One year ago today, Fireside Magazine published The Revolution, Brought To You By Nike. It was a wish, a prayer, my desperate hope for something that might come to pass if all of us just believed in it hard enough. In the few weeks between Fireside agreeing to buy it and the piece actually running, we saw airport protests and record-shattering donations to the ACLU. I had a strange, glorious fear that my wish might come true, and perhaps we’d see a resignation even before the story had a chance to run. That my work would be obsolete on arrival.

Yeah, so that didn’t happen. 

One year on, though, it’s become clear that we’re running a marathon and not a sprint. The adrenaline and raw terror of what America might become have given way to a sort of grim resolve. Like so many of us, I’m still angry, I’m still upset, but I no longer feel like I can’t see a way we’ll make it through as a single functioning nation. It doesn’t feel like the entire world has literally ended and all goodness and light have been extinguished, the way that it truly did a year ago.

That’s not to say that all of us are going to be just fine, because that’s decidedly not true. Great harm is being done every day, particularly by ICE — families are being torn apart, innocents harassed and deported. The great work of our nation is being dismantled, piece by piece: science, public health, civic protections. The most vulnerable among us will be paying the price for years to come.

Actual goddamn Nazis are on the national stage, as if a pair of khakis and a white polo shirt could make anything at all seem sensible. Corruption in government is all but yawn-worthy, something to expect and not to be shocked by.

But now, after a year, we know the shape of the problem we’re up against. Further, we know that the villains running this circus are laughably incompetent and lacking in anything approaching a grand strategy. We know that change can come in elections in places like Missouri, Virginia and Alabama — and if there, then surely everywhere else. We know that the courts are not going to roll over and let every horror come to pass without a fight, and we know that the Department of Justice is investigating the many wrongs of this administration — and has been for at least two years now.

Most important of all, we know — we keep seeing it, time and again — that there are more of us than there are of them. And by “us” I mean: people who think a society should take care of absolutely everybody. People who care about the struggles even of those we have never met and never will. People who think we have a responsibility toward one another.

This is an endurance game, and my friends, the advantage is genuinely ours the longer the clock runs down. We have each other, and we have the resolve to act. That means it’s not going to be like this forever.  And in the meanwhile, there’s so much to do. We have a duty to do any little thing we can and use whatever power we possess to try to make the world kinder, safer, more compassionate — or to be a thorn in the side of power, if that’s more your speed.

None of us has to save the world alone, thank god. But all of us can save the world together. It just takes time, that’s all. 

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2011 in Review

Continuing my tradition of slightly-too-early year-in-review posts, I'd like to take a good look back at 2011. This has been one hell of a year for me, you guys. And when I say that, imagine that I'm saying it with a film noir delivery, the way a detective might mutter it as the smokin' champagne blonde walks out: one hell of a year. Amazing. Almost too much for me. 

Client Work

So what made it such a big year? Well, there was my launch season, for starters: Between February and June, I launched so, so many projects. Six? Eight? Nine hundred? I can't even keep track myself. There was The Maester's Path for HBO Game of Thrones, Big Chill, Floating City, America 2049, Drunk and On Drugs Happy Funtime Hour, Neuro's QuestFour Codes and Keys... and that's not including any number of pitches, concepts, or skunkworks proposals that didn't pan out. 

That makes it look like I was a lot more industrious than I really am, mind you. The bulk of America 2049 was written last year, for example, as was Drunk and On Drugs. That said, through the first half of the year, I was continuously working on four projects at any given time. I'd close one out and sign a new contract before I could even archive the old folder. 

It was an enlightening experience. For one thing, I learned that my stamina and brain capacity for doing multiple projects at once is vastly better than I'd thought. I was stretched to my limit doing this much, to be sure, but it was fun. I like being juuuuuust to the point of overbooked, and no further.

But I finally learned how to say no this year, too. I actually turned away one or two projects that I would have dearly loved to be involved with, and working with people I think are phenomenal, simply because there weren't enough hours in a day. Heartbreaking, but it's a good problem to have. 

Indie Work

Not all of the doings this year were for clients, of course. On top of all of that big-picture client work, I did a number of indie and personal projects. Some of them were small: I contributed tiny shorts to Pandemic and Wanderlust, and enjoyed doing both things tremendously.

But I did some bigger things, too. This summer, we finally went public with Balance of Powers and put up a Kickstarter which funded so quickly and with such enthusiasm that I grew misty-eyed on several occasions. (We're chugging away on building it right now.) That experience later inspired me to put my short story Shiva's Mother on Kickstarter, as well, and the response for that completely blew me away. 

