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Tansy Rayner Roberts

Posts Tagged ‘year in review’

The Shape of 2013 (how it was)

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

I wasn’t going to do one of these this year. 2013 has been a bit of a crazy, scattered blur in many ways. But then I read my 2012 post and was so pleased I had noted things down for future reference. And then I remembered that I won a Hugo which is, you know, quite extraordinary and belies my general impression that I spent most of this year chasing a 4 year old and recording podcasts.

I did totally spend most of this year chasing a 4 year old and recording podcasts. It was a family and friends sort of year, occasionally punctuated by books, short stories and a whole lot of Doctor Who. There were hospitalisations and dramas, all of which are (KNOCK FREAKING WOOD) behind us now. ( I still don’t feel I’ve properly caught up after my pneumonia bout back in September! If I owe you an email, please remind me) It was a tough year in many ways, and a stupidly slack year in others.

Mostly, we came through it intact.

Here are some good things that happened to me:

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2013: A Year in Reading

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

A strange reading year for me – after reaching new heights of reading the previous year, getting the closest to my pre-motherhood numbers of books read than ever before, I put my feet up and took it all VERY casually this year. Not as much actual reading as I would like – as has been the case a lot lately, my reading desires have been rather stomped on by my love of listening to audio books and plays – but the books I have read have been decadently unstructured. Once I made my way through Parade’s End by Ford Maddox Ford and the entire Song of Ice and Fire thus far, I kind of felt like I didn’t owe the household library gods ANYTHING ELSE for the year.

It’s been mostly classic literature, re-reading and Doctor Who tie-ins. Which also, actually, means a much more gender-balanced year instead of my usual 80% female authors. I’ve read whatever the hell I felt like this year, and mostly it has not been science fiction and fantasy at all – or published this year.

I even stopped keeping track of titles read in my log. Sooooo slack.

Here’s an equally slack and slapdash rundown of it all:

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The Shape of 2012 (how it was)

Monday, December 31st, 2012

It’s been an odd sort of year, and one in which I have tended to forget to stop and count my successes. I planned for many things in my writing career, few of which came to fruition, and I ended up with a bunch of words written, but nothing (major) new and finished, for the first time in several years.

On the other hand, some massive personal achievements surely help to balance that out. In particular I have seen Raeli grow from being very timid and panicky child into a far more relaxed, confident and brave young person. She has conquered her terror (and I don’t use the word lightly) of cats, managed her even more extreme fear of dogs, as well as getting over the hurdles of learning to swim and to turn somersaults. It’s been a big year!

Jem meanwhile has stopped being the baby (she is a BIG GIRL), and it’s quite extraordinary to see our three-year-old become herself, taking on an at times stroppy but quite original personality. (she can be a thug but she’s cute with it) And boy, can she talk. You may all pause your reading to faint from surprise.

They’re really good at being sisters, which makes me very happy. And we’re only a year away from Jem starting school now which feels… exciting and terrible, all at once. But by gods, it’s going to be cheaper. And those tiny windows of writing time are shrinking and shrinking between then and now. Somehow, she manages to fill every available space, which is what children are best at.

What other milestones did I/we manage to clear this year? Well, there’s that little thing of Galactic Suburbia getting its first Hugo nomination, which was extraordinary, and means that we will always look upon the Best Fancast category with great fondness. Galactic Suburbia also received the Peter McNamara Convenor’s Award for Excellence at the Aurealis Awards this year which was an amazing honour and really made us feel like we have made a mark in the Australian SF community. And of course we produced 23 new episodes, bringing us up to 73. We’ll be soooo close to 100 by the end of next year!

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2012: A Year in Reading

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Trying something a bit different for my reading round up this year – I found this Annual End Of Year Book survey and decided to try out the questions for myself. Note I’ve already done a Pleasures of Reading etc. post over at Ambling Along the Aqueduct, and covered my experience with the AWW reading challenge. I talk about books a lot, all right?

