This morning I received a message on Facebook asking if I had a master list somewhere of all my boxsets. Up until point I did not – unless you counted what Amazon or GoodReads put together on the pages they keep for authors automatically. But still there are a lot of books to sort through to find the boxsets. So, I put together this page to keep them sorted out and hopefully I remember to update this as boxsets are added.
With the world looking a little bright today and the last bit of work done on Stay with Us (book 4 of Love by Glitter Bomb) I took today off from writing and work. I’m about 20k words into book 5 already and needed a day to clear my mental space.
So, I thought I’d talk more about my reading for this year. I bought a lot of books during lockdown and I always by a lot of books, yeah, yeah. I know. lol It’s a cycle of buying and reading which never quite match up. One of the books I bought was The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allen Poe. It was a great find on ThriftBooks. If you haven’t heard of ThriftBooks it’s an online book store for new and used books. I’ve found some great deals there including one which will be with my for most of the year.
This big boy comes in at just under 1100 pages. I’ve never been one to sit and read a lot of poetry and short stories back to back, but I do want to finish this book in 2021. So my plan is to read about 90 pages a month and that will put me over the finish line in December. I’ve already marked out my monthly sections and am 50 pages into the book. Conveniently, the poetry section is first and is about 90 pages. So, in February I’ll be onto his tales.
In high school I was the kid who read a lot of creepy stuff and have read a lot of Poe since then too, but I’m finding poems I haven’t read before. I love how haunting his ‘writer’s’ voice is.
For the last few years I’ve tracked me reading on GoodReads. It took me a while to come around to the idea of counting books. Not because I was afraid my numbers wouldn’t be as high as I thought. Reading is reading and as we all know life kicks up the dust from time to time. I worried that tracking would make me more focused on the number than the books. Which wasn’t the case.
My original goal for last year was 100. I thought it was ambitious and I only bumped it up to 100, because towards the end of 2019 I discovered that audiobooks worked really well for me while I cleaned the house or crocheted or played HearthStone (later on I’d play Stardew Valley while listening too). But eh… 2020 the year I really don’t want to talk except for the books and well the places I talked about books. Because that’s something else 2020 changed for me.
Let’s get one thing out of the way – between CPTSD and introversion I’m pretty much a solitary being. I have friends – none that live close by where I live now, but I stay in touch with them a lot. I have a cousin I enjoy hanging out with – COVID19 took that away. COVID19 took a lot of things a way from a lot of people so I’m not going say more. What I will say is something lacked in my adult life – friends and acquaintances to discuss books with. There was a definite lack before 2020. I’m a writer! How did that happen? I honestly have no idea! Sure, I talked about the books I wrote and I talked about other LGBT+ romances with my readers at various times. But as my reading will show this year I’m a true Gemini and I need some variety in my life – and since books probably make up 80% of my life between writing and reading. I need a lot of it. I love reading, but to confine myself to one genre (I know there’s a lot of LGBT+ fiction out there that has nothing to do with romance) but I can’t just read romance. I digress, back to the subject.
Even before COVID19 lockdowns began I decided I needed to fix the lack of bookish friends in my life. I needed more people to talk about books with. I needed to make new connections and after 2019 I needed a place where I felt normal. For those of you who don’t know in 2019 I was physically assaulted by a family remember who I never thought would betray my trust. That was August 2019 (It feels like 3 lifetimes ago after 2020) and by January 2020 I knew something had to change. I was becoming a literal hermit after moving again and that wasn’t me.
So, where did I turn? A place I already sorta hung out to find penpals- Reddit. I know a lot of folks have a love/hate relationship with Reddit. I always say Reddit is a place where you mostly curate your experience by choosing the communities you participate in. Yeah, you’ll still see trolls – it’s the damn internet! For me, I found my ‘internet reading home’ on r/52book and r/bookclub.
r/52book is a sub-Reddit for folks participating in the 52 books a year challenge BUT they welcome everyone with a reading goal over there. I’ve found some really good books through talking to other users and I’ve even made a few friends along the way. They have a weekly check-in thread which I adore, because it doesn’t only give me a place to talk about what I’m reading, but to discuss those books and books others are reading. It’s part of my Sunday morning routine that I always look forward to.
r/bookclub is a sub-Reddit book club just like the name says. As much as I love r/52book – r/bookclub would be my real reading home. Sure, discussions are more limited to books that have been or are currently being read by the sub, but I’ve met so many wonderful people on that sub and I’ve even hosted a few reads. It’s given me a real sense of belonging and I really care about the community. I’ve read at least one of their picks every month since April 2020 (except for September when I moved). I’ve discovered books I’d never have read on my own and met some great folks along the way.
