On this last day of December, I want to shower you with love and kisses, and thank you for an incredible 2017.
I’m ending the year rather exhausted, and promising myself that my theme for 2018 is sustainability, and my goal, to keep on evolving a rhythm that nurtures and inspires me… and my family… and everyone around me.
But I’m also ending it elated, and I’d like to share some of its highlights with you.
So, first, I need to take you back to December 2016, when we were celebrating—do you remember?—the hottest launch party ever on one of Calgary’s coldest nights.
- Coldest Night, Hottest Party: Thank you! (Dec 12, 2016)
It was a really amazing night, and thank you, again, for making it what it was. But the reason I’m taking you back there—a year ago—is that in December 2016, TELL ME was all I had.
(Well, obviously, not ALL I had. I mean—in M. Jane Colette’s novel/product world.)
And in December 2017… well. Let me just show you, right?
They told me I needed a back list. I said, “Give me six months.”
(When I was putting together this banner, I decided that there was a justifiable reason—several, in fact—why I felt so exhausted.)
(But also happy. I don’t want you to forget that this is a pretty good kind of exhausted. The kind of exhausted that comes from an excess of productivity and overflowing creativity feels pretty good.)
So. Here’s looking at you, 2017, and your marvelous milestones:
JANUARY & FEBRUARY
January was the month of processing and figuring out WHAT NEXT, figuring out what to do with CUNT versus PUSSY (including turning it into the more Amazon-acceptably titled ROUGH DRAFT CONFESSIONS) and also putting together the first collaborative project by the YYC Queer Writers, which started releasing in the first two weeks of February 2017 as SCREW CHOCOLATE.
On February 1, Alyssa Linn Palmer and I presented More Than A Guilty Pleasure: Reading and Writing Romance and Erotica in the Age of Plentiful Cyber Porn at Owl’s Nest Book Store.
It was fabulous. Chiefly because we made our parents part of the show.
You can read the article I use as the basis for that presentation on Books By Women, by the way:
- Why It’s Important To Write–and Read–Romance and Erotica In An Age Of Plentiful Porn (December 5, 2016)
It was also the month when, on February 12, I decided to start writing CHERRY PIE CURE
…which I finished on February 18 and sent in to the Smashwords/Romantic Times Convention thumbdrive, fully edited and formatted and mostly (mostly) typo free on March 9.
I wrote a book in a week.
MARCH & APRIL
TELL ME hit the Calgary Herald bestseller list the week of March 23 while I was ear-deep in printers’ proofs for Consequences and Cherry Pie Cure.
I squealed and had no idea how that happened or what it exactly meant, but let me tell you, IT FELT GOOD.
I think other things happened in March and April too, but all I remember is proofing:
I released CONSEQUENCES (of defensive adultery) on May 6, while at the Romantic Times Booklovers Conference in Atlanta:
Note to self: releasing a book while at an intensive conference that demands 200% of your attention and energy is a very bad idea; don’t do it again.
RT17, however, was one of the seminal experiences of my life to date, and I highly recommend attendance to all romance writers and readers. I feel attending shaved 18 months off my five year career plan. Also, I got to meet all these amazing people
On May 25, I shared my RT experience with my colleagues at the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association as a presentation called: Romantic Times Convention Report: how Kathryn Falk’s “Disneyland for Romance Readers” can accelerate your writing career by a year—or five.
I told them I learned what the secret to success as a romance writer was. Want to hear it to?
“Work your fucking ass off.”
On June 15, I released CHERRY PIE CURE.
And tried very hard not to start writing a new novel. But an idea I had been carrying around for about nine months finally came to fruition.
I wrote TEXT ME, CUPID.
On June 8, I also participate in Ignite Festival of Emerging Artists’ Sleaze Night. It was a crazy, crazy night of music, poetry, performance art, and sex, which featured my Dirty Listening Stations (thank you, Elisa Kae!) and a nude performance of excerpts from Tell Me and Consequences by The Naked Girls Reading’ Keely Kamikaze. While all that was going on, I played #3littlewords with the guests: they’d give me three words, and I’d write them a story on the spot.
A few of them wrote me a story as I wrote them a story. It was one of the most intimate experiences I’ve ever shared with anyone: really intense.
(I had grandiose plans of turning the shorts I wrote that night into a little chap book. But that’s a project that’s now on hold for 2018 or maybe even 2019.)
One day, I might tell you about what happened in the last week of June, but right now, I’ll tell you what was most important about it for me as a professional: I gritted my teeth and kept on writing and finished Text Me, Cupid.