At 175 titles, including graphic novels, audio books, ebooks etc, I’ve come the closest to my pre-motherhood reading levels than ever before! If nothing else, my ‘don’t buy without shifting books from To Read Shelf’ system seems to be guilting me into finding more reading time, which I am happy about.

Best In Books 2012

1. Best Book You Read In 2012? (You can break it down by genre if you want)

Best Fantasy Novel: Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth
Best Science Fiction Novel: Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance by Lois McMaster Bujold
Best Collection: Cracklescape by Margo Lanagan
Best Anthology: Under My Hat, edited by Jonathan Strahan
Best Young Adult Novel: Code Name Verity, by Elizabeth Wein, only just edging out The Diviners by Libba Bray and Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan.
Best General Fiction: Last Chance Cafe by Liz Byrski
Best Comic: Hawkeye & Captain Marvel
Best Graphic Novels: Astonishing X-Men #1-5 by Joss Whedon & John Cassaday
Best Doctor Who Book: Chicks Unravel Time! Yes, I’m in it. I still love it BEST!

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2011 A Year in Reading (actual novels edition)

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

As I mentioned in my Graphic Novels edition of the 2011 Year in Reading posts, I read 143 books this year, 60 or so of which had a lot of pictures in them.

Others were mostly made up of words, hoorah! I don’t want this to be the neglected younger sister of the graphic novels post, but I’m really not going to write reviews of these at length. Consider it a list of the best, absolute bestiest prose novels I consumed this year. Chances are, if you want to hear more about why I liked them, you can find me raving on a Galactic Suburbia podcast. Or you could just ask in the comments! I have been rather lazy about written reviews this year, but you can’t do everything.

Here we go…

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2011: A Year in Reading (Graphic Novels Edition)

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

It’s New Year’s Eve and I’m curled up with my family watching the animated adventures of Batman. As you do. It seems oddly appropriate considering how my year in reading ended up!

In September, it looked unlikely that I’d even hit 100 books read this year, let alone equal the 120 books I read in 2010. But then I took an interest in the DC Reboot, and one of my best friends rediscovered comics and started raving about the Ultimate Spiderman, and one thing led to another, and my house spontaneously filled with graphic novels.

So, yes. My total books read for the year is 143. Of which 61 are graphic novels/manga, all but one of which were consumed in the last three months. YEAH BABY.

Let’s talk about those first. I’ll do a separate post about the actual prose books, for those people (cough, Alisa) who aren’t interested in comic books.

My stand out graphic novels/trade paperbacks for the year were:

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The Shape of 2011 (how it was)

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Wow, I’ve been all gung ho and planningy in previous years, haven’t I! Maybe I’ve mellowed. Last year I made a stab at what the shape of 2011 would look like. Presented here with comments as to how it actually was.

1. Page proofs and copy edits to be done for Shattered City and Reign of Beasts
Done and done! Quite early, really, because the date was pushed back for scheduling reasons and yet the book itself was pretty much ready months ago.

2. Write a first draft of Fury, before ROR in September.
We moved ROR to January 2012, but I finished the draft of Fury before Nanowrimo, so that was on schedule.

3. Send in proposal for Fury to my agent to sell before it’s finished.
I did this, but we (my agent & publisher) agreed it would be best to take it back and only formally submit when there was a full manuscript, because let’s face it, it wasn’t a happy year for book sales in Australia.

4. Volunteer regularly at Raeli’s school
Fell down completely on this one, at least as far as helping her class goes! I felt bad about it, but I had so little Jem-free time to work, and it didn’t happen at all. Still, I felt I had a much better relationship to her teacher this year after the calamity of the previous year, and I did sign up to join the School Association, so have been volunteering in that way. It feels like cheating because it’s half a dozen evening meetings a year rather than regularly turning up in Little Miss’s classroom to practice reading with them, but it’s a job that has to be done and being the nosy person that I am, I do rather like being in on some of the school’s admin decisions.

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Peering at 2012

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

Well, obviously it’s going to be a brilliant year!

