Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year in Review, Many Thanks and a Resolution or Two

2013 has been pretty damn good to me. I got married to an amazing women who is the love of my life and has encouraged me in all of my geeky pursuits despite having no interest in them other than the fact that they bring me so much joy. I was awarded my third degree black belt, a level of accomplishment and skill that I never in a million years thought I would attain. I finally managed to finish my first piece of speculative fiction, which was widely praised by my beta readers. And as you know, I've read. A lot. Seventy titles, which is my most productive reading year to date. I owe most of that to this blog, which keeps me reading when other interests threaten to encroach upon what free time I have.

When I started this blog, I had no idea of the impact it would have on my day to day life. I've always loved to read and to talk about books so a blog in which I talked about books seemed like a perfect fit. I won't lie, there were dreams of boxes of free books landing on my doorstep with a weighty and wonderful thunk too. I've been fortunate to have received review copies from publishers and authors alike and have discovered many new authors and wonderful stories just because, against all sense, some people out there seem to care what I have to say about the books I read.

The community has been kind to me, helping with promoting the site, allowing me to do guest posts for audiences far larger than mine, and in some cases calling me out on my own foolishness and then helping me find a way to better myself in the process. Thanks to Justin Landon of Staffer's Book Review for calling me on my gender bias. As a result, I've learned a great deal about the obstacles faced by female authors in the genre and have made great strides in closing the gap in my own reading and have discovered many new authors in the process. In just three months, I've closed the gap by twenty percentage points from where it was on October first. And many thanks to Stina, Mazarkis, and Zachary who were kind enough to discuss the issue with me in public here.

And the authors themselves have been more approachable and kind than I ever would have expected. Through interviews, round tables, and online interactions I can say that I have been so very impressed with the caliber of people that produce the stories that I love so. I've even made a friend or two. Thank you all for contributing to the success of this site and taking part in some charged discussions through email that produced some of the most viewed posts in the site's history. It wasn't always easy, but I couldn't be more pleased with the results.

There's one story I'd like to tell, for no reason other than to illustrate just how awesome this tribe of writers can be. I couldn't have been more touched and surprised, so I thought I'd share it with my audience.

My wife, who knows my covetous heart so well, set out to get signed copies of some of my favorite novels this year. When some were unavailable through retail channel she contacted authors directly and the generosity and kindness of these authors simply blew her away. This Christmas was one for the record books, in no small part to the kindness of some the best authors out there. Thank you for your kindness.

2014 is on the horizon, and I'm confident that it will be an even better year. So I'm going to make a resolution or two in public to keep me honest. I'm going to continue on my quest for gender parity in my reading and reviewing and I'm going to do my best to pay the kindness that has been shown to me forward into the community. Oh and I'm going to kind a home for that story, because it's not going to publish itself.

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