I’m not going to even attempt to give a blow-by-blow accounting of When Words Collide because I couldn’t possibly. Not only would this post be impossibly long but my over-stressed memory is so bad these days that I would absolutely forget something or somebody and that would make me sad.
In fact, even while I was at the con if people asked how my weekend was going I would usually say “Ask me on Tuesday”. This weekend was fantastic, but simultaneously a bit overwhelming (which, really, is kind of my theme for 2017).
Well, it’s Tuesday so let me just say, my weekend was fantastic 🙂
First of all there was this:
This year has been hard. I severely over-scheduled myself and the stress of that, coupled with dealing with some non-work things and a slight depression has taken quite a toll on me. I’m not going to go into details about that (that’s a topic for a different blog post) but, yeah, it’s been difficult. So when Barbara gave me a copy of this photograph which she’s entitled “Believe” along with some incredibly encouraging and supportive words I cried. It means more to me than I can put in words to have someone say, “I see what you’re doing. Great job. Keep it up. And also, are you okay?”
I’ll be framing this photo and hanging it over my desk.
Thank you Barbara.
And a special thank you also to Ellen who provided similar but different validation to my work and additional incentive to keep on keepin’ on. With your incredible energy, enthusiasm and propensity for thinking out of the box I can’t wait to see what you create in the years to come.
Ever since I launched Fae at my very first WWC it’s been a sort of tradition for me to launch each new installment of the Magical Menageries there. Equus was no different.
I mean, it was different, but we launched it there just the same 😉
This is what our panel looked like. Well, to be honest Megan looked a wee bit different in person than she does in that photograph. I can’t imagine why…*
We have, from left to right, Hal J. Friesen, Susan MacGregor, C.S. MacCath, M.L.D Curelas , Sandra Wickham, V.F. LeSann (Leslie Van Zwol and Megan Fennell, Pat Flewwelling, Chadwick Ginther and Cat McDonald.
In addition to Equus contributors there are two D is for Dinosaur authors included in that rowdy bunch.
The reading was awesome and included flying cellphones, yeehaws, accents galore, laughs and tears. I am so lucky that I get to work with such amazing people.
And then this happened:
At The In Places Between judging where they critique the finalists. I am a finalist. O_o #wwc2017
I’ve never won a short story contest before, I was pretty stunned and kind of floated through the rest of the day in a weird state of shock.
In Places Between is a short story contest organized by the Imaginative Fiction Writers Association that is dedicated to the memory of Robyn Herrington. In fact, the dedication on the associated anthology which contains all the stories that were finalists in the contest says:
Dedicated to the memory of
Robyn Meta Herrington (1961 – 2004)
Who believed so passionately in paying it forward,
She still is.
I never met Robyn but after winning the contest dedicated to her memory I spent some time with Barb Galler-Smith learning about her. She sounds amazing and I can only hope people speak so highly of me once I’m gone as they do of her. Thank you, Barb, for sharing some of your memories with me.
Before the con was done I had one more panel. This one was with Mark Leslie where we talked about collaborative publishing and how Haunted Hospitals came to be. The panel turned into an interesting discussion between Mark, myself and the audience and was a lovely way to end the programming.
The next day was time to come home, and on the drive back to Edmonton with S.G. Wong she helped me unknot a really annoying characterization problem for a novel that’s been collecting dust on my desk for years. Now, I’m really excited to re-write the thing over the three day novel weekend (I’m not officially registered), which is a much better state of mind than the ‘What am I going to write? What am I going to write?’ one I had been in before that. So yay!
Overall it was an awesome weekend, made so by many, many people (most of which aren’t listed here by name because if I did this blog post would be far too long). If you organised, volunteered or attended When Words Collide thank you for helping make it an amazing weekend.
See you next year!
*Just guessing here but it might be because she’s a brat…
When Words Collide is kinda my jam. Technically apparently it’s a ‘Festival for Readers and Writers’ but I just call it my favourite convention, and I go every year.
There is a ridiculous amount of programming at WWC. I’m not kidding. There are twelve separate programming tracks, and it’s not like there are three real program tracks and a whole bunch of filler. Nope. All of these tracks are packed full of awesomeness so I wanted a bit more time to take it all in. So this year my schedule is a bit more laid back than on previous years 🙂
1pm — Live Action Slush: Early Bird Edition (Fireside)
Bring the 1st page of your short fiction manuscript to be anonymously read aloud and
receive comments from our editors.
