Friday is DONE with 2020 taxes!
I was supposed to provide a one-sentence blurb for the books, and I utterly dropped the ball on that. You wouldn’t think it should be hard for a professional writer to come up with one little sentence, but yep, I blew it. So as I’m pulling this blog together, let me just say:
These books are complex, thoughtful science fiction, full of heroism in large moments and small alike.
Sorry it took me so long, Juliette!
Today also marks the release of Deborah Blake‘s Furbidden Fatality, “the first in her new RUNDOWN RESCUE series about a recent lottery winner who decides to spend her unexpected windfall on a defunct shelter, only to quickly find herself the main suspect in the murder of the town’s nasty dog warden.”
I haven’t had the chance to read this yet, but I’ve read and enjoyed several of her other books, and this one sounds like a lot of fun.
Next up, Claire O’Dell/Beth Bernobich has re-released her River of Souls trilogy.
I read and discussed the first of these books with Sherwood Smith back in 2010, but it looks like our post is no longer up. Hmph.
In the author’s words, this is a trilogy “about politics and intrigue, about magic and multiple lives. It’s about confronting hard choices, life after life. It’s about one young woman’s journey toward independence.”
Here’s the summary for book one:
Therez Zhalina is the daughter of one of Melnek’s most prominent merchants. Hers is a life of wealth and privilege, and she knows her duty—to marry well and to the family’s advantage. But when Therez meets the much older man her father chose, she realizes he is far crueler than her father could ever be.
She decides to run. This choice will change her life forever.
Therez changes her name to Ilse and buys passage with a caravan bound for distant cities. Her flight leads her to Lord Raul Kosenmark, once a councilor of the old king and now master of a famous pleasure house. But feasts and courtesans are only the outermost illusion in this house of secrets, and Ilse soon discovers a world of magic and political intrigue beyond anything she had imagined.
I know I’ve missed a lot of new stuff from good authors, so please feel free to chat things up in the comments. What are your thoughts about the ones I mentioned, and what other new books would you recommend?
The title feels like an oxymoron for me, at least at first glance. My productivity over the past year definitely hasn’t been up to my normal standards. But of course, very little about the past year has been normal.
Exercise: I’ve been trying to use the new year as a kind of mental soft reboot. I’d slipped some in terms of exercise. Since I have a handy little tracker for steps, standing time, and exercise, I tried to focus on closing those three rings every day. Some days I got a better workout than others. Some days I barely squeaked by. But check it out:
This streak is unlikely to continue. I wasn’t aiming for a perfect 2021. The goal was to try to create some momentum, and rebuild old habits that had slipped over the past year.
In terms of health, I should probably take a closer look at my diet as well. But one thing at a time.
Writing: I’ve been a bit frustrated and discouraged on the writing front. My wife’s cancer in 2019 followed by the effects of the pandemic in 2020 have resulted in Terminal Peace being very late to my editor, and now we’re looking at a longer-than-usual delay to the actual release date. And another project I’d been hopeful for has not gone anywhere.
I hate the fact that there’s a good chance I won’t have a new book out in 2021. It feels like failure, even though I know better.
I spent the last few months of 2020 not really knowing what to focus on. Should I start a new book while I waited for revisions to come back from my editor? Should it be an adult book for DAW or something new and potentially riskier?
After trying a few things and chatting with my agent, I started 2021 with a better idea what I wanted to focus on. I haven’t been doing the 1000+ words/day I sometimes managed in the Before Times, and I haven’t written every single day, but I averaged about 600-700 words a day for January, and the result is about half of a first novel draft.
This is the new and riskier path. There’s a chance that this could be another project that doesn’t sell. But I’m making decent progress, and despite all the usual first-draft problems, I think it has potential.
I also have an idea for my next novel for DAW. I’m waiting to hear back from folks at my agency before I write up that pitch. My hope is that even if I don’t have a new book out in 2021, maybe I can at least sell one this year.
It’s a long way from where I want to be, writing-wise. I’d love to get back to doing some short fiction, and I want to branch out more as a writer. But again, right now, I think it’s more about regaining momentum.
Other Productivity: This is the stuff I think I and other people tend to overlook about the past year. Because sometimes “productivity” can be as simple as “I survived.”
Survival has used up more spoons than usual. I need to keep remembering to cut myself some slack, and to give myself credit for things like keeping everything going safely at home for me and the kids, making sure we’re keeping connected with family, finding ways to take care of our needs without unnecessary health risks, and so on.
A lot of it — cooking, cleaning, finances, etc. — is the same stuff I had to do pre-pandemic, but it all feels heavier these days. We’re all carrying more weight from stress and uncertainty, and it makes everything just that much harder.
Again, the goal isn’t to be perfect. And that’s good, because I’ve been anything but. But we’re getting through. I may not have remodeled the bathroom, and I know I’ve dropped the ball sometimes with connecting to people, but I think I took care of the basic needs for me and my family. We might not be at the top of Maslow’s pyramid, but we have the foundation.
Conclusion: I’m not where I want to be yet. But I’m trying to be okay with that. And I think so far this year, I’ve been going in the right direction.
Remember to be kind to yourselves this year. Amidst all the frustration about what we haven’t been able to do, remember to give yourself credit for what you have done.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I want to try to get through a little more of the nose-biting chapter in this book!
Friday has around 1/3 to 1/2 of the first draft of a new book! Hoping to have the draft mostly finished by the end of February…
- Your Korean Dad. This gives me warm and fuzzy Mr. Rogers vibes.
- 2020 International Photography Award winners
- Star Wars Bad Lip Reading videos. (These are the fault of L.M. Kate JohnsTon, who posted a link to Seagulls! (Stop It Now) over on Facebook. There was much giggling.)