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!

The 2022 Reading List: January

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.

Back in 2020 I decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. I started putting an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand and limited the stack to five books, which seemed doable for the month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games jump the queue, but I typically tried to get through the pile in the order I stacked them. I also used this strategy to try and diversify my reading. The 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 is 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, and I’m never sure when a library book will arrive. Despite all of the library reading I’ve been doing I still plan on trying to read through the books on my own shelves as much as possible.

Just in time to start writing the February to-read list, here’s what I read in January.

I started 2022 finishing off the last of 2021’s to-read stacks from home and library.

Raccoon Sky Pirates by Hectic Electron, Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott, The Bjorkan Sagas by Harold R. Johnson, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest.
Once Removed by Andrew Unger, Once & Future Vol.3: The Parliament of Magpies, Star Wars Darth Vader Vol.2: Into the Fire.

Trick or Treat: A History of Halloween by Lisa Morton: Fascinating. I was a bit slow getting through this one though, I wish I’d started it back in the spoopy season instead of reading over Christmas and New Year’s. I enjoyed more of the history side than the end bits on the literature and pop culture sides of Halloween. Lots of future inspiration for stories in it though.

Once Removed by Andrew Unger: A fun satiric novel by the author of The Daily Bonnet website. Reminded me of reading Armin Wiebe’s The Salvation of Yasch Siemens when I was younger. The Daily Bonnet is always a funny read, but I can’t wait to read more novels by Unger.

Star Wars Saga Edition Roleplaying Game by Wizards of the Coast: A reread because I watched a couple of liveplays on the Dungeonmusings channel. I originally dismissed the game when it released, as I hadn’t cared much for the previous D20 Star Wars game, but there’s lots to love here.

Blackbird by Sam Humphries, Jen Bartel, Paul Reinwand, Triona Farrell: A fun graphic novel I picked up largely because I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen of Jen’s art on Twitter. I liked the art more than the story in this one. I might read future volumes.

Batman Curse of the White Knight by Sean Murphy, Klaus Janson, Matt Hollingsworth: I wish I would’ve read Batman: White Knight first, I think I might’ve enjoyed this more if I had. Still, excellent work by Sean Murphy on a Batman story that wasn’t really to my personal taste.

Werewolf the Apocalypse Second Edition Roleplaying Game by White Wolf Game Studio: A reread. This takes me back to my high school pilgrimage to GenCon where I picked up the original game. I still enjoy the lore of the world, even if some of it feels a bit dated now.

The Björkan Sagas by Harold R. Johnson: A fantastic read that wasn’t at all what I expected when I picked it up. I was very sorry to hear of Harold’s recent passing.

Batman: White Knight Presents Harley Quinn by Katana Collins, Sean Murphy, Matteo Scalera, Dave Stewart: I enjoyed this one more than Curse of the White Knight. I loved Matteo Scalera’s art.

Star Wars Bounty Hunters Vol. 1: Galaxy’s Deadliest by Ethan Sacks, Paolo Villanelli, Arizona Prianto: Interesting story with some of the iconic Star Wars bounty hunters.

Wonder Woman The Just War by G. Willow Wilson, Cary Nord, Xermanico, Jesus Merino, Emanuela Lupacchino: I had high hopes for this one, but it wasn’t to my taste, too many different artists in the collection.

Excalibur Vol.3 by Tini Howard, Marcus To, Erick Arciniega: I’m really enjoying Howard’s take on Excalibur. This book reminds me of how much I enjoyed the original Claremont/Davis run. Marcus To’s art is also a perfect fit for the book.

Batman White Knight by Sean Murphy, Matt Hollingsworth: I wish I would’ve read this one first, I might’ve liked Curse of the White Knight more (but maybe not, I’ve never really liked Azrael as a character). Murphy’s take on the Batman/Joker dynamic was interesting even if it wasn’t what I want out of a Batman story.

Hellions Vol.1 by Zeb Wells, Stephen Segovia, David Curiel: Another book in the Jonathan Hickman revamp of X-Men. Enjoyed it despite it not featuring any of my favourite mutants.

