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What Hath She Wrote? 2019 Edition

Sunday, December 29, 2019 - 14:00

I am continuing my self-invented tradition of posting a year-end summary of my activity on this blog an other writing activities. It reminds me that--no matter how it sometimes feels--I really have been productive. It also makes a convenient reference for things like what books I've read and movies I've enjoyed--although it's become less useful for that since I've gotten much spottier about posting media reviews and am badly behind on my book reviews. It's also interesting to see the shifts in content. Am I focusing primarily on the Lesbian Historic Motif Project? Am I blogging about writing? Do I have a book I'm promoting?

The process of compiling my annual output can make me feel accomplished, but it can also leave me despondent about whether all that effort is being read by more than a very few people. (The down side of reviewing my Google Analytics stats is that the "time on page" data tells me just how many of the visits are bots and spiders.) As I mentioned on facebook the other day, the biggest secondary purpose of my online activity is the equivalent of small talk at a cocktail party: am I convincing people that I'm an interesting person they'd like to have conversations with? My online emotional equilibrium would be easier to maintain if I were measuring everything by monetization. At least that involves hard numbers. Am I really so peculiar for hoping to have conversations with online friends and potential friends that revolve around research, writing, and thinking thinky thoughts? (I mean, cat pictures are all very well, but woman does not live by cat pictures alone.)

This review covers January 1, 2019 through December 31, 2019 because the next few blogs are already drafted and ready to go. It can be fun to compare it to my 2018 review or the 2017 one and for the full set, click on the Year-End Summary tag at the bottom of the post. (Unfortunately, the early ones are migrated from LiveJournal and the links to the specific blogs may be dead, due to having migrated that material to DreamWidth.)

Here's the high-level summary:

Fiction

The fourth Alpennia novel, Floodtide, came out in November. Last year I noted that I hoped to be able to say something about my novella "The Language of Roses" in this year's summary, but it spent the entire year sitting in a slush pile. Although I won't have a new novel next year, I'm working on some short fiction, and once again I have every intention of self-publishing the collected Skinsinger stories (with new concluding novelette). Real soon now. I put out an audio version of my historic short story "Where My Heart Goes" to celebrate the 100th episode of my podcast. (I do hope that at some point the Alpennia books will be available in audio, but it isn't something my publisher actively pursues and I'm dubious that I could get an agent interested in tackling only that aspect.) I also listed a spontaneous photo-story posted originally on Facebook and Twitter (then collated for easier reading) "Not that you’d call mermaids in the strictest sense."

Essays

I blogged a lot about Floodtide: at least 4 items about publication milestones (omitting a bunch of minor promotional stuff), 32 teaser posts with a snippet from each chapter and a discussion of the writing process, and 16 guest posts and interviews appearing on other people’s sites. In non-Floodtide essays, I posted 5 items in my “Alpennia FAQ” series and 6 posts on assorted book-related topics. One of the highlights of my year was being a guest on the Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast.

Lesbian Historic Motif Project

The history blog covered 49 books or articles for a total of 64 separate posts. This brings the total publications up to 278. (The cumulative publication database has 734 entries, but that includes items that I decided not to cover and a few “master entry” listings for collections of articles that aren’t blogged separately. But as a rough estimate, that leaves about 450 publications on my “to do” list at the present time.)

Perhaps the most significant change in the podcast is that I've been "reprising" older shows more often, with 8 episodes being re-runs. I do this for a variety of reasons: to provide background for another topic or interview, to create a thematic set of shows, or--all too often--because I'm in a time crunch and need content. But even that isn't purely selfish. In the first year of the podcast, each episode was getting maybe 300-400 listens. Now it's averaging more than 1000 downloads. So reprising an older show means that I'm often more than doubling the number of people who've had a chance to listen to it. There were, of course, new essays--7 of them--covering historic topics or discussing historic understandings of gender and sexuality. My number of author interviews is down a bit, largely because the logistics of contacting people and arranging for recording is the part of the podcast that gets dropped when my life is too crowded. But I still had 7 author interviews and 6 book appreciation interviews, as well as 3 shows that discussed movies that either included guest reviewers or text input from the TLT facebook group. I also included more shows on the "state of the field" talking about trends in publishing or in content. The monthly summary shows have been shifting a little in content, dropping the mini "Ask Sappho" essays as a regular feature, but adding in more news-of-the-field items, including conferences and calls for submissions that listeners might find interesting. And I'm proud to have completed the LHMP's second fiction series, publishing 5 brand-new original stories, plus airing an audio version of one of my previously published works.