Our January is packed already, and I’m determined to make the most of my last long summer with my daughters (Tasmania is going to 4 terms next year, so the summer holiday will be more of a punctuation point and less of a long, lazy sprawl). Raeli turns seven (SEVEN) and my godson Felix turns four (SERIOUSLY, FOUR?) before the end of the month. There will be parties.

Then there is ROR, a week of critiquing and industry chatter with some of my favourite writing people, right at the end of January, culminating in The Very Much Launch of Reign of Beasts Book Three of the Creature Court on the 2nd February.

The book I’m taking to ROR is Fury, book one of a proposed Nancy Napoleon series. I’m allowing myself 1-2 months afterwards to knock the book into post-ROR extra shiny shape, and then sending it off to my publisher to see if they’re interested in taking another twirl around the dance floor with me.

And then… well, then I wait. Because after a year of grants and publishing deadlines, I’m fancy free for the rest of the year. It’s… exciting and alarming. Given that I’m not going to start work on Nancy #2 until I have a publisher secured for her, I can write anything I want.

So there are plans, but they are nebulous, and multiple-layered, so I can bend to the wind. Anything I work on has to be dropped like a hot potato if Nancy comes up trumps, and if she doesn’t… well, I need to have the next thing up and running, and if that doesn’t work, the next thing…

I’d like to produce at least one publishable full length manuscript (not counting Fury) and one publishable children’s chapter book this year. That’s my plan. But I’m not 100% sure which books those will be.

And I have to do it without exterior deadlines. So deep breaths and inspiration at the ready. GO!

In the rest of my life… well, I still have a few more months to serve on the Tiptree jury, and we’re getting to the crunchy end of that, so more reading for me. I am planning to have a good go at the Australian Women Writers Reading Challenge 2012. And Last Short Story, of course.

But apart from those things (heh, I KNOW) I want my reading to be fairly loose and unstructured, and my main reading goal for the year is to focus on reducing my criminally enormous To Read Shelf to something a little less likely to collapse on visitors. Which probably means reading & seeking out a lot less in the way of the New Cool. So don’t publish any awesome books this year, okay, guys?

Travel-wise my honey and I are keen to make it to the Natcon in Melbourne, because my Mum thinks she is up to taking BOTH GIRLS for a long weekend (or that she will be by the middle of June) which means we could be out on our own for the first time in, well, seven years, basically. We haven’t broken it to Raeli yet, though, who had a lovely time at Worldcon and has mythologised Melbourne in her head to an alarming degree.

And apart from that our important job for the year is to keep to a budget, something we’ve been shocking about in previous years. But if we’re going to make it to World Fantasy in Brighton 2013, that means being sensible about money now. Especially if I want to keep my second daycare day for the next two years, before Jem starts kinder. Eek.

So… I don’t really know what the majority of this year will bring. But I’m hoping for shiny wonders and domestic calmness.

2010: A Year in Reading

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

I read a book today! A whole book, from beginning to end. It was so luxurious, I can’t tell you.

I also proofed more than 70 pages of my own book, bathed the baby, played a towering blocks game with Raeli, was fed delicious fishy things by my honey, wrote several blog entries, and decorated a pavlova.

If how you spend New Year’s Day sets a pattern for the year ahead, I’m doing well!

(apart from the fact that both my girls are currently sobbing, one because she didn’t want to go to bed and the other because of some elaborate Thing involving a Christmas decoration, pleasedon’task)

Never mind all that. BOOKS. I read 120 books in 2010 – and overall tackled much longer, harder and more challenging books than I have since… well, probably since before I was pregnant with Raeli. This is not to say I didn’t also read my share of YA, graphic novels and children’s books, cos I did, but I also read like a grown up. Hooray!

