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2021 Reading Challenge: DONE!

PHEW! Happy New Year, all! This past year, I’m proud to announce, I set myself a goal of reading 100 books — and on Dec 30, I hit that goal!

I was initially inspired to set this goal a few years ago, when I read an interview with V. E. Schwab (the link to which I have sadly long since list) in which she said that she reads at least 100 books a year, and has done since 2016. (In fact, according to Goodreads, she read 159 books in 2021 — good God!!) She said that the improvement she noticed in her writing skills was simply too great to ignore, and she’s made a yearly habit ever since.

When I initially read this interview, I was — like most people, I would bet — utterly flabbergasted. Plus, a little bit insecure; I didn’t even read a dozen books this year, how the hell did she manage ten times that! etc. At the time, I was still at college, and such a goal would have been a pure impossibility. This year, however, was my first settled year as an (almost) full-time writer, and thus I finally had the time to set and achieve this same goal myself. I’m also lucky enough to have access to a fantastic library with a wide selection of audiobooks, which probably comprised about 75% of the books I read (i.e. listened to at 1.25x speed) this year. If not for this, and my ADHD Need to listen to audio content At All Times (literally. Even in the bath), then I would never have hit my goal.

I can’t speak yet as to whether this endeavour has improved my writing skills as it did for Schwab, as I’ve largely been in the editing trenches this past year, but I can say that the number and breadth of books I’ve read this year has definitely filled me with motivation and inspiration! I’ve always found reading a good way to get myself out of a writing slump — it’s as if my brain simply ‘runs out of words,’ until I fill it up again with someone else’s and shake it all about like a snow globe until my own sentences come tumbling out. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the experience this year, and I plan to set the same goal for myself next year.

— CEM

Awards Eligibility 2021

So, after several years spent watching ‘awards eligibility posts’ pop up every year on social media and wondering ‘What’s that about? Ah well, doesn’t concern me anyway,’ I was finally forced to put on my Big Writer Hat and learn — because I had a short story published this year!

TtBTtBTBLB (as I lovingly call it) is a story of gods and sacrifices, mountains and mental illness — and what happens when the person picked as sacrifice is unfortunately all-too-willing to go. (Content warning below if you need them.) It’s weird, queer, and dear to my heart, and if you have a moment and/or you’re currently considering nominations for awards, I’d be thrilled if you gave it a read.

This is also my first year of eligibility for the Astounding Award! In case you’re not familiar, this is an award for new writers whose first professional work of science fiction or fantasy was published in the last two years. Again, if you’re reading for the Astounding I’d be over the moon if you consider giving my story a look!

P. S.: Content warnings for “Things to Bring, Things to Burn, Things Best Left Behind”: a (non-graphic) near-suicide-attempt on the first page, suicidal ideation throughout, and several brief, implied mentions of transphobia and an emotionally abusive parent.

— CEM

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