December Wrap Up

The Cold Wild Yonder – My December 2021 Wrap Up

Posted December 31, 2021 by Amber in Checking In / 4 Comments

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There’s a sort of peace that comes to me at the end of December, like exhaling a breath I didn’t know I was holding. Cliché, I know, but it’s the best way I can think to describe that feeling of letting go. As I write this post, it’s Christmas morning. It’s peaceful where I am – no children, a soft candle burning, a cat curled up by my side, and my Apple Music 2021 remix playing in the background. Mornings like this teach me two things:

  1. My happiest moments are the quiet, little ones.
  2. My music taste remains the same as 2007.

As you jump into my December 2021 wrap up – whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever your life may look like… I hope you are at peace in this moment.

December was a more fruitful month for me in many ways. I read more, I wrote more, I saw more people. I balanced work and life a little bit better, even though I am struggling internally with some of those things. December feels like a step in the right direction.

Reading | Readathons & Reading Challenges | Writing | Blog | Life | What’s Next

I’m really happy with my reading in December, especially because I expected a light reading month. The holidays always feel like a lot and work has been taxing (or, rather, I overtaxed myself earlier in the year and am paying for it now) so I don’t expect to get a lot of reading, writing, or really anything done. December felt much better balanced than usual, and certainly better balanced than I expected.

9 books found

★★★★½

Everything Here is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

★★½

★★★

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Pérez

★★½

★★★★★

Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

★★

The Heartbreak Bakery by A. R. Cappetta

★★★★½

The Winner's Crime

★★★★

Wildcard by Marie Lu

★★★½


This month, I leaned toward adventurous books, as usual.  That said, I disagree with some of the books that were labelled as adventurous? Some of the historical non-fiction I listened to was labelled “adventurous” and just… no? My secondary genres were lighthearted and informative, which feel more accurate to my reading in December. I favored medium-paced books and read books of all lengths this month. In a very rare phenomenon, I read more non-fiction in September than fiction.  My most read genre was history and then there was a four-way tie of three books each between lgbtqiap+young adultromance, and contemporary.  My average rating was 4.25 stars, a good month, especially considering how far off my normal reading I was.

Easily my favorite hardcopy book this month was The Heartbreak Bakery by A.R. Capetta. There were so many positive things in that book, and Capetta is (as always) amazing at effortlessly weaving in a grand variety of LGBTQIAP+ experiences. I’m torn between Wildcard and The Winner’s Crime for my favorite audiobook selection. Both far exceeded my expectations because I was somewhere between “on the fence” and “dislike” with the first book of each. This are both golden example of a post I wrote earlier this year about trying book two if book one didn’t live up to your hopes.

December is typically a month where I haul a lot of books. Between the holidays and mindless self-indulgence… I tend to overdo it on book buying this time of year. I’m really proud of myself because this December… I only purchased three books! It wasn’t a holiday gift for me or anything – whenever I’m up north visiting my dentist, I stop at the indie bookstore I’ve been going to since I was like … 5. I check out their used books and see what calls to me. I also tried their new cafe this time and had a really lovely lavender lemonade and vegan brownie.

3 books found

★★★★½

★★★

The Heartbreak Bakery by A. R. Cappetta

★★★★½

I read three hardcopy books this month. Even though this falls short of my goal of four hardcopy books a month, it’s a reach better than I expected when I wrote up my November wrap up. I chose to keep three out of four of these books, but will be donating Four Dead Queens. It was fine, but nothing special enough I think I’ll read it again. The cover’s gorgeous though, especially in that OwlCrate special edition red.

Writing updates, writing updates! My loves I have some writing updates.

I went to a conference at the beginning of December (two, actually!) and one of the things they reminded me was that we have to make time for things we care about. I know a lot of guilt-inducing rhetoric in the writing community circles around the idea that “if you’re really truly passionate about it, you’ll make time”. Unfortunately, time doesn’t grow on trees and balancing the things I care about is a real challenge. Understanding and accepting the things I can’t control (like time!) is something I’m working on with my therapist.

Based on that continuing work and the reminder in the conference, I decided there was a little something I could do. With the exception of holidays, I’ve been going to a coffee shop every weekend and just writing until I finish whatever snack and beverage I’ve purchased. Nothing else, just working on Fate based on the feedback from my writing partner. This month, I wrote a completely new first chapter and I’ve sent it over to her and will hopefully hear back when she and I next meet in January.

Meanwhile, I’m reworking more recent rewrites of chapters two and three to mesh with the things I added in the new intro. I also need to look over my partner’s notes and various scribbling plans I’ve made for the rest of the book and series. It feels really good to sit in the coffee shop, have a lovely London Fog tea and a blueberry scone, and just write.

I haven’t been spending too much time on ye olde blogge lately. Sure, I’ve been keeping up with posts, but I’ve also felt pretty drained on the weekends (my writing time). I hope to get better about that and we’ll see how it goes. For now, I will just share that there haven’t been any major changes, but I continue to have a lot of chores I could be doing to clean up the old place.

What’s New on the Problematic Authors page?

