Breaking In: Interview with Fiona Moore

Welcome to the latest installment of Breaking In, where I interview authors about their experiences breaking in as writers — how they did it, what it felt like to get there, and how it differed from what they were expecting.

Today I’m delighted to have the opportunity to interview an academic, dramatist, and author of both science fiction and non-fiction about science fiction, Professor Fiona Moore.

As she notes on her website, Fiona is Professor of Business Anthropology at Royal Holloway, University of London. She’s the author of guidebooks to SF television series, plays, novels and stories. She adds that “… in all forms, I write about gender and ethnic identity, globalization and nationalism, networking, and how people deal with the changing working world.”

Fiona is extensively published in all her areas of interest – academia, drama, non-fiction, and prose. A detailed list of her credits is available on her website. Her most recent SFFnal guidebook is By Your Command: The Unofficial and Unauthorized Guide to Battlestar Galactica Volume 2, co-authored with Alan Stevens. Her audio dramas include Radio Bastard: A Comedy in 15 Parts (co-written with Alan Stevens, Robert Barringer-Lock and Steven Allen), and available from Magic Bullet. Her first published novel, Driving Ambition, is coming out from Bundoran Press in autumn 2018.

This is one of my Breaking In posts focusing on a fellow contributor to the forthcoming anthology Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-One). So while I haven’t read her piece yet, once again, I can be considered to be a trifle biased.

Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-One) is a collection of optimistic speculative fiction stories, each optimistic in a slightly different way. These stories explore the optimism that drives us to seek out new worlds, that inspires us to sacrifice for others or fuels us to just keep going when everything seems lost and in so doing turn the idea upside down and inside out.

 One of the best reasons for doing an anthology of optimistic futures this year was because no matter which side of the political or social spectrum you land on, it’s been a tough year. Nevertheless we try to remain optimistic. Nevertheless, we don’t give up. Nevertheless, yes, we persist. The stories in this anthology of optimistic SF are some of the darkest optimistic stories you’ll ever read but, nevertheless, they are optimistic. And powerful.

 Featuring stories and poems by: James Bambury, Meghan Bell, Gavin Bradley, Ryan Henson Creighton, Darrel Duckworth, Dorianne Emmerton, Pat Flewwelling, Stephen Geigen-Miller, Jason M. Harley, Kate Heartfield, R. W. Hodgson, Jerri Jerreat, Jason Lane, Buzz Lanthier-Rogers, Alison McBain, Michael Milne, Fiona Moore, Ursula Pflug, Michael Reid, S. L. Saboviec, Lisa Timpf, Leslie Van Zwol, Natalia Yanchak.

 

Tess21-500x750ish

[SGM] Welcome to the blog, Fiona! To begin, when did you feel like you’d broken in as a writer?

[FM] When my first novel, Driving Ambition (“a novel of murder, political extremism, and self-driving cars”), was acquired by Bundoran Press. I’d been publishing in semipro and pro markets for a while before then, but that was the point where I was, like, “yes, I can legitimately call myself an sf writer now.”

What was your path to breaking in? Did you have a strategy? Did it work, or did you end up getting there another way?

I’ll have to admit, I didn’t have a strategy per se. I started writing largely for my own entertainment, so I tend to write what I like, and then look around for a publisher who I think might like what I’ve written. Which has also, gratifyingly, meant I’ve acquired a lot of new friends along the way!

Fiona Moore updated

Author Fiona Moore

And following up on that, knowing what you do now, what would you do differently?

I think I’d’ve started submitting fiction to markets earlier than I did. There are more publishers who like what I’ve written than I thought when I was starting out.

Now that you’ve broken in, is it like or unlike what you expected? How?

I’d rather hoped that it would involve a lot of talking about my work and meeting people who are interested in what I have to say, and I’m pleased to say that this is what it’s been like.

What are you working on now?

Fiction-wise, I’m working on another novel in the same universe as Driving Ambition. Non-fiction-wise, I’m working on a book for The Black Archive range of novella-length academic studies of Doctor Who stories, and an article on humour and British identity under Brexit.

How can people keep up with you online?

My professional website is www.fiona-moore.com. Next month I’m launching an authorblog, and there’ll be a link to it on the site above.

Thank you to Fiona for the interview! I was excited to learn about her forthcoming novel — murder, political extremism and self-driving cars is pretty much precisely up my alley — and now I’m even more looking forward to reading her story in Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-One).

Oh, yeah. That book. Have I mentioned that it’s available for pre-order?

Coming up next on the blog: A Breaking In interview with Nevertheless contributor and actual rock star Natalia Yanchak.

Breaking In: Interview with Alison McBain

Welcome to the latest instalment of Breaking In, where I interview authors about their experiences breaking in as writers — how they did it, what it felt like to get there, and how it differed from what they were expecting.

Today I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to interview a creator whose hallmark is the breadth of genres and media she works in, author Alison McBain.

As mentioned on her website, Alison is a freelance writer, poet, and artist with over seventy short pieces published in magazines and anthologies. She’s also a book reviewer with the ezine Bewildering Stories.

Her novel The Rose Queen – Book 1 in the Rose Trilogy – was published in July 2018 by Fairfield Scribes and is available now.

The Beast doesn’t always wait for Beauty. Sometimes, Beauty IS the Beast.

Princess Mirabella is betrothed to a repulsive old man a year after her mother’s death. She refuses the marriage, only to find out her betrothed is a sorcerer as well. He takes his revenge by transforming her into a savage and frightening beast, giving her an ultimatum: she has three years to solve the mystery of her curse—or die.

Exiled to her mother’s estate to hide the scandal, Mirabella learns that the sorcerer was not alone in keeping secrets. Her grandfather was murdered before Mirabella was born, and her mother’s death is looking less and less as if it came from natural causes. The only point in common to all their ruined lives: her father, the king.

Faced with a conflict between saving her family and saving her own life, the choices Mirabella makes will change the future of the kingdom—and magic—forever.

Alison is also a fellow contributor to the upcoming anthology Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-One), and this is one of a series of Breaking In posts focusing on the creators featured in the anthology. So obviously I’m Not Entirely Unbiased here.

The Rose Queen COVER eBook - new

The Rose Queen: Book 1 of the Rose Trilogy, by Alison McBain

[SGM] Welcome to the blog, Alison! To begin, when did you feel like you’d broken in as a writer?

[AM] Thank you so much for having me, Stephen!

