The Year in Books : 2018

I’m not going to lie, 2018 felt endless. But it’s finally over and that means it’s time to do my yearly wrap up. By mostly talking about books!

Last year I read 95 books in total. Not quite as many as I have in past years but I ended up with almost twice the amount of contenders for my favorites list.

By category:

34 audiobooks

45 graphic novels

6 ebooks

11 borrowed

29 library books

28 young adult

10 short story collections

Favorite Reads

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

I have not read anything by this author but I ‘m going to start now because I just loved this book. It was so unexpected and fun. On its surface, it’s a run of the mill YA fantasy. A young man from the “real world” is recruited by a magic school in a fantasy world. But it has a lot to say about training teenagers to be soldiers and diplomacy over violence. However what really drew me in was its characters. I got so invested. The main character Eliott is so marvelously flawed. He is a bit awful but in a very relatable and entertaining way and his two best friends, Luke Sunborn and Serene Heart in the Chaos of Battle are fully realized and also have their own distinct and satisfying story arcs. I can’t recommend it highly enough. Plus there’s mermaids and unicorns and elves and so much LGBTQ awesomeness. Also, it’s just plain hilarious.

The Murderbot Diaries Vol. 1 through 4 by Martha Wells.

Another author I was not familiar with until this year. This series of novellas is narrated by an AI created to be a hirable security unit with no free will. But the AI has hacked their own programming and can make decisions for themselves. They dub themself Murderbot for several reasons, not the least being because self-aware robots are almost always portrayed as killing machines. I absolutely adore Murderbot. They are not very trusting of humanity and mostly want to be left alone to watch TV. As an introvert with anxiety, I can relate. The novellas follow Murderbot as they investigate an incident in their past from just before they became self-aware. They run afoul of an evil corporation and often find themself feeling responsible for the safety of different groups of humans despite not really wanting to be. All four books are great but the second is my favorite.

Honorable Mentions

The Wayfarers Series by Becky Chambers

We Are Never Meeting In Real Life by Samatha Irby

Cat Pictures Please and Other Stories by Naomi Kritzer

Opal: A Raven Cycle Story by Maggie Stiefvater

Favorite Authors by the numbers:

Neil Gamin – 5

Martha Wells – 4

Bryan K. Vaughan – 3

Becky Chambers – 3

Seanan Maguire – 2

Maggie Stiefvater – 1

Naomi Kritzer – 1

Samantha Irby – 1

Marissa Meyer – 1

George R.R. Martin – 1

Connie Willis – 1

Holly Black -1

John Scalzi – 1

David Sedaris – 1

Nnedi Okorafor – 1

Other Highlights

Three of my stories were published this year, including my first professional sale. Read them here: Seeded, Amenities, Cat Lady.

Fourth Street Fantasy Convention was another big highlight this year. I got to meet up with several Viable Paradise friends and made several new ones. I’m looking forward to attending again next June.

I completed my revision on my superhero novella and have begun submitting it to publishers.

I’m working on a long-form WIP that I’m not sure what I’ll be doing with once it’s done and a few more ideas percolating.

And here is the current state of my to read shelves.

It’s still completely out of control. Maybe by next year, I will have conquered the piles on the floor. Hahahahahahahahahahahahsob.

Cat Lady (is a story that I wrote)

And it was published in the November issue of Galaxy’s Edge Magazine. You can read it by clicking on the link below and then clicking on the title in the table of contents.

http://www.galaxysedge.com/#editorWord

I might be teensy bit excited!

And it made me realize that I never posted here when another of my stories was published this Summer in Stupefying Stories.

http://stupefyingstories.blogspot.com/2018/09/showcase-amenities-by-susan-taitel.html

I’m a Professional!

I get to announce that I have a story forthcoming from Galaxy’s Edge Magazine! As of yet I do not know what issue it will be in or when it will be published. I will definitely be linking to it when it comes out.

The story in question, Cat Lady, was written during my time at Viable Paradise, though it’s been revised a few times since. It’s my first professional sale and I shed a few tears when I opened the acceptance email. If you’re curious about what qualifies a market as pro, semipro, or token the SFWA has a guide here. The gist of it is it depends on how much the market pays, how long they’ve been publishing, and how big of a readership they have.

I have been submitting my stories to pro markets since 2015 and have racked up over a 100 rejections split between 7 stories. Cat Lady was rejected 17 times before Galaxy’s Edge accepted it. That is about average from my understanding. There were several times I felt I was so close to making a pro sale and other times when it seemed like the impossible dream. This doesn’t mean that I won’t get any more rejections, in fact I’ve gotten 3 in time the since. But it’s one more hurtle cleared. I get to call myself a professional. Even if never sell another story I will always have one professional credit to my name. I’m tempted to order a little pin or plaque to remind myself of that, but I think having the issue in my hands will be enough.

