First, Happy New Year, everyone. I hope it’s a good year for all of you, prosperous in many ways. I’d like to thank everyone who stops by and reads any of my posts, whether it’s at one of my blogs, a review at Amazing Stories, or a Ballantine Adult Fantasy post at Black Gate. I’ll add an additional thank you to those of you who leave comments, as the discussions are always rewarding. Finally, I’d like to thank everyone who sent me material for review, whether an author or a publisher.
I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. My philosophy is if you need to make some changes in your life, do it when you see the need, not at some arbitrary date on the calendar. That being said, the disruption to routine that the holiday season brings with it provides a good incentive to reboot some aspects of your life as you try to reestablish a regular schedule..
So insert the standard things about losing weight/exercising more/getting more sleep/etc. here.
Now, as far as blogging, writing, and reading go, here’s what I hope to accomplish this year.
First, it’s time to cut back on some things. As I mentioned in my post yesterday, I received more review items than I was able to read. In the past, I’ve gotten review copies of things that I wasn’t interested in or weren’t my cup of tea. I just didn’t read those. In 2014 I received a number of titles that looked interesting, titles I wanted to read that I simply wasn’t able to get to.
Because I have no control over what shows up or when, I ended up reading some things I wouldn’t have if other titles had been available. Frankly, the reviews are starting to feel like work, and work I’m not getting paid for (other than free books). I’ve not read some things I wanted to read because of having committed to read something else.
So, the first goal for 2015 is that I’m not going to read anything I wouldn’t have likely paid money for. I’m speaking of titles that show up unrequested from traditional publishers, not small press/indie published works. Some publishers email me a link to a download for forthcoming titles. I won’t download anything I can’t start within 10 days.
Second goal is to read more books from independent authors. There are books by (in no particular order) Ty Johnston, Charles Gramlich, Joshua P. Simon, Jason E. Thummel, James Reasoner, David J. West, David Hardy, Woelf Dietrich, and a host of others that I want to read. What happened this past year was that more publishing houses sent me stuff. That’s cool, but the big houses have to aim for the wider demographics. And what they’re producing is starting to look the same. The independent authors write to please themselves, not the marketing department, and as a result their voices are fresher and more diverse.
As I also mentioned yesterday, my son is at the age where he has more things he has to be at but he isn’t old enough to drive yet *trembles at the thought*. This means I need to manage my time more effectively. So I’m going to try to cut back on how much time I spend reading blogs, or rather scrolling through all of the comments, especially when discussions go off topic. While some of the controversies in the field can be more fascinating than a train wreck, I can do better things with my time than get sucked into a tempest in a teapot, even as an observer.
I’m going to read more for pleasure, but also with more purpose. I’m not talking about books to review, although many of these items will be reviewed. I’m talking about things that I know will be enjoyable, such as old favorites such as Brackett, Kuttner, Howard, Bradbury, Moore, Chandler, Woolrich, Beaumont, etc., or things that will be educational. The latter has two aspects. First I want to read more nonfiction, especially history and business. I’ve got an idea for a historical S&S series that will involve some research. (And hopefully help relaunch Dispatches From the Lone Star Front.) Second I want to read more short stories.
The reason I want to read more short stories is that I want to learn to write them. Most of the fiction I’ve written has tended to either be of novelette/novella length, or if it’s short story length, is an episode in a much larger story arc. The exceptions have been a couple of noir and dark sff pieces. I want to spend some time studying what some noted short story writers have done, which means reading their work.
Given the time issues I mentioned earlier, I figure I will be more successful in completing something short rather than something long. I’ve begun getting some things ready to post online for sale. I’ve still got to get up the learning curve, so I’m not going to go into any detail yet as I can’t say for sure when they’ll launch. I’ll post an announcement when the time is right. And while I intend to submit short fiction to professional markets, I’m also wanting to get some things out there on the indie market.
So to recap, in order to achieve some writing and reading goals, I’m going to be much more selective in what I read and review. If I pull this off the way I want to, you won’t notice a slow down in my blogging, but you may notice more S&S and historical fiction reviewed here (and less of other forms of fantasy) and more posts on the other blogs, you know the ones at the top of the page. We’ll see how it goes.