As to feeling like I’ve broken in, I’m still waiting for that idea to hit! I’m not sure I’ll ever feel like a “real” author, even if I sell a million books. I’m just a mom of three who started writing each night after the kids went to bed as a way to have something to do to contrast singing the “Itsy Bitsy Spider” twenty times a day.

There have been some pretty cool moments along the way that make me feel a bit more “real” – for example, the first time I was asked to do a reading of my work, and the first fan letter I got. It made me realize that I’m not writing in a vacuum. I’m sure most authors feel the same way – we send out our work into the world and hope it does well, but most of our time is spent by ourselves at our computer, tapping away.

What was your path to breaking in? Did you have a strategy? Did it work, or did you end up getting there another way?

I probably tried a million things that didn’t work, and I’m still figuring it out as I go. I started out thinking that I could just write a book and it would immediately be snapped up by an agent. I was going to be the next J.K. Rowling!

Well… it doesn’t work like that, at least not for most authors. Some agents I contacted liked my book, some didn’t. But my book didn’t get published.

Then I found out about online pitch contests, such as Pitch Wars, #PitMad, Query Kombat, and the like. I entered all of them, and again, I got some interest and met some really great authors along the way. But… my book still wasn’t published.

Then I was told to “build my brand” by getting a publications list, so I’d have something to show agents. I made a website, started a blog, got active in social media and writers’ groups. And, at that point, I fell in love with writing short stories and poems and forgot about writing books for a while. I did this for a few years, and it was amazingly fun. But book-length ideas began popping up again, and I returned to writing novels.

So I guess all of my strategies never really worked, but I still got there in the end. And the only thing that could be said that came from my original plan is that I am a persistent type of person, and once I start something, I don’t give up. Persistence is the only way to get there, no matter where the path to writing/publishing leads. The only way to fail is to stop writing.

Alison McBain

Author Alison McBain

And following up on that, knowing what you do now, what would you do differently?

While my journey hasn’t been straightforward, I’m not sure I would change anything about it. I needed to follow a lot of different paths to find out what worked for me and what didn’t. I needed to write a hundred short stories to find my voice and style, so I could write books again and know what I was doing (hopefully). And the great communities of writers and readers I’ve found – I would never have met any of them if I hadn’t needed to reach out because I had no clue what I was doing.

Now that you’ve broken in, is it like or unlike what you expected? How?

The angels showering down flower petals wherever I walk is sort of nice.

Ha. Nah, life goes on pretty much the same. I write, I send my writing out to the world, and I still get more rejections than acceptances. The only difference is sometimes people have heard of me and I’ll get personalized rejections for my work. “I really love your other stories, but this one… not so much.”

The one thing I didn’t expect is that now people come to me for advice. Whenever someone asks me a question about writing or to mentor a project they’re working on, I turn around and look behind me to see if they’re asking a different Alison. And when I realize I DO know what advice to give them, it’s actually pretty humbling that I know (a little bit) what I’m talking about. And very, very cool that I can help out other writers as I’ve been helped.

Tess21-500x750ish

What are you working on now?

I am the lead editor for an anthology coming out October 1st called When to Now: A Time Travel Anthology. I’m really excited by the amazing speculative fiction stories in it – we have steampunk to surrealist, and everything in between.

A collection of my short stories is in the works, in addition to two more novels that are completed and undergoing edits. One is a science fiction novel based on the culture of apartheid South Africa (the first of a trilogy), one is a contemporary romance (the first of a series). In addition, I’m writing an alternate history novel set in the U.S.A. in the 17th century, and a paranormal romance set in New York City.

How can people keep up with you online?

If you’d like to get updates on what I’m working on and recommendations for books I’ve reviewed at Bewildering Stories magazine, I’m on Twitter: @AlisonMcBain and Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alison.mcbain.9. For the latest updates on live readings and new publications, my website is: http://www.alisonmcbain.com/. I also do a web comic about raising kids, which is available on Twitter @Toddler_Times.

Thank you to Alison for the interview!

I love a good time travel story, so I’m excited to hear about When to Now — and I’m really looking forward to reading her story in Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-One).

Coming up next on the blog:  More Breaking In stories from Nevertheless contributors. Next up, author Fiona Moore!

 

Breaking In: Interview with Meghan Bell

Welcome to the latest instalment of Breaking In, where I interview authors about their experiences breaking in as writers — how they did it, what it felt like to get there, and how it differed from what they were expecting.

Today I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to interview a creator whose work ranges across a breathtaking range of formats and media, Meghan Bell.

As she notes on her website, Meghan is a Vancouver-based editor, writer, graphic designer, and cartoonist, and the current publisher and graphic designer for Room Magazine, Canada’s oldest feminist literary journal. Her writing has appeared in over a dozen literary journals across Canada, including JoylandGrainThe PuritanPrairie Fire, and The New Quarterly. Meghan has worked in marketing, digital communications, and fundraising for multiple arts organizations in the Lower Mainland, including the Vancouver International Film Festival and Just For Laughs NorthWest. Meghan has two degrees from the University of Victoria, and is currently completing her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia, where she is working on her first novel.

Meghan is widely published as an illustrator, poet and a writer of both non-fiction and prose. Her webcomic, Bell Curved, appears weekly at her website.

Her short story ‘Anhedonia’ will be published in the forthcoming anthology Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-One). So yes, this is one of my Breaking In interviews with a fellow contributor, and I’m clearly Not Entirely Unbiased.

Tess21-500x750ish

[SGM] Welcome to the blog, Meghan! To begin, when did you feel like you’d broken in as a writer?

[MB] I don’t feel this way. When I was younger, I was convinced I’d feel like I’d broken in as a writer after a few acceptances of short work from literary magazines and/or anthologies. Then that happened, and I felt the same as I did before. I might feel like I’ve broken in once I’ve published a novel, but I doubt it. I think I’ll always feel like I’m breaking in, but I don’t know what it looks or feels like on the other side, or if there even is one. It’s an ongoing journey and the goal isn’t the destination, but to stubbornly stick to carving a path that works for me.

Meghan Bell - Bell Curved - everydamnday

Meghan Bell, as she depicts herself in her webcomic Bell Curved. This strip is entitled Every. Damn. Day. I feel you, Meghan.

What was your path to breaking in? Did you have a strategy? Did it work, or did you end up getting there another way?

