Posted in Female Author, Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Reading Notes, 3/2/23

Cover: Mockingbird by Walter Tevis
Cover: The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan
Cover: The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Vol. 1

Reading Adjacent

From the Tor blog: You Don’t Have to Finish Every Book You Start

I probably saw this post when it was originally published in 2021 and passed it by. At the time, someone literary had made some pronouncement about reading every book you start, and I already had my philosophy about this nailed down: It’s okay to DNF. (DNF is for Did Not Finish. Grammatically, it would be more correct to say “It’s okay to shelf as DNF” since the abbreviation comes as a result of creating a “did not finish” shelf at Goodreads.) I had realized years ago that I wasn’t going to live long enough to get through the list of books I want to read.

But the question is: How many books will I end up reading in my remaining time on this earth? Turns out, Emily Temple has sought to answer this question. If I go by her calculations: 1775 books. I’m rounding up to 50 years old (I’m closer to 50 than 45) and counting myself in the “voracious” category (50 books a year).

I’m considering 1775 books as a long-term challenge and possibly dedicating a journal to the cause. Will this change the number of times I reread Moby-Dick and The Last Unicorn going forward? (Probably not.) Should I count short stories at some . . . amount?

(Actually, using the Social Security tool and doing the math myself, my number is 1860. I don’t want to short-change my reading life.)

Short Stories

Deal Me In, week 8: 8♠️
“Mrs. Henderson’s Cemetery Dance” by Carrie Cuinn – After a rocky first story from Carrie Cuinn’s Women and Other Constructs, I was relieved by this macabre and rather sweet moral tale.

“Not to be rude, sir, but aren’t you meant to be dead?”

“Hank in the South Dakota Sun” by Stephanie Kraner – What happens when your AI colleague and friend gets a software update? Although I’m not entirely sure why a train needs an AI, I have a tender place in my heart for railroads.

Every job is a journey to Mecca when you’re manufactured for a specific purpose and then given coded awareness of it.

February Wrap-Up

Books Finished/Read:

  • The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard
  • How to Keep House While Drowning by KC Davis
  • The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe

I enjoyed all three of these books, honestly.

Also, 13 short stories. “Bad Doors” by John Wiswell and “Hank in the South Dakota Sun” were my two favorites.

Reading

  • Mockingbird by Walter Tevis – Going apace.
  • The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan – My morning reading, at least for the next few days. (Then I’m starting Shakespeare’s sonnets.)
  • The Essential Peter S. Beagle, Volume 1 – An ARC.

Challenge Updates

My Challenges

  • Read 20 books that I owned before 1/1/23: 2/20
  • Get my Library Thing “to-read” down to 500: 519⬆️
  • Read 18 books from my Classics Club list: 1/18

Shelf Maintenance

I’m really bad at not buying books, but hear me out: Song of the Vikings: Snorri and the Making of Norse Myths by Nancy Marie Brown has been on my TBR list for ages. It went on sale at Amazon *and* I had a Kindle credit, so . . .

Posted in Female Author, Readathons-Challenges-Memes, Short Story

Reading Notes, 2/2/23

Cover: The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard

Read

Short Stories

4♦️ “10 Rules for Being an Intergalactic Smuggler (the Successful Kind)” by Holly Black – Finally drew a card that wasn’t a heart! And finally dipped into a different anthology. “10 Rules . . .” is from Monstrous Affections, edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. This was an ARC prize from Armchair BEA 2014. 😬 This whole anthology is stories playing with the concept of monsters. In “10 Rules . . .,” Tera, our young protagonist has stowed away on her uncles ship when he leaves Mars. She ends up having to deal with space pirates and a (rumored) blood-thirsty alien.

If monsters can make tea, then nothing’s safe.

Other short stories read this week:

January Wrap-Up

I didn’t finish reading many books in January, but I still had a decent month.

Books: Only finished We Are Sitting in a Room by Glen Hirshberg.

Short stories: Read 14 short stories/long articles, most of them have been mentioned on the blog. My favorite would have to be “Grits, Goblins, and Good Times” by WC Dunlap.

Reading

  • The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
  • The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard

Challenge Updates

My Challenges

No movement:

  • Read 20 books that I owned before 1/1/23: 1/20
  • Get my Library Thing “to-read” down to 500: 518
  • Read 18 books from my Classics Club list: 0/18

Shelf Maintenance

It’s been 17 days since I acquired a book.

Posted in Female Author, Male Author, Novella, Readathons-Challenges-Memes, TBRs

Reading Notes, 1/19/23

Cover: We Are Sitting in a Room by Glen Hirshberg

Read

We Are Sitting in a Room

We Are Sitting in a Room is a novella by Glen Hirshberg. It’s part of a non-speculative fiction series he’s been writing, but this story’s setting still contains that askew feeling that I really appreciate from Hirshberg. I was initially a little put off by the second person POV, but that’s only part of the story wrap-around.

The meat of the tale is told by Rae about her association with Teddy and his(?) strange experimental music record store.

Do you think it’s possible that all the experiences that matter most to us—by definition, precisely because they matter to us—are ours alone? Even if there’s someone else experiencing them with you?

The feeling of this story as well as its connection to music reminded me of “His Only Audience” from Hirshberg’s Infinity Dreams. I was surprised, but shouldn’t have been, that the experimental music piece that gives this story its title, “I Am Sitting in a Room,” is actually a thing.

Short Stories

“Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather” by Sarah Pinsker – Is there a name for using a non-narrative format like a recipe or, in this case, a crowd-sourced infopedia entry to tell a story? I’m still not sure what I think of these sorts of things. On one hand, they are entertaining, but I wonder if my enjoyment is from the novelty and not the quality of the work. In any case, “Where Oaken Hearts Do Gather” is very entertaining and seemingly well done.

Deal Me In: 8❤️
“The Bughouse Caper” by Bill Pronzini – My second selection from Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Years. In this story, Holmes is officially still dead, but alive and well and not really hiding in San Francisco. The main character of this mystery is John Quincannon, which is the detective in a series by Pronzini. While the details of San Francisco were vivid, there wasn’t much Holmes and I don’t think it presented Quincannon in a good light either.

Reading

Cover: The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe
Cover: The Pale Blue Eye by Louis Bayard
Cover: Mockingbird by Walter Tevis

  • Still reading The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Radcliffe as my morning book. This book deserves an internet-wide reading in the style of Dracula Daily. My friend Emily is really in it now!
  • Found out that The Pale Blue Eye, a currently Poe-adjacent Netflix movie, is based on a book by Louis Bayard.
  • Which means that Mockingbird by Walter Tevis has been knocked down my list a ways.

Challenge Updates

My Challenges

  • Read 20 books that I owned before 1/1/23: 1/20
    We Are Sitting in a Room counts!
  • Get my Library Thing “to-read” down to 500: currently 518
  • Read 18 books from my Classics Club list: 0/18

Shelf Maintenance

It has been 3 days since I last acquired a book. I purchased K J Kabza’s new anthology Through Spaces.

Posted in History, Readathons-Challenges-Memes

2022 Check-In & Goals for 2023

Photo by Markus Winkler on Pexels.com

Back on January 1st, I set some intentions for 2022. What became of those “intentions?” And what are my goals for 2023?

Writing

2022 Goal – I wanted to have three short pieces sold or out on submission by the end of 2022. I included stories I already had in-progress.

How Did I Do? – I have three pieces out on submission. One is the story I finished in 2021. It’s had two very nice, personal rejections, which means it’s spent a lot of time on a couple of desks. The other two are flash stories. Yes, they are short, but I’ve been really happy to just finish a couple things this year.

The numbers:
11 submissions.
9 rejections. (One of those rejections was from a 2021 submission.)

I also finished a draft of “California Gothic” (which I’d been toying with all year) and started a NaNoWriMo project (which was unexpected).

2023 Goals

  • Rewrite, edit, polish, and submit “California Gothic.” (And come up with an actual name for it.)
  • Finish full draft of NaNoWriMo Project. If it seems viable, rewrite, edit, etc.
  • Write new short/flash story and get it into submissible shape.
  • Stretch goal: another short/flash story.

Entangled Tomes

2022 Goal – I planned to publish three Entangled Tomes in 2022.

How Did I Do? – I only published one. After The Marvelous Creations of Joseffy, I put Tomes on hold. Amazon has changed some things in regards to side-loading Kindle content and I haven’t yet investigated the mysteries. While it doesn’t seem like I wrote that much fiction in 2022, it took most of my focus.

2023 Goal – I have no plans for Entangled Tomes in 2023.

Reading

2022 Goal – Wanted to bring my number of Owned, but Unread books down 525 (from 550-ish). Otherwise, participate in a minimal number of challenges.

How Did I Do? – I read 22 books from my backlog, and after sorting and recategorizing, my Owned, but Unread number is currently 520. I only purchased two books (one is a Kickstarter project) and kept the number of ARCs down to a dull roar.

2023 Goals

  • Get my Owned, but Unread list down to 500, which means 20 books plus whatever I might buy.
  • Read 18 titles from my Classics Club list. (This overlaps my other goal.)
  • Read two short stories per week. One will probably be part of Deal Me In 2023.
Posted in Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Classics Club Spin #32


I plan on working on my Classics Club list again. On the 14th, I’ll have two years and 34 books left after purposefully taking 2022 off. I was burnt out on reading from lists and just wanted to read “free-range.”

Since I’m coming up on the three year anniversary of the list, now is a great time for a CCSpin:

  • Pick twenty books that you’ve got left to read from your Classics Club List.
  • Post that list, numbered 1-20, on your blog before Sunday, December 11th.
  • We’ll announce a number from 1-20.
  • Read that book by 29th January, 2023.

Here’s my list:

  1. Le Morte D’Arthur by Thomas Malory
  2. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe
  3. Shakespeare’s Sonnets by William Shakespeare
  4. The Mysteries of Udolpho by Ann Ward Radcliffe
  5. The Monk by M. G. Lewis
  6. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  7. The Mummy! by Jane Webb Loudon
  8. The Queen’s Necklace by Alexandre Dumas
  9. Tanglewood Tales by Nathaniel Hawethorne
  10. Piazza Tales by Herman Melville
  11. Curious, if True Strange Tales by Elizabeth Gaskell
  12. Uncle Silas by J. Sheridan Le Fanu
  13. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
  14. The Experiences of Loveday Brooke, Lady Detective by Catherine Louisa Pirkis
  15. In Ghostly Japan by Lafcadio Hearn
  16. Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn
  17. The Devil’s Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce
  18. Three John Silence Stories by Algernon Blackwood
  19. Carnacki the Ghost Finder by William Hope Hodgson
  20. Tales of Terror and Mystery by Arthur Conan Doyle

I believe all of these qualify for Beat the Backlog too, a personal challenge I’ll renew in 2023.

Posted in Other Media, Readathons-Challenges-Memes, Short Story

Yuletide 2022, Check-In #1

Read

Cover: "A Christmas Tree" by Charles Dickens
Cover: The Night Before Christmas: A C is for Cthulhu Holiday Tale by Jason Ciaramella, illustrated by Joshua Janes

I haven’t done too much Yuletide reading yet. I listened to “A Christmas Tree” by Charles Dickens, which, of course, is a little creepy. Our narrator reminisces about his childhood Christmas tree and goes on may tangents about Christmas and the dark evenings of winter. I also read The Night Before Christmas: A “C is for Cthulhu” Holiday Tale by Jason Ciaramella, illustrated by Joshua Janes. This is a delightful board book; the ebook version was a contest freebie. The illustrations are cute and colorful and the thought of cute, colorful eldritch horrors would probably make H. P. Lovecraft spin in his grave. That makes me happy. Not very “hooked-on-phonics” friendly, though. 😉

