Top 10 of 2020

This is a joke, right? How does anyone find 10 things to celebrate in a year like 2020? I had an ambitious year planned with four events on my calendar — ClexaCon in Vegas, QFX in Tampa, Books & Boots in Dallas, and the annual hug-fest with my GCLS friends — ALL CANCELED. If that weren’t enough, I didn’t have a single book released in 2020. In fact, I seriously considered retirement … but I realized it would be impossible to hang up this habit as long as these character voices keep interrupting everything else I try to do.

This isn’t the first year I’ve had trouble with a Top 10 list (*cough* 2016). Yet each time I look back through my calendar and social media feeds, I can easily find highlights. Believe it or not 2020 is no exception, however getting to 10 means I need to mix in a few personal/family highlights along with the usual book news. The first two aren’t numbered because there’s no way to rank something so momentous.

I have the world’s best quarantine partner. That’s it, that’s the tweet.

The 2020 Presidential election. I won’t ever forget the despair of 2016 and how that election physically sickened me every day for months. I couldn’t believe Americans had elected a racist buffoon as president, but honestly, the worst part was that it had come at the expense of one of the most qualified candidates ever. The country’s collective misogyny was/is crushing. I admit I sweated this one, just thinking how awful it would be if America affirmed this travesty for a second term. I’m deeply grateful to the 80 million Americans who helped end our national nightmare.

Okay, now the rest of the countdown begins.

8. My Literary Rights & Royalties. Several years ago, I drew up a trust that assigned the copyrights and royalties of all my works to Lambda Literary upon my death. As a writer, I wanted to be sure my books would live on when I wasn’t here to promote them or make decisions about keeping them in print. After stepping down from LL’s board of trustees, I came home to the Golden Crown Literary Society book community, a thriving place for the type of lesbian genre fiction I write. The GCLS has been a true sisterhood to me, and the perfect place to share my books. So this year, I changed my trust to reflect that — now when I go to that idyllic writers retreat in the sky, GCLS shall inherit my copyrights and receive all of my posthumous royalties. I encourage all you writers to think about who will champion your works for the next generation.

7. black lives matter. And so do their stories. I recognize that I haven’t read enough books by writers of color, so I made a pledge to do better: For every three books I buy and read in 2021, at least one will be from a writer of color. If you’d like to recommend your favorites, drop me a line in the comments or through the contact page — especially if you know of a good mystery or romantic suspense.

6. lesbians and their cats. Look it up — it’s a thing! We finally got Rozzie the little sister she I always wanted. Agnes, a sweet 12-week-old tortie, joined us in August and proceeded to take over the house. Rozzie wants us to think she’s miserable with this new little pest, but it’s clear she likes having Agnes around. So do we — you can’t watch a kitten play and not laugh. Aggie’s good for hours of entertainment, and she’s really brought out the playful side of Rozzie. Don’t tell Jenny, but I’m ready to go get another one.

5. The erica Abbott mystery writer scholarship. The lesbian book community suffered a heartbreaking loss this year with the passing of mystery/romance writer Erica Abbott, who was a dear friend of mine and an awesome bridge partner. To honor Erica’s memory, Jenny and I joined others to establish a scholarship in her name for the GCLS Writing Academy. We hope the winner of this scholarship will share Erica’s dedication to the GCLS community.

4. Baby Eloise. About a month after Agnes joined us, my family was blessed with another addition — my great-niece Eloise, who would have been my brother’s first grandchild. He left a hole in our lives when he died in 2019, but Eloise has helped us fill it. Also this year, a virtual wedding. (Not ours!)

3. Lots of virtual book events. A huge thanks to all the organizers who put together opportunities for authors to talk about their works. Your efforts were especially vital this year given all the cancellations. If you missed any of these, here are the links: Persistence, Perseverance, Perspiration – How to Finish What You Start, a GCLS panel; Bella Books Authors Corner, a reading from T-Minus Two; Lez Talk About Books, Baby!, a podcast interview with Anita Kelly; Curve Authors Hour: Writing Contemporary Fiction in Real Time, a panel discussion; and an Author Hot Seat with Facebook’s Lesbian Fiction Group By Les Rêveur.

2. a new set of short stories. In the early days of the pandemic, I took part in a virtual panel in which we discussed ways Covid-19 might impact our writing. Before it became clear how the virus was spread (and what we needed to do to keep safe), I was oddly anxious that I might die before I could finish the book I was working on. It made me write faster! Over the months, I began to imagine how some of my characters were navigating the pandemic. I hope to roll out some short stories soon, either as e-stories from Bella, or perhaps just here on my blog. Stay tuned. 🙂

1. Book 5 in the Shaken Series. New books always make my Top 10 list, but they don’t usually come in at #1. Words Unsaid is special because I never planned to write it. Honestly, I thought Mother Load was a good place to end the series ten years ago. Anna and Lily were happily married, they’d adopted Andy, and they made their family complete with twins Eleanor and Georgie. Lots of readers asked over the years if I had plans for #5 and I said no, though I promised I’d write it if I came up with a good story for the Kaklis family. And then I did. It’s due in April from Bella Books.

I’m really sorry to have let my blog languish so long. Thanks to all who have faithfully checked back. I hope to make it worth your while in 2021. Now if you would, please join me in kicking 2020 out the f*cking door!

8 Responses to “Top 10 of 2020”

  1. Love reading your posts and books. Let’s hope 2021 is better than 2020. Can’t wait for April and #5. Good excuse, not that I need one, to read the other 4 again. (Actually I think this will make the 6th time)

  2. HAPPY NEW YEAR, KG. Thanks for this bright spot – it’s always good to reflect on the good rather than the bad. May 2021 get us out of this mess!

  3. You must must must read both books by Brit Bennett: The Vanishing Half and The Mothers. She is fantastic! I think you would especially enjoy how The Vanishing Half unfolds.

  4. I really needed this today. All is well, but now better! Love to you, Jenny, Rozzie and Agnes rom Sammy and me. Happy any-year-past-2020.

    Susan Mast Sent from my iPad


    • We send our love back, Susan & Sam. I thought of Sam the other day when I came across something about jury duty. I still laugh at us gripping each other’s hands and holding our breath on the back row until they called the name of the last juror. We skipped out of the courthouse so happy that we wouldn’t have to serve!

  5. KG, I will make the same committment. At least 1 in 3, if not every other book I buy will be by a woman of color. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • The last 3 I’ve read were by women of color. So is the next one in my queue. I especially enjoyed Shamim Sarif’s The Athena Protocol. I have the sequel queued, The Shadow Mission.

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