Reading in 2018

In the past, I’ve sat down the first week of the year, looked over how many books I read the year before, and made a guess for how many books I thought I could read in the year ahead. Typically, that meant adding ten to the previous year’s goal. Each year, I met (or exceeded) my goal, each year adding more books.

Not this year.

The tipping point was in trying to hit my goal for 2017 (spoiler: I did). One of the last books I read in 2017 was Sanderson’s new book, a 1200+ page book. That’s when it struck me how arbitrary it was to try and read a number of books. Why make reading a competition? Committing to a number of books only makes sense if everything you read is roughly the same length. But if you read three books that are around 300 pages, and one book at 1300 pages, is it any wonder it took you longer to read four books? To some extent, the frame of mind of reaching a goal skews how and what you read. You could stop reading that book that failed to catch your interests after the first 100 pages…but if you just power your way through it, at least you can count it on your list (doesn’t actually happen that often, but often enough). So I made a decision.

2018, then, will be a year of reading for the fun of reading.

My first reading goal for 2018 is independent of the number of books, but instead based on the types of books I want to read. I’d like this year to be a fair mix of books feeding both my imagination and my general knowledge. I’ve done this in the past to some success, and I’d like 2018 to be a year dedicated to it: for every fiction book I read, I plan to read a nonfiction book. The nonfiction doesn’t have to be a history book, or a science book; the only qualification is that it has to be nonfiction.

My second reading goal of 2018 is for the fiction books, I’d like to take a good stab at reading the Malazan Book of the Fallen series. Years and years ago, I read the first book, and tried to read a few of the follow up books. I was lost, confused, nothing made sense, and there were no wikis or guides at the time to help make sense of things. Something’s changed since then, though. This last month, I reread the first book, Gardens of the Moon, and it all just clicked. I got it, it all made sense,  I understood it.  Next on my fiction list is book two.

My third reading goal is to enjoy it.

In fact, I have a list already forming of the books I’d like to read in the coming months. This list doesn’t stretch far, and leaves a lot of room for additions, but it’s a stab at some books I’d like to read.

  • The Witch of Lime Street (nf) – Houdini, Doyle, and Spritualism
  • Deadhouse Gates (f) – Malazan
  • The Professor and the Madman (nf) – The story of the OED
  • Memories of Ice (f) – Malazan
  • Killing the Flower Moon (nf) – Forming of the FBI
  • The Gathering Storm (nf) – Churchill’s first volume on WW2

At an average of a week or two per book (roughly), that should last me into February. I read 51 books in 2017. Who cares how many I read in 2018?


The Data Isn’t There

This summer, as you all have no doubt noted, I’ve had some real trouble with writing. My recollection, anecdotally, is that summer’s tend to be the doldrums of my writing year. I know that in Fall and Winter, especially when I lived somewhere those seasons were expressed with cold temperatures and turning leaves, my writing time and pace increases. This current lack of productivity, I’ve been telling myself, is just my natural writing rhythm during the summer.

Only, the data doesn’t quiet support that.

I should start by saying my data isn’t perfect. Over the course of a year, I’ll change up my writing tools more than once. My word tracking system is less than agile when it comes to adapting to new data sources, especially since that usually requires me to do some fiddling to make it work. Right now, for instance, I’m using a bastardization of Jamie Rubin’s scripts, with markdown as my format. Friends who have heard me praise, then moan, then praise again the virtues of Scrivener will now doubt roll their eyes at that. That does mean, though, some of my productivity isn’t always captured perfectly by the scripts I’m using.

That said, the data of my writing trends since July of 2014 (when I first started formally recording them) tells an interesting story. The biggest revelation to me, insomuch as the data is trustworthy, is the volume of writing being accomplished. Yes, quality is more important than quantity, I agree, but there’s definitely been a shift in the last three years. I went from at best a few hundred words per session, to at my peak last year writing thousands of words a day. It’s a peak I haven’t had since, but more on that later. The data also shows a clear trend of increased writing, followed by month long gaps. At least in that I’m not atypical this summer. But my recollection that I’m like this every summer? The 2016 data refutes that completely. In fact, the 2016 July data suggests I was really active last summer.

So, that peak in the data. I racked my head on why and how that was, but it was my lovely wife who pointed out that obvious. While I may have sat on it for a long, long time, it was last summer that I was both finishing the first draft of Chrysalis, getting it copy edited. It was also when I decided to take my first foray into self publishing with A Scent of Roses.

Sadly, none of that helps me this week. I’ve let myself slide too much lately, filling writing time with other things, chiefly The Last Guardian and then Mass Effect 3 (which I picked up for a song through a Father’s Day sale on the Playstation Network). The time for writing again is upon me. Tomorrow, I’ll post the excerpt I’ve been working from for The Mermaid’s Tears. The book is (believe it or not) far enough along that I don’t think it will diverge too much from this blurb. Let me know what you think!

Also, on sale this week for just 99 cents, you can get Chrysalis for your Kindle! Member of Kindle Unlimited? Then you can read it for free every day!

The week that wasn’t, June 18, delayed considerably

It took me only three weeks in to miss a Sunday blog post. Not exactly a record.

I want to say that it was because it was Father’s Day this last Sunday, and between the Oregon Renaissance Fair the day before (spoiler: IT WAS AWESOME) and the laissez faire of FD, I just didn’t have an opportunity to post a blog entry.

Truth is, I just didn’t have the inclination. The last week has been a dismal week for writing, and no one wants to stand up on the pulpit, as it were, and admit their shortcomings before an audience. According to my word tracking scripts and monitors, I haven’t added a single word to The Maiden’s Tears in seven days (since the 13th).  This isn’t writer’s block, and I haven’t given up on the novel. Far from it, in fact. Mostly, my brain has just needed a break, I guess.

[peg-image src=”” href=”″ caption=”My ladies at the Oregon Ren Fair this last weekend. Cameo shot of Mary, Queen of Scotts in the background :)” type=”image” alt=”20170617_152909.jpg” image_size=”5312×2988″ peg_gal_align=”right” peg_img_align=”right” ] As mentioned, the Renaissance Fair was awesome. Back when my bride and I were first married, we were a bit short of funds for many things, including a honeymoon. But the week after we got married, there was a local Renaissance Fair where we lived in Virginia. These days you can find pictures of it on io9 because it’s overgrown and looks a bit haunted, but for us it remains a really bright and happy memory. This was the Oregon fair’s second year, and it was spectacular, huge, and very much full of awesome. The kids had fun, we had fun, and the jousting was superb (and a bit more authentic than I remember from other fair’s we’ve been to).

I’m still reading It. It really says something when you’re 800 pages into a book, or just over 50%. It is huge.  But I’m already looking forward to my TBR pile, which grew a bit this week. I placed an order with Abe Books (I’ve always had good luck with them) and expect the first of the next books on my TBR to show up relatively soon.

Outside of writing, reading, and a Celtic themed fair weekend, the last week was mostly a blur of workdays. Here’s hoping the rest of this week is more productive in the non-work arena.

…and  a final note. If you’ve read Chrysalis, I could really use the reviews on Amazon (the good, the bad, the ugly, and everything else). It’s easy to ask folks that know me to give the book a chance, but people that don’t know me rely on reviews to decide whether a books is worthy of trying. Reviews from other readers make a book more worth taking a risk on. If you’ve read the book, please consider leaving a review. If you haven’t and are a member of the Kindle Unlimited plan, you can read the book for free. Thanks!