All things considered, I had a pretty good year writing-wise. Here are some highlights:
Ariah got published.
This was my book, you know? I’d worked on it forever, subbed it forever, and then it was out there.
I learned so much about book marketing on the fly with Ariah. I sent so many review requests. I did at least twenty guest spots on far-flung blogs (anywhere that would have me). I ran a ton of giveaways. Ultimately, I think, it’s mostly about getting a book in the hands of the right reviewer at the right time.
Really, for indie books (and I think even for traditionally published books) the strongest marketing tool is word of mouth. Patience has been my biggest obstacle, honestly, but I’m slowly gaining a readership.
I broke out of my shell as a writer and made some lovely writer friends.
I started using Twitter in earnest this year, and it was a great decision for me. Twitter, plus blogging, means a ton of connection to other writers. And I went to my very first con this year–Sirens was awesome! I got to meet some writer friends in the flesh, which was so cool!
I tend to write in isolation, but I still need a community. I love to talk about process and books and technique and what I’m writing and why I’m writing it. My partners quickly get fatigued on my subjects, so twitter is an excellent outlet for this.
I got vocal about diversity in publishing.
It was inevitable. I’ve always been passionate about social justice, so the intersection between writing and social justice was bound to pop up at some point. I think about this stuff a lot, in both my own writing and in others, and doing the disrupting publishing roundups every week or so has been eye-opening and informative.
This year I’ve also been explicitly reading and reviewing books with an eye towards diversity (you can see notes on diversity in the book reviews here and a call for diverse books in my review policy here). This, too, has been eye-opening and informative. I’ve spent a lot of time this past year thinking about what I can do, as a person with multiple privileges and marginalizations, to make publishing more diverse from within. What is it ethical for me to be writing about? When should I step back and simply promote voices? When am I taking up space inadvertently? Heavy, important questions.
I read a great deal more short fiction in 2015 than in years past. Here are the short stories I most enjoyed in no particular order:
Book reading–a year in review! Here are the books I read and luxuriated in, the ones I waxed rhapsodic about and pressed into the hands of loved ones. The ones I’ll probably reread in years to come. Links are to the full reviews posted on this website; text for each book is excerpted from said reviews.
So. What are you in the mood for?
Something Queer and Magical
Chameleon Moon by RoAnna Sylver
The book follows a tight-knit group of erstwhile superheroes–and most of them are dealing with mental and/or physical disabilities. A number of them are clearly people of color. The main character is a trans woman, and she’s basically the best!! There is am interracial queer poly family that is sweet and functional.
A History of Glitter and Blood by Hannah Moskowitz
The Micah Grey Series by Laura Lam
Micah’s voice is beautifully written. Lam captures the confusion of adolescence, the way Micah’s gender and biological sex adds to that confusion and isolation, and the anger Micah feels when he realizes that being intersex shouldn’t isolate him from those around him but does. At the same time, Micah begins a relationship with female his acrobat partner, Aenea, while nursing a crush on the White Clown of the circus, Drystan. Micah’s burgeoning bisexuality provides another welcome thread of the book, which Lam handles with sensitivity and grace.
Something Brutal And Righteous and Epic
The Worldbreaker Saga by Kameron Hurley
Like Game of Thrones, The Mirror Empire follows multiple POVs, but nearly all of these characters are women and I read all of them as people of color. They are strewn across the world, and slowly their stories intersect as it becomes clear that their entire world is beset by a force from without, brought to bear by an ascendant star and the magical forces that star brings.
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor
Told in retrospect to her captors by a woman facing execution—a woman who has changed the world around her in fundamental and unexpected ways and sacrificed herself to do it—the teller does not flinch away from the grisly and vicious details of her story. She revels in them. As much a book about hope and change as it is a book about the horrors of complacency, WHO FEARS DEATH is a book that embraces anger, and for that if nothing else, I loved it.
Hild by Nicola Griffith
There is also, in Griffith’s writing, an immersiveness of a very foreign world. The trick is that it’s a world that once existed but one incredibly different than what we live in now. Things we take for granted, like the rapture of hearing music for the first time, or the sheer political power of being the only faction on an entire island who is literate.
Something Rooted and Specific
Black Beauty by Constance Burris
Virtually all the characters are Black, and they live in a specific locale–one apartment complex in Oklahoma City. The specificities in the book really do add to the authenticity, the reality of it, which heightens the horror embedded in the stories, even as elves start showing up and snakes start sprouting from people’s heads. These stories are deeply, deeply rooted in an intersectional experience of Black womanhood.
The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
Jeanette Winterson’s THE DAYLIGHT GATE takes a historical instance—the first documented witch trial in English history—and spins around it a tale of what might have happened.
Something with a Badass Girl
Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older
Sierra Santiago, the main character, is a revelation: an Afro-Latina with agency, with consciousness, replete with unrelenting badassery.
Niko by Kayti Nika Raet
Niko is intense, observant and suspicious. She is shaken and vulnerable and ferocious. She is a lone wolf and a caretaker. Raet writes Niko with lovely subtlety, letting her grow and stretch over the course of the book. Niko at the end of the book is very different than she was at the beginning. She is still very much herself, but the course of events has marked her, and she is changed.