2016’s Year In Reading

As is my custom, I keep an Excel spreadsheet of all the books I read, and add them up at the new year, and publish the list here.

As is my more recent custom, I don’t tell you the names or authors of the books I read for work, as a number of them may not be published (or even announced) yet.

It’s fascinating to compare to prior years. In 2015, I read a total of 63 books, 25 of those for pleasure. In 2016, my total was 107, with 27 for pleasure. So, 38 jobs increasing to 80 in the space of one year: my getting-paid-to-read business is clearly booming! I knew I was busier than ever…it’s actually comforting to see numerical proof of that. (I never count as I go along; I prefer to know only when the year is finished.)

Anyway, without further ado, here is the list of books I read last year just because I wanted to:

Waters, Sarah, The Paying Guests
Byatt, A.S., The Children’s Book
Novik, Naomi, Uprooted
Beagle, Peter S., The Last Unicorn
Connolly, Tina, Seriously Wicked
Henderson, Randy, Finn Fancy Necromancy
Dickinson, Seth, The Traitor Baru Cormorant
Lawson, Jenny, Furiously Happy
Jemison, N.K., The Fifth Season
Bennett, Robert Jackson, City of Blades
Grossman, Lev, The Magician’s Land
Anders, Charlie Jane, All the Birds in the Sky
King, Stephen, Doctor Sleep
Addison, Katherine, The Goblin Emperor
Cooper, Brenda, Edge of Dark
Buckell, Tobias A., Crystal Rain
Palmer, Ada, Too Like the Lightning
Johansen, Erika, The Invasion of the Tearling (ARC)
Corey, James S.A., Leviathan Wakes
Levine, David, Arabella of Mars
Mostert, Natasha, Season of the Witch
Hendee, Barb & JC, The Dead Seekers (ARC)
Corey, James S.A., Caliban’s War
Corey, James S.A., Abbadon’s Gate
Corey, James S.A., Cibola Burn
Okorafor, Nnedi, Binti (novella)
Kadrey, Richard, Butcher Bird

Though now I realize I must clarify further: of the 27 above, 8 were for our book group (which kind of confuses me, as we meet every month), but the rest were chosen just by me. I’m in the middle of the fifth Expanse book now, so that’ll be my first pleasure book of 2017 (already have a work-book on the list).

What was your favorite thing YOU read last year?

Author Interview; Writing Progress; and Freelancing

One of the things I did last summer was publish a nonfiction anthology called The Usual Path to Publication–a collection of a bunch of writers’ personal stories about how they got published. It was super fun to do and I totally want to make this a series.
The Usual Path to Publication Cover_MEDIUM WEB

The Practice of Creativity blogger Michele Tracy Berger asked me to do an author interview recently, and it is now live! The link is here. Her questions were great–very insightful, made me think. Thank you, Michele Tracy!

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I still don’t want to jinx things but holy cow, you guys, Queen & Tower is going well. I told Mark this morning that I have like four more scenes left to write, and a couple of existent scenes to tweak–and I’ve just written one of those new scenes. Soon I’ll be ready to print this baby out, go over it once more to make sure I didn’t somehow put scenes in backwards, and then it’s ready to hand off to…can you even call them beta readers at this point, when they are so long-suffering and have seen so many versions of the darn thing? Well, anyway, hand it off, at least. Move on to the next thing (at least until I get the feedback). SO EXCITED I AM SO EXCITED.

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And busy! I’m busy, yes, but not swamped; I actually have room for another copy editing client or two. Our plan, now that Mark is done with Thimbleweed Park, is that I will be the primary breadwinner while he works on something super amazing that will not bear financial fruit right away…so, if you are looking for excellent, affordable proofreading or copy editing, hit me up.

Okay that is all the “asking of the universe” I can do at the moment. 🙂 You all know how hard that is to do, right?

I Remember Blogging

Wait, didn’t I used to keep a blog?

It’s been so long that, though I am going to attempt a recap of what’s happened since I last showed up here (March), I am certain to miss a million things. And I have no real excuses–just busy, crazy, life, etc etc, the usual. That is all.

