Monthly Archives: December 2012

Reading Recap: 2012

Time for a roundup of the past year of reading! I’m going to start out by sharing my favourite books of the year, then go into some geeky stats on my reading and buying habits in 2012. Hope it’s interesting, and/or helpful to those of you who, like me, are trying to make money in the industry. Please chime in!

Year in Review

Favourite Books of 2012

I’m perpetually behind in my reading. I don’t pretend to have a handle on “genre fiction in 2012” or even “fantasy fiction for adults in 2012”. So I’m not even going to try for that. What I’m giving you instead is a very personal list of the books I liked best this year (never mind when they were published), and an explanation of why.

Continue reading


Review: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey movie posterI wasn’t going to blog this week, but…well…then I saw The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. And I had to talk about it. So here you are. The blog will be on holiday for the rest of this week, returning next week. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Yule, and happy holiday of choice!

I’m starting with an unspoilery review. Spoilers will be lower down and clearly marked.

(Disclaimer: I didn’t see the film in 3D or with the much-discussed higher frame rate, so I won’t be touching on those aspects.)

I’m a big Tolkien fan, and I felt that Peter Jackson did a spectacular (though certainly not perfect) job with the LOTR movies. So while I was not thrilled to hear that The Hobbit was being broken into three films, I went to the theater prepared to trust Jackson again.

And…wow, did he deliver.

Continue reading

Weekend Link: The Whos in Whoville = Aliens?

A little late, but here’s something seasonal to make you laugh:

Are the Whos down in Whoville really aliens? (Be sure to read the comments as the hypotheses get ever stranger!)

See you back here on Monday!


Of Gifts and Love and Family

First, a bit of anthology news. Kit Campbell, the author of the anthology’s spring story, has a post up about the genesis and evolution of her story.

Just a reminder — Seasons Eternal is available in paperback (and it’s a very pretty book; I’ve seen it!) or the ebook format of your choice. All the info is on the Turtleduck Press website, here.

As Christmas approaches, I find that I’m missing my family a lot. My family of origin, I should say, because I won’t be alone — I’ll be celebrating with my husband and my in-laws, for the first time in our own house. This isn’t the first year I’ve been away for the holidays, either. Maybe I’m missing them particularly because I’m thinking about creating traditions. Or maybe I miss them this much every year, and I’ve just forgotten.

When my siblings and I were little, we used to meet in the hallway well before sunrise on Christmas Day, and creep down the hall so we’d all see the living room at the same time — the tree already lit, casting a multicoloured glow on the heap of wrapped presents beneath. That moment was one of my favourites, because anything might be in those gifts.

We’d open our stockings first — cooked up as a ploy by our parents to enable them to sleep in just a little longer. The stockings always included baggies of cereal and Christmas oranges. By the time we finished breakfast, our parents were awake and the unwrapping could begin. Whoever sat closest to the tree got to be Santa’s helper and pass out gifts that we’d take turns opening, prolonging the anticipation.

Afterwards, surrounded by new books (oh, and sometimes things that weren’t books…), we’d curl up contentedly and read the day away until turkey dinner time.

Gifts in my family tend to be modest, but carefully chosen; say what you will about commercialism, but I’m delighted when I find a present that I know will make the recipient’s eyes light up. For me, gift-giving is an expression of love. I don’t feel pressure to be extravagant and spend too much, but I do feel pressure to find (or make) the perfect gift. The one that expresses the connection between giver and recipient. (Which is why I’m not a big fan of gift cards. But I might cave this year.) Of course, that road leads to craziness…but I still try.

Of course, Christmas isn’t really about presents. It’s about people. We had Boxing Day dinners with extended family. When my parents divorced, we had two Christmases on consecutive days, often involving two turkey dinners (or a turkey and a ham). After my husband and I started dating lo these many years ago, we sometimes had three Christmases. I have fond memories of all of them. They all involved being together with loved ones, sharing a feast and family traditions, no matter the permutation of family.

And that is something I will have this year. It’ll just be a new permutation.

