Top ten posts of 2021

Well, 2021 is almost in its grave. And good riddance to it. I for one am hopeful that 2022 will be a better, brighter time. 

Whether it is or not, we’ll have better, brighter content here on Paper Beats World. I’ve got lots of exciting plans for the new year. But before we get to that, let’s indulge in our annual look back. Here’s a list of the top ten most popular posts of 2021. I’m always surprised by this list. But I’m thrilled that I might have helped you learn something. 

10. Blank out poetry

Let me know in the comments, should I do more poetry content? 

9. What I learned as a flag football mom

What I learned is that children’s sports are thankless. 

8. Building a Go Bag for writers

Everyone should have a go-bag. If you don’t, read this post and get one together this week, whether you’re a writer or not.

7. An open letter to the teacher who changed my life

Truly, Mr. M, I’m thankful to you every day. 

6. Writing medicine in fantasy books

Number one rule here? Don’t ever take medical advice from a fantasy book! 

5. World building questions to answer for a more realistic world

This one takes a bit to work through. But all real-world building does. We don’t all have the time to create several languages for our fantasy world.

4. Beginning and ending rituals

To begin something is brave, to get to the ending requires strength. Both require celebration.

3. Science Fiction Subgenres

A lot of this series ended up on the list, but I put them all together. This was a really fun series to research and write. I’m glad it helped so many of you.

2. Keeping a Poetry Journal

I really should do more poetry content.

1. Writing dark poetry

Still so proud of this post. It honestly might be the best one I’ve ever done. 

So that’s it. Another year down. If you have any requests for posts or topics you’d like to see me cover here on Paper Beats World, let me know in the comments. We’ll be back with new content next week. I hope you all have an awesome New Year. 

It’s Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve. I’m going to the day job today, but that’s alright. I help people at my day job. Not a bad way to spend the day. 

Later today there will be celebrations. We’ll have a nice dinner and open crackers. We’ll watch Elf and play games. Then we’ll go to bed early. Not because we’re eager for Santa’s arrival, but because I’ll be up bright and early to be at the day job again on Christmas Day. 

I had Yule off, so it’s not a big deal. 

There’s lots of excitement to come over the next 48 hours. Lots of fun, lots of food and wine. It really is the best time of the year.

I hope that you have a beautiful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. I hope that your Yule was wonderful if you celebrate it. If you celebrated Hanukkah early this month, I hope that was great. I hope that your whole month was great. 

And I hope that, even if it wasn’t, you give yourself some time today and tomorrow to just enjoy life. Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, everything is shut down so you might as well take some time for yourself.

Read a book, enjoy something indulgent, watch a movie with people you love. Don’t suffer people you don’t care for. Play with your kids, your pets, your friends, your partner, your co-workers. Make someone laugh today. Let yourself be a kid. Do what you love most, as much as you can. 

Merry Christmas. Happy New Year. Have a beautiful day. 

My top ten books of 2021

It’s that time again. With just a few weeks left of 2021, it’s time to look back with fondness at the good this year brought to us.

I mean, there’s not a lot of good. This year was another dumpster fire from start to finish. But at least I had lots of good books to read. 

So today I want to share with you the top ten best books I’ve read in 2021. Most of them didn’t come out this year, it’s just the year I got around to reading them. And if you haven’t read them yet, 2022 might be the year to do so.

The books are listed from least to best. I’m not going into a lot of detail about any of these books, because either I reviewed them here or on Haunted MTL. Or, I’m going to. 

Velvet was the night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I think this is the weakest of her novels so far, and it’s still on my top ten list. That should tell you something about her other books. 

Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva 

I said this last week, but it bears repeating. This is Silva’s first book. I am just blown away. 

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King

This book is clever, dark, and disturbing. So, you know, it’s a King novel. Keep an eye out on Haunted MTL for my review.

Dexter by Jeff Lindsay 

Dexter was a mood for me this year. 

Ms. Peregrins School for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. 

This whole series was fantastic.

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

If you haven’t read this book, go get it right now and read it. 

Savage Legion by Matt Wallace 

I have the second book in this series sitting on my desk staring at me. I cannot wait to get my hands on it. But, you know, life. 