I turned 50 on Monday. Which is making me look up from the fray. I am realizing I would like to try–try!–to come by here slightly more often. Funny photos on Facebook are all well and good, but I did once enjoy blogging, I seem to remember.

So…what’s been going on?

Life is good, and busy, and complicated, and busy. I published two books since I last posted: an edited collection of essays about publishing, and a collaborative cozy mystery under a pen name. (You can find them on the website, if you are so inclined. :-)) I’m ONCE AGAIN making great progress on Nightcraft, nearly having a final draft of Queen & Tower, though I feel kind of silly even mentioning it, ’cause I’ve said this so many times before. Even so, it’s giving me great pleasure, and I (once again) feel like I’ve finally gotten a handle on the story. I guess we’ll see.

My copy editing/proofreading business is booming. Yay for small presses and self-published writers! It’s so exciting to see publishing evolve, and read so many amazing books that would never have found a place in old-fashioned “traditional” publishing.

Mark’s six-month contract job for Thimbleweed Park turned, little by little, into a year and a half, which was very useful financially and very disruptive life-wise. One side effect was that I became a much better cook. One side effect of THAT is that we are both, er, rather more substantial than we used to be, and than we’d like to be. So we are currently trying to deal with that.

Our house and garden (and my office!) continue to be lovely, charming, and give us great pleasure–mostly, except when things break. Portland, however, is becoming more stressful all the time, as the entire world seems to be moving here, and it seems like they are all in such a hurry. I know I moved here myself six LONG years ago–or, hmm, six and a half, by now?–but wow, the difference, in just that time. Traffic, crowds, angsty people everywhere; construction galore; housing prices (rentals and real estate) skyrocketing…this is not the city I moved to. It’s a hard adjustment to make. We are thinking about options.

There is more to tell. Some close friends and relatives have died–some expectedly, some not. There have been emotional crises afflicting those close to us. There is politics. All beyond the scope of what I am prepared to go into right now…this is me putting my toe back into blogging, and seeing how it goes. These 500 or so words have taken me nearly over an hour to write; I’ve lost my comfortable, easy blogging rhythm, my voice. I did really enjoy keeping this journal, once upon a time; it was an important daily (or near-daily) ritual. Are those days gone forever, or can I find that time for small introspection (and reaching out) in my life again? Maybe I can. I’d dropped regular fiction writing for many months, in the flood of freelance work/cooking/gardening/social life, but I’ve managed to refocus and put that back on the table. (Hence my progress in Q&T!) So…as I said before…we shall see.

Brief Notes

A few little things:

-We’re flying to San Francisco tomorrow for Mark to give a presentation at the GDC (Game Developers Conference). I will have a few free hours on Thursday afternoon, and plan to be hanging out at the Keystone on 4th Street, from around 2:00 till 5:00. Come hang out if you can!

-The following week is Norwescon. My Norwescon schedule:
Nothing.
Mark’s art will be in the art show, but we, like a few other pros we’ve talked to, did not get programming invites. And by the time we inquired, it was apparently too late. Oh well. Barcon it is.

Back to packing!

Announcement!

So last summer at the Cascade Writers Workshop, someone asked us to talk about “the usual path to publication”…which of course, there is no such thing. But it got us all to talking about ALL our paths, and pretty soon it became obvious that this would be a great book.

AND NOW IT IS.
The Usual Path to Publication Cover_MEDIUM WEB
Or, well, it will be in June. But you can pre-order it now!

I’m so excited about this book, you guys. It was just great fun to see all these marvelous essays coming in, reading everyone’s tales of persistence and setbacks and triumphs and disappointments and, well, more persistence. I can’t wait to share them all with you!

I also sent my first newsletter this morning. Gettin’ real professional around here, let me tell you. Do YOU want to get my newsletter too? Sign up here!

Weekend Update(s)

Thing the First: We went to RadCon last weekend and it was very good. (I feel I should reassure you all of that, since I was so down on OryCon!) Our panels were interesting and well-attended (well, except for the one scheduled opposite the Masquerade; that one was still interesting, even if it was just us panelists talking with each other and our one audience member). My reading was well-attended–I read from the new secret project, which I will tell the world about soon! And 10 of the 13 prints we put up in the art show sold–two even went to auction, which is awesome.