Work is good medicine.
JULY & AUGUST
I spent the summer revising TEXT ME, CUPID and brainstorming on how I’d bring it to market, “supervising” the production of the audiobook of Consequences, and planning the incredible, awesome, insane Consequences audioBOOK blogTOUR.
Which would prove to be amazing.
But planning it was possibly the most labour-intensive task I’ve undertaken to date.
By the way, here’s a glimpse into how Text Me, Cupid got written:
In August, I went to my second When Words Collide conference (do you remember the impact the first had on me? No? Read about it here: Energized, Terrified)—this time as a member of its planning committee AND a workshop presenter. It was, again, an AMAZING experience.
- When Words Collide: the “little” yyc reader + writer festival that could change your life (August 18, 2017)
In September I was frantically trying to prepare for the ConAudioTour, which launched on September 25, and also suddenly remembered that I had promised the world Queer Christmas in Cowtown in December and um, I had all these stories, and fuck, someone had to edit them—right, me, dammit…
And I almost gave up on the whole thing, but then, I started reading the stories again, and well, I had to share them with you. So. I got my ass in gear and did the work.
On September 19, I filled in for a cancelled presenter at a Calgary Association of the Romance Writers of America workshop with a revised and improved version of the talk I gave my ARWA peeps in May about how to work a conference.
(I think I’ll evolve it a little more into a “A Socially Awkward Introvert’s Guide to Meaningful Networking.” What do you think?)
I was ridiculously nervous, but my audience was very kind. By the way, most of the CaRWA presentations and workshops are recorded, and available for viewing for our out-of-town members!
OCTOBER & NOVEMBER
The fall was dominated by the ConAudioTour, about which I need to tell you this:
48 bloggers, most of them strangers to me before the tour—
hence, “unproven quantities.”
48 days (spread over 60 days).
NOT A SINGLE FUCK-UP.
I mean, think about what a miracle that is. Not a single missed post, screwed up track. Occasionally, I mussed up a link, or we had a bit of a time zone weirdness happening. But, seriously. Tiny stuff. IT WAS AMAZING.
MY BLOGGERS WERE AMAZING.
So if you’re an author or publisher looking to work with reliable romance book bloggers—go have a look at my tour participants, cause they fucking kick ass:
- Full list of participating bloggers with links to their blogs and other social media at ConAudioTour page
Now, although the tour casts a long and deep shadow over my fall, there were a few other amazing things about it, such as an AWESOMESAUCE workshop in Edmonton with my CaRWA peeps and our northern sisters!
On October 24, I held a belated “launch”—more like a “I’m sorry I didn’t throw you a party, but I was so busy, please buy my books anyway” kinda thing—for Cherry Pie Cure and Consequences at Owl’s Nest Book Store.
I feel this event marked a real turning point for me, personally, because
- I delivered a speech/talk WITHOUT NOTES and entirely from the heart, and
- I read from my work in public LIVE for the first time
Here is me reading, and look, doesn’t it seem like I’m actually enjoying myself?
In totally related news, Cherry Pie Cure hit the #1 spot on the Calgary Herald best seller list. Squee. (And thank you, Owl’s Nest, which does an absolutely amazing job supporting local authors.)
Alyssa Linn Palmer and I were proud to support and sponsor The Naked Girls Reading booth at their debut at Taboo: The Naughty But Nice Sex Show on November 9-13, and The Naked Girls reciprocated by reading our stuff—nekkid—throughout the weekend. I didn’t really know that was on my bucket list until I crossed it off.
In a similarly smutty vein—I was a guest on the quirky kink podcast Consensually Speaking With Gio on November 6.
Ever been interviewed by a sadistic dom? No? I highly recommend it. You can listen to our (very long and meandering) conversation here:
- Episode 9: Poly relationships, BDSM classifications, social realistic erotica, and more! Join me and erotica author M Jane Colette as we talk about kinky lifestyles and realistic kink in life!
I spent the last week of November and the first week of December in Poland, attending my grandfather’s funeral—an unplanned interruption that proved both necessary (I didn’t realize how exhausted I was and how hard I had been running until I got on that KLM plane to Amsterdam and completely collapsed) and fruitful (I sketched out plots for two new novels while in Warsaw).
At the airport in Amsterdam, I got a fabulous surprise and found out the audiobook of CONSEQUENCES (of defensive adultery) was LIVE:
(You NEED to listen to this interpretation of the book by Elisa Kae. It’s better than reading it.)