Reviews

I reviewed 8 books or anthologies under SFF, 12 in the LGBTQ+ category, and 2 “other.” I finally accepted that I didn't have time to do reviews for the SFF Reviews website (which I regret, but I simply wasn't getting to it and it was becoming and emotional weight). I've continued to review for The Lesbian Review and had 12 reviews (or additions to existing reviews) posted there. Among my backlog of "things I've read but haven't reviewed yet" are several tagged for that site, but those will count next year.

Events

My blogging of conferences and associated travel was confined to the Medieval Congress (10 sessions of papers, 6 posts of my book shopping haul, and a blog with the text examples used in the paper I presented) and Worldcon in Dublin Ireland (a dozen posts, mostly just “what I did on my vacation” summaries).

Comparative Summary

So let’s sum up how 2019 compares to 2018

  • Fiction: Same number of professional publications, but this time it was a novel rather than a novelette. My only free fiction was my Halloween photo-story. I put out an audio version of an existing story.
  • Essays: With the exception of doing a massive amount of promo for Floodtide, my output was about the same (which was down in 2018 from previous years).
  • LHMP blog: The total number of publications covered was down a bit, largely because the 2018 summary included December 2017 and because there were a couple books I spread across multiple weeks (as opposed to doing multiple posts for a book in the same week). Just for fun, here’s some data on the rate at which I’m covering publications versus adding new ones. In a blog late in 2016, I noted that I’d blogged 125 titles out of 400 listings in the database. At the end of 2018 I’d blogged 228 out of ca. 600. At the end of 2019 the count is 278 out of 734. So if you take each as a percentage, I’ve gone from 31% to 38% to holding steady at 38%. Of course, “holding steady” doesn’t mean that I’m covering new publications as fast as I’m adding them. It means that I’m steadily adding 3 new publications for every one that I blog about. On the one hand, it’s delightful that there are so many lesbian-relevant publications out there, but on the other hand, I’ve been trying to shift my focus to publications that have new and different information, as opposed to yet one more re-hash of material I’ve already covered. I should blog about that...
  • LHMP podcast: The number of interviews and new essays is down from last year (as I discuss above) but the amount of fiction is up slightly (due to buying 2 very short stories for a single episode and recording one of my own stories for an anniversary show). I’ve mostly stopped doing the “Ask Sappho” mini-essays because I wasn’t getting enough prompts but I’ve added more “news of the field” to the monthly round-up shows. The number of titles listed in the recent/new/forthcoming fiction section is up from 61 last year to 101 this year. I suspect that this isn’t so much a matter of more f/f historical fiction being published as me getting better at hunting it down because I’ve definitely gotten better at the Amazon keyword game. Next year will make a better comparison on that end.
  • Reviews: I’m actually a bit surprised to find that my review numbers are up this year because I feel like I’m always behind on writing up what I’ve read. SFF reviews are doubled, reviews of queer fiction are slightly up and “other” is about the same. My movie and tv reviews were all either on the podcast or for The Lesbian Review so I don’t have separate numbers for the blog. With respect to reviewing on other sites, I continue to provide an average of one review a month for The Lesbian Review, but I officially stopped doing short SFF fiction reviews for SFF Reviews because I simply wasn’t finding time.
  • Events: I did my usual detailed blogging of the Kalamazoo Medieval Congress and of Worldcon, but none of the other events I attended, which is roughly equivalent to last year.

Detailed List with Links

Fiction

It occurs to me that the following counts as new fiction, even though I published it on facebook/twitter.

About My Writing

Floodtide Life Events

Floodtide Teasers

Alpennia FAQ

Guest Blogs

As Host

  • (Somewhat unusually, I didn't host any guest blogs this year, though I have at least one already lined up for next year.)

As Guest

I'm interviewed at the Smart Bitches Trashy Books podcast

Floodtide promotional guest-blogs

Miscellaneous Content

Lesbian Historic Motif Project (Blog)

Lesbian Historic Motif Podcast

Reviews Books/Fiction - SFF

Reviews Books/Fiction - Queer

Reviews: Other

Convention/Conference Reports

Kalamazoo Medieval Congress Sessions

Worldcon

Major category: 
Publications: 
historical