2016 Year in Review Ramblings

laughing while reading book
Regarding Books…

I completed my GoodReads yearly reading challenge with 230 books! I never realized how much I really do read in a year until I started keeping track. Of course, there are many books I re-read every year, some of which are part of a series. But I read several new books (well, new for me anyway) last year, too. Sadly, most of the books ended up being relegated to my sell on Amazon stash but a few earned a place on my bookshelves. I highlighted my top favs from 2016, which you can read about here. My new reading challenge goal so far is 20 books though I usually start increasing that total as the year goes on.

According to GoodReads’ Year in Books summary, I downed 76,484 pages, the shortest read of which was Unknown Sender by Ryan Lanz (at 25 pages) and the longest was The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (at 1,216 pages). The most popular book I read was The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (’cause Katniss is still cool) and the least popular (based solely on the number of people who have the book shelved) was Who Said I Was Up for Adoption?, a non-fiction story about a shelter dog, by Colin Chappell. Lastly, the first book I marked as read in 2016 was Nooks and Crannies by Jessica Lawson and the last book I read for the year was Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room, a Christmas devotional, by Nancy Guthrie.

So, overall, 2016 was a very productive reading year! I’m not sure if I can keep the same momentum in 2017, but I have the best of intentions.

Did I really just write that critic writing huh
Regarding Writing…

I finally – finally – finished my draft of The Guardian Wars, the third and final novel in The Guardian trilogy. While it’s still in draft stage, I’m current revising and editing it. The good news is that as I go through my list of comments and revision notes, the to-be-fixed list is getting smaller as things are being amended. My plan is to get it published before the end of 2017 as I feel it’s been too long in coming. I can tell you that writing a trilogy has been tough, chiefly from the standpoint of keeping all of my proverbial ducks in a row. Sometimes they’ve been mischievous, disorderly little ducks but I love them just the same. You can view details on The Guardian trilogy by accessing the Books tab above or by clicking here.

While I didn’t publish any books in 2016, I did have several articles published in Standard Publishing’s The Lookout magazine and a chapter in The Ultimate Star Trek and Philosophy. My articles covered topics such as compulsive shopping, the Gospel’s Christmas account, and beauty; and my chapter explored the character developments of Voyager‘s the Doctor and Seven of Nine in light of phenomenology. (I had to briefly educate myself on that topic!) You can view direct links to my articles here (or under the Misc. Publications tab) and you can access a direct link to The Ultimate Star Trek and Philosophy here (or under the Books tab above).

So as far as writing goes, this year I plan to:
1. Get The Guardian Wars published! Afterwards, I might shop it around but I have a few other book ideas I’d like to dig into.

2. Continue drafting (and maybe finish?) another novel currently titled Kingdom of Ravens, which may or may not be a standalone. (I really want to finish it first and then decide.) Kingdom of Ravens is intended to be an NA (new adult) work of magical realism that focuses on the relationship between a princess of a frozen kingdom and a low-level criminal underworld errand boy from a neighboring city. It was initially inspired by the show Gotham and my love for all things wintry but the novel bears no resemblance to Gotham nor is it a work of fan fiction. Just wanted to clear that up. 🙂

3. Start drafting another novel (in a trilogy? – not sure yet) called (for now) Cathexis, the idea for which I have batted back and forth in my mind and on paper for a few years now. In brief, the story focuses on two adult twins – a brother and sister – who possess a unique and powerful telepathic bond. It’s set in space, and if I had to draw comparisons, I would say it combines certain parts Star Trek and certain parts Bourne Identity but it’s an entirely original work (meaning it’s not fan fiction). I have a rather detailed outline in place, so there really is no excuse for me to keep putting it off. Shame, shame on me.

writing typing work busy
Regarding Blogging…
I find it interesting to see what my most read blog posts were within a given year. After looking back at my final WordPress stats for 2016, the top five most-viewed posts (excluding the home page) were:
1. The War of the Worlds book review – H.G. Wells must have been popular in 2016 for some reason. And nobody told me?!? (FYI: I love H.G. Wells.)

