by Brian Thornton
In my last post I made the point that our holiday season here in the United States begins not with Thanksgiving, but with the parent-teacher conferences which immediately precede Turkey Day across the nation.
Two weeks on from that post we find ourselves collectively less than two weeks out from Christmas. And I personally find myself less than three weeks out from a New Years' Day deadline on a big project I've been at work on for a good chunk of 2018.
If you're interested, you can read more about it here.
So I find myself pressed for time, and since I have one more post in the works for 2018 (I drew Boxing Day this year: that's a post which writes itself!), I am going to resort to that cliche of end of year cliches: the end of year list.
With a twist.
This won't be one of those lists of the "Best Books of 2018," or the "Best Mystery Books of 2018," or anything like it. I don't understand those sorts of carefully curated (dare I say, "manicurated"?) lists.
I mean, come on. Taste is personal these days. We customize our diets, our vacations, our kids' play schedules, what we watch (or binge watch) on TV, why the HELL would we consume whole cloth the lists someone else made up about books we're likely not ever going to read, or worse still, may well start but never finish?
So here's my completely personalized, absolutely random, deeply meaningful, End of Year List:
(One last note: there will only be positive things here: "Bests," "Mosts" no "Worsts." There's plenty of negatives skulking around out there. I'm sure someone's made a list of them. Just not me.!*grin*)
Most Important Lesson I Learned This Year:
I can never work too hard at listening to people.
Best Book I Read This Year:
Prussian Blue, by Phillip Kerr.
Best Writing-Related Tip I Have For Those Getting Into The Game:
Not to be glib, but "be a pro." That covers a ton of bases: show up, work hard, respect deadlines, accept feedback, don't quit.
Most Welcome Sound I Heard All Year:
My six-year-old's laughter.
Best Writing I Produced This Year:
My novella expansion of "Suicide Blonde," a short-story I sold to Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine a decade ago. Down & Out Books is publishing it as part of a three novella collection next fall, so watch for it beginning September, 2019!
Best Friend I Had This Year:
My wife, same as every other year since I met her. Those of you who have the privilege of knowing her get why. I definitely married up.
Most Fun I Had Listening to a "New" Band This Year:
When Greta Van Fleet's album dropped.
Best Movie I Saw All Year:
DeadPool II. Just typing that made me laugh.
Best New (To Me) Historical Mystery Series I Discovered This Year:
Robert Olen Butler's Christopher Marlowe Cobb series.
Best Book On Writing I Read This Year:
Adventures in the Screen Trade, by William Goldman (And yes, I meant to read it earlier, but his recent passing proved the kick in the butt I needed to make the time to read it. And boy, am I glad I did.).
Best Writing-Related Advice I Got All Year:
From my wife: "You ought to ask Libby Cudmore about that..."
Best Long-Time Favorite Book I Revisited This Year:
Ross MacDonald's Black Money. My wife is reading MacDonald's canon based on my recommendation. I've been pressed for time with various writing stuff this year, so I haven't re-read all of them as she's been working her way through them, but I made time for Black Money, as that was the author's favorite of his own work, is an homage to Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby, and we're both fans of that book as well.
Those of you familiar with MacDonald's oeuvre will be not at all shocked to know that his stuff still holds up!
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So that's what I've got this time around. Merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it, and see you all with my not-to-be-missed Boxing Day post in two short weeks!