2019: Done and Dusted

Another year done and dusted. I have a week left of work and then I’m on holiday until after the New Year.

This one has been exhausting. I founded a new team at work and we published the first version of my new machine learning product in August, in an around a five week trip to Japan. I went back to University–again–and found myself an on-campus student for the first time in a couple of decades.

This year I’ve been absolutely hammered by colds and flu. I have been sick every month since July and during that time have lost four kilograms that, as gentleman who is shaped like a weed of unimposing height, I didn’t want to lose.

But I have achieved some stuff as well. My buddy Jason Fischer and I formalized our business partnership as Argonautica Press and we published three books between us–reprints of my first novel, Bloody Waters, and Jason’s first novel, Quiver, and then for closers my new novel, Shadowmancy. I’ve had nothing but encouragement for the whole cockamamie venture and it’s been a genuine pleasure working with Other Jason.

My novel Faerie Apocalypse made the Ditmar Awards finals. This is the first time I’ve made an appearance in the Ditmars and I was chuffed to be recognized. I wrote and sold one short story this year: a satirical SF story called “A Fair Go to Mars” in the War of the Worlds: Battleground Australia anthology, which I’m very proud of.

Comics-wise, a satirical superhero piece by me and my old mucker Jan Scherpenhuizen appeared in the SuperAustralians shared world comics project, and that was incredibly gratifying. The reception that book received at Oz Comic Con was like nothing I have ever witnessed and there’s a real sense of community around the project that I have missed. I guess I’ve grown away from the local comics scene as parenthood and my increasing focus on rose writing has occupied my time and it was just great to be in amongst it again. Also this year my late friend Ed Siemienkowicz’s memoir F*cking Forty was finally released and I am honoured to have contributed a page. Big thanks to Greg Vondruska for helping me look competent in such a sea of talent.

I also taught my Mechanics of Visual Storytelling webinar for Comics Mastermind twice, for the third year running. It is a genuine pleasure to interact with students who are passionate about learning the craft and as always, it’s terrific to work with the excellent Julie Ditrich at in the Mastermind Lair.

I also achieved a brown belt in jujutsu. It’s taken me 11 years to reach this level and it was the hardest physical ting I have ever had to do. Harder than fighting your way out of the loser’s pool on the repêchage into the finals in an individual fencing tournament. Harder than playing six quarters of Australian Rules football in a 24 hour period. Harder than an Olympic distance triathlon. I have a new facial scar to commemorate the activity, so I won’t forget that in a hurry.

What’s on for next year?

I have a satirical short comic with Bruce Mutard coming out in the charity anthology Shots Fired. Gourmand Go is inching towards completion and should be done quite soon, although I still don’t know how I’m going to publish it. I am working on two new novels and a commissioned short story and… well, I guess I need to finish this masters degree as well.

Thanks to everyone who has supported me through the year–my very patient wife, our very naughty son, my sainted parents, my business partner Jason Fischer, the artists who work hard to make me look good, and everyone who read something I wrote. Have an amazing new year and I’ll see you back in 2020.

— JF

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