Genre is a conversation

Quoted On “Prose-Forward” Writing and the Pleasures of Different Genre Conversations by Lincoln Michel (Counter Craft)

My preferred metaphor for genres (and I include literary fiction here), is that they are conversations. Great long-running conversations between authors alive and dead, and also between readers and critics… As with any groups, these conversations develop their own jargon. Their own in-jokes, references, and concerns. Some books speak only to one conversation. Other books to multiple ones.

Featured Reflection

Reviewing 7 months of Kindle Unlimited

I hate subscriptions for the same reason companies love selling them: recurring expenses. However, I am a heavy fiction reader and am planning to self-publish. Both from a user standpoint and prospective author side, I wanted to try out Kindle Unlimited.

I read and write romance, which is popular on KU, so there is a large catalog to choose from. In particular, I’m interested in science fiction romance, which is poorly represented by trad publishing and primarily concentrated (currently) in self publishing. I also wanted to read a lot of self-published works to understand the market.

How much I read from KU

I tried Kindle Unlimited for two months this spring. I previously tried it for several months in 2022.

This year, over two months:

  • I read 20 KU titles
  • I DNF’d 11 KU titles

Last year, over five months:

  • I read 38 KU titles
  • I DNF’d 9 KU titles

Unite Against Book Bans

Bookmarked Unite Against Book Bans by Jan Carmichael (


Unite Against Book Bans is a national initiative to empower readers everywhere to stand together in the fight against censorship.

Get your fucking religion out of our public institutions.

Featured Meta Reflection

2022 Year-End Reading Review

What I Read in 2022

I read 212 books in 2022, compared with 175 in 2021.

2022 Reads by Type

  • 122 novels
  • 32 novellas
  • 39 non-fiction books
  • 7 graphic non-fiction books
  • 12 graphic novels and art books

2022 Fiction by Genre

Of the 154 novels and novellas I read, hereโ€™s the breakdown by genre:

  • 141 romance
    • 27 contemporary romance
    • 53 sci-fi romance
    • 23 fantasy + paranormal romance
    • 38 historical romance
    • 5 I missed when I counted and I’m not doing it again
  • 2 sci-fi
  • 6 fantasy
Featured Reflection

20 favorite books I read in 2022

I’ve chosen my favorite 9 novels, 5 graphic novels and art books, and 6 non-fiction books that I read during 2022. Presented in no particular order. Links lead to my reviews.

Jump to: sci-fi books | romance novels | non-fiction books | graphic novels


Most of the fiction I read is romance, with some fantasy and sci-fi thrown in. I’ve chosen favorites based on enjoyment level, as well as how memorable they’ve proven and some judgment about whether I thought they were doing interesting things.

Sci-fi and Fantasy

Oceanโ€™s Echo

by Everina Maxwell

Two men are forced into a telepathic connection and plunged into a treacherous, unexplained quest. One is plagued by self-loathing, the other driven by duty and honor. One is an agent of chaos, the other a master of regulations. The balance between them, and the trust they grow, lets them survive and accomplish more than anyone expected they could. I also liked how it explores familial love and obligation.

This is in the same universe as Winter’s Orbit (which is quite different tonally but also recommended), but is a standalone with no character or storyline overlap. It’s on the border between romance and sci-fi, though I think falls more on the side of sci-fi with a strong romantic element because it doesn’t quite follow the usual strictures of a romance story.

Read this if you liked Murderbot or Saga.

A Spindle Splintered

by Alix E. Harrow

This novella reimagines fairy tales as a multiverse, and follows one Sleeping Beauty jumping from her own timeline into another’s. She wishes so badly she could change her own timeline that she’s determined to give another the happily ever after they both deserve. I enjoyed the meta level of storytelling incorporated here, and exploration of the roles we play in our lives and relationships. There’s a light secondary character romance.

Read this if you enjoyed This is How You Lose the Time War or No One is Talking About This.

Iron Widow

by Xiran Jay Zhao

The intense heroine takes zero shit and bows to no man. I found this challenging to read because I kept wanting her to play nice, but ultimately she forges her own path and draws others along with her. She’s a disruptor, refusing to bow to others’ expectations or diminish herself. The magic system is both interesting and infuriating, and the way the pairings of fighters connect to their mechas is cool.

This breaks the YA mold by making the seemingly mandatory love triangle a triad ๐Ÿ˜ฑ And they’re all awesome. Warning: it ends on a cliffhanger.

Read this if you enjoyed Peter Darling or Hench.

Nettle & Bone

by T. Kingfisher

As always, T. Kingfisher’s heroine is down-to-earth and steadfast. I enjoyed the variety of magic described throughout, and the weight put on the cost of different magics. Pieces from this keep coming back to me months after I read it.

I found the beginning chapter a little confusing since it pulls a scene from midway through the book, but it quickly jumps back to a clearer start.

Read this if you enjoyed Ten Thousand Stitches or Across the Green Grass Fields or Nimona.

Art and Design Shopping

Online shop of photo books

Bookmarked Subjectively Objective (
Comics Learning The Internet

The value of deep learning

Liked The dangers of short form content by thewokesalaryman (

Short-form content is the spark that gets you to care about something. Yet it’s long-form content (like books) that will give you deep understanding.