While I was in Warsaw, Joshua Pantalleresco of the podcast Just Joshing released the podcasts of our conversation:
- Just Joshing: Episode 138–M. Jane Colette is one hell of a writer. In Part 1 we talk about her start in the writing industry, freelancing, talking to people, and rejections among many other cool things.
- Just Joshing: Episode 139–M. Jane and I talk about the new age of writing, Dr. Death, ruthlessness with one’s own work, word counts and much, much more.
All I’m going to tell you is that he needed a cigarette after our interview, and I’m not saying you’ll need one after you listen to it, but you might want one, so have your methadone on-hand. Josh and I met at When Words Collide, and he interviewed me in September, and he gave me a lot of great tips off-mike on public speaking and stepping out of my comfort zone. #gratitude
On December 6, I quietly released Messy Christmas, the first episode of TEXT ME, CUPID.
Don’t you love that cover? It’s by Marco Garrincha, an Italian photographer whose portfolio just blew my mind.
On December 11, with the YYC Queer Writers, I LOUDLY released QUEER CHRISTMAS IN COWNTOWN, again at our super-amazing Owl’s Nest Bookstore.
And on December 21, one of the anthology contributors, Tet Millare and I talked about Queer Christmas in Cowtown on CBC Radio:
Check it out:
- Queer Christmas on The Radio! (December 21)
- Calgary author pushes LGBTQ writers to dig deep, share intimate Christmas stories (December 22)
Most fabulously, on December 23, we hit the Calgary Herald non-fiction bestseller list:
I end the year—exhausted, as I told you. But, oh, so full of gratitude.
I spent much of 2015 having no idea on how to move from the spot of “I wrote a book! OMG, Harper Collins published my book! I’m an author! OMFG, what do I do now?”, the first half of 2016 in stasis, and the second half of 2016 desperately looking for… community, support, catalyst.
I end 2017 feeling so supported and connected, I can’t even begin…
(There be tears in my eyes, and I don’t think it’s just hormones.)
So I want to thank:
- When Words Collide, especially its mastermind Randy McCharles, for being the first catalyst
- CaRWA, the Calgary Association of Romance Writers of America, for daily support, really, and a wealth of experience (and the parties)
- ARWA, the Alberta Romance (we embrace all genres but it’s hard to change a name and ARWA is a great acronym) Writers Association, for all the chocolate and support when I most need it… and forget to ask for it
- YYC Queer Writers, for the safe space and for the incredible trust
- the ConAudioTour bloggers, for pulling off the impossible
- Owl’s Nest Book Store… for being an amazing host and the reason I had three bestseller spots in the city in 2017 🙂 including #1!
- Elisa Kae, without whose voice, connections, enthusiasm and perseverance, I wouldn’t have dared to attempt an audiobook (and Norwegian Blue Records, for really going above and beyond on everything)
- my very supportive colleagues in the local (and cyber) romance writing community, but especially Alyssa Linn Palmer, who has said “yes” to pretty much every single one of mine, “So, there’s thing I want to do, but I’m a little scared to do it alone, wanna do it together?” ideas in 2017
- My parents, who came to every single one of my events in 2017 (even the really inappropriate ones) (but who should NOT listen to my Consensually Speaking podcast—trust me, Dad, just don’t)
- My alpha readers and most precious loves, Sean and Paola, for reading my first, second and seventeenth drafts and telling me they don’t suck, but maybe if I changed this one thing, and maybe that one, they would be better
- My beta readers, especially Lisa and Cathy, for responding to my “I know you’re as busy as me, but I need to know if this works, like YESTERDAY—and you don’t really need to sleep, do you?”
- My neighbours, for parenting and feeding my children when I’m on deadline (or just obsessed)
- People whose names and contributions I’m not supposed to make public–but OMFG, darlings. I am so humbled and so grateful.
And to the people who were with me at the beginning of this journey, and aren’t here anymore—I’m grateful to you too, for what you gave me while you were here. And I miss you.
It’s a blank slate at the moment, isn’t it? I love the potential in an unbegun (it’s a word and if not it should be) year as much as I love (and fear) the first page in a new notebook.
For 2018, I’m thinking this:
well, more like this:
But most of all, this:
Ah, dammit. That was supposed to be super Zen, reflective, harmony-balance-courage-create-inspire kinda pic. What the fuck?
I’m gonna go with this one, though. Clearly, it was meant to be. 😉
See you next year!
PS Get a free copy of TASTE ME: the thinking woman’s erotica by M. Jane Colette when you subscribe to my fabulous (and not too frequent) author newsletter: