New Family Member and 2019 Books

Meet Penny, our new puppy, who is a lab-hound mix. She is just the sweetest!

We couldn’t be happier. I honestly didn’t know the level of happiness dog owners have, and now that I know, I really wish I would have gotten a dog sooner. The hassle and commitment it requires is all worth it.

I feel the same way about reading. It can seem like such a chore to pick up a book sometimes, sit myself down, and calm my soul enough to focus on the book instead of the million other things I have to get done. But when I manage to do that, it is a whole new level of enjoyment.

Somehow I read 6 books in October. I honestly don’t know how that happened. I have a spreadsheet filled with all the books I’m going to read, four per month, scheduled out to the year 2022. I am very serious about planning the most important things in my life and reading is no exception. You need to understand that I am a crazy person when it comes to planning. Every minute of every day is written down somewhere. I try to utilize every single scrap of time I have, because if I don’t, it just falls through the cracks of life unused and I don’t make progress on anything. I’m a working mom with two kids under 5, have a side hustle, a husband, two pets, and a hopefully-someday-writing career. I can’t afford to let ten minutes go by that I haven’t used in some way.

So it was quite the surprise when I realized I’d read more than my scheduled books, somehow, and that something magical is happening in my very tight calendar: I am naturally making room for reading. I don’t know where the time came from, and there is probably some other neglected duty that didn’t get done because of it. But this is the first time in my life when reading has been enough of an internalized priority that my mind understood it just had to read no matter what.

My goal for 2019 was to read 30 books. I managed to read 32, largely in part to my amazing book club. Get yourself a book club. There is nothing finer than finishing a book and being able to look forward to discussing it with friends.

Here are my top five picks from this year, but I honestly enjoyed pretty much all the books I read. You can click over to my Goodreads profile here if you want to see the other 27.

In no particular order, my entirely subjective list:

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill – 5 stars

I really liked this book while I was reading it and immediately after. What I didn’t expect was that it would keep reverberating throughout my thoughts several months later. This book awoke my imagination in a way a book has not done since Harry Potter. But don’t read it expecting Harry Potter. It is its own animal, and it is a fantastic journey. A ritually abandoned baby is rescued by a kind witch who only meant to feed her on starlight but accidentally fed her the moonlight instead, and it gave the girl more magic than anyone could handle. In the middle of an abusive power situation (aka sadness farm), the chaotic magic in this girl upsets and frustrates the efforts of evil doers and good doers alike. This book delivered a delicious combination of adorable and dark, a balance that is not easily achieved, and ultimately made me feel wholesome by the end.

The Fated Sky by Mary Robinette Kowal – 5 stars

Book two in the Lady Astronaut series. I am in love with this series. Because it is enjoyable, but also because it is the one book that is in the Science Fiction genre which is ALSO in the Historical Fiction genre, which bridges a gap between me and what most of my friends read. I find myself recommending this series to literally everyone, regardless of their preferred genre, because it has a little bit of everything. This second book is set in 1961 when the accelerated space program attempts a dangerous mission to mars. Funny, heartwarming, and little more Sci-Fi than the first book since it actually takes place in space. But the historical fiction element is still there, very much so.

Autonomous by Annalee Newitz – 5 stars

This book. *shakes head* It starts off with two groups of people, one chasing the other, and before I realized it I was cheering for both to succeed, forgetting that they are antithesis to each other and that my heart was going to be broken when they finally faced off against each other. Set in a future where only-sort-of fair laws have been put in place to make sure sentient robots have rights, but no such carefully crafted rights protect humans from being indentured, robots and unfortunate humans alike struggle against the mass corporations and big pharma who control their lives and systems. When a pirate distributes a drug from big pharma to the populace for free, attempting to do a good work, then finds out the drug is flawed, she must work fast to fix her mistake before people die, and before the authorities catch up with her.

The fabricated future in this book is at times painfully close to our own present. It brings up all kinds of questions regarding autonomy, freedom, gender, and basic human rights. Be prepared for your brain to do some heavy lifting, but also to be blown away by the world building and sucked in by the characters.