This was the first ever panel I was on (at WWC or any convention ever) and it was so much fun I ask to be put on it every year.
5pm — Blue Pencil Session (Heritage)
Bring the first page or two of your manuscript (max 1000 words, typed, double-spaced) for
1-on-1 feedback from an editor.
These are booked ahead of time and I’m fully booked already (though there is usually a wait ist you can get on in case someone cancels). If you are one of the people coming to see me it’s a really good idea to send your work ahead of time so we don’t spend all our time together with me reading.
11am — Equus Book Social (Fireside)
Whether winged or at home in the water, mechanical or mythological, the equines that gallop through the pages of the Equus anthology span the fantasy spectrum. From steampunk-inspired stories and tales that brush up against horror to straight-up fantasy, one theme connects them all: freedom. Join several contributors (and a couple special guests)
as they read short excerpt from their stories.
This is going to be awesome. I’m just sayin’…
12pm — Tyche Books Presents (Fireside)
Tyche Books introduces new books for 2017. Join the editors and attending authors for teaser readings and Q&A.
Okay, so I’m not actually ON this panel, my book from Tyche is a 2018 title, however since this panel immediately follows the Equus panel I can’t see any reason why people shouldn’t just hang around and watch it too 😉
4pm — Edge Publishing Presents (Fireside)
I’ll be talking briefly about the upcoming Tesseracts anthology that Greg Bechtel and I just finished putting together. Mostly, however, there will be readings from Edge authors 🙂
8pm — Autographs
I will be taking part in the mass autograph signing as will many Equus and D is for Dinosaur contributors so if you have a copy of either anthology this is the best place to collect a whole bunch of signatures 🙂
2pm — Featured Author (Edge Publishing booth in the Vendor Room)
I’ll be spending an hour hanging out at the Edge Publishing booth in the vendor room. Last time I was the Featured Author I managed to wrangle two other people (Cat McDonald and Sandra Wickham) into joining me so we had a trifecta of awesome featured authors, so who knows what this year will hold? Swing by to talk about, well, whatever you wanna talk about. It’ll be fun 🙂
4pm — Collaborative Publishing (Fairview)
How HAUNTED HOSPITALS was born, created and developed (inspiration, origin story, how we divided the book up, and tools we used). This workshop provides insights on how to successfully collaborate on a writing project.
Haunted Hospitals wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for When Words Collide. Mark and I talk about it specifically and also more generally about collaboration 🙂
If you’re going to be at When Words Collide I hope to see you there! And please don’t be shy, even if we’ve never met before if you see me, please come up and say hi 🙂
Haunted Hospitals is officially out this weekend and the timing really could not be any better. You see, When Words Collide is next weekend and really, that’s where this all started.
A couple years ago I met my co-author, Mark Leslie, at WWC. I was sitting with him and a handful of other people at a table after the autograph session had concluded and I said, “You know, I live near a haunted hospital.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
We had several discussions via email and an in-person meeting at the next year’s WWC and slowly the plan for a book about haunted hospitals began to take shape.
And tomorrow that book is officially going out into the world!
I keep saying ‘officially’ it comes out tomorrow because last weekend I actually spotted a copy of it out in the wild — on the shelves at a local Chapters. Of course I squeed (like a total professional) and snapped some pictures.
I did leave it as I’d found it, spine out, on the shelf. So give me some points for that, anyway 🙂
This was my first foray into book length non-fiction and though it was incredibly challenging it was equally rewarding. I owe my co-author, Mark, a huge debt for showing me the ropes and demonstrating incredible patience as he answered question after newbie question. It’s been a huge adventure.
An adventure that continues even now.
The first review of Haunted Hospitals came out in the Sudbury Star and was then picked up by the National Post.
“If paranormal phenomena are going to occur, what better place than in a hospital?” noted Parrish in the book’s introduction. “Day after day, the most extreme of human experiences play out within the walls of hospitals. The most intense emotions are experienced again and again. Birth. Death. Trauma. Suffering. If paranormal activity is tied to energy or emotions, hospitals are the perfect petri dishes in which to culture it.
“Furthermore, if human spirits are trapped on this earth by trauma, disturbance or unfinished business, again, what better location than a hospital to forge the chains that hold them here?”