Also, we stayed in “the Westie,” the overflow hotel, and loved it MUCH better than the Red Lion. Because we’re old. And we like to go to bed early, in a quiet place. And the breakfast was GREAT, and free.

So, yay RadCon!

Thing the Second: I’ve updated my website, check it out!! Yes, it feels a little weird to link to my website FROM my website, but many of you read this on LifeJournal, and this is for you. 🙂 Feedback welcome! I’ve put book-buying links much more prominently on the landing page, AND a form to fill out for subscribing to my mailing list.

Because Thing the Third: I’m starting a mailing list! I will have things to announce soon, including the secret project, and the other project which is less secret but that I haven’t really talked about yet. Sign up! I promise not to spam you overmuch. I will probably hardly send any more newsletters than I make blog posts, and you know that’s not very often.

The Rest of the Things All Together: Just a jumble of work, really. LOTS and LOTS of freelance work (which, I repeat forever, is awesome). And I’ve actually got four books on my plate–Queen & Tower (am gathering beta-reader feedback on that, ready to delve into final edits next week or so); the sequel to Our Lady (50K words drafted during NaNoWriMo, set aside to work on all the other things); and then the thing and the other thing that I will tell you about very soon.

Plus life: I’m holding the household together, because Mark is working like a maniac on Thimbleweed Park; and I’m doing actually surprisingly well at maintaining a daily yoga practice; and I’m not keeping in touch with friends and family like I should; and the garden isn’t taking any time because it’s winter, but that’s about to change, things are sprouting up all over…yay?
Crocus
(photo from a week or two ago…more lovelies coming up all the time!)

And that’s about it from here. Okay, back to work.

RadCon

We’re going to RadCon in a few weeks (February 11-14), and have just gotten our schedules.

Without further ado:

Fri Feb 12, 1:45 pm-2:45 pm: Keeping it Fun
Some days the page wins. With increasing deadlines, non-stop edits, and required marketing, is it possible to keep it professional and still love what you do? Pros will discuss strategies to avoid burnout, keep the muse fed and happy, stay playful and get the work done without losing the joy of writing in the first place.
Brad Wheeler, Eytan Kollin, Shannon Page, Siana Wineland

Sat Feb 13, 10:00 am-11:00 am: Evaluating Writing Critiques
So you’ve had a manuscript critiqued and you’re trying to decipher the feedback. Some people say one thing. Some people have quote rules. How do you tell the good advice from the bad? This panel will discuss how to keep the advice that benefits your writing while ignoring the bad.
Bruce Taylor, Elizabeth Guizzetti, Mark Ferrari, S. A. Bolich, Shannon Page, Tom Gondolfi

Sat Feb 13, 11:15 am-12:15 pm: I Am (Want To Be) A Writer, But I Need Some Questions Answered!
How do you self publish? Should you self publish? Do I need an agent? Why? Should I use a Pen Name? What if I do? I heard… but then I heard…? Bring your burning questions about being a writer, and we will do our best to salve them!
Maggie Bonham, David Boop, David Brown, Mark Ferrari, Sam Knight, Kaye Thornbrugh

Sat Feb 13, 1:00 pm-1:30 pm: Shannon Page reading
I am currently planning to read the first chapter or so of the NEW SEKRET PROJECT THING ooooo!

Sat Feb 13, 4:15 pm-5:15 pm: Resisting Rewrite-itis
Many promising manuscripts succumb to author anxiety that it’s “not good enough yet” or “I need to fix this one thing” that proceeds to unravel the entire book. How do you resist the urge to polish and polish the first few chapters without writing the rest, or stuffing it in the drawer until it’s perfect? Our pros provide tips on how to tell when your work is good enough and when to kick it out the door.
Doug Odell, S. A. Bolich, Scott James Magner, Shannon Page, Siana Wineland

