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Reporting from Mount TBR

Another year, another reading challenge! This year, I’ve decided once again to tackle my massive backlog of To Be Read titles. The two bookshelves housing my TBR pile have begun sneaking books onto the floor, and the piles from the floor have migrated to my dresser, nightstand, and desk. The approximate number of unread books in the house is close to 400—which is only about half the number of unread titles lurking in my digital libraries.

My plan is simple. Every month, I will sort the books in my digital libraries to the earliest date and send one to my e-reader. Then read it. Or make an attempt to. If I like it, I’ll mention it here, on my blog. If I don’t like it, I’ll delete it. Same goes for the physical books. I’ll pick one from the shelf and read it. If I like it, I’ll blog about it. If I don’t like it, I’ll tuck it into the library donation box.

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The Good Ending

Recently, I replayed Metro: 2033 with little doubt I’d get the good ending. I knew all about the hidden morality system and had confidence that I’d be able to work it to my advantage. I got the bad ending. Since, I’ve been wondering why—and what my ending says about me.

In the case of 2033, I didn’t accrue enough moral points to unlock the choice at the end. The bad ending comes without a choice; the good ending comes with a choice to take a chance or let the bad ending happen. I think it must have been close. Throughout my playthrough, I stunned where I could—rather than kill—and when given the option to do a good deed, I generally did it. I listened to conversations and tried to interact with NPCs. I found hidden items. But I didn’t do enough, and the question of why has a pretty easy answer.

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2021: Stay True

Last year, I picked a simple theme to govern the months of 2020: Less is More. Did I know what we’d be facing? Nope. But my mindset of doing less served me well over the months we’ve spent in isolation.

This year, I’m picking an equally simple theme: Stay True.

One of the lessons that I grew up with was to always stay true to yourself and never let what somebody else says distract you from your goals. And so when I hear about negative and false attacks, I really don’t invest any energy in them, because I know who I am.

Michell Obama

I spent a lot of energy last year, especially toward the end of summer, trying to pin down what I wanted with regards to my writing career. My goal this year is to not only stay true to what I want, but remember why I want it.

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My Favourite Things: 2020

For the past few years, I have begun my annual favourite things post by talking about what a hard year it has been and how glad I am it’s over. You would not be wrong in expecting me to start this year’s post the same way. After all, it is 2020. But although it’s been a difficult year (perhaps the most difficult), I have found much for which I am grateful.

My small family has always been close. We’re separated from our relatives by continents and oceans, and so used to celebrating holidays alone. To being three of us against the world. We didn’t, therefore, find isolation all too hard. We had moments of friction, as all families do, but I’ve never been more grateful for my husband and daughter. We held each other up this year. We forgave more easily, learned to communicate more clearly, and have almost mastered the art of letting each other exist in their own space for a while. (Or I have. Sometimes.)

I’ve also been amazed and delighted by the joy others have found over the past year. The news has often been universally bad, and yet someone, somewhere, has always had something to share. The wonder of small things has never been more true. 

The other aspect of being home all year has been more time to devote to my hobbies. And what I read and watched and listened to is a reflection of that. 

As always, we’ll start with what I read.

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The Things They Don’t Tell You

As far as I know, there is no definitive manual on how to be an author. There are hundreds of books about the craft of writing and dozens of places to go for advice on how to write a good query letter and synopsis. You can take a course on everything from nailing that first line to marketing your backlist. But there are still surprises. There are aspects of being an author that you’ll only figure out after you’ve been doing it for a while.

It’s like raising a kid. You’ve heard a rumor you might be up at three in the morning cleaning pink vomit off the carpet on the stairs, but you didn’t think it’d happen until it does. There wasn’t really supposed to be pink vomit, was there? Not when no one had eaten anything pink.

This is my list of things I sort of (definitely) wish someone had told me.

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