[Y]ou can do more when you know more.

A link between depth and intentionality: choosing what you want to learn about, pursuing answers to specific questions. Broad curiosity followed by more focused quests for greater understanding.

Ties back into my general complaint about the internet: there’s a vast sea of 101 (and even lower junk) content dotted by archipelagos of richer material.

See also:

Content marketing has become hollow signaling

Go Deeper, Not Wider

Why the Depth Year Was My Best Year


House Learning Meta

Elevating a book collection to a personal library

Replied to How to nurture a personal library by Freya Howarth (Psyche)

Meaghan Dew, who works on collections and reader development in a Melbourne public library, suggested that a key part of nurturing a personal library is working out what you really want from it. The aim is โ€˜not what you think your library should beโ€™, she told me, โ€˜but the library that you are actually going to use and appreciate on a regular basis.โ€™

I’ve always acquired books individually, without consideration for the rest of my collection; I’m intrigued by this perspective shift of personal library versus book collection as a thought experiment. I’m not sure what I would change by thinking of my books as part of a whole.

My books currently fall into a few categories:

  • Art books
  • Graphic novels, comic books, and zines
  • Hiking and travel
  • Gardening and plant / wildlife reference
  • Personal growth and productivity
  • Design and writing craft reference
  • Assorted nonfiction
  • Assorted fiction

This balance reflects what I like to read in hard copy, what I want to have handy for reference, and what isn’t available at the library so I need to buy it to read it ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Another metric I’ve added for keep/discard in my thirties, after giving away dozens of indie comics: how hard it would be to replace or access elsewhere.)

A personal library can serve as:

  • a store for memories… a way to rediscover and revisit ideas and feelings…
  • a tool for research, which lets you encounter new ideas; and
  • a source of various pleasures: entertainment, escapism, solace, beauty, inspiration, and surprise.

Sometimes I feel like I could dump a bunch of the graphic novels, which I basically never reread, but this article’s suggestion of a store for memory perhaps fits my reasoning for keeping them around.

Packed personal bookshelf with art books, comics, non-fiction and reference books, plus a fuzzy alpaca stuffie
My bookshelf: art books on top by necessity (height), graphic novels and comic strips overflowing on the second shelf, reference and personal growth on the third shelf, nonfiction I haven’t read yet and craft books on the fourth, and out of sight on the fifth is fiction.

For years my personal allocation of books was whatever fit on this bookshelf; I purged and donated books (too) aggressively. I have disappointed people who know how much I read with the paucity of my physical collection ๐Ÿ˜‚

But I have been buying more books in recent years, especially during the pandemic. So I said my Collected Sandman doesn’t have to fit. Then I granted myself an allowance to store comic collections in boxes (Fables, Lucifer, Transmet, Saga). Then I let myself put my husband’s books in a box — he can get his own bookshelf ๐Ÿ˜‰ Then I started to squeeze books in horizontally. All this to say… I need a second bookshelf ๐Ÿ˜‚ Part of a collection is presentation and ease of access, and right now they’re packed to the gills, the divisions visually unclear because I mostly can’t fit bookends, and not very inviting to peruse or use.

Romance Society Writing

Romance and Apocalypse

Watched Kit Rocha Dance with the Devil Virtual Event from

Tune in to our Live Stream Virtual Event with Kit Rocha to celebrate their third Mercenary Librarians novel, Dance with the Devil. They will be in conversation with Alyssa Cole and Courtney Milan to chat about all things romance!

  • Community after the apocalypse — tool libraries, community gardens
  • It’s about not waiting for permission, but seeing what is needed and doing something that will help — like these authors organized Romancing the Vote to raise money for Fair Fight in like 12 hours
  • Hope isn’t lame — why are we all so scared we’ll be made fun of for thinking something good might happen?
  • Preppers have no long-term plan — need community, can’t just stay in your commune
  • Historical fiction actually isn’t that much more research than other genres
  • A lot of dystopias never actually consider food production and logistics — food (especially tasty food) becomes leverage / power
  • Our current food systems and supply lines are not resilient — need to grow a variety of crops as a community because no one has room to grow enough of everything
  • Interesting when writing mirrors real life — writing dystopia during dystopia sucks ๐Ÿ˜‚ — Alyssa was getting dx’d with ADHD at the same time (unintentionally) she was writing A Duke by Default with an ADHD lead
  • Themes arise organically during writing… maybe before you’re ready to process a problem but getting started will work their way into the book
Activism Art and Design Environment Learning Resources and Reference The Internet

MIT Open Access Library

Bookmarked MIT Press Direct (

Realized that not all books are unlocked so only linked to ones currently accessible:

Marginalized Internet Communities

Virtually Amish: Preserving Community at the Internet’s Margins

The Digital Closet: How the Internet Became Straight


The Politics of Rights of Nature: Strategies for Building a More Sustainable Future

Effective Advocacy: Lessons from East Asia’s Environmentalists

Bridging Silos: Collaborating for Environmental Health and Justice in Urban Communities

Flint Fights Back: Environmental Justice and Democracy in the Flint Water Crisis

Community Design

Making Futures: Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design, and Democracy

Design Justice: Community-Led Practices to Build the Worlds We Need