A New Year: 2020 Specs and 2021 Goals

Yas!  Okay so everyone is pumped to see 2020 go.  Me too. The Oatmeal had the best cartoon about it up on FB that explains all my feelings.  If you don’t know about The Oatmeal, consider that my Donovan Reads official holiday gift to all you lovely readers, for whom I am grateful.

Gratitude is the way to begin any new venture.  Raise your vibration to let the light in and the manifestation happen!  I have to keep this in mind as we enter a January that might be even darker than most.

This post is my 2020 roundup and my goals for 2021 all together in one bit.   One juicy post with specs and what you need to know about my 2021 (and, of course, feel free to comment and share where you are for this, the lovely first Sunday of the New Year).

My 2020 specs according to goodreads is a little off because I did not count every book I enjoyed listening to with my son.  I didn’t record my third go round with Harry Potter. I thought about it and didn’t want to put in all the effort.  So it’s an under estimation, really, as Audible has a different report than Goodreads about how I spent this trip around the sun.

2020:  78 books, 26994 pages

Goodreads goal, which I like to set last minute, was 75.  I wish they counted books before you set a goal.   

Shortest book 31 pages, Tarot for Creatives

Longest book 829 pages, Winter, Marissa Meyer

Kindle specs (as of my phone app): 

Read:  477

Unread:758

I made it through all of my Susanna Kearsley books and all the Lunar Chronicles books.  Susanna was definitely my most hoarded and unread author.  I also did the Linda Lafferty historical fictions, the Jandy Nelsons and some other YA staples that had to be read for someone trying to get into the market.I have a lot of Nero Wolfe books but they have all been read. At the end of last year I went through my books and grouped them according to series, short stories, and similar themes, and I might go back and group them by what year I bought them too to work on who has been there the longest if I’m not sure.   The biggest grouping that got knocked out was my Halloween reads, to be sure.  

These numbers only feel okay to me.  I feel like still having 758 unread is a lot, and, full disclosure, I have actually taken to deleting some of the early stuff I got in 2010 that was all public domain when I wasn’t entirely sure of what I wanted to read and have.  I still have books that I am ambivalent about that have sat unread for almost ten years but those have audiobooks now to them and I still have some interest.  I realize that 80 books a year times a smidge under 80 books with my love of new books and library books means it will still be ten years plus at this pace.

Which is why 2021 will still be a read down. I see the other challenges.  I see Modern Mrs. Darcy and I see Popsugar and BookRiot.  I see you guys out there tempting me to push out my reading horizons, but I have to get through what I have.  I still have a ton of series I haven’t done that I want to, and I have LOADS of short story collections. 

Writing has to happen this year, but guess what:  if I read about the same as last year I can make it to a thousand books read on my Goodreads!  I would like to achieve the thousandth book.

I wanted to see how I did with my book buying but I ordered a lot of credits for a game I like to play so I have too many pages of digital orders to go through. I know at the end of June I took a tally and I slid off the wagon a little when I discovered Hester Fox but I think that I actually did pretty well with not buying new books. I will do audio of books I already have to get them read, and this round up for the new wave of reading down has been no different.

Also, audible adding a catalog of included titles for free in the membership?  Holy crap.  Totally love it.

The biggest challenge I’m anticipating is what I collected in my more classic novel phase a few years ago when I was really starting to be mindful of reading to build up a decent exposure to stories through time to work on my writing, which really I committed more to in 2015 when my son allowed me enough sleep and time to myself to start in with that adult bucket list item.  Classic novels have become difficult now not only because they can be slow but also because I just don’t want to read about the tragedy anymore.  The lovely women and men who just make terrible choices for themselves and throw it all away without the redemption and the more modern literary devices to make it marketable.  I mean some of the depressing literary stuff still makes it out there but I feel like Edith Wharton, if she was trying to break into publishing today, would have been forced to make a happier ending for House of Mirth. Do I want to tackle Portrait of a Lady by Henry James?  I do not.  Will I take it off my TBR?  Unlikely.  Also, I’ve moved away from some of the hefty tomes in favor of getting more books read.  Like, do I want to spend 32 hours on The Goldfinch?  It’s not like 2008 anymore and I’m not a single woman holed up in a rented room without a smartphone to ruin my attention span anymore.