For publishing short work, I went a fairly ordinary route. I have a BA in Creative Writing, and am finishing an MFA now. I currently work as the publisher of a literary journal, and volunteered with the magazine for several years before it became my day job.

When I first tried sending work out to literary magazines, when I was about twenty-one, I was really insecure and discarded stories and poems after they received a single rejection. I stopped sending stuff out for a while and tried to work on my craft. I was volunteering at a literary magazine at the time and reading and editing slush-pile submissions taught me way more than any university course or program. When I started sending work out again, at twenty-six, I sent a short story to a handful of literary journals, and it was accepted without being rejected. It was silly to me then, and embarrassing now—because I know how literary magazines work and I know they reject good work all the time—but I really needed that confidence boost to keep sending work out. I didn’t receive another acceptance until nearly a year later, but at least I started steadily submitting work and believing in it after rejections.

Strategies? I supposed perseverance, simultaneous submissions so you don’t get too emotionally invested in any one, writing work that you would want to read (even if, or perhaps especially if, you can’t think of similar examples), and finding a writing schedule that works for you. I don’t write every day, and prefer to adjust my schedule so I have blocks of four or more hours to work on a project, even if that means I don’t write for three months—I have tremendous respect for people who are able to write every day, whether it’s because they have the free time and energy, or because they are superhumans who write in ten-minute bursts on their lunch breaks, in waiting rooms, or while taking public transit, but that just doesn’t work for me. I wish it did!

And following up on that, knowing what you do now, what would you do differently?

Oh, oh my god, I would have actually kept sending out all that work I wrote in my early twenties that I stopped believing in after one rejection. Three of those bloody pieces have since been accepted, it turns out they weren’t as terrible as I thought.

When I was in my undergrad, a fiction professor told me that I didn’t belong in a creative program after I told her I was interested in writing young adult and speculative fiction. I was about nineteen and after that, I started trying to write what I thought was more “literary” fiction, i.e. writing like hers. My work really suffered, and didn’t improve until a friend lent me her book and I realized I found her stories as boring as she had apparently found mine. I started experimenting again, and writing stories I thought I might like to read, and, yeah, they’re about a million times better. Now, whenever I want to explore heavier topics in my fiction, I often turn to speculation. I’ve explored parental neglect and narcissistic abuse through superheroes, sexual assault and trauma through time travel, and in my Tesseracts contribution, depression and mental illness through a global pandemic.

There will always be people who don’t enjoy your writing. If you’re unlucky, you will encounter this person as someone in a position of power over you early in your career and they will choose to push you to give up or write the way they do, instead of helping you improve your own work. Don’t let that person crush you. I wish I could go back and tell my younger self that I didn’t need to listen to that particular opinion.

Now that you’ve broken in, is it like or unlike what you expected? How?

Haha, see my answer to question one!

What are you working on now?

A young adult novel about a teen hockey player who starts acting out—and lashing out—after her older sister dies in an accident.

How can people keep up with you online?

I’m on Twitter at @meghanlbell, and you can also find me and my work at meghanbell.com and roommagazine.com (the literary journal I work for).

Thank you to Meghan for the interview! I look forward to reading her story in Nevertheless, even though as it happens my story in the anthology is also about the aftermath of a global pandemic and when I realized that I had a wee attack of writer anxiety and am now absolutely convinced that I’ll only ever be remembered as the author of the book’s Less Good Global Pandemic Aftermath Story.

But hey, in that case, why not pre-order the book so you can see for yourself?

Coming up next on the blog:  More Breaking In stories from Nevertheless contributors. Next up, author Alison McBain!

Breaking In: Interview with Kate Heartfield

Welcome to the latest instalment of Breaking In, where I interview authors about their experiences breaking in as writers — how they did it, what it felt like to get there, and how it differed from what they were expecting.

Today I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to interview an acclaimed writer of short fiction, novellas, and novels, who also happens to be having a bit of a banner year – author Kate Heartfield.

As she notes on her website, Kate is an author, editor, journalist and teacher. Her interactive novel The Road to Canterbury was released in April 2018 and her historical fantasy Armed in Her Fashion was published by ChiZine in May. In November, her time-travel novella Alice Payne Arrives will be coming out from Tor.com. I told you she was having a heck of a year!

Kate’s short fiction has been published in a range of prestigious venues. A sequel novella, Alice Payne Rides, will be published by Tor.com in 2019, as will a new novel from ChiZine.

It doesn’t sound like she’s going to be slowing down in 2019, does it?

A disillusioned major, a highwaywoman, and a war raging across time.

It’s 1788 and Alice Payne is the notorious highway robber, the Holy Ghost. Aided by her trusty automaton, Laverna, the Holy Ghost is feared by all who own a heavy purse.

It’s 1889 and Major Prudence Zuniga is once again attempting to change history―to save history―but seventy attempts later she’s still no closer to her goal.

It’s 2016 and . . . well, the less said about 2016 the better!

But in 2020 the Farmers and the Guides are locked in battle; time is their battleground, and the world is their prize. Only something new can change the course of the war. Or someone new.

Little did they know, but they’ve all been waiting until Alice Payne arrives.

The first novella in a series about Alice Payne, her scientist girlfriend Jane Hodgson, and Major Prudence Zuniga. Coming Nov. 6, 2018, from Tor.com Publishing.

Kate is also a fellow contributor to the upcoming anthology Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-One), and this the first in my series of Breaking In posts focusing on the creators featured in the anthology. So obviously I’m Not Entirely Unbiased here.

Cover, Alice Payne Arrives

ALICE PAYNE ARRIVES, by Kate Heartfield (cover art by Cliff Nielsen; design by Christine Foltzer)

[SGM] Welcome to the blog, Kate! To begin, when did you feel like you’d broken in as a writer?

[KH] Thanks very much for having me! It’s probably in the nature of writers to never feel as though they’ve broken in. But if there was a turning point for me, it was when I signed with my agent, Jennie Goloboy, in 2014. That came about a year after I made my first short-story sale for pro rates, and it was around that time that I qualified for active membership in the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). So 2013/2014 stands out.

 What was your path to breaking in? Did you have a strategy? Did it work, or did you end up getting there another way?

