The February 2022 Reading List

Since one of my writing goals was to read more, I thought it would help to keep track of what I knocked off Mount Tsundoku. Here’s as good a place as any to post what I’ve read to keep me honest, and what I thought of each book immediately after finishing.

I’m changing up how I build my to-read stacks in 2022. This year, each stack of five will have to include at least two books by women, one non-fiction book, one book by an author I know personally, and one anthology (I’m making a conscious effort to read more short stories this year). Previously my goal was for each to-read pile to contain at least one book by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author, one book by a woman, one non-fiction book, and one book by an author I know personally. Creating the piles has been getting a little trickier, as I’m having a bit of trouble filling all of my criteria from stack to stack from my own shelves. I still plan on trying to read through the books on my own shelves as much as possible. I’m going to add at least one book from the library by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author for every stack I build to continue trying to diversify my reading.

The library has become my go-to for keeping up on what’s going in comics, so I’m sure there’ll be a number of graphic novels (and roleplaying games) that jump the queue and end up in the piles from time to time as well.

The World Without Us by Alan Weisman: Great read. Now I totally want to run a post-apocalyptic RPG.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Eberron Campaign Guide by James Wyatt and Keith Baker: I’m not sure I ever read this one cover to cover when it first released and I was playing D&D 4e. Lots of great info for an Eberron game regardless of which edition of the game you’re using.

Cremains of the Dead by Misty Simon, Tea & Treachery by Vicki Delany, Packing for Mars by Mary Roach, In the Dark We Forget by Sandra SG Wong, Arcana edited by Rhonda Parrish

In the Dark We Forget by Sandra SG Wong: A phenomenal thriller. Absolute page turner, and in my opinion, Sandra’s best book yet. I was lucky enough to receive and advance reading copy, as the book releases June 21st, 2022, and I’ll definitely be purchasing gift copies for friends who are into thrillers.

Cremains of the Day by Misty Simon: A cozy mystery, the first Tallie Graver novel. A fun read. While it has an interesting protagonist, the secondary characters and setting didn’t grab me enough to immediately seek out the next volume, but I would read more.

Shang-Chi Vol. 1: Brothers & Sisters by Gene Luen Yang, Dike Ruan, Philip Tan, Sebastian Cheng: I liked the art, and Yang crafted a fun story. I’ll keep reading the series. I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for Shang-Chi.

Morbius the Living Vampire Vol.1: Old Wounds by Vita Ayala, Marcelo Ferreira, Robert Poggi, Paulo Siqueira, Francesco Mobili, Scott Hanna, JP Mayer, Dono Sánchez-Almara: Not the blame of this series, but it’s something I’ve noticed lately as I’m reading more Marvel and DC books again; I’m getting tired of how many artists it takes for Marvel to churn out a monthly title. There was nothing wrong with any of the art, but none of it felt special either. I’ve always liked Morbius as a character, and I think Ayala did a good job with him. Especially enjoyed the guest appearance by Spider-Man.

Star Wars: Target Vader by Robbie Thompson, Marc Laming, Cris Bolson, Stefano Landini, Marco Failla, Roberto Di Salvo, Georges Duarte: I love having Valance back as a character. His previous appearances were some of my favourite old Marvel Star Wars comics.

When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo: Fantastic novella. A fairytale feeling story with talking tiger sisters stalking a cleric. Highly recommended.

The Immortal Hulk Vol. 9: The Weakest One There Is by Al Ewing, Joe Bennett, Ruy Jose, Belarindo Brabo, Paul Mounts, Alex Lins, Chris O’Halloran, Adam Gorham, Rachael Stott: Still cool. Really enjoying this series. Again, I wish Joe Bennett was the sole artist on the book, but I really enjoy the tale Ewing is crafting for the Hulk.

Jackals by John-Matthew DeFossi: A bronze age inspired roleplaying game. Jackals seems based on the Chaosium Basic Roleplaying engine, which I’ve always enjoyed, but simplifies combat (which was one of the things that always kept me from running games that used that engine). I appreciate how the game gives a solid reason for the characters to be together, and to be adventurers, and gives them something to do in the off-season. I’m not sure the setting speaks to me enough to run the game, but I’d definitely give it a crack if someone else was running the game.

