2017: A Year in Review

Things that happened in 2017:

  • I turned 40. That was weird.
  • I revisited State College, Pennsylvania, where I used to live thirteen years ago. That was weirder.
  • My parents got a new dog, Finn. So by extension I got him too.
  • One of my uncles passed away. He was 83.
  • I went to Florida. I went to Paris. I went to Finland. I went to Charlottesville. I went to San Antonio. I liked all of those places.
  • I published three short stories, including one I sold over a year ago.
  • I saw 150 movies. That might be a lot. These were the ones I liked most:
  • I read 339 short stories. That’s not bad, but less than in years past.
  • I read 25 books. That’s better than I thought, to be honest, and a little up from recent years. But I still like to be reading more.

  • I listened to some music. These were the songs I liked most:

And that was 2017. Nothing of any other consequence happened that year. Nope, no sir.

So yeah, obviously things were kind of a mess globally, politically–and will likely continue to be so for some time–but things were also fairly okay personally. I’ve had better years, maybe, but I’ve had worse. I’m hopeful for 2018. Partly because…well, you’ve gotta be. But I really do think it’s going to be a better year.

I hope it is for you too!

December 2017

December was an uneventful month. Some busyness at work before the holidays, then the holidays themselves. I had some back pain and a short story rejection on Christmas itself, but the holiday season was quite lovely and relaxing.

And I had two stories publish in December, so there’s always that. My flash story “Terrible Lizards” appeared in Everyday Fiction, while a longer story I sold a little over a year ago, “The Northern Recess,” appeared in Stupefying Stories. I’m really happy with both sales and hope people enjoy the stories.

Other than that, it was mostly just the usual assortment of books, short stories, movies, and music.

The books

I finished one book in December: Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson:

“Metaphors are dangerous. Calling something by a false name changes it, and metaphor is just a fancy way of calling something by a false name.”

I read it for my book club, and I mostly liked it.

The stories

I’m not exactly sure how many stories I read in December. Something like 24, maybe? I missed a few days, but I think I also read a few less memorable ones that I neglected to keep track of. Anyway, of the ones that I definitely remember, these were my favorites:

  • “The First Stop Is Always the Last” by John Wiswell (Flash Fiction Online)
  • “The Greatest One-Star Restaurant in the Whole Quadrant” by Rachael K. Jones (Lightspeed)
  • “Which Super Little Dead Girl™ Are You? Take Our Quiz and Find Out!” by Nino Cipri (Nightmare)
  • “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian (The New Yorker)
  • “You Will Never Know What Opens” by Mair Ness (Lightspeed)
  • “All the Songs the Little Birds Sing” by T.D. Walker (Luna Station Quarterly))
  • “The House at the End of the Lane Is Dreaming” by A. Merc Rustad (Lightspeed)
  • “The Birding: A Fairy Tale” by Natalia Theodoridou (Strange Horizons)
  • “Will You Meet Me There, Out Beyond the Bend?” by Matthew Kressel (Nightmare)
  • “An Equal Share of the Bone” by Karen Osborne (Escape Pod)
  • “Given Sufficient Desperation” by Bogi Takács (Escape Pod, reprint))
  • “Straight Lines” by Naru Dames Sundar (Escape Pod, reprint)

The movies

I watched 29 movies in December. What can I say? I had some free time around the holidays.

  • Local Hero:

  • The Bad Batch:

  • Logan Lucky:

  • 1922:

  • Split:

  • Gone Girl:

  • The Autopsy of Jane Doe:

  • Star Wars: Episode VIII: The Last Jedi:

  • Working Girl:

  • 9 to 5:

  • Tucker & Dale vs Evil:

  • Daughters of Darkness:

  • Stronger:

  • Hellbound: Hellraiser II:

  • The X-Files: I Want to Believe:

  • Bright:

  • The Defiant Ones:

  • Her:

  • Pottersville:

  • The Killing of a Sacred Deer:

  • mother!:

  • Lake Mungo:

  • Nightbreed:

  • Eagle vs Shark:

  • A Ghost Story:

  • 20th Century Women:

  • King Arthur: Legend of the Sword:

  • Marjorie Prime:

  • Barry Lyndon:

  • The music

    I listened to some in December:

June 2016

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How is June over already? That makes not one bit of sense, and yet there it is. It’s already July 4th weekend.

