The Year in Books and Writing and STUFFS

READING, WRITING, INSPIRATION, LIFE:

Reading

I read some seriously amazing books this past year, and because I joined a local book club filled with smart women who read smart books, I expanded outside of YA more than I have in a while. GO ME!

FAV READS OF 2015 (you should read these books):

Speculative YA:

  • Bone Gap – by Laura Ruby (lives up to the hype)
  • The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater (awesome for people who love great writing)
  • This Is Not A Test by Courtney Summers (great if you don’t think you like zombie novels, but want to say you’ve read one)
  • Starry Nights by Daisy Whitney (this would be a great one for fans of contemporary fiction)
  • Shutter by Courtney Alameda (GAH! loved this)
  • Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle) – I’m obsessed w/ this series. I’ll re-read it several times, I’m sure.

 

YA Contemporary:

  • Magnolia  by Kristi Cook – This is a great low-pressure, fab kissing, fun, YA romance.
  • The Avery Shaw Experiment by Kelly Oram – ditto to above w/ a few more laughs
  • Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller – This is why I read YA Contemp
  • All The Rage by Courtney Summers- Because COURTNEY SUMMERS ’nuff said. This book SLAYED me more than anything else she’s written, and I loved every second of the slaying.
  • Fall for Anything by Courtney Summers- This is one I’ve had on my shelf for a long time and haven’t read for fear that I’d run out of new Summers books to read. I have run out of new Summers books to read.
  • I’ll Give You The Sun by Jandy Nelson – Just like The Sky is Everywhere, there was ONE thing that bugged me, but it was still great.
  • Perfectly Good White Boy by Carrie Mesrobian. Because I love love love smart, character driven novels.
  • Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone. LOOOOOVED.

 

NON-Fiction:

  • My Story by Elizabeth Smart – um…not totally sure how I felt about this one, but her story was fascinating.
  • The Professor and the Madman – I went from being bored to enthralled to bored to enthralled…

 

Middle Grade I went nuts over:

  • The Boy on Cinnamon Street – might be one of my fav-ever contemps. So sweet, raw, and made me cry.
  • Shug by Jenny Han – For the unexpected love interest and adorable-ness, and great opening scene.

 

Books for grown-ups (I’m not even sure how I felt about these, aside from The Joy Luck Club, which I love)

  • All the Light We Cannot See – holy double-edged sword, batman!
  • The Paris Architect – some things I loved, some things I didn’t. The happy ending was totally unbelievable, but I really needed it after the rest of the book
  • The Joy Luck Club (This was a re-read for me, and I only do that with books I really love)

 

WRITING:

So, I wrote and sold a book called A FOREVER THING, about a girl who works in a funeral home, loses her best friend to a disagreement over a crappy boyfriend, and falls in love for the first time. I call this book my ADDAMS FAMILY meets a JOHN HUGHES movie.

Got edits from Simon Pulse for LOVE BLIND and the first ARCs went out into the world! That novel, written w/ Christa Desir, comes out in May. We changed the ending drastically, which threw us off for a bit because we felt like – WHAT IS THIS EVEN ABOUT NOW? But by the end of edits w/ the fabulous Liesa Abrams, we fell in love with the new story.

Started and stopped about 8 projects. I’m okay with this. I’ve started to draft slower, so I like to have a few things going. This way, when I get to a point in one where I have a big decision to make before I continue on, I can jump into another project while I figure the first one out. WIN.

Inspiration:

I’m finding more and more that inspiration for me is coming from pushing myself to WRITE BETTER. To keep learning about plotting and pacing and ups and downs… Studying books I love and books I don’t love so much. I feel like I’ve written the books that would have saved me and maybe a few friends in high school, and now I just want to write books I know I’d have loved as a teen. This means I’m shifting to add hints and touches of speculative fiction to the contemporary settings I love so much.

I’ve thought on and off about writing middle grade, and after starting a few projects, I think I’ve fallen in love with the characters enough to see them through to the end. YAY!!

And knock Pinterest all you want, but I love it. I’ve had more story ideas and plot twists come to me from scrolling Pinterest than anything else this year.

LIFE:

 

I’m convinced that I know the best people. Every year I find more incredible people to add to my “close friends list” and that makes me endlessly happy. And I don’t even have words for my close peoples who are still my close peoples.

Thanks for sticking with me this year!!! I hope to be mixing some things up within a couple years, and I’m excited to see where my new writing paths lead me!

Big events? Amazing books? Writing love? Share anything you want.

~ Jo

 

P.S. So long ago that I’m embarrassed to mention it… I offered a massive giveaway to anyone who signed up for a newsletter. Since I don’t blog here much, this blog is going to end up being my newsletter. YES, I still think I’m going to give things away every month. So, I went back to my subscribers list, and random.org picked #25, which happened to be CINDY BALDWIN!!! (I’m going to drop you a note so I can get your mailing addy, and then I’ll be sending off a WHOLE TON of books your way!!)

5 thoughts on “The Year in Books and Writing and STUFFS

  1. I miss being in a book club. A friend invited me to hers, and sometimes they read YA–which is a plus, but the nights never work cause my husband is at work. The second kid is getting older now though, which helps, but if it’s a night with activities and homework and all that, then I have to be doing that instead of hanging with fun ladies talking books. *sigh*

    I have a story I’m trying to finish. An adult contemporary. I’m so close, but still feel far away from the end. That might be my January goal–to finish that.

    Happy 2016!

  2. I’ve yet to read This IS Not A Test but it’s still on my TBR. I feel like I’m the lone wolf who did not consider I’ll Give You the Sun pure genius and Nelson’s writing sheer perfection. I didn’t like it. At all. Unpopular opinion, I know, but proof that every book is not for every person, I guess. I really enjoyed Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. So, so good. And yet I loved Something Like Normal even more. Travis’s story just broke/warmed my heart. Have you read that one? Loved seeing the books that made an impact on you last year!

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