I don’t usually put the tiny letters up here, but since this is a year-end round-up and look ahead, I thought I would. Sign up if you want to always get them!
Last week I was in a reflective mood and I should have written this then. At that moment, I felt like I was caught up on everything — and mostly, I am — and other than having planned to write more than I did, this is the first year I haven’t been on a major deadline over the holidays. Which was actively nice, particularly in terms of being able to help Isabelle the dog settle in (more on that anon). This week, the weight of all the things that need to be done — next, soon — is back and I wish I’d worked more over the holidays. Ah, brain, never change, I guess. 😉
Since this was my first year as a work-from-home writer, there were some big things I learned and did and, well, it was just a huge transitional year on the personal level. While I know this was a terrible year for many people and for our society as a whole in terms of terrible losses (Carrie Fisher! Prince! Bowie! Alan Rickman! Gwen Ifill! Valuing democracy!), it was a memorably significant one for me. The good news is not once have I regretted or questioned the decision to leave the job; in fact, what I find more than anything is complete shock that I was able to do both careers in tandem for so long. This is better. This year will be better still, in this regard at least, because I think I’ve figured out and settled into a working rhythm.
Let’s do a numbered list, just to make it easy. My 2016 in review and some resolutions/goals for 2017 all blended in together (so I actually finish this!).
1. I traveled A LOT. I have so many good memories of hanging out with writers and friends and readers in many, many locales this year. Some high points — YALLWEST and YALLFEST, North Texas Teen Book Festival, New York Comic-Con and many many more. A low point that makes an excellent memory — RT at the worst hotel in Vegas. Also, the annual Bat Cave retreat on the Outer Banks, this time, celebrating our fifth year. And, of course, the giant 40th birthday palooza aka GwendaGras trip to NYC (Hamilton!), Boston (ReaderCon!), and Northampton (FriendFest!). Christopher’s and my trip to Santa Fe, which was half-work and half-play (it’s not every day you get to ride in GRRM’s Tesla). And then tour with my Dangerous Ladies right after. This was a year in which I hugged many people I adore, and many of them more than once. It’s hard to complain about a year like that. Although I was only home for an entire month once.
(With many of my favorite people in a hotel room in Boston post some truly excellent champagne in honor of my 40th birthday! From left to right: Gavin Grant, mine Christopher Rowe, me, Chris McLaren, Barb Gilly, Kelly Link, Molly Gloss and Richard Butner)
(A picture of a polaroid, as you do, same bat channel — Kelly, me, Barb.)
(The photo insert made me and Margie Stohl upside down, but that’s okay. This is still my favorite picture of us; backstage at YALLFEST. Have you read her first issue on Captain Marvel yet? Well, have you?)
(Me and Christopher standing in line for Hamilton, aka my GIANT BIRTHDAY PRESENT — and a definite highlight of the year!)
(Dangerous Ladies o my heart! Beth Revis, Renee Ahdieh, Megan Shepherd, moi and Megan Miranda!)
This year I definitely still want to do some traveling — and with three book releases scheduled again (more on that), that’s a good thing. But I’m trying to stay home for the first several months this year and more in general in order to write more. Something I learned this year was that butt in my chair at home means way more productivity. Fair enough. What may happen is more short trips for retreats/writing purposes and just a few big events. We’ll see. My calendar is relatively clear of everything but regional events currently up through July. (That won’t last, but we’ll pretend.)
2. I kept going to aerials, though mostly to aerial yoga. My goal is to do more other classes this year! I’ve signed up for some regular yoga and hoop dance so far and I just signed up for an intro to trapeze. All that travel meant my silks training got waysided–it’s just too hard to make progress when you’re not in class consistently, so maybe I’ll take another crack at that too. Being able to end my days by going to see the wonderful ladies at Bella Forza is an A+ treat though and I love it.
3. I had a little more time to breathe. Which meant I got to spend more time with Christopher and with Puck and Emma the Dog (a gift, such a gift to have more time with her this year) and Hemingway the Cat and now Isabelle the Dog, aka Izzy — who we adopted right before Christmas on a shelter site (I saw her on the internet and that’s my super power).
