Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Subgenres of Speculative Fiction

I've mentioned before that I'm going to be appearing at the Elgin Literary Festival this weekend as part of a speculative fiction panel. I've contacted my co-panelist, and we've come up with a list of topics for the panel. One of them deals with the various subgenres of science fiction/fantasy. I plan to talk about them briefly, but I'm not sure I want to list every single subgenre possible. I may find a list or diagram of the subgenres and share that with the audience.

When you think of science fiction or fantasy, which subgenres come to mind first? Time travel? Epic fantasy? Alien invasion? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Books in Multiple Formats

With the advent of e-books, it's now possible to own the same book in both digital and print versions. I've chosen to keep some of my favorite books, such as Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, With Strings Attached, and To Say Nothing of the Dog, in both formats. My paper copy of Z&AMM is pretty beat up by now, but it has a lot of underlining and notes that I want to keep. (I have highlights and notes in the Kindle version too, but they may not be identical.) Other paper books, particularly novels, I'm willing to sell after I've purchased a duplicate electronic copy. I haven't added new bookshelves to my office for several years, so even though I don't buy paper books as much as I used to, I still need to make room for new books. Finally, there are other books, such as The Story of Philosophy, that I have in paper but not in e-book format. I think I did download the sample at some point, but I will probably wait for another sale on the e-book before I buy it.

If you read both paper books and e-books, do you keep books in both formats, or does one format replace the other? Please feel free to discuss your format preferences in the comments.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Dueling Divisions

My family and I ran into a bit of a snafu this week when we realized I did not have a current vehicle sticker on my car, even though I'd paid for one. When I went in to the DMV to investigate, it turned out that they had tried to send it to me, but it had apparently been marked as undeliverable and had been returned. Considering I've been at my current address for several years and have had no prior issues receiving mailings from the DMV, I have no idea what went wrong. (Well, I have some ideas, but that's getting into politics.) The issue could be with the DMV, but I think it could be the mail service.

It occurred to me that at least this incident might generate story ideas. What's the one public service you would want to keep running in a crisis? Which two public services are most likely to clash with each other? Which ones would be the funniest? Please leave your ideas in the comments.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Blank of One's Own

Last week, one of the books I read was A Room of One's Own, by Virginia Woolf. If you're not familiar with this essay, Woolf discusses what women need to write fiction, the obstacles they faced when they wanted to write, and the work of past and contemporary women writers. Woolf asserts that women need "Money and a room of one's own" in order to write. I think the money is a stand-in for time, as money can buy freedom from work and chores so that a person has time for thought. Woolf notes that women such as Jane Austen would have to write in the family parlor or sitting room, perhaps getting five minutes at a time to write, and having to cover up their work when they were interrupted. As a working mother, time is my rarest and most precious writing resource, so it's frustrating when I have to give it up at lunch or in the evening so other things can get done.

What do you think is the most important thing a writer of either gender needs? Feel free to leave your answer in the comments.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Event Appearances for 2016

This year promises to be one of the busiest I've had for a while when it comes to appearances and conventions. My first one will be the Elgin Literary Festival at the end of the month. I'll be part of a science fiction/fantasy panel on Saturday, January 30, and will be selling books afterwards.

My family and I are planning to attend C2E2 in March. Although we will troop as Star Wars characters for part of the time, I plan to seek out as much writing-related programming as possible and leave bookmarks on the freebie table. It would be nice if someday Broad Universe could get a table or rapid-fire reading there.

Finally, in May, we will attend WisCon Memorial Day weekend. It's too soon to know anything about programming yet (panel suggestions are still open, though), but that's always a very busy weekend for us. Alex's birthday falls on Memorial Day this year, so that may affect what we do that day.

I don't have anything else planned for the rest of the year at this point, but something could come up.

Do you have any writing conventions or appearances scheduled for 2016? If so, what are they?

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

IWSG: Writing Goals for 2016

Welcome to the first Insecure Writer's Support Group post for 2016! I figure this is a good time to announce my writing goals for the year. (I'm writing this post pretty late, so I have to keep it short.) Basically, I plan to publish two books this year: Chaos Season and Fifth Season, Books Three and Four of my fantasy Season Avatars series. I also want to at least finish the first draft of Summon the Seasons, the final book in the series. I'm about halfway through revising Chaos Season and have a good chunk of Fifth Season done. If time permits, I also want to create my first box set of the first three books in the Season Avatars series and hopefully finish some stories that have been gathering dust way too long.

What are your writing plans for the year? Feel free to share them below.

Monday, January 04, 2016

2015: My Year in Books

Happy 2016 to everyone! I hope you enjoyed the last couple of weeks. I had vacation from work, so it's going to be tough going back today.

Last year, I challenged myself to read 200 books. I ended up reading 208, very close to what I managed in 2014 (209 books). You can see the full list on Goodreads. Here's the breakdown by genre:

Science Fiction: 53
Fantasy: 92
Non-Fiction: 53
Other Fiction: 9

I seem to have dropped a book from the total. Chances are it's probably a fantasy book, since that continues to be my favorite genre, nearly half of my total reading (44%). Science fiction and non-fiction are tied at around 25% of the total, while the Other Fiction category remains the smallest at about 4%. (Due to rounding, the total doesn't add up to 100%.)

The vast majority of my reading (72%) was done on my Kindle. Of the 58 books (28%) I read in paper, 47 books came from the library. Many of them I checked out to avoid paying big publisher prices for e-books.

As for favorite reads, I'd have to list the entire Vorkosigan Saga; the Her Instruments trilogy; The Mermaid's Sister; Sword of Shadows; Parasite Rex; Seeds; "We the People of the Clouds"; Black Dragon, Black Cat; A Rational Arrangement; The Three Jaguars; Heart and Brain; Life on the Edge; The Martian; and Sapiens.

My paper To Be Read list continues to grow, and I still haven't transferred all the items I have on my Kindle Paperwhite to the Voyager. Even if I do read another 200+ books this year (I've already finished two), I'm sure my total TBR List will grow even faster. I guess that's a good problem for a bookworm like me.

What were your favorite reads from 2015? Please share them in the comments.

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