What does an author do when he isn’t writing? Read!

Confession: I don’t read as much as I used to. Back in the day, I could consume 100-plus pages a day without breaking a sweat (or spine). Of course, that was before kids, a career, and my own company.

Even when I’m up to my elbows in editing or pounding out new plots, I try to make time to see what else is out there—not only to bust out of my own creative bubble, but also because there’s some damn fine books being written.

So even though there have been a ton of titles languishing on my to-read list—sorry, Slaughterhouse-Five—there’s a slew of new(ish) works clamoring for my precious free time. Here are the works that will certainly force their way to the top of my pile in 2021:



Another confession: I’ve already read this one—a draft of it, at least.

Christopher Whitmore is a Fond du Lac fantasy writer, fellow Allied Authors of Wisconsin member, and good friend. We routinely beta read each other’s work, so I had the privilege of diving into Charming months prior to its February release. I can’t wait to add an autographed copy to my shelf and make a return trip to Terram.

If you like madcap plots and larger-than-life characters, you might also dig this modern fairytale!

Hello, Transcriber

Dark, mysterious, intriguing—all these adjectives describe Hannah Morrissey’s debut novel, which is set in an apocryphal Wisconsin city. This woman has a way with words—judging from the chapters I’ve previewed at Allied Authors meetings—so I’m eager to get to know her protagonist Hazel better and see how she survives her descent into a world of drugs and deceit.

The bad news is I have to wait until Nov. 30 to get my hands on Hello, Transcriber. The good news is I’m beta reading her follow-up novel very soon!

Dragons of Deceit

So what if the title is provisional and the release date of July 29 is only rumored. The fact remains that the first Dragonlance novel written by the original authors in more than a decade is officially happening!

I might have mentioned before how influential this series has been for me, both as a reader and a writer. Following a period of sword-and-sorcery burnout, I’ve recently enjoyed a rekindled interest in the fantasy genre, including Dungeons & Dragons, so the revelation that Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman are back at the helm of the this D&D-based franchise is medieval music to my ears.

If any book has the power to take me back to 100-plus pages a day, it’s this one.

Graphic Novels

Fire Power, Vol. 1

Truthfully, I know almost nothing about this one, but when I see Robert Kirkman’s name on the spine of a graphic novel, I can’t not give it a try. Kirkman is, after all, the author of one of my all-time favorite comic books.

(No, not The Walking DeadInvincible!)

The first volume of this modern-day fantasy came out last year, but I’ve only just remembered to add it to my wish list, so maybe I’ll get the chance to be consumed by Fire Power this Father’s Day.

Gideon Falls, Vol. 5

Gideon Falls filled the dark fantasy/horror void left after finishing Locke & Key.

The latest trade paperback hit stores back in December, so I’m basically looking for any excuse to add it to my bookshelf.

Just as soon as my TBR pile shrinks a little more, of course.

Saga, Vol. 10

It’s safe to say the Saga series is unlike any other work of fiction I’ve ever read. The sci-fi storylines somehow walk the fine line between absurdly silly and heartbreakingly serious. Imaginative, unpredictable, raw—Saga is one of two graphic novels I order as soon as it’s released. (The other is Monstress.)

Unfortunately, a new installment hasn’t come out since the creators went on hiatus in 2018. Even if the comic books start up again in 2021, it’ll be many more months before they are compiled into a collection. I might just be desperate enough to buy the individual issues at that point!


The Monsters Know What They’re Doing: Combat Tactics for Dungeon Masters

I don’t often gravitate to nonfiction, but when I do, it tends to have an educational component. Such is the case with The Monsters Know What They’re Doing.

My thoughtful wife brought me this book for my birthday last year, and I continue to whittle away at the tutorial on Dungeons & Dragons tactics as time permits—all too aware that I have several D&D sourcebooks also waiting in the wings.


Remember back when I was preparing to play my first game and worried that if I ever took on the mantle of Dungeon Master, I’d enjoy it too much and, consequently, invest too much time writing my own campaigns?

I am indeed my own worst enemy.

Level Up! The Guide to Great Video Game Design

Yet another confession: when I bought this book about video game design as a Christmas present for my son, I already knew I was going to read it when he finished.

Creating a video game has been on my bucket list for years now. In fact, I hope to dedicate a fair chunk of 2022 to game making—either a low-fi indie title or some kind of piece of experimental, interactive fiction.

After finishing The Game Narrative Toolbox in 2020, I’m hoping this lighthearted approach to game philosophy will provide additional insights and reignite my excitement to embrace this unexplored medium.

Lovecraft: The Great Tales

Final confession: I haven’t read any literary criticism since college, and I can count the number of H.P. Lovecraft fiction collections I’ve read on one finger.

However, the couple of chapters I previewed and proofed for my friend John D. Haefele last year painted a fascinating portrait of an author I know precious little about. The excerpts from Lovecraft: The Great Tales also piqued my curiosity of how writers influence other writers and are themselves influenced in return.

The book was published in February, and I’m very much looking forward to adding an autographed copy to the Local Authors section of my bookcase.

What about you?

What titles have your inner bookworm squirming with glee? Let me know in the comments below!