Happy New Year, everyone. Today I write my annual reflection post and list my favorite reads of the year. I hope you all had a good 2019 and are looking forward to this coming year.
I kept my calendar pretty clear the first half the year. It was my daughter’s senior year of high school, and she was very active with band and theater. I wanted to keep myself available for as much of it as possible.
I used the time to revise and polish the two books that I published last year. In the spring, I released The Silent Beauty, the third of my original fairy tale novella series Chasing the Romantics. It’s darker than the other two, and I think it’s my favorite. I still have two more fairy tales that I’d like to add to the series, but we’ll see what my time is like this coming year.
In the summer, Fire and Ice YA Books, released my novel All the Love You Write. It is my longest novel to date, a sweet romance with some paranormal activity.
Beginning in May, I got back involved with theater. I directed the classic play Our Town, which was a fun experience. As an additional challenge, one of my actresses broke her leg during the run, so I had to understudy her for the final weekend and get some stage time alongside my daughter who was playing Emily.
During the summer, I had the opportunity to have a large role in an original musical about mental illness called Greener Pastures. It was a very dramatic part where I got to pull out all my acting chops and sing a big ol’ song at the end. It was at a theater where I haven’t worked before, and it was great meeting some new people.
In December, my husband and I played Ralphie’s parents in A Christmas Story the Musical. This was an absolute blast, and I missed it the second it was over.
I had several fun opportunities to speak about my writing this year. One of the coolest ones was recording a podcast about my children's novel No One Needed to Know for Tennessee Library for Accessible Books and Media. It's a 30 minute presentation and basically covers what I say in my school appearances. Pop over to my about me page to find the link to the recording and learn more about my school visits.
One of my school visits this year was canceled for a snow day, but they did buy copies of Lost on the Water - A Ghost Story for all the kids in their book club. That was sweet of them. I thought another of my school visits would be cancelled for snow in November, but even though school opened late, they still had me come. I had the best time at Gladeville Middle School talking about No One Needed to Know and my other YA novels. Truly one of my favorite days of the year.
What does 2020 have in store?
As a writer, I’m not sure. I am about 35,000 words into a new novel that is my first full-length venture away from children's/teen literature. In the briefest of summaries, it’s about an aging dancer trying to figure out her purpose and worth. I hope to finish it by this spring. I have a couple other ideas bopping around, too, for future books.
The only thing that is ‘sure’ is that my very first picture book, Matching Costumes, will be published later this year. I’m soooooo excited about it and can’t wait to see how it turns out. (Sorry, I don't have any images to share yet.)
With regard to theater, I am starting off the year directing Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. It has been cast, and we have an amazing team involved. Rehearsals start tomorrow night, and I’m eager to get going. There are some shows I’ve got my fingers crossed about later in the year, but we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Now…. for my book round-up. I read 41½ books in 2019. There was one book that I read 75% of before finally giving up on it. Click to see all the books of my Goodreads challenge.
Normally, I read a lot of YA and MG books. This year I read a lot more women’s fiction. I feel it’s important to read in the genre you’re writing, so I picked some books that were similar in style and theme to the new book I’m working on. To that end, I found myself less patient with high fantasy books than I have been in the past. I definitely have preferred contemporary or realistic fiction this year. It might be an age thing, too. I’m not sure.
As usual, over half the books I’ve ‘read’ this year were audiobooks, and they tend to be by the bigger, well-known authors. The ones I tend to read in print or on my kindle are usually by authors I’ve ‘met’ in some way, either from an author’s group online or a local author.
So here we go:
Favorite Book of the Year
Refugee by Alan Gratz. This middle grade novel follows the stories of three different children refugees from three different eras. It is brilliantly paced with characters that I couldn’t help but love. I worried and rooted for each of them as they went through their heartwrenching adventures. Of all the books I read this year, this one rocked me the most emotionally. I highly recommend it for kids and grown-ups to increase your knowledge of world history and empathy.
Favorite Book from a Big Publisher
The Good Goodbye by Carla Buckley, published by Balantine Books. This novel is about two cousins who move into a dorm at college where there is a terrible fire. The story goes back and forth between the mother and daughter’s POV, and it also goes back and forth from present to back story. This book kicked me right in the guts emotionally and had lots of little surprises throughout. It was a rare book that made me gasp out loud at one point and cry at another. I suppose the timing of me being a mom about to send her child off to college didn’t help, but I thought this book was brilliant. It’s considered adult, but I think it’s a good crossover for adult and YA/NA readers.
Favorite Book from a Small Publisher
Owl Eyes by Molly Lazer, published by Fire and Ice YA Books. This is a unique spin on the Cinderella story. I do sometimes get bored with Cinderella retellings, but I liked how this one took off and became its own unique, romantic story. I do hope there will be a sequel. This is a good, clean YA novel for 12 and older.
Favorite Self-Published Book
This one came in right at the last moment, as the last book I read in 2019. A Time For Everything by Mysti Parker is billed as a romance novel. While it is romantic, I would definitely classify it more as historical fiction. It is set post Civil War, and it has some amazing themes to it that are much deeper than “I wonder if it’ll work out for the two of them.” I highly recommend it!
Well, I only read one whole series this year, and it was good but not what I would consider a favorite. I read a couple final books of series this year, though, so I’ll count Finale by Stephanie Garber as the amazing, magical ending to the gorgeous Caraval trilogy.
I would love to hear from you. Do you have any plans for the new year? Did you read any books in 2019 that you recommend? Feel free to comment.
And hey, take some time to scroll through my website and see if you want to add one of my books to your 2020 TBR list.
D. G. Driver
Author D. G. Driver's
Write and Rewrite Blog
“There are no bad stories, just ones that haven’t found their right words yet.”
A blog mostly about the process of revision with occasional guest posts, book reviews, and posts related to my books.