Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 – Reading Roundup

    It’s one of the nerdiest things I do, but I keep a spreadsheet of the books I read during the year. This would make sense if I were a book reviewer or had some other reason, but I basically do it because it lets me use my spreadsheet program. I do love my spreadsheets.
    Anyway, I’ve done this for three years so I feel like I can now spot trends in how I read. I was a reporter for several years, and as every journalist knows, if you have three similar events, you've got a trend.
    What I’ve learned is that I’m remarkably consistent in my reading patterns. In 2012, I read 51 books – the same number I read in 2011 and just one more than I read in 2010. I seem to have found a pace that I’m happy with.
    What did change this year is that I read far less nonfiction this year than in previous years – only four books in 2012, compared with nine in 2011 and six in 2010. Of the four nonfiction books, I have two favorites. The first is Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess. So hilarious that I had to stop reading in bed because I kept waking up my husband by snort-laughing.
    The other was Griftopia by Matt Taibbi. The author is mad as hell about the financial crisis, as we all should be, and this book should be required reading for anyone who thinks the recession was caused by that those irresponsible people who bought a house they couldn’t afford. I had to read this in small chunks because I could feel my blood pressure rising as I turned the pages. I highly recommend both books, but for entirely different reasons.
    My fiction reading consisted of mostly contemporary romance and romantic suspense, heavy on the suspense and mystery subcategories. I read more novels and fewer novellas and shorts this year. My favorite was probably In the Bleak Midwinter by Julia Spencer-Fleming. I loved the writing, the characters, the setting, the story. The author did such a beautiful job building the connection between Clare and Russ. I haven’t read the next in the series yet, but I will and probably very soon.
    This year I also revisited Amanda Stevens’ series that started with The Restorer, one of my favorites from last year. The Kingdom (book 2) and The Prophet (book 3) were excellent and among my favorite fiction reads this year, too. This is an author I will add to my auto-buy list. In fact, she’s the reason I created an auto-buy list.
    Also on that new list:  Liliana Hart. I loved Whiskey Rebellion and Whiskey Sour and am anxiously awaiting the next in that series. Also, I binged on the MacKenzie family series. Then this month, I discovered Dirty Little Secrets, another series with a smart and smart-ass heroine, which I also loved. Thankfully, there’s a sequel in the J.J. Graves series, so I have something to keep me happy until there’s another Whiskey book out.
    What stands out the most from my reading habits in 2012 is that most of the books that I marked as my favorites were told in first-person POV. This was the same in 2011. I have always thought that I preferred third-person POV, but I really need to reconsider this. My own writing projects are all told in third person, but I am thinking about whether this is the right fit for me.
    So maybe that’s another benefit in keeping track of my book consumption. I think I’ll be adding a new item to my 2013 resolution list – to give first-person POV a try in my own writing.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Holiday Greetings!

   The holiday break is here and just in time. I was starting to feel like these Christmas tree lights -- tangled, half-burned out. A little dim.
   Now my office is closed until January. The tree is up and lit. There are presents wrapped. Packages have been mailed. Cards addressed and sent. Cookies were baked. Then eaten. And then more cookies were baked because those were supposed to given to other people.
   I'm also writing and working toward my goal of finishing one of those unfinished projects by the end of this year. Nothing like a deadline to inspire.
   Should you be in need of your own inspiration, I recommend a Tom & Jerry. That's an old family recipe that I've shared before. Works wonders. Enjoy the holiday season!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Resolutions – November Update

    I didn’t participate in Nanowrimo this year because I spent the month mired in work. So. Much. Work. I did manage to get some writing done. I’m still not sure how, but my spreadsheet shows that I wrote 5,623 words in November.
    I wrote on eight days last month, which is very few — but still surprised me, since I worked at least one day every weekend last month. Somehow, I was able to escape into my imagination in the middle of a stressful, busy time at work.
    The bulk of my writing was on the project formerly known as the novella — 3,718 words. The former novella now stands at 73,000 words. I think it’s time to find a new nickname for it. I also wrote a short scene for the eventual sequel to that project, adding 878 words. And I wrote 1,027 words on last year’s Nano project, which I would love to complete next year.
    I am now at 133,879 words for this year. Last year at this time, I had written 100,769 words. In November 2011, I wrote 15,479 words, which was my late entry into Nanowrimo.
    But despite the excellent word-count, the number of WIPs completed in 2012 stands at zero. We’re closing in on the end of 2012, so I’ve decided to focus on the former novella. I had a goal of 85,000 words for that project, so I’m only about 12,000 words shy of that. And since my chapters run about 3,000 to 4,000 words, I’m only about three chapters from the end. My characters are arcing, my plot threads are ready to be tied together. It’s so very close.
    And that is where I will be for the next four weeks — focusing on wrapping up the last chapters of this WIP so it will be complete by the end of the year. That was, after all, one of my New Year’s resolutions for 2012 — finish something, anything.