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text 2018-01-04 07:58
My 2017 writing year in review

This is a review of my writing for 2017. You couldn't call it a success, nor could you call it a failure since something would have had to have been achieved in the first place. Get what I'm saying? If you've never been up how can you be down?


If you don't, well, that's okay since I write this for myself to put the previous year in perspective.


Last year I decided to see what it would be like to take part in public readings and conduct writing seminars. The idea was to raise my profile while at the same time sell my books at these events.


It didn't take much to get booked for both, but the experience was not very satisfying, akin to pitching from behind a table you've rented at a flea market. After my initial experiences I didn't look for more opportunities. Sales just aren't that important to me.


The only thing I self-published was a novella, The Rocker and the Bird Girl. It began as an experiment on Inkitt to see if a shallow story about a rock star and a young woman who ran a bird sanctuary would be popular with the juvenile readers who populate that site. Unfortunately, or fortunately - I'm not sure which, I was soon having so much fun with this story and became so enamored with my characters (though very few Inkitt followers did) I decided to pull it from that site and self-publish it.


Novellas for "New Adults" (protagonist between eighteen and thirty) seem to be trendy likely due to the diminishing attention span of this age group and the fact they're read on cellphones during commutes. Quite unexpectedly I discovered I had a lot of story ideas for this heroine and I could easily expand it into a series. Series, according to the "experts" sell better than stand-alones so what the hell, nothing else is working.


Despite a thorough launch for The Rocker and the Bird: listed as a pre-order on Smashwords three weeks in advance of publishing, email ARC copies to my Advance Reading Team, giveaways on Booklikes and Library Thing, two weeks free on Smashwords, free with coupon on my website, and promoted unabashedly on my social media accounts  - it so far has had two reviews and no sales.


Undeterred, the second in The Mattie Saunders Series, Cold Blooded, is set to be self-published in March of this year. Here's the blurb:


"When a suspicious death at the The Reptile Refuge closes it down, Mattie receives a desperate call from Liz, an old friend from high school, asking if it's possible to temporarily board some reptiles at Saunders Bird Sanctuary. Mattie's not concerned with the circumstances and sees it as an opportunity to reconnect with Liz as well as help some animals in distress.

Unwittingly, Mattie's drawn into a dark intrigue and soon discovers it's not just the displaced inhabitants of The Reptile Refuge that are cold blooded."


Still determined to break into traditional publishing I spent the balance of last year polishing the manuscript of East Van Saturday Night - four short stories and a novella and submitting it to Canadian publishers. The list of rejections continues to increase from those publishers gracious enough to send me one.


What's ahead?


This year, as mentioned, the second in my series will be self-published, the third is already outlined (okay, only in my head, but it's only January 4th) and a first draft will be written, plus I'll continue to work on another full length novel with the working title, The Triumvirate - three exceptional people, one insurmountable challenge. I've already stopped submitting East Van Saturday Night and, once the disappointment abates somewhat will take another look at the entire project.


Promotions of my backlist are also a consideration for 2018.


Book sales from all sources in 2017 amounted to $174.44. Expenses including book proofs, book orders and postage totaled $253.88. You can draw your own conclusions.


Oddly enough I'm optimistic. Why not?


Besides, writing for me is its own reward - really.


Stand calm, be brave, watch for the signs.




Sites associated with this blog:




My Amazon book page



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text 2017-12-31 02:31
2017: The year I crunched the numbers.

Ah, 2017, the year I'll always look back on as the one where I realised the world was going to hell.  It's also the year I've read the most books in a 12 month period, EVER.  I do not think this was a coincidence.


What is a coincidence is that the last book I read this year is all about statistics, and that my 2017 post is chock full of stats.  Honest coincidence; I'd compiled all the numbers before even starting that book.


I read 273 books this year.


HUGE increase.  LOTS of short books in there inflating the numbers, but still a massive increase year over year.  Can't say why, but probably a mixture of the BL games and MT and I making more time for reading. 


A month or so ago, a challenge went up around BL (and the web) for 2018, to read more women authors, which sounded fun, but I was sure I already read more women authors than men.  Then I thought, how embarrassing would it be if I were wrong?  I decided to figure it out, which led to my stats heavy post this year.  (All math is approximate; I tallied up the stats about 6 books ago; RL and my deep abiding hatred of math might have interfered with the accuracy of some figures.)


Of the 273/275 books I read this year:


170 were authored by women;

86 by men (inc. anthologies edited by a man);

16 male/female author teams;

1 N/A (an NPR audio thing).





Fiction vs. Non-fiction


I read 174 Fiction books;

96 Non-fiction;

2 books of poetry.




