Happy last day of 2018!
I end each year with a personal post-mortem / look back to collate all my milestones and high points in one place. It’s a very useful exercise that I recommend to all creatives (all people, really) who want to have a sense of where the heck their time goes, what they’re building, how they’re doing it (and when). The big “who are they” and “why are they doing it” questions follow from the exercise too.
2015 was my year of change and 2016 was my year of discovery and 2017 was my year of “Say Yes/ Learn from Everyone / Fail Fast.” 2018 was supposed to be my year of finding a sustainable rhythm; instead, it almost became the year of burn-out. But–skating that close to utter exhaustion and depletion was a good learning experience, part of the process. I learned so much, and I did so much. I published an anthology of fabulous local queer writing, I released all of Text Me, Cupid, first as separate e-novellas and in December as a complete paperback and audiobook, I wrote 2.5 novels in first draft, I wrote two 8,000 word short (that seems long, frankly) stories for fab anthologies, I organized a festival, I attended three conferences, I presented a bunch of workshops… I discovered I love teaching (that was a shocker)… and I decided that, fabulous though the experiences of this year were in many ways–and all were valuable–2019 needs some changes.
The constant I’m taking from 2018 into 2019, though, is gratitude. I am so grateful–that I am able to live and work this dream. I WRITE FOR A LIVING. I create new worlds and new realities. And I don’t do it alone–I do with with the support, encouragement, and love of a vast army of people: my family, my loves, my friends, my readers (thank you, beautiful you), my writerly colleagues, helpful strangers on the Internet, chance encounters at conferences that morph into deep friendships. I am grateful. Even when I am mopey, moody, exhausted, and cranky–I am grateful.
If you’re feeling reflective, come join me for a look at my 2018 and a preview of my 2019.
If you just wanna enjoy the rest of your holidays and read something hot, may I recommend Text Me, Cupid? Unless you’ve already read it, in which case you should work your way through my backlist. (I’m kidding. No, I’m not. [grin] Moving on…)
LOOKING BACK AT 2018
January – I raced to get the third YYC Queer Writers anthology, Screw Chocolate 2, ready for publication. We did it!
February – We released Screw Chocolate 2 on February 12 at Owl’s Nest to much fanfare and celebration. And I also released the second episode of Text Me, Cupid: Delayed Valentine just in time for Valentine’s Day. And, again, I learned I cannot support two releases in one month. (Hats off to those who can.) Oh, and I celebrated Valentine’s Day by being part of the Bloody Offensive readings! That was probably the most fun I’ve had in a bookshop ever… and I have a lot of fun in bookstores. Here’s a video from the evening, if you didn’t catch it the first time:
March – I presented two fun workshops to the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association: my life-changing Organized Creative presentation, and the Filthy-Flirty Writing Erotica Workshop. And the day after the workshops, I got the plague and almost died. Ok, I didn’t almost die. I was just so sick I thought I was going to die… Women can get man-colds too, apparently. Anyway, I was so sick I have no idea what happened in April. Much hacking and coughing and sneezing and puking. I suppose some planning. But mostly dying of the plague.
May – I got to meet Kristan Higgins! The Calgary Association of the Romance Writers of America brought in the rom-com goddess to do a full day workshop on writing comedy, and I got to learn from her and then hang out in the bar with her and I was pretty much perfectly happy. Later that month, I attended my second–and as it turns out, my last–Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, in Reno, Nevada. It was too much fun. It was apparently so much fun, I didn’t write a post-mortem post about it… but my Instagram is full of photos, such as this one:
While at RT, I got to meet dozens if not hundreds of amazing people, including Nicole Blades, Nina Crespo, Amy Aislin, Michele Arris and Ellay Branton (in the picture above), take a two-day class on plotting from Cherry Adair, which CHANGED MY LIFE and led to the finalization of the plot line of All In The Cards and the series plot line of Fat Yoginis in Love (stay tuned), and I found out that Cherry Pie Cure won the 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the chicklit category. So that was pretty sweet… Damn straight we redesigned the cover ASAP to include the award… I want to call it a sticker but I’m sure there’s a more sophisticated word. 😉 Medal? Stamp? Anyway. There is it. Woo hoo.