2. Hitman movie review – This one really surprised me. I figured it was such an obscure flick, no one would even be aware of it. Guess more people had heard of it/seen it than I thought.

3. Gotham and the Scarface Connection – I’m surprised at this one’s popularity, too. I just wrote it as a random thought/rambling post. Turns out Oswald Cobblepot + Tony Montana = Popular!

4. Gotham Episode Six (Season 1) review – Views for my old Gotham posts have dwindled as I sense the show is declining in popularity, but this one remained a much-read post for some reason.

5. Rise of the Ogre book review – This review appears in the top five every year since I posted it. Again, I figured this book was so obscure that any review about it would simply go unnoticed. Turns out I’m wrong again!

In the end, I intend to maintain this blog in 2017 but I might scale back my posting frequency as I need to focus more on my manuscripts. I still plan to post reviews but it might not be on a weekly basis like I have been doing. I know some bloggers post something every day but there is no way I could maintain a schedule like that. Usually once a week is all I can manage and I hope to continue that. But if time passes and it looks like I’ve gone AWOL, please know that I haven’t. This blog is still my site where I direct people to my books, so I’ll always maintain it in some fashion.

cat writing books read
Regarding Life…
I avoid getting personal on my blog because (a). I try to focus on writing reviews and sharing publication news (so this site was never intended to be an online diary), (b). I’m a non-TMI kind of gal by nature, and (c). I don’t care to have personal details stored on WordPress’ server for all eternity. But occasionally I will reveal tiny snippets of myself such as now.

As far as 2016 goes, I’m still single and still not loving it. I’m at that age (and, no, I’m not telling) where I have seen all of my friends wed and start families (they are all on Kid #2 by now!) while I haven’t been out with a guy in…well, a rather long time. I keep my hopes up but it gets hard. One thing I did do to help myself in 2016 was stop reading relationship books and web articles. While I have found that some are good and actually informative (such as Dr. David Jeremiah’s What the Bible Says about Love, Sex, and Marriage), most deliver cliches and pat answers or advise us “older” singles to hang it up because God is (somehow) confined to our ages and circumstances (I’m looking glaring at you, Candice Watters!). My mood was being affected by what I read (and these were Christian materials, mind you, or at least they were marketed as such), and I knew that wasn’t good. So I cut out the negativity. I stopped visiting certain websites (which shall remain nameless) because their “advice” was so wishy-washy – being deeply encouraging in one piece then immediately backpedaling in the next. Not to mention some of it was either not Biblical or flat-out violated common sense. In short, I’m glad I cut out all of the “advice” and it has made my moods less mercurial.

Likewise, I have made the tough personal decision to simply trust God with my love life – which is decidedly not easy! But I can say (without getting too personal) that the men I have struck up short-lived friendships with never materialized into anything significant, so I now (finally) think He can be a better matchmaker than me. God knows how He designed me and I’m definitely not one of these gals who desires to live solo.

So in the words of Snow White, Someday my prince will come…
snow-white-image
But can you please hurry him up, Lord?!?

Also of note, in May (2016) my family and I had to say goodbye to our adopted Border Collie mix, Chloe. She was sixteen years old and it was very hard to let her go, but eventually she succumbed to cancer and we had to make the tough choice to put her to sleep. I fully sympathize with anyone who has ever had to make that choice because it is not easy. A part of you wants to hope your beloved pet will simply pass peacefully in her sleep, but another part knows it’s cruel to let her suffer. My family and I still miss Chloe as she was a part of our family for so many years (imagine – a human can go from being born to being in high school and old enough to drive in sixteen years – that’s a long time!). But we were so glad to have adopted her and let her be a part of our lives, and we were deeply blessed by her presence and insanely smart doggy wit!

So, overall, it’s good to have 2016 in the rear-view mirror of life and have a brand new year stretching out before me. I don’t like to get too starry-eyed about the future but it’s good to have goals and hope for the best. So I hope all of you have a good 2017 – keep reading and (provided you’re crazy like me) keep writing! 🙂

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