Happy New Year!

It’s hard for me to believe that 2012 is coming to a close. It’s been an incredible year –that has brought about huge growth and change for me as an author and as a person! I just reread the blog I wrote as last year was ending and it’s remarkable to me to see how much has changed in 12 short months. Last year at this time I’d just finalized the decision to publish Roving Pack through my own imprint, but I hadn’t yet shared that news with all of you (I announced those plans in January).  It seems unreal to me that now a year later the book has been out in the world for three months, and not only that but has connected to readers in ways that I never would have imagined.

This year much of my time was spent on the planning the production and then release of the novel. I’ve been humbled and overwhelmed by the incredible response from reviewers, publications, fellow authors and of course readers!  The pre-orders alone were far beyond my expectation and the excitement about the book has not slowed.  I’m so excited for 2013. Roving Pack has been nominated for a few different awards and my fingers are crossed really really tightly for all of those and to continue having the opportunity to correspond with readers all over the world who have been in someway touched and impacted by this story.

I’ve kept busy this year continuing to write my monthly column with Curve and guest articles and appearances places like The Bark and have had the chance to continue regularly contributing to Lambda Literary online.  Not only have I gotten the chance to read a number of incredible books before they released, I even had the chance to interview one of my literary heroes Jeanette Winterson and talk about our shared experiences of queer teen homelessness!

It’s been an incredible year of connecting with readers. Of course there was the magical Roving Pack national release at Bluestockings Bookstores here in NYC in October.  I also had the honor of organizing some wonderful literary events here in NYC – guest curating two Queer Memoir’s “Pets”  (click to see writeup in The Bark) in January and Queer Memoir:  “Leather” ( click to see writeup in Leatherati ) in March which was a fundraiser for Toni Amato’s Write Here, Write Now. (they are now doing an end of year donation appeal- donate if you can!) I also curated  s a “Dangerous Stories” reading event at the Rainbow Book Fair.  I’ve visited colleges, and then of course there was the 10 day, 5 cities Europe Tour that Kestryl and I organized this fall.  Touring with Roving Pack to Europe (my first time leaving North America) remains at the top of both the best career moments, and personal adventures I’ve ever had.  I think in a lot of ways I’m still processing everything that happened, all the connections that were made, and I’m so grateful for how well Roving Pack and I were received and how smoothly everything went.

In the final days of the year I’ve also been able to get Roving Pack available as an ebook – something I’m very excited about and feels like a great way to bring what has been an incredible year with this book to both a close, and opening a new chapter of the places this book will go next year.

In the midst of a year that was very much about Roving Pack I was approached to edit an anthology, a collection of BDSM fairy tales that became “Leather Ever After.”  This anthology pushed me in ways I hadn’t realized I needed to be pushed.  “Roving Pack” brought leather into the forefront of much of my work, and Leather Ever After (click to see our very new, and still under construction blog) really cemented its place in my writing and professional trajectory. Leather Ever After has been an incredibly fun anthology, and a year ago I never would have believed that something like this would fall into my lap! I’m ridiculously proud of how well the book came together, and with the quality and scope of the stories in this book.  It brings together a group of stellar Leather writers and I’m so honored to have my name listed as the editor.  The book will be releasing from Ravenous Romance very very early in 2013, and we will be having a big NYC release event at Bluestockings on February 13th with other events across the country organized by contributors to be announced soon.

One of the things that’s really come to the surface this years has been a profound rekindling of my passion for working with dogs.  I’ve talked on the blog about how adopting Charlotte last year really brought this, my oldest passion to the surface in a way that feels new and exciting and really inspiring. I’m working trick dog titling with Charlotte and exploring other ways to expand some of that work in my life.  I realize that this isn’t something that is necessarily of interest to some of you who are here because of my queer/leather/writing work. With that in mind I’ve started a new blog here called Tricky Tails: stories of a boy & hir dogs.  Where I’m posting training updates, videos, stories, and little ruminations on my life loving and training our dogs. Please check it out!

