Thursday, December 31, 2009

Next Year

I gave myself an unplanned afternoon off yesterday when I met some friends for lunch and didn't get home until five. We had a nice, long chat at lunch, then the restaurant was close to Borders, and I had a coupon. I spent nearly an hour in Borders, looking for something I wanted to buy. Then there's a Half-Price books nearby -- on my way home from Borders -- and they were having a sale, so I spent another hour in there browsing for reference books. That's a great place to find odd things that you can't find anywhere else and that aren't even in libraries. My find this time was a memoir written by someone who lived in the time period I'm currently researching and who was a part of the society I'm focusing on. I'd heard of her, but had no idea she'd written a book. I suspect it was sort of a celebrity bio of that time, the kind of thing that people in New York publishing circles were excited about but that nobody else cared much about, so it was rapidly remaindered. I love having primary sources for research instead of relying on other people's research, so that was a big win. (And, no, I can't say what it was since it's research for a book, and I don't talk publicly in specifics about works in progress.) Then it was off to the grocery store that has the good produce to get the final ingredients for my planned holiday weekend cooking (where I talked jobs and books with the cashier and ended up giving her one of my bookmarks when she asked what I wrote).

After spending the better part of an hour perusing the science fiction/fantasy section of Borders, I have to say that I think the standard urban fantasy book cover design may have tipped over the fine line between making it easy to recognize the kind of book it is and "I think I've already read that one. It looks familiar." Or, in my case, MAKE IT STOP! NOW! I'm sure I'm missing some books I might like because of those standard covers because after reading (or trying to read) some of the more generic entries in the genre (the "half-vampire, half-fey outcast mage who ekes out a living as a freelance demon slayer/PI but then to save the world she has to team up with a sexy demon who makes her all tingly even though he's usually her enemy" books) I see those standard covers and immediately assume the books will be just like those others with covers like that. I'd also like to call for a moratorium on the use of the words "blood," "death" and "grave" in urban fantasy book titles. I'm starting to suspect that the doom loop is about to strike and that subgenre will bottom out the way chick lit did a few years ago because the wall of books that all look exactly alike was just as oppressive as the table piled with pastel books with either cartoon shoes or martini glasses on the covers was during the height of the chick lit boom, just before it busted. I don't think that the subgenre is bad, but I wouldn't mind a little more variety. I wasn't in the mood for a tough chick in black leather and low-rise pants swinging a sword or battle axe, so I had to resort to the only Terry Pratchett book in the store that I hadn't read, one old enough that my library system only has a single paperback copy that's always checked out. I certainly realized why I only bought ten (now twelve -- in addition to the Pratchett, I took a chance on one book that looked really different and that was neither epic nor urban fantasy and that didn't seem to involve either vampires or werewolves). If you don't like or have burned out on the current flavor of the month, there's not a lot else out there.

And yes, Mom, I'll bring the new Pratchett the next time I visit.

So, a new year/decade starts tomorrow, and that means it's goal time. The main thing I plan to do is really focus on my work. It's occurred to me that, in a sense, I'm an entrepreneur, and I need to bring that level of effort and focus to my "business." I had started doing that in the latter part of this year, and I want to continue going forward. I won't try to do something crazy like write eight books in a year, but I do want to increase my output while also coming up with some interesting marketing approaches. There are some other things I'm weighing in the career realm, some big decisions that will have to be made about what's most likely to move me forward. And I want to clean/decorate my office to make it a pleasant place to work.

On the fun side of things, I'd like to get over that singing stage fright. I may start learning basic piano, just so I can more easily figure out the music I'm singing. I'd like to learn more about Indian food. The most convenient take-out to my house is an Indian place, and I can walk easily to two different Indian grocery stores. I like the Indian food I've tried, but I don't know enough to know what I might like outside my comfort zone of chicken tikki masala, and I want to rectify that.

Now I must prepare my contribution to tonight's party and then decide which fuzzy blue sweater to wear.

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