Sat Feb 13, 4:15 pm-5:15 pm: The Best Writing Advice I Was Ever Given
The title says it all! Come listen to the panel and audience members as well share some of the best writing advice they were ever given. (And some of the worst as well…).
Seth Bennett, Bobbie Benton Hull, Mark Ferrari, Laurel Anne Hill, Josh Vogt

Sat Feb 13, 5:30 pm-6:30 pm: Mark Ferrari Art Demo
Art Show

Sat Feb 13, 6:45 pm-7:45 pm: Collaborations of Writers
Writing is an essentially solitary occupation. So how do writers collaborate? What are the approaches to writing together? What are the drawbacks? Can you do both (write alone and with a partner)? Do collaborators need an outline more than solo writers?
Bruce Taylor, David Brown, Esther Jones, Mark Ferrari, Shannon Page

Looks like a fun (and busy!) program. Mark will also be showing work in the art show. See you in the TriCities, I hope!

Body

I got a nosebleed yesterday morning. I didn’t know what it was, at first; I’m forty-nine years old, and this was my first one. Ever.

Fortunately, I was with Mark, who gets them with some frequency; he was able to tell me what to do (pinch your nostril shut gently; sit up straight or maybe even tilt your head back a little; don’t freak out; kleenex and patience are your friends).

My body’s been doing fascinating things lately. I have an honest-to-god age spot on my left hand (look! there it is! next to all those blue veins!). Age Spot
I’m not having hot flashes so much any more, but there is a span of time in the middle of most every night when I need to push away all the covers. I stopped coloring my hair a year or so ago; I actually like the grey that’s coming in.

My vision is getting worse. I’m still using drugstore “cheater” glasses, rather than going to an eye doctor (blah blah blah time money blah blah). At the beginning, I just used them for reading later in the day, when my eyes were tired; then for reading all day; now for the computer too. And card games. And cooking (particularly when using recipes, or sharp knives). Well, okay, I’m almost always using the glasses.

If I happen to have the glasses on and encounter a mirror, I see all sorts of things on my face I had no idea were there, or had forgotten about. Lines and spots and blemishes; hairs growing out of moles; irregular eyebrows. The sorts of things that would once really bother me. When I was a teenager, I noticed some tiny blood vessels on the bridge of my nose. For decades I covered them with makeup, convinced that they were hideous. Now? Without glasses on, they and all other “imperfections” vanish. If I can’t see them, no one else can either, right?

And did anyone ever really care? I rather doubt it.

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During the period of the year from about my birthday (Halloween) through January 1, I traditionally eat greater quantities of food, particularly items with higher densities of fat and/or sugar and/or refined white starchy deliciousness. Perhaps I even drink more alcohol than usual. At the same time, what with all the travel and bad weather and everything, I let my exercise routines slacken. Or vanish entirely. I am given to understand that I am not entirely alone in these regards. Then the new year rolls around, all the holiday festivities fade away, and I rededicate myself to health and fitness.

In the past, this has involved stepping on the scale, and making all sorts of numbers-related decisions and plans and goal-settings. Resolutions, you might even say.

This year…I didn’t actually step on the scale. I know my middle has thickened, because pants that used to fit comfortably no longer do. That big black cotton dress that used to be too large on me is my new best friend. Heck, dresses in general are much more welcoming. And elastic-waist skirts.

Particularly when not wearing my glasses, I think I still look just fine. 🙂 But I want to feel better, to have more energy, to be strong again. I want my exercise regimen back, and for my digestion to work better, and I want to sleep better at night. So I’ve started making more soups, and adding vegetables to everything, and cutting way back on desserts (it helps that Trader Joe’s ran out of peppermint Joe Joes unusually early this year), and getting more lean protein in my diet. And I’ve rededicated myself to my Ashtanga yoga home practice. WOW, that is taking some doing; I had lost it pretty thoroughly. But now, only two or so weeks into the new year, I’m doing a recognizable version of all the poses in the Primary Series.

Except the jump-through parts of the vinyasas. Those are going to be a long time coming back, if they do at all. But you know what? I’m getting a fantastic workout as it is. It doesn’t have to be the exact practice I did in my early thirties to be a solid, satisfying, fulfilling practice.

