This was an odd year for media consumption. I read less than normal and was more meh about books and shows that, in regular times, I’m certain I would have loved. I avoided some big titles because I suspected they would annoy me, but despite that, I found plenty to enjoy and recommend in 2020.
As always, this isn’t a best of list. I don’t think I watched, read, or listened to nearly enough stuff to put one of those together. This is, instead, a list of stuff I happened to really love this year, and it’s offered in no particular order.
One of my most fervent hopes for 2021 is that I’ll be back to normal as a reader and viewer. You can read my best of lists from 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016 for a peek at what more enthusiastic Emma looks like. ; )
Oh 2020, you were stressful, frightening, and tragic, and no one will miss you. Before we journey on, however, a look back.
In 2020, I revised “Appassionata,” and, with my anthology-mates, released He’s Come Undone. The collection is now out of print, but if you simply must have my novella, you can obtain it here. I won’t leave this up forever, but in 2020, we all need free books.
I wrote a little more than 60K on a new contemporary romance. I intended to finish it months ago, and I wish I could triumphantly declare my writer’s block over. But…2020. So I’ll have to settle for diffidently telling you that I wrote 80-85% of a manuscript. I hope to complete it in the next week and to be querying by the end of January.
Between that book, revisions, and other scraps, I wrote approximately 75K, my best word count in three years. Despite…2020.
We finished writing Red Shift, which is currently marinating before we revise and release it hopefully next year.
I wrote and began editing a 25K short for a not-yet-announced anthology. Look for news on this in the coming year.
I also started and abandoned various projects. But I have two ideas that, at least for the moment, I’m excited about.
All together, I wrote about 60K and read 90 new-to-me books.
It’s not where I want to be, but I think I know how to get there, if that makes sense. So here’s to hoping that my 2020 year in review post is triumphant, and that it’s a year fecund with joy and success for you too, dear reader.
(I’ve been writing some version of this post for as long as I’ve been blogging my writing. You can read about my 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013 respectively.)
It’s the most wonderful time of the year, the moment just before we flip the calendar page when we can take stock and separate the good from the bad and the ugly. Here’s what I would keep from my media consumption this year , what I suspect I’ll reread, relisten to, and rewatch in the years to come.
As is typical, most of these things are recent releases, but a few oldies snuck it. Tell me what I should fill the gaps with in the comments; and if you need more content from me, see my best of lists from 2018, 2017, and 2016.
First, the fun part: Round Midnight is currently free. Yes, free! So if you haven’t read this duet of retro Christmas/New Year’s Eve romances, now’s the time. You can get it at Amazon, iBooks, B&N, Google Play, and Kobo.
Also, Star Dust won’t be free much longer, so click fast if you don’t have the awakening divorcee and the playboy astronaut next door.
Now onto the disappointments!
2018 was the worst writing year I’ve had since 2011. I barely wrote any new words, I spent most of the year staring at my manuscripts while dread galloped around my mind, and I felt defeated by my desire to be a writer in a way that I haven’t basically ever.
As has now become my custom, this is my year in culture in review post. I’m posting it super early because I know I won’t get to read or watch stuff in the next month as I become a holiday wraith. (If you’re curious, I also wrote lists in 2017 and 2016.)
Below are things I listened to, read, or watched this year. Most were released in the last year to two years, though a few are oldies that I only just discovered. I tried to err on the side of more obscure selections, though a few popular choices slipped through. I make no pretense that this list represents the year’s “best” entertainment; it’s merely the culture I enjoyed the most in 2018.
“Movement,” Hozier: it takes a few views to hear anything given the, um, visuals, but once you’re able to listen, the song itself is soulful, deeply felt, and dead sexy. Here’s to the full album next year!
“Space Cowboy,” Kacey Musgraves: the title is a pun and it’s the perfect song for Dean and Vivy from Free Fall. But seriously, the entire album is gorgeous, grown up, and an absolute delight.
John Field, Complete Nocturnes, Elizabeth Joy Roe: I’m still years from being able to play nocturnes, but when I get there, I’ll start with Field. And maybe in a decade or two I’ll be able to pretend to play this well. It’s a lovely collection, made more special in that you don’t know it the way you do Chopin.
“Redbone,” Childish Gambino: so I found “This is America” to be a bit glib (I know), but when it was everywhere, I dug into Gambino’s backlist and fell hard for “Redbone.” That Donald Glover has it going on.
