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 finished my grant project (and on deadline!) as well as my final report. Twelve short stories drafted in twelve months, three of which have been revised and submitted, one of which has sold (I’ll talk more about that one when I’m able)!
That secret project is done and launched. You probably know by now that project was my Thunder Road short story collection, When the Sky Comes Looking for You: Short Trips Down the Thunder Road. When the Sky Comes Looking for You made the Winnipeg Free Press bestseller list and the Hamilton Review of Books bestseller list for October, which is super cool, especially considering the fine works I shared the honour with.
Maybe I should’ve set a more ambitious reading goal … I blew past my book and story goals (I almost read 50 short stories in May alone) before June. I’d almost doubled my reading goals halfway through the year. I won’t get into all the details here, you can read the breakdown in my annual reading round up here, but some excellent stories and books have been read.
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.
That all said, here’s my goals for 2023:
Change up my reading goals. I’m still going with 50 books and 50 stories, but I’m making a point of finishing some of the giant doorstopper series I’ve collected but not started yet (first on deck is Tad Williams’ Shadowmarch books).
Revise and submit my WIP novella
Be more proactive about submitting my short fiction again.
Submit at least four new stories.
I think that’s it for now. Happy reading, happy writing, and have a great 2023!
Since I had success with my 2020 reading plan, I made a spreadsheet to track my reading more in depth, and here’s how my 2022 in reading went:
Holy shit (again).
I cracked open 176 books, and finished 173 of them. Down from 2021’s ridiculous (and unlikely for me to ever top) total of 216, but still, I’m pretty pleased with the total. Of those 176 books, 13 were rereads (about a third as many as last year), and 70 were graphic novels (roughly the same as last year), which inflates the number a bit, but books are books, and I’m counting them.
I read 30 books by BIPOC authors (the same as 2021) and 30 by authors I know to be LGBTQ2S+ (weirdly also the same as 2021). I was hoping to improve both of those numbers in 2022, and so am mildly disappointed, but they also represented a larger percentage of my reading in 2022 than 2021, so that’s not nothing.
92 of my books read were by women (up from 83 last year), and I exceeded my goal of 50% of my reads being books by women! After two years of getting close to this mark, I was glad to finally get there.
I caught up on 17 books written by friends (a bit down from last year, sorry friends). Sorry it took me so long! I also read 56 books by authors who were new to me (meaning I’ve never read their work before, not that I’ve never heard of them), weirdly, again the same number as last year.
Non-fiction was a bit of a disappointment again. I read 10 non-fiction books in 2022, down from 2021 and still a slim percentage of my total reads. I tend to read non-fiction much more slowly than fiction, as I often make notes to myself of things I’d like to remember, or things that give me story ideas, this hasn’t changed, I don’t expect it to change. Short of completely revising my to-read stacks to include more non-fiction, I won’t see significant gains here. Still, I’m reading more non-fiction in general than I have in years.
I read a whopping 28 roleplaying game handbooks in 2022, almost twice as many as last year, which means once again I read more RPGs than I played in game sessions. Another bad year for gaming for me, sadly. What games I played were fun, but pandemic brain definitely caused me to step back from actual game sessions (and as good as Roll20 is at what it does, I vastly prefer to have my gaming take place in person). I only played three different roleplaying games in 2022, and none of them new to me. Still, I was able to be a mostly-regular player in my two ongoing campaigns, and had a fucking phenomenal final game of the year with some friends from my old university group. Looking forward to revisiting that new campaign.
Of the 173 books I finished in 2022, I liked 104 of them enough to recommend to others, and there were no real stinkers. Even the books I set down had some pretty admirable qualities, they just weren’t for me.
Here’s the books and stories I enjoyed the most in 2022 (not necessarily published in 2021, obviously).
Favourite Fiction Reads
Once Removed by Andrew Unger
In the Dark We Forget by Sandra SG Wong
When the Tiger Came Down the Mountain by Nghi Vo
Empress of Salt and Fortune by Nghi Vo
The City of Brass by S.A.Chakraborty
Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire
The Kaiju Preservation Society by John Scalzi
Red X by David Demchuk
Flight Risk by Cherie Priest
Spear by Nicola Griffith
My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones
Steeped to Death by Gretchen Rue
Favourite Non-Fiction Reads:
Packing for Mars by Mary Roach
The Secret Life of Fungi by Aliya Whiteley
Yours Cruelly, Elvira by Cassandra Peterson
Favourite Graphic Novel Reads:
Bitch Planet Book One: Extraordinary Machine by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Lore Olympus Volume One by Rachel Smythe
A Blanket of Butterflies by Richard Van Camp, Scott B. Henderson
Die Volume 1: Fantasy Heartbreaker by Kieron Gillen
Four Faces of the Moon by Amanda Strong
Shadow Life by Hiromi Goto
Fangs by Sarah Anderson
The Autumnal by Daniel Kraus
Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin
Cold Bodies by Magdalene Visaggio
Favourite RPG Reads:
The Black Hack by Gold Piece Publications
9 Lives to Valhalla by Gem Room Games
Pathfinder 2nd Edition Absalom City of Lost Omens by Paizo
Exploring Eberron by Keith Baker
Savage Worlds Rifts: The Tomorrow Legion Player’s Guide by Pinnacle Entertainment
As for short fiction, one of my 2022 reading goals was to read at least 50 short stories. I blew that goal out of the water. In 2022 I started reading a total of 211 stories and finished 203! Of these stories, 34 were by BIPOC authors, 28 by authors I know to be LGBTQ2S+, 43 by friends, and 100 by women (again, just short of that 50-50 parity I wanted). I liked 115 of those stories enough to recommend them, and only 8 were pieces I chose not to finish. The majority of the stories, 85 of them, came from anthologies (one of my 2022 reading goals was for each of my to-read stacks for the year to contain an anthology). Otherwise, my top venues were Lightspeed (14), Nightmare Magazine (13), and Beneath Ceaseless Skies (11).