Watched

Happiest Season (2020)
I didn’t realize before watching Happiest Season that it was written and directed by Clea DuVall, whom I’ve always enjoyed as an actress. There are conceits that you have to accept when watching most Christmas movies. The primary one: there will be a happy ending. And, oh, that all are holiday family trouble could end as happily as in Happiest Season . . .

The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
Honestly, The Christmas Chronicles has been on my TBW for a while. The concept of Kurt Russel as Santa Claus was appealing to me. This movie is ridiculous and a lot fun. Honestly, it presents a Santa mythology that is fairly well worked out. (I mean, as a kid, I never understood how Santa was going to visit because we *didn’t have a fireplace*.) I laughed, sniffled at the sappy parts, and finished the movie thinking, “My grandmother would have loved this.”

Posted in Male Author, Novella, Readathons-Challenges-Memes

Monday Miscellanea, 11/28/22

Read & Reading

Cover: The Greyhound of the Baskervilles by John Gaspard & Arthur Conan Doyle
Cover: Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright
Cover: Aliens: Vasquez by V. Castro

Finished The Greyhound of the Baskervilles by John Gaspard and Arthur Conan Doyle. This mystery asks, “What if Sherlock Holmes was a dog person?” It’s a retelling of The Hound of the Baskervilles, but from the point of view of Septimus, Holmes’ pet greyhound. It’s a fine adaptation, a freebie I had picked up because I’ve read Gaspard’s Eli Marks mysteries. It’s book #22 for my Beat the Backlog goal.

After finishing Greyhound, I headed to the elibrary for a Yuletide Challenge pick and found Christmas by Accident by Camron Wright. I like the occasional fluffy holiday romance. And then two hours later another book came off hold: Aliens: Vasquez by V. Castro. I also like the occasional military sci-fi movie tie-in.

Watched

Wednesday
Season 1 (2022)

I’m not a fan of supernatural clique boarding school stories, but I am a fan of Tim Burton and The Addams Family (the TV show and the 90s movies especially). So, in the words of my husband on the subject of Wednesday, I’m a sucker. The mystery story is fine, but for me the plot is secondary to the morbid quips and puns. Jenna Ortega is well cast and Wednesday’s interactions with her pastels-and-glitter roommate (Emma Myers) are particularly fun. All of the cast is great, aside from Catherine Zeta-Jones (Morticia) and Luis Guzmán (Gomez). I actually had high-hopes for that pairing but the two have no chemistry. Guzmán seemed too restrained and Zeta-Jones isn’t vampish enough. Tim Burton’s aesthetic is toned down too, but that’s just fine. It actually works really well with Barry Sonnenfeld’s movies.

Writing Update

NaNoWriMo 2022 Banner

Well, it’s the 28th of November and I’ve only written just over 28,000 words. And I marvel at the use of the word “only” in that previous sentence. That’s 10K more than I wrote last NaNoWriMo when I was tinkering with an old project.

My problem with NaNoWriMo is that is gets messy. Not just the manuscript, but my world. I let chores go and put off things I want to do. Yes, that’s a product of doing more writing work than I normally would, but it also makes me a bit nuts. Part of what I wanted to do with NaNo was to get into a stronger work schedule. Time will tell if that worked, but I’m definitely okay with going back to a more balanced life.

And I also hit the wall on how much story I had planned. I’m not a good planner. I’m also not great at “seeing where the story will take me.” So, at around 25,000 words I really needed to take some time and figure out what I’m doing. I’ve clarified the conflicts and have an end target.

I plan on getting to 30K by the end of the month and maybe shooting for another 20K by the middle of December.