In Code Yellow, I’ve added Frances Hodgson Burnett (author of The Secret Garden, The Little Prince, and A Little Princess) because of some racist terminology. I also added Marie Rutkoski (author of The Winner’s Curse) for criticisms of romanticizing slavery.

In Code Orange, I’ve added Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird). This is both for racial slurs and the popularization of White Savior-ism.

I’m relieved to say there are, once again, no new additions to Code Red.

All the Posts You May Have Missed…

It’s funny, I feel like I had so much to say about LIFE in November, but December has been very low-key. For the most part this month I’ve been really focused on my writing, as mentioned earlier in the writing section. Work has been really busy lately and I feel beholden to give it all my time and energy. That leaves me feeling… spent, I guess? Like I have 100pts. of energy total, and a normal day takes 85pts. but because of the extra … menial, emotional effort I’ve been putting in lately, days are actually taking 125pts, so the next day I start at 75pts. instead of the full 100 and it just keeps going down and down and down until I run out of stamina.

Too much math?

Anyway, I feel as though I haven’t been contributing fully to anything. It leaves me feeling overwhelmed and under-rewarded. I may have mentioned, I found out a couple months ago that I’m prediabetic? So I’m trying to really cut down sugar and not only is that very difficult, but ice cream is a huge comfort food for me. So I can’t band-aid my emotional emptiness with that artificial happiness.

I’ve got some big stuff coming up and there’s a lot of work to it and a lot of unknowns. I get really overwhelmed with unknowns. I have a couple weeks to gather information and think about things and … I guess it’s making my brain shut down a little too. This is a good thing, though! I know it’s a good thing, I just … I’m working on sorting out my feelings, my fears, my ego trying to protect me. All that fun stuff. I really hope I have some nicer, different news in January!

We’ll just another week away from all the annual wrap ups! I’ve already started to look at 2021’s goals and formulate new things for 2022. I’m ever trying to be kind and forgiving of myself while still putting out content. It’s a weird balance sometimes.

We’ve got some more posts on Disney coming the next couple months. After that, I’ll be traveling again! … Also … to Walt Disney World in Florida. I really didn’t mean to do so much Disney, but here we are, and I have more new ideas for based on new restaurants, the 50th anniversary, and more.


I’ve got a really solid TBR coming up to start the year. Iron Widow and The Bronzed Beasts finally at the head of my TBR? Yes please! I know this is only my hardcopy TBR, but it’s a solid start and a lot to look forward to.

I’m currently rereading Under the Black Flag, which is this fabulous non-fiction book about real life pirates in contrast to their popular culture representations. It was written before Pirates of the Caribbean, so pop culture isn’t as heavy as it could be. Honestly, I think it’s the definitive non-fiction book about pirates even a couple decades later. I read it in 2016 and was FASCINATED and I’m already fascinated in the reread. There is so much information and I want to absorb it all.

I’m looking to start January with a lot of good intentions. For work, for myself as a human, for finances, travel, our future. I am grateful for the lessons these last two years have taught me. I feel as though I’ve really grown in mindfulness. I will continue to work on myself next year – in empathy, compassion, self-worth, allyship, knowledge, research, optimism, friendship, passion, and joy. So many other things.

Thank you oh so much for being here with me for yet another year. Every day is a blessing and I wish you all well.

send me your thoughts

How was your last month?

Did you read anything good, travel anywhere fun, or practice self-care? Whatever you did, I want to hear all about it!

Share with me in the comments!

stay magical amber

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4 responses to “The Cold Wild Yonder – My December 2021 Wrap Up

  1. Hey Amber, great wrap up! Awesome that you had such a good reading and writing month!
    The thing you said about making time for your writing, I felt that. But I’m also struggling to find out if I really like it that much still? Not sure, but it will be something I’m going to hopefully find out this month.
    Hope you have a great 2022!
    (in your stats part, you said September, you probably meant December? just letting you know)

    • Amber

      Thanks Robin! I’m glad you enjoyed the wrap up. Good luck with your decision on the future of your writing. I wonder that sometimes as well: “Is this something I really want?”. Personally, I’m always drawn back by all the story ideas and characters I have rolling around in my head – I want to put them somewhere. But I also think it’s a very personal choice – writing is a huge commitment and overwhelming. <3 Thank you so much for pointing out that error. You may have noticed - I'm the queen of typos and mis-typed words! Seems no matter how many times I proofread. I really appreciate you pointing it out and I'll fix it up. 😀

      • A Robin Reads

        Hi Amber,
        Yeah, it’s a journey. I think I have periods in my life I do really enjoy writing. Especially now, because I don’t have any other things to do like a job haha. But it takes time and energy and I don’t really have that when I do have a job.
        I will just do it when I feel like it, best way 🙂
        No problem. I have noticed some smaller things before, so if you want me to proofread, let me know 😉 One can’t be good at everything, right? You are an amazing writer!

        • Amber

          Aw, thank you Robin! That’s very sweet. I think that you’re right – it’s best to do things when you when you feel like it and have the energy so it brings you joy. I totally understand the difficulty of finding both time and energy when you’re working full time! 🙂 <3