Happy New Year!
I’m not going to use this post to hate on 2022. After all, it could have been 2020 or 2021. If you weren’t in Ukraine or otherwise afflicted by tragedy, things generally got better: the world reopened, which was at least good for those without crappy immune systems in the household.
I taught Freshman English again, which was fun, although the pandemic has clearly left its mark on students. They faded away in greater numbers than usual, which a colleague told me was the new normal. Those who remained were mostly lovely and talented, though. The pandemic also left its mark on me, since I came down with COVID twice, but I can’t say I’m any the worse for it (well, actually, I’m still leery of large groups or singing in choir).
I’d gotten pretty good about the newsletter and this blog for a while, but that went to hell. I also let teaching distract me from the current draft of PRIDE & PRECARITY, which I’ve decided needs a little more work on the ending.
In terms of literature, this was mostly just a big reading year for me. Here’s what I say on Goodreads about the 150 books I reviewed. If they have five stars I thoroughly enjoyed them. If they have no stars I probably also enjoyed them, just didn’t feel they were literally “awesome.”
Okay, yes, there are also a couple for which I put up what amounts to short warnings, because I thought they were cynically packaged products designed to trick readers out of their money, but it’s not politic to trash a book by literally saying that when you’re an author. So you’ll have to read between the lines on those. God knows plenty of other authors either actually liked them or were willing to lie through their teeth to claim they did. (That’s one of the unspoken “team player” requirements of traditional publishing. Yuck.)
But to focus on the positive: there are some recent reads I thoroughly recommend: THE DEAD ROMANTICS and THE UNDERTAKING OF HART AND MERCY were both delightful if you enjoy witty romances with fantasy elements. SEARCH was the most enjoyable literary novel I’ve read since the last post here, but also very funny and very good, written like a memoir of a woman’s experience on the search committee of her Unitarian church. I think it’s absolutely brilliant, but I suppose you may need to be someone who has served on nonprofit boards or committees or attended a church to fully appreciate its delicious dissection of the politics involved. And THIS STORY WILL CHANGE was a wonderful, thoughtful memoir of marriage and divorce.
In terms of marketing, this year I tried TikTok for posting video reviews of other books. I then quickly tired of posting video reviews of other books. Maybe I’ll finally try to do some TikToks about my own books. At any rate, this year one goal is to actually reread my own backlist and see what I can pull out of it for marketing on TikTok or otherwise.
I started going “wide” with the books, as noted a couple of posts back, but made pathetic progress. Ingram apparently never bothered to continue with the paperback I thought they were transferring from Amazon. I’ve decided to move ahead through a different channel.
In case you didn’t see it, I also had a post on five favorite deliciously wry novels with Christian themes at shepherd.com.
I will be pushing the wide publishing harder this coming year, but I also have to get ready for my first spring semester in five years, and for a class I also haven’t taught for at least that long. We are also transitioning from one internet teaching platform to another for next fall, so I need to either prep for that or walk away from all my existing digital assets, which seems kind of dumb (if tempting).
One priority for 2022 was my health, and I continued losing weight, although the 30 pounds I lost didn’t get reflected in any way in my annual blood sugar levels. I was a bit nonplussed about that. I’m now cheating occasionally, since it doesn’t seem to matter. (Though if the A1C goes up this year, I guess I’ll know it does matter.)
For 2023 my #1 health goal is to focus on getting back in the habit of lifting weights. My aging bones could use it, and maybe also my aging brain.
That’s about it for goals. Like many of us, I’m not feeling terribly ambitious right now. Making some progress day by day, week by week, will just have to suffice. I think it would, in fact, arguably be a privilege when just surviving is hard enough for so many.
And frankly my cat sometimes makes even a little progress seem like a little bit of a stretch. This was Penny assisting me as I drafted this blog post.
Are you feeling more ambitious? Let us know. Maybe you can spark something in the rest of us!