My path was a long and tedious one and I don’t recommend it to anyone! I’ve written fiction since I was a child, and I’m 41 now. I finished my first novel manuscript when I was 19, but I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I printed it out on my dot-matrix and mailed it to a few publishers and then despaired. And then went to grad school. In my mid-20s, I tried again. It wasn’t until my third attempt that I started to write speculative fiction, which had always been my love, but I suspect I had subconsciously absorbed the notion that SFF wasn’t Important Literature. I had also absorbed the notion that trying to learn the craft of writing would destroy my Art. Both these notions were very damaging, but it took me a while to get clear of them.

Once I started writing what I really wanted to write, and once I recognized that I had a lot to learn, lo and behold, I started to get better. I studied creative writing by correspondence with Paul Quarrington through Humber College, and I started writing short fiction to try to understand the mechanics of story-telling better. I joined critique groups, took courses and workshops, read books and generally opened myself up to learn everything I could. From there, it was just a matter of time and effort. A lot of effort.

So I suppose I didn’t set my feet on a useful path until I was in my mid-30s. I’ve wished more than once I’d been clever enough to see that path when I was a teenager. But maybe I had to go through all of that flailing around first.

Kate Heartfield Author Photo by John W MacDonald

Author Kate Heartfield (photo by John W. MacDonald)

And following up on that, knowing what you do now, what would you do differently?

I definitely would have sought out teachers, peers and mentors, and written short fiction, and written my own kinds of stories instead of the kind I thought I was supposed to write. The internet really allows writers to connect with each other and support each other and it’s been such a help for me, but it didn’t exist in the same way when I was starting out.

Now that you’ve broken in, is it like or unlike what you expected? How?

Being a debut novelist has been wonderful in many ways, especially the connections I’ve made with readers. Holding my first novel in my hands, with that incredible cover by Erik Mohr, is and will always be a thrill.

It has also been … emotionally unsettling, I think is the best way to put it. I had settled into a comfortable despair during the years when I couldn’t get much published. Now, the despair has been replaced with things my brain is eager to worry about: sales and reviews and rankings and all the rest. There is always more promotion you could be doing: a bookstore to visit, a festival submission, whatever the case may be, and it will eat all your time if you let it. I’m doing my best to maintain the mentality that served me well when I was trying to break in, which was to focus on what I could control (my work) and not the external results, which are largely outside my control. But it has required some mental recalibration to get used to the new normal. If you let yourself, there will always be a new thing to worry about, even if that thing is whether or not you’ll stay on the New York Times bestseller list for another week or whether you can juggle all your Guest of Honour invitations (I’m a long way from either of those worries!). So I try to remind myself of that and just keep focusing on the work.

The fact that it took me a while to break in has actually been a mixed blessing in one way: I didn’t have to face what many writers face, which is the contract for the second book after the first has sold. I sold two novels at once, and two novellas hard on the heels of that, so there’s a little less pressure on my current works in progress.

Tess21-500x750ish

What are you working on now?

I’m writing another interactive novel for Choice of Games. That one should be done and ready for release sometime in 2019. It’s lots of fun. I’m also deep in a rewrite of a novel that hasn’t sold yet. Both those projects are historical fantasy, although in different places and times.

I’ve turned in the manuscript for Alice Payne Rides, the second novella in that series, to my editor at Tor.com Publishing, so pretty soon I’ll be working on copyedits and proofreading for that.

I have some stories coming in anthologies this fall: there’s my story in Tesseracts: Nevertheless, of course, which is about a flying carpet in a dying city. I also have a story in the new anthology from Laksa Media, which is called Shades Within Us and is about migration and borders. And there’s a prequel story to my novel Armed in Her Fashion coming soon in the anthology Trouble the Waters from Rosarium Publishing.

I plan to be at Can*Con in Ottawa and Scintillation in Montreal, both in October.

I also teach journalism and creative writing. This fall, I have an online course called Write Your Novel at the Loft Literary Center that’s designed to include a lot of feedback and mentorships for writers who are working on novels.

How can people keep up with you online?

I’m easy to find on Twitter: @kateheartfield. My website is heartfieldfiction.com and I have a monthly newsletter you can sign up for at tinyurl.com/katenews.

Thank you!

Thanks to Kate for the interview! I don’t know about the rest of you, but for my part I’m now deeply interested in what will happen when Alice Payne Arrives, and I’m looking forward to finding out.

I’m also excited to read Kate’s story in Nevertheless, which, I will be shamelessly reminding you throughout this series of posts, is now available for pre-order from the publisher!

Coming up next on the blog: A Breaking In interview with Nevertheless contributor Meghan Bell!

Announcement and Cover Reveal: Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-One)

I’m back from a long and busy blog hiatus, and I have news!

Because I’m ridiculously pleased to be able to at last announce my prose fiction debut. My short story ‘Green Leaves Don’t Fall’ will appear in the upcoming anthology Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-One), a collection of optimistic Canadian speculative fiction.

The ebook is now available for pre-order through Amazon US, Amazon Canada (or, you know, whatever your local flavour of Amazon happens to be – just search for the title!) and will be released on September 3, 2018. A print edition will be available later this year. I’ll let you all know as soon as the publisher confirms that date.

In the mean time, we have a cover! And a Table of Contents and back cover copy and everything! Please join me in basking in this moment.

Tess21-full

 

Nevertheless (Tesseracts Twenty-one) is a collection of optimistic speculative fiction stories, each optimistic in a slightly different way. These stories explore the optimism that drives us to seek out new worlds, that inspires us to sacrifice for others or fuels us to just keep going when everything seems lost and in so doing turn the idea upside down and inside out.
One of the best reasons for doing an anthology of optimistic futures this year was because no matter which side of the political or social spectrum you land on, it’s been a tough year. Nevertheless we try to remain optimistic. Nevertheless, we don’t give up. Nevertheless, yes, we persist. The stories in this anthology of optimistic SF are some of the darkest optimistic stories you’ll ever read but, nevertheless, they are optimistic. And powerful.
Featuring stories and poems by: James Bambury, Meghan Bell, Gavin Bradley, Ryan Henson Creighton, Darrel Duckworth, Dorianne Emmerton, Pat Flewwelling, Stephen Geigen-Miller, Jason M. Harley, Kate Heartfield, R. W. Hodgson, Jerri Jerreat, Jason Lane, Buzz Lanthier-Rogers, Alison McBain, Michael Milne, Fiona Moore, Ursula Pflug, Michael Reid, S. L. Saboviec, Lisa Timpf, Leslie Van Zwol, Natalia Yanchak.