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That’s kind of how I’m seeing a lot of things these days. I am not the same person I was in my teens or twenties or thirties. Even the forties are about to move into my past. Things that used to be so important to me, like covering a nearly-invisible blemish on my face, or a yoga pose looking a certain very particular way, or wearing size six jeans, are now feeling just…eh, whatever. I am so much more excited about being strong enough to dig and prune in the garden for hours. I am much more interested in being alert and focused enough to juggle the writing of several novels and a shorter piece or two and editing a nonfiction anthology and keeping track of all this freelance work and and and…

Working at home certainly helps. What a clotheshorse I used to be! I still own far more pairs of shoes than anyone needs. But most days, to sit alone in my office out here in the back yard, I find yoga pants, sweats, or that wonderful roomy black cotton dress to be just right. I’ll often wear the same thing day after day. Why not?

It actually makes it more fun to dress up to go out, since I’m not doing it to go to work every day. I’m dressing up more for conventions and parties and the like than I ever did. It feels like costuming: a creative act, rather than a required uniform.

I think that’s the real difference, behind all of this jumble of disparate thoughts: I’m feeling so much more creative these days, and so much less interested in conforming to some shallow set of appearance-regulations, that some imaginary panel of arbiters is watching for and judging me on. I mean, I know that people judge. But…probably far fewer than Younger Me ever imagined, and as for the ones who do? They’re not the boss of me. I really don’t care what they think. I’ve got better things to do.

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This sudden spate of blogging (two long posts! In less than a week!) has been brought to you by the fact that, though a big job is in the mail on its way here and another is coming soon thereafter, I have no actual freelance work in-house at the moment. I can’t remember how long it’s been since that was the case. I’m enjoying it tremendously.

A Post About Money

It’s kind of taboo to talk about money. Especially for writers. John Scalzi’s recent deal is a refreshing exception; Jim Hines also shares a breakdown of his writing income every year, as do a few other writers. It’s great to get these glimpses into what’s really happening behind the vague “a good deal”, “five figures,” etc.

I’m going to tell you about my writing, and about money, and other stuff along the way. About what it costs to try to make a living in the creative arts. I’m sitting here looking at my Quicken printout for 2015, and some royalty statements, and my tax folder, and I’m pondering all of this.

I write because I love to. I write because I can’t not write. “I’m a writer,” I’ll tell you, if we’ve just met at a party and you ask me what I do. My writing brought in $3,010.03 last year. Not much, huh? And that’s actually high, for me; more often it’s only a few hundred dollars. Maybe it’s on an upswing? That would be nice. But I’m not banking on it.

The majority of our household income last year was earned by Mark, working on the Thimbleweed Park game. That too is an aberration for us; usually, most of our income is from my freelance proofreading and copy editing work, and one-off art commissions for him (mostly book covers). It was great to earn more money last year. Sadly, we don’t have any more savings than we did a year ago (i.e., almost zero). Where did it all go?

Lots of places. An increase in income meant an increase in income taxes, of course. It also meant paying for health care–we were so poor the previous year that we qualified for free health care. It was a crappy plan, but it was FREE, and we were thrilled to have it.

In 2015 we spent a lot more on property taxes than the previous year, because in 2014 I’d paid in installments, because I couldn’t afford to pay them all in one lump. This year, with Mark’s income, we not only could, we figured we ought to (this job of his ends in March); so in 2015 we paid five-thirds of the usual amount. I guess that’s going to help on the income taxes? Hope so.

We spent a lot of money going to conventions, to promote our writing and his art and my freelance business, to run dealer’s tables and to display in art shows, to stay in touch with the industry. Even at conventions where we don’t make much in the moment, we still make connections, which lead to work. Conventions are expensive, though; often, we stay with friends, or at Motel 6 rather than the con hotel, or at home if the con is local; even so, meals and travel and parking and all that, they add up. Plus art supplies–my goodness, you guys. Printing (in house or at a print shop) and mat board and special plastic bags and lucite and display clips and All The Things. Which of course are cheaper (per piece) if you buy them in great quantity.