Besides, I think I’ve found some pretty great, ahem, expressions of love this time.

How do you feel about gifts and Christmas?

The Best Christmas Stories Ever

What are your favourite Christmas stories?

Even leaving aside the ones in the Bible, plenty of stories have been written about this time of year. Not surprising that it would be an inspiration to writers, given all the folklore and family traditions and emotional associations that are tied up in December 25.

I remember a pile of children’s books that my parents used to bring out every year. They were about shepherd boys and woodcarvers, drummer boys and miracles. Tomie A. de Paola wrote picture books based on The Legend of Old Befana and The Friendly Beasts. Barbara Robinson wrote The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. One picture book that I found as an adult, and bought because I liked it so much, was The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski.

Continue reading

Friday Link: People Getting Married

I was shocked to hear the terrible news of the Connecticut school shootings today. My thoughts go out to all the families affected.

In light of these events, I leave you with the happiest link I saw this week, in the hopes it will help restore your faith in humanity. In Washington, gay and lesbian couples are now allowed to marry, and a lot of them went down to City Hall as soon as they possibly could. Here’s a set of emotional photos from that day. If you’re skeptical about the value of gay marriage, I challenge you to click through and look at the faces.

(Found via KD Sarge.)

That’s all for this week. See you back here on Monday!

Learning to Do Less

I’m horrendously busy right now, and I’ve heard a lot of people say the same. This time of year can be tough. But it’s really just a symptom. We’re all swimming as fast as we can all the time to keep our heads above water. Add anything extra, and we might just go under.

(The main reason I’m busy is not because of Christmas. But it is good news, and you’ll hear more about it on the blog soon!)

So how am I coping?

Continue reading

Book Nostalgia: Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur RansomeQuick anthology update: I was recently over at author Shay Fabbro’s blog talking about how we created the shared world for the anthology. And that’s it for promo today.

In this week’s installment of my Nostalgia series, I’m looking at the first of Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons books. (More to come in a future Nostalgia post!) Sailing, camping, pirates, and treasure…what’s not to love?

In case it’s been a while, here’s a quick summary to jog your memory. Swallows and Amazons features two groups of preteen siblings, each crewing a small sailboat on a large lake. The four Swallows, exploring the lake for the first time, are thrilled to be allowed to camp alone on an island…until the two Amazons arrive, and war ensues. There are night raids, an attack on a pirate houseboat, and the discovery of a treasure chest.

Continue reading

Friday Link: Abandoned Architecture Photography

Happy Friday!

I love good photography (looking at it, not taking it), especially when it conveys a mood or suggests a story. French photographer Aurélien Villette does both. Here is a blog post showcasing some of his work on abandoned buildings.

What amazes me about it is the sheer size and/or former opulence of some of the buildings he’s captured. I mean, how can these buildings be abandoned? Doesn’t anybody notice them? Doesn’t anybody need the real estate? What about preserving their history? Who used to live or work there, and when and why did they leave?

His photos are wonderfully evocative, sometimes wistful, sometimes post-apocalyptic. If you love old buildings, seriously, go have a look.

That’s all for this week. See you back here on Monday!


Creating Christmas Traditions and Anthology News

Quick anthology updates before we get to the post proper:

Seasons Eternal is now available in print as well as in various ebook formats. See here for details.

I’m blogging about the sheer variety of what’s in the anthology, over at Turtleduck Press.

I’m also guest blogging about the Turtleduck Press mandate of publishing works that would otherwise fall through the cracks, and how the anthology fits into that, at Prudence MacLeod’s blog.

On Monday I talked about my anthology story here on this blog. Some of the other authors have weighed in as well. Here is KD Sarge talking about hers. And here is Kit Campbell delving into the origins of our shared-world premise.

Finally, I’m thrilled to be an interviewee on S.M. Hutchins’s fabulous Live Wonderstruck blog, talking about mindfulness and what makes me wonderstruck.

Now back to your regularly scheduled programming…

The Christmas season is upon us, like it or not, and it’s time to prepare. The question is, how?

Continue reading