Best Gifts of the Year and the Yearly Navel Gaze
I would like to celebrate the season by being thankful for all the gifts that didn’t fit under the tree, and all the early gifts, the ones I got way before Christmas, the ones that make anything under the tree seem, well sort of anti-climactic.
The Gift of Writing
Like you didn’t see that one coming! I’ve loved it since I could hold a pencil and do more than scribble. Every year I love it more and more. This year I loved it through two novels, two novella’s, a slew of short stories, and blog posts too numerous to count. And all the while I was frantically writing, I was watching how well The Initiation of Ms Hollywas selling with a very broad, very silly smile on my face. The only thing better than loving writing is having
other people love my writing!
Oh yes! The writing gift was particularly good this year! And, I’m already rattling and shaking the package of next year’s writing gifts, which promise to be just as exciting, if not more so.
The Gift of Outside
I know, I know; you saw that one coming too, didn’t you? But being outside makes me a better writer, and it’s been a great year for being outside. Most of you who are my friends on Facebook have suffered through endless photos of our vegetable garden and the lovely harvest. Some of you were even green with envy when the raspberries and strawberries came on. I didn’t include even one photo of the slugs or snails or the abundant weeds, though that might be a promising photo op for next year. With any luck, an allotment will be in our near future and then you can expect lots more garden porn.
Many of you know that I walk my stories, and I’ve had some fantastically inspirational walks this year. I’ve been
enthralled by the fabulous fungi in the local woodlands in the autumn walks, I’ve walked the Oregon Coast and the lava flows in the Cascades with my sister. I’ve walked on the Strip in Las Vegas with writing friends. I’ve walked amid the incredible blossoms in spring and the lovely sunsets in high summer and everything in between, all the while working out plots and characters and settings. Being outside always balances me and centres me again, which is a good thing, since I tend to be a bit obsessive.
The Gift of Adventure
The biggest adventure of all this year was the fourteen days in August when Raymond and I walked the Wainwright Coast to Coast Path across England. Yes, you heard me right, across England. I like to repeat that phrase a lot because it’s still amazing to me. Oh, by the way, did I mention that it was all the way across England!
Not only did we walk it, but I blogged about it, and those of you who followed the posts definitely caught glimpses of me at … well not exactly my best. It was one of the toughest, most amazing experiences I’ve had, and I had to dig deep to finish it. That’s another package I’m rattling for next year. Oh yes! There’ll be another Bad Ass walk! And I’m scheming to get Raymond to blog it with me this time.
Then there was Vegas! Yes, I packed my bags and went to Las Vegas for the first annual Erotic Authors Association
Conference. There aren’t enough wows for that fantastic experience. Though Vegas wouldn’t have been my first choice of cities to visit in the States, I couldn’t have chosen a more fabulous group of people to spend a hot and action-packed weekend with. The very best part of the Vegas gift was finally putting faces to names of some of the American erotica writers, who had long been my friends online. And they were every bit as wonderful in person! With amazing people, panels, workshops and two readings, one at the Erotic Heritage Museum standing between a plethora of eight-foot white marble penises, oh yes, it was good!
There were numerous readings in London, as well, which are always a gift. One was with my dear friend, Kay Jaybee. One was with one of my heroes in the world of erotica, Rachel Kramer Bussel. Then there was the huge, blow-out launch party for my second novel, The Pet Shop, in October at my favourite place, Sh! Hoxton, with so many of my favourite people. And now Pets are happily misbehaving not only all over London, but all over the UK. In January they’ll be misbehaving in the States too!
Definitely one of the best gifts of the year was Erotica, 2011 — three days of fabulous, delicious naughtiness at the Olympia Convention Centre in London. And Raymond and I were there for all three! We had the pleasure of working with the terrific folks from Xcite Books, doing readings, panels and selling and signing LOTS of books written by yours
truly. In the midst of all the thongs and corsets and whips and nosebleed stilettos, I was the one with the ear-to-ear smile.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, at the end of the day, it’s the gift of people that matters more than anything else, and I’ve had so many fabulous people surround me this year that it’s impossible to come close to expressing how they’ve enriched my life. This was the year that I got to know the folks at Xcite Books a little better. Hazel Cushion, Matt Peterson, Peter Newsom, and the lovely Miranda Forbes. You all are totally amazing. Thanks for all you do.
This was the year I got involved with Fannying Around, Sarah Berry’s fantastic brainchild, and the source of a lot more new friends. Through a year of laughing and chatting and learning to appreciate our bodies, I’ve come to love and respect Sarah even more than I already did. Amazing hardly begins to describe this lovely lady.
For two years now, Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium has played a major role in my life by helping with research, supporting my work, and just being fabulous. It was love at first sight for me when I met these amazing Ladiez. They truly are modern-day heroines. Plus, they have great taste in eroticaJ I admire them more than I can ever say.
Brian and Von Spencer opened up the great outdoors for me, showed me how to use a compass and a map, and turned me lose in the Lake District to fall utterly and totally in love with the place. They have shown Raymond and me breath taking parts of the Lake District we might never have known to look for without them. They have inspired the Lakeland Heatwave Trilogy, and have
helped all along the way with the research. I admire them deeply, and I hope when I grow up I can be just like them!
There are two lovely women who have inspired me and encouraged me and been there for me through all the writing adventures of the past year. Lucy Felthouse, the fearless EP, is not only a promising young writer, but a PR and marketing person extraordinaire. She designed my fabulous website and has staved off many a panic attack for me as I venture into the
scary realms of PR and marketing. Lucy has taught me how to promote my brand, and bless her, that couldn’t have been an easy task. Don’t know how I would have managed without her.
The second lovely lady is the fabulous writer and even more fabulous person Kay Jaybee. Again it was love at first sight. Hon, the journey wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun without you. Your encouragement and fabulous sense of humour, and your loving spirit have been one of the best gifts of this year. Thanks for being you.
There are others, lots of others. My life is rich because of the people in it, and they are, as always, the very best gifts. They are what give all the other gifts meaning.
The Gift of Love
And of course, you saw this coming, too, didn’t you? The best gift of all, the best gift for all our years together, is the gift of love. The one closest to my heart, the one who encourages me, stand by me, loves me, and keeps his head down when I’m not very loveable and the sh*t is hitting the fan, my lover and best friend, my husband, Raymond, the man who brings out the best in me and loves me through the worst. He is the man who is proud of me, the man who tells his friends that I use him for research. And he’s the man who is willing to don a pair of walking boots and walk across England with me. I’m a very lucky woman indeed.
Happy Navel Gazing!
I promised when Lucy and I began this website almost a year ago that I wouldn’t navel gaze, that I would do my best to make this blog a place worth visiting, and I’ve done my best to do that. But it’s that time of year, and navel gazing is as much a part of the season as mistletoe and cheesy Christmas music, so I figured you might, with the holiday spirit and all, be willing to forgive me just this one.
Having said that, I wish you good navel gazing as the year grows to a close. May 2012 be filled with love and laughter and challenges and adventure and many, many causes for celebration.