Last night, I wrote about my hope, my not-hope, and my forever-hope, all threaded through with the discouraging guanoshow that was 2016 A.D.
Today, I turn my mind and heart to lovelier things. When it came to reading and writing, 2016 was one of my best years ever. 🙂
On Reading in 2016
In 2016, I started reading 67 books, and I finished 64 of them. (The unfinished 3, I just couldn’t get into or enjoy, but I won’t mention them by title.) That’s 17 more books than I read in 2015, and I credit intentionality for the difference. Last year at this time, I purposed to read as many women authors as possible. At some point, my to-read list and to-read stack basically exploded. When the rumblings echoed away and the dust settled, I found a SMORGASBORD BOUNTY OF WOMEN’S VOICES, and I devoured them with vigor. YUMBLY IN MY READER TUMBLY.
This was the first time in my life I’ve read so many women in the space of a year, AND IT WAS GLORIOUS.
These voices rang fresh and clear in my mind. They reverberated with beauty and sorrow, disgust and joy. They spoke things I’d never before heard. They made me laugh and cry and think. They inspired me to write more. They inspired me to write more freely.
Reading these women, I found myself living the reality that I could write as they do, unbound by shackles.
HALLELUJAH I’M FREE
But more on my writing later. First, their writings.
Books I Read in 2016
Asterisks indicate particular favorites.
- The Singular and Extraordinary Tale of Mirror and Goliath by Ishbelle Bee ***
- Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke *
- Letters from Rifka by Karen Hesse *
- Journey to America by Sonia Levitin
- Dark Beyond the Stars edited by David Gatewood *
- Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas *
- Servant of the Underworld (Obsidian and Blood, #1) by Aliette de Bodard
- Lagoon by Nnedi Okorafor *
- The Giver by Lois Lowry *
- A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab *
- When the Silence Ends by Jade Kerrion
- In the Woods by Tana French *
- The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin **
- Gateway to Reality (Reality Series #1) by Becca J. Campbell
- Kushiel’s Chosen (Kushiel’s Legacy, #2) by Jacqueline Carey
- “The Father Hunt” (A Flawed Story) by Becca J. Campbell
- The Selection (The Selection, #1) by Kiera Cass
- The Likeness by Tana French *
- Kushiel’s Avatar (Kushiel’s Legacy, #3) by Jacqueline Carey *
- Open Minds (Mindjack Saga, #1) by Susan Kaye Quinn *
- A Wind in the Door (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #2) by Madeleine L’Engle
- Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1) and short story “Glitches” by Marissa Meyer *
- The Haunting of Gillespie House by Darcy Coates
- Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson, The Bloggess **
- The Three by Sarah Lotz
- Blood Oranges by Caitlín R. Kiernan writing as Kathleen Tierney
- Hopeful Monsters by Hiromi Goto
- You by Caroline Kepnes **
- Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
- Quiet Dell by Jayne Anne Phillips
- The False Princess by Eilis O’Neal
- Sword-Bound (The Sword-Dancer Saga, #7) by Jennifer Roberson
- The Dead-Tossed Waves by Carrie Ryan
- The Wild Road (Book 3 of Karavans) by Jennifer Roberson
- Timebound (The Chronos Files, #1) by Rysa Walker *
- Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes
- The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude *
- Just One Damn Thing After Another (The Chronicles of St. Mary’s, Book 1) by Jodi Taylor *
- Of Bone and Steel and Other Soft Materials, a short story by Annie Bellet
- The Paper Magician (Paper Magician Series, #1) by Charlie N. Holmberg *
- The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, #1) by Maggie Stiefvater **
- Tiny Bites: A Collection by Stacy Claflin
- Kindred by Octavia Butler *
- The Danish Way of Parenting by Jessica Joelle Alexander and Iben Dissing Sandahl *
- Asylum by Madeleine Roux
- The Keepers of the House by Shirley Ann Grau
- Dead as a Doornail (Sookie Stackhouse, #5) by Charlaine Harris
- Strange Angels by Lili St. Crow
- Toning the Sweep by Angela Johnson
- Candles Burning by Tabitha King and Michael McDowell
- Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver
- The Christening Quest by Elizabeth Scarborough
- Ill Wind (Weather Warden, #1) by Rachel Caine *
- Trey of Swords by Andre Norton
- Uprooted by Naomi Novik **
- The Book of the Unnamed Midwife (The Road to Nowhere, 1) by Meg Elison *
- The Fading Dusk (Smoke and Mirrors #1) by Melissa Giorgio
- The Leaving by Tara Altebrando *
- Jinian Footseer by Sheri S. Tepper
- The Kraken Sea by E. Katherine Tobler
- Allison Hewitt Is Trapped by Madeleine Roux *
- The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope *
- A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness **
- The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts *
Recalling these stories is like thinking back on the utter joy and satisfaction surrounding delectable holiday meals. Here’s hoping for even greater tastiness in 2017.
So…what *is* in store for 2017 A.D.’s To-Read List?
Well…lemme tell ya. The other day, during our family’s roadtrip back to Oklahoma from our Florida-panhandle Christmas, I decided to head a head start on my reading list for this year. I already had a few titles and authors in mind, but I hadn’t collected them all in one place yet. Here’s the tentative reading plan so far; the only order is “ladies first” again (with a single exception):
Currently reading: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
Man’s Search for Meaning, Frankl
Sarah Maas, Throne of Glass 2
Aliette de Board, Obsidian & Glass 2
Lowry’s The Giver sequel
Schwab, A Gathering of Shadows
more from Kerrion’s Double Helix series?