In the midst (and in so many ways because of) all the creative work I’ve been doing this year 2012 has also been quite the year for personal growth. I’ve challenged myself, and been challenged to really continue on the path of becoming the very best version of Sassafras that I can be, and the best boy I can be for my Daddy. I’ve had my challenges with whale legs (a term I’ve often used here on the blog to talk about fear/growth) and from those challenges is where the deepest growth comes from I believe.  On the whole 2012 has been a year where I felt like things have really clicked into place, where I’ve understood the work that I’m doing and where that is taking me. It’s also been a time of pushing through the kind of fears that previously literally ruled the ways in which I’ve understood myself in the world and comprehended my life, created family, relationships etc.

I’m so grateful as I realize that now the “normal” in my life truly has become a place of centeredness and integration where I feel as though I’m able to hold at the surface all the work that I do, not just a piece of it. I think that’s been one of the greatest blessings of having been able to bring Roving Pack into the world.  A year ago I was that queer that talked about queer youth homelessness, and in some ways only queer youth homelessness.  A sophomore book is always complicated, and I worried greatly how this noel would exist in the shadow of Kicked Out, and now looking back at the last year I realize that it is truly a separate entity that exists in its own right, and has given me the opportunity to do the same, to do work that is much more diverse and gives me the springboard to continue to grow and develop personally and artistically.

I’m so excited to be sitting here on the edge of the New Year and have an array of projects that are in the works.  Of course the release of Leather Ever After is nearly upon me, and I can’t wait to share this fun new book with all of you. I’m still finalizing bits and pieces of my touring schedule but I’ll for sure be at Florida State University in Tallahassee in the late spring, and then in New Orleans for the 10th annual Saints & Sinners Literary Festival!  I’m so thrilled to be part of the programming for S&S- it’s a lit event I’ve heard incredible things about and to be there presenting and reading is a tremendous honor.  While at the conference I’m going to have a chance to take a master level course from Dorothy Allison who is my biggest literary hero.

January 1st I’m also free to begin working on my next book – another novel titled Lost Boi. I’m a bit of a workaholic and unless I set hard rules (lets be real – unless those are set *for * me – one of the ways that leather and D/s makes me a better artists) about giving myself a defined break between finishing a book and starting the next one I’m prone to working myself into burnout exhaustion.  I have so many ideas it can sometimes pace myself. waiting to begin this book has been a challenge.  However, I know the break in significant writing (since I finished writing Roving Pack a year ago) strengthens the writing, hones the characters, and tightens the story(ies) that I want to tell. I know without the enforced break after completing Kicked Out (when I was incredibly burned out and exhausted) I never would have been able to write a book like Roving Pack. Ultimately, I believe it’s important to take breaks, to enjoy the special moments (did I mention I get to go to Disney World in two weeks?!), and to not push myself too hard as I begin work on new projects. That is a skill that definitely doesn’t come naturally to me but with a lot of support I’ve been able to develop the boundaries I need to give myself space to rejuvenate creatively, and to plan timelines for big projects (like a new book).

Roving Pack as my debut novel was in some ways an experiment. I wasn’t sure if I could write a book length manuscript. What I hadn’t expected when I began working on that book was to fall in love, not only with it but with fiction writing.  As I was finishing the writing of Roving Pack the idea for my next book came and I’ve been marinating ideas in back corners of my brain since then.  When the clock hits midnight tonight I’ll officially begin working on Lost Boi –  a modern gutterpunk Peter Pan retelling where readers are swept away into the world of lost bois living on societies fringes in squats and on the street. The orphaned/abandoned/runaway lost bois have banded together with the fairies against their sworn enemies – culturally appropriative urban primitives, and gentrifying pirates. The bois fight, fuck and have adventure in a world of kinky created family and hierarchy as they struggle to survive and resist the forces of their biggest enemy of all – grownups.

2012 has been a year that far exceeded my plans and expectations. I’ve been given the opportunity to do incredibly exciting work and share it with you, my community. I am so looking forward to 2013 and diving into new projects, and creative adventures and sharing it with all of you!