Dungeons & Dragons Richten’s Guide to Ravenloft by Wizards of the Coast: One of my favourites of the recent D&D supplements. Even though I have no plans to run a Ravenloft campaign, there’s tons of options in here I’d use as a player or dungeon master to spice up an existing game with more horror feel.

Savage Avengers Vol 1: City of Sickles by Gerry Duggan, Mike Deodato Jr.,Frank Martin: I really thought I’d dig this, as I’ve loved some of Duggan’s recent comic writing, but this series just wasn’t to my taste.

Check out my roundup of my 2021 reading here.

Check out my roundup of my 2020 reading here.

My 2021 in Books (and Stories)

Since I had success with my 2020 reading plan, I made a spreadsheet to track my reading more in depth, and I added a new-to-me category to my tracking this year as well.

Here’s how 2021 went:

Holy shit.

I cracked open 216 books, and finished 211 of them. For a variety of pandemic-related reasons, I don’t expect this total to be bested anytime in the near future. Of those 216 books, 35 were rereads, and 77 were graphic novels (both increases from last year), which inflates the number a bit, but books are books, and I’m counting them.

I read 30 books by BIPOC authors (three times as many as 2021!) and 30 by authors I know to be LGBTQ2S+ (four times as many as 2021!). I wanted to improve both of those numbers in 2021, and am thrilled to have done so. Once again, I spent most of a year hitting my to-read stack goals without having to order a new book or visit the library to make my stacks. I don’t think I’ll be able to build my stacks in the same manner without purchasing new books or supplementing from the library anymore, but two years was a pretty good run.

Only 83 of my books were by women, which was a bit disappointing, as I wanted to hit 50-50 parity this year. I’m not surprised though, once again, the amount of old graphic novel rereads and superhero comics skewed the numbers. In 2022 I’ll be aiming for an equal mix again.

I caught up on 20 books written by friends (twice as many as last year). 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).

Non-fiction was a bit of a disappointment again. I read 15 non-fiction books in 2021, three times what I read in 2020, but 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.

I read 17 roleplaying game handbooks in 2021 (five more than in 2020), which means once again I probably 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). Still, I played in at least three game systems that were new to me, and was able to be a mostly-regular player in my ongoing campaigns.

Of the 216 books I cracked open in 2021, I liked 138 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 2021 (not necessarily published in 2021, obviously).

Favourite Fiction Reads

  • Savage Legion by Matt Wallace
  • Liquor by Poppy Z. Brite
  • This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar & Max Gladstone
  • Death on Tap by Ellie Alexander
  • Doppelgangster by Laura Resnick
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
  • Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones
  • Witchmark by C.L. Polk
  • Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots
  • The Break by Katherena Vermette

Favourite Non-Fiction Reads:

  • Smoke Gets in Your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty
  • The Far Traveler: Voyages of a Viking Woman by Nancy Marie Brown
  • The Wave by Susan Casey
  • The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris
  • Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga

Favourite Graphic Novel Reads:

  • Pulp by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
  • Immortal Hulk Vol. 1: Or Is He Both? by Al Ewing and Joe Bennett
  • Superman Smashes the Klan by Gene Luen Yang & Gurihiru
  • Scene of the Crime by Ed Brubaker & Michael Lark
  • Stumptown Volume One: The Case of the Girl Who Took her Shampoo (But Left her Mini) by Greg Rucka and Matthew Southworth
  • Pretty Deadly Vol. 1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick & Emma Rios
  • Once & Future Volume 1 by Kieron Gillen & Dan Mora
  • Black Widow Vol. 1 The Ties That Bind by Kelly Thompson & Elena Casagrande

Favourite RPG Reads:

  • Troika! by Daniel Sell
  • The Vast in the Dark by Charlie Ferguson-Avery
  • Spire by Grant Howitt and Christopher Taylo

As for short fiction, one of my 2021 reading goals was to read more of it. I was slow to get to it in the early parts of the year (I’d only read three new stories by August), but I definitely picked up by the end of the year, finishing 61 stories by year’s end. Of the 61 stories, 6 were by BIPOC authors, 10 by authors I know to be LGBTQ2S+, 8 by friends, and 30 by women (just short of that 50-50 parity I wanted, and I would’ve made it too, except the final anthology I finished, while good, was predominantly filled with male authors). I liked 33 of those 61 stories enough to recommend them, and only 3 were pieces I chose not to finish. Not accounting for the single anthology I read, which contained 18 stories, most of them came from OnSpec (17), Uncanny (10), Lightspeed (4), and Tor.com (3).

