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text 2018-12-28 08:44
2018 Reading in Review (Also 24 Tasks of the Festive Season: New Year Eve, Task #2)

Let's get the trite over with:  Wow, I can't believe 2018 is over already.


Ok.  As usual up until this point, my reading year was pretty good.  I say 'as usual' because I almost without exception buy my books, and am therefore pretty persnickety about my reads, creating a bias towards books I'll enjoy.   I say 'up until this point' because this year's trip home had me acquiring books with what could be called a wild abandon.  Some of them were free (book conference), and some of them so cheap I felt like I could afford to live on the edge.  So, coming years might not be so predictable. 


Anyway, here are some stats:

I read (to date - the year's not over yet) 226 books in 2018.


The ratings and subject breakdowns in pie charts:






I had 20 5 star reads; 4 of them were re-reads, and 10 were non-fiction.


Sharks And Other Sea Monsters - Robert Sabuda,Matthew Reinhart  The Compleat Ankh-Morpork - Terry Pratchett  Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science-and the World - Rachel Swaby  Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (Hogwarts Library Book) - Newt Scamander,J.K. Rowling  The Disappearing Dictionary: A Treasury of Lost English Dialect Words - David Crystal  I Contain Multitudes - Ed Yong  The Broken Girls - Simone St. James  Magic Triumphs - Ilona Andrews  The Case of the Baker Street Irregulars - Anthony Boucher  Swearing Is Good for You: The Amazing Science of Bad Language - Emma Byrne  The Diary of a Bookseller - Shaun Bythell  This Time Together: Laughter and Reflection - Carol Burnett  File on Fenton & Farr - Q. Patrick  Poe's Best Poems: The Masque of the Red Death - Edgar Allan Poe  At the Existentialist Café: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails - Sarah Bakewell 




My reading by gender breakdown for 2018 was much the same as previous years, with the female authors trouncing the men.  




That second chart is from LibraryThing, and while probably not strictly accurate (because my shelves over there are a mess), it's definitely a fair representation of my library as a whole.


Overall, I have nothing to complain about.  I hit my reading goal for the year in August/September and my reading paced slowed way down after that, as it always does, though this year the slow down didn't taper off and I fell into a slump.  Life is too busy for my liking, but oh well.


My TBR project, started at the beginning of the year, went really well for the first 6 months, even with an unexpected purchase of nearly the entire Agatha Christie collection - a bargain at a library sale that could not be passed by.  But my visit to the US and my attendance at Bouchercon in September put PAID on any attempts I made to whittle down the TBR.  Instead I think it damn near doubled in size.  Such is life.  Maybe next year...


I'll leave you with my Christmas Socks...


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text 2018-12-26 21:10
2018: My Reading Year in Review

A long time ago, and as a form of self-imposed discipline, I decided to keep a list of the books I started to read, followed by a list of those I finished. We’re talking 1980 here (before there was a thing called Internet as we know it today). Unfortunately, and despite all this information, I don’t have the faintest idea how many books I read since 1980. I have notebooks, one for fiction and one for non-fiction in which I keep my lists and mark each book out of 10 - I haven’t read anywhere near the number of books I should have since we are talking many eons here, but I find it helps me remember books and spurs me to complete some I would otherwise give up on.



If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

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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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