I’m deeply honoured to be part of the latest instalment of Tesseracts, Canada’s renowned speculative fiction anthology series, and to be sharing a Table of Contents with such outstanding authors. My thanks to the publisher, Edge, and especially to our editors, Rhonda and Greg, for all their work assembling the anthology and their faith in my story.

In the lead up to the release of the ebook, I’m afraid that I’m going to be wearing my Shilling Pants on the regular. Hey, it’s my prose debut, I’m excited. I promise that I’ll also do my best to make the process as interesting and informative to you as possible.

So, please, do consider pre-ordering? It would mean a lot to me.

But also, starting next week, I’ll be running a series of special Breaking In posts, featuring my fellow Nevertheless contributors. I’m excited that I’ll have the opportunity to get to know them better, and I hope you’ll join me.

Breaking In: Interview with Alex Wells

Welcome to the latest installment of Breaking In, where I interview authors about their experiences breaking in as writers — how they did it, what it felt like to get there, and how it differed from what they were expecting.

Today I’m very pleased to have the opportunity to interview a widely-published writer of short fiction, novels, and non-fiction, and a self-described “Dapper AF asshole ‘geographer,’ geologist, heart puncher” – author Alex Wells.

Alex’s Twitter bio, while pithy and accurate, doesn’t quite describe the full scope of their writing credits, which are listed on their [link to writing page]website.

Alex is the editor of the anthology NO SH!T, THERE I WAS, and is an acclaimed writer of short fiction, with over 30 published works. Their first novel, HUNGER MAKES THE WOLF, was published by Angry Robot Books in 2017. Their non-fiction writing has appeared on Tor.com, Strange Horizons, Book Riot and in a number of other venues.

The “asshole geographer” sobriquet, which they’ve cheerfully reclaimed, was the result of some nerd-rage pushback to Alex’s fascinating article on Tor.com discussing the geological implausibilities in Tolkien’s map of Middle Earth.

Their latest novel, BLOOD BINDS THE PACK, is the sequel to HUNGER MAKES THE WOLF. Published by Angry Robot Books, it’s out today – February 1, 2018 – in the UK, and will be available on February 6 in North America, from your preferred online or bricks-and-mortar bookseller, or directly from the publisher.

Join the fight for the people and power of Tanegawa’s World, in this exhilarating sequel to Hunger Makes the Wolf.

War is coming to Hob Ravani’s world. The company that holds it in monopoly, TransRift Inc, has at last found what they’re looking for–the source of the power that enables their Weathermen to rip holes in space and time, allowing the interstellar travel all of human society now takes for granted. And they will mine every last grain of it from Tanegawa’s World no matter the cost.

Since Hob Ravani used her witchy powers to pull a massive train job and destroy TransRift Inc’s control on this part of the planet, the Ghost Wolves aren’t just outlaws, they’re the resistance. Mag’s miner collective grows restless as TransRift pushes them ever harder to strip the world of its strange, blue mineral. Now Shige Rollins has returned with a new charge–Mr Yellow, the most advanced model of Weatherman, infused with the recovered mineral samples and made into something stranger, stronger, and deadlier than before. And Mr Yellow is very, very hungry.

Disclosure: Alex and I have never met in person, but we’re both contributors to the Skiffy & Fanty Network and have a number of mutual friends and acquaintances. I should also note that my admiration for their work and interest in interviewing them predates that connection!

Alex Wells interview - Blood Binds the Pack cover

Cover of BLOOD BINDS THE PACK, by Alex Wells

 

[SGM] Welcome to the blog, Alex! To begin, when did you feel like you’d broken in as a writer?

[AW] To be perfectly honest, I still don’t. I’m starting to think it’s one of those things like “when will I feel like a grown-up?” (Answer: never.) I’m sure at this point, people further back on their career goals than me want to just shake me by the hair. But maybe part of the issue is that “breaking in” implies a discrete event, whereas I think everything’s been on a continuum, so there isn’t really a moment of stunning, holy shit revelation. I guess maybe the closest was finally signing on with an agent, just because that had been a goal of mine for so long.

alex acks author photo

Author Alex Wells

What was your path to breaking in? Did you have a strategy? Did it work, or did you end up getting there another way?

I started out writing short stories because the conventional wisdom said that the way to break in was to write short stories and be awesome, and then like, I don’t know, an agent would rappel down your chimney and beg to represent you. It’s total bullshit. If nothing else, being great at writing short stories is zero guarantee you’re going to do well at writing novels. I’m not going to claim it was a waste of time—because it was a set of skills I needed to learn and it got me into the community, so I met a lot of people—but if I knew then what I know now, I probably would have gone about things differently.

And following up on that, knowing what you do now, what would you do differently?

If nothing else, I actually really hate writing short stories and I’m not that great at it, so it was a kind of silly thing to beat my head against for seven years. I’m happier when I’m writing longer stuff. So knowing then… I would have focused on those skills, gotten my screenwriting certificate earlier, and maybe aimed at Tor.com to see if I could get some novellas going, maybe. I would have more novels finished because I’d be writing those faster. (And doing screenwriting earlier would have helped me with my plot structure issues.) I would have made myself barcon more, too.

Now that you’ve broken in, is it like or unlike what you expected? How?

I don’t feel like anything has really changed from when I started out. I still feel like I’m constantly faking it. It’s really great when people say they’ve read my book and liked it—and kind of weird, if in a good way—but again, if I’m being honest, that’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card from feeling jealous or ignored and all the other sad writer ego stuff. So maybe the unexpected thing is that I still feel pretty much the same, despite the validation you’d figure would come from selling a book. Instead of “why isn’t my short story as cool as this other short story?” you get “why isn’t my novel as cool as this other novel?” On the other hand, having an actual paper novel that people can spot in bookstores means your relatives tend to believe you more when you tell them you’re a writer. And when people do read your book, it’s a great feeling.

Alex Wells interview - Hunger Makes the Wolf cover

Cover of HUNGER MAKES THE WOLF, by Alex Wells

What are you working on now?

I just finished the rough draft on another science fiction novel, which is completely unrelated to Hunger Makes the Wolf. And I’m working on some freelance stuff that I’ll hopefully get to share soon! Looking ahead, I think the next thing is going to be some epic fantasy.

How can people keep up with you online?

The best way to do that is probably Twitter—I’m @katsudonburi there. I’ve also got my website: http://www.alexacks.com. From there you can basically find everything else, including my newsletter.

