Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Favorite Books This Year

I read kind of a lot of books this year. I didn't quite reach my goal of 100, but I got to 83.

A couple of the books I read were BEASTS (ahem LITTLE DORRIT and THE STORY OF EDGAR SAWTELLE), and I also read 10 manuscripts for friends, so I practically made it to 100.

Many of the books I read were fantastic and I wanted to share my list of favorites, so here goes...

(Note: I'm only including books I read this year. If I had to list all of my favorites this post would go on forever.)

Favorite Memoir

THE GLASS CASTLE by Jeannette Walls
The Glass Castle
This is pretty much a must read. It's horrifying and heartwarming all at once.

Favorite Middle Grade

PRINCESS FOR HIRE by Lindsey Leavitt and Janice Hardy's SHIFTER
Princess for HireThe Shifter
PRINCESS FOR HIRE is really cute and magical (two things I love in MG) and THE SHIFTER is a great story, with great writing.

Favorite YA

MATCHED by Ally Condie, followed closely by Ally Carter's HEIST SOCIETY and Kiersten White's PARANORMALCY

MatchedHeist SocietyParanormalcy

These were all just fun. I read a lot of deep YA too, but I really appreciated the lighter stuff this year.

Favorite Classics

Little DorritFar from the Madding Crowd

I always read a few classics. LITTLE DORRIT took me all year to get through, but it was a great story and well worth the effort.

Favorite Series

THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy by Suzanne Collins (Obviously)
The Hunger GamesCatching FireMockingjay

I love these.

Favorite book from a genre I'd never read before

Jody Hedlund's Christian romance THE PREACHER'S BRIDE
The Preacher's Bride

I read this because Jody is a friend. I loved it because it was a really great story, told well.

Favorite Nonfiction

NURTURE SHOCK by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman

NurtureShock: New Thinking About Children


Favorite Books from Childhood Revisited

THE GIVER by Lois Lowry and pretty much everything by Roald Dahl
The GiverRoald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

It was really fun to read these again now that I'm grown up.

Favorite book for grown ups and favorite book this year

THE HELP by Kathryn Stockett
The Help

LOVED this. I think it was probably my favorite read in five years.

So there you have it! I read a very wide range of books this year so hopefully there's something here for everyone. I promise if your taste is exactly like mine you will love these books! And if you're taste isn't exactly like mine you'll probably still like some of them. :)

Now the question is, what should I read in 2011?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I Believe in You

Pursuing publication is hard.

If you are reading this you probably wrote a book. A WHOLE BOOK. You spent hundreds of hours of your life making it as good as it can be. You loved it. You were proud of it.

You queried agents. You're work was rejected. Maybe, eventually, an agent liked it and you moved to the next step. Maybe no one connected with it, so you wrote another book, and maybe another one after that, hoping that someday, someone would appreciate your work.

If you are one of the lucky ones (and yes, luck does play a role here) who managed to find an agent who loved your work, then you moved onto the next step, editor submissions. Maybe your book was brilliant and it got picked up at auction the first week. Or maybe you waited. A long time. And you came so close, but never close enough. So you wrote another book, hoping that maybe this would be the one to make it to the bookstore shelves.

Maybe you decided to self publish. Maybe you gave up on publication and instead wrote just for you and your family. Maybe you gave up writing all together for a while.

We've all traveled different roads to get us where we are today. I know that among my blog friends there are BRILLIANT writers who have worked at it for years. I also know there are some of us who are just starting out, who will learn in the coming years exactly what it means to be a writer.

I just want to tell all of you, whether you've been writing for a week or fifty years, that I believe in you. I really believe you can write a book that people will love.

It won't be easy. In fact I promise it will be very, very hard. But you can do hard things. If this really is something you want, you CAN do it.

Happy Holidays everyone! I'm going to take a little blogging break so I can put all my focus on the kids while they're out of school. For all those who celebrate, have a wonderful Christmas!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Finding Time to Write

Before I start I want to tell you about Dear Teen Me. It's a new blog where writers post letters to their teen selves. You'll recognize a lot of the writers involved (authors like Sarah Okler, Carrie Jones, and Charles Benoit along with a lot of the bloggers you know and love). My letter is up today. *bites nails*

It's really fun. Check it out.

On to my real post.

I've had a lot of friends comment over the last few months that they don't know how, with 3 kids and a baby, I find any time or energy to write.

My answer is I need to write. It is what keeps me sane. Some moms exercise. Some moms decorate. Some moms have jobs. I write.

Because I need it, I make time for it.

Here's how:

1. I write when I get a quiet hour. My three older kids are all in school at the same time for 5 hours a week. It's not a lot of time, and the baby usually requires my attention during a couple of those hours, but the leftover minutes are golden writing time. I can focus.

2. I write when the kids are occupied with other things. My kids destroy the kitchen table with markers, glue, and playdough at least once a week. It's a small price to pay for an hour of uninterupted writing time.

3. Writing is a higher priority than cleaning, unless I'm hosting book club that day or my in-laws are visiting. I still do manage to keep the house picked up most days, but I have a busy day and I have a choice between dishes or writing, I'll write.

4. I'm flexible and realize that it probably won't be possible for me to write everyday. Some days the baby is fussy. Some days I have other commitments. But I write when I can and eventually all that writing becomes a book.

The truth is EVERYONE is busy. I imagine many of you are way busier than me. There are always going to be things we could/should be doing instead of writing, but I believe that most people have time to write a book. It doesn't take much. It's about sitting in the chair, staring at that blank screen or empty sheet of paper and creating something wonderful... or at least decent.

How do you fit writing into your life?