I’ll be honest, I’m about to write my yearly creative wrap-up, and I’m not sure how it’s going to come out. There’s a part of me that feels like I was super busy all year, and there’s a part of me that feels like I didn’t accomplish much. Let’s dig in and remember, shall we?
As a writer, I didn’t publish anything new this year. This is the first time I haven’t released a new book or at least a story in an anthology since the publication of Cry of the Sea, my first book as D. G. Driver, in 2014.
I finally gave up querying agents for both my middle grade fantasy novel Dragon Surf and my women’s fiction novel Attitude of Grace. A quick Facebook interaction with one of the women who runs Fire and Ice YA Books (publisher of my other Young Adult novels) where she asked me “When are you going to write another book for us?” made me re-evaluate Dragon Surf. After a conversation with my co-author Jeni Bautista Richard, I spent all of January revising the novel so that our main character Eric would be 15 instead of 12. I submitted it to F&I, and they accepted it! Dragon Surf, now a younger YA (similar to my novel Lost on the Water) is scheduled to be published in spring of 2023.
I submitted my women’s fiction novel directly to small press publisher Satin Romance Books, and it also was accepted! Woo-hoo! It will be released in summer 2023 under its new title Anything but Graceful.
I’m very proud of Dragon Surf. It’s a fun story that has taken a long journey of rewrites over the years. However, I am planning on this being my last YA or children’s book. Unless something changes wildly for me this coming year, I don’t intend to write anymore books for younger readers. That said, I have great hopes for my first full-length women’s fiction/Gen-X/second chance romance novel Anything but Graceful. I’m hoping that it will finally be the book and genre that finds a steady audience, and I have several ideas for other books in this genre.
As far as new writing goes, I did step back into the novel I abandoned in 2021, and then I abandoned it again. It may never be completed. I got a new, fresher idea that I feel is more complimentary to Anything but Graceful. For the moment, I’m calling it The Cabin Plan, and I 'm about half-way through the first draft and hope to finish it early in 2023.
The other writing project I did this year was to adapt my audiobook musical Songwriter Night into a script for a staged production. The story is the same, but I’ve added three new songs. Caleb Dinger, who composed the music for the audiobook, is now a member of the U.S. NAVY band. We thank him for his service and wish him well. Due to that, I've asked another friend of mine to assist me with finishing up the music for the new numbers. I’ve got a meeting set up in January to pitch the musical to a local theatre here in Nashville. Cross your fingers that it goes well! It would be so exciting to see it performed!
Speaking of theatre. I didn’t manage to get on stage at all this year (except singing two songs in a fundraiser cabaret). However, I did direct two wonderful shows at The Larry Keeton Theatre here in Nashville. In the spring, I directed the silly musical Once Upon a Mattress, and in October I directed the classic Noel Coward comedy Blithe Spirit. Both shows were a delight, and I had so much fun! My husband builds all the sets for this theatre and created brilliant sets for my shows. I also had the added delight of featuring my daughter in a prominent role in Mattress. She was so lovely, and I was very proud of her.
I’m not sure what 2023 will bring theatrically. I’ve chosen to take the first part of the year off to deal with writing career stuff and my daughter’s final semester of college. I’m hoping the second half of the year is full of theater.
My other big creative pursuit all year was joining TikTok, or more accurately, Booktok. I started making posts at the end of January and have tried to post at least one video a day. It took nearly the whole year, but I’m now close to 600 followers. I also had my first video go viral last week. It’s at 23K right now! I know that I’ve sold a couple books through doing this, mostly my fairy tale novellas that are on Kindle Unlimited, but not enough to say it’s the foolproof way to sell books. When I get over 1000 followers, I can finally add a link to my webpage, and I hope that’ll make a difference. So, go follow me!
Now it’s time to write about all the wonderful books I read or listened to this year! According to my Goodreads Challenge, I got through 49 books, which is a record for me and 9 over my goal. Yay me! It is once again an eclectic mix of all kinds of genres, but I definitely read a lot more romance and women’s fiction this year than I have in the past. If you want to see all the books I read, go to this link. Otherwise, here comes my list of faves.