Favourite Short Fiction Reads:

  • The Back-Off by Aeryn Rudel (OnSpec)
  • Remember Madame Hercules by Kate Heartfield (OnSpec)
  • Wait for Night by Stephen Graham Jones (Tor.com)
  • So You Want to Be a Honeypot by Kelly Robson (Uncanny)
  • Beyond the Doll Forest by Marissa Lingen (Uncanny)
  • The Bone-Stag Walks by K.T. Bryski (Lightspeed)
  • Jenny Greenteeth by Alison Littlewood (The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror)
  • The Offering by Michael Marshall Smith (The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror)
  • Shards by Ian Rogers (Tor.com)
  • Pastrami on Rye by Sarah C. Walker (OnSpec)

Everything I read in 2021:

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February

Here’s what I read in March.

Here’s what I read in April.

Here’s what I read in May.

Here’s what I read in June.

Here’s what I read in July.

Here’s what I read in August.

Here’s what I read in September.

Here’s what I read in October.

Here’s what I read in November.

Here’s what I read in December.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.

The 2021 Reading List: December

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.

Back in 2020 I decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. I started putting an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand and limited the stack to five books, which seemed doable for the month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games jump the queue, but I typically tried to get through the pile in the order I stacked them. I also used this strategy to try and diversify my reading. The 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 is 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, and I’m never sure when a library book will arrive. Despite all of the library reading I’ve been doing I still plan on trying to read through the books on my own shelves as much as possible.

December started with finishing up last month’s reading list, and trying to finish off one more to-read pile before the new year hits. (And I almost made it!)

When Sorrows Come by Seanan McGuire: The latest October Daye novel. Toby and Tybalt get married (finally). Some good payoff for some series-long subplots in this one. While McGuire is great at reminding readers of what came before, this is probably incomprehensible to anyone who hasn’t read the rest of the series (which you really should if you like great urban fantasy). Also includes a novella from Toby’s POV.

The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror edited by Stephen Jones: A pretty solid anthology. I enjoyed the modern tales more than any of the classics. Neither M.R. James, Arthur Machen, or the Lovecraft stories included really grabbed me. Of those three, I had already read Lovecraft’s “The Hound” so it held up better, maybe out of nostalgia. I did, however, enjoy Algernon Blackwood’s “Ancient Lights.” The standout stories for me were Alison Littlewood’s “Jenny Greenteeth”, Michael Marshall Smith’s “The Offering,” and Maura McHugh’s “Gravedirt Mouth.” Other notables were “Sticks” by Karl Edward Wagner, and Simon Strantzas’ “The King of Stones.”

Gather by Richard Van Camp: On the joy of storytelling. A fantastic read full of advice on being a storyteller. I’ve been fortunate enough to hear Richard speak at several events, and was also lucky enough to interview him for an article, so while reading the book I could practically hear his voice saying the words.

The Canadian Werewolf Chronicle by Sean Cummings: Read from an advance reading copy so I could provide an introduction. I really enjoyed this! It brought back memories of all the fun werewolf shows I’ve watched over the years. Will probably speak on it more when the book officially releases.

Black Widow Vol.2: I Am the Black Widow by Kelly Thompson, Rafael De Latorre, Elena Casagrande: Another fine volume. Nice to see Yelena turn up. Kate Bishop too.

A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts by Ying Chang Compestine: I didn’t finish this one. It wasn’t poorly written, but I didn’t really connect with it. Conceptually really interesting though, glad I gave it a try.

My final to-read stack of 2021:

Raccoon Sky Pirates by Hectic Electron, Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott, The Bjorkan Sagas by Harold R. Johnson, The World Without Us by Alan Weisman, Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest.

Raccoon Sky Pirates by Hectic Electron: A DELIGHT. Picked up on a whim and cannot wait to get it to the table.

Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott: The first book in the Beyond the Page series. Took me a bit to get into, but once I got some momentum behind me, I really enjoyed it. I’ll probably read more in this series.