Thank you to Alex for the interview! I loved HUNGER MAKES THE WOLF – they had me at Space Biker Witches – and I’m really excited to read BLOOD BINDS THE PACK. I also love the idea of Alex bringing their voice to epic fantasy, so sign me up for that!

Breaking In: Interview with Melanie Fishbane

Welcome to the latest installment of Breaking In, where I interview authors about their experiences breaking in as writers — how they did it, what it felt like to get there, and how it differed from what they were expecting.

Today I’m delighted to have the opportunity to interview historical YA author Melanie Fishbane.

As she notes on her website, Melanie holds an M.F.A. in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and an M.A. in History from Concordia University.

With over seventeen years’ experience in children’s publishing, she lectures internationally on children’s literature and L.M. Montgomery, who she has been obsessed with since she first read Anne of Green Gables in Grade Six.

A freelance writer and social media consultant, Melanie teaches English at Humber College. Melanie also loves writing essays and her first one, “My Pen Shall Heal, Not Hurt”: Writing as Therapy in L.M. Montgomery’s Rilla of Ingleside and The Blythes Are Quoted,” is included in L.M. Montgomery’s Rainbow Valleys: The Ontario Years 1911-1942. Melanie lives in Toronto with her partner and their very entertaining cat, Merlin. MAUD is her first novel. You can follow Melanie on Twitter @MelanieFishbane and like her on Facebook.

MAUD (Penguin Teen) is available now from your preferred online or bricks-and-mortar retailer.

For the first time ever, a young novel about the teen years of L.M. Montgomery, the author who brought us ANNE OF GREEN GABLES.

Fourteen-year-old Lucy Maud Montgomery — Maud to her friends — has a dream: to go to college and become a writer, just like her idol, Louisa May Alcott. But living with her grandparents on Prince Edward Island, she worries that this dream will never come true. Her grandfather has strong opinions about a woman’s place in the world, and they do not include spending good money on college. Luckily, she has a teacher to believe in her, and good friends to support her, including Nate, the Baptist minister’s stepson and the smartest boy in the class. If only he weren’t a Baptist; her Presbyterian grandparents would never approve. Then again, Maud isn’t sure she wants to settle down with a boy — her dreams of being a writer are much more important.

 But life changes for Maud when she goes out West to live with her father and his new wife and daughter. Her new home offers her another chance at love, as well as attending school, but tensions increase as Maud discovers her stepmother’s plans for her, which threaten Maud’s future — and her happiness forever.

Full disclosure: Mel and I are in the same writer’s group. So yeah, I’m not super objective about her work, which I recommend unreservedly – although MAUD itself was already in edits with the publisher by the time we met, and I haven’t read it yet. Sorry, Mel. It’s at the top of my TBR pile, I promise!

MAUD cover

MAUD, by Melanie J. Fishbane

[SGM] Welcome to the blog, Mel! To begin, when did you feel like you’d broken in as a writer?

[MF] Thanks for having me, Stephen! I suppose that I felt like something extraordinary was happening when I signed the contract to write MAUD.

What was your path to breaking in? Did you have a strategy? Did it work, or did you end up getting there another way?

My initial strategy was to complete my MFA at VCFA (Vermont College of Fine Arts), finish the novel I was working on, find an agent, and what comes after that, but the universe had other plans and, instead, I received an opportunity from Penguin Canada (now Penguin Random House of Canada) to write a YA novel about my favourite author, L.M. Montgomery. I still cannot believe it years later. I hadn’t finished my degree, nor an agent, but something in the writing I had been sending to the editor over the years and the fact that I had been lecturing on Montgomery, made her (and the heirs) think that I could do this. To be honest, this was something I had always wanted to do for a number of years. I had done my MA in History, specifically on historical writing for kids and teens at Concordia in Montreal, so this felt like coming home, a convergence of all the things I loved.

I was asked to put a proposal with an outline and a few sample chapters, which I submitted three months later.  After, I was sent feedback and then I worked on those revisions, resubmitted and then waited. Soon after, I was given an offer.

And following up on that, knowing what you do now, what would you do differently?

I was a bit nervous finding an agent to negotiate the deal because I was worried that the publisher would think badly of me as they came to me. The lawyer I used was great, but it if I had looked for an agent to help negotiate the deal, there might a be a connection to help me sell my next book.

Melanie Fishbane Author Photo Ayelet Tsabari

Melanie Fishbane, Author (photo by Ayelet Tsabari)

Now that you’ve broken in, is it like or unlike what you expected? How?

I’m not sure what I had expected. Having worked on the other side of things for over seventeen years, I was aware of how stores and publishing worked. But, it is different when it is your book, at least it was for me. I told people that I was “cautiously optimistic” about how the book would do, publisher support and the response. My publicist has been working very hard on my behalf, I have done many forms of media, they have showcased the book at conferences and in digital advertisement, and they supported my book launch, even sent me to PEI so I could do something there. I know what resources are available for first time authors, authors in general, so I know how unusual this is and I’m grateful.

Essentially, you must get comfortable with the general feeling of nervous-excitement coupled with anxiety, as well as learn to ‘let go,’ because there is a lot happening behind the scenes that you don’t know about and there must be an element of trust that things will go in your favour. I remain… “cautiously optimistic” and practise gratitude.

What are you working on now?

A few things. I have two essays that are due soon so that is my priority. It is good because I find short projects like these get me back into a rhythm and provide a feeling of accomplishment, particularly because novels can take so long.

I have two novel projects competing for my attention this summer so we’ll see which one wins out. One is a YA historical fiction that focuses on issues of consent and women’s rights and the other is an upper middle grade/YA about a girl who is obsessed with a teen idol for all of the wrong reasons.

How can people keep up with you online?

I’m pretty easy to find. 🙂

There’s my website: http://melaniefishbane.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MelanieJFishbane/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MelanieFishbane

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melanie_fishbane/

Thanks again to Mel for the interview!

Shameful confession time: I ended up sitting on this post for, like, a month after she sent it to me in a very timely manner. I had a very good June, but it was a lot busier than I expected!

But I think… it worked out really well, in the end? Because now, this post is going up just before Canada Day — the 150th anniversary of Confederation, no less. And there is no more iconically Canadian writer than L. M. Montgomery — and no more iconically Canadian literary character than her creation. Anne Shirley. What better way to celebrate them, and Canada Day, than Melanie’s novel?

