Friday, 27 January 2017

more books what I read in 2016

Thanks to the wonder of my reading spreadsheet, I can bring you further details of what I read last year. I know, you're spoilt.

In total I read 91 books. Breaking that down into genre first:

Almost exactly half (44) were Young Adult, which is no surprise because a) I'm trying to write YA books at present so need to keep up to date, and b) because OMG it's the best genre. It bears repeating that in the broad category of YA, you've got the whole spectrum of genres - crime, horror, thriller, literary, sci-fi, fantasy, everything. I tried to read as variously as possible, aided by my random-selection process (see below).
I also read 9 Middle Grade books (as categorised by my local library), 7 sci-fi, 6 "literary" (judged by me as such, usually because they didn't fit into another convenient category), 4 thrillers, 3 women's fiction, 2 crime, 2 horror, 2 fantasy, 2 poetry compilations, and 1 historical romp. Also 4 non-fiction books and 5 graphic novels.

(This isn't including all the children's books I read with my Youngest, although to be honest a few of those were for me more than him.)

By author gender, it's pretty much a 60-40% split female-male.

Despite the hundreds of ebooks I'd acquiring on my Kindle, I only read 5 ebooks and listened to 2 audiobooks

I also kept track of the reasons why I picked up a particular book, mostly for my own curiosity. 30 of the books were by authors I'd previously read. Which means a solid two-thirds were by authors I'd never read anything by before. And it paid off, because I discovered some of my new favourite authors this year.
Of the rest, 14 books were random selections from the library. I absolutely judge a book by its cover - it's the only way, since I hate reading blurbs (I've had to stop reading tag lines on the cover as well, due to the number of books that think "you'll never guess the surprise twist at the end" is a) not a spoiler, and b) likely to make me do anything but put the bloody thing straight back on the shelf). For a few months I choose books based on cover colour (there're a lot of blue books right now, I noticed). I tried not to limit myself by genre, although obviously there's a YA bias.
13 books were directly recommended to me, either online or in person.
21 were books I'd heard mentioned on Twitter or in the Bookseller or somewhere else.
7 were for authors who attended Manx Litfest 2016, where I wanted to effectively fan-girl at them.

So looking towards 2017... I should read more non-fiction. And I've seriously neglected the crime and horror genres. Oh, and I should read more ebooks. Apart from that, I think I'll just read everything.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

books I really liked in 2016

It was rather a good year for books, don't you think? For starters, three of my top five favourite authors had new books out in 2016 (apparently in an effort to make me spend more money I haven't got), and I also discovered two new authors to add to my top ten. So here, in no particular order, are the best books I read last year:

This came out in 2015, but I didn't read it till after new year, so it counts as 2016 for me. Anyway, it's brilliant - everything you'd expect from the fella who brought you JOHN DIES AT THE END and THIS BOOK IS FULL OF SPIDERS, and features my favourite female protagonist in ages.

MISTLETOE AND MURDER (and its prequels) - Robin Stevens
The fifth in a series of very English, cosy murder mysteries, which have earned a place on my best-of list because I read all five in quick succession. They're like being wrapped in a huge softy blanket with a mug of hot chocolate - comforting and delicious.

FANGIRL / CARRY ON - Rainbow Rowell
FANGIRL is an absolute delight. It's the story of a college girl who writes fanfiction about Simon Snow, who is definitely not Harry Potter. It gets right everything I love about fanfiction and the community that surrounds it. And CARRY ON is the logical conclusion - a novel-length Simon Snow fic, which I didn't enjoy as much as FANGIRL, but which does have Baz in it. *swoons a bit*

THE LIE TREE - Frances Hardinge
Oh my gosh, this was good, wasn't it? Thoroughly deserves every superlative thing everyone's said about it.

I don't think I've lost my shit so badly over a fictional work since Firefly. This duology is legitimately beautiful, with its world-building (familiar to anyone who's read Ms Bardugo's Grisha books), its cunning twisty-turny plotting, its characters... oh man, the characters. I have a girl-crush on at least three of them. It made me laugh out loud and cry like a baby. I honestly thought I was too old to have a new favourite book, but this has proven me wrong.