Star Wars Darth Vader Vol.2 Into the Fire by Greg Pak, Raffaele Ienco, Neeraj Menon: Still enjoying the latest run of the Vader comic.

Grave Reservations by Cherie Priest: Another delight. There’s a followup coming, I hear, which is very exciting. I hope this becomes a long running series.

Once & Future Vol.3 The Parliament of Magpies by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, Tamra Bonvillain: Another beautifully illustrated volume of what’s becoming my favourite recent bit of Arthuriana. Can’t wait to see where the series goes after volume 3’s huge cliffhanger ending.

A small year end library to-read stack:

Once Removed by Andrew Unger, Once & Future Vol.3: The Parliament of Magpies, Star Wars Darth Vader Vol.2 Into the Fire.

There were also lots of comics reread in December, consumed in individual issues: I finished the Fraction/Aja Hawkeye run, the 90s Power of the Atom, Duane Swierczynski’s Birds of Prey run, Chris Claremont’s take on Fantastic Four, a few Uncanny X-Men Annuals, and Gail Simone’s Domino run.

Sadly, I didn’t finish everything on the to-read stack as hoped, so I won’t be starting fresh in January, but that’s okay. I’m looking forward to reading them all the same, and still haven’t settled on how I want to shape my to-read stacks in the new year anyway.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February

Here’s what I read in March.

Here’s what I read in April.

Here’s what I read in May.

Here’s what I read in June.

Here’s what I read in July.

Here’s what I read in August.

Here’s what I read in September.

Here’s what I read in October.

Here’s what I read in November.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.

New Year’s Eve 2021

It’s hard to get excited for a new year when you know that it’s going to start off the same way the last one ended. But, still, there is hope that this one will be better than the last. Is it a fool’s hope? Time will, as always, tell.

Stay warm, and stay safe, friends.

Years ago now, Ravenstone Books asked me to write up a list of Ted Callan’s resolutions for a blog post, and instead, I wrote a little vignette of his New Year’s Eve post-Tombstone Blues. I’m quite fond of this little piece, so here it is for you again.

New Year’s Eve

Thunder Road vignette

Outside of the hotel that had become his home, the cold bit into Ted Callan’s lungs with every breath.

What is your resolution for the coming year? Huginn asked.

Why do you fucking care? Ted shot back as he lit a cigarette.

Call it curiosity, the raven said. Everyone else seems to be making one tonight.

Doesn’t matter, they’re all bullshit.

“Cold out tonight,” a woman’s voice slurred from behind Ted.

He turned to see a middle-aged woman, shivering in her dress as she struggled to light a cigarette, and huddled under a borrowed suit jacket for warmth. He was glad that he hadn’t addressed his living raven tattoos aloud.

Ted nodded absently and muttered a yup as he lit her smoke and then went back to his own.

You could do something about this cold. Huginn’s cawing voice echoed shrilly in Ted’s mind.

I’ve done enough, he shot back.

It had been a brutal, miserable fucking winter, and it was a long way from over. The mercury had only cracked -20 twice since he’d beat back Hel’s army of the dead, and both of those times, a blizzard had chased in, nipping the heels of the warmer weather.

“What’s your resolution?” the woman asked, and then without waiting for Ted’s answer, added, “I think I’m going to quit smoking.”

They shared a chuckle, and then took a drag, exhaling plumes of smoke that coalesced in the frigid night air.

Resolutions had to be Ted’s least favourite part of the New Year, aside from his usual—and fierce—hangover. He couldn’t think of a single resolution that he’d ever kept. But at least tomorrow he wouldn’t be passed out, body half in the bathroom and his head pounding with thunder instead of his fist.

Muninn trotted out Ted’s list of past broken promises; it made quite the litany. All had been chosen spur of the moment to fulfill a cultural need, not out of any genuine desire to change, or to better himself.

Quit smoking

Take up the guitar again.

Get back in shape.

Quit smoking.

Eat better.

Eat less.

He took a drag of his cigarette, and exhaled in a long sighing breath. Quit smoking.

That one had definitely been the most common.

