Friday, January 1, 2021

Looking Over My Notes [NORW]

This wraps up my fourth year blogging at Interesting Though Elementary.  If you’ve been following along since the beginning, God bless your intrepid and patient soul.  I used to start off the year with Sherlockian resolutions and end each year with a review of how well I did and a separate post of all of the Sherlockian books I read in the year, but like the rest of the world in 2020, things changed.  So this will be my catch-all post for the year: a look back at Sherlockiana like one I've never seen before.

My biggest Sherlockian love is my home scion, The Parallel Case of St. Louis.  I won't take up too much space here going on and on about what a year we had, but if you're interested in those thoughts, I've posted it on our group's blog, The Parallelogram.

Looking back on 2020, I was a busy Sherlockian!  As if the day-to-day Sherlockian discussions on Twitter and keeping up with the Parallel Case of St. Louis's Facebook page weren't enough to keep me busy, I took on some big projects.  

Writing and Editing

For the past six years, I've been teaching a two-week unit on Sherlock Holmes to my fifth graders.  Over the past year and a half, I've worked on turning that into a book that would make some of the original canonical stories accessible to fourth to sixth grade readers, along with accompanying information that I present to my class.  After a ton of work and great feedback from non-Sherlockian teachers, I finally finished that project in November!  The publishing world slows down dramatically at the end of the year, so shopping this project around to literary agents will begin in earnest in January.  

And another book project wrapped up this year as well!  My friend, Peter Eckrich, reached out to me last year about doing something with the specifics of Sherlockian collecting, and over the following months, we were able to recruit some amazing folks to work with us.  During the first half of this year we finished up a great anthology on Sherlockian collecting titled The Finest Assorted Collection.  In this book, 27 Sherlockians have written essays about their specific niche collections.  Spending so much time working with these folks was one of the real highlights of my year and I found that I really love editing!  (Maybe not so much with my fifth graders, but Sherlockians are much easier to work with.)  The book was pitched and accepted by Wessex Press and is set for a publication in January 2022.  So even though Rebecca Romney cited it a few times in her Toronto talk a few weeks back, we will all have to wait a while to read about these interesting collections!

And speaking of editing, I got to work with some of my favorite Sherlockians on their own projects.  Bill Cochran, Heather Hinson, and Brad Keefauver all have some amazing things coming, and I feel very blessed that they let me have a peek behind the curtain in their creative processes.  

Another writing project included something I've been working towards for years.... I'm getting published in the Baker Street Journal!  An article I wrote on organized crime has been accepted for publication in 2021, which thrills me to no end.  If I never write another thing, I will have had something in the BSJ.  ...swoon...

Some other fun and exciting projects included a history of The Beacon Society for Ross Davies's amazing Baker Street Almanac, an article about Charlie Peace for The Serpentine Muse, a piece of fiction being accepted and held for future publication in the Sherlock Holmes Journal, an alternative take on A Study in Scarlet for The Watsonian, and an essay on curried mutton to an upcoming project that Margie Deck and Nancy Holder are heading up for Belanger Books, Sherlock Holmes of Baking Street.

And one of my pieces of work from last year was published this January, converging my two biggest interests, Sherlockiana and education.  I was very honored to be a part of the latest book in the BSI Professional Series, Education Never Ends: Educators, Education, and the Sherlockian Canon.  It debuted in the dealer's room of the BSI Birthday Weekend WHICH I GOT TO GO TO THIS YEAR!

Remember January?  It seemed so long ago....


I posted daily recaps of my excitement at being part of a huge weekend full of Sherlockians earlier in the year (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4), but thinking back on that trip can still make a smile creep across my face.  So, so many great people spending time together.  Whether it was formal presentations or chats in the hotel lobby, my first Birthday Weekend will always be a top Sherlockian memory for me.

Once all of the scions meetings went digital, I started out trying to go to as many  as I could, but as a teacher who has been bouncing in and out of remote learning for ten months now, I learned pretty quickly that there was no way to attend as much as I would like.  I just didn't have the stamina for it.  But man, did I enjoy the ones I got to go to and always look forward to what's coming up on the calendar, whether or not my eyes and psyche will allow me to attend.  

Other events had to be cancelled (Holmes, Doyle, and Friends, 221B Con) or postponed (Holmes in the Heartland), but others took to Zoom.  Scintillation of Scions set the standard with their Zoom format and happy hours, that was soon used by other fun events like Sherlockian Saturday at the Pratt.  

And 2020 saw my debut as a Sherlockian speaker as Elinor Gray shepherded me through fear of public speaking and I gave a talk at the Left Coast Sherlockian Symposium.  Because of that presentation, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at this year's Norwegian Explorers of Minnesota's Christmas Dinner.  Both audiences were absolutely lovely and made public speaking slightly less terrifying.  But they were both audiences full of Sherlockians, so of course they were great!

Interesting Interviews

Hands down, the most rewarding Sherlockian activity this year was posting interviews on this blog with Sherlockians that I find fascinating.  And judging from the comments on Twitter and Facebook, I'm not the only one that found these folks engaging.  There are so many Sherlockians out there that it's easy to overlook or not hear of some of the great energy happening in our hobby, and I have absolutely loved giving folks in the spotlight.  These have proved so popular that I bumped it up from one to two each month and plan to continue that pace into 2021.

January 2020: Elinor Gray

February 2020: Bob Katz

March 2020: Monica Schmidt

April 2020: Susan Rice

May 2020: Burt Wolder

June 2020: Jay Ganguly

June 2020: Laurie King

June 2020: Steven Doyle

July 2020: Mike McSwiggin

July 2020: Jacquelyn Morris

August 2020: Jerry Margolin

August 2020: Charles Prepolec

September 2020: Maria Fleischhack

October 2020: Mike Ranieri

October 2020: Julie McKuras

November 2020: Mark Jones

November 2020: Sonia Fetherston

December 2020: Crystal Noll

December 2020: Greg Ruby

Books Read

2020 gave me plenty of time to read, and I hit about 295 books and journals this year.  Obviously all of them weren't Sherlockian, and I won't bore you with all of them, but here's a quick synopsis:

30 stories from the Canon

31 issues of The Baker Street Journal

32 other journals including The Holmes and Watson Report, The Serpentine Muse, The Watsonian, Canadian Holmes, The Norwegian Explorers' Christmas Annuals, The Newspapers, Baker Street West

26 scholarly books

14 pastiche & parodies

12 books about Sherlockian history

...and 3 books from Doyle's Rotary Coffin, they defy categorization

2020 has definitely been a challenging year on many fronts, but looking back I am so grateful for the community of Sherlockians out there.  Everyone in this hobby has gone above and beyond to help one another out and keep our minds from the world outside.  Even though most of us spent the year using technology more than ever before, plenty of times we were able to say it's still 1895.

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