Monthly Archives: December 2012

Some of My Favorite Reads of 2012

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Again, the end of the year is right around the corner–I swear I see it peeking at me!–and so I thought I’d share with you, my lovely followers, some of my favorite books that came out this year.  I know I will probably forget some from the beginning of the year (it happens when you read close to 200 books a year) but I figure some are better than none!

Firstly, Days of Blood and Starlight.  I loved the first book in the series, Daughter of Smoke and Bone and the sequel did not disappoint. Great story, characters you come to love, beautiful flowing prose that has me wanting to visit Prague and Marrakesh.

Then there’s The Raven Boys. I do love everything I’ve read of Maggie Stievfater, but I especially love how she worked in Arthurian legend into her most recent series. While not a new concept, you don’t see much of it in YA novels (the only other series off the top of my head that deals with it at all is My Boyfriend Merlin which is a fun series as well).

Ashes of Honor: An October Daye Novel.  I don’t follow a lot of “adult” series anymore, but I love love love the Toby Daye stuff and the newest in the series does not disappoint. I’m only sad I have to wait a year in between the books. I love how things are finally coming together, how some of the tension is finally dealt with. I think she’s a kickass female MC who isn’t without her weaknesses and faults.  Great paranormal series if you haven’t read any of it, pick it up now! 🙂

Earlier in the year, I discovered the Lux series (Opal, Obsidian, Onyx, Shadows). The all came out this year (which is awesome when reading a series!) and I really enjoyed them.  Stories about aliens are starting to pick up in the YA genre (Maybe thanks to the I am Number Four stuff) and this is a great series that doesn’t come off as cheesy. (*Edit, I just finished Opal and found there will be at least one more book in the series. Huzzah!)

I waited a looong time for the last book in the Graceling series to come and Bitterblue did a fantastic job of pulling all the loose ends together and connecting Graceling and Fire, two books which didn’t seem to have too much in common at all. A fantastic YA fantasy series with great strong female MCs.

Cinder was a great retelling of a very familiar story. A dash of steampunk and a dash of paranormal (if aliens can be considered paranormal) and written well enough that I didn’t feeling like I knew everything that was going to happen, even though we all know the basic Cinderella story.

Point of Retreat  is the great sequel to Colleen Hoover’s Slammed.  She is an Indie author that got picked up by Simon &  Schuster and rightfully so because her books are amazing and gritty and heart-wrenching. I adore her and look forward to reading her most recent novel, Hopeless.

When I read Reason to Breathe last year, I was crushed at the ending that didn’t answer nearly enough for me so when I saw there was a sequel to come out this year, I jumped for joy. Barely Breathing let me know, finally, what happened to Emma and how she continued on after her struggles. A great and powerful contemporary novel.

Finally, there’s the sob inducing The Fault in Our Stars. Can John Green write a book that won’t reduce me to tears? I don’t think so.  His stories are real and emotional with characters you grow to love and hate to see hurt. It may take him a while to put out a new book but it is *ALWAYS* worth the wait.

I know there are a lot of other great books I’ve read (contemporary ones where the titles blend together I think…) but these are just a few I really enjoyed during the year and have recommended to others. If you haven’t read these, be sure to look into them!

What are some of your favorite books to come out in 2012?

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Holiday Greetings & Thank You’s

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Being that this post actually falls on Christmas Day, I wanted to take the time to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a fantastic upcoming New Year!  I know the holidays can be tough on some, but hopefully you may all get through it without too much heartache or stress.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who follows the blog, comments on posts and purchases books. I am humbled and awed that I have people I can call followers and fans and if it were not for you folks,  I would not have the interest or drive to continue with it all.

So thank you, each and every one and may the New Year be filled with great books and happy stories, real or otherwise!

Writing Resolutions

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As the year is coming to a close (eek, only a couple weeks to go!), now is the time to start thinking about your resolutions for the new year.  Perhaps you’re vowing this will be your year at the gym, or maybe you’re going to strive for at least seven hours of sleep a night. Both are good goals that you can certainly achieve, but why not think about what you want in regards to your writing in the new year?

Perhaps you have a couple of half finished novels laying around (gee…I wouldn’t know anything about that *she says hiding documents in hidden files…*). Maybe 2013 is the year to finish them up! Maybe you will make a resolution to write and edit two books or to submit at least five short stories to publications throughout the year.

