2014 In Review

And another year! Unlike last year, this was a year of triumphs! I use the word ‘amazing’ a lot, so just prepare yourselves.

I ran through my memory and photo album to highlight my achievements and failings of the year 2014. Read on, stalkers!

The year started with a cold. This was just the kind of summer/holiday cold that lasts from the first day of your new year until the last day of your holidays. Over a period of three days it turned my living room into a winter wonderland of balled up tissue paper. To make matters worse, I spent that time playing the Xbox 360 version of Bioshock: Infinite, which is a terrible game (I reviewed it here), not made better by the way my head was filling with snot from the inside.

Writing and Projects

In late January, with no experience in the poetry scene and through asking colleagues on social media and so forth, I managed to collect a group of excellent poets who deigned to perform at The End bar in West End for me. It was a lot of fun, and I went to several Speedpoets open-mic events afterwards, and even read some poems at a few.

Crowd

This is a captivated crowd, I assure you. I said, ‘captivated’!

I continued working on the second book of the Pandora’s Paradoxes series with Mike McRae. As of the first week of 2015 we’re on the final version of the first draft and ready to assail the poor publisher.

The artist, hard at work, ignoring temptation.

The artist, hard at work, ignoring temptation.

I sold a bunch of stories for decent money. In no particular order (and possibly missing one or two):

  • ‘Wish to God that we Were There’ to ‘Suspended in Dusk’
  • ‘Black Sunflowers’ to  Tiny Owl Workshop’s ‘Unfettered’ and
  • ‘The Conumbrum’ to Tiny Owl Workshop’s ‘Lane of Unusual Traders’
  • ‘The Last Voyage of Saint Brendan’ to a forthcoming project from Fablecroft.
  • ‘The Stitchcancer Poppet’ (after at least 10 submissions!) which finally found a home at FictionVale after some excellent edits.
  • Another six or so short stories for Helix magazine as part of my SF flash fiction column.

And I’m still waiting to hear back on two stories I’m quite fond of. Fingers and toes remain crossed.

I was involved in more specific writing related projects too, doing a talk for the Square Library (and a forthcoming workshop on writing SF for kids), as well as the awesome StreetReads project organised by Emily Craven. I learned a lot writing almost 20,000 words of Choose-Your-Own-Adventure stuff, and received lots of great feedback from all people involved. I’ll be putting in another submission for that project this year so that I can build on last year’s success (insert more finger crossing here).

The writing community in Brisbane has been super over the last year. Between the poets and fiction writers and industry peeps everyone here is awesome and supportive, so if you’re a new writer you really can’t go wrong getting to know them. Avid Reader in West End is a great hub for the community, as is the Queensland Writers Centre at the State Library. Go forth and mingle!

I am still at my day job, because I love working with my colleagues and because I still feel like I’m making a difference to the organisation. Lots of changes afoot there though, so we’ll see how it pans out. Hi work folks, you guys really are great! This includes recently departed colleagues and newly discovered friends. You all know who you are.

Literarium is actually at the final stages of testing. It’s live on our development server, and once we knock over some bugs we will finally (YES FINALLY) start throwing beta invitations at all the people I’ve been promising them to for years. I’m quite excited by this project. Just remember it never could’ve happened without Lucas Martin’s amazing work. You all owe him beers, even those of you who aren’t writers. All the beers. That’s just a friendly heads up from me to you, reader.

Children

My children continued to entertain me greatly. Page started high school and is outdoing herself academically (not necessarily just measured in grades, but in effort and enthusiasm). She has a stellar circle of gaming nerd friends, and I’ve played a bunch of Dungeons and Dragons games with them to great effect.

2014 was also the year Page ran her first Dungeon and Dragons game, with my friend Nick’s two younger kids. It was hilarious and exciting. you can see her below in her Assassin’s Creed style hoodie.

First time running a D&D game.

First time running a D&D game.

I’d been playing various pen-and-paper role playing games with Page, her friends and my friends all year. For Page’s 13th birthday (she’s officially a teenager now) I invited her friends over to celebrate her birthday with a second session of Dungeons and Dragons, on the proviso they all dress up. It was a great success too:

Nerd attack!

Nerd attack!

It’s hard to express how important it is that your kids have awesome friends. Page just got lucky with hers. Seeing all these little monsters yelling and laughing and playing games and talking about popular culture makes me feel like I’m teaching more than just my kids to enjoy games and storytelling. I feel a bit like the Santa Claus of role playing games. Yes this makes me a giant nerd but, seriously, you didn’t already know that?

Marcus has grown in leaps and bounds but will always contribute his own special perspective on the world, punctuated by rote commentary from YouTube game reviews and 8-bit game noises. Usually, when being told to go to sleep because it is night time, and the moon is evidence for night-time, he informs us that he doesn’t want to sleep, and that he will destroy the moon. Presumably he thinks this will end the night. Not the case little fellow!

At one stage he was a little angry at the daylight and so constructed this strategy, which I’ll share here. He has explained to me that the knife/dagger thing is actually a rocket:

Marcus2

I can’t really argue with that. He also, variously, drew escape plans to get away from school and home, as well as asking my mother where Melbourne was so he could draw a map and escape there, while we were on our holidays (see PAX, below).

