In January I did a poor job of tracking my reading, mostly because I was consumed with finishing the next Fisher Key novel, The Missing Juliet. Plus the new terms started at all my schools, there's been family illness, I had some pollen-related migraines, and I had to spend a lot of time getting a big refund check that was promised to me 3 months ago by the roofer who never fixed my roof. Let's not talk about how infrequently I've made it to the gym. Anyway, 55,000 words later I'm just about done with Juliet (and very happy with it), and other things are settling down.
I did get to Chamblins Bookmine, my favorite used book store. Traded in $60 worth of books and spent $32. Here's the haul, plus my own contrib copies of Willful Impropriety that came in the mail that day:
Some of what I did read and found memorable:
- The book Don't Let Die in a Motel 6, which is by turns funny, poignant, and infuriating, as one woman loses her home, job and health. You can see some wrong choices she's making along the way but at its heart the story is about a fallible woman in the chaos of the American recession.
- The Believer article But Never A Lovely So Real, about mostly forgotten writer Nelson Arngren - fascinating.
- In the New Yorker, John McPhee wrote well about story structure
- The YA book Secrets of my Hollywood Life by Jen Calonita, fun and fast. My niece loves her Belles books and I picked this one up for fun. The A-list book in the picture was also about Hollywood teens, but I liked the Calonita book much more.
- Also, for a week I also fell into a black hole of Avengers fanfic, because I heart Jeremy Renner. Some really amazing stuff out there, including very long and complex AU's.
So far this year I have one new book coming out in March, another tbd but later in the year sometime, I'm not sure about Juliet's actual publication date, and 3 original or reprint short stories scheduled in different anthologies. I'd say 5, but two anthologies seem to have fallen into black holes and I'm not optimistic. I have 5 other short stories on submission at various markets and 3 upcoming deadlines for short fiction markets that I'd like to get into, plus a story I'm writing for Glimmer Train's next open submission period in May.
Onward into February!
Tech Tips: (1) I use Workflowy to track just about everything these days. Simple, easy and cross-platform. (2) Longform has a feature where you can send articles directly to your Kindle - extremely useful.
On its own, December decided to be Non Fiction month around these parts. Leading the way was William B. Irvine's A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, which can be one of those life-changing books if you let it into your head and heart. Straightforward, smart, and clear. Basically, worry about those things you can control. Especially good advice for writers.
I came to that book via another book of his, On Desire: Why We Want What We Want, which I saw at Barnes and Noble after escaping from the Teen Paranormal Romance section. Why do we desire a hot fudge sundae when we also desire to lose weight? Which desire wins, and why? Also very good, but I'm only halfway through
Most of my reading came via Longform, which is a great curator of interesting journalism. I read about poor students who fail in college, how Mitt Romney lost, a Baptist church full of pedophiles, an autistic child with epilepsy, a wedding photographer, micro-preemie babies, London gambling clubs, Ginza hostesses, graduate school, Ray Bradbury, the disappearing middle class, and more. Some depressing stuff there. But uplifting stories, too. Although I'm not the biggest Jerry Seinfeld fan, I've long admired his work ethic, and was happy to read more about it in Jerry Seinfeld Intends to Die Standing Up.
For sheer brilliance in writing and impressive investigation, though, the very best of the month was William Langwiesche's The Expendables, in Vanity Fair, about the French Foreign Legion. Did I say brilliant? Astonishing
The short fiction report is somewhat short: 10 stories, more or less, including James Joyce and Eudora Welty and Ray Bradbury. My favorite genre story came via a post by ktempest. Said the Princess by Dani Atkinson is clever and inventive and goes into unexpected places - great job! It was published in Daily Science Fiction
Last but not least, YA novels -- I'm reading Michael Grant's Gone, first in the 6 book series. Dystopia, teens in California. Also Midnight City by J. Barton Mitchell. Teens stopping aliens