There’s always the thought to want to have a daily writing habit, so maybe you’ll schedule in twenty to forty minutes a day or start a blog. Just because you’re not working on a novel or screenplay doesn’t mean you’re not writing!

I think for many of us, 2013 will be the year to better promote ourselves and our work! Less spamming, more ad buying, blog hop participating and so forth.

Whatever your choices, try to make it something you can realistically stick to. Swearing to write 3,000 words a day every day is probably going to see you disappointed before January is over and then that could bring down your whole writing year. Don’t do that to yourself!

Are you planning on a resolution? Let us know what it is!

When’s the Right Time to Beta?

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Beta readers are an important part of the writing process, but perhaps you’re a new writer and wondering where exactly they work into the scheme of things. Well, that really depends on you.  Personally, I have a couple sets of beta readers and I use them in several different places while completing a novel.

When my rough draft is finally done, I use one or two betas to look for plot holes and to check for unanswered questions and the continuity of the story lines.  I know others who use their betas on more of a chapter by chapter basis during editing. The author edits and passes along a chapter at a time for their betas to read and comment on and then the author makes the changes as they go rather than doing everything at the end.

After my initial beta read through, I do more editing and then send off a second draft to my writing partner and favorite beta reader, Patricia Lynne.  She leaves me all sorts of comments and questions and adds (or removes) pesky commas and things of that nature. It’s super helpful and the comments let me know if she finds something funny or if a joke falls flat.

Then there’s another round of edits from me, then to an actual editor, then I make their changes and theeeeennnnn to final beta readers to check for tiny little mishaps that may have been missed and then it’s on to the ARC for early readers.

Some authors only use beta readers at the end. Some use the same set of beta readers throughout the whole process. Some, like me, use different beta readers at different points.  As an author you need to figure out what works best for you.  There’s certainly no harm in using more than one and putting them to work at different points in your process. Like anything else along the road to publication, each author has to figure out how they want to go about getting to the end and when to pull other people into the process. Trial and error, put it to the test.

How many beta readers do you “employ” and when do you put them to work?

Books – They make great gifts!

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We are right smack in the middle of the holiday season already (if you can believe that!) and maybe you’re still scrambling for gifts before the 8th night or Christmas day. If so, I feel your pain. I have done NO shopping yet (although I have completed several handmade gifts).

But there’s still time folks! And let me remind you that books make for fantastic gifts for all sorts of people, young and old! As an Indie author, this is where I should probably gently remind you that it’s awesome to support Indie authors and that most of us have books in digital *and* print forms and that some authors, like me, even have our books on Authorgraph.com where you can get signatures for our e-books. There really are quite a number of great Indie authors out there to introduce your friends and family to. Not only do readers love to find new authors to follow, but Indie works tend to be more affordable than traditionally published books.

Now that I’ve done my duty to other Indies, I’m going to remind folks of great things like the bargain areas of Barnes and Noble. There is always such an amazing collection of books in those aisles.  Cookbooks and novels and books on local lore and how to draw dragons.  They are reduced in price and I bet you can find one to fit every person in your life, even the non-reader. They often have great coffee table type books that make for great hostess gifts as well!

If you have little ones in your life, be it your own children or nieces and nephews, be the awesome relative that expands their library rather than their overflowing toy boxes. If you want them to grow to be readers, you have to provide the material.  Even if they’re not readers yet or not very good at it, there are amazingly beautiful popup books and touch and feel books and books that can inspire them to want to learn more about animals and their bodies and what lives in our oceans.

For the older child/teen, there are so many great picture books and stories about how their favorite stars came into their careers or how their favorite movies are made, etc.  Don’t discount books just because someone isn’t a reader. Sometimes it just depends on the subject. Also  look for comic books and graphic novels! Great art and great stories.

Don’t forget to check the dollar bin areas of places like Target which often has little hard cardboard books which make for great stocking stuffers for the little ones.

Books are ever great gifts and there is something out there for everyone in your life. E-books make for easy at home shopping but print books are always nice to hold and unwrap.

Have you purchased any books as gifts this season? What are some of your favorite books to share as gifts?