“Happy New Year!” the woman yelled, voice thick with drunken cheer, as she butted out her cigarette in the hotel’s sand-filled ashtray. She rushed back inside blowing on her hands as she went through the brass-edged revolving door entrance.

Judging from his chuckles, Muninn was having a grand old time continuing down the list of Ted’s failed promises.

Be more romantic.

Quit the Patch.

Travel.

Everyone is making a resolution, Huginn pressed, staring pointedly at Muninn. Thinking ahead. Forgetting the past.

Ted didn’t get why the birds were so fucking excited about resolutions, but he supposed making one was the only sure way to shut them the hell up.

“Fine,” he grumbled. “Kill Surtur. How’s that for a fucking resolution?”

Huginn and Muninn exchanged surprised quorks.

“Not good enough? What about: go to my buddy’s wedding without getting everyone killed? Oh, and maybe repair all the goddamned damage that Loki’s done to my godsdamned life.”

Ted took a last drag and mashed his cigarette into the ashtray.

The ravens waited in silence for a moment, and then together said, You would have a better chance quitting smoking.

Art by S.M. Beiko.

There’s never a bad day to listen to Tom Waits, so I may as well share one of my favourites once again.

Happy New Year!

Eligible Works Published in 2021

It’s that time of year again! If you are one of those nominating, or thinking about nominating, works for science fiction/fantasy-related awards (the Nebula, the Hugo, the Aurora, in particular), in 2021 I published the following stories:

“‘Til Death is Done,” Arcana, Poise and Pen Press, Rhonda Parrish, editor, May 2021. Read an excerpt here.

“Midnight Man versus Carrie Cthulhu,” Water: Selkies, Sirens, & Sea Monsters, Tyche Books, Rhonda Parrish, editor, August 2021. Read an excerpt here.

“Lurkers in the Leaves,” Alternate Plains, Enfield & Wizenty, Darren Ridgley & Adam Petrash, editors, October 2021. Read an excerpt here.

If you’re voting on any the various speculative fiction awards this year and want to read more of any of these stories please drop me a line, and I’ll make sure you can read any of my work that interests you. If you’re looking for more additions to your reading list Cat Rambo and A.C. Wise keep pretty comprehensive lists of who published what in 2021.

Thanks for reading, folks!

The 2021 Reading List: November

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.

Back in 2020 I decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. I started putting an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand and limited the stack to five books, which seemed doable for the month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games jump the queue, but I typically tried to get through the pile in the order I stacked them. I also used this strategy to try and diversify my reading. The 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 is getting a little trickier, as I’m having a bit of trouble filling all of my criteria from stack to stack off my own shelves, and I’m never sure when a library book will arrive to interrupt my reading. Despite all of the library reading I’ve been doing I still plan on trying to read through the books on my own shelves as much as possible.

Black Widow Vol. 1 The Ties That Bind by Kelly Thompson, Elena Casagrande, Rafael De Latorre, Jordie Bellaire: A fantastic addition to Black Widow’s history. It feels like this arc is in conversation with the Mark Waid/Chris Samnee run on the character, but it’s been a while since I’ve read those issues. Definitely want to read more by this creative team.

Without a Brew by Ellie Alexander: The latest Sloane Krause beer-flavoured cozy mystery. I’m still really enjoying this series. Pity now that I’m all caught up I have to wait a year for the next volume! Might start Alexander’s bake shop cozy series in the meantime.

Gear and Sea by Clare C. Marshall: A YA novel set in the Silent Guardians universe of graphic novels from Justin Currie and GMB Chomichuk. Lots of fun worldbuilding and great characterization. I don’t read a ton of YA, but I enjoyed this one.

Digging up the Remains by Julia Henry: This one didn’t quite grab me, I’m afraid. Didn’t finish it.

Black God’s Kiss by C.L. Moore: An early sword & sorcery and weird fiction pioneer who I have somehow managed not to read until now. Moore’s Jirel of Joiry is recognized as the first female protagonist in the genre. I really enjoyed the first story, “Black God’s Kiss.” I thought it held up quite well. The following stories had diminishing returns for me, but I enjoyed Moore’s prose almost as much as Robert E. Howard’s, and more than Lovecraft’s. Ultimately, I set it aside, but I think I’ll eventually return to finish the final three stories in the collection.