“Pristine,” Snail Mail: I almost, almost saw Snail Mail live this summer, and if I had, I would have properly been able to brag I knew about them first. I’ll have to settle for this instead: I love Lindsey Jordan’s voice and lyrics and I bet you will too.
In the vein of this post from last year, here’s a list of things I really liked in 2017.
Natasha, Pierre, & the Great Comet of 1812, Broadway Soundtrack: while this show was on Broadway in 2016 and has since closed, I became obsessed with the soundtrack in 2017. Denee Benton’s voice is extraordinary and vulnerable, and the rest is a delightful mash up. Look for Russian themes in my upcoming work. /waggles eyebrows/
DAMN., Kendrick Lamar: timely, brilliant, and on constant rotation in my car.
2017 was a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner. (Quick! Name that book.) It was a difficult year for me personally, but a truly awful one nationally and globally. I started here, you might remember, looking at the moon and bracing for the worst. Things never improved.
But despite that, here are some things I did in roughly chronological order:
I revised “Free” and in May, Open Ink Press released it in Sight Unseen.
Genevieve and I revised, released, and then pulled Star Crossed.
I joked about a 25th Amendment romance on Twitter, then with the support of a group of lovely writing friends, I wrote and revised “Kissing and Other Forms of Sedition,” which appeared in Rogue Desire in June.
I promptly wrote “The Fourth Estate,” which appeared in Rogue Affair in November.
Somewhere in there, Genevieve and I wrote, revised, and released A Midnight Feast in October.
I also started and abandoned several novellas, I worked on a contemporary series for my agent, and I read and made notes for several other projects.
While my pile of books authored grew, my total words written is fairly low. I only wrote about 100K.
I read 63 new to me books (and I hope to finish a few more before New Year’s Eve!), and I kept up playing the piano. Let us speak not of my jogging.
Next year will bring the release of Free Fall and another Fly Me to the Moon novella along with, possibly, the rerelease of Star Crossed. I’m taking a break from the Rogue series, but I might contribute to a future volume. I’d also really like to finish writing a new contemporary romance and/or a women’s fiction title.
Most of all, I want to stop feeling like I’m in mourning in 2018. I want to work more consistently and more happily. I want to feel like myself again.
I wish you and yours productive reflection on the year that was and, more importantly, joy and laughter in the year to come.
(I’ve been writing some version of this for as long as I’ve been blogging. You can read about my 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013 respectively.)
On my own, I finished a secret thing. I should have an announcement about it soon. (And it is EXCITING.)
I finished another secret thing, which led to signing with an agent. I am currently ripping this secret thing in half, which is a pain, but when I’m done, I’ll have two books.
Total words written this year: somewhere between 150K and 200K.
I read 70 new to me books for my Goodreads challenge. (Plus re-reads, beta reading, current events, and student papers. My eyes consumed a lot of words.)
I ran a 5K. Jogged, really, but still: did not walk.
I started playing the piano again.
In 2017, Genevieve and I will probably release two Fly Me to the Moon books, and I’ll have at least one thing on my own. Here are some of my other goals: I want to get Deidre a manuscript she can start shopping. I want to finally do some self-publishing on my own. I want to run another 5K but faster. I want to write damn good books. I want to credibly play Bach.
This has been a breath in, breath out year, but one paragraph, one measure, one step at a time, I’ve gotten through it. Here’s hoping 2017 is productive and joyous.
(And not to be all self-promo-y, but if you’re looking for a New Year’s Eve read, may I suggest Round Midnight?)
Poor 2016, so maligned, so deeply sad. A prelude to tragedy, perhaps. But–in an utterly selfish way–it was a decent reading/listening/viewing year for me. I don’t write proper reviews on the blog. It feels a bit weird. I have strong opinions, and I often share these on social media and in real life, but if I’m not willing to be critical, then it feels wrong to write formal squee! reviews. So this isn’t that, it’s just a list of things I really liked.
Some of these are late 2015 releases that I didn’t consume until 2016, but most are from this year. I tried to stick with things that were, in my opinion, under-buzzed; things that, in other words, you may not have heard of. A few big books/movies/etc. slipped in anyhow. Cheers, and tell me yours (or link!) in the comments!