And yesterday I was a guest on J’lyn Nye’s show on 630 CHED here in Edmonton. That was my first ever radio appearance and I was super nervous. People have said nice things though, so I guess I hid it reasonably well. I thought I talked too much and stammered but you can judge for yourself if you’re so inclined. For the next week the show will be archived here at the 630 CHED Audio Vault. For the show I was on you’ll want August 3rd at 3pm 🙂
Mark and I will be at When Words Collide next weekend (August 11 – 13 at Delta Calgary South) to talk about Haunted Hospitals and how it all came together. There will be copies available there and we’ll be happy to sign them, however tickets are sold out. But fear not! Even if you can’t attend this year’s WWC you can still get a copy of Haunted Hospitals.
It should be available at your favourite local bookstore and/or library (and if it’s not you can usually ask them to order it in) or you can totally pick it up online!
When Words Collide was last weekend and it was amazing (as always). I can’t begin to contain all the awesome things that happened in one blog post, but here’s a very brief snapshot of my weekend:
This was the view out my car window as we drove down to Calgary for the convention. One of my favourite things about Alberta is our amazing skies. I lived in Norwich, England for a brief time and complained (probably the whole time >_<) about the absence of sky — it all felt very claustrophobic. I don’t think my boyfriend at the time understood at all what I was talking about until he came to visit and saw where I’d come from. I know Montana branded itself ‘Big Sky Country’ but really, it doesn’t get an exclusive claim to that 😉
My first panel was the early bird live action slush, which I really enjoyed. As I promised last year, I put a page of my own into the pile this time… and was stinkin’ tense the whole time my fellow panelists were giving it feedback. It was fun, when it was my turn to speak, to say, “That one was mine. Thank you.” but I heard from one member of the audience that they could tell it was mine from the moment Edward Willett began to read because I was so tense looking. Good to know! LOL
The mythology panel I was on was fantastic (S.G. Wong is an amazeballs moderator) and one con highlight for me came immediately after it when Athen, of Athen’s Book Picks, asked me to sign his copy of Sirens. Athen has a great blog where he reviews children’s, MG and YA Books and I had a lovely (but short) chat with him about that. It makes my heart glad to see young people not just caring about books but caring passionately about them.
The autograph signing had a bit of confusion and a shortage of tables. If we hadn’t all wanted to sit together we totally could have found spots at various tables around the room but we DID want to sit together so Jo and Cat suggested we snag some of the refreshment tables and improvise. It turned out we were totally punk enough to do that, and we set up a super signing assembly line of awesome. And coloured* in between selling and signing books — as you do.
The hotel gave out a different style of mug for this year’s convention. Seen here with a copy of Sirens for scale.
Sunday at noon I was the featured author at the EDGE booth in the dealers room. I ran into Cat on my way in and when she asked what I was doing I said I was being featured. “Oh, this I need to see,” said Cat, and came with me… and was promptly talked into being featured “like big shots” alongside me. Soon after that we also talked Sandra Wickham into being a big shot with us:
…which was even more fun than you can imagine and at one point involved squealing and happy jumping hugs. Because that’s how we roll.
After the EDGE booth party it was time for the Sirens launch. It was a lot of fun. We started off with Cat McDonald reading from “Notefisher” — her surreal story about getting stoned in the woods to forget that you want to kill yourself. Then it was V.F. LeSann’s turn to read from “Nautilus”. Megan Fennel and Leslie VanZwol are each one half of V.F. LeSann and they played rock, paper scissors to decide who was going to read. Leslie won/lost and gave a lovely reading.
Pat Flewwelling followed that up with a great reading of some of the darker parts of her story, “Moth to an Old Flame” and Sandra Wickham followed her with an engaging share of part of “Experience”. I felt a little bad for L.S. Johnson having to follow on Sandra’s heels… right up until L.S. knocked her reading of ‘We are Sirens’ out of the park and made me cry!
(Yes, I probably could have used the word ‘follow’ more in those last two paragraphs :-p)
The pitch sessions were a whirlwind of people telling me about their stories and blowing my mind, again and again, with creative ideas and plots. These pitches were five minutes each, and followed one right after the other. Many of the novels sound fantastic but the experience (it was my first time doing pitches) was rather dizzying and by the time it was over I was glad it had been my last session of the con because I really needed some quiet time to catch my breath LOL
And then it was time to go home. Have I mentioned how I feel about Alberta skies?
And then we were home!
Super big shout outs to Tyche Books for selling the Magical Menageries series at their table for me. Because of them we sold out of copies of Sirens and even sold a few of the older anthologies as well!
