So, here I am, like every other author, doing my annual year-end round-up of my writing-related experiences and favorite reads. I hope you've had a lovely year. Mine had some stressful moments personally, but overall was a better year for my family than 2017. I'm grateful for that. I stayed away from doing any theater the first half of the year and focused solely on writing. Due to this, I was able to be involved in a couple anthology projects and got more work published.
Normally, I'm a person that works on one project at a time. This year was the opposite for me. My main writing project was interrupted multiple times for other more pressing deadlines and ideas.
It started right before New Year's Eve last year when Fellowship of Fantasy (a group of indie fantasy writers on Facebook that I'm part of) announced that they were putting together an anthology of stories with the theme of magical doorways. I knew I had an old story like that. So, I stopped writing my novel and spent a few days cleaning and pruning that old story. It got accepted into Mythical Doorways which came out early in 2018.
Cleaning up "The Hallway of Three Doors" reminded me that I had several of these old original fairy tales, and I decided I would clean them all up and release them as a series of novelettes. I got right to work on the first one The Royal Deal and released it at the end of January. My plan had been to get these out quickly, but the revisions took a lot longer than expected, and the next one, The Tomato Quest, didn't come out until summer. Also, one of my old stories, which was a retelling of an old Grimm Brothers fairy tale got chosen for the Fellowship of Fantasy anthology Tales of Ever After.
I started back on writing my novel and then, of course, was interrupted with rewrites to my editor's notes and proofreading of my newest YA novel release, Lost on the Water - A Ghost Story, which was published by Fire and Ice YA Books in July, 2018. Along with that, I had my novel No One Needed to Know narrated as an audiobook by Allie James and had to proof that. I also got the digital rights to that novel returned from the publisher and released the book as an ebook. Lots of stuff going on.
Oh, and hey! Two books of mine won awards this year. The anthology Winter Wonder, which features two of my short stories, won 1st place in the 2018 Purple Dragonfly Children's Book Awards for Best Anthology. My novel Lost on the Water - A Ghost Story won 2nd place in the 2018 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for Best Young Adult Fiction. So that's fun.
I finally got back to work on my novel... and then I was asked to direct a play.
The second half of my year was full with theater. I directed Steel Magnolias for The Larry Keeton Theatre in Nashville, which ran in August. I wrote a blog post about that experience. Then my husband, step-daughter, and I were all cast in A Christmas Carol, the Musical. They were fun experiences, and totally worth interrupting my writing schedule. I tried to sneak in writing on my novel between rehearsals, but it was slow-going. I also experienced some serious writer's block on that novel (definitely due to the stopping and starting). It's the first time this has really happened to me, and I'll blog about that sometime soon.
I had a few fun in-person experiences as an author this year. I did some school appearances and special events in April (Autism Awareness Month) to talk about my novel No One Needed to Know. My favorite (and most successful) events of the year were the Rocket City Author Event in Huntsville, AL, the Taste of Wilson County in Lebanon, TN, and doing a signing for Lost on the Water at Button Willow Coffee House and General Store. This event was extra fun because it was in the small town where some of the novel takes place. We sold a lot of books there, and I had to return another day to replenish their supply. Another fun day was when my daughter, husband, and I went to Center Hill Lake (where the story is set) to hike around and take lots of publicity pictures for the novel. I hope to go back next summer, too.
I can't say for certain what in store for 2019 yet. I DID finally finish writing my novel. It's called All the Love You Write and is a full-length YA romance that expands upon my previously published novella Passing Notes. I sent it to Fire and Ice YA Books yesterday morning, so I'm waiting now to see if they like it, want to publish it, and when. In November, I signed a contract for my very first picture book. It's called Matching Costumes. I don't have a release date yet, but I expect it will be in 2020.
My next project is to work on the next of my original fairy tales. It's titled A Voice of Desire. It's a bit darker than the other two, and I hope to release it in February. Here's a little sneak peek at what I'm planning for the cover (this may change).
At the moment, I've agreed to direct a play in May. I hope to do something theatrical in the fall, too. My daughter is graduating from high school this year, so I'm trying to keep my calendar clear for all her senior year events.
As for my reading? According to Goodreads, I read 42 books this year (although it says I read one more than once.) I think there are a few books I didn't include in my challenge, too. I continue to mostly read YA and MG books, and half of the books I 'read' this year were audiobooks. Typically, I 'eyes-on' read more indie books and authors I've met (whether in person or online) and listen to the books from the big publishers.
My Favorite Books of 2018
My Favorite Book of the Year was Caraval by Stephanie Garber. Which also makes my favorite series of the year being this and the sequel Legendary. Caraval had an amazing, magical setting with a complex plotline that kept me riveted the whole time. Gorgeous!
Best Book from a Big Publisher (not including Caraval) was Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas. I listened to 3 of the 4 books of this series and then needed a break. I haven't gotten back to the final book yet. The second book in this series is BY FAR the best. It's so romantic and full of action. It's sexy, though, so I don't recommend it for YA readers (even though it's sold on YA shelves.)
