2008 in Review

Everyone else is doing it, so why can’t I?

I’ve been off my computer and off the internet for the past week. It’s actually been quite a freeing experience. The last month was an incredibly stressful one, professionally, so removing myself from the merry-go-round/echo chamber/take-your-pick was actually quite relaxing and recharging. I’ve been able to think quite a lot about my work, especially the second killer unicorn book, which is shaping up nicely. I don’t really talk about it much on the blog, but that’s primarily because nothing i say will make sense to people who haven’t even read the first one. There are more killer unicorns.

(In passing, the winner of the box o’ books giveaway is LIVIANA.)

I’ve also been able to reflect some on the year that’s passed, which I had not taken stock of in the slightest. This has been a huge year for me,and one in which I’ve always, always been playing catch up. I have never not been behind in some major way. I hope to change that pattern next year.

So, 2008…

Diana in CerverteriOn January 1st, Sailor Boy and I left for a research trip to Europe. It was a miserable trip. SB was sick for the first half of it (like, “perhaps we need to find a hospital here in Naples” sick) and I got an unrelated illness by the end of the trip, resulting in the most uncomfortable plane ride of my life (I begged him to put me out of my misery the entire way back over the Atlantic, during which my ears did not pop in the slightest), and two weeks of “in bed, do not want to get up” abject misery. Scene from my birthday, which occurred a few weeks after:

SB: What do you want to do for your birthday?

Me: (sniffling) Um, get me some nice takeout and a very special movie from Netflix?

It was BAD.

However, I don’t regret the trip. The research I was able to do for Rampant brought the book alive in a way I hope shows up on the pages. Location scouting, man. It’s a blast. It’s actually quite funny to look at these pictures now, since I spent so many months putting them into a book. On one level, I know this (left) is the cloisters at the Basilica of San Giovanni in Laterano, the cathedral of Rome, but in my heart it’s the Cloisters of Ctesias, which in Rampant is actually just down the hill. Discovering this cloisters, especially given how many in-cloisters scenes I’d already written, was a truly incredible gift. It was like seeing my book come alive. The second great discovery of the trip was Cerverteri (pictured above). I’d already planned on setting a big scene there, but visiting it gave me the ability to interact with the setting a good deal more and really dig in there

Sadly, a research trip was unnecessary for book 2.

I got better by the end of the month, and flew to Florida for a writing retreat with TARA, whereupon I discovered a bit of a mix-up between when I thought my next book was due and when my editor did. Cue panicked fevered writing and editing for the next three months. (I also managed to squeeze a NINC conference in there somewhere.)

I finished up just in time to attend another writing retreat, this one with my critique partner Carrie Ryan. Lots of drinking with Kresley Cole and Amanda Brice ensued. (No wonder Sailor Boy doesn’t trust that I work at these things!)

On a personal note, SB and I spent a good amount of time that spring looking for houses. No luck.

And, just like that, it was summer. Summer, the relaunch of my website, and the release of Rites of Spring (Break). I did three signings (one with Nora Roberts!), and had a lot of fun with my promotional Rose & Grave tattoos. Reviews of the book were generally good, and I made a best of summer list with none other than Salman Rushdie. My favorite part, however, was seeing all the comments appearing on the ROSB discussion page. This book was a huge turning point in the series, and I was pleased to see it connect with so many readers. I also got my first fan art.

Also, I got to see my first two foreign editions released, as Secret Society Girl came out in Russia and Brazil.

In July, Sailor Boy and I found a house. More whirlwind, as we barreled toward closing and all that entailed (finding a mortgage, home inspectors, packing, moving, etc.) compounded by the fact that SB was studying for his bar exam.

July 29-30: SB takes exam.
August 1: Close on house.
August 2: Leave for honeymoon.
August 15: Return from honeymoon, move into house.

During this time, we also managed to get ourselves a puppy, whom we picked up on August 17. Of course, you all know and love Rio, the ersatz star of this blog. I can’t believe how big she’s gotten since this picture was taken. Of all the amazing, extraordinary things that have happened to me this year, I really think the addition of this dog into my life tops the list.

Anyway, back to work. As the whirlwind of house and puppy-acquisition drew to a close, I threw myself into finishing up Tap & Gown, the last SSG book. I felt so nostalgic about the characters, I started the secret story project. I received the cover of my first YA. I received the cover of T&G.

I did a LOT of dog-walking.