For me, the side effects of attending a convention include feeling recharged by seeing so many of my friends in the same place–many I don’t get to see in three dimensions anywhere else, inspired to get back to work by the conversation, panels and hearing people read… and a raging case of imposter syndrome. That last bit is compounded by a thing I’ve decided to call ‘Con Brain’. Are you nodding along already? Do you know what I’m about to say?
Example #1: I was at a party and you looked over to see Sandra Wickham, Sandra Kasturi and S.G. Wong (whose name is also Sandra) all sitting together. I tapped tap S.G. Wong on the shoulder, fully intending to say, “Sandra, Sandra and Sandra! It’s the Sandra club!” (because they probably haven’t already all heard that five times already) but what happened is I said, “Sandra, Sandra and–” and I looked at S.G. Wong’s name tag and for some reason, for just a moment, I was like, “Wait! Stop! Don’t say Sandra! Her name is Susan! Quick! Change gears!” so I said, “Sandra, Sandra and Susan! It’s the S club!”
Sandra was awesome about it. Because she’s awesome. But really? Really?
…have I mentioned that my mother’s name was Sandra? If I was gonna mess up a name…
Example #2: This one is funnier. At the Sirens launch I was like, “The publisher for this book is When Words Collide and…” eventually the audience (and Sirens) stopped laughing long enough to remind me that the convention is When Words Collide and my publisher is World Weaver Press. WWC / WWP. My defense is that they are only one letter apart.
I’m calling this ‘Con Brain’ because it seemed to get worse as the con went on. And I don’t think it was so much a case of just normal slips of the tongue so much as my brain saying, “Dude! We’re doing so much more adulting and peopling than we usually do! I’m burning out so I’m just gonna flip this switch for a while. You don’t need to word, right? Right? Good…”
Still, you can bet that I’ll be doing it all again next year because so far no one has held my oopses against me and man, I loves me some When Words Collide!
Each year I set goals for the year to come and share them on my blog here. At the end of each year I assess how well I did in accomplishing my goals and set new ones. It’s an important thing for me, this setting and sharing of goals. Setting them and having them written down in concrete language really helps me regain my focus when I lose it (which is often), evaluate progress, get things done and also, look back over time and see a bigger picture of things I’ve accomplished. Sharing them on my blog here with you is equally important because it provides a sense of accountability which can be a huge motivation at times when I need it most.
Over the past couple years my goal lists have grown and grown becoming quite long and complicated. So, too, has my career when you count in the things I don’t talk about here (such as freelance work and ghostwriting). It was kind of beginning to feel overwhelming, which is pretty much the exact opposite of what I’m going for so I think it’s time to simplify a wee bit. Thus…
I’ve begun working on this in February. My goal is to have the first draft of my contribution done by the end of April. I’ve never written anything like this before though, so I’m unsure how reasonable this goal is.
Announce D is for… anthology and prepare it for an early 2017 release
Release C is for Chimera on April 19th
Promote it sufficiently to break the sales numbers for A is for Apocalypse (based on the first three months after release)
Release Sirens (July?)
Promote it sufficiently to break the earn out its advance within the first year. Bonus points if it’s in the first six months.
Attend the ‘Despite Excuses’ writing retreat in California this July
Take August off. With the exception of attending When Words Collide… which is work but also isn’t :-p
Write the first draft of Deadmonton (My Winterknight Towers book), beginning in November and using NaNoWriMo as a springboard to get started
Hire an editor for Shadows and prep it for release
Host a December blog tour to celebrate the holidays and benefit the food bank.
I’ve also got several projects that are pending or in limbo right now including a brand new anthology series (Keep your fingers crossed for this one, especially!), three stand-alone anthologies I’d be co-editing (with three different people) and two collaborative poetry projects. I’ve deliberately built some empty spaces into my project calendar for the year to address these projects. Also, you just never know when I’m going to be distracted by something shiny and need to take a little detour for a while 😉
What I know for sure is that I live near an abandoned hospital and I find it completely fascinating. It keeps creeping into my fiction and ever since we’ve moved here I’ve had ‘Write a book about the haunted hospital’ on the little dream project list at the back of my mind. So when I met Mark Leslie at When Words Collide a couple years and learned he wrote ghost story books (Tomes of Terror, Haunted Hamilton, Spooky Sudbury) I couldn’t resist saying, “Ya know… I live near a haunted hospital.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
Mark and I are writing a book about haunted hospitals and if you have a spooky hospital story to share with us, we’d love to hear about it. You can contact me directly (however you prefer — comment, email, social media) or check out our handy dandy form –> Right Here.