Here is my tiptop list of favourite books I read in 2010:

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The Shape of 2010 (how it was)

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

So this loosely was my plan for 2010, presented with comments:

1. Finish Cabaret of Monsters (book 2) and Saturnalia (book 3) and submit them on deadline.
They’re now called Shattered City and Reign of Beasts, and the deadlines ended up being extended a time or two, but done and done.
2. Complete a first draft of one other novel
This I didn’t manage, thanks to more editing and a lot less writing time than I was hoping for.
3. Decide on what project I want to work on after Creature Court and put a proposal together.
I haven’t finished the proposal for my publishers yet, but I wrote early chapters and a synopsis for Fury when I applied for my grants, WHICH I GOT.
4. Get Raeli through her first year of full time school. To this end, institute earlier tea & earlier bedtime for Raeli (starting the bedtime process at 8pm results in a good night going to sleep at 9pm, it’s not good enough)
This worked out really well. While part of me thinks it’s a bad idea to dumb down Raeli’s food and getting into the habit of a kids meal and an adult meal… yeah. I can’t have a family meal on the table by 6pm, but I can manage a nursery tea. Also it’s nice to not be fighting with Raeli about food. She eats vegetables, even if only under certain circumstances, and she even went through a few adventurous phases with her food this year. It’s summer so we’ve let the bedtime blow out again but come school time, I’ll be going back to this habit.
5. Get Jem into her own room and reorganise study at other end of house.
Done marvellously. What I wasn’t expecting was that instead of a study I would build myself a library! Complete with queen sized bed… I love that I got the best of both worlds, a spare room for guests and a room that is MINE where my books live. Sure, I don’t have a desk, but this is me, let’s face it, a desk would just be somewhere to pile up papers and all kinds of crap. Not having a desk forces me to file things occasionally. I’ve finally got my armchair, and I continue to work from my laptop on the dining table. I may need a small desk in the library eventually but for right now, I’m happy, and get an extra thrill of happiness whenever I refer to my Library Bed. Which currently is covered with page proofs for Shattered City…
6. Complete two quilts (you know who you are)
I really have to be more specific! The first must have been the Felix Rupert Bear quilt, which I was being discreet about because I was keeping it secret from Isabel. I had to check back for the second which was of course Kaia’s Comfort Fruit quilt, for her 30th birthday.
7. Launch Power and Majesty in June, and do my best to contribute to & support the publicity for the book.
Done! With publicity you always feel like you should have done more, but I think I managed my time effectively. Time to start gearing up for Book 2…
8. Aussiecon in September!
Done! It wasn’t easy taking the family to the convention, but my honey worked hard to free up as much time as possible for me to do my convention thing, and I loved getting to hang out with friends and sharing both my worlds. Also, live Boxcutters!
9. Launch Cabaret of Monsters in December (subject to publishing dates staying the same) and do my best to contribute to & support the publicity for the book.
Heh well the publishing dates didn’t stay the same, so this one can be rolled over to 2011.
10. Read 120 books throughout 2010.
Hooray, I scraped under the wire with this one! Separate reading overview to follow.

EDIT: A couple of projects/challenges I forgot about: to podcast Siren Beat, and to read all of Joanna Russ’s published books.
Heh well I completely didn’t podcast Siren Beat, but I did start the CreatureCourtCast to read some sample chapters of Power and Majesty, and should do something similar with Book 2. And I didn’t get to all of the Russ, but I read quite a few of them and consider myself a hell of a lot more educated in the ways of Joanna Russ than at this time last year. So I’ll count that as a win.

Of course the most interesting thing about looking back is what I didn’t expect or prepare for: like winning the WSFA small press award for Siren Beat, and getting to vicariously enjoy Alisa’s voyage to Washington and beyond. Also, when the year turned, I had no idea that we were going to start Galactic Suburbia this year, a podcast that has given me great pleasure and joy. I didn’t know that Raeli being at school would lead to a whole new social group for me, or that my biggest regret of the year was not the lack of working time, but not volunteering enough at Raeli’s school. It’s also been lovely seeing so many of my friends succeeding with their work, getting new books out into the world, more rungs on the publishing journey. In particular, seeing Trent finally get his debut novel out there after so many years of hard work towards that goal, and seeing Rowena get another series out there after a hiatus almost as long as my own, filled me with pride and gladness.

It’s been a year of hard work, rewarding feedback, loving friends and family. I really have very little to complain about. Here’s hoping 2011 is a good one, for all of us!

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