And then there's that whole book thing. Last year, I wrote that I was thinking about turning my Writing for Transmedia series into a whole book. That very post prompted Guy Gonzalez to introduce me to Jason Allen Ashlock, who ultimately signed me to represent A Creator's Guide to Transmedia Storytelling, and in short order sold it to McGraw-Hill. I got the contract on my birthday in July, I finished the draft the night before I left for StoryWorld, and it's coming out in June of 2012.

I'm still trying to process how all of this fits into my self-image where I'm just a scrappy freelancer trying to make a little noise so somebody will hire her. Have I mentioned that it's been one hell of a year for me?

Now and in 2012

Right now, as was the case this time last year, I am completely unemployed and a little nervous about it, despite my blockbuster year otherwise. I think every freelancer hits a quiet spell like this and thinks, "Well, it was a good ride while it lasted, but this is the point where it all goes downhill and I'll never work again." (Or is it just me?)

I do have some projects penciled in for next year, but that said, I also have lots of room on my dance card not yet spoken for -- so if you've got something cooking you might like me to help out on, please do get in touch. ...Especially if you already have a greenlight and a budget?

But 2012 isn't going to be a quiet year, no matter what. For one thing, A Creator's Guide will come out in June. (Actually, I've found a link where you can apparently pre-order it already in Canada!) But I think I need a game plan for what to do in 2012 even if no client work materializes, it being part of my long game to become more self-sufficient. So this is what I'm thinking of doing:

The biggest thing I want to knock off my list is my ChoiceScript game Superior, which has become my white whale. I've been promising to do this project for, what, two years now? And I love this idea. I love this project. I have substantial portions of it mapped out! But whenever I get serious about working on it, something comes up, whether it's paying work, travel, injury, or just plain old burnout. But hear me now: Superior is going to exist within the next 90 days, and it is going to be as funny as I know how to make it. And also completely debugged!

Given the success of Shiva's Mother, I may also do some more experimenting with short fiction and/or Kickstarter in 2012. I'm not yet sure what form that will take. If you have a suggestion for something you'd particularly love to see from me, I'm dying to hear about it.

Then there's Revision, my snarky, pacey novel about a wiki where your edits come true. This is the year I'm going to do something with it, one way or the other. If I haven't been able to bring it to publishers by, say, the end of the summer, it'll be time to think about going nontraditional through Kickstarter, Kindle, or other means. 

And of course there's still my big long-term fiction strategy -- I have that plan for a contemporary fantasy YA transmedia book series. The working title is Felicity. I don't have a complete proposal for it, yet, but I'll have one thrown together by probably February, and then I'll be on the lookout for publishers and production companies to partner with to make it happen.

And in Conclusion

Sooooo that was my 2011. One hell of a year. I should really update my portfolio or something, huh?

I of course couldn't have done it without any of several dozen close friends, colleagues, and clients supporting me, encouraging me, hiring me. I am constantly amazed at how generous and truly warm the transmedia community is; I am nothing without you. And I mean it. If I were a better person I'd be sending out about two hundred baskets of cookies I baked myself while contemplating your many kindnesses with loving gratitude.

So here's hoping your 2011 was just as good, and that for all of us, 2012 rocks the pants off 2011 so hard that we'll wonder why we were ever impressed with it. And I think that's enough navel-gazing from me for one day.

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Cloudmakers Plus Ten

Ten years ago today, a man named Cabel Sasser started a Yahoo! group called Cloudmakers to help keep better track of the funny things they'd been talking about over at AICN. The rest is, of course, history.

Now I'd like to reach out to my fellow Cloudmakers to ask where you are today. Was the game just a blip on your radar? Did it change the course of your life irrevocably, like it did for me? Something in between? C'mon into comments and share. Or just wallow in the nostalgia a little. There's plenty of room for everyone.

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Take Our Survey, Please!

Over at ARGology, I've posted a link to the first-ever ARG community demographic survey, which has an added-on salary survey for those of us who participate in making ARGs for money. But please, take the survey even if you're a player who's never remotely wanted to make an ARG. The information on who ARG players are is just as important!

We're going to be very open about the results from this survey. I'm hoping to get a rough picture of who ARG players are, who ARG developers are, and hopefully also get some public information out on what kind of rates ARG professionals are charging. This should help freelancers like me judge if their quotes are in line with the rest of the field, and help employers with a ballpark in budgeting, so hopefully a net good all around. 

Please, go and take the survey now! And help spread the word to other ARG players and creators. The more participation we get, the more reliable our data will be. Thanks so much!

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