I meant to write a nice, long, detailed post about this year’s When Words Collide when I got home from it with a nice, long, detailed section about Live Action Slush. But then I got home and there were deadlines growling and snapping at me, and summer days to enjoy, and people to follow up with and, well, basically life totally got in the way and now I’ve had to accept the fact that nice, long, detailed post which totally existed in my imagination is just not going to happen.
Which is kinda sad because my imaginary blog post was pretty epic. Almost as epic as When Words Collide, in fact.
Anyway, even though that amazing blog post isn’t going to happen I do want talk really briefly about Live Action Slush. No really, this is going to be pretty short, I promise.
Live Action Slush, for those who aren’t familiar, is a panel where people anonymously submit the first pages of their manuscripts to be read out loud to a room full of strangers. Oh, and also? Four of those strangers are editor-types sitting at a table with microphones. When an editor hears something that would make them stop reading if the story were submitted to them they raise their hand. Once three of the four editors have put their hands up the reader stops and the editor-types discuss what they heard and offer feedback.
Live Action Slush panels are awesome, I love them and I hope my feedback on them is helpful, but they are not like reading slush. When I’m actually reading slush I’m reading it rather than listening to it, I don’t have three other editors reading it with me, or an audience, or the awareness that the writer is in the room watching me. I put a lot of pressure on myself to try to be helpful at LAS, and if not helpful at least not hurtful.
That being said there are two points I want to make about Live Action Slush.
One — It takes a lot of guts to subject yourself to that. For realz. I have been writing and submitting my work for a long time now and I feel like I have a pretty thick skin and a healthy sense of separation between my work and myself, and I would still have a tough freaking time sitting in a room while four people discussed my story. A very tough time. If I wore a hat I would tip it to every single person who ever submits their work to a live action slush. You rock.
Hopefully the feedback you hear about your story is helpful but the value of LAS goes beyond that because other people can learn things from listening to the discussion about your work too. So even more than (hopefully) getting some feedback to help yourself, you are also helping other people as well.
Did I mention that you rock? You do.
Two — With very few exceptions when I put up my hand during a LAS panel is not where I’d stop reading, it’s when I would start making notes or start skim reading. I did three Live Action Slush panels at WWC this year and heard a total of three stories that I actually would have stopped reading completely before the first page was done. And for one of those three manuscripts the reason I would have stopped was because it was a sub-genre I don’t deal with. I mention this each time I do a panel but I’m not sure that I emphasize it enough.
Putting up my hand when I’d start taking notes or skimming rather than when I would actually stop reading means it coincides with when I have the first constructive feedback to offer the author and also marks the shift when I turn from ‘Reader’ into ‘Editor’ (you want to keep me fully engaged with your story as a reader for as long as you possibly can).
Given how much bravery goes into submitting your work to be read, I’m not sure I’m doing the right thing. It must really really suck to sit in the audience listening to your work get read and watch an editor’s hand go up.
Moving forward I’m going to make two changes. First, if I have the pleasure of sitting on any more Live Action Slush panels, I’m going to be slower to put my hand up. I don’t think I can promise to put it up only when I would actually stop reading but I can definitely allow for a larger margin for error than I had been. Second, I’m going to start submitting my work to be read at Live Action Slush panels. It only seems fair, really, that I sit on both sides of the microphone.
One other quick note? I mentioned this on social media but in case you didn’t see it–if your work was read at a Live Action Slush panel I was on and I put up my hand, I am willing to take a look at your revised first page and offer feedback on it. I can only look at first pages but if you’d like send it my way firstname.lastname@example.org
I also welcome your comments about Live Action Slush. Have you attended them? Been on the panels? Have they mostly been a positive experience for you or not so much?
So this is it. The time of year where I look back at the goals I set for 2014 and find out how well I did at reaching them. What’s usually most interesting about this time for me is seeing how my priorities have shifted over the course of the year, the number of things which were really important to me at the beginning of 2014 which I was happy to back burner (which is totally a verb) but the end.
Also, I have a rule. I may explain failures, but not excuse them. Who wants to read a whole blog post of self-justifications and excuses? Not me LoL
So. 2014 goals. How’d I do?
bold = success
tl;dr — Overall, it was a pretty freaking awesome year 🙂
No drinking pop. Period.