So, in the spirit of keeping the book conversation alive I thought along with my normal blogs (I’m hoping to get them up regularly again) I’d talk more here about what I am reading. I’ve not done this as much as I wanted in the past, because I always feel like someone will point out I read outside of ‘my genre’ so much that I’m not supporting it. Which is BS, but you know, anxiety is real even in writers. Maybe more so in some of us.
So my goal for 2021 is to read 104 books. 2 books a week. I kept it lowish (compared to last year) because if 2019 and 2020 taught me anything it’s that you never what’s just around the bin and in recent years it’s mostly crap. Lots and lots of crap. When I reach 104 I’ll adjust accordingly to how much of the year is left. I’ve already read 13 books. So, I know I’ll be adjusting it at some point.
So what do I count for my goal?
I could sum this up and say anything on GoodReads, but for the sake of clarity:
Short stories – if they’re published on their own and I read them in that format.
Books I write – yep, I read them so many times in editing/rewriting that I count them. My writing to reading ratio is low enough that I don’t think it makes that much of a difference.
Books I’ve written that I need to reread for the current book I’m writing at the time.
Graphic novels (I didn’t read a single one in 2020, but in 2019 I read a few.)
This year I want to spend more time talking about books – not just because I love them and think everyone should read in one way or another, but because with all the horrible things going on (and will continue to go on I think even with a real president) I believe we’ll all need something positive to focus on. For me – that’s my friends, my cat, and my books.
I look forward to 2021 being a year of bookish conversations and hope you’ll all join me here as I read my way through another year. Stay safe and healthy out there!
Ty and Feral are ready to settle into their new lives as true-mates and live out their happily ever after with their friends and their soon to be hatched baby. Their claiming vows hang in the balance of Feral’s trauma and everything conspires to keep him from finding out what exactly his dragon is hiding from him. When a threat from beyond the gateways of the Other World threaten one of the other members of their group Feral knows he must face his past and see what he doesn’t want to remember before it’s too late. He’d do anything to keep his friends and family safe, but as the memory leads to a bigger threat and everything leads back to Bram Valen – it’s Ty’s turn to step up and protect his family. He’s willing to die to keep them safe if that’s what it takes. Bram Valen will be the last monster he hunts down, but he knows all too well how the old saying goes.
If Feral and Ty are to defeat Bram Valen and come out of the battle alive, they’ll have to pull their friends and family closer than ever. Some threats are too big to face alone.
I’d like to say that I can’t believe I haven’t blogged since October but the truth is I can believe. 2020 sucked. We can all agree on that and in someways 2021 is off to a dumpster fire of a start too. So, as most writers and readers do I turn to stories for comfort, hope, and good ole fashion escapism. I hope for this to be the first in a line of blogs about writing and books and how they intertwine and maybe even a bit about what I’m reading.
As a lot of my longtime readers know I was an avid reader long before I was a writer or I should say professional writer. As a kid I ate up books and got age inappropriate books tossed at me by my negligent mother. (Other blogs talk about her and my CPTSD at length. No need to go into here.) But needless to say like most self-described readers stories fueled my soul. For me it was a natural progression from reader to writer. I never imagined doing it professionally as a kid. It seemed like a long shot for me, but here I am paying my bills with romance novels. While I’m far from fame and fortune I’m more than making due most of the time.
I guess that qualifies me to answer a question a lot of younger or new writers ask me. Recently, this question has hit my inbox a lot.
Maggie, what books should new writers read?
I know they want books about writing and crafting plots and characters and yeah, I read a lot of those as a teenager, but you can study something in theory forever and never get it down.
My suggestion is to just follow Stephen King’s advice – read everything. Literally, read all the time. In the supermarket line (Wear your damn mask!) and while the water is boiling for the pasta or the chicken’s in the oven. Read while you’re waiting for that Zoom call for work. Wake up in the middle of the night stressed out by the state of the world? Read a few pages until your brain shuts up. And no you won’t still other people’s ideas. You’re researching. You’re experiencing what you want to do (if you want to write a book that is.) There are some things you can only learn as a reader in my humble opinion.