I continue to read some stuff in the public domain as well because I can modernize them for my own stories.  Which leads me to the writing goals next.

Writing in 2020:  I had some wins.  I did a piece of flash for the first 70 days of the coronavirus lockdown and I got the opening pages of my novel where I want them as well as another big edit for it, cutting out 10k words.  I had my first and only request to see a full manuscript.  I got two more flash and another short publication under my belt and I continued to do my 12 short stories.

But I decided last month I can’t do the finding an agent and go the traditional route anymore.  I promised myself that 2020 was going to be about joy, and largely it has been about that in my personal world.  I have a lot of creative and spiritual accomplishments from the past year that really feel good.  I’m starting this year better than last to be certain.  And one of those ways I am starting it better is by knowing that even though I have only queried about half the number recommended for agents, I just want to build my own empire.  I have a self publishing consultation booked this week with someone whose empire I admire and who I’d like to look over my work and get it out there, without the subjective rat race that’s so full of uncertainty.  It will be work, time and money, but this January will be three years on this project, and as how that was how long it took to get my doctoral project finished, I am ready to stop battling with myself over if I need to keep investing the energy in it or just let it sit on my hard drive for all time, unseen for the larger world.

Remind me I said this when I am in the throes of building an author platform or I have anxiety about approaching local bookstores for signing.  And when hopefully post corona the library can have another local authors fair, or when I decide to drive north for hours to participate in an Adirondack Writer’s Conference to get it out there.  It’s work and anxiety but it’s all back in my control.

And you never know what can happen if the book gets out there and someone who would have initially overlooked it develops an interest?  I am paying people to help me make this book the best it can possibly be without relying on gatekeepers to even get to those talents. 

I am going to continue to write shorts.  I like flash, and I love my 12 short stories, and some of my reading, especially all the nonfiction I got that I thought I needed in preparation for the book that has already been written, can be used as fodder for more stories. Because having ideas flowing and not worrying so much about immediate outcome and publication is important.  It’s a form of spirituality.  

And, speaking of spirituality, there are more spiritual books I have on deck as well as some online material I am planning on consuming as far as meditation and intuition.  I continue to work on tarot reading and crystals, too.  But the changes coming to this blog will be about managing the book I want to get out there, not about the magic of divination, despite my love of divination.

Where’s your 2021 at?  Are you ready to dip your toes and be hopeful and make projects for any possible added time at home?  

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New Year’s Reading Goals!

Happiest of New Years and new decades to all the hopeful souls out there anxious and needing a fresh start!  

I never understood resolutions as a kid because my world was structured, but now that it isn’t, I like to think of how I’d like to best use the year of time ahead of me.  I spend a good amount of time as the weeks close out thinking about what I’ll do with my free time especially in the soul killing eight weeks of dead winter coming up. The weeks that I also welcome a little bit, now, just because there is some slowing down that happens.  Don’t tell anyone I said that.  

I had this idea for my reading this year before it started to float around as memes on social media.

But for 2020, my reading plan isn’t lists, no BookRiot, no Popsugar, no Modern Mrs. Darcy (although all of these are lovely challenges) for me it’s getting my backlogged books read!

(Ugh I googled to see if Popsugar was doing a 2020 challenge and of course they have a Facebook group now that you can make recs and share ideas.  So jelly. I wasn’t upset about skipping challenges this year until I saw the chance for FRIENDS)

Just on my Kindle app, I have 799 unread books and 421 read ones.  And I’ve gone through them to make sure they are accurately marked in anticipation of this very thing.  I get through about 100 books in a year so even just keeping to those (which I don’t mean to) I wouldn’t make a huge dent. 

 

Audiobooks are over 200 but they are usually companions to what I already have.

 I have paper books stored in three locations:  my office in the basement, my she shed, and piled on and next to my nightstand.

I have a small collection of iBooks and Apple audiobooks I got with my Christmas gift card that I won’t use on music because I now have an Apple Music subscription, which I really like because I can access any song at any time and my son can add songs he sees on the radio and likes.