Tana French on nightstand (that’s not the title, it’s where I’ve stacked the book)
Jemisin, 100k Kingdoms 2
Cass, The Selection 2
Quinn, Mindjack 2
Meyer, Cinder 2
Bloggess, Furiously Happy
Carrie Ryan 3
Walker, Timebound 2
Taylor, St. Mary’s 2
Holmberg, Paper Magician 2
Stiefvater, Raven Boys 2
Sookie Stackhouse #6
Caine, Weather Warden 2
Lilith Saintcrow, Night Shift
Delilah Dawson, Three Lives of Lydia
Ellison, Road to Nowhere 2
Harkness, Discovery of Witches 2
Kepnes, Hidden Bodies
St Crow, Strange Angels 2
The Power, Naomi Alderman
Slipping, Lauren Beukes
Wake of Vultures, Lila Bowen
Fifth Season, Jemisin
Thin Air, Paver
Copper Promise, Williams
Wendig: Aftermath, Invasive, Thunderbird
Nod, Adrian Barnes
Dark Matter, Blake Crouch
My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Hendrix
NOS4A2, Joe Hill
Versailles, Yannick Hill
Mongrels, Stephen Graham Jones
Paper Menagerie, Liu
Lovecraft Country, Ruff
Well, then. There’s my 2017 reading list already more than halfway sorted, and the year isn’t even a day old yet. And so it goes.
On (W)riting in 2016
Compared to previous recent years, I accomplished quite a bit in 2016. Not as much as I’d planned — I published only one book instead of two — but I ain’t kicking myself over it.
Not too much, anyway. 😉
In tags list at the end of this post, please to be clicking “The Elevator” for more details about this novel. For now, I’ll just say that I consider The Elevator my best published work to-date. As of this writing, it has but one Amazon review to its name, which makes me sad for it. Completely objectively and also quite biasedly, I think the book deserves more. Apparently, others’ mileage varies. Oh well. Can’t make everypony happy, and I long ago decided not even to try. 😉
But come on. It’s a space fantasy adventure with a chaotic psychopath, a cross-dimensional traveler, a vampire, a mech-woman, and two adorable smartass street urchins, all tied up in the nature of Reality at the heart of the multiverse. Who wouldn’t want to read that?
Don’t answer that. Unless it’s with a resounding silence in which you fork over money for my book. In that case, BRING IT ON.
Ohhhhh, did I ever have such plans to publish this anthology in 2016!
Alas and alack, ’twas not to be.
I just ran out of oomph, y’all. In its final eleventh, 2016 managed to plaster me with that guano I mentioned before, and I didn’t cleanse myself of the disgusting sludge in time to hit “publish.” The short story collection *is* complete, minus a couple of touch-ups. I even have the cover art, thanks to fabulously talented Sam Hunt. All that’s left is to put in some butt-to-chair time to get the book out into all y’all’s greedy little reader hands.
Come on, I know you want it. 😉
Soon, my inklings. SOON.
Writerly To-Dos for 2017
What’s next? Well, that’s an excellent question, dearies. In early December 2016, I counted up the number of projects I could possibly turn to next — after taking care of the pesky pubbing details I mentioned above, of course. The count numbered 9. I repeat, NINE.
Nine project ideas with equal potential for becoming my next completed work.
People ask writers where we get our ideas. The better question is how can we NOT get ideas, so that we have space and time enough to work with the ideas we do have.
When it comes to writers’ ideas, picture a closet with all the junk just shoved in and the door slammed shut, in which each junky-seeming object represents a story or character idea. Except that the closet is actually a warehouse the size of Montana.
That’s why we never need people to tell us *their* ideas for a story *we* “should” write. Our ideas warehouse is already filled to bursting at the seams. Dude. The roof has practically exploded off. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT’S GOOD AND TRUE AND WRITERLY IN THIS WORLD, DON’T STUFF ANYTHING ELSE IN THERE
*ahem* But I digress.
In trying to figure out what to work on next, I enumerated and described my options to my writer friend Becca. She listened and asked pointed questions. Simply through conversing about my dilemma and sifting through the story ideas in my mind, I realized that I kept coming back with excitement to one particular idea:
the story of Taeven Ravenhair.
Taeven makes a cameo appearance in The Dying of the Light (Legends of the Light-Walkers 3) and gets a mention in Rethana’s Trial (Legends of the Light-Walkers 2). I penned the first 12k words of her tale for NaNoWriMo back in 2004 — and promptly screeched to a halt because I had no clue which word should be number 12,001. The story’s been shelved ever since.
But in 12 years, Taeven has never left me alone. She’s not naturally a patient person, but she has exerted a monumental amount of self-control, waiting her turn. So, as I shared a bit of Taeven with a fellow writer, suddenly it all turned crystal clear:
2017 is the year in which Taeven finally gets a real voice.
Of course, as soon as I decided this, I frantically typed out four pages of notes and then started writing a completely different story.
And so it goes, right? Busy, busy, busy.
This new story, currently entitled The Flight of Elfled unBlessed isn’t part of my Legends of the Light-Walkers series, but it does take place in that universe. It promises to be a novella, so I’m hoping it won’t take up too much of early 2017. But more on it later.
Taeven’s story has gathered dust under the title The Bearers of the Stones. I never really liked it, so I tried to come up with something more suitable while I was taking those four pages of notes. As of a couple of weeks ago, Taeven’s story is entitled Sister of the Black Flame — subject to change at my writerly whim. AH THE POWER MUAH-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAAA
So. 2017 shall be:
- pubbing Light-Walker shorts collection
- first draft of Taeven’s story, hopefully final draft
- Elfled’s story
- getting paperbacks prepped and on sale pages for all the longer works
For now. 😉