I published a brand new issue of Kaleidotrope, which I’m really proud of, and managed to do some writing (and submitting) of my own. So that was good.

I also read thirty-four short stories, in June, saw six movies, and read just one book. Plus, like always, there was some music. Here’s the breakdown of all that:

The stories:

I read thirty-four short stories in June. I accidentally skipped a day, but I made it up and then some (well, a little some). My favorites included:

  • “And Then, One Day, the Air was Full of Voices” by Margaret Ronald (Clarkesworld)
  • “The Wardrobe of Metaphysical Maps” by Julia August (Grendelsong)
  • “We Ride the Stillness” by Deborah Walker (Grendelsong)
  • “The Drowning Line” by Haralambi Markov (Uncanny)
  • “The First Confirmed Case of Non-Corporeal Recursion: Patient Anita R.” by Benjamin C. Kinney (Strange Horizons)
  • “1957” by Stephen Cox (Apex)
  • “The Bog Girl” by Karen Russell (The New Yorker)
  • “Things With Beards” by Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld)
  • “A Windowless Kitchen” by Trevor Shikaze (Liminal Stories)
  • “.identity” by E. Catherine Tobler (Clarkesworld)
  • “Innumerable Glimmering Lights” by Rich Larson (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
  • “The Middle Child’s Practical Guide to Surviving a Fairy Tale” by Mari Ness (Fireside Fiction)

The books:

Though I’ve been poking in and out of some books lately, I only managed to actually finish reading one in. But it was a book I really, really loved: Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. It’s just such a beautifully told story.

The movies:

  • The Trouble With the Curve:

  • Hail, Caeser:

  • Zootopia:

  • Zoolander:

  • Stake Land:

  • The House That Dripped Blood:

The music:

Not much to say about this. I put together a playlist each month, of songs I especially liked listening to — usually if they’re new, or new to me — and this June’s:

And that was the month.

Twenty-fifteen in review

2015 was kind of a mixed bag, all around.

A lot of the issues I had with 2014 haven’t exactly gone away. I’m still feeling more than a little rudderless, looking for direction (or at least an apartment I can actually afford). I was in a minor car accident in February. And, of course, we took a big hit this year when Tucker, our family’s dog, passed away at the start of May.

But, despite all of that, and maybe even somewhat to my surprise, overall I feel like 2015 was a good year.

I took an online writing course with author Cat Rambo, which, if nothing else, got me to the point where I actually sat down and finished a few of my short stories. I sold one of them, “The Northern Recess,” to Stupefying Stories in October.

I had four other stories published this year:

Considering that it’s been about five years since I really actively worked on my writing, to the point where I was sending stuff out, I think that’s pretty good. I just need to bring more focus to it in 2016.

Meanwhile, I read a lot of short stories in 2015, at least one almost every day, for a total of 440. I already listed my favorites, with links when available, here.


At the same time, I only read 21 books.

True, that included one short story collection, and a novel I actually started sometime in early December of 2014. And I listened to Amy Poehler’s memoir on audio book. But still, it doesn’t include Terry Pratchett’s The Colour of Magic, which I re-read earlier in the year.

When Pratchett sadly died in March, I decided I should finally tackle his Discworld series. I’d only ever read the first book, and here now was the opportunity to read them all. There are lots of different suggested reading orders, but I decided to go with publication date. I haven’t exactly made good on my plan to read them all this year — that last I finished was Sourcery, the fifth of forty-one books — but that’s what new years are for, right?

I don’t think there were any books I read that I didn’t like, though Andy Weir’s The Martian probably came closest. (It’s fun for what it is, which is largely almost immediately forgettable.)