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman – 5 stars

I’ll admit I read this one purely because I knew it was surrounded in controversy. I wanted to be a bit of a rebel. It was absolutely amazing and I loved every single minute of it. Every single word. Right up until the end, which spoiled the entire thing for me and made me wish I hadn’t read it (and not in a good way). I gave it five stars because it did truly take me on a journey that was so spectacular, even the worse ending could not take away from it. I just wish it had ended in a more satisfying way. A young girl who has been allowed to grow up playing with street urchins and hang around scholars stumbles onto a quest journey without really knowing it, and playing a large role that she is largely unaware she is playing in the grand scheme of things. Every human has a daemon perched on their shoulder in various animal forms, and she travels with her companion through danger and heartache, eventually coming to realize her place in the world. She is brave and headstrong while still acknowledging her fear. She is kind hearted. And, I mean, the whole armored bear protecting her thing was absolutely adorable. I definitely recommend reading this book, if for no other reason than to be familiar with what is actually in it instead of getting information from the radically polarized. But I’m certain you will find other reasons to read it as well. I want an armored bear plushie now.

The Pirates of Moonlit Bay by Samaire Provost – 5 stars

This book surprised me entirely! It’s by a fairly new author and doesn’t have a lot of visibility yet. And though it sounded a little too….much? (what with the main character being advertised as a princess and a pirate and a paladin), it ALL WORKS. It was so refreshing to read a book that threw convention to the wind that says you can’t have a main character be all those things. Hilarious, good-hearted, and generally joyful, while still dealing with harsh situations. There is a whole slew of strong female characters throughout in the most pleasant and empowering way. A princess runs away from a ball after being proposed to by someone she doesn’t want to marry. Before she can return home, she is kidnapped by pirates and sold into slavery. But that doesn’t last long. On the journey to her new master, she escapes, befriends one of her enemies, battles fantastic beasts and becomes a sisterly protector over a fierce, shape-changing little girl who is actually a griffin. Then she’s captured again and works her way out of slavery once more by surrounding herself with other women allies and friends, drawing out their strengths and being clever as heck. If you like princesses, but also really like capable women, this book will show you the two are not exclusive while making you laugh and smile.

Honorable mentions, both 5 stars: A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine and Skyward by Brandon Sanderson.

I started a new job this year, and the first book I listened to on my new commute was A Memory Called Empire. Thanks to Arkady Martine, my route to work is now forever going to make me think of foreign language poetry competitions and just how deadly they can be.

I was enthralled by Skyward, which was a nice surprise, seeing as how Sanderson can be hit and miss with me. True to Sanderson form, I was thrilled while I was reading the book, but as soon as it ended, it failed to leave a lasting change on me. So I consider it light and enjoyable reading. This would be a great book to read right after you read something heavy and need to just enjoy life again.

What were your favorite books from this past year?

Thanks for reading!

Spoiler-free Character Sketch: Alexia Sullivan

andrew-seaman-4Fi_4Q6_eFM-unsplashAlexia was a character born out of a desire to create someone quickly and throw her into a world that I had already created. In the five years that I spent working on Memory Aether, she has transcended being defined by the world building around her and has taken on a life of her own. I had to bend the story around her more and more as things went on.

Alexia is one of those secretively smart individuals you have to watch out for. She’s half Slytherin, half Ravenclaw. A Slytherclaw if you will.

She probably already knows your Netflix password, but due to her interior ethics, isn’t using it. But she still saves it “just in case”. If I really wanted to peg her down, I might say she’s got a chaotic good allignment, but it depends on which version of her we’re talking about.

When Alexia first entered medical school, she was motivated to find the cure for her ailing mother’s life threatening disease. She was passionate and hungry for knowledge.

But as the war went on, and her mother passed away, her fervor died down and she found herself trapped in a job that hindered her from finding out the things she really wanted to know. The real answers, she was convinced, could only be found on the wrong side of the tracks.

She let her curiosity and passion for finding a cure trump her moral scruples and made friends with hackers, cryptologists, and unlicensed medical technologists who experimented on things they shouldn’t. She eventually found her way to her tribe: The Abature, a place filled with people just like her who weren’t completely rotten, but still felt a need to buck the system every now and then. Together they meted out vigilante justice in electronic form.

By the end of book one of the Memory Aether series (yes, there are more books to come), Alexia has become a combination of her old life, when she still had enthusiasm for learning and discovery, and who she became during the war: a more practical and cynical person who will plow through any rule that doesn’t make sense.