We spent the first month of Mark’s Thimbleweed pay remaking our tool shed into my Tiny Office, so that I no longer had to occupy the dining room. Money well spent!! But spent, all the same; and it will be deducible over some years, because it’s a capital improvement.

Our groceries total was more than twice as high as our dining-out total; we both do like to cook, and eating out is expensive. We signed up for life insurance. We’re in the last few months of an auto loan. We bought some books, a little clothing, went to a few movies, bought little things for the house. I got a pedicure or two. Utilities cost a LOT: almost exactly the same as five-thirds of our annual property tax bill, as it happens.

We spent a few thousand dollars on the garden (not counting water, which goes under utilities, above). The garden is probably our biggest extravagance; but, oh, it gave us such joy. We ate almost every meal outside all summer long, on the deck. We entertained out there. We took pictures of flowers and posted them on Facebook. I regret nothing.

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I’m looking at this royalty statement for the first year of publication of Our Lady of the Islands. In a sense, this is also the “final” royalty statement, because its publisher has ceased operations, and the publisher who supposedly bought the imprint has not actually produced any contracts. So the book is currently out of print, unavailable anywhere. Unless you’re local and you ask me, I have a few copies on the shelf here. (My co-author’s agent is working on trying to get the book back in print, somehow, somewhere. But these things take time.)

Our Lady got starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and from Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly named it one of their Best Books of 2014, and it was short-listed for an Endeavour Award. I promoted it as best I could, scheduling a (self-funded) book tour in Oregon, Washington, and California, giving readings in as many bookstores as I could arrange for. Over its year or so of availability, it sold 814 copies, across ebook, paperback, and hardcover formats. It also was sold to Audible; they pay a lump sum, so I don’t know how many audio copies they sold. Most of the money I made off this book came from Audible. For the 814 copies, after the publisher’s expenses, Jay’s agent’s 15%, and then the 50-50 split with Jay’s estate, I made forty-nine cents a book.

I re-edited and republished Eel River in 2015 as well, through Book View Cafe. Audible bought that book too, and I only had to share out 5% to Book View, and none to an agent. That was by far my largest chunk of 2015 writing income. (Theme for this year’s writing income: Hooray For Audible!) Sadly, no copies of the ebook sold in its first quarter of release. None at all. It’s royalty-statement time again soon; I’m hoping there might have been a sale or two this time around. I did hand-sell a few copies at conventions, of the print books. But of course, I had to pay to get them designed and printed and shipped to me. At least my cover art was free. 🙂

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I’m working on a new writing project. This one has grabbed my brain, burning to get out; I dream about it at night, I think about it all the time, it won’t let me go. I am SO EXCITED about it. I squeeze writing time in whenever I can. I’m nearly 11,000 words in, as of today; it’s going to be a series of shorter novels, so this draft should come in around ~65,000 to ~75,000, I think.

I’ve been thinking hard about what to do with it, and I’ve decided to straight-out self-publish it. Just direct to Amazon. It’s a lighter story, fast-paced, fun; at least at the moment, the writing is coming out fast, and clean. (Ask me again later when I bog down in the middle…) 🙂 I used to think self-publishing was a bad idea; that it meant you weren’t ‘good enough’ to get published ‘for real’. Probably that used to be true. Now? Not so much. Many of my clients are very successful self-published writers–like, support-the-whole-family, travel-overseas successful. They work hard, they write a lot, they are comfortable with social media. They write, write, write, and write some more. Their stories are good, often very good. They’re also hiring editors and copy editors (me!) and cover designers and other professionals to help ensure they put out a quality product. They are becoming their own little publishing houses, in effect.

Between Mark and me, we have most of the skills to do that. And I know where to hire the rest. Well, most of the rest. I’m not sure where to find a copy editor. 🙂 But I’ll have to–one does not see one’s own errors.

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I’ve spent a few days writing this lengthy essay (between work on the New Project, and other matters). I’ve been thinking about writing it for months now, or longer. I’d like to know how it is for other writers and other creative types, how you make it all work. I know many of you have day jobs, and write (or create) in the corners and pockets and little spaces around the job. I used to do that; making the leap to freelance only happened for me due to a series of life events–divorce, relocation, divorce settlement. It was the divorce settlement that made this possible at all. The income and the savings are all gone, but I did buy this house. If I had to make mortgage payments on top of everything else, I’d have had to find another day job long ago. So I feel very grateful about that.