On Spec #114 Vol 30 no 4: Standout stories for me were “Pastrami on Rye” by Sara C. Walker, “Treasure Hunting a Husband” by Erik Bundy, and “The Melting Man” by Gordon Linzner. A couple stories I chose not to finish as they didn’t grab me, but all in all a pretty solid issue.

I also reread about 50 issues of the ’90s run on New Warriors by Fabian Nicieza, Mark Bagley, and Darick Robertson as well as a bunch of the Matt Fraction/David Aja (along with some other fantastic artists) run on Hawkeye, and really enjoyed revisiting both.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February

Here’s what I read in March.

Here’s what I read in April.

Here’s what I read in May.

Here’s what I read in June.

Here’s what I read in July.

Here’s what I read in August.

Here’s what I read in September.

Here’s what I read in October.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.

The 2021 Reading List October

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.

Back in 2020 I decided to be a little more systematic about my reading plans. I started putting an actual to-read pile to stack on the nightstand and limited the stack to five books, which seemed doable for the month. Occasionally comics and graphic novels or roleplaying games jump the queue, but I typically tried to get through the pile in the order I stacked them. I also used this strategy to try and diversify my reading. The 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 is 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, and I’m never sure when a library book will arrive. Despite all of the library reading I’ve been doing I still plan on trying to read through the books on my own shelves as much as possible.

Tiny Cthulhu by Alan Bahr: I love the Tiny D6 rules set. I backed this on Kickstarter and I think it’ll be a fun way to run a cosmic horror game. Lots of fun microsettings to choose from too, if you need some ideas of how to get a game started.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton: A reread because I watched Jurassic World again recently and then found this in a local little free library. It held up pretty well. I’m surprised how different and yet the same Book Malcolm is from Movie Malcolm. Crichton is not great at evoking character in other instances, but this still remains a pretty good thriller.

Hench by Natalie Zina Walschots: Great voice on this one, absolutely adored the story and the narrator. Hench deconstructs a lot of superhero tropes without ever seem to wink at the reader saying “I’m writing a serious book about superheroes” (which I hate). Lots to think about in what the aftermath of a superhero “victory” would look like. Highly recommended!

Death Bee Comes Her by Nancy Coco: A cozy mystery with a bee and honey theme. It was fun, but I didn’t really connect with any of the characters so I probably won’t continue with the series.

Once & Future Volume 2: Old English by Keiron Gillen, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain: An excellent follow up to the first volume, with Beowulf and Grendel infiltrating the modern take on Arthurian legend. Fun story with beautiful art and brilliant colours. Looking forward to reading volume 3!

Witch Please by Ann Aguirre: So much fun! I’m really looking forward to reading the next installment of the series. Interesting worldbuilding, great characters, and a super steamy romance.

The Virago Book of Erotic Myths and Legends by Shahrukh Husain: I’ve had this on my mythology reference shelves for years but never actually cracked it until now. Unfortunately it read more like a text book to me. I enjoyed a few pieces I read, but not enough to finish the book.

Dungeons & Dragons The Wild Beyond the Witchlight: Picked up on a whim. Probably not my style as a DM, but it’s full of gorgeous whimsical art, and it was cool to see some characters from the D&D cartoon and toy line turn up.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala: A fun cozy mystery with a restaurant theme. Fast paced and lots of great family moments. Looking forward to reading the next one.

The Outsider by Stephen King: I haven’t read a “new” Stephen King in years. This one was a little slow out of the gate, and took a while to get to the supernatural in a direct way, but that is typical of what I remember from King. I’m glad I stuck with it, a good story with memorable characters. Might try some more of King’s newer work again down the road because of enjoying this read.

I got through my September stack late in the month, but still early enough that I wanted to build a bit of a spooky themed pile for my next to-read selections. I also had a bunch of graphic novels arrive from the library, enough to make a stack of their own.

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny, Gear and Sea by Clare C. Marshall, Black God’s Kiss by C.L. Moore, A Banquet for Hungry Ghosts by Ying Chang Compestine, Trick or Treat by Lisa Morton, The Mammoth Book of Folk Horror edited by Stephen Jones.
Swords of Sorrow by Gail Simone, Star Wars The Destiny Path by Charles Soule, Star Wars Darth Vader Dark Heart of the Sith by Greg Pak, The Black Ghost by Monica Gallagher and Alex Segura, Age of Ultron by Brian Michael Bendis.