Lose 20 lbs
Lower blood pressure (bonus points if I get to reduce my medication)
Didn’t do so awesomely here. Or well at all, really. I’m still drinking a lot of pop (diet pop, for better or for worse) and my weight has remained steady. Much, much too high, but steady. I *was* making (very slow) progress on that 5k run thing before plantar fasciitis reared its ugly head but once it did I was less than enthusiastic about actively stretching to relieve it or exercising in a way which didn’t aggravate it so… pretty sure that counts as an excuse, not an explanation. The only thing I did manage here was to lower my blood pressure. Alas, I did not get to reduce my medication in the process so no bonus points for me. *pout*
This degree is taking a ridonkulously long time. I need to finish another course toward completing it this year. Bonus points if I manage two, but it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that this is honestly more of a hobby than anything and it must not negatively effect my work.
I didn’t find the time to finish even one course toward this degree. In fact as of last month I became inactive in my program, which is kinda crappy but I felt like my writing and editing took off to such an extent that it would be a bad choice for me to prioritize school over them at this point in time. So what I’m saying is, I’m okay with having failed to meet this goal. I think it was the right decision.
Solicit writers for B is for (haha not telling yet!) and begin that process
Continue to edit and publish Niteblade, keeping it something I can be very proud of.
Complete the edits on Grammy’s book
Wow. What a year it’s been under Editing / Publishing. Going to tackle all these one at a time…
First, I did finish FAE and I promoted it to the best of my ability. That included getting over my anxiety about holding a physical launch party, and making sure I always had copies of the book on hand at every convention I went to (and I went to three) to sell. Some of these efforts were successful (the party at When Words Collide, for example) and some, like the postcards with discount codes I printed up for World Fantasy were abject failures. Live and learn, right?
I was also successful in pursuing other anthology ideas. My goal had been to have at least one more under contract with a publisher by the end of the year, but I smashed that to bits. I have two anthologies with signed contracts which I’m even now finalizing the tables of contents for and which will be published this year. They are SCARECROW and CORVIDAE. I also have a verbal agreement to begin reading submissions for a fourth anthology for World Weaver Press (tentatively entitled SIRENS: Sea and Sky) this year and publishing it next year.
I did not find any awesome ways to increase promotion efforts for METASTASIS, but even so it earned out all its production costs and began sending small (but emotionally meaningful) donations to support cancer research.
I also didn’t come up with a way to set concrete goals for promotion, but I did get far better at tracking the results of promotions, so I’m going to call that a step in the right direction.
We held another successful fundraiser for Niteblade in 2014, raising $510 and (even better for my ego) collecting a whole lot of really nice things Niteblade authors had to say about it.
I didn’t produce a NaNoLJers anthology last year, but that is because there wasn’t much in the way of interest.
A IS FOR APOCALYPSE is awesome. I did, in fact, publish it and promoted it as well as I could. I think in some ways it suffered for being launched so close to FAE but despite that sales exceeded my expectations and it has been very well-received including having stories from it on people’s top five lists,end of the year reading recommendations and getting a handful of nice reviews here, there and everywhere.
Not only did I solicit writers for B IS FOR BROKEN I’m nearly finished editing those stories and I’ve settled on the themes for the next two alphabet anthologies and let the authors know about them so they can decide to sign up, or not, in a leisurely fashion.
Niteblade had a fantastic year with me at the helm and though I’m partly saddened that 2015 will be its last year, mostly it feels like the right thing to do. End on a high note and go out in style 🙂
I completed the edits on Grammy’s book. Added the whole new section she wanted appended to the back, got it formatted, published and shipped to her in time for her to give out copies at Christmas. So, basically, I rocked it 🙂
2014 is the year of the novel. It is because I say it is, damn it!
Complete the novel currently known as ‘Hollow’
By ‘complete’ I mean have that sucker ready to start querying agents about
Complete the first draft of at least two other novels
One of these may be one of my pen name projects
Self-publish the zombie poetry book and complete my other plans for it
Write 350 words a day, five days a week. So 1,750 words a week.
Yes. A week. It’s not huge, but I’ve got a lot of other stuff on this list, damn it! :-p
Bundle up and self-publish more of my reprints
Complete sekkrit collaborative project
Participate in NovPAD and/or April PAD
Anything with the word ‘NaNo’ in the title is optional
…except NaNoLJers. Set up prompts for odd-numbered Mondays
Well, despite my intentions 2014 turned into the year of the anthology, not the novel. Hollow is done. Mostly. I had to do a whole extra draft I hadn’t counted on, but now it only needs a final spit polish and it will be ready to start querying. It’s finding the time to do that polish that is turning into a tricky thing.
