2021 Reading in Review

This is what I wrote about my 2020 reading:

2020 was an odd year for reading. I usually read on average a book or two a week. This year I went through phases were I didn’t read for ages then I read five books in a week.

If I thought 2020 was odd, it had nothing on 2021. I read thirteen books this year–three of which were re-reads of Patricia Briggs novels. I think the last ‘new’ book I read was in June–the latest Phryne Fisher mystery.

I just couldn’t get into the mood to read new things. My goal was to read 48 books in 2021. A goal I quite obviously failed.

I think I read well over a hundred different fanfictions in various fandoms. So technically I did hit my goal, I suppose.

Of the few books I read this year, Bounce by Becca Seymour is probably my favourite.

The review I wrote for it:

I adored this book. Despite being forewarned, I wasn’t quite emotionally prepared for some of depths of human emotion that were delved into here. A lot of authors tend not to want to touch tougher subjects. They were handled beautifully and brilliantly in Bounce. It’s a wonderful romance between two loveable characters who’ve suffered through traumatic events of one variety or the other. The trigger warnings at the start of the book should definitely be paid attention to.

Here’s hoping next year is a better year for reading.

What about you?

What were some of your favourite reads this year?

NaNoWriMo 2021. A failure?

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I participated in NaNoWriMo this year—as I have just about every year since around 2013. Some NaNo are more successful than others. And I know writing a 50k novel in a month isn’t for everyone.

To be completely honest, it isn’t always for me either.

Up until 2019, I’d generally done fairly well with NaNoWriMo.

2019 threw a lot of curveballs at my husband and me. It was a rough year. And I remember going into 2020 thinking that I hoped it would be a better year. Shall we all laugh at my poor ‘sweet summer child’ self?  Better to laugh than cry, I suppose.

2019, 2020, and now 2021.

All three years that I suppose have technically been a NaNo failure. I haven’t hit the 50k goal. I got closer this year than I did the past two, so that’s something.

The difference this year is I feel better about what I accomplished.  I went into November with the hopes of hitting 30k. I’d have been thrilled with 40k and stunned if I hit the 50k.  I was about 1k short of 30k so I consider that a win.

Listen, if you wrote anything during a globally traumatic event, I think you deserve a medal. It is incredibly difficult to accomplish creative endeavours with so much pulling at our minds. So I’m celebrating my 29k words.

It’s 29k that I didn’t have at the beginning of November. It’s over halfway through a fun cozy mystery that I am thoroughly enjoying writing. And it’s taken less time than my last WIP, which took over four months to write.

Maybe the biggest lesson for me through the last two years is to give myself space and time.

Also, celebrate even the smallest wins.

And when all else fails, there’s always chocolate.

I’m just saying.

How about you? Did you take part in NaNo this year?

What is failure?

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I don’t know is the short answer.

2019 was a year from hell, personally. Hospital visits. A husband diagnosed with heart failure. A death in the family. A car accident where my aforementioned husband almost drove off a mountain (only being mildly hyperbolic.)

If it could go wrong, it went wrong in 2019.

And I remember thinking fuck, 2020 has to be better, right?

I set goals. Intentions. A word for the year. I was so hopeful about 2020.

Or maybe, cautiously optimistic.

And to borrow a quote from George RR Martin…”ah, sweet summer child.” How wrong I was.

2020 hit like a wrecking ball and hasn’t slowed down since.

Initially, I found myself feeling like a failure because every time I set a deadline or goal, I had to move the finish line. It’s been three years in a row of taking longer to write novels that I did in 2017 or 2018.

It feels a lot like failure but it isn’t.

The thing is that finishing any creative project in difficult times takes strength and resilience.

So what if I didn’t cross the line I set for myself within the time frame that I thought I would?

I still finished.

Maybe it takes months longer than expected but finishing a project is success.

Not failure.

And seriously, if you’ve managed to complete any sort of creative project during the trashfire of the last few years?

You should consider it a massive success.

4 Things I Love about Motts’s Cottage

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One of the main characters in my Motts Cold Case Mystery Series has to be the cottage. I know it’s not a person but it has a personality all its own. Here are just a few reasons I love it.

The Garden

Vegetables, fruit, herbs. Cactus adores running around the garden. It very much is a safe haven for Motts.

The Fireplace

Motts spends a lot of time in front of her fire. She tends to run cold outside of hot flashes, so keeping warm is important. And also, Cactus is very sensitive to the cold.

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The Bathroom

Despite being a little cottage bathroom, Motts loves her tub. Cactus, however, is highly suspicious of water.

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Do the Job

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Do The Job.

It’s a phrase written on the dry erase board over my bookshelf. A small reminder to myself. Do. The. Job.

I don’t remember where I saw it, initially. I think a friend shared something on Instagram. I don’t remember. It stuck in my head, though. And I scribbled it on the board over a year ago.

Do the job.

The job in question?

Writing.

I love to write. It’s what ‘brings me joy.’ My head becomes way too cluttered when I don’t. Some days I’m working on a novel, others I’m writing simply for my own entertainment.

Stories I’ll never share with the world.

My hobby?

Writing.

My way to relax?

Writing.

My job?

Writing.

And therein lies the problem.

When one of your hobbies or ways to relax becomes ‘the job,’ it adds a lay of stress to your joy. It adds a deadline. Responsibilities. I don’t just want to write–I have to.

It’s often a struggle. One of the reasons I wrote the phrase on my board was a reminder. If it’s what I do, I need to do it.

Take a break when required.

Step back when needed.

But eventually, I have to do the job and write.