Saturday, December 11, 2021

Seasons' Readings

I love Christmas anthologies. I have my small collection. They run the gamut from SF (Christmas Stars) to classic (Dickens Christmas tales; Christmas Classics) to mystery (Crime for Christmas) to scary (Christmas Ghosts; can't find a link; it's the Hartwell/Cramer one) and Sherlock Holmes (Holmes for the Holidays). I've even got my comics covered with A DC Universe Christmas and Lee Bermejo's Batman: Noel

This year, I've added some cozy Christmas tales like Louise R. Innes Death at Holly Lodge, Holiday Murder by Leslie Meier, and another helping of the Andy Carpenter series by David Rosenfelt.

But when it comes to a book you can read for year, I think there is a top dog: The Big Book of Christmas Mysteries. Released in 2013, this 650-page book has something for everybody.

Agatha Christie opens and closes the book, and in between these bookends, all your favorites are here: Arthur Conan Doyle, G. K. Chesterton, Ellery Queen, Donald Westlake, Isaac Asimov, Ngaio Marsh, Rex Stout, and more.

The stories are broken out by themes such as A Modern Little Christmas, A Puzzling Little Christmas, A Pulpy Little Christmas, and A Traditional Little Christmas. If the stories don't get you, the wonderful cover painting, evoking something from the golden age, certainly will.

A collection this large cannot possibly be finished in one season. I don’t even try. Instead, I dip in for the last eight years, reading a tale here and there. 

I always enjoy making new discoveries, even if the discovery is something older.

Have y’all read through this book? If so, what are your favorite stories?

And what are some of y'all's favorite Christmas stories?

Saturday, December 4, 2021

NaNoWriMo 2021 - Post-Game: What’s Next?

NaNoWriMo 2021 is now in the books. How did you do? Did you get to 50,000 words? Did those 50,000 words correspond to the end of your novel? Did you fall short? Don’t worry. I’ve done all those things and more.

This year, I hit a new threshold: I got to 70,063 words in the thirty days of November. That came out to 40.2 hours. Irritatingly, those 70,000 words are not the end of the story, so I kept going. But I allowed myself a new daily goal for December: 1,000 words per day. It’s not quite the benchmark of 1,667 but it’s manageable. It’s helpful, too. I ran into a story wall on Thursday and I needed to brainstorm. It ate up the new words, but I cleared the pathway for the rest of the book (and might’ve even discovered a penultimate scene).

Like I said last week, whatever you did, please celebrate your accomplishment. I know that the physical part of writing is literally sitting in a chair and moving your fingers over the keyboard, but it can take a lot out of you. So no matter if you got to 50K or didn’t, celebrate.

What’s Next?

Well, as I wrote last week, if you want to be a writer, you have to keep writing. Find a new monthly challenge and get a story written. Write a short story per month in 2022. Just keep writing.

But what if you want to publish this NaNoWriMo 2021 book? Author J. Todd Scott on Twitter mentioned this week that his first book was written as part of NaNoWriMo.

What about the book you just completed? Well, do you want to publish it? If so, you can do what I did and publish it an an indie author. Yes, it means you do everything, but you also control everything. You rise or fall based on what you do. It can be daunting, but also rewarding.

First thing, get it edited. Ideally, you’d hire a professional editor, preferably one that doesn’t know you for a completely unbiased review of your book. When you get those changes back, make the changes. You don’t have to make them all. I mean if the editor is telling you the sub-plot needs a complete overhaul, consider why the editor said that, and then make your informed decision. There’s a reason the editor made the comment, but it doesn’t mean the editor is 100% correct. When you’ve made those change, re-read your book and then spot the things you missed.

Get a cover. Unless you know graphic design, hire someone. I used 99Designs to get some of my covers created.

Write a book description. Create your metadata. Determine the price point. Determine your marketing strategy. Format your file. (For this, the company Draft2Digital is recommended because they’ll basically do all the formatting you need for any of the digital marketplaces.) Upload the file to the world.

Then celebrate your accomplishment by throwing yourself a party.

And then? Well, do it all again.