In other news, in a few short weeks I’ll be attending 4th Street Fantasy Convention for the second time. A few of my favorite people in the world will also be there and I can’t wait to see them all again. And celebrate the hurdles they’ve cleared since we last saw each other.

Finally, here we have another Fraggle. For such simple designs they really are hard to capture in 2D.

You Can Listen to My Story on Gallery of Curiosities

This week my story Seeded was published by Gallery of Curiosities. GoC is an audio market, which is a first for me. I love the reader they chose and am very pleased with the final product. This is one of my stranger stories but I think it reflects my sense of humor pretty well. It is the second of two stories in the episode.

You can click through below to reach the episode’s credit page and download.

https://gallerycurious.com/2018/02/12/ep-54-honeyed-tongue-by-deborah-l-davitt-seeded-by-susan-taitel/

Or listen directly here.

The Year in Books 2017

Happy New Year, everybody! I can’t say I’m sorry to see the back of 2017. Natural disasters and human disasters seemed to be the theme. Nevertheless we persisted; we made it to 2018! (except those who didn’t).

Before I get to my book statistics I’ll share a few writing highlights. I wrote at least three new stories and majorly revised several more.

Here is a screenshot of my submission stats from 2017.

I doubled my story submissions from 2016 and received nearly 6 times as many personal rejections. (Personal rejections are gold when you’re in the submission trenches.) This is a tangible reminder that I’m making progress.

My story Wandering Eye was published on the Lorelei Signal in January of last year. I recently sold another story that should be going live in the next few months. I’ll post a link here when it does.

Over the last year I’ve become a part of a critique group of local authors. We’ve been meeting once a month. The advice I’ve gotten from Marcia, Anika, Jennie, and Tim has been invaluable and my writing continues to improve. It’s also a great motivator to have something written in time for our meetings.

I’m still in touch with most of my classmates from Viable Paradise 2016 and connect with them nearly every day. It is an incredibly supportive community. They’ve been doing great over the last year too. Several have made pro sales, signed with agents, and attended incredible workshops. I’m thrilled and grateful for my little writing family.

I entered Podcastle’s Flash Fiction contest and made the top ten out of 200 stories. I think I ultimately placed 5th.

In June I attended 4th Street Fantasy, a very small local fantasy convention with such guests as Holly Black, Elizabeth Bear, John Chu, and Max Gladstone. It’s limited to only about 250 attendees and socializing is encouraged but not mandatory. Which suits me perfectly. It also attracts a lot of Viable Paradise graduates and ended up being a mini reunion for VP20, with 16 of our class of 24 in attendence.

In September I ran a meeting of MinSpec where we did Sherwood Smith’s 2-Page exercise. It was huge success and we’ll be doing it again this spring.

 

On to the books part of the Year in Books!

Every year since 2010 I’ve kept a running list of the books I’ve read over the course of the year. It functions sort of as a diary of my reading habits.

By the Numbers

Grand total: 103 books read

67 print

36 audiobooks

5 ebooks

52 comics and graphic novels (not including singles issues read month to month)

22 borrowed from the library

17 borrowed from friends

11 short story collections or novellas

Favorites!

Every Heart a Doorway and Down Among the Sticks and Bones – Seanan McGuire

Room – Emma Donoghue

The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky – Terry Pratchett

O Human Star Volumes 1 and 2 – Blue Delliquanti

The Girl Who Drank the Moon – Kelly Barnhill

The Refrigerator Monologues – Catherynne M. Valente

Lots of favorites this year!

Favorite Author stats

Neil Gaiman 4

Gail Simone 3

David Mack 2

Charlie Jane Anders 1

Holly Black 2

Carrie Fisher 1

Seanan McGuire 2

Rainbow Rowell 1

John Scalzi 2

Terry Pratchett 2

George R.R. Martin 1

Marissa Meyer 1

Kelly Barnhill 1

Ursula Vernon 2

Catherynne M. Valente 1

Connie Willis 1

Nnedi Okorafor 2

So that was 2017 in books.

Here is the current state of of my to read shelves.

I hope that by next year the piles in front of the shelves will have been read. But that would mean I stopped adding to them and that is not as easy as it sounds.

 

A few other highlights from 2017.

I saw Hamilton in Chicago!

All the Hugo Award fiction categories were won by women!

Hidden Figures! Wonder Woman! Thor Ragnarok! The Last Jedi!

Brienne and Arya’s sparring match!

Black Panther and the Thirteenth Doctor to look forward to!

Extreme weirdness on tv in the form of Legion, American Gods, and Twin Peaks the Return.

The Big Sick! Ladybird! Master of None! The Good Place! Steven Universe!

The Women’s March! Trumpcare defeated! Roy Moore defeated! Resisters everywhere!