He’s mainstreamed in Year 3 at his school, which has an excellent special needs unit for ASD kids and the like. He has seriously improved his focus and skills, although he’s still quite far behind the class. His classmates adore him, which is great, and he’s pretty impervious to the occasional teasing (behaviour that the school mercilessly punishes in its quest to foster an inclusive environment).

Marcus went to his first feature length cinema movie this year (Big Hero 6) and really enjoyed it. He was a little antsy after 25 minutes of pre-movie trailers and ads for things that kids don’t care about, and started tapping his hands and feet about an hour in. After that he ended up on my lap squirming but he paid attention to the entire movie and really enjoyed himself. Seeing as he normally can’t sit still or be quiet for ten fucking seconds, I considered this an achievement.

Actually, I was super happy. I love going to the movies and being able to take the little man with me without needing to have backup parenting is great.

This photo is Marcus’s picture of 2014. It has a kind of lackadaisical street urchin vibe:

Marcus1

Family

After meeting at GenreCon in October last year, Stacey and I finally actually officially started dating this year and we’re still together. This is despite the risks of throwing two writers at each other, especially when they have wildly incompatible mental coping strategies. I consider that a success.

Our professional relationship looks like this (that’s Stacey editing me, natch):

...in the wind.

…in the wind.

 

Our actual relationship looks more like this. It’s not really that different, come to think of it:

No points for guessing what Stacey is thinking.

No points for guessing what Stacey is thinking.

Actually, she’s pretty great.

Also, December 18th marked a ridiculous 15 years of marriage (FIFTEEN YEARS!) to the amazing Clare! Eventually we’ll have enough spare cash to celebrate these occasions properly, since our planning from 15 years ago meant we have two birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s and a wedding anniversary all sprinkled throughout December. As Marcus’s birthday is the day after Valentine’s day, we don’t really have romantic celebration dates that aren’t somehow within a week of another family event. It’s kind of ridiculous. I think I might try to schedule something mid-year and try to make that worth celebrating. I like dates, ok?

Clare continues to be the bedrock of our family, tirelessly dealing with all the whinging children that pass through the house. Some of these children are almost forty, wouldn’t you know it? She’s been expanding her horizons this year creatively and professionally, and has started back on the path to teaching classes, this time without the overhead of managing a business.

I have lots of photos of Clare which makes it difficult to pick one that sums 2014 up for me, but I like this one from PAX a lot. You can almost see the nerdiness leaking out of her. There’s a whole-body ‘squee!’ going on here:

Someone has been hanging out at the BioWare section of PAX

Someone has been hanging out at the BioWare section of PAX

For the rest

I continued paying off some ridiculous credit card debts, not helped by all the cool projects on Kickstarter.

I began to contribute semi-regular amounts to Kiva to assuage my awful first world guilt.

I reconnected with a lost friend.

I saw a lot of movies with all my awesome movie watching friends, I think most with the amazing Paige this year, although I knocked off many zombie horror flicks with Karin.

I slacked off somewhat with my exercising but I continued to run, running over 1000kms and wearing out a pair of shoes in the process. I’m starting to push towards forty but I’m pretty fit, no health problems, brain seems to be working ok, and not too wrinkly yet. I’m doing alright on the health front.

I again drank ridiculous amounts of beer and am still alive. Being able to continue this until I’m very old is one of the motivators for staying fit.

I ran a Paranoia game after years of wanting to. I murdered my partner first and proceeded to entertain and kill most of the other players repeatedly, when they weren’t killing each other. I ran Paranoia a few more times this year and enjoyed the crap out of it. It was quite mentally taxing to run and keep it entertaining, but the players all had a fantastic and tense time of it.

I totally went nuts with Numenera, and will be running more games in that world, because it’s super fun.

We got an Xbox One despite Clare’s insistence we ban it after Microsoft snubbed Australia at the 2013 PAX. Major factors were: carrying over our Xbox Live accounts; the awfulness of PS4 controllers; games my daughter wanted desperately to play that were no longer available (or better) on the One.

My eyes were perfectly fine for the second year running, meaning they are not going to explode any time soon.

I was sick and skipped Tough Mudder, then skipped Spartan Beast because of a Writing engagement. Pissweak excuses to be honest, but writing, right? I’ll focus on running Stampede this year, as it’s a nice relaxed obstacle course.

I continued my bearded ways. So great not to shave all the time!

I nailed the challenge of reading books by both reading regular books and listening to audio books. Audio books are now my preferred way to chew through books, since I can ‘read’ a book while doing house chores and saving my eyesight.

I joined the awesome Tequila Mockingbirds book club, and met many new friends and even some old ones. You guys are great, I love how reading regularly and drunkenly discussing books, has improved my mental state. You know who you are and you’re champion humans one and all.


So 2014 was successful across the board. I’m looking forward to improving professionally and personally and financially (ha ha, Apple Watch in March, gods preserve us). I will endeavour to be less oblivious and more organised in 2014. More writing! More programming! More friendsing and ‘shipping! More arting!

I love you all, thanks for hanging around in my life.

EndOfYear

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