Finally wishlist items will be included.  Anything that was on my library, Audible, or Amazon wish list when the clock struck midnight on January 1 is fair game.  This is because I don’t know how long I can go without acquiring some new books or borrowing them. Especially with audible I love a companion to what I’m reading for craftery.  Because craftery is life. And I want to listen to books on long runs, if I’m doing long runs, because I can’t get into a meditative state and I spend most of the run bargaining with myself to keep going.  I know, I make running sound fantastic. But I waited for an iteration of the AppleWatch that does audiobooks. I really did. 

I have dabbled in getting down my backlist in the past.  I read some of the public domain stuff that I downloaded when I first got my kindle, which was good, but I have to switch it up with more fun reads, because if it isn’t fun, it won’t be sustainable.  I might know a bit about starting a habit and I know that if it always feels like work, someone won’t do it. 

I always liked being able to read something I have when I was doing list challenges, as well as my seasonal reads, scary and Christmas, and I am going to read what I have still for both of those. This may mean not as many Christmas books as I read down a number of them last year, but I still have some waiting.

I don’t know how much I want to structure it past reading what I have.  I could rotate areas where the books are or how long I have had them unread, but the thing is, my intentions are to use and enjoy what I have, but also get back to joy.  Part of that is reading what I’m excited about reading within the list I have. I acquired what I have because I anticipated joy in them, so I can unlock the joy I anticipated, the joy I have been waiting for.  If I get through some of the year and I want to concentrate on a specific source, I can. It could mean a snow read, which I have not done in years, or it could not. I have some really fat books wanting my love.

Also notably, this challenge could get me back into my paper books a little more.  I have wandered from them, because kindle books are backlit and have the excellent whispersync feature. And because I don’t have to hold it flat when I’m knitting, and because I don’t have to bring it with me because I have it downloaded on my phone to read anytime I want. I always have my book and you don’t know if I’m reading or doing something productive.  So many benefits of kindle books, even if they don’t have a great smell or a sweet deckle edge. Or the gratification of watching a bookmark make its way down.

I mainly read in my bed in the dark.  I have to dig out my reading lamp. 

Another goal I want to be better at this year is doing better at reading what others post on social media.  I need to read and comment on Wattpad to drive some traffic toward what I have posted. And I appreciate those who read my blog so I should read more of others blogs.

My goal is to find joy in what I already have and feel good about reading what I already have.  

If I could muster up the motivation to get back to sewing the sew down would be amazing.  If I was snowed into my house for six months I would have enough to do. Which is a blessing to be grateful for.

The point is joy and enjoying what I have. My intention for the New Year is finding my joy again in all domains.  Joy!

What are your reading goals and resolutions in all areas?

Hoarded author binge reading posts begin next week!!

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2019: the Intentions

So it’s all died down post holidays and in theory we are all back to our regular, and where I am, wintry lives for the next few weeks, and a new year ahead to fill with goals and speculation.

I have to focus on writing again this year, especially this winter, when obligations slow down for awhile.  No holidays, not yet sports, I need to run more over the winter but not blasting out long runs to prepare for races.  Here it is, the time to do it.  And before it gets stale.  Writing goals for 2019: (universe take note)

  1. Finish revising the novel I was working at last winter/spring.  It’s half revised and I know what I need to do with the rest.  I am experiencing some crippling doubt around it, afraid that if I dust it back off I will want to burn it all.  My consolation is I had a teacher getting me through it and reading much of it, so it can’t be that bad.  Right?  I won’t look at it and see unfixable writing disasters…right?  And then I am paying for a professional critique, fraught with the same anxiety that a new pair of eyes will be like, thanks for the three dollars a page but this sucks, I have nothing to say to un-suck this thing, you wasted all your time.

2. Revise the first novel I wrote that I also got some awesome ideas from my teacher on what to do with it. It’s not as complicated as the second novel I wrote, that one might be more fun and flow better to punch up.  And I have had more time with it.  Her comments are always energizing and I particularly liked the new breath she suggested I breathe into it.