Coming up next on the blog: I’m not sure yet. I’m still kind of easing back into the blogging after a lengthy quiescence. But it’s the mid-point of the year, so perhaps a state of the me update would be timely?

Bolding Going Forward, ‘Cause I Can’t Find Reverse

Well, I missed the window for New Year’s posts, and then some, didn’t I?

There’s been a lot going on, on all sorts of fronts for me. There’s a lot up in the air, and a lot of change coming. This is a scattered sort of update, not a proper year-in-review or year-ahead post, not only because it’s already February, but because I’m in a scattered sort of place right now.

So, Um, Happy New Year?

2016 was rough on a lot of people, not excluding me. That being said, there was also a lot of good for me in the year. There were big ups and big downs. I’m not optimistic that 2017 will be a whole lot better, overall, for the world – but I do think I can make it an even better year for myself, by working to build on the good, by learning from the bad, by trying to improve myself, and moving forward.

What Does Better Even Mean?

It sounds good, to talk about a better year, and about improving myself, but those are twisty, shifty and very subjective words. What do I actually mean?

I said this privately, back around my last birthday in late 2016, and I’ll say it less privately now: I need to be braver. It’s time to stand up, for myself, for the people I’m responsible to, for the kind of world and future I want for everyone.

So, if I were to pick one word to be my guiding star this year? Courage.

It’s not natural for me to be brave. I like to think that I’m not a coward, but even I have to admit that I’m pretty seriously conflict-averse. I question myself a lot, which is a strength when I’m wrong, but potentially problematic when I’m right, or when I let self-doubt keep me from acting in my own defence, or that of the people I love.

That has to stop. I hope that I’ll always be self-analytical, ready to listen, and willing to consider that I might be wrong and admit when I am. But I also need to be ready to stand up for what’s right. It’s time to be ready to do that, and to actually do it. It’s time to be brave.

Okay, But What Are You Actually Going To DO This Year?

Yeah, if courage is the direction I always want to be steering towards, that’s good. But what about the practical stuff? What about actually getting things done?

My New Special Friend pointed me at this response to a post on Reddit. It’s a few years old, now, but ideas like this don’t really have a best-before date. If courage is my guiding star, then this is my battle cry, my daily call to action: No More Zero Days!

nmzd

Image by Reddit User modified_duck, inspired by the comment by ryans01 on the post by maxstolfe

In practice, that means that I work to make every day a non-zero day in some way – keeping in mind that non-zero means going above the baseline, making progress. The fields I’ve identified as being targets for non-zero-ness are:

  • My health (exercising and eating better)
  • Caring for my loved ones, and my home
  • My writing

So far I’m… well, it’s a start? I don’t think I’ve had a three-for-three non-zero day yet, but there have been a lot fewer completely zero days.

While We’re On That Subject, What Did You Actually Do LAST Year?

Ugh, my metrics tracking went absolutely to shit last year. I… submitted some stories? And some of them got closer to a yes than I’ve ever gotten before, even though I still ended up getting a “no”. And I made inching progress on rewriting my second novel. I queried some more agents on the first novel, which was a good thing to do even though they all said “No” too.  And I wrote some blog posts, including some really good interviews with wonderful writers.

But since about September, my productivity on all those fronts has pretty much fallen off a cliff, and I’ve been focused on dealing with other stuff. Dealing with said stuff has been stressful, and I’ve been managing my stress poorly – lots of eating my feelings, regrettably.

It’s a challenge, but I’m trying to do better. No more Zero Days.

What’s Next For The Blog?

I expect posting to continue to be light until the spring, when a lot of the big changes coming will actually happen. (Sorry, I’m not trying to be coy; some things are genuinely uncertain, and some I’m not ready to talk about yet.)

Even before then, I’m going to try to provide more regular updates, and line up some more interviews. I also think that I need to acknowledge that some of my older short stories are not going to sell. Heck, that might be for the best – some of them have been kicking around for long enough that they aren’t reflective of my current level of skill. Rather than simply trunking them, I was thinking about running a couple of those older stories here. I’d welcome any thoughts on that!

This is going to be a big year, for me, no matter what else happens. I’m going to need to be brave, and I’m going to need to strive to have no more zero days. A lot is going to change – and so I’m grateful for you, continuing to follow along. Thanks for sticking with me.

Now: Onward.

 

Three Words for 2016

I know, there are reasons to be wary of the New Year’s Resolution. They tend to be lots of fanfare, not much action — because it’s hard to change — and by the middle of January you’re back where you started, with an extra dollop of cynicism and shame on top. (And, to be clear, by you? I mean I.)

So I don’t do resolutions, anymore. Not exactly. But I do value the New Year as an opportunity to take stock, to review, to reflect. To set a new course, with updated agenda and goals.

I call this process my New Year’s Revolutions.

I’ve used different tools and approaches over the years. Some work better than others.

Last year, following the example of the inestimable Rachel Hartman, I went with one word to focus my year – organize. And I did get a bit more organized, and as I mentioned in my previous post, I saw results.

This New Year, inspired by my wise friend Tanya Gulliver-Garcia, I’m setting my agenda for the year ahead using Chris Brogan’s Three Words.

I want to try this model, this year, because follow-through is always a challenge for me. I fall off the wagon, say to myself, “Well, that didn’t work!” and eat a box of metaphorical or literal donuts. So one thing I like about Brogan’s approach is that includes strategies. And I very much like the perspective of the three words as “lighthouses”, or compass points, things to keep in my mind, to always be moving towards, rather than a target for me to succeed or (more often) fail at hitting.

Three words, three guiding stars. Three New Year’s Revolutions.

After some reflection, my words for 2016 are: health, happiness, organized.

(Yes, this is a repeat performance for getting organized. I can always stand to be more organized.)

Goal Word: Health

Path 1 to the goal: Make time to exercise or be active every day.

Path 2 to the goal: Allow myself sweets and naughty food on one “free day” a week.

Path 3 to the goal: Prepare healthy lunches and snacks in advance for the work week.

Distractions: Being tired, stress eating, not making the time to exercise or eat right.

Steps to the path: Buy fresh salad greens and vegetables all the time, so I always have healthy lunches and snacks; prioritize getting enough sleep so I have energy and willpower; make and keep regular appointments with all my health care professionals.

The finish line: Exercising 5 to 6 times a week, fitting into my size 38 pants, replacing stress eating with working out as a coping mechanism.