M.R. Carey’s The Girl With All the Gifts, Zen Cho’s Sorcerer to the Crown, James S.A. Corey’s Nemesis Games, and Poehler’s aforementioned Yes Please were probably my favorite longer reads in 2015.

I’m looking forward to reading more books in 2016, not least of all those 36 other Discworld novels.


I saw just under 100 movies in 2015, although only ten of those were actually in theaters.

I guess if I had to put together a top ten, in no particular order they would be:

  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Crimson Peak
  • It Follows
  • John Wick
  • Mad Max: Fury Road
  • Furious 7
  • Blue Ruin
  • Big Hero 6
  • Inside Out
  • Ex Machina
  • Not Anywhere as Good as I’d Been Led to Believe: Whiplash. It’s an intense but unpleasant movie, in service of compelling (but bullshit) ideology. (Runners-up: Silver Streak, The Seven-Per-Cent Solution, and The Sunshine Boys, though I’d willing to chalk that up to their all now being rather dated. I was amused by how much George Burns reminded me of my grandfather, though.)

    Not Anywhere as Bad as I’d Been Led to Believe: The Man from U.N.C.L.E.. It really suffered in comparison to the (admittedly much better) latest Mission Impossible movie. And it has basically no reason to exist. But it’s actually a lot of fun, with good performances and some very good action set-pieces. (Runners-up: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which wasn’t exactly good but was genuinely entertaining at 99 cents, and Terminator Genisys, which is a confused mess but a lot of fun and well-acted.)

    Exactly as Bad as I’d Been Led to Believe: Fantastic Four. The movie is many things, but fantastic is not ever one of them. So disappointing. Sometimes, when everybody says a movie is terrible, they’re right. (Runners-up: Next, which is just painfully dumb, and The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which looks great but has no story to tell.)

    Biggest Disappointment: Hands down, Spectre. I’d loved Skyfall when I saw it in theaters, and I had high hopes, but this follow-up was mostly just tedious. (Runner-up: Interstellar. Soooo long. It’s a very well made, sometimes well acted, bad movie.)

    Biggest Surprise: Barbarella. I had no expectations going into it, expecting a ridiculously dated sci-fi mess. And the movie is that, but it’s also rather delightful, good silly fun. (Runner-up: Maybe Crimson Peak, only because I didn’t expect to enjoy it quite so much.)

    Movie I Feel Like I’m Still Watching: Zardoz. Seriously, this is such a deeply, fundamentally weird movie that will fuck with your head. Though one good thing: after seeing it, I feel like no other bad movies can hurt me.


    In 2015, I started more actively going to readings, and some local meetups, though I still only do those irregularly and should probably do so more in 2016. I also attended my first two conventions — Readercon in July and World Fantasy in November. I enjoyed both, not least of all because it gave me the opportunity to meet some people I knew mostly from their writing and Twitter, but also just for the experience of attending a con. It’s an experience I was rather surprised to discover I quite enjoy.

    I’ll be attending Readercon again this year, though I don’t know about anything else. World Fantasy is in Ohio this year, while the other contender, Worldcon, is in Missouri, and both of those are two far to drive. I figure, if I’m going to spend up to a thousand bucks (airfare, hotel, registration, etc.), maybe I should wait and go all-out next year, when Worldcon is in Finland. I’m still deciding, and I’m not un-tempted by Kansas City. (I watched last year’s Hugo Awards huddled under a blanket on the couch and running a fever, so this would be a step up.)


    And finally, as is my wont, I put together a year-end musical playlist, which is basically just me narrowing down the month-by-month playlists of new (and new-to-me) songs I like to make and occasionally foist on people. Here’s 2015’s best-of:


    Overall, I do think it was a halfway decent year. Not my best, but by no estimation my worst. I’m hopeful for 2016, and I hope you are too!

    So much for endings. Beginnings are always more fun. True connoisseurs, however, are known to favor the stretch in between, since it’s the hardest to do anything with. That;s about all that can be said for plots, which anyway are just one thing after another, a what and a what and a what. Now try How and Why. – Margaret Atwood, “Happy Endings”