One of the biggest things Alexia will wrestle with in book two is determining whether being a good person is more than just letting your own ethical code tie one of your hands behind your back. There are things she can do to right the great wrongs of her life. But for the first time, she’s pausing and asking if she should do them. Before, having the ability alone was permission enough. Now she wonders if there’s more to it than that.

A Few Interesting Curations

People both hate and love Pinterest. Some pay hundreds of dollars to learn how to use it so they can make a living pinning things for others (tempting). While some readers of this blog (hi Dad) have no idea how to even use it or why it might be helpful.

My take on it: it’s an amazing tool to scrape away cynicism. It’s all about searching for things you love, and saving them so you can return to them. (That link goes to a tap essay that has changed the way I see the internet world. It’s worth your time.)

IMG-1829Here’s a peak into my most-loved Pinterest boards. (I tried really hard to not make the title of this post click-bait. “Ten Pinterest Boards You Didn’t Know You Needed” just made me want to apologize to librarians* everywhere for even thinking it.)

Ultimately, we should all be less afraid to love and appreciate small wonders. It is not childish, nor is it a waste of time. It is time spent cultivating joy and empathy. So despite all it’s annoying attributes, (like the fact that I can’t post a link here to my Pinterest profile and instead have to post an image which is basically a QR code) there’s a lot of good to be had here.

1. Old people goals

There are so many adorable pictures of elderly people, it warms my heart to know that getting older can mean happiness. Whenever I look at my board for this, it helps me keep things in perspective, that I don’t have to live my entire life right now, and that there is old age to look forward to.

2. Romanticize the present

Search for pictures of writing and you’ll get tons of pictures of laptops at a beach, cute little nooks devoid of any screens with journals and fancy pens, and completely impractical flowers scattered everywhere for no reason. Writing today no longer looks like you stepped out of an anthropologie magazine. It sometimes looks a lot like carefully balancing a laptop on one knee while eating a sandwich and trying not to get crumbs on the keyboard. I started thinking about how things of the past are often romanticized and how little we romanticize technology. So I started a board that showcases what writing actually looks like today. Sometimes it does look nice. Other times it doesn’t look very romantic at all. But through curating this board, I’ve become more grateful for the tools at my fingertips and feel more like I am living an achievable ideal instead of some fairy tale impossibility. I highly encourage you to take pictures of your daily life, especially the parts that you don’t think are very glamorous, and see if you can find an angle that helps you see the good side of it. Sure, a cold, heartless monitor might not seem very romantic. But if it’s real and you appreciate the ability to have the internet, go ahead and Pinterest that. Maybe in the future when everyone has implants in their head and writing doesn’t look like anything except staring into space, people will start to get romantic about monitors and screens and resolutions the way they get about fountain pens. Who knows?

3. Things your person likes

I kind of like to think of this as my form of a mixed tape. Sometimes I try to pay attention to the kinds of things someone likes and then curate a board just for them. At the very least it’s practicing empathy by putting myself in their shoes. At the best, it will make them feel special for having someone who thinks about them. Find a friend, significant other, or dog and create a board just for them to look at that will make them smile.

4. Calming secret board

I know you probably already have a Pinterest board filled with images that are pleasing to you or calming. But is it a secret board? Because some of the things that make me feel calm I get self-conscious about if anyone else sees them. I needed a place just for me to collect the things I want to look at, not the things I want other people to think I’m looking at. It was easier to be real with myself by making it a secret board. Because there’s some things on there that just don’t seem like they belong. But I like it, and I don’t want to feel like someone’s looking over my shoulder in the middle of trying to silence my anxiety. Give yourself permission to feel basic. Give yourself permission to pin the stuff that ten million other people are pinning but you like anyway, because this is just for you. Don’t worry about standing out or making it perfect. If it makes you feel happy, pin it. (And by the way, my calming board is mostly just pictures of mugs with hot drinks in them. I’m more embarrassed by its lameness than anything else.)

5. Word definitions

The two most embarrassing moments in my life came from asking for the definition to words I had no clue about. I’m not going to go into details, but let’s just say that if you start pinning definitions to words you want to use in conversation more, they’ll probably stick with you. Keeping a handy pocket list like this on your phone can give you that feeling of mindless scrolling while increasing your intelligence at the same time.