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

This was a real treat. I just got lost in it. 

Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff

I read this during a vacation in Spring. It was delightful. 

The Ocean at The End of The Lane by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman has the amazing ability to write fairy tales for adults that scare the hell out of me and make me feel like a little kid again at the same time.

So that was it for my list this year. Now I want to hear from you. What was the best book you read in 2021? What are you most excited to read in 2022? Let us know in the comments below.

You can support Paper Beats World on Ko-fi. 

Holiday Books That Aren’t Romance

Holiday books are my jam right now. But I have a problem. I don’t like romance novels, and the vast majority of holiday books are fucking romance novels.

And I’m just not down for that. 

So after spending way too much time searching online, checking out Bookstagram, and stalking my local library, I cultivated a list of holiday books that are a bit more my speed.

Sadly, none of them are what I’d call speculative horror. But at least they’re not solely about getting someone to kiss under the goddamned mistletoe. 

Santa Claws, By Rita Mae Brown and Sneaky Pie Brown

This is a cute, cozy murder mystery. I have a secret love of these kinds of books. And I’m a long-time fan of this series.

In this one, the main character Mrs. Murphy, a tiger cat, finds the body of a dead monk in a Christmas tree lot. She and her person, Harry, end up tracking down the killer just in time for Christmas.

Is the writing great? No. But it’s quaint, full of small-town charm, and includes a scene where a corgi almost takes a bite out of a dead body.

Twas the Nightshift Before Christmas by Adam Kay

This is a nonfiction holiday book about what it’s like to work in a hospital during Christmas. It’s got some moments, let me tell you. There’s death, blood, annoying upper management. And a holiday tie that goes off at literally the worst time you could possibly imagine. 

If you read This is Going To Hurt by the same author, you might have already heard some of these. Read the book, then go do something nice for a medical professional. Like, I don’t know, get your covid vaccine. 

Christmas Bells by Jennifer Chivarini

I was worried at first that this was going to be another romance novel. But the historical story of Henry Longfellow was interesting enough to encourage me to keep going.

And I’m so glad I did! 

Yes, there’s a love story between two volunteer choir teachers. But there’s also a story of a family whose father is missing overseas. And a young girl who’s accused of plagiarism. A boy accidentally sets a tree on fire. A woman whose husband has just passed on, getting through her first Christmas without him.

There’s so much going on in this book. And the way it all fits so neatly together at the end is nothing short of a Christmas miracle. 

Mr. Dickens and His Carol by Samantha Silva 

You guys, this is a premiere novel. Can you even believe that? This is her first novel! 

This holiday book is about the creation of A Christmas Carol. I thought at first it was going to be a slightly romanticized version of the truth. To be clear, no this is not the case. It is an almost totally fiction story about the creation of A Christmas Carol that includes ghosts, magic, publishing contracts, and long walks through London at night. I loved every single second of this story. And I teared up at parts.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

This is such a classic, you might be thinking. Why would I even include this on the list? Well, let me tell you why. I talk to people all the time who swear they know A Christmas Carol front and back because they’ve seen so many versions of it. But they’ve never read the actual book.

Don’t do this. Read the original. You can find it for free online. It is worth every second.

(I’ll also be joining the other Haunted MTL writers in reading this ghost story for Christmas. Starting on December 21st, check it out.)

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson

The Herdmans were the worst kids in the history of the world.

So begins this classic tale about a family of neglected children finding the true meaning of Christmas, and reminding a few people who thought they already knew it. 

I have a few holiday books still on my list to read. I can’t vouch for them yet, but they look alright. If they’re good, they’ll probably make the cut for next year. 

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham

The Christmas Killer by Alex Pine

Christmas Cake Murders and Christmas Caramel Murders by Joann Fluke

Silent Bite by David Rosenfelt

By the way, it would be dumb of me to not mention that I wrote a Christmas book. It’s called Twelve Little Christmas Stories. Like the name would imply, it’s twelve speculative fiction holiday tales. Some are charming, some are ghoulish. All are fun. 

Let me know in the comments what your favorite holiday book is. I’d love to lengthen this list. 

