Tyrrell. Not only did I have my first opportunity to speak as a writer, I found my other home in the classroom. Years ago the Registar in the school I worked in, told me I had missed my calling as a teacher (and I’d scoffed at it – I was employed in as the behaviour management officer there!) and I have to agree with her. I ran a very successful workshop, teaching the skills for critiquing fiction work. The buzz was so great I wanted to do it again.
list of goals
While I was poor on my writing goals (lets not list the very long collection of failures there), I made my book count (28 over 13 cycles… I’ll post up the list tomorrow) including seven books off the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list; I attended more seminars, workshops and courses than I intended to; I maintained my weekly articles at Write Anything; beta read and line edited for friends on a regular basis; published the first of eMergent’s non-fiction books – Gnarly Planning by Dr Jane Stanley and successfully completed NaNo for the fourth year in a row.
the year of adventure – a final reflection
This was the theme I gave last year… I really wanted to step out of the sqaure and really see what could happen. I guess adventurous is a better channel for energy than ‘reckless’. While the year wasn’t marked by lots of adventures – there were some memorable ones, including my couch-surfing escapades across Melbourne in May bringing back some of the joie de vive and thrill of independence from my life before Mr D (both of them). I also went on my first overseas trip and among other things, rode an elephant, danced in a long house, saw fireflies on a river at night, rode old ‘shakies’ between towns that didn’t feature on the Lonely Planet map, watched the early morning mist hang over tea plantations and had my first ever devonshire tea – oh and survived internation travel with a six year old in tow!
the year ahead
I really haven’t given it a whole heap of thought… but probably time to do some plotting. Oh but that’s right, I’m on record for being a pantser. Perhaps that’s where my overly thoughtout business plan went wrong last year?
…and a kiss good night and a kiss good-bye to the Year of the White Tiger.