6. RPG ideas

If you are in an RPG group or just enjoy the genre/medium of it, Pinterest is actually a great source to find homebrew material, and sometimes just downright funny stuff. I never would have thought about this until my DM began sending me pins of items my character had received in-game. You can pin anything from character specific boards to items to DM ideas and advice. I have an entire board filled with abandoned castles for inspiration just in case I’m DMing a group that decides to randomly exit the plot I’ve carefully laid out for them and go wander the countryside.

7. Recipes you have actually made

I know you probably have gobs of recipes of things you want to make, but what do you do when you already made a recipe, and want to go back and find it? Do you have to scroll through a plethora of hopeful dreams? Of things you will never make so that by the time you do find the recipe, it seems lackluster? Take the time to go back and re-pin the recipes you’ve actually made that you want to make again. It will save you so much time. And sure, Pinterest has a neat little feature where you can mark what you’ve tried and leave notes and stuff. But it requires that you take a picture and it’s not intuitive. Until they redesign the interface, it’s easier to just create a separate board.

8. Search for Bullet Journal and Dragon. You’re welcome.


Everyday for the last 24 years, NASA has posted an Astronomy Picture of the Day. This is my go-to for desktop backgrounds, but not all of them are things I want to look at constantly. There’s over 8,000 pictures after all! Every time I find a picture I like while browsing their archives, I pin it so I can find it later. And I usually try to enter something into the description from the explanation NASA gives about the picture. Anytime I need to be pulled out of my cynicism and witness something totally awe inspiring, I just pull up my APOD board.

10. Your life in pins

If you’re too busy to journal, just quickly search for an image that relates the most to how you feel or what happened that day, and pin it with the date and a short description of why that’s your pin for the day. When, during New Year’s celebrations, you get contemplative and wonder how your life’s been going lately, it’s a quick reminder of everything you’ve been through and overcome and done. Images are recalled much more easily by our brains than words are, so if you don’t feel like reading back through 365 pages of bad handwriting (I’m still working on mine), start curating this board, pinning one thing per day right before bed.


And finally, one last bonus board idea for those of us who are writers/readers: Book Covers!!! I have boards for each book idea and what I want the cover to look like, I have boards for book covers that are all wrong, boards for book covers that impress me, and even a board for book covers that use geometry for their entire design. You might find your next good read from doing this, but more importantly, you are allowed a chance to unashamedly judge books by their covers.

*Why librarians? I mean this in the broad sense of the word: Anyone who helps direct people to material or materials to people that they need or that they didn’t know they needed. In this age of technology, we are going to need librarians more than ever before. They are very important. And putting click-bait titles is just one of the many things that can really muddle up their efforts to help create a world where we can find what we need instead of what others want us to see.

MA2 Update and Spec Fic Showcase

Hey friends, sorry I just kind of skipped July there for a moment.

Two quick things:

  1. I have started writing Memory Aether 2 (hence the lack of updates) and am about a third of the way through. There is so much stuff in this second book everyone, it’s going to be quite the read when it’s all done.
  2. I was interviewed and Memory Aether was featured in the Speculative Fiction showcase blog. Check it out! I was asked some really interesting questions and it was a lot of fun.spec-fic-e1564771695915.png

Now on to what it’s like so far writing a second book………it’s hard, as expected. It’s been five years since I had to forge a new narrative path. I’m carefully laying down the bones of the skeleton in order so I can add muscle and tendon to it, and I find myself rearranging them all the time. This book hasn’t told me what it wants to be like yet, and while it’s a fascinating process of discovery, sometimes I wish it would just make up its mind!

I’m also realizing there is hardly anything I can say about it, because it would spoil the twist ending of the first book for those of you who haven’t read it. Dang it. Kinda shot my marketing engine in the foot by doing that. Oh well.

What I can tell you is that I don’t plan to stay in Alexia’s point of view the entire time, and we are going to get to see things on an alien planet from someone else’s point of view. Someone who was mentioned at the very end of Memory Aether 1 whom I shall not mention in case you haven’t read it yet.

Alright, back to writing now. And you, back to reading all the things!

Memory Aether is published!

MA Final Front Cover

I am super excited to say that I am officially published now!

