Books read, December 2022

Quite a few of the books I read in December were either novellas or novels so short their actual word count might be in the novella range — in a few cases, even shorter than that . . . but even with that having been said, I read a metric ton last month. And bounced off nearly half as many books in their first fifty pages or so, which at least had the salutary effect of clearing out my wishlists a tiny bit. (This was made easier by library ebooks, especially while I was in Massachusetts for the holidays.) If I could keep this up, in a year my wishlists might be of a reasonable length!

. . . I am not going to be able to keep this up for an entire year.

BTW, a question for you all: the last few months I’ve been writing longer bits for each book. On the one hand, that seems good; on the other hand, I’m halfway to novelette territory with this post. Is it too much, do you think, or do you like the increased detail? Lemme know — I want these to be useful to other people as well as myself.

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Happy New Year!

In 2020/2021, I think, I began saying to people “may next year be better than this one” or “may this year be better than the last” (depending on timing). That was absolutely driven by the pandemic and other woes, but honestly, isn’t it a worthwhile sentiment every time the calendar flips over?

So whether 2022 was good for you or bad, the best year yet or the worst year ever: may 2023 be better for you all. Happy New Year!

Is there a faster way to clean fountain pen nibs?

Every time I want to clean out a fountain pen and change inks, I swear, it takes forever. I have a bulb I use to flush water through the feed and the nib, but even after I’ve put through probably two hundred times as much water as there can possibly be ink remaining, it’s still coming out visibly colored. I have one of those sonic jewelry cleaners, too, but I feel like it just leaves the pens marinating in inky water (especially if I don’t clean them the other way first); I have to change it out enough times that I’m not sure it’s really faster or all that much less labor-intensive than flushing them by hand. Is there a faster way I’m just overlooking, or is this simply how it goes with fountain pens?

New Worlds: Patron of the Arts

It’s generally been the pattern for the New Worlds Patreon that when we have an arts month, three of the essays are directly about art, and the fourth is about some adjacent topic. In this case, it’s patronage — comment over there!

And while we’re at it, this is a dandy time to remind you that New Worlds is indeed a Patreon, i.e. supported by the patronage of my readers. If you are not among their ranks already, it’s easy to join; members get a weekly photo, a monthly book review, and various other goodies at higher tiers, like voting rights in the topic polls and behind-the-scenes looks at how I build worlds for my own work. Even if you’re not able to support the Patreon directly, I’m grateful for any signal-boosting you can offer!

2022 in review

Publications-wise, that is. I never really know what to say about my personal life; it’s mostly a combination of uninteresting things, and stuff I don’t especially want to make public.

This was a weird year. For the first time since (I think) 2007 — which was the year after my first two books were published — I didn’t have a novel out. But since I had three in 2021 (The Mask of Mirrors, The Night Parade of 100 Demons, and The Liar’s Knot), and since I’ll have three again next year (The Game of 100 Candles, Labyrinth’s Heart, and The Waking of Angantyr), it’s not like I have much grounds to complain!

Meanwhile, on the short fiction front . . . this was a banner year, with no fewer than ten short stories published (beating out 2019, which had nine, but that was counting my fiction for Legend of the Five Rings, too). Speaking of L5R, this year also saw the publication of my first really significant game work: I’ve written micro-settings for Tiny d6, little branching adventures in 50-word chunks for Sea of Legends, RPG fluff and a few bits of mechanics for an earlier edition of L5R, but now I can lay claim to a full-bore adventure. And I’m really proud of how Imperfect Land turned out, in terms of its structure, its content, and the impact players can have on the larger world of their campaign. If any of you out there are reading for game awards and would like a review copy, just let me know!

And speaking of award nominations, if that’s your reason for looking at posts of this type, the piece I’d most like to bring to your attention is “Fate, Hope, Friendship, Foe” (3800 words, Uncanny Magazine; also available in their podcast). This is my “Atropos on a road trip through the Midwest” story, aka “the story it took me sixteen and a half years to write,” and I couldn’t be more delighted with how it turned out . . . even if for a long time there, I assumed it would never get written.

But as mentioned above, I have many other stories racked up from this year! Not all are available to read online, but:

* “Chrysalis” (5700 words, Beneath Ceaseless Skies) — a setting based on Mesoamerican folklore, where the main character is arguably a rock.

* “This Living Hand” (2900 words; Sunday Morning Transport but paywalled to subscribers) — dead Romantic poets and a willow tree that is up to no good.

* “Never to Behold Again” (440 words, Daily Science Fiction) — flash set in a world where beauty is eroded by people perceiving it.

* “The Me of Perfect Sight” (670 words, NewMyths) — Sumerian mythology about Inanna’s theft of the holy me.

* “And Ask No Leave of Thee” (7500 words, Neither Beginnings Nor Endings) — a modern retelling of “Tam Lin” that started with me figuring out how to do a non-magical version of the transformation sequence, then wound up as fantasy anyway.

* “Then Bide You There” (490 words, Dream of Shadows) — flash fiction born of me reaaaaally hating the folksong “The Two Magicians.”

* “Two for the Path” (1200 words, Shattering the Glass Slipper) — what if Snow White’s stepmother was actually trying to save her?

* “The Faces and the Masks” (340 words, Daily Science Fiction) — a meditative bit of fantasy-religious flash in the setting of the Rook and Rose series.

* “Crafting Chimera” (6700 words, ZNB Presents but paywalled to subscribers) — a psychologist tries to help a shapeshifter with identity issues.

Whoof, that’s a lot. But you know what? I already have seven stories racked up in the sold-but-not-published queue, all of which I’ve been at least tentatively told will be out in 2023. And I have two more for which I don’t have a date, but it might be in 2023. So with a few more sales — provided they’re to markets that aren’t already booked out so far, new acquisitions will be going into the 2024 schedule — I could theoretically surpass this record . . .