I also, let’s be honest, feel pretty grateful about my life in general. I get to wake without an alarm in the morning, and go to the gym at 2pm if I want, and garden, and I get paid to read books. And even get paid a little to write them. The trade-off of this flexible schedule is that we really don’t have anything resembling weekends, or days off at all–there’s always more work to do. If your work is at home, you don’t get to leave it at the office at the end of the day. And I do worry about money…there’s always a sort of low-grade anxiety about, Will the freelance work dry up? Will I never make any more money writing? Have I been out of the ‘real job’ market so long that I could never get in again if I had to?

But those are quiet anxieties, underneath a whole lot of life satisfaction. So, I’m not complaining.

Books Read, Last Year

Last year I read 63 books. Here are the 25 I read for “leisure” (as opposed to “somebody paid me to edit, copy edit, or proofread”), in order of when I finished them:

Brenchley, Chaz: Bitter Waters
Tarr, Judith: Devil’s Bargain
Sedia, Ekaterina: The House of Discarded Dreams*
O’Malley, Daniel: The Rook
Barnhardt, Wilton: Gospel
Connolly, Tina: Copperhead
Priest, Cherie: Maplecroft
Powers, Tim: Hide Me Among the Graves
Stephenson, Neal et al: The Mongoliad Book One
Leckie, Ann: Ancillary Sword
Martin, George R. R.: A Feast for Crows
Smale, Alan: Clash of Eagles
Stephenson, Neal: Seveneves
Liu, Cixin (Ken Liu tr.): The Three-Body Problem
VanderMeer, Jeff: Acceptance
Bennett, Robert Jackson: City of Stairs
Cherryh, C. J.: Fortress in the Eye of Time
St. John Mandel, Emily: Station Eleven
Cherryh, C. J.: Fortress of Eagles
Bear, Elizabeth: Karen Memory
Cherryh, C. J.: Fortress of Owls
Cherryh, C. J.: Fortress of Dragons
Bellet, Annie: Justice Calling
Leckie, Ann: Ancillary Mercy
Wecker, Helene: The Golem and the Jinni

*Note: did not finish this one.

My leisure-reading goes down every year, as my work-reading goes up. I have a hard time feeling unhappy about that, because reading is basically my favorite thing to do, AND NOW I GET PAID TO DO IT. I wish I could tell you about so many of the books I read for work last year; but the copy editor’s place is behind the scenes, quiet and invisible. Sometimes books are not yet announced. (Though if you ask me privately, I may be able to point you in directions to look…there’s some amazing stuff coming out this year!)

As for the books above: Eight of them were for my book group; the rest I chose myself.

Particular favorites were: the Cherryh books; Seveneves; City of Stairs; and The Golem and the Jinni. Though even naming a few favorites makes me want to reassure the rest of them: I loved you too! 🙂

I almost never fail to finish a book, but I confess, the Sedia thwarted me. I had really loved a previous book of hers, but could not engage this one.

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Looking at this list and thinking about reading…my life looks so different now than it used to, even just five or six years ago. I used to experience this thing called “weekends;” I can actually remember spending entire Sundays on the couch, reading. Now, I work at reading and writing all day, and hold the household together as best I can. Leisure reading is saved for bedtime, when–shockingly!–I’m often sleepy, and don’t get more than a few pages read.

My to-be-read pile is now an entire bookcase, plus a long shelf along a tabletop. And that bookcase is also piled high with books on top, outside the shelves. Our book group is reading Seveneves this month, which I’m so excited to discuss; I was hoping to reread it before the meeting, but hahaha, no. I’ll be lucky to get a chance to glance through it for a few minutes…

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And one more thought. I have at least met twelve of the authors listed above; I count several of them friends, even dear ones (including my Best Person at my wedding!). I’m Facebook friends with several more of them. I remember a time when even catching a glimpse of a published author was an astonishing, unreal thing…

Yes, my life is different now. I like it.

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