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

Huntress news and Rainfurrest schedule

First off, Huntress is now available for pre-order in all formats — ebook and print! The ebook will be released on September 20, and the print version is scheduled for release at Rainfurrest, with online orders to ship October 16. You can find all the ordering links and more here at my website. (Remember, the ebook’s pre-order price of $2.99 will go up after it’s officially released, so pre-order now for the best price!)

Second — Rainfurrest is now just 9 days away! I’ll be attending as the Writer Guest of Honor this year, which is awesome but means a pretty full schedule. If you’re headed to the convention, read on to see where I’ll be.

Continue reading

Looking ahead: 2015

I didn’t bother to do a “looking back” type post for 2014, because frankly I’d rather forget most of what happened in 2014. While there were still some publications of previously sold stories, overall it wasn’t a very productive year for me writing-wise because my personal life wound up being so stressful. After my husband’s three outpatient surgeries, two more attempts at refinancing our mortgage that failed for reasons only underwriters could understand, and finally having to face our last resort of filing for bankruptcy because of all the medical and credit card bills, there wasn’t much time, energy, or headspace left for anything creative.

There were a few bright spots early on in the year — like seeing the publication of “Huntress” in Five Fortunes, and winning the Spark contest in the spring* —  but summer and fall were particularly tough times for me, and for quite a while I didn’t want much of anything to do with writing. I didn’t want to write, I didn’t want to think about writing, and I certainly didn’t want to be around other writers. I’d had dry spells before, but nothing ever this bad or reaching so widely or deeply. I felt completely unappreciated, writing anything felt pointless, and honestly I more or less hated the entire world — a world I felt like I was viewing through a thick pane of glass while, beyond it, everyone else went about their business being happy and noticed and fulfilled.

That was pretty much the mindset I was in one morning when I checked my email… and found an invitation to be the writing guest of honor at Rainfurrest this year.

And I felt the glass break.

rainfurrest flyerTo be honest, I never thought I’d even be able to attend Rainfurrest, let alone as one of their guests of honor. Our budget doesn’t allow for many conventions of any sort, especially not ones that require cross-country flights — and I hated not being able to go because RF is considered one of the best (if not the best) furry conventions for writers.** So I’m excited, flattered, and occasionally terrified by this honor, and I’m looking forward to finally meeting plenty of people I’ve known only as screennames. Beyond anything else, I’m determined to enjoy this experience as much as I can, knowing this sort of thing may never happen again, and I’m also determined to do everything in my power as a GoH to make the con a great experience for everyone else.

As part of being the “writers’ con,” RF also likes to help authors launch their new books, so to take advantage of that opportunity, my main writing goal for the first half of the year is to finish my next novel, The Second Life of Bartholomew T. Lion, in time to debut it at the con. Bartholomew has been waiting since the summer of 2011, when the first half to two-thirds was written during a Camp NaNoWriMo session that year. Now it’s time to dig out the draft, figure out an outline for what needs to be revised and added, and get to work.

It’s shaping up to be a very busy year…

 

*That winning story is slated for publication very soon; watch this space.
**If you need a quick primer on the furry fandom, try the one I wrote for the Furry Writers’ Guild website and the links included there.