What’s next: Increase strength and endurance; plan and prepare to do the CN Tower climb in 2017

Goal Word: Happiness

Path 1 to the goal: Make time to write every weekday

Path 2 to the goal: See friends at least once a week

Path 3 to the goal: Make my workday commute my reading time

Distractions: Being tired, wasting time on the internet, feeling stuck

Steps to the path: Start that new D&D campaign with my friends, playing at least once a month; turn off internet on my phone regularly; write on my lunch hours; always have a book with me during my commute.

The finish line: Having regular (weekly) social engagements and activities; finishing revisions to NOBODY’S WATCHING and COLD IRON BADGE and finishing the first draft of a NEW novel before the end of 2016.

What’s next: Being able to retire “happiness” as a goal for 2017; getting my current writing projects out the door and move on to new ones; expand my reading to address some of the gaps in my knowledge and experience (like the classics, and poetry).

Goal Word: Organized

Path 1 to the goal: Check in with myself daily about what needs to be done, at home, and work, and for myself, both in terms of my goal words and in a more immediate day-to-day sense.

Path 2 to the goal: Check in with my awesome partner Sarah daily about how we’re both doing, about the kids, and about household needs.

Path 3 to the goal: Learn what needs to be done to keep our home well-stocked with everything we need and in good order, and act on those needs.

Distractions: Being tired; feeling incompetent; getting bogged down in anxiety and fear of doing the wrong thing.

Steps to the path: Make the first thirty minutes after the kids are in bed “family check-in time”; make lists of what needs to be done and review them as part of my daily processes; take quiet time daily, to think, process, and focus my mind.

The finish line: Clearing away all the “old business”, the things that need doing that I’ve left hanging for too long; having what we need at home and in our lives for ourselves and the kids, in a fair and equitable manner; being able to move forward with new goals and projects because the day-to-day is going so smoothly!

What’s next: Keep it up, because being fair, balanced and organized is an ongoing process.

Those are my three fixed stars, my goals for 2016: Increasing my health, increasing my happiness and being more organized.

What changes do you foresee making this year? What goals have you set, and what tools are you using to get there

Let me know. Maybe we can be part of one another’s revolutions.

Coming up next on the blog: I don’t know yet! I guess I need to, um, get organized?

Pretty Good Year: 2015 in review

The Year in Writing

It’s probably pretty obvious by this point that I subtitle this blog with the phrase, “steady movement is more important than speed, much of the time” for a reason. (No one has ever mentioned recognizing that quote, by the by. Do you? Let me know, and you’ll get an imaginary internet cookie!)

My writing process, given the amount of time I have available to devote to it, can rarely be a sprint, or even something as time-intensive as a marathon. Incremental progress is the name of my game; steady movement.

And there was steady movement this year, and it led to real progress. All in, I got quite a few more words down this year than in 2014. I completed the first draft of my second novel, NOBODY’S WATCHING, a near-future, cyberpunk-inflected thriller for YA readers. That included 16,500 or so new words added to the draft between January and May. I’ve also begun the process of revising it, which is a lot harder to quantify, given that words are being added, subtracted and replaced. The process is well underway, and although I’d kind of hoped to be finished before the New Year, I quite like where the rewrite is taking me.

Also begun this year, but not completed, were a polish of my first novel (in preparation for the querying process that I describe below) and two pitches for prospective new comics series that I hope to submit to a publisher in the not-too-distant future.

The Year in Submitting: Short Stories

I fell off the horse in submitting my short fiction this year; seven submissions to various markets (I think; I also fell off the horse at zealously tracking my metrics this year). That lead to seven rejections. No stories out on submission, and no responses pending.

The biggest development on that front was that, as Canada’s federal election drew nigh, I realized that my short story Final Issue had a best-before date measured in days, and decided to publish it here. It remains the most-read post on this blog this year, not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but I’m certainly pleased.

Honestly, I’m not sure I’m going to get back on this particular horse. Short fiction has proven to be a tough nut for me to crack; no sales over several years of (admittedly intermittent) efforts on my part. The stories I’ve submitted, I’ve been proud of, but I’m starting to think that my style isn’t especially well-suited to the kind of markets I want to sell to. Or, you know, I might not be good enough.

Either way, investing the time and energy in writing more short fiction is pretty far down the priority list. I mean, never say never? But I’m not sure I want to keep throwing that particular spaghetti at those particular walls.

I might end up posting more of my trunk stories here, as a result. If you think that would be of interest, please let me know.

The Year in Submitting: Agent Queries

As I noted in my November recap, I finally finished fixing up my query letter and submitted queries for my first novel, COLD IRON BADGE, to nine agents. To date, I’ve received two rejections, with seven responses pending.

The process, so far, has taken a lot longer than it took me to get rejections across the board from my last round of queries. In that case, the majority of responses arrived within ten days. On the other hand, the entire publishing industry essentially shuts down for the holidays, so I don’t know how much of December I should even count.

In other words, I’m committing submittomancy like a fiend. More news as it happens on that front.

The Year in Blogging

This is the year that I really started making an effort to have this blog be, you know, a thing. You can tell from my posting history: A total of sixteen posts (this one makes seventeen), but aside from last year’s year-in-review post, they were all between September and December.

A significant number of them were Breaking In interviews. I’m very proud of those interviews, and I want to thank all my interviewees: Your generous and informative responses to my questions were deeply appreciated. You provided wonderful interviews, full of really useful insights for aspiring writers and those who are just on the verge of “breaking in”.

2016: Better, Stronger, Faster.

Looking back, I’m kind of surprised; I got more done than I thought I did this year. You know what? I’m proud of what I accomplished.

That’s tempered by the fact that I didn’t get done everything that I wanted to – even factoring out the things that are outside my control. But then, when do I? When does anyone?

2015 was a year of steady progress, but also of change, on all sorts of fronts. I haven’t really touched on the more personal changes this year; suffice it to say, they were substantial, and on balance, positive, and I suspect that 2016 will bring more changes, and even better ones.

I plan to make my writing part of that. If this isn’t the year I break through to the next level – whatever that next level ends up being – at least it won’t be because I won’t be trying.

Thanks for being part of my journey this year. I look forward to sharing with all of you what happens next. I wish you, and all of us, a 2016 full of more and better.

Happy New Year.

And yes, the title was, of course, a reference to this.