Runners up were Stalking the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco and What Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock
Best Book from a Small Publisher was Before I Found You by Daisy White. This is the second book of this 1960s New Adult mystery series, and there is a third one out now waiting on my Kindle. I'm drawn to the atmosphere and setting of these books as well as the characters, and the mysteries are solid. White has become one of my favorite writers, She writes quickly, though, so I can't keep up with her. I have 3 of her books on my TBR list for 2019.
My runner-ups in this category were The Gemini Connection, a cool YA scifi by Teri Polen, and Barn Shadows, a YA ghost story by Laura Wolfe.
Best Self-Published Book. I actually didn't read very many of these this year. Sorry, my indie friends. I'll do better. I bought a lot of them, if that counts. I'm actually going to vote for Tales of Ever After, published by Fellowship of Fantasy. (This is a cooperative author group, not a publisher, so it fits in this category). I know I have a story in this book, but I didn't read the other ones until the book came out. It is my favorite of the FoF anthologies so far, and I truly enjoyed every story. I recently wrote a blog post about it if you want to scroll down a little and read more of my thoughts about this little (did I mention free?) gem.
Best Local Author Book was Freefall Summer by Nashville author Tracy Barrett. I'm a big fan of Tracy Barrett's work, and I enjoyed her first YA contemporary novel. It was a fun, spirited, coming of age novel with a unique activity as the backdrop.
Best Audiobook was definitely End of Watch by Stephen King. It was read by Will Patton (who also narrates The Raven Boys). He is an amazing actor, and his gravelly voice was perfect for this terrifying mystery/horror series. I actually started watching the TV show of Mr. Mercedes and couldn't get into it because Hodges didn't sound like the Hodges I knew. I just loved these audiobooks. Creepy as hell, though. Be warned.
Runner up is What Happened to My Sister by Elizabeth Flock and narrated by Cassandra Campbell. I don't know how she did it, but Campbell managed to change her voice from an 8-year-old dirt-poor girl from the hills to a suburban Southern housewife and made me believe every second of it.
Favorite Grown-Up Book. (This includes nonfiction as well as fiction.) Life is Like a Musical by Tim Federle. I bought this book as a gift for my daughter, a musical theater actress and fanatic. I'm a fan of Federle's fiction, and he's a doll on Twitter. I knew I was going to love this book of uplifting advice and autobiographical stories from his Broadway life. Yes, it's targeted toward theater nerds like me, but I think there's something in it for everyone. It has a positive, optimistic tone that is so refreshing right now. I can't recommend it enough.
I would love to hear from you. What are some favorite books you've read this year? Can you recommend any? Please leave a comment. (And feel free to roam around my website to find all the excerpts from my books.)
I'm popping out a quick blog post mostly because I haven't done one in a month, and also because it's my birthday. Someone said to me the other day, "Welcome to the Golden Years." Oh my. Did you hear that, Pony Boy? I'm finally golden. I feel like I should have awakened this morning with some King Midas skills, but, alas, nothing I've touched so far has turned golden. (I've got some revising to do in a minute, so maybe it'll be a figurative talent.)
I'm 50 today. I'm not shy about that. I'm not one of those people who's all, "It's not polite to ask a lady's age." Nope. I'm fine with it.
I'm mostly fine with it.
Okay, I'm a little wobbly about it deep inside.
I'm a person who only wears makeup if I have to, so I'm not trying to hide my wrinkles. Yet, in a moment of vanity weakness the other day, I was convinced by a savvy saleswoman to buy some skin products to reduce those wrinkles. I am a woman sighs at images of the thin and wrinkle free person I was twenty-five years ago, but I'm also a woman who's pretty okay with looking the way I do now. I'm embracing it, and I'm grateful to have many friends my age or older who are excellent role models of how to be awesome in the second half of life.
My blog is mostly about revision. Yes, revision with regard to writing, but why not about everything. Sometimes we need to take a good look at our lives and see what could use a fix. Adjust this. Move that. Scratch that thing that doesn't work and replace it with something else. This is where I am in my spirit. I'm proud of my accomplishments, but I'm also ready to do more things, new things. I'm feeling like I need to be braver and challenge myself harder than I have before. Why not? I'm seriously considering writing a novel for adults next year to try a new path. I want to do more directing, because directing Steel Magnolias last summer was one the best experiences I've ever had. I want to take a real vacation next year, and I'm going to figure out a way to make it happen.
I'm hoping to find more readers for my books - somehow.
What I won't do is allow the number to rule me. To think that somehow my best days are behind me. I refuse to allow the concept of aging to bring me down. Tonight I'm spending my birthday singing and dancing in a musical of A Christmas Carol. I thought that would upset me when I got cast - doing a show on my birthday (again). Now, however, I'm really glad it's happening. It verifies everything for me, the idea that I can still do something cool and fun, something I've done and has given me great joy my whole life, and that moments like these aren't coming to an end. There are many more ahead.
Thanks for reading. Feel free to leave a comment. It would be super awesome if you'd take moment to travel around my website. I've got lots of info and excerpts for all of my books. They'd make a great gift for someone on your gift list. It would also be an awfully nice birthday gift for me to see them being purchased. All the best to you, and have a lovely holiday season.
(BTW, If you are looking for something Christmassy, I do have two fun Christmas stories based on characters from my Juniper Sawfeather Trilogy and my book No One Needed to Know in the anthology Winter Wonder. The ebook is free!)
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.