Here’s the link to Memory Aether. eBook version is up, paperback version to follow in a couple of days.

Aside from that big news, here’s two more exciting things happening:

  1. I’m going to be at 4th Street Fantasy Convention this weekend, and on a panel titled “Non-Written Structural Memory”. Like last year, I’ll try to take detailed notes and post them here on what I learned and discovered. I’m especially excited to get to meet Arkady Martine, author of A Memory Called Empire. I didn’t know I wanted BeurocracyPunk in my life, but now I do.
  2. No more ads! I’ve upgraded this site so that you don’t have to be annoyed. You mean a lot to me and I want you to stay. ❤

Thanks for reading!

Remember Good Things

Hi friends.

Spring and summer are coming and leaving at the same time, getting tangled up in each other! One day it’s almost 80ºF, the next it’s rainy and dropped to 37ºF. But my favorite thing about this time of year is the tree in our front yard.

I’m not even sure what kind of Maple it is, but it has these gorgeous dark red leaves. Before the buds break open, they look like flowers. And when they finally do open up, the tiny leaves unfolding look like butterfly wings fresh out of cocoons, wet and wrinkled, hanging out and waiting to dry.

In the evening, right when I usually cook dinner, the sun shines into our kitchen and I can see it shining through the leaves, making them turn bright burgundy and it takes my breath away every time. It’s not because I’m surprised to see it. The tree is always there. It’s because I tend to forget what that moment is like. Experiencing it is different than remembering the moment.

Burgundy Leaves

I recently had that experience with my own writing. I just finished editing the final pass of Memory Aether (woohoo!), and I was surprised. I had forgotten what reading the ending was like. Even though I’ve read it over and over again countless times, there it was again, as satisfying to me as ever.

It is so easy to forget the good things we experience. Can you try something with me to help mitigate this? Post a comment below about some good moment or experience you had this past month. Something that you want to remember the next time I post to this blog. I’ll remind you. Then we can all take a bit of time to appreciate what our memories sometimes hide from us.

Cover Reveal!

MA Final Front Cover

This fantastic cover was created by Sarah Nelson of Auslandish, Co. I am so happy with what she’s done! Working with her was pure joy. Thank you, Sarah!

Memory Aether

As a memory modification specialist, the last thing Alexia expected was for her boyfriend to be her next patient. Michael insists she must erase his entire memory of her. Funny thing is, she believes him. With Earth at war, she knows it’s likely due to a top secret government mission he’s been assigned to, and looks forward to when the mission is over so she can restore his memories.

But Michael is captured and taken to an enemy camp on a distant moon. Alexia doesn’t know if that was part of his plan or not. She’s the only one alive who knows his past, and she must reach him before his brain degrades too much to reinstate his memories. A mysterious government agent with his own agenda shows up at just the right time, equipping her with what she needs to go after him. She doesn’t trust him, but it’s the only way she can save Michael.

I’ve been working on Memory Aether for almost five years now (seven if you count the very, very beginnings of the idea). I’m really excited to share it with you when it’s done. Currently, this novel is in the last stages of polishing and revision. I’m not close enough to the finish line to have a publication date, but you’ll get a newsletter as soon as I have one! (Sign up for my newsletter here.) I have a self-imposed deadline to attend Fourth Street Fantasy convention in June as a published author, so hopefully sometime before then.

Time for me to get back to editing! Thanks for reading.

Quick Update on all the things (and a recipe)

Hi friends. A quick update on what I’ve been up to.

First, my novel! It is nearing completion. I am about halfway through the final version. I will be able to show you the cover soon. So close!!! Keep a lookout for more news about a publication date.

Next, my children continue to be adorable. My little man just turned three, and my one and a half year old has entered the velocibaby stage where she screams randomly, and very loudly. They bring sunshine to my life every day. Most excitably, my three year old has started to tell stories. I am so proud and thrilled and while I can’t wait for the day when we can discuss novels together, I wish he wouldn’t grow up so I could always hear him tell me things with his little boy voice.

Reading: I’m making my way through Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee, Eleanor Oliphont is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman, and Annabel Scheme by Robin Sloan. I’ve also been consuming a lot of short stories at and (Mostly because I am stalking Mary Robinette Kowal for her short stories. I can’t get enough of them).