I also sold my Aphanasian novel, SHADOWS, to World Weaver Press. That required a lot of re-writing and I anticipate at least one, possibly two more passes before it’s ready for release. It’s scheduled to be released some time this year though, so we’ll have to wait and see when that comes to pass 🙂
I did self-publish my zombie poetry book, and a collection of funny zombie reprints. I didn’t find time to ‘complete my other plans’ for the zombie poetry book, but who knows, perhaps a miracle will happen and I’ll find a way to do that this year LOL Could happen…
Still not finished my sekkrit collaborative project with Marge Simon, but working on it. Still working on it. Kind of like the tortoise in that story…
I participated in NovPAD and April PAD. I was not super successful at either but… I got a few poems out of them. I also participated in NaNoWriMo, however in recognition of how busy I was I re-named it MicroWriMo and aimed for 10k words. I wrote just under 8k. Meh.
Also, I had prompts set up and scheduled for odd-number Mondays for NaNoLJers and then I did something very stupid and deleted them all. So, that was a big fail right there.
Read at least 50 books.
Have 25% be non-fiction
According to Goodreads I read 63 books (I really ought to keep track of how many stories I read in slush LOL) 11 of which were non-fiction. So, I surpassed the main goal but fell short on the mini one. Of those books my favourites, in no particular order, were:
So… the good news about all the things I missed on this list is that they are all still on my radar, and aside from A Month of Letters I can do them anytime. I’m surprised I missed A Month of Letters this year, so surprised I had to go and check my blog archives to make sure I really had. Weird. I do write snail mail sporadically over the course of the year anyway but historically I’ve really gotten a lot out of A Month of Letters so I’ll have to work pretty hard at re-adding that next year.
Also, I went to three conventions. When Words Collide is my new all-time favourite convention ever. Plus I also attended my second World Fantasy and went to Pure Spec here in Edmonton. The highlight of Pure Spec, for me, was the Character Death Matches (I participated and got my butt kicked. Fun!)
And there you have it. My year in review or, more specifically, a look at the goals I set last year with an eye to seeing how successful I was.
On paper I wasn’t super successful, but as I mentioned at the start of this (very long) entry, it’s always interesting to see how my priorities shift and change over the year. While my health-based priorities remain the same and I really need to devote more time, energy and effort to them I’m perfectly good with the progress I made on my other goals. Writing a lot of novels got pushed back a bit in favour of editing a lot of anthologies, for example. I’m good with that, and very proud of the results.
I know a great number of my friends struggled through 2014 in ways that meant getting dressed each morning was a victory, but overall, 2014 was a very good year for me. How did it treat you? Did you accomplish most of the things you set out to do? Are you happy with what you managed?
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what 2015 has to offer. I’ll be making a new set of goals for myself and sharing them here in the near future. If you do the same please let me know, I like seeing the goals other people set for themselves, sometimes they help inspire mine 🙂
I was so nervous. SO nervous. I’d never hosted a book launch before, hell, I’d never even spoken at a convention before*. So. Freaking. Nervous.
I shouldn’t have been, it was amazing.
To start I said a (very) few words, then turned the floor over to Laura VanArendonk Baugh. Laura had come all the way from Indianapolis to attend the launch (and the convention) and it was fantastic to get to meet her and hang out. Laura read some of her amazing Fae story, And Only The Eyes of Children and definitely left the audience wanting more.
Oh! The audience. Did I mention the audience?
When Laura said she would be coming to the convention I said something like, “That would be great, but I’ve never done one of these so I don’t know how many people to expect. It could just be me, you and Adria playing pinochle.” She came anyway, and dudes? It wasn’t just the three of us. We had a full room:
That’s not actually everyone but it gives you an idea. Definitely not just us playing cards 🙂
One of the biggest reasons we had a great turnout is because of Adria Laycraft, here she is reading from her Fae story, Water Sense:
Adria was a juggernaut when it came to inviting people to the launch (both this physical one in Calgary and our online one at Facebook where she won a prize for being the person to invite the most people).
Anywho… Adria read from her story, Water Sense. She was a strong and engaging reader and though I’d (obviously) read her story several times before it was great to hear it come alive in her voice.
