Oh, 2018. It got to the point where when anything went wrong this year, all anyone had to say was, “2018” and we all could just nod and sigh. Like so many, I’m struggling not to be numb from the constant barrage of nonsensical horror coming from the American government. And here at the end, the only reliable way I’ve found to deal with the deluge is to decouple from most forms of media and just focus on what I can control.
I had high hopes I’d be finished with my novel early in the year, but I overestimated my ability to do so in the face of major medical issues with my son. In early February, we traveled to Boston where my son underwent two major spinal surgeries at once. It was harrowing, as previously detailed here, and still I cannot fathom how held in love we were throughout the entire process, nor can I ever repay this debt of love, though I will surely try all my life to do so. Many folks helped in our time of need, and I fear if I try to list them all, it would take more bandwidth than the Internet currently has. In such good people, I am blessed beyond measure. From those who counseled us to follow our instincts about traveling to Boston, to those who helped out at home by bringing my husband and daughter meals, to those who welcomed us to Boston with open arms (and groceries and ice cream and…) and to my aunt who sat by my side through the worst of it, you will always be the midwives of our greatest miracle—a healthy, happy son.
Because in August, my son’s surgeon declared him healed and hopefully never in need of another surgery for these issues. Time, of course, will tell. Since his healing, I’ve watched him dance and sing and grow, ever amazed at his resilience and hilarity. It’s been 1.5 years since we brought him home, and though there have been tough times, I cannot now imagine life without him.
And my daughter is sharp and bright. She is possibly my opposite in every way—a math whiz, a budding architect/engineer who constantly wants to know how things are made (“How It’s Made” is our favorite Youtube channel) from picture frames to foam stress balls. She loves movement and physicality; she dives headfirst into everything except water. I love watching her grow into this curious spark, but I wish—how I wish!—that Time didn’t move so fast! She’s been with us for 5 years now, and yet it feels like she’s always been with us, for as long as we wished for the dream of her to come true.
In the midst of all of this, I worked with my fabulous friend Stephanie Burgis early in the year on a project that became a lifeline in many ways, our anthology THE UNDERWATER BALLROOM SOCIETY. This was a love project that blossomed far beyond my expectations. Every author we worked with was a delight and we were over the moon to be #1 for Kindle fantasy anthologies for a few shining days. This was definitely the little anthology that could!
By March, I began teaching in Southern New Hampshire University’s online MFA in Creative Writing. It’s been lovely to dive back into teaching; I’ve really missed it. And I’ve really appreciated being part of a program that values genre writing as much as I do. I’m shepherding four students through their first novels right now and couldn’t be happier about the opportunity to do so.
In the fall, I attended Sirens on one weekend and World Fantasy Convention the next and felt like I was in Fairyland. So great to meet new people and reconnect with friends two weekends in a row! This year, I’m hunkering down to keep chipping away at my goals, so I don’t plan to attend any events, other than a retreat or two if I can manage them.
This was a year both of reunion and leavetaking. Many beloved friends I hadn’t seen in years came to visit, but many dear co-workers left the dayjob to go on to bigger and better things. I hope next year will settle a bit, but then I always hope that. And yet, next year for me is the first year in five years that I won’t be in the midst of an adoption, moving house, or a major medical crisis, so I have hope in the Year of the Pig.
“Mermaids, Singing,” in THE UNDERWATER BALLROOM SOCIETY
“The Papyrotomist,” Mythic Delirium
“The Apotheosis of Tomas Drac,” Nisaba Journal 1
Acceptances: 1 out of 7 cold-submitted (still waiting on word for 2), 3 solicited (not including the anthology I co-edited myself)
I’m not entirely pleased with those stats, but they are what they are.
In all that time of subbing short stories, I was working on the novel and though I did not make my goal of having a fully polished version by the New Year, I came damn close. This year, I’ve added over 80K words, bringing the ms to ~170K. I’m still doing finishing work, but I’m nearly there. I’ll be ready to submit early in the year.
In April, I took a break from the novel and jumped into finishing a space opera novella I’d started the previous summer. It topped out at ~40K and was one of the weirdest and hardest pieces I’ve written. It’s still on submission—we’ll see what happens with it.
I also wrote a Maleficent/Jadis crossover fic at the end of the year, which was just pure fun. I’d forgotten about that bit…the fun part.
My Favorites of 2018:
I didn’t get to read quite as much as I wanted to this year, but these things captivated me in one way or another:
Novels: IN THE VANISHER’S PALACE, Aliette de Bodard, THE CAPTIVE PRINCE trilogy by CS Pacat, APOCALYPSE NIX, Kameron Hurley, LATCHKEY by Nicole Kornher-Stace
Fave Re-read (yes, I have those!): KUSHIEL’S DART by Jacquelyn Carey
Novellae: “Artificial Condition,” Martha Wells. Everything written by JY Yang. Seriously. “Sing for the Coming of the Longest Night,” Katherine Fabian and Iona Datt Sharma, “The Only Harmless Great Thing” by Bo Bolander
Short stories: “The Last Banquet of Temporal Confections,” Tina Connolly. “Twilight of the Dogs,” Paul Witcover. (And of course all the spectacular stories in THE UNDERWATER BALLROOM SOCIETY!)
TV: She-Ra: Princess of Power. Absolutely the most delightful thing I watched all year.
Movie: Hands down, right at the very end, the best movie I saw all year was Mortal Engines. Loved the series, loved the movie. (I also saw and loved Into the Spiderverse).
Creepy AF movie of the year: Annihilation. I had read the book and I kid you not, there were several times when I almost climbed into my friend’s lap in the theater because it was so incredibly tense. I doubt I’ll ever watch it again, but it is what it says on the label.
Other favorites I cannot talk about came from my writing groups—all talented women who know their stuff. You are all in for a treat when these novels are published!
Non-media related favorite: I am not usually one for perfumes, but a dear friend bought me Lady Vengeance by Juliette Has a Gun this year, and I swear it’s the best thing I’ve ever smelled. It does not go powdery or fade quickly on me, nor is it cloying, despite its mix of rose, patchouli and vanilla. (Usually, I dislike all of those smells!) If you like dark, haunting, and delicious scents, here you go.
And that’s that! Onward into 2019!