No one will be surprised by the inclusion of Chris Ewan on this list. That man could write a shopping itinerary that'd have you biting your nails in suspense. LONG TIME LOST is a great story about what can go awry with the witness protection programme. Tense, smart, super-well-paced, and set partially on the Isle of Man, wonderful.

Oh, this was great too. I've not read any of Mr Hill's other books (I'm such a slacker), but this has really turned me into a fan. It managed to be full-on apocalyptic fiction without falling into the constant doom-cycle that afflicts so many similar books.

ZEROES - Chuck Wendig
This year I discovered audiobooks. I'm still not wholly convinced, but I'll admit they are useful - I spent a long weekend painting and decorating while listening to ZEROES, which made the task a lot less horrendous. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed this smart tech-thriller. Mr Wendig looks likely to become one of my favourite authors.

EX-ISLE - Peter Clines
Speaking of favourite authors (and audiobooks). EX-ISLE is the fifth addition to the EX-HEROES saga, and Mr Clines is still on top form. Zombies and superheroes AND characters you care about so much you draft angry emails to the author when he inevitably does something unforgivable to them, hashtag angryface.

BCN is quite possibly the most beautiful comic strip available on the internet at present time. It's funny, it's smart, it's so true to life, and the artwork is gorgeous. I'm in awe of this lady's talents. And now it's available as a book!

Woo, new girl-crush alert! Ms Ellison writes games and writes about games and is generally everything I aspire to in life. For this book she travelled around the world, visiting independent game developers and crashing on their sofas. A wonderful blend of travel writing and game theory.

I picked this up because Dr Blackie was a visiting author at Manx Litfest this year, and I'm very glad I did. A fascinating account of Celtic myths and stories, told from a feminist perspective. I'd recommend this to everyone.

Annnnd last but most definitely not least, David Wellington is back yet again with a new pseudonym and a new genre, proving (again) that he's a terribly talented bastard who can spin story-gold out of everything he turns his hand to. I loved this epic sci-fi space-battle tale and can't wait for the next instalment.

I think that covers most of the very best books I read last year, although I'm sure I missed a couple. Next time you're in your favourite independent bookshop, please do check out some of these recommendations. At best you'll discover something wonderful; at worst... well, you can always shout at me, I suppose.

Friday, 6 January 2017

2016 - end o year stats

So. What've we been up to in 2016?

However you look at it, it's been a heck of a year, but I'm going to ignore all the important stuff for now and go with my usual yearly round-up of how much I've written in the past 12 months, because that's something I feel relatively positive about and because I have some nice solid statistics to fall back on, rather than my own shouty opinions.

(I'm not posting all this to boast, btw. I just like stats, and I like being able to take stock of what I've done in a year. Also I hope it'll show that everyone's output is different, we all work at different speeds, we all have different definitions of what is a fair amount of work, and no one should ever make themselves (or anyone else) feel bad for doing more or less than the next guy.)

In total, I wrote 414,204 words, which equates to approximately 1131 words a day average. To compare, in 2015, I wrote 359,224 words (about 984 words a day average).

These totals include everything - first drafts, rewriting, editing, blog posts, competition entries... anything I can claim with a straight face as creative writing. I also included drawing as writing (using the vague definition that a finished picture is worth a thousand words).

Breaking this down into positives:

I wrote the first drafts of two new stories, one of which is now my favourite thing I've written.
I edited two other novels to close-enough-to-finished level.
I polished TERROR ISLAND and released it as an ebook.
I filled up two notebooks with notes, ideas, and random crap.
I wrote every day, even if it was just a couple of sentences (although there were a couple of close calls).
I read 91 books.

And into negatives:

I didn't get as much drawing done as I wanted. Maybe only two or three days included any drawing.
I didn't blog very much.
I didn't crit as many stories for other people as I should've. In fact, I still have three crits outstanding, which is very poor behaviour on my part.
I still don't reply to my emails in a timely fashion.

But in general, I'm happy with my output for the year. I feel like I've done okay. I really hope everyone else feels they've done okay too, despite this horrid year, and achieved something they can be content with.

I'm going to do a separate post about the books I've read, because I'm sure you're anxious to see my stats about those too. :)

Happy 2017, peeps. Stay safe out there.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

NaNoWriMo 2016

yes, yes, i'm ignoring the important news of today. Instead, here's something wonderful:

Over at they're creating Pokemon that evolve along with your word count (if you're signed up for the official NaNo website with a current novel). It's adorable.