Of the fiction books I read,

75 Cozies (4 M/71 F);

25 Traditional Mystery (14 M/11 F);

20 Historical Mystery (7 M/13 F);

20 Urban Fantasy (3 M/17 F).




Of the Non-fiction books I read,

Science (13 M/10 F/1 team);

27 History (15 M/9 F/3 team);

14 Books about books (11 M/2 F/1 team);

9 Memoirs (2 M/7 F).



I read 7 Audiobooks this year (5 M/1 F /1 team)


I was either very generous or very lucky this year; might have been a bit of both, along with a large dollop of being very picky:

26 reads were 5 stars;

52 reads were 4.5 stars;

97 reads were 4 stars.


On the flip side, I had 2 books that I gave 0 stars to (only 1 of which was a DNF), and 2 books that I rated 1 star.

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text 2017-12-23 09:22
2017: My Reading Year in Review

I’ve been reading a ton of fiction in 2017, which has been so good for the soul and also gave me the little kick I needed to start writing some fiction of my own once again. 2017 neatly encapsulates why I believe we need critics. And never more so than now when any Indie Author can epublish any old book he or she's written. Paradoxically, given all the web-shouting about evil traditional publishers who wilfully smother the voices of debut authors, self-publishing has made good new authors harder to find. The wheat:chaff ratio is now fantastically asymmetric. I've read enough to already have a to-be-read list that I will never get through in my lifetime. I have neither the time nor a pair of rubber gloves strong enough to sift through the all the world's self-epublished rubbish to find a pearl that fell into the bin. So if I am to hear about fine debut voices and books, I need well-read critics (praise be some of my fellow Booklikes critics) to do some work for me.


If you're into this sort of thing, read on.

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text 2017-01-09 17:50
2016: Year in Review

I've been trying to post this for days with little success.


Anyway, 2016 was a very weird year. Not just for reading, of course, but my reading was most certainly affected by it. I went through a pretty solid reading slump and I've yet to really pick up the pace, though I'm hoping my desire to up my political and historical reading might give me the incentive that I need.


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text 2017-01-01 08:48
2016: The (fiction) books I liked best
An Inquiry Into Love and Death - Simone St. James
The Madwoman Upstairs - Catherine Lowell
Old Herbaceous: A Novel of the Garden - Reginald Arkell
The Improbability of Love - Hannah Rothschild
As Death Draws Near - Anna Lee Huber
Bloom County Episode XI: A New Hope - Berkeley Breathed
Magic Binds - Ilona Andrews

My favourite fiction reads of 2016 were probably as varied as they've been been.  While once I was a tried and true mystery-or-bust sort of gal, my favourites this year only include 2 mysteries, both historical.  2 were popular fiction, something I almost never read; 1 an almost forgotten classic re-released, 1 Urban Fantasy and 1 collection of comics from my personal comic hero, Berkeley Breathed.


I had a lot fewer 5 star, books-I-want-to-hug in fiction but I had a lot more 4.5 star fiction reads this year.  It's been a great year for me reading-wise: while admittedly generous with my ratings, I rarely rate much 4.5 or 5 stars; I usually top out at 4 (something I'd re-read but not gush about).


My 4.5 star reads this year were:

Christmas at The Mysterious Bookshop

Lady Cop Makes Trouble

Girl Waits with Gun

Undeniably Yours

Stiff Competition

The Circular Staircase

The Locked-room Mysteries

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children


The Single Undead Moms Club

Dear Committee Members

A Bed of Scorpions

Design for Dying

The Curse of Tenth Grave

The Semester of Our Discontent

The Canterville Ghost

The Folio Book of Comic Short Stories

The Other Side of Midnight

Something Rotten

The House at the End of Hope Street

Marked In Flesh

Fire Touched

Faux Paw

Daisies For Innocence


My first love, mysteries, make a very strong showing in the 4.5 star list.  Lots of cozies, of course, and historicals, and lots of UF, but a couple of classics and some great literature are on this list too as well as some YA and a sneaky contemporary fiction.


Overall, I'd incredibly pleased with my reading this year; I broke my personal record for most books read, yes, but I'm even more thrilled with how much broader my reading has become.  I even read a Science Fiction book this year!  *gasp*.  (I still don't like SF.)  This is 100% because of this community.  I've said it before, but it bears repeating:  I owe my TBR mountain range entirely to this community.  Without all of you I'd still be reading all cozies, all the time.  So thank you, and keep 'em coming!

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