You can support Paper Beats World on Ko-fi.

2021 Gift Guide For Writers

I do this every year, so there’s no real need for a massive introduction. You need gift ideas for any writers in your life. I have some suggestions. Let’s get into it.

In case there isn’t anything on this list that fits your holiday shopping needs, I do this every year. Here are links to all of my previous years’ shopping guides.






Gifts that cost nothing. 

I always like to start with gifts that cost nothing but time. In our world of ultra-consumerism, these are underrated. I embraced free things in a lot of ways this year.

– I foraged pine boughs, sticks, and pinecones for some one-of-a-kind decorations and ornaments. (Note, if you’re going to do this, spray your projects down with hair spray as soon as you can. I like Aqua Net, personally)

– Instead of buying wrapping paper, I’ve been using the paper that comes in my Chewy orders. This cost me nothing but a couple of bucks for the red ribbon. And these look so cute!

– I relied a lot on things we already had. Holiday-themed mugs look great on the kitchen counter. White pens work in place of gift tags. Red, green and white books set through the house. The place looks like a holiday wonderland, and I didn’t add many items at all.

Now, about the gifts. 

Time spent together is the best thing you can give someone for the holidays. Anytime, actually. I make a point of spending Yule doing two things, reading and snuggling with the darling husband. Honestly, the less time I can spend buying things, wrapping them, cleaning up, and cooking, the better. Those things are great, and I’ll never stop doing them. But I’d like to lessen them. This is a gift not only for my husband but for me as well.

As far as writer-specific gifts, I can’t suggest enough an offer to critique something they’ve written. I would personally love this gift, as it’s really hard to get sufficient beta readers. (I don’t suggest this as a gift from your spouse. Beta readers need to have a level of honesty that probably isn’t great for a relationship.)

Another great gift you can give the writer in your life is to recommend their work to others. Especially if you can request their books from a local library. Word of mouth is the best way for a book to get someone’s attention. There’s just nothing better.

Finally, a fun option, if you’re artsy, is some fan art. I’ve had a few friends do fan art for my work, and I love it every single time. Even if it’s bad. Especially if it’s bad.

Gifts that cost money dollars 

If you’ve got some cash to spend, here are some good ideas for the writers you love. As always, I’d like to remind you that none of these items are sponsored, I don’t get anything for suggesting them to you.

A journal is always a great idea. I know for a fact that I’m getting some cute ones from Archer & Olive. There are great ones on Etsy too. And handmade is always cool, even when it’s not your hands that made it. 

If you’re looking for something to give them a kick in the behind, I’d suggest The Hero’s Journal. I got a copy of this earlier this year. It wasn’t for me, but that’s just because I have a bullet journal and that fits my needs well.

The Hero’s Journal is super fun, though, and seems tailor-made for those trying to forge a creative path in life for themselves.

Did your favorite writer win Nanowrimo but lack the funds to get a winner’s shirt? What better thing could you give them than a physical reminder that they kicked their word count in the ass?

And if they didn’t win, the Nano store probably still has something drool-worthy. And the money spent there goes to help young writers. Win, win.

A gift that would be great for writers and readers is a soundtrack from something they enjoy. I love writing while listening to show soundtracks. My current favorite is the album for Wheel of Time. It just gets me in the right writing vibe. I don’t know why, but the singing in Old Tongue (which I do not understand) takes up enough of my brain to keep it from straying but not enough to distract me.

Video game soundtracks are also great for this. 

Another suggestion is a good reading light for either their desk or reading chair. I’ve been all about proper lighting during the last few years. There’s just something so cozy about a single lamp illuminating my chair like a halo. 

Finally, if your writer doesn’t already use Dabble, I’d suggest getting them a subscription. I’ve been using Dabble for a few years now, and it is just awesome. I can use it on any device, it autosaves my work. It’s just the best writing software I’ve ever used.

That is it for my list this year. If you have any handy suggestions, please feel free to leave them in the comments. And I hope you’re all having a great holiday season so far. 

If you want to support Paper Beats World, you can buy me a cup of coffee on Ko-fi.

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