Here, in no particular order, are books that I read and loved in 2021. I suggest you check them out!
The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, by Patricia McKillip. It takes a while to get going, but once it did, I really liked it. I especially enjoyed the moral about temptations to violence and the need for forgiveness.
Foxfire, Wolfskin, and other stories of shapeshifting women, by Sharon Blackie. I am always game for new fairy tales, or old tales told in new ways. I also liked that many had happy endings, so sue me.
The Library of the Dead, by T.L. Huchu. Ropa is a great character, and the opening scene is second-to-none. Looking forward to the sequel.
The Day the World Stops Shopping, by J.B. MacKinnon. Wow. Made me feel hopeful and gave me ideas, like maybe we can save the planet. This pairs nicely with The Story of More, by Hope Larson.
The Girl and the Goddess: Stories and Poems of Divine Wisdom, by Nikita Gill. I’m often ambivalent about free verse novels, but this one hooked me. I love Hindu mythology, and the weaving together with memoir was so beautiful to read.
John Eyre, by Mimi Matthews. I would trade every remake and re-imagining of Dracula currently heading to theaters for a movie based on this book. I mean, it had me at “gender-swapped Gothic” but then vampires? It’s awesome.
All the Murmuring Bones, by Angela Slatter. I read and read and couldn’t put it down until I knew what happened next. In retrospect, maybe a bit overstuffed, and I miss the grandmother, but still a great novel.
Women Make Horror: Filmmaking, Feminism, Genre, edited by Alison Peirse. I especially liked the essays about anthology films, American Psycho, and The Mafu Cage, which I’d never heard of.
The Embroidered Book, by Kate Heartfield. The story of Marie Antoinette and her sister, with magic throughout. This doesn’t come out officially until 2022 (the author was kind enough to offer a signed ARC in a contest, which I won) but I suggest you jump on it when it does. It’s touching and sad and it just works.
Maybe you didn’t ask for it, but too bad! Here’s my rejection chain for 2021, artfully arranged:
2020: 81 submissions, 74 rejections, 4 acceptances
2021: 121 submissions, 108 rejections, 4 acceptances (as of this writing)
I originally set a goal of 100 rejections for 2021. As you can see, I blew right past it. I think I’ll keep the same goal for next year, though.
I had 4 publications this year, including The Night Library of Sternendach, my debut novella! I am unspeakably proud of all of them. Check out my Eligibility Post for more details (and please post a review at Amazon, if you can!)
More stuff to celebrate:
- My first illustration. “Silver Hands Against the Devil,” a story of mine published in In Somnio, was illustrated for that volume by Sammle. Come to think of it, the cover of Sternendach, created by K Glyder, also counts as an illustration, and is also awesome.
- My first book that was all mine, not an anthology. And believe me, I got palpitations seeing it on Amazon the first time!
- My first fanart. My daughter created a picture of a character from my WIP, which she was kind enough to read. It only whetted my appetite, so if you made any fanart for a story of mine, please share!
- I made two solicited submissions this year, and there is at least one more to come. Having an editor request my stuff is an incredible confidence booster, and I thank them for it.
- I published my first poem, in Strange Horizons. Not only is this a dream market, but getting poetry published seems to be about a hundred times harder than publishing prose, so I count it an accomplishment.
What’s to come? The aforementioned WIP, codenamed “Magnum” has been completed to the best of my ability and sent on its first submission. I hope to make some progress on it next year. I also want to write more short fiction, and more fairy stories. And what I really hope for is in-person book events to return, so I can meet some of you face-to-face.
Thanks for joining me this year! Take care of yourself!