Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas readers!

Sands and Storms, it really has been a whole year, hasn’t it? It almost doesn’t feel like it, but another one has passed. Somewhere between the hours poking away at a keyboard, it all added up, and once more we’ve arrived at the finale of the year.

Christmas.

Okay, some might count New Years, but dang it, that’s next year. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The last holiday of the year, the one that matters most to me, is Christmas.

A lot of reflection goes into this season. Which it should, don’t get me wrong. This is a holiday dedicated to remembering the birth of the Savior and all that comes with it. Ideally, self-reflection should be involved. It’s a holiday where we can sit back and think about things for a little while. Look at where our lives have been. And where they’re headed.

This, by the way, isn’t at all what I expected to post when I started writing this, but then again that’s sometimes how these things go. I’m just rolling with it.

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Your Year in Books

Okay guys, this is cool. Yesterday I was alerted via Reddit to a feature of Goodreads I was not aware of: The “Your Year in Books” feature.

What is it? Well, the name is pretty self explanatory, but basically it’s a shareable page that summarizes all your reported reading so far that year. The number of pages you’ve read across however many books, the most popular book you read, the least popular book you read, your average review rating, the highest-rated book you read, and so on and so forth. Basically, it summarizes whatever you’ve put into their site into a really neat little infographic you can look over and see. It’s your year of books at a glance.

So, that’s pretty cool. If you’re a Goodreads user, at least. And while I’m not a heavy user by any means, I have been using it to simply leave a rating for each book I read, and even that’s enough for it to make a neat little page on it.

But they also made these pages shareable. That’s right, each one’s got a link you can share so you can swap pages on books read with people you know. And well … yeah, why not? After all, it’s kind of fun to see what people read.

Anyway, here’s mine. Everything’s there save the book I’m reading right now, which in all honesty isn’t getting a great rating anyway. Take a look, and while you’re at it, if you feel like it, share yours in the comments. I’ll keep a close eye on the filter so that they don’t get filed under spam.

Is there something deep behind this? Not really. It’s just fun. I like looking at stats for things, and this is a neat one. Plus, it’s cool to see all my readings in one place and kind of laid out with some additional info. I definitely can see a few series I binged on here, as well as some random pickups from my library, some of which were good, and others which were … not so good.

Just fun, end of the year, holiday stuff. So, what’d you read?

Being a Better Writer: Keeping Details in Line

Afternoon readers!

It’ll be a short one today (in addition to being late). Why? Christmas season at my part-time. We’re doing lots of holiday parties and the like, and we’re doing them every day. Which means … late nights, lots of them, flipping rooms. On the one hand, extra cash and hours … on the other, extra hours that are late. You know, 4 AM late.

Tired? Why yes I am now that you mention it.

Long story short, it means I’m a bit tired, and so got up later than normal. Today’s post will also be a bit shorter than normal.

But that doesn’t make it by any means a topic that’s less important. In fact, today’s topic is a basic one that is absolutely vital but can still be overlooked, as I’ll demonstrate here in a moment. Today, I want to talk about keeping details in line with one another. Or in other words …

Continuity.

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Why You Should Read … The Robots of Gotham

Been a while since we’ve seen one of these posts! In fact, this is only the second one.

Okay, what is Why You Should Read …? Well, it’s a rare recommendation post. One of the things that I’ve constantly espoused on this site is the idea that writers should read. It’s a vital, important part of being a good writer. You expose yourself to other styles, other authors’ solutions or approaches. It broadens your writing horizons and gives you new insights into all aspects of the craft. Reading the writing of others (aside from being relaxing and fun) is a great way to see new tricks or at the very least identify approaches other authors have taken to similar events, stories, or ideas.

Since I do take my own advice here and try to do a lot of reading, occasionally I’ll find something that I believe is worth sharing for one reason or another. And, as before, don’t worry, I divide these by spoiler free and spoiler-filled, so you’ll be able to see which is which.

With that said, a minor disclaimer before we get started.I’m not receiving any sort of compensation for you reading this book, or for me talking about it. This is a title I found on my own, read on my own, and in turn decided to pass on. I get no compensation whatsoever for recommending this book.

Unless that is, you decide to head over to my books page and pick up one of my own works. But then that’s you buying one of my books, not this book. Whether or not you go hunt this book down, I get nothing from it. But buying one of my books, for obvious reasons, is very beneficial to me. Why would I say this?

Well, because of a certain something about today’s recommendation. So let’s get this underway and talk about why you should read The Robots of Gotham.

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The Non-Trad Christmas Gift Suggestion List (With Optional Trad)

Right, so this is pretty spontaneous. This morning, I woke to news on my feed of John Scalzi putting up a “Non-Trad Published Gift List” on his website. Curious, I clicked over.

Unfortunately, it was a little disappointing. It wasn’t actually a Gift List. What I had expected, especially titled such, was that Scalzi had actually read some Non-Trad books and was promoting a few of his favorites. But it wasn’t. Instead what the post turned out to be was Scalzi saying “Hey, non-trad writers, please use my comments to plug your books today.”

Predictably, the result is basically a lot like the “Self-Published Satuday” grab-bags on Reddit. Hordes of books from all over the spectrum, presented with no rhyme or reason.

So I immediately thought “Why not try that for real? Rather than create a self-advertising space, why not throw out one of my favorite non-trad pub books I read this year, and encourage others to do the same? Something not by me, but by someone else?”

Which, in turn, is where this post popped up from. Why not? After all, it’s my site. Why not use it for some real Christmas promotion?

So here’s the challenge. Look back on books you’ve read in the last, oh, two years. Pick out at least one that must be non-trad pub. An indie of some kind. If you’ve got a second that’s a lesser-known trad, then it can go up second, but the first must be indie. EDIT: Oh, and please no erotica or extreme content. This is a friendly site, but not that kind of friendly.

Then post about it! Tell us why you liked it, who you think the book might be a good gift for, and where we can find it! Then, if you’ve got a lesser-known trad-pub book you’d like to talk about, throw that one up too!

I’ll start us off! Here’s my two picks!

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Being a Better Writer: Practice Makes Perfect

A shorter post today, folks, as I’ve got a time-crunch today. Christmas season is hear, and that means I’ve got shifts at my part-time leading well past midnight pretty much every day this week. It’s a brutal holiday season, ho ho.

One small bit of news: November’s Patreon Supporter Reward will go up tomorrow. It was going to be Saturday, but I ended up getting some writing work done with what free time I had that day (and then the time I would have perhaps had slotted for it was eaten up by an unfortunate flat tire on my bike that left me walking a mile+ back from the store).

With that news out of the way, let’s dive right into today’s topic (like I said, time crunch here): Practice makes perfect.

I hang out in writing channels online. Not all of them, but a few, via Discord or Reddit, and lately I’ve seen a trend occurring once again that seems to rear its head. Young, new writers who hop in looking for advice or feedback on their writing … and then want things to change instantly.

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