June … was sultry! It started with a Calgary North book sale hosted by the Alberta Romance Writers Association, and then hotter and sultrier as, with the help of ARWA, CaRWA and Alberta’s hottest authors, I launched Calgary’s first romance novel festival: SULTRY & SWEET SUMMER READS. It was tremendously fun, and so much hard work, that I don’t really remember what happened in July and August… except, of course, that I had to be doing something on Text Me, Cupid, cause books don’t just release themselves… Anyway, Sultry Summer was the highlight of my summer, and here is why:
To find out more about this event, check out:
- SULTRY & sweet AUTHOR & performer SHOWCASE
- Spotlight on ROMACE: mjanecolette talks SULTRY SUMMER with CBC’s Homestretch
- Sultry Summer Part 1 (Just Joshing, Episode 171) – featuring Keely Kamikaze, Nancy M. Bell, Katie O’Connor, Shelley Kassian and Danielle French about everything from naked readers, western romances, animal rights, marijauna, & love songs
- Sultry Summer Part 2 (Just Joshing, Episode 172) – featuring Win Day, Mel Vee, and Rayanne Haines on the presidency and operations of an association, using both sides of the brain, photography, racism in Canada, & merging different genres
- Sultry Summer Part 3 (Just Joshing, Episode 173) featuring Alyssa Linn Palmer joins the show and we talk about the interesting mixture of noir and romance, talk setting trends, Casablanca and more. Plus, Elizabeth Kelly and Sasha White close out the show and we get into clean vs dirty romance (whatever that is), erotica, & good writing
July – I went to Denver, Colorado (so beautiful) for my first-ever Romance Writers of America convention (so crazy). It was intense. I learned a lot. Here, proof I was there:
I also finished the shitty first draft of All In The Cards. Please, nobody trademark the title while I’m letting it sit and pondering what I need to do to turn it into a decent second draft…
August – The eighth? Or ninth? annual When Words Collide festival dominated my August. Isn’t it funny how a three day event can effectively take up an entire month? Oh, right, because I was moderating or delivering way too many panels, and I over-prepare and over-follow up everything. Here are the highlights from my 2018 When Words Collide:
- The REAL Diversity Panel, featuring Tet Millare, Tiffany Sostar, Adora Nwofor, Alyssa Linn Palmer
moderated by M. Jane Colette
- ORGANIZED CREATIVE: Productivity, Organization and SANITY Secrets for the Chaotically Inclined by M. Jane Colette
- Kink, BDSM, Consent, and Feminism (in the Romance and Genre Novels, and in Life) featuring Jenna Howard, Alyssa Linn Palmer, JD Poots, R.L. Ryder moderated by M. Jane Colette
- WHAT IS RWA AND HOW CAN IT HELP YOU? featuring Alyssa Linn Palmer, Jenna Howard, Shelly Kassian, and Jilly Jaxx, moderated by M. Jane Colette
September – I road-tripped to Edmonton for the now-annual CaRWA North meeting, but mostly I spent the month proofing proofed proofs of Text Me, Cupid, and delaying the release of ARCs through my paranoia. Sigh. Moral of the story: typos will always get through, no matter what. Just let it go, girl. Let it go. (I can’t!)
In September, I also started teaching my first course at the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society. Called More Than A Guilty Pleasure: Mastering the Romance Novel Form to Tell the Perfect Story, it showed writers, over eight weeks, how to use the “why romance novels are like crack” secrets in their fiction. (And also, how to write a complete first draft ms in four weeks. You don’t need more. Really.)
October – Bittersweet Halloween, the third episode of Text Me, Cupid, enjoyed a quiet stealth launch as I continued teaching More Than A Guilty Pleasure and delivered an expanded version of my Filthy-Flirty Erotica Writing workshop, again at the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society. I also wrote a manifesto: The Future is Hybrid. Ok, it’s just a blog post. But it reads like a manifesto. I also drafted the first Fat Yoginis book, at least in part to show my class that I too could do the thing I was teaching them!
November – I took my More Than A Guilty Pleasure students to their happy ending, stealth-launched Saving Christmas, the fourth episode of Text Me, Cupid, and started to feel really tired. At some point that month, I finalized my submission to the first Passionate Ink anthology, Passionate Hearts–coming your way in February 2019, and featuring my hot short story, “Accidental Cupid,” and I got the printers’ proofs of Coffin Hop Press’ Baby, It’s Cold Outside, which features my first erotic noir story, “Violets.” I also got really cool socks and became the VP-Programs (elect) for the Calgary Association of the Romance Writers of America. Bwa-ha-ha.
