The closing of the year

Yep, time for the usual end-of-the-year wrap-up post. This will probably be long, so fair warning…

All in all, not a bad year, if not as great as I was hoping for. Our financial picture improved after the bankruptcy was finalized in January, which was definitely not a fun process but one that removed a huge amount of stress for both of us. Our faithful 2005 Subaru Impreza brought my husband home from work one last time in May, after 381,000 miles, and was replaced with a 2015 Subaru Impreza. I had to get used to new work schedules both for him and myself that felt like they cut my free time dramatically (even though that was mostly an illusion), and for the first time carved out both a writing space and a writing time. I’ve gotten out of my usual habits through the holidays thanks to a pinched nerve that’s been hassling me since just after Thanksgiving, but I’m looking forward to getting back into a routine in 2016.

The biggest event of 2015 for me was, of course, RainFurrest, something I’d been planning for since the previous October. It’s kind of amusing to look back now through my 2015 planner and see all the lists I had going at various times, what to get, what to pack, what needed to be done before we left. It was an adventure, in all senses of the word, implying excitement, pleasure, anxiety, discomfort, and growth. Sometimes I do wish I could go back and get a do-over — prepare a little bit better for the panels, maybe, since I felt somewhat out of my element in many of them, or schedule a day before or after to see a bit of the city.

I admit that for too much of the con I felt kind of off-kilter — there were places I had to be when I would have rather been alone, and times I was alone when I would have rather been with people, and everything went by too fast and there were usually too many people around at once and I didn’t have as much time to chat one-on-one (or in small groups) as I would have liked. But I did have some good conversations and met a lot of great people and put a lot of faces to online usernames, so it wasn’t all rushing around, thankfully. The concert by Amadhia and friends at the guest of honor dinner was a highlight, and through the whole con, all the staff we encountered did a great job keeping everything together and making the experience as pleasant as possible for the GoHs and the attendees.

I feel a little sad at the thought that I apparently was a guest of honor at the last RF to be held in Seattle, now that the con has moved to Spokane, and I’m still angry both at the (relatively) few troublemakers who ruined the con’s relationship with the hotel/city and at the ways the fandom’s demographics/culture seem to have changed over the years, to the point where congoers seem more interested in partying than anything else and completely uninterested in how their behavior impacts others. (And even though I know the questions were from well-meaning people, I admit I got tired of hearing, after I got back, “So you were at RF? Was it as bad as everybody said?” Um, no, not from where I was. For me it was — as I expect it was for most of the attendees — a normal con, not a riot or an orgy or anything else people might have been imagining based on what went by on social media. Then again, keep in mind that I go to bed early by con standards, so maybe I just missed all the fun…)

On a personal level, I was looking for the experience of RF to answer some questions for me about how involved I want to be with furry going forward, and what my priorities are, and so forth, but in the end I was left with more questions than answers, and I think this next year is going to be spent sorting those things out.

I did at least learn that the dealer’s room isn’t the place for me — while I don’t mind signing books or doing readings, I don’t like handselling from behind a table, and I felt uncomfortable the whole time I was there but guilty whenever I had to be away. Still, I would never have learned that if I hadn’t tried. (Another part of what made the experience awkward was that, of the three boxes of books I shipped ahead to sell at the dealer’s table, only one showed up — the others apparently having been stolen after they were delivered — so I only had a handful of the stock I’d expected to have. But at least I sold what did show up.) At any rate, though, I’m also glad I had the table because it gave Jess E. Owen a place to sell her awesome books, and she does like handselling. 😀

And I was also reminded that I hate the hassle and general degradation of flying… and yet ever since the trip I’ve felt restless and longing to go somewhere again. (Any furcons within driving distance want a writing GoH? Just asking…)

Looking back on the year from a creative perspective, I’m actually surprised that I don’t feel more disappointed. I had originally planned on a novel that didn’t get finished in time for RF (and is badly in need of a detailed outline before I start work on it again), and while that bothered me at the time, it doesn’t now. (2016 is going to be the year I avoid deadlines like the plague. I have one prior commitment with a deadline, and as far as I’m concerned, everything else is just going to take as long as it takes. Write first, sell later, and trust that doors will open when ready.)

It was definitely a reprint year for me, both ones I sent out and ones that were solicited, and I didn’t finish as many new stories as I expected, but what I did write, I was proud of. “The Lady’s Service” in A Menagerie of Heroes allowed me to finally write the “missing chapter” of By Sword and Star that I’d always wanted to go back to — the story of the rabbit Breckon’s training with the squirrel-clan of the Drays — and now that it’s complete, I feel a nice sense of closure with the world of Asteria. And even though it sometimes felt like I was writing them at a breakneck pace, I also enjoyed writing the new stories in Huntress, especially “Where the Rivers Meet.” Those mornings spent at my writing desk, writing “Rivers” in my desk journal with my Waterman Rhapsody fountain pen, with the Ultima Thule podcast playing in my headphones, are some of my favorite writing-related memories from this past year. Continue reading

Win a Wishing Season prize pack!

WishingMy holiday short story collection Wishing Season, released as an ebook last year, is now available in paperback from Amazon — and to celebrate, I’m having a giveaway. I love settling in on a winter evening with a cup of hot chocolate and a good book, so the winner will receive:

  • A signed paperback copy of Wishing Season
  • A 16 oz. holiday stoneware mug
  • Three packets of specialty hot cocoa mix

wsgiveaway1

Wishing Season features seven of my holiday-themed short stories, including “The First Winter,” which recently appeared as part of this special bear-themed episode of Podcastle. Wishing Season is also the only place to read my story “Santa’s Summer Vacation” — it was written just for this collection.

To enter:

  • You must be signed up for my mailing list (sign up here if you’re not already subscribed).
  • Send an email to reneecarterhall at gmail.com with the subject line “Wishing Season giveaway.”

The fine print: Open to US residents only. Only current mailing list subscribers are eligible to win. Giveaway ends at 8 AM Eastern on Monday, December 21. Winner will be notified by email.

Good luck!