With the fall, came the election, and I grew obsessed. I practically lived on fivethirty-eight.com. I settled into our new neighborhood, SB settled into his new job, Rio settled into life as a pampered puppy. I also got sick. Very, very sick. So sick that I tore a muscle in my ribs coughing. Twice in one year. I’m apparently a sickly person. SB and I had our first anniversary around this time, too, and I was well enough to go out for that.

Two couples close to me had babies. I did revisions for Tap & Gown and first pass for Rampant. I received the ARCs of Rampant. December rolled around, and life settled in enough for SB and I to buy some furniture and start really getting the house set up (it’s an ongoing project). We chose a design aesthetic and are slowly incorporating it into all elements of our home.

My family came for Christmas. Rio turned 6 months old on Christmas Day. I spent an entire week cooking. No, really, the whole week. Now my family is gone (sniff) and I am planning out my next few months of writing, spending quality time with SB, and cuddling Rio.

So that’s my year in review. Personally, it was a huge one: new house, new family members, major lifestyle changes. Professionally, it was more of an even keel. I didn’t sell any new contracts (a few foreign rights sales, though), though I did write two books and see three releases. This is the first year in a while there hasn’t been a major turning point in my career. In 2005, I sold my first book. In 2006, I saw my first release. In 2007, I sold my second and third contracts, one of which was my first YA. 2008, professionally, has been more about transitioning into a mature career – no longer a debut,no longer a sophomore effort — as well as gearing up for 2009: my first YA release, the conclusion of my first series, my first year with two book releases.

In terms of art consumption, I have to admit I’ve been generally more impressed with my television watching experiences than my book reading. The first half of the year was generally disappointing in terms of reading. I read a few historical romance novels I really liked (The new Madeline Hunter, the Sherry Thomas debut), which was great and renewed my interest in them (I’d been growing a little bored with historicals recently that weren’t also paranormal like Colleen Gleason’s series or Libba Bray’s). But I also read a bunch of hugely hyped books that were a let down. This fall, I hit a great streak of fabulous YA novels: Disreputable History, Gamer Girl, the Hunger Games, and Graceling, and 2009 is going to be awesome on that front, I just know it! (Mostly because I’ve read a lot of the books already.) I think in 2009, I’m going to have to go back to keeping a list of books I read, because I honestly can’t remember a lot of what I’ve read this year. Sailor Boy and I bought season tickets to a local theater, though the shows we’ve seen so far have been mostly duds, with the pleasant exception of THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY, a “documentary musical” about the evangelical Christian community in Colorado Springs. But my favorite art this year have been the TV shows: How I Met Your Mother, The Wire, Dexter. Movies? Eh. I’m having a hard time even remembering movies I saw this year. I liked Wall-E well enough, but it was no Incredibles. It’s hard to love a movie where you spend 75% of the time thinking to yourself, “If they kill this little robot, I’m going to march up to Pixar and slap John Lasster right in the kisser.” There’s emotional manipulation (with which I am more than familiar) and then there’s emotional manipulation. To be honest, I think my favorite was the documentary of the making of the Cirque de Soleil/Beatles show, LOVE.

So that’s it. My year in review. It was a very¬† challenging, very busy, very life-changing, very fulfilling year. I enjoyed it a lot, and I’m really looking forward to 2009, in which:

  • I turn 30.
  • Barack Obama becomes the President of the United States
  • I finish my office
  • Rampant is released
  • Tap & Gown concludes the Secret Society Girl series
  • Rio turns one
  • I write a book I’ve been excited about for a long time but haven’t had the chance to devote time to yet

As for goals… well, you just saw two of them. There are others, and other tentative plans, but they aren’t blog-ready yet.

Posted in diversions, giveaway winners, memes, movies, Rio, SB, series, sick, SSG, stats, trips, TV, unicorns, writing life

7 Responses to 2008 in Review

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  3. Dan says:

    Sounds like you’ve had a great 2008. I usually find that one year is rarely very different from another (maybe I should try harder to actually remember stuff that happens to me, hmm…).

    But, I will say this: like you, there are stacks and stacks of books that I’m looking forward to picking up in 2009.

  4. Alexa says:

    Sounds like a good year (apart from the sickness!) and 2009 sounds like it should be lots of fun too.

  5. Robin says:

    Happy New Year, Diana! May it be healthy and even better than this year.

  6. my girl says:

    thank you for your sharing information.

  7. Annie says:

    I’ve been very excited about your 2008! Especially the book release, the new house, and Rio! I do hope 2009 is another awesome year for you.