December – Text Me, Cupid launched on schedule on December 6, 2018. There was much happiness and much exhaustion, and a little bit of celebration, but not too much, because, December, and planning for January, and a sudden realization that my 2018 theme of “Sustainable Rhythm” was a total and complete failure, and I really, really needed to slow down and rejig and rethink. But first–PARTY!
I also started the second Fat Yoginis book, but my grandiose plans of completing a first draft in December while supporting a book launch and organizing Christmas festivities and activities for three children and what-not (including interviewing, getting, and prepping for a new job) fizzled at 10,000 words. Still. It’s a solid start.
And, I’m really tired.
LOOKING FORWARD TO 2019
As I look at 2019, I’m super-conflicted. I think I need to rest and slow down. But I also want to do all the things. And I’ve just added to all the things a 20-hour/week commitment that isn’t coming from my copious free time but from time that was already filled with commitments. Each one of us has 24 hours in the day–no more–and we’re awake for about 16 hours of those (more like 14 for me, to be honest–I like my sleep). I planned to first-draft five novels in 2019. Insane, unless you’re a romance author (have I introduced you to Tracy Cooper-Posey? Edmonton author with 107 books and counting–she’s got a productivity blog at Productive Fiction Writer or you can listen to this fab podcast on which she was interviewed by Jonny Andrews of Author Platform Rocket). Anyway. I don’t want to set myself up for failure with the unplanned new commitments I’ve taken on:my VP role on the board of the Calgary Association of Romance Writers and the new job (I’m teaching writing and marketing–not of romance novels, though). And, my family, suddenly, demands more of my time and attention than I expected to be giving to them at this point in our lifecycle.
Contentment, I think, comes from working towards achievable goals, not chasing chimeras or unicorns. (But you can dream about unicorns. Always, dream about unicorns.)
So. Somewhat ironically for a writer, my goal for 2019 is to write less, marinate more. I’m junking the production schedule for 2019 that I developed in the beginning of the last quarter of 2018, and I am committing instead to this:
FOCUS: Learning and Connecting, Marinating and Reflecting
- Being really kick-ass at my new job, and using the opportunity it affords to learn all the things and make new connections
- Performing my VP role at CaRWA with dedication and competence
- Building my author platform through my newsletter and blog
- Looking for the right house for Molly Jones
RELEASES (anthologies only)
- January 15, 2019: Passionate Ink’s Passionate Hearts anthology, in which I have a sexy short story, “Accidental Cupid,”
- July 2019: YYC Queer Writers: A Queer Summer Night in Cowtown (open for submissions; deadline March 31, 2019)
- December 2019: YYC Queer Writers: Queer Christmas 2 (opening for submissions June 1; deadline September 1, 2019)
- January 2019 – teaching Organized Creative workshop at the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society
- March 2019 – teaching Plotting as Process workshops at the Alexandra Writers’ Centre Society and at the Alberta Romance Writers’ Association
- May 2019 – the first-ever post-RT Booklovers Conference in New Orleans! I am there with bells on!
- June 2019 – Sultry Summer 2… I’m on the fence about this event. I realize I probably should do it. But I’m so tired right now, thinking about it paralyzes me.
- August 2019 – When Words Collide – of course. I can’t miss it.
- October 2019 – Emerald City Conference in Seattle. Probably. I think. I hope. I’ll assess in September.
I have two complete manuscripts that need heavy-lifting on the revision side, and one that’s at somewhere between the quarter/third/halfway mark, and I’m 1.5 books into the Fat Yoginis series, and I just had an idea for another novel, and there’s this other series idea I just got… and I’m actually NOT going to plan to finish or start any of these projects. If I get to them, that will be bonus. If I don’t, I will try not to be angry with myself.
(Yes, I totally get angry with myself for not doing the things I decided I was not going to do, because I secretly hope that, physical laws of the universe notwithstanding, I will be able to do all the things.)
I THINK I’VE ALREADY FUCKED UP…
So having written down what I’m already committed to or wanting to do in 2019… if my theme for the year is to slow down, rest, and reflect… well, clearly, that’s not going to happen.
Maybe I just don’t know how to rest.
I suppose that’s possible.
Still. I’m going to try to go slower. I am going to write less. I’m not going to bring any novels to market–unless I sell Molly Jones tomorrow, and the house rushes her through its production schedule, but, unicorns. And I’m going to play more.
I really wish you wouldn’t roll your eyes. Watch. Me. Slow. Down.
FOCUS: Learn and Connect, Marinate and Reflect
I can totally do that.
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