I have a couple of book anniversaries from when I finished reading books a year ago and they are overdue by about a month. I’ll be playing catch up with book reviews and get those written soon.

Otherwise, creative projects abound. I’ve been making meal plans and enjoying new recipes. I’ve been coming up with new art projects to do with the kids. A knitting project here, a short story written there, a crafty thing everywhere. There are things in the pipeline coming your way, and I’m excited to share them with you.

In the meantime, please enjoy this recipe as an “I’m in-between posts” excuse, and as a thank you for reading this far.

It’s one of the many I’ve discovered and tweaked in the past couple months. I am purposefully NOT including a picture of it because I am really growing tired of Pinterest recipes, and just want to keep this simple. One batch is usually enough for me and my husband to have for lunch every day for five days. Enjoy reading this recipe without a million ads, pictures, or a lengthy explanation of it.

Turkey Chili – takes about 1.5 hours


Some amount of olive oil

About two chopped onions

Some amount of minced garlic…measure this with your heart

4 chopped bell peppers of any color

1 lb. ground turkey

1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

1 can red kidney beans, rinsed

1 can of corn

2 cups chicken broth

1 tbsp hot sauce of choice (I use Frank’s Red Hot)

1 tbsp of each of the following: basil, oregano, salt, garlic powder, paprika, chili powder

  1. Heat oil in a large pot, add onions and bell peppers and cook until soft. Add ground turkey and cook until browned.
  2. Add in canned tomatoes, kidney beans, corn, chicken broth, hot sauce, and all spices. Stir it well.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour.

Book Review: Lirael by Garth Nix

Lirael: Daughter of the ClayrFormat: Audiobook, Rating: 5/5 stars

I loved this second book in the Old Kingdom series. It was even more enjoyable than Sabriel (the first one), and has remained my favorite in the entire collection (with Clariel being a close second). First of all, the narrator, Tim Curry, did the best job with voicing Lirael. It is the best example of voice acting I have experienced to date. I especially loved how he depicts Lirael as she’s whining to her dog about life. It’s adorable and spot on.

When I first read Sabriel, I fell in love with it so much that I seriously considered naming my daughter Sabriel. (There’s still a part of me that wishes I had, though I’m sure she will thank me for not doing that later in life.) I was prepared to have this second book not be quite as good because the first was the best thing I had read ever. But it surpassed that. Also, I completely forgot that I had read this years ago. As I started reading, my mind accessed all these prior images I made up for it and it was a wonderful rediscovery. (Hence my new implementation of reviewing books a year later.)


As soon as I started it, I recalled an image from memory of a prince and a girl on a mission floating together in a bathtub down a dangerous river. And I thought “That can’t be right. My crazy brain must have jumbled things up since I read this.” But then that exact thing happened and I couldn’t believe it, because it actually made sense, and I had to jump up and down with delight. I love that ridiculous scene so much.


Lirael is a girl who desperately wants to be like all the other girls around her, but her right of passage mysteriously hasn’t happened yet. Most girls in her society are chosen by a mysterious “sight” or prophetic gifting at varying ages, but usually quite young. She is nineteen, and still not able to enter into her community’s version of being a grown up. She is very upset by this, and becomes a solitary figure in a dangerous library.

If you are as much a reader as I am, those two words alone should have you running to pick up this book and it’s predecessor. The library…oh that library!

The journey she takes from outcast and lonely girl to strong heroine with agency over her own life and that of others was the most pleasant and refreshing thing I’ve read in a long time. It felt wholesome without dripping sentiment. The whole book felt dangerous and on edge, like something could happen at any moment that would frighten me, but then delivered something amusing and truthful. I am definitely going to give these books to my daughter (and son) when they get older.

Lirael, along with the other Old Kingdom books, have earned a permanent place in my library and I will eventually be collecting print versions just so I can stamp them with my personal library stamp (my husband gave me one and I love it), and then loan them out.

You do not have to read Sabriel first to understand or enjoy Lirael. However, the story does end in the middle. Nix originally intended Lirael and Abhorsen to be one book, but it was too long. So beware, if you do pick this up, you will likely pick up Abhorsen as well.

I read the rest of this series in 2018, so you’ll see reviews of the other books come up now and then. But I do want to say regarding the series as a whole: each and every book in it is unique to itself and a gem. If you haven’t discovered this Old Kingdom series for yourself yet, add it to your list.

