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The Best of 2020

Or, Keeping Sane in the Midst of the Pandemic Blues

Well, that was fun, wasn’t it?

Not.

I don’t think I need to list all the ways that 2020 was a difficult year, do I? We all know them too well. So, I thought I’d see if I could drag something positive out of the year of COVID and give you a year in review, focusing on the good things I could find in my own life!

Review of 2020 Goals

Last year, when I posted my annual New Year’s post, I detailed some of the goals for 2020. How did I do?

  • New website – YES, I launched my new site early in 2020, and I’ve really enjoyed having a new space to play around in and to showcase my books. I’m still learning things about it, but on the whole I’m very happy. A huge shout-out to the team at Authorcats who made this experience very easy and are always there to help with issues that come up.
  • Book 2 Launch – NO. I did not do a great job of launching Bound. Part of that was

    COVID…I was not able to do any in-person launches like I had done for Wilding. But I was hoping to do a better pre-launch campaign, with pre-orders, a launch team, etc. I just ran out of time and energy to get that all going…and to be frank, I simply don’t have enough newsletter subscribers (translate: readers/fans) to make that work anyway. I also ran into trouble with getting the paperback ready because of COVID delays, which involved a whole bunch more work and stress. So while I did launch the book, I wasn’t entirely happy with the process.

  • Blog changes  – YES. I have successfully integrated the blog into the new website, and managed to do one interview and a few book reviews on top of posts on Anglo-Saxon history.  A down side of the change is that I can’t access the same stats as I had before, in terms of post popularities, followers, etc. I honesty have no idea how many followers I have at this point. I’m sure I lost some in the transition. So if you are one who was able to keep up with me, THANK YOU! I hope you have enjoyed the content this year.

Best of 2020: Books/TV

Best of the books I read:

a) Fiction

  •  The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. I really loved this alternate history tale featuring a strong woman protagonist. It was a delight from start to finish.
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fydor Dostoevsky and Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy.  I spent some time in the Russian classics in 2020. I’m not going to lie, these were not easy books to read, but in the end I’m glad I did. Part of the difficulty was training myself to slow down and shed my modern expectations for what a novel is, in terms of characterizations, pace, structure, etc. There is a lot of meat to chew on in Doestoevsky’s masterpiece. I can understand why it’s the favourite novel of many. Huge themes, deep questions, and a tragic family saga that keeps you thinking long after you finish.. Anna Karenina was an easier read. On the whole I enjoyed my sojourn amidst the Russian nobility pre-Revolution, eavesdropping on the characters’ discussions on the place of the Russian peasant in society, what it really means to forgive someone, and just what is love, really. And Tolstoy does a masterful job at characterizations, particularly of the doomed main character.
  • The Brothers K, by David J. Duncan. I had heard great things about this book, which is supposedly loosely based on Dostoevsky’s opus. I would say, VERY loosely based, but never mind, this is a great book. Like The Brothers Karamazov, it is a family saga that explores big questions related to politics, culture, faith and family dynamics. There is a lot of baseball in this book, but if you are not a baseball fan, don’t worry. I’m not either, and I loved it.
  • The Wolf of Wessex, by Matthew Harffy. This tale of a gruff, worn-out warrior who stumbles upon the slaughter of a family and takes the young survivor, a girl, under his wing was a delight.The moody, misty Saxon forest almost becomes a character of its own.

Non-fiction

  • The Man Who Gave His Horse to a Beggar, by John Connell.This close-up on the life ofSt. Aidan and the places where he lived and did his work was fascinating. A good virtual trip through Ireland, Scotland, and north-east England, replacing the real trip I was forced to cancel. (Boo!)
  • Women of Power in Anglo-Saxon England, by Annie Whitehead. I’m not quite done this yet, but I’m enjoying seeing ladies take the spotlight in history, for a change!

From the couch: Fave TV 

  • Ted Lasso (Apple TV) – what a great series this is. This charming show which radiates positivity and showcases a decent man was the perfect antidote to the blues of 2020. Funny, charming, and unexpected in all the right ways.
  • Marvellous Mrs. Maisel (Prime) – from the acting, the writing, the settings and the costuming, this series continues to delight. I would prefer that they would tone down he salty language a notch, but other than that, this gets an A+ from me.
  • The Crown (Netflix) – continues to be a strong contender for me for the best of TV.
  • Vikings (History Channel)- the historicity is a little shaky at times, but on the whole I’m enjoying this saga of Ragnor Lothbrok and his sons.
  • The Curse of Oak Island (History Channel)- I can’t get enough of this fascinating search for treasure. And yes, I do enjoy the spin-offs, too. Beyond Oak Island, Curse of Civil War Gold, The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch….bring it on!
  • Carnival Row (Prime) – I loved every second of this noir urban fantasy series. Great acting, intriguing concept, wonderful sets/effects. Can’t wait for Season 2!!
  • The Chosen (YouTube/App Store/GooglePlay) – I was pleasantly surprised with this compelling series on the life of Christ. A refreshingly different exploration of the life of the man who changed the world.

Looking Ahead: 2021Goals

  • Publish Book 3 of The Traveller’s Path series. This will complete the trilogy. I’m so looking forward to sharing it with you all!
  • Start work on next book project. TBA!
  • Focus on building up my newsletter subscriber list

There are lots of other things to work on, like writing more short stories, getting better at marketing, developing a book launch strategy for Book 3, etc,  but I’m going to focus on the three above this year. Without a robust newsletter list, I’m pretty much dead in the water when it comes to furthering my author career and having any kind of sustainability in it.

In the mean time, I hope that 2021 brings you all much joy and everything that is really important in life. I pray that as the year draws to a close, COVID will be in retreat and life will be returning back to normal.

Here we go! Buckle up!

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