Here's mine:

rakiekeig's NaNoWriMon

Good luck to everyone NaNoing this year!

Monday, 17 October 2016

the return of TERROR ISLAND

Aha, forgot to mention. TERROR ISLAND, my very first novel, is out now in ebook:

Here it is for Kindle in the UK

And here for Kindle in the US

Alternatively, if you would like a nice shiny FREE ebook version (in whichever format tickles your fancy), then why not sign up to the Rakie Keig mailing list?

Email terror_island_novel(at)hotmail(dot)com with the title SUBSCRIBE

And our email monkeys will do the rest (disclaimer: there are no monkeys, it's only me and my stubby-fingered typing skills).

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Now look what you've done. You've made me turn my chair around.

So, the new Ghostbusters.

I went to see it at the cinema two weeks ago. I went on my own, partially because I love going on my own (cinema is one of the great solitary pass-times, why do people feel the need to go as a crowd?) and partially because no one else in my circle of friends would countenance seeing it (bear in mind these are people who have paid money to see several Transformer movies, on purpose).

And Ghostbusters was good. I thoroughly enjoyed it, even though at least thirty percent of the movie was rubbish (ineffective bad dude, sagging middle, cameos that made me cringe), and even though most of its problems stemmed from the associated baggage that always hinder reboots - namely a necessity to hat-tip the original whilst struggling for an original voice. It wasn't awful. I will watch it again on video.

But, see, I had no intention of watching it at all. I loved Ghostbusters as a kid. The cartoons and comics were the best thing in the world. I've had a low-level crush on Ray Stantz for nearly thirty years (it's no coincidence I married a man who's so similar to him) (husband considers himself Venkman; husband is wrong). Ghostbusters II was the second film I remember seeing at the cinema. I'm still mad at a critic who gave that movie three stars and described it as "ok if you like that kind of thing".

So I did NOT want to see a reboot. I groaned at every rumour of Ghostbusters III. I'd already decided I would ignore the new movie.

And then the shouting started.

Not just the terrible internet shouting. The shouting within my own house. My son and husband HATE the idea of the reboot. This isn't anything new - we hate the idea of lots of movies. But eventually one of us will decide we want to see it, and the other two will roll our eyes, and then it'll turn out the movie isn't awful and we'll all quite enjoy it. That's what happened with The Thing. And Star Trek. And Star Wars, for that matter.

But it didn't happen here. I suggested the new Ghostbusters looked alright, and was instantly told I was wrong. WRONG WRONG WRONG WRONITY WRONG. And what happens when people tell me I don't want something? I START WANTING IT.

I did not want to watch Ghostbusters. I did not want to pay £9.50 and wear the bloody awkward 3D glasses and deal with cinema audiences. You people made me.

(Not you specificially, of course. You're lovely. Other people.)

And now look what you've done. I enjoyed it.

So I came home and told people. And they shouted me down. Turns out, every opinion I have about this movie is wrong! Even something as simple as "OMFG Kate McKinnion why did no one tell me" was countered by the insistence that the movie had deliberately cast ugly women to prevent it appealing to men (thank you, hormonal teenage son, for setting me right). The movie was devised by a committee to squeeze a new gimmick into an existing franchise; a cynical cash-grab by greedy Hollywood; a trampling of cherished childhood memories.

The last two movies I paid money for at the cinema were The Jungle Book and the Angry Birds Movie. I missed the outcry about the former trampling on childhoods, or the latter cynically squeezing money from an existing franchise.

But you know what? It's fine.

When I was a kid, everyone liked the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. I was the only Ghostbusters fan in the village. I wore my jumpsuit and proton pack to school discos. I was stubborn and contrary and liked liking things that no one else did. This has not changed.

So it's okay if people don't agree with me. In fact, it's better than okay, because it means the new Ghostbusters movie is mine and I don't have to share it. Everyone else can bitch and moan, and I'll sit here quietly, and smile.

Monday, 20 June 2016

guest blog at That Reading/Writing Thing

Many thanks to the lovely Zeba Clarke over at That Reading/Writing Thing for letting me ramble all over her blog this week:

That Reading/Writing Thing