Unfortunately, last year two of my good friends were given cancer diagnoses. They do not know each other, although they have the same name. I’ll just tell it to you because it’s the most common women’s name of my generation and therefore lends a certain anonymity: Jennifer. You probably figured that out, right? So, anyway….Their cancers were different, but both required a lot of down time — not exactly an easy task for these couple of dynamos. We, their friends, sent them books to read and shows and movies to watch, or lists of such.
Variety is key. High, low, middle. I started thinking about what I had read in 2014. A lot of children’s literature, since I’m diving into that arena with my own writing. A lot of independent novels and poetry, so the quality of the editing and writing was mixed. I also reread with my kids (Narnia, Harry Potter) and for the only book club I’ve ever really been a part of, the Classy Book Club — David Copperfield. Looking back at my ’14 list, here are my favorites in reverse chron order:
- Golden State by Michelle Richmond
- This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Pachett
- Smile by Raina Telgemeir
- Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
- Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
- The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex
- Joy Street by Laura Foley
- Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
- Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
- Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (yes, I binged!)
- Princess Posey and the New First Grader by Stephanie Greene
- Bossypants by Tina Fey
- Violet Mackerel’s Brilliant Plot by Anna Branford
- Midnight in Austenland (which I liked better than Austenland) by Shannon Hale
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio
- Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman
- The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt
- Is Everyone Hanging Out with Me? by Mindy Kaling
- Bridget Jones: Mad about the Boy by Helen Fielding
- The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
- The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
- The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
- Wild by Cheryl Strayed
February is almost over, but already, I’m sticking to that diversity rule when it comes to what I read. It’s a good one. Don’t be afraid to read something out of your comfort zone, whether you prefer literary fiction or new adult. There’s no point in being snobby about a genre if you won’t at least give it a try. You might just fall in love with your next best thing.
By the way, both Jennifers are doing really well.
There’s nothing I like more than starting a new year with some fresh publishing credits.
Yesterday was the launch of the SISTERS BORN, SISTERS FOUND anthology, edited by the esteemed Laura McHale Holland. I have two pieces in it—a poem and a brief memoir. The poem, “She Proves It,” is about one of my besties, Susan, whom I got to visit with over the holidays. We’ve been pals since 2nd grade, and still see each other at least twice a year, even though we live hundreds of miles from each other. She truly is my sister found.
Susan and Me
My other piece is a memoir. “Greyhound Station,” is about my two half-sisters, Kathy and Sarah. We have the same father, and when we were kids, they would have to take the bus every other weekend to come see us. I have such fond memories of those times.
There are loads of other great stories and poems in the anthology by writers like Nellie Wong, Gwynn O’Gara, Daisy Hickman, and John Boe, who was actually one of my instructors at UC Davis. I hope you’ll check out the book. It’s available as an ebook and paperback. Click here to find out more.
Happy New Year! I wish you all a wonderful start to your 2015. Heck, let the whole year be amazing. Shouldn’t it be?
I am recovering from strep throat, which is why I’m late in celebrating my NaNoWriMo win. Hurray! I actually finished on November 28, hitting 50,003 words in a strep fever. So you know those words are brilliant, right? Right.
Anyway, gotta crow, so here’s my winner’s badge:
Well, I know fans of The Flower Bowl Spell are hoping the next book will be ready soon. I can’t promise anything. I’m going to have to take a little vacation time and see which of my many projects rises to the top of being publish-worthy.
Even though I didn’t go with bookbaby for publishing The Flower Bowl Spell, I get emails from them every so often with promotions and tips. This last one had an article, “Pinterest for Authors” by Chris Robley that I found worth a read.
I’m a member of Pinterest, having dutifully requested an invitation to join after hearing some ladies at a Superbowl party going on about a website where they could “pin up” pictures of crafts and recipes that I thought was called “Pin Twist.” Much to my chagrin, my Google searches came up with zilch, until I stumbled upon a Facebook friend’s Pinterest update on her Timeline. Ohhhhhhh…Of course I’d gone wrong by looking for real words. Anyway, I received my begged-for invite, and started pinning and repinning and following…Mostly, I pinned pretty things and stuff having to do with my children. But I didn’t have any idea how to use these online pin boards for my writing.
Not so anymore! The bookbaby blog post makes a number of helpful suggestions like pinning images of actors who could play your characters, or photos of where you write, or the notes you take. You can also promote authors you admire (instead of always promoting your own writing) or pin places you’d like to visit while on book tour (a reading in the Virgin Islands, anyone?). I chose to go with the suggestion of pinning the settings from my novel. You can check it out here on my brand new The Flower Bowl Spell Pinterest board.
And don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest! I promise to follow back.
Pete Denton is a blogger and writer from Sheffield, England, and we’ve been following each others posts for a few months now. He’s made huge strides with his writing, which he chronicles on his blog, and has garnered all kinds of blogging awards. He’s also been very encouraging when it comes to my own posts about my writing/publishing journey, which culminated today in a lovely review of The Flower Bowl Spell. Here’s an excerpt:
I cannot emphasise enough how much I got sucked into the world of Memphis Zhang. I was totally immersed in her story and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. With all the reviews I have written so far, I find it difficult to comment too much on the story or characters as I don’t want to give anything away.
What I will say is that I BELIEVED the main protagonist. I felt she came alive on the page (of my Kindle) and I cared about what happened to her throughout the story. One of the character names in particular was a stroke of GENIUS and everyone we met on the journey was well drawn…
I enjoyed the story line and the humour that’s injected into the narrative is spot on. I even broke my “not reading my Kindle on the bus” rule (I know it’s a stupid rule) as I HAD to keep reading this book. I’ve said before I judge a good book on whether the story keeps popping into my mind, well days after finishing The Flower Bowl Spell, little snippets keep doing just that.
Olivia Boler is an author I *met* blogging. I read her posts on self-publishing her story and watched with interest as the cover design was unveiled and the publication drew ever closer. This is a journey that so many people are on and it is a journey I hope to make myself one day. This makes reading a book like this more important to me. It also inspires me to make sure I write reviews and help spread the word.
This was a top professional job. Great cover, well-edited and no errors to speak about. This book gives self-publishing a HUGE pat on the back. If every self-published book was to this standard then maybe the stigma attached to going it on your own would end right here and now.
Thank you so much, Pete, for your thoughtful review. I can’t emphasize enough how touched I was by it!
To read the whole review and to learn more about Pete, click here.
Thank you to all who downloaded a copy of The Flower Bowl Spell from Smashwords last week during Read an E-book Week. I really hope you enjoy reading the book, that it keeps you up at night thinking, Well, just one more chapter…
Since then, things have been quiet. I probably shouldn’t share this because it’s kind of negative, but I haven’t had one sale on Amazon this month! And I have no idea how things are going over at iBooks, B&N, etc. I do know the book is finally up at Kobobooks, so if you have a Kobo Reader, go for it! And to buy one, click here.
In the meantime, I am nearly done getting the book ready for the paperback version. So, so close. I hope to have it done before heading out with the family for Spring Break, but there’s also a giant freelance project looming over my head…and a little one…Ah, life!