(She and Puck are getting along really well! As are she and Hem! She is around two we think and a complete puppy.)
Anyway, I occasionally went to lunch with people or wrote with a friend. I meandered around town on foot and I went to museums in the middle of the day and to the library almost daily and listened to podcasts and playlists. I recovered. I only realized the other day that I was basically still burned out until, oh, I don’t know a couple of months ago. So I was working, but only when I was doing revisions for Lois 3 did my brain finally feel like it really, fully kicked back on. And I think that’s going to be better going forward…
Because my new plan for this year is to work in focused 90 minute blocks, with rest periods in between for reading or playing on twitter or walking the doggos. Inspired by this NYT article. The goal is to learn how to juggle projects more effectively in the same day, and how to refresh during the actual work week in order to not ever get to that level of max burnout again. In addition, I continue my challenge to myself to go do something fun I wouldn’t have been able to when I had a day job at least once a week, whether it’s a museum or lunch or wandering the library.
4. This is more admission or confession than a report of anything good. But like many people this year, I leaned on some less than healthy stress-relief techniques at time (election, cough cough, I blame Trump). Most of my stresses this year were money related. It was a bigger transition than I realized going from full-time to part-time and freelance and adjusting to the flow of moneys is still happening. I traveled too much, only some of which publishers pay for, and we ate too much crap and had too much wine and etc. So this year, resolving to do better about all that. To budget more aggressively and keep stress lower through #3. While still taking actions and being politically active. Of course. If you want to kick some funds my way, there’s always the Patreon, aka the tip jar for this newsletter, life — and I’ll be posting more there this year.
5. I had books come out! And a comic! This year’s releases (buy them!):
Lois Lane: Double Down, which got a starred review from Kirkus and was just named an honorable mention in Entertainment Weekly’s Best YA Books of 2016 (eep!), and which I still think is better than Fallout and most people seem to agree and you DO need to read it to fully grok Lois Lane: Triple Threat so get on that already. 😉 It’ll be out in paperback in March, so you should snag the HC soon if that’s your pleasure.
Girl in the Shadows, the second novel in the Cirque American world, came out and got very nice reviews from SLJ and White Tops (circus trade magazine!) and nice coverage from the Hollywood Reporter (along with Girl Over Paris), and is where I stuffed all my obsession with women and stage magic and some of my obsession with con artists. It’s a companion to Girl on a Wire with a different main character, so you can read them in any order.
Girl Over Paris, originally released as a miniseries, now you can get it as a collected graphic novel, along with some extras. This was a complete thrill to work on, and if you wanted to read the Cirque books in order it’s Girl on a Wire, Girl Over Paris, then Girl in the Shadows (though you can read them in any!). Girl Over Paris follows the characters from Girl on a Wire to Paris where they have a run-in with a forward ghost. I’m so very proud of all the hard work everyone did on this — Kate Leth and Ming Doyle are geniuses (and Andrew Dalhouse and Deron Bennett are also, as well as our variant artists Brittney Williams and Jen Bartel).
Next year’s releases are Lois Lane: Triple Threat and Supernormal Sleuthing Service #1: The Lost Legacy with Christopher Rowe (first middle grade! and some amazing art by Glenn Thomas! sneak peek at the illustrations). Both are out in May and so preorder! Tell your librarians and booksellers, especially about the middle grade because new series! Strange Alchemy, the rebooted, remade Blackwood, will also be coming next fall and more on that as I have it.
As far as writing goals, go — I’m working on a secret YA project that I hope will happen (and is my main writing goal this year, to write this novel; Patreon people got to see a working draft of chapter one), and waiting to nail down the details of ANOTHER secret YA project that I am confident is happening (and yay! it’s a dream), and we’re just starting to write the next middle grade (yay, which is going to be even more fun than #1, I’m confident!). Plus, I’ll be on season two of ReMade (you can go read all of season one now!). So, it’s going to be a good busy year with lots of writing. This I predict.
In the meantime, I wish you all the very happiest New Year and that 2017 brings us all more hope and joy than we expect. Here are some dogs.