I was about 14 when I let an adult friend of the family read the start of a story I was working on. I knew she was only reading the seven pages front and back written by hand on lined notebook paper torn from a spiral notebook to humor me. I watched her – holding my breath – yeah, she was humoring but maybe she had some insight too. Well, I watched her there at her kitchen table – nervously sipping sweet tea as she read the start of a story that I never finished writing. It wasn’t important that I finished it. What was important was the feedback she gave me. She read it – taking her time and turning through the pages carefully as if they were a sacred document. Then when she finished she set them aside and took a drink of her tea.
“You know, this actually reads like a book.”
That line would stand out to me for the rest of my teens as I scribbled stories I never finished. As I wrote a complete novel – and started a sequel by hand. I mean, I figured I knew what I was doing (not as much as I thought, but I knew how to make it sound like a book. lol) but hearing that kept me reading. No one told me how to write a book. I hadn’t read any fancy writing advice books by then. I learned from reading.
So, that’s my best advice for new writers – read the books you enjoy. You’ll learn more than you realize as you go along. Of course, there are some books on writing I’ll recommend because most people don’t like the above answer.
On Writing by Stephen King : I find myself returning to this book every few years. I can quote some of his advice by heart but I still enjoy reading it. Sometimes reading this book reminds me of what I love about writing. If you haven’t read it and you’re into the written word – check it out.
Today has been fantastic and more than a little nostalgic. I expected that a bit, though. I did read Midnight Sun. And then I promptly called my best friend and interrupted her readathon to gush. Yeah, I had to gush and not many things make me gush these days. I’m not a teenager anymore and I’m only 8 days smoke and those things do not add up to gushing under most circumstances. I won’t gush too much here but GAIS!!! It’s better than Twilight, though, it did put me right back in those days – where I was and who I hung around with at that time – the movies, the books. It was around the time of my accident that left me with a permanent disability – but there are so many happy little moments I’d forgotten about. If you enjoyed Twilight I’d recommend this one. If not, move along. No negative needed here. I’m 31 I’ll read about sparkly monsters if I want to. Now, I need Miss Stephanie to rewrite the other three books in the series from Edward’s perspective. No, I don’t ask for much at all.
I originally thought I’d jump back to my reread of the early Anita Blake series, but I was so caught up in the Twilight world that I jumped over to Life & Death: Twilight Reimagined. I’m about 3 chapters in and I’m enjoying it. It’s basically a gender swap of Bella and Edward to Beau and Edythe. Yeah, it’s gimmicky – I don’t wanna hear it, though. I’m enjoying it shameless. The last 14 months have been hell for me. Today, I’m happy and that’s incredibly rare these days.
Oh – I almost forgot to give my brain a break I started an audiobook today while I cooked lunch. I only listened to about an hour of it, but I am counting it towards my 10 hours for this readathon.
The Body Keeps Score has been recommended to me by so many people. Recently, I’ve been diving hard into working with my CPTSD- it’s shaped so much of my life and I didn’t realize the extent until my brother attacked me last year (h if you want that story it’s in other blogs.). So I’m diving into good old fashion physiotherapy. So far it works better than any therapist I’ve tried yet.
I’m at 7 hours and 2 minutes of my 10 hour goal. I need to do some evening stuff and get things taken care of. So, I’ll turn the audiobook back on while I do that. Between tonight and tomorrow morning (I’m usually up by 5) I should hit my 10 hour goal this time around. Maybe a little over since I’m adding in an audiobook this time.
I’ve always wished I were one of those people who could just read straight through the day. Don’t get me, I can read a lot in a day. I just have to come up for air from time to time. This is one of those times. I’ve divided the day into little 4 hours chunks. With the last one being not quite 4 hours because I don’t plan on being up until midnight. lol
So far today I’ve managed to read for 3 hours and 39 minutes. So about 1/3 of my 10 hour goal. I’m feeling a little fuzzy brained – hence writing this blog now instead of sometime later.
What have I read so far?
Well, about 300 pages of the newest Twilight book. Yep. It takes me back to my late teen years. It’s been forever since I read Twilight, but I think I might actually like this one better.