Most Surprising: Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. Okay, I shouldn’t be surprised that a Libba Bray book is good, but this is such a wild departure from the gothic fantasies I love so much. It’s an absurd, hilarious story that packs a whole lot of punch about a group of beauty queen contestants that crash land on a deserted island. I can’t express how ridiculous this book is, and yet I laughed out loud more than I ever have from a book before. I listened to the audiobook book, and it is narrated by Libba herself. She does a brilliant job. As an extra bonus, there was an interview with her at the end. Complete fun!
Runner up: Fantasticland by Mike Bockoven. I picked this up because it was free on Audible. This creepy horror story about amusement park employees stranded for nearly two months after a hurricane sounded like it might be too outlandish to hold up, but it wound up being riveting until the bitter end. It’s told through a series of interviews, with two actors narrating the audiobook and doing different voices for each character. Very clever writing that made me think a lot about the nature of people under pressure.
Best Self-Published or Small Press Book: This is a tough one. As promised, I read more indie books this year. I think I’m going with Fae’s Ascent by Nicole Kilpatrick published by Fire and Ice YA Books. I was really looking forward to this follow up to her clever YA leprechaun fantasy Clover, and it didn’t disappoint. It was full of action and had a lot going on with it. I highly recommend this series if you like romantic fantasy books with FAE (but maybe don’t want all the smut). Also, isn't this cover art GORGEOUS?
Runner up: Her Best Friend’s Lie by Laura Wolfe published by Bookouture. I’m a big fan of Laura Wolfe’s thrillers. This one was especially spooky, about a group of women who were friends in high school going on a retreat together at a secluded cabin. And then people start dying! It was scary, and it kept me guessing until the end. If you haven’t read her books, put them on your radar.
Best Audiobook: Playing with Myself by Randy Rainbow. I know, it’s not fiction. This is an autobiography by the famous YouTube star, obviously read by him. It made me laugh, but it also made me cry multiple times while driving around in my car. It is wildly funny, irreverent, and very moving.
If you want me to pick a novel, well, I’ll choose Hail Mary by Andy Weir. I'm not a big scifi fan. I don’t think I would have liked this book as much if I’d read it. Listening to the amazing narration of this audiobook made it work for me. I loved Rocky so much. IYKYK.
Best Big Publisher Book: The Recruit by Alan Drew. This is a sequel to his mystery novel Shadow Man set Orange County, CA in the 1980s. This one was about the rise of neo-nazis in Southern California and a series of murders and terrorist activities caused by them. Do not read this book if you are squeamish about these issues because it is very disturbing at times when the author gets into the head of the villain. It was well done and incredibly thought-provoking. I’m proud to say that I knew this author as a teenager when we both grew up in that area.
Runner up: Fairy Tale by Stephen King. You know I can’t do one of these lists without mentioning my favorite author. Loved his new book. It’s more fantasy than horror, takes a moment to get to it, and is really a young adult novel. That said, I enjoyed every word.
Best book I read in 2022! City of Flickering Light by Juliette Fay. Didn’t I say last year that this spot always winds up being historical fiction? I read a slew of books set in the 1920s and '30s last year, and this one was so compelling. It was about three friends trying to make it in silent films in Hollywood in the 1930s. Everything about it was fascinating, and I adored the characters. I found out that Fay’s novel The Tumbling Turner Sisters actually takes place before this story (about vaudeville) and promptly read it next. It was also great, but not as great. I highly recommend both books though – and maybe read them in order.
Well, that’s it for my year. How was yours? What books did you devour this year? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.
Oh, and if you’re looking for something good to read, try one of the ones that I’ve suggested or bop around my website and see if I’ve written anything that would appeal to you.
And sign up for my newsletter. I'm going to try to actually start sending them out next year.
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.