Swords of Sorrow by Gail Simone, Emma Bebby, Marguerite Bennet, Nancy A. Collins, Mikki Kendall, Leah Moore, Mairghread Scott, Erica Schultz, G. Willow Wilson, Sergio Davila, Dave Acosta, Mirka Andolfo, Ronilson Freire, Francesco Manna, Rod Rodolfo, Noah Salonga, Crizam Zamora: This collection includes the Swords of Sorrow, Vampirella & Jennifer Blood, Dejah Thoris & Irene Adler, Red Sonja & Jungle Girl limited series and the Masquerade & Kato, Black Sparrow & Lady Zorro, Pantha & Jane Porter, Miss Fury & Lady Rawhide one shots. The entire crossover was spearheaded by Gail Simone, whose work I quite enjoy. Because there was so many different artists and writers working on the project it was a little uneven to me at times, but by and large was pretty fun. Outside of the main Swords of Sorrow mini series, I enjoyed Marguerite Bennet and Mirka Andolfo’s work on Red Sonja & Jungle Girl the most, but I’ve always been a sucker for a good Red Sonja story.

Star Wars Volume 1 The Destiny Path by Charles Soule, Jesus Saiz: Charles Soule’s Star Wars work has always been a lot of fun. I’ve loved Jesus Saiz’s art for a long time too. He does a great job of capturing the main characters’ likenesses without making the art seem too stiff and photo referenced. Takes place in the aftermath of The Empire Strikes Back. Looking forward to reading more.

Star Wars Darth Vader Vol. 1 Dark Heart of the Sith by Greg Pak, Raffaele Ienco: The Vader titles have always been a highlight of Marvel’s Star Wars line, this one is no exception. I liked seeing the callbacks to the prequel trilogy, and a focus on Amidala.

The Black Ghost Season 1 Hard Revolution by Alex Segura, Monica Gallagher, George Kambadais: A really fun pulp hero inspired street-level crimefighter book. Great art, and a complicated heroine. I hope there’s another volume soon.

A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny: Returning for my annual reread. I love this book so much. Every year I find something new when I reread it. Once again I chose the read one chapter a day each day in October tactic rather than reading the entire book in a rush. I’m not sure which way of reading the novel I prefer, maybe next year I’ll try reading the book in as few sittings as possible, rather than stretching it out over the month.

Here’s what I read in January.

Here’s what I read in February

Here’s what I read in March.

Here’s what I read in April.

Here’s what I read in May.

Here’s what I read in June.

Here’s what I read in July.

Here’s what I read in August.

Here’s what I read in September.

Also, check out the roundup of my 2020 reading here.

Trio of Interviews

A trio of (relatively) recent interviews all landed online in a short span, so here’s a roundup:

Haley Pauls from The Uniter reached out to me and some other fine local writers about the state of the Speculative Fiction scene in Manitoba. It was a super fun feature. Check it out here.

Darren Ridgley and Adam Petrash, editors of the anthology Alternate Plains, which contains my story “Lurkers in the Leaves,” asked me a few questions about my story and writing to celebrate the anthology’s launch. Check it out here. There’s interviews from a bunch of the other contributors, all worth checking out, on the same site.

And most recently, the Geekspin Podcast had me on to talk about my writing process, musical influences in Thunder Road, and why I killed the Geekspin Podcast’s host in Too Far Gone. Check it out here.

Thanks for having me, folks!

All Cats Go to Valhalla Wins Aurora Award!

I’m still a little stunned.

I really wasn’t expecting to win, it was a strong ballot this year filled with stories I really admired.

Huge thanks to Rhonda Parrish for liking my story enough to include it in Swashbuckling Cats (both also nominated for an Aurora) and to Margaret Curelas of Tyche Books for publishing such a fun anthology. Of course, thanks to everyone who read the story and enjoyed it enough to nominate it, and to everyone who participated in voting for this year’s awards.

Thank you all for reading.