Bitch Planet Book One: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Valentine De Landro, Robert Wilson IV, Chris Peters, Clayton Cowles: I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of DeConnick’s comic writing that I’ve read so far, and this was no exception. Looking forward to reading more in the series.

Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo: I enjoyed Vo’s When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain so much, I immediately checked out this one from the library. Loved it too. Can’t wait to read more by this author.

Here’s what I read in January.

Check out my roundup of my 2021 reading here.

Check out my roundup of my 2020 reading here.

New Year, New Goals 2022 Edition

My writing goals for 2021 were pretty modest. And yet…

We’re mumble mumble months/years into a pandemic, and while there’s hope of seeing the other side, there’s been a lot of other things going on in life, the universe, and everything, so I’m trying to be kind with my progress.

Here were the goals:

  • Finish short stories I’ve started but not completed: I’m only aiming for three new stories out the door this year, but again, I’d like to write at least one of those stories for submission to the online pro markets rather than for open call themed anthologies, as is my usual way.
  • Draft and submit a novella.
  • Read more in general.
  • Read more short stories in particular.

Honestly, better than I expected.

Reading was the star of the first half of the year. I absolutely crushed the book reading in 2021. I doubt I’ll be realistically able to top the number of books read. I read more short stories than any year in recent memory too. Reading definitely helped refill the creative well.

Here’s what I read in 2021.

I’ve changed up a few process things that I used for motivators and project management. Using a Trello board to track my projects has started paying off. I finished up four old stories and submitted them to their initial markets. Some of those stories had been languishing for ages, waiting for the right push, so it felt great to get them out the door. I’ve also made good progress on a bunch of other stories. There’s still too many projects sitting half-finished on the old Trello board, but many of those realistically only need a couple weeks of push to get from half finished into a draft I can start properly revising, and then submit.

I outlined the novella, and even started drafting it before other circumstances forced me to set it aside. This was the most planning I’ve put into a shorter project, but it felt necessary to keep the novella from turning into a novel. I hope to get back to it sometime soon, it’s not abandoned, merely delayed.

So much for works in progress. What’s going on with things you can actually read? Three new stories published, one award won, and a reprint publication. Pretty stoked about all of those things.

The first published story of the year is in Rhonda Parrish’s tarot themed anthology, Arcana. (Buy it now on AmazonKobo, or Apple. Or ask your local library or independent bookseller to order a copy.) I love “‘Til Death is Done” I think it’s one of the best stories I’ve written yet.

My story “Midnight Man versus Carrie Cthulhu” is in Tyche Books’ Water: Selkies, Sirens, & Sea Monsters anthology, also edited by Rhonda Parrish.

The final new publication of the year is “Lurkers in the Leaves” available in Alternate Plains, from Enfield & Wizenty, courtesy of editors Darren Ridgley and Adam Petrash.

I also had a reprint sale this year! “When the Gods Send You Rats,” which was originally published in Shared World, had a second appearance in Swords & Sorceries: Tales of Heroic Fantasy Volume 3!

The big, fantastic news in short fiction is that my story “All Cats Go to Valhalla” won the Prix Aurora Award for best short story!

All said, not a bad year for short fiction, considering it was a slow start to the writing year. Here’s hoping 2022 will be a productive and rewarding writing year. With that in mind, here’s my writing goals for the new year:

  • Finish my grant project (this is the big one. I made some progress in the back half of 2021, but this will have my focus for much of the first half of 2022. I have a significant number of short stories to finish drafting for this to be done, but work is ongoing, if slowed by the pandemic.
  • Finish another secret project which I can’t talk about yet, but I’ll let you know as soon as the contract is signed. It’s damn near there! One story left to draft and then some revisions down the pipeline. Hope to be able to announce it soon.
  • Draft and submit a novella, either the one I outlined in 2021, or another piece.
  • Keep my reading momentum. Since I’m hoping to get a lot of writing done, I’m setting a realistic goal of 50 books and 50 short stories read in 2022.

I really want to get back to writing novels, y’all, but for now, 2022 looks like a year of short fiction. If I hit my goals early, I hope to reward myself with starting a new novel, or returning to an old draft as a stretch goal.

Write on!