Adria recently co-edited an anthology called Urban Green Man with Janice Blaine, and thinking that green men and fairies go together incredibly well, I’d invited her to have some of the contributors to that anthology read as well. Thus, we were lucky enough to hear some work from it too including a poem by Peter Storey and stories from Randy McCharles and Billie Milholland.
We sold a couple copies of Fae at the launch on Friday afternoon but we also had copies available downstairs at the shared author’s table (which I understand is run by IFWA). On Saturday afternoon I got a Facebook message from Adria which said, essentially, “Rhonda, the dealer’s room is sold out of copies of Fae, do you have any more?”
At the same time I feel bad for the people who wanted to get a copy but couldn’t. If you still need to pick up a copy, follow this link. That will take you to World Weaver Press’s Fae page. From there you can order copies directly from them or you can pick up a copy from your favourite retailer using WWP’s direct links to places it is available.
Ask your local bookstore or library to order it in.
In the meantime, I’m totally calling our launch of Fae at WWC a success. And who knows, maybe that’s where we’ll launch Corvidae and Scarecrow next year. You just never know 😉
Some more pictures from our launch, I apologise for the quality of these pictures but I had to choose between bringing my good camera and fewer books or my crappy camera and more books. I went with the crappy camera and more books… which we sold out, so I think I made the right choice 🙂
*I don’t usually get nervous speaking in public, but there’s something about talking about any of my books that is a big exception to that LOL
I love writing conventions. I’ve only been to a few, but every time I leave feeling exhausted, but also invigorated, inspired and motivated.
During his pre-convention marketing workshop Mark Leslie spoke about serendipity and creating the opportunity to make connections by attending things like conventions and festivals. The whole time he was talking about it I was just nodding along with him. Every time I’ve attended a convention-type-thing I’ve met new people and made new friends and connections. Attending When Words Collide last weekend was no exception.
I met Laura VanArendonk Baugh and Adria Laycraft who have stories in Fae, Leslie and Megan who I’ve connected with online for what feels like forever but is actually closer to a few months, people I share tables of contents with, publishers who’ve believed in my work enough to include it in their titles, local writers who I somehow hadn’t managed to connect with before and lots of other new people (readers, writers, editors, marketers… the list goes on and on…).
And I got to re-connect with people who I only get to see at events like this.
Also? I got to have conversations like these (vagueified–which should totally be a word–anonymized and paraphrased):
Him: Can I see your tattoo?
Me: Blah blah blah… as you can see I like corvidae. In fact, I’m editing an anthology called Corvidae, and a companion anthology entitled Scarecrow.
Him: I have a scarecrow story, how would I send that to you?
Me: I’ve always wanted to write a book about THIS THING which totally falls into the same category as a lot of your work but I lack the expertise and there never seems to be enough time in the day.
Him: Do you want to write it together?
Me: Uh, lemmethinkaboutthat–YES^
Friend: Oh my god! After that panel where part of my story was read I was approached by a publisher and asked to submit!
(Note: When awesome things like this happen to your friends, it’s almost as cool as when they happen to you. It’s amazing to be there in person to help them celebrate.)
Me: I can’t wait to read your book, when does it come out?
Her: *tells me*
Me: I don’t know if I can wait that long. Do you need blurbs? If I like it as much as I think I will…
Her: Oh, that would be great. I hate asking people for blurbs!
Awesomesauce Editor, after reading & marking up the opening to Hollow^: I like this. I really like this. Close your eyes and listen to this *reads my (edited) story back to me*
Me: Wow. I didn’t know I could write that well!
Post on Facebook: Rhonda! The dealer’s room is sold out of copies of Fae, do you have any more?^
A couple different people (!!): Rhonda Parrish? I’ve heard of you… (and they didn’t mean in a bad way LoL)
Me, right before my first panel ever in life: Dude, I’m really, really, really nervous.
Fellow Panelist, who is awesome #1: Come sit over here beside me.
Me, after being on my first panel ever in life: Oh man! I made it through and I’m pretty sure I didn’t even say anything stupid! (my goal for every panel was just not to say something stupid. I think I only failed once LoL)
Fellow Panelist, who is awesome #2: You were great. Hugs!
My point? Conventions rock. I’ve never regretted attending one, and I had an especially awesome time at When Words Collide. Such a good time, in fact, that I’m already registered to attend it again next year. Maybe I’ll see you there?
^more on this later or much later as is appropriate given the subject