3. Put something else out there to start getting traction as a writer.  Whether I want to do wattpad, revise three shorts/novellas I have been working on and try my luck self publishing on kindle, get a Submittable account and look into my sources on getting published in literary magazines/journals, something.  As you can see, I’m not entirely sure how I will go about getting my traction.  It’s less about making money (hence wattpad or if I tried a little KDP it would be a dollar a story or something) and more about this is what else you can look at as I eventually do want to send out my novel(s).  And my not being sure the details on this one yet is about focusing my emotional energy right now at facing goal #1.  I can work on other places and pieces when I am waiting for it to come back from being critiqued and I can’t get sidetracked by those.

4. Do my third year of 12 Short Stories.  If you don’t know what it is, it is a writing challenge where people submit a short story every month based on a prompt, hosted by Writer’s Write based out of South Africa. I have been experimenting, stretching my wings a little, and above all it keeps my cogs turning and keeps me writing.  Like this blog keeps me writing and thinking about what I read and why.  And because I did it from the very first prompt at the group’s inception back in 2016 when it was a Facebook page and not a wordpress site and I can’t stop now!  I been there since the start.   And I won their first writing contest, which got #1 on paper.   It’s moved me closer to my goals than I ever anticipated.

So all these writing goals on a primarily reading blog. Of course.  I can’t focus on binge reading all through this year, sadly.  I already started falling back into binge reading in December, knocking out Christmas reads and the last two challenges on BookRiot.   Similarly, there will be no Snow Read 2019 like there wasn’t one for 2018, and I will not pick a reading goal on Goodreads until later in the year, like I did this year when writing was on hold for everything else that had to happen.  No 5 over 500.

I will go back to blogging one book a week, except next week, because I already noted  that I got back into binge reading and the three books I tackled between Christmas and New Year deserve a post together.  As a final binge read tribute before I go back to swimming around in my self doubt and puzzling through weird thoughts when I am not working or parenting.  Or maybe when I am doing those things.  I bet I could come up with some brilliant things while racing my son in Mario Kart.  I found out I could reasonably follow a book in one ear too, as long as it wasn’t super complicated, while I play Mario with him.

But there will still be reading.  I am going to do BookRiot 2019 and already did one category and started another. There still has to be reading or else I will perish.  And maybe more reading than last year because I am not starting a project from a few jotted ideas and half of them turned out to be boring.  Ironing out foibles is possibly easier, but it still requires getting into a head space, and someone else’s story can crowd that head space.  Like my full time job does as well.  Yeah, that thing that stands in the way of flooding the world with my writing.

Just another note about BookRiot: I will be trying to read what I already have if I have something that fits the category.  Thankfully it’s happening pretty often as I am poking around the internets for the right choice:  I still want to read Exit West and that’s a category fitter, as well as some NK Jemisin, totally late to the party on her I think, Still trying to read down the backlist. I looked on my Amazon account yesterday and I definitely have over a thousand ebooks, which doesn’t count the piles of physical books engulfing my spaces in the house.  I still want to read down my TBR.  Desperately.   Maybe this also was why I didn’t pay attention to a lot of new releases in 2018 (I didn’t even read Circe or Less or Children of Blood and Bone or The Power or Milkman! But I have since procured Circe and I have the audio tagged on my library account).   And as I am writing this post I see Charlie Holmberg has a Kindle First release this month and I totally bought it with the audio.  I’m trying, I really am.

And if I can get in some short stories as challenge categories, I will shoot for that as well.  I could get some more short stories in via podcasts too.  If I stay away from the hilarity that is Literary Disco and let LeVar Burton read to this 80’s kid just a little bit more.

Wow, I was dreading this post a little because I was feeling unfocused for the new year, binge reading and learning how to crochet a granny square for like the third time while being perfectly aware I don’t need a new craft while I have a book to revise. It had more to say that I thought I did.  It always helps to make your intentions known.

I intend to finish at least one novel. And by finish, I mean something I feel is ready to be sent out for consideration for publication.

I intend not to start dyeing yarn in a crockpot either even though that’s a pretty writer-friendly hobby.

Comments and likes? Encouragement?  Happy 2019!