Wow, how January is flying by. I mean, I’m sure that we are all glad to say goodbye to 2020. We are all praying that 2021 isn’t a repeat of that dumpster fire. We all want a much happier and peaceful year.

But for me, 2021 could slow down a little. Or else, I could get better at finding and sticking to a routine. I blame the shorter days. Once the sun goes down, I just want to curl up in my chair with a book. Or two. That’s good for reading, I’ve had a productive month. But not so good for working.

My reading last year consisted of a very eclectic bunch. I read 78 books, which is about normal over the last few years even with the COVID restrictions. I did read some bigger books and more websites.

One of the most fun things I did was pick up my guitar. I haven’t played it isince high school, but I came across the Justin Guitar website and app and really enjoyed the lessons. It is undergoing an improvement on the website so I hope I can get back to it after getting out of the habit over the holidays.

There’s that theme of using a routine again. Sounds like I need to pay more attention to keeping them.

Reading Totals for 2020

The books I read were broken into 53 nonfiction and 25 novels, 21 of which were mysteries.

There are so many mysteries I want to read. Added to the classics, and the bestsellers, and the ones that just sound interesting, there are new ones coming out every day. An over abundance of riches.

I know that overwhelms many new writers who wonder how they can ever get noticed in such a large crowd. On the other hand, I look at all the diverse people there are in this world and I think, surely, there is a subset for me. I just have to get it out there to them.

For this month, I’ve read eleven books, so I have three that I can hardily recommend.

How To Talk So People Can Listen

Professor and Doctor Steve Brown is a former pastor, professor, and a radio host so he is very qualified for giving tips on public speaking. In How To Talk So People Will Listen, he uses his experience and training to give advice and encouragement in his humorist and folksy way.

Dr. Brown admits that there were times when he felt intimidated with the crowd the he was speaking to. One of his keys is to always consider your audience and what their needs are. There will always be smarter and better experienced people in the room, but you should focus on what you can bring to the audience in your unique way.

If you plan to do any public speaking, I suggest you get a copy of this book.

Fight Write

From a book on public speaking to one on how to write about fighting, I told you I read on a large variety of subjects. Fight Write came out in 2019 and was written by Carla Hoch, who is trained in MMA, kickboxing, taekwondo, and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, among other disciplines.

Writing about characters getting into a fight is when I draw a line about writing what you know. I don’t need to experience a punch in the throat or having my eyes gauged out. I know, take away my man card. But I’ll leave this to the experts.

Ms Hoch (you train in MMA and I’ll call you Ms and ma’am) explains what really happens in a fight. If you hit someone’s head with your fist, you’re likely to break something. You will show scrapes and bruise on your knuckles. And you should expect that you will get blood on you.

When you or anyone else gets into a fight, they will feel fear, it’s just how will they handle it.

Fight Write includes chapters on guns, knifes, poisons, and different wounds and how to describe them. I think you will find this a very handy resource if your story includes characters facing conflict.

The Eighth Detective

I saw a review on The Eighth Detective, and I had to run out and get it. I guess reviews do work, huh?

The Eighth Detective, written by Alex Pavesi, is about an author who wrote a book or short mystery stories twenty years ago to prove his theory of how mystery plots follow certain mathematical rules. The author has since moved to a remote Mediterranean island to live in seclusion.

Aww, poor little writer moves to a beautiful island to get away. I mean, where else would you want to go? And you don’t have to worry about carrying many clothes. Haven’t we all watched Gilligan’s Island? A suitcase of clothes is good for at least three years. And if you pack like Ginger, then no problem.

Anyway, an editor, those people are always stirring up trouble, comes down because her publisher wants to buy the rights to reprint the book. What happens will probably keep you up late reading.

It was strange to read a novel where a good portion is taken up by the short stories the author had written. So you really get eight stories in the book. Unless you count… but I’ll let you find that out on your own.

Some of the short stories were better than others. And reading this made you keep up with a lot of different characters and plot lines. But it is a very original and creative plot and I thing he handled it well.