Welcome, 2013!

The weather has been grey today, the temperature dropping from a morning high of 57 degrees.  I went out to get my newspaper at 8:30 and haven’t been out the door since.  I spent a chunk of the morning (after reading the paper and watching an old Perry Mason episode) dithering over all the Productive Tasks I thought I should accomplish on my day off.  I have lists of them, on my computer monitor, on scraps of paper, in my head.  Pieces I need to write, tasks for my RWA chapter, sections of the house to clean and declutter, and so on.  I’m not very good at relaxing.

I finally convinced myself that this was a Day Off, for heaven’s sake, and I settled on the couch with Nutmeg the cat, a Mysteries in the Museum marathon running on the background TV, and Janet Evanovich’s Notorious Nineteen.  Stephanie Plum’s insane adventures kept me entertained all afternoon, as she and Lula tracked down a few bad guys, blew up a few cars, and made me laugh out loud more than once.

I haven’t had (or given myself) too many chances to sit down and read a book for a while.  I used to read a hundred or more books a year easily, but it’s harder to do that when you work full time at a paying job and take up writing as your other job.  Doesn’t leave a lot of time, and it’s way too easy to fall asleep over even a good book late at night.

This year I read 39 books.  Yes, I keep a list (you mean not everyone does?).  Ten romances (six on paper, four on Kindle), ranging from Regency (Cheryl Bolen) to steampunk (Zoe Archer), paranormal (Darynda Jones) to inspirational (Deeanne Gist), mostly contemporary settings.  I would read more romance–I have stacks of them To Be Read–if I wasn’t writing romance myself.  I suppose I’m afraid of seepage.  And, of course, if I had more time, because I love other genres, too.

I read nine mystery novels (only one on Kindle) this year, mostly on the humorous end, by Diane Kelly, Elaine Viets, Joan Hess, Susan M. Boyer, and Spencer Quinn, with Marcia Muller on the more serious side and Margaret Maron in the middle.   I only read five science fiction novels (one on Kindle), although it’s not easy to draw a line–Zoe Archer’s romance titles are also science fiction, and Sharon Lynn Fisher’s Ghost Planet is also a romance.

I also read four uncategorized mainstream novels, two on Kindle and two on paper, and eleven non-fiction books (six on Kindle, five on paper).  Of the non-fiction, four were on writing topics and three on social media.  The others included a gorgeously illustrated book on all things steampunk and a massive (but fascinating) biography of Queen Elizabeth II.

Here on my blog, WordPress tells me, I published 81 posts in 2012, with 91 pictures.  I had 21,000 page views (I stand amazed!) by visitors from 96 countries (most of them from the US, with significant numbers from Canada, the UK and Australia).  My most-read posts all concern the TV show Hell on Wheels;  that was hardly my goal when I began blogging, but I do find the show fascinating, and I’m looking forward to the next season.

On the writing front, I’m afraid I’ve been more involved in RWA activities than in actual writing.  I’ve served as president of the West Houston chapter (that’s a chunk of the To Do list on my computer monitor right there), been a finalist in the Golden Heart contest for the second year in a row, and traveled to the RWA national conference in Anaheim.  I’ve written columns and articles for my chapters’ newsletters.  I’ve done quite a bit of editing/revising/polishing, begun a new novel, and I’m learning to use Scrivener.

So, in short, I always have two or three bookmarks in play, even if I don’t get through the books as fast as I used to.  I’m building my “Internet platform,” but only as fast as I enjoy doing so.  And I’m pretty much always planning, plotting, or writing something.  I hope to continue all of this through 2013.  Maybe I’ll even manage to clean the rest of the house and hire someone to do something about my yard.  And remodel the bathrooms.  Maybe.

Happy New Year 2013

Recent Reading: Old and New

There’s been no pattern to my reading lately–maybe it’s too early in the year for patterns.  Not that I’ve found much time for reading, but I keep trying. 

One night when I found myself staring in semi-panic at the proliferation of unread books in my bedroom, I snatched up something close at hand:  The Chrysalids, by John Wyndham.  First published in 1955, and known in the US as Rebirth, this copy was a replacement for the worn and yellowed 1969 paperback on my shelf.  Wyndham is largely out of print in the US, but his books are available through The Book Depository.

Told in Wyndham’s favorite first-person narrative, The Chrysalids is set in an unspecified future, long after The Tribulation, a mystery to the book’s characters, but clearly a nuclear holocaust of some sort.  In the 1950s that meant radiation and genetic mutation, and the central conflict in the book involves the fanatical efforts of the local leadership to maintain mankind, as well as the animals and crops, in pure form.  David, the protagonist, is a telepath.  He and the handful of others with the same gift appear to be perfectly normal, but in time it becomes clear they are not.  When others reach the same conclusion, the telepaths run for their lives.  Always the philosopher, Wyndham wonders which is more valuable, stability or change, regimentation or chaos?

Margaret Maron’s Three-Day Town is the latest in her Judge Deborah Knott mystery series.  Deborah and her husband venture away from their home in North Carolina to visit New York City, where they cross paths with Sigrid Harald, the NYC detective protagonist of Maron’s earlier series.  I enjoyed another visit with Deborah, but I didn’t find Sigrid particularly compelling (I haven’t read her earlier stories), and I missed Deborah’s enormous family and the often hilarious cases that pass through her courtroom.  I trust she and Dwight will be back home when we meet them again in Maron’s next mystery.

Meanwhile on my Kindle, I was reading Three Days at Wrigley Field, by K.P. Gresham.  Disclaimer here:  Kathy Gresham is an old friend and one-time critique partner of mine who decamped a few years ago to Austin.  When I heard that she had independently published this novel, which I had heard about but never read, I jumped at the chance.  I’m not much of a sports fan, but Kathy is, and her love and knowledge of baseball permeate this story of the first woman to try out for a major league team.  The book is about much more than baseball, of course, and well worth reading.

I half-read, half-skimmed my way through The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook a couple of weeks ago, and frankly, I still don’t understand.  Why would I want to keep the friends of the friends of my friends posted on my activities?  Why would I want to follow theirs?  I have friends (actual in-the-flesh friends) who practically live on Facebook, and others who have pages there but only look at them every few weeks.  Just the other day my dental technician told me about someone who found her through Facebook–and she really wishes he hadn’t.  I guess I’m just not ready to join the party, spend the time, or invest that much effort in keeping up with the ever-changing privacy settings.  I feel a whole lot more secure here on my blog.


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