Favourite Short Fiction Reads:
Le Cygne Baiseur by Molly Tanzer, Lightspeed Magazine
The Ones Who Got Away by Stephen Graham Jones, Nightmare Magazine
The Good Girls by S.M. Beiko, Alternate Plains
Bloodbath (VHS, 1987, DIRECTOR UNKNOWN) by David Demchuk, Alternate Plains
Of Men, Women, and Chainsaws by Stephen Graham Jones, Tor.com
That Story Isn’t the Story by John Wiswell, Uncanny Magazine
How to Become a Witch-Queen by Theodora Goss, Lightspeed
The Eternal Cocktail Party of the Damned by Fonda Lee, Uncanny Magazine
10 Steps to a Whole New You by Tonya Liburd, Fantasy Magazine
The Root Cellar by Maria Haskins, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Give Me Cornbread, or Give Me Death by N.K. Jemisin, Lightspeed
Every Tiny Tooth and Claw (Or: Letters From the First Month of the New Directorate) by Marissa Lingen, Beneath Ceaseless Skies
Guidelines for Appeasing Kim of the Hundred Hands by John Wiswell, Fireside
Research Log ~~33 by Rowena McGowan, Air: Sylphs, Spirits, & Swan Maidens
The Sea Half-Held by Night by E. Catherine Tobler, Dead North
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 changed how I built my to-read stacks in 2022. This year, each stack of five I built from the home shelves had to include at least two books by women, one non-fiction book, one book by an author I know personally, and one anthology (I made 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 these piles from my own shelves was getting tricky after the last few years, and I still plan on trying to read through books I’ve already purchased as much as possible. I added at least one book from the library by a BIPOC or LGBTQ2S+ author for every stack I built 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 I backed on Kickstarter) that jump the queue and end up in the piles from time to time as well.
Pathfinder Vol. 2: Of Tooth and Claw by Jim Zub, Jake Bilbao, Ivan Anaya, Sean Izaakse, Kevin Stokes: Another fun graphic novel set in Pathfinder’s world of Golarian. In general I liked the art in this volume better than volume one. I do wish that either Izaakse, or Anaya had been responsible for the art in the entire book, as their styles suited my sensibilities more.
My Heart is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones: A love letter to the slasher genre. I haven’t read a bad book by Jones yet, can’t wait to see what he does next.
The Grande Odalisque by Bastien Vivès, Florent Ruppert, Jerome Mulot: A French graphic novel translated into English. Two art thieves take on a third partner to pull off the biggest job of their careers, robbing The Louvre. Loved it. Lots of fun, and just plain funny. A caper with lots of heart underneath. Apparently the characters will return, so I’m excited to read more about them.
Far Sector by N.K. Jemisin, Jamal Campbell: A Green Lantern story introducing a rookie Lantern, Sojourner “Jo” Mullein from Earth who’s been sent to a city where emotions have been left behind as dangerous. Jemisin really nailed this on every level. One of my new favourite Green Lantern stories. Loved Campbell’s art too, stellar character designs and just frame by frame glorious. Will be looking forward to reading more comics work from these two as a team or individually.
Boss Witch by Ann Aguirre: The second book in Aguirre’s paranormal romance series. I enjoyed the narrator pairing more than I expected to, as I really liked the couple from the first book and normally I’m not a fan of rotating the established narrator in a series, but it makes sense here. Danica and Titus already had their happily ever after in Witch, Please. Really enjoyed seeing the worldbuilding for the series grow and getting to see other sides of characters I already met in the previous book.
SFSX Vol. 2: Terms of Service by Tina Horn, G. Romero Johnson: Second volume in this sex workers versus dystopian puritan future series. I think I preferred the art in volume 1, but Johnson’s work grew on me as I read the book. Looking forward to continuing the series.
Buried in a Bog by Sheila Connolly: First in a new Irish-themed cozy series. I might pick up more in the series if I come across them.
Steeped to Death by Gretchen Rue: A bit of a new direction for fantasy and romance author friend, Sierra Dean. I think this might be my new favourite work by her. Can’t wait to read more in the series.
Pirating Pups edited by Rhonda Parrish: Another anthology that contains a story of mine: “The Empress of Marshmallow” in this case (about an obstinate chow chow in the world of my Thunder Road novels). After the success of Swashbuckling Cats a lot of the contributors to that anthology were looking to Rhonda to keep the puns flowing with a dog-themed anthology. My favourite stories included: “What Frisky Wrought When the Wheels Fell Off the World” by E.C. Bell, “Let the Water Drink First” by V.F. LeSann, and “Artistic Appropriation” by George Jacobs.
What’s a Ghoul to Do? by Victoria Laurie: A “ghostbuster” distantly related to gunfighter Doc Holliday. Sadly, my third and final “did not finish” of the year. Just not to my taste.
Exploring Eberron by Keith Baker: New Eberron (well, new to me, at least) from the setting’s creator! Fantastic addition to the setting!
From Here to Eternity by Caitlin Doughty: Enjoyable almost travel memoir of Doughty examining death customs around the world. I think I preferred her first book, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, but this was still a very interesting read.
And that’s another year of reading! I was thrilled to finish that final to-read stack on New Year’s Eve so I could start 2023 off with a fresh pile of books and new reading goals. Happy reading, folks!