I’ve been reading some things

Thanks for sticking around, reader. I know it’s been awhile.

Since my last post I’ve done a lot. I’ve written several books to varying degrees of polish. I’ve read a lot of books that I’m dying to tell you about. I’ve parented two darling kids through lots of developmental stages. I’ve grown as a person, and I’m excited to get back to writing a blog.


Update on the kiddos: they are still adorable. Even more so. Little girl started talking at 15 months. Little boy is not quite three and learning to read. They bring me joy every day.

Update on myself: I’ve discovered a lot of good things about myself and how I am at my best when I can maintain a routine. Part of that routine now involves early morning kickboxing, among other things. I’ll probably talk more about it in a different post.

Update on the writing: Back in November I wrote another book (fantasy) and am finishing it up now in January. My other book (cyberpunk) is almost done with final edits and I hope to have a publication date soon.

Now my favorite part: the reading.

In 2018, I managed to read 24 books. This year, 2019, I hope to read 30 or more. Part of this is because I set aside my writing completely in December and instead read like a maniac. Every time I itched to write, I read instead. It was a boon to my creativity. And after NaNoWriMo, I really needed the refresh.

Let’s step back a bit so I can talk about reading speed. I went to to calculate my average reading speed and comprehension, and it turns out, I’m exactly an average reader. I read 251 word per minute on a screen, which is more than average, but only had a 60% comprehension afterwards. Part of that is because Little Girl decided to interrupt me halfway through, but since that is a factor in my everyday reading that can happen, I’m letting the number stick.

The site claims that reading from paper is faster, so my reading speed from printed books would likely be more than 251 wpm. And since I read in all three formats (audio books at typically 1.25 speed, eReader, and print), I’m going to say that between them I’ll have an average of 240 wpm, slowing down a bit to gain more comprehension.

Because the genres I read typically span about 70k-90k words per book, I can get an estimate of how many hours I’ll have to spend a day to read 30+ books in a year. But I don’t want to go for just an amount of books. I want to build a habit (as mentioned earlier, building up a routine and habit is important to me). So let’s calculate how many books I could read in a year if I spent an hour a day reading.

365 days a year times 60 minutes a day (21,900 minutes) times 240 words per minute (5,256,000) divided by average book length of 80k words = 65.7

You can go to the site linked above and figure out your own numbers for your reading speed. And your genre of books might not be as long as mine. Science Fiction and Fantasy tend to run longer than other books. If I were reading non-fiction, at an average of 50k words per book (or one NaNoWriMo novel), I could potentially read 105 books in a year.

So that’s my goal: read an average of an hour a day, and complete 30 books (or more). The reason I’m not increasing my reading goal beyond 30 is because frankly, even though the math tells me it’s possible, I don’t believe it. I believe I can read an hour a day. But the idea of reading 65 books is beyond me. I can’t even imagine it. Plus, none of these numbers are for sure. I may end up reading faster or slower than the reading test, or reading longer books. Also, I’m not sure I will finish all the books I start or invest time in. I want to give myself room to try books without feeling like I have to finish.

This is new for me. I used to be a stickler for finishing every book I started. But then I found myself not reading because I didn’t want to spend time slogging through something I found boring. I think there’s a fine line between being a wishy-washy, hard-to-please reader and genuinely giving a book a chance to succeed or fail. It will be ok if I don’t finish a book. Just like no writing is ever wasted, I don’t think any reading is ever wasted. I may not be able to quantify the amount of reading put into an unfinished book, but the benefit will be there all the same.

One other new thing for this year in my reading habits: I’m going to review the books I read last year on the date that I finished them. I don’t want to put all that time in to read and comprehend a book, only to forget it a year later. I’m hoping that by reviewing the books on delay I will both have more clear thoughts on them and increase the chance that I retain their benefit. It’s also a good marker for me to remember where I was at a year ago. For instance, a year ago today I finished reading Lirael (which I will post a review about separately), and I remember feeling, thinking, and doing life completely different while reading that book.

This will be an exciting and interesting journey, and I can’t wait to share it with you.

I would love to have you share your reading speed, reading goals, or ways you manage your reading time.

Happy 2019 and happy reading!