As 2013 comes rolling in, here's a quick look back at my favorite books of 2012.
These 10 are my absolute favorites of all the books I read in the past year
(and I wrote the reviews for many of them if/when they were selected as an
Amazon Best Book of the Month).
Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking,
by Susan Cain (nonfiction; January)
Power to the introverts! This is the first book I've ever read that made me
proud to be an introvert. But it never bashes extroverts; instead, it explains
how each type of person is particularly well-suited to different things. With
parenting, relationship, and educational tips, as well as real-life stories
and accessible neurological research, this is a must-read for anyone who is
or knows an introvert (in other words, it's required reading for humanity).
One of the best pieces of writing advice I've received didn't come from a
writer. It was probably from a teacher, considering that she was talking to a
group of students about taking our first trip to Europe. She told us to always
It made sense as she explained it: most Americans are so focused on seeing
specific things (the Mona Lisa, Notre Dame, etc.) that they forget to look up.
They keep their noses in their guidebooks and their feet focused on the fastest
route to their next destination. And by doing so, they don't noticed the
amazing ceilings in the Louvre, or the precision with which Gothic arches fit
together to become a cathedral's bones. And yet these things defined the places
I was going to see even more than did the objects that drew the crowds.
Whenever I talk to people about e-publishing, the first thing I say is, “It's
easy!” And it is, in a way. I can't think of many ways to make the actual act
of e-publishing easier: all you have to do is fill out a webform or two. The
hardest part is troubleshooting file upload issues.
But that's not actually what we talk about when we talk about e-publishing, as
I was reminded recently by two excellent blogs; Iain Broome's
Write for Your Life
and Chuck Wendig's post, "The Precarious Portentious Perils of Self-Publishing."
They're both absolutely right: e-publishing isn't “easy,” and just like
traditional publishing, it must be done right in order to succeed. I even
say it myself, over and over in my tweets and my e-publishing e-book: being a
successful e-publisher necessitating making a lifestyle change for me. Easy?
It always fascinates me to hear about other writers’ processes, with all their
variations. I love hearing how they come up with characters, and how they
interact with them–or don’t–both on the page and in their imaginations.
I've always been one of those writers whose characters talk to her. This is
mostly true for the characters in my epic Fantasy series, who I've known since
1998 and who continue to surprise me. Like Jiminey Crickets for writers, they
seem to talk to me most when I haven't written in a long time. Once, in college,
I dreamed that they were plotting how to kill me. I don't remember what scene
or change I'd been considering at the time, but I do remember that it had been
a while since I'd written my novel–I'd let papers and other college assignments
take over my time. I went back to writing very quickly.
Time investment: 25 minutes
Rating: 4.5 stars
Merz promised to be quick, and he was. This is a fascinating look at how one
author makes sales, delving into his actual routine for using Twitter, Facebook,
and blogs. The fact that he’s a “normal” author looking at stats for
bit.ly links and using them to determine where the most sales
come from and when to publish his next books is very exciting; this is proven
information he’s bringing out, not just guesses and suppositions. It also proves
his point that self-publishers can be far more elastic with their titles than
print publishers could ever be—it’s easy to change a cover or title when you're
self-publishing, after all.