I also took a small break from Midnight Sun to read a portion of Perfume by Patrick Suskind for my group read. I dropped in and left my thoughts and jumped back into reading. This one both keeps my interest and infuriates me to no end.
I have noticed a them of blood for this readathon. Perfume is a book about a guy trying to make a perfume/cologne that smells like virgin blood. Well, it’s supposed to be but it feels like the writer keeps getting distracted.
I figure I’ll finished up the last 275 pages of Midnight Sun around 3 O’clockish. Then I’ll have to decide what to read next. I have plenty of options. I’m not sure if I want to go with the Circus of the Damned (3rd book in Anita Blake Vampire Hunter series, a reread for me, but what I’m currently working on reading), another Stephanie Meyer book, or just grab something short from the shelf. I think I want to continue with vampires and the like, though.
I slept rough last night. I’m about 7.5 days into quitting smoking and it’s effecting every area of my life. I’m running a little late with this blog because I didn’t know my desktop computer would choose this morning to spazz out over an update that didn’t install correctly. It’s fine now, but now I’m running around trying to make up for the lost half an hour when I thought I had plenty of time this morning!
I thought I had so much time in face that I read when I woke up. Yeah, I’m trying to make that a habit and a part of my new ‘non-smoker’ morning routine. I’m trying for 10 hours this round. Since I only read 35 minutes this morning before the official start – I’m counting it. It’s not much, but it’s enough to make me feel like maybe I’ll reach my goal!
I read number 4 & 5 of the new little Amazon ‘series’ of short stories. I loved the 4th and the 3rd was just okay. I usually love Emma Donoghue, but this little dystopian number about population growth and illegal babies just made me shake my head. I might’ve enjoyed it more if I read it not first thing in the morning. I’m ChildFree by choice, but I write books about men having babies. I have no problem with other people having babies and the story was just…. I don’t words it’s too early in the morning and I want to grab a bite to eat before the official start of the readathon. Overall, I’d recommend both of the stories – even if the latter is just to share my headache/confusion/thinking too hard early in the morning 😛
So… It’s the night before Dewey’s and my slow behind is finally considering what I’ll read tomorrow in a serious manner. I’m about 30 minutes from being a full week quit of smoking. It’s made me slow at everything, but I’m pushing through.
So what am I reading tomorrow? Well, tomorrow is a quick chat discussion of our current section of Perfume by Patrick Suskind. I”m reading this book with a lovely group of people I met on Reddit’s R/Bookclub. This section is only about 66 pages so I’ll likely get it out of the way early in the day. maybe not the first thing, but early in the day. I’m really enjoying this book so far and can’t wait to dig into the next section.
Okay, no judgement, because I’m really against people judging people based on what they read. It’s not cool. Unless it’s hateful that can hurt others leave people alone. What am I reading that I feel the need to give this disclaimer? I’m reading Midnight Sun. Yes, the 5th Twilight book. I was so into when I was younger. I was never Team Edward, but yeah I was in love with the series. So, yeah, I’m reading the new one. I’m about 100 pages in and keep cracking up at how dramatic Edward is. I mean that’s Meyer’s style, but still. It’s funny. I have about 550 pages left, but since it’s YA I still don’t believe it’s a full day of reading.
Beyond these two I’ll update here on on my FB page as the day goes on! What are you reading for Dewey’s?
It’s that time of the year again – Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon! I’m super excited for this one. I’ll be about a week quit of smoking then and reading all day will be a nice reward. This time I’m going for the goal of reading for 10 hours again. Yeah, I didn’t get it last time, but I wanna try again. I have to have sleep so 24 is out of the question. lol
So what am I going to read this year? That’s the question I’ve been pondering for a while now and I’m still not one hundred percent sure. I think I may just crack open Deathly Hallows to finish up my 2020 reread of HP. Though, I’ve been putting it off because well… You know. If you don’t just Google J.K. Rowling + transphobia. Yeah. I’m trying not to let her ruin it for me, but eh… We’ll see how it goes.
My other option is just to finish up whatever book I’m reading when it lands on that day, plus finish up my group read for the month since that’s our last discussion day, and then jump back into my reread of the Anita Blake Vampire Hunter Series. Honestly, I’m just not sure. I’m usually a mood reader and while I’m going through nicotine withdrawal that’s truer than ever. So, my TBR is TBA. lol I am going to try for 10 hours of reading during the 8AM-8AM period, though.