Dear 2012, You’re Not So Shabby: My Year in Review

As fun as it is to write these year in review posts, it’s even more fun to read the one from the year before. I can’t believe that it was only last year, in 2011, that I got my very first publishing credit (a short story in a local magazine)! Wow, did 2012 certainly bring some changes!

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Honestly, when I first started writing this post, I didn’t think I had done much worth celebrating over. (Besides the book I finished, which is plenty!) For the past few months I’ve been consumed with stress and some personal tragedies that has kind of set a dark cloud over my memories. Because the year is ending a little darkly, it cast a shadow on the rest of the year. I’m glad I kept up with this blog, though, so I could backtrack and remind myself that good stuff did actually happen. Really good stuff:

In the past twelve months I bought my own condo, got a blog-to-book deal, researched and wrote said book and submitted it to the publisher, won a blue-ribbon at the Grange Fair for a pie (a pie I baked!!), wrote a guest post for Ploughshares about the Philadelphia literary scene, had a story published in an anthology, launched the So, You Want to Work in Publishing guest blog series, met Kristi Yamaguchi, S. E. Hinton, and J. K. Rowling, went to BookExpo America for the first time, did some traveling (Lake Norman, North Carolina; Sandy Hook, Atlantic City, Wildwood, and Cape May, NJ; historic New Castle, Delaware), read 63 books (and counting), started two new WIP novels, and found a few able, willing, and awesome critique partners to swap chapters with. I can’t wait to start attacking those fiction manuscripts, with the guidance of my critique partners, and whipping those stories into shape. It looks like 2013 is going to be a lot of work, and I can’t wait to dive in.

Not only that, but the blog following has swelled to 283 of you lovely regular readers (there were 32 of you at this time last year, so here’s to new friends!). You’ve stuck with me even though I burrowed for months upon months–and through your own blogs gave me some great posts to enjoy and procrastinate my own writing with–so cheers to you! If you feel like joining in celebrating with me, feel free to share your own accomplishments in the comments below. I know a lot of you are working on books, queries, agent submissions…how is that going for you? I love to share in your excitement, so update me!

Here’s wishing that 2013 is even better than the last, for all of us.

Readable Christmas Presents: The Best Books of 2012

Can’t believe it’s that time of year again already–especially because the Springtime weather is clashing with the all-Christmas all-the-time radio stations. It feels like just a few months ago I was compiling the holiday shopping list for the best books of 2011.

For those of you on Goodreads, how is your yearly reading challenge going? I originally committed to reading 100 books this year. Then, as I started falling behind schedule, I dropped my expectations to 75, and then finally 60. And just last week I met–and nudged a little beyond–my goal!

So, with 60+ books under my belt this year, these are the ones that should definitely appear under your Christmas tree (or on your own Christmas list to Santa!)

6. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater: Fantasy set on a tiny island somewhere near England that’s infested with bloodthirsty seahorses–magical horses that live in the ocean, not those cute things with tails you see at the aquarium–a traditional race, and a subtle, potential, budding love story. Perfect for young adults and adults alike who perhaps had a childhood obsession with everything horse-related and always asked for a pony under the tree.

5. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater: Noticing a theme? I have completely fallen in love with this author this year! I am trying to read everything she’s ever written (though Shiver, a werewolf love story trilogy she wrote is a little too sickeningly sweet for my tastes, and I’m not sure I’ll make it through the series). Anywho, this is the first in a series, set in the sticks of Virginia and combines legends of a Welsh king, a treasure hunt, ghosts, a brood of psychics, and just…awesomeness. Seriously. Everyone in the world should read this book. Words can’t even describe.

4. Stork (3 book series) by Wendy Delsol. I got the third and final book in the series as an ARC at BEA and, so as to not spoil the ending, got the first two out of the library. Set in frigid Minnesota, there’s magic, other worlds, an evil Snow Queen, Jack Frost, mermaids, lots of Nordic folktales and traditions, and even a trip to Iceland at one point. I loved these so much and blew through them (no Jack Frost pun intended). Perfect for those who love retold fairy tales and are tired of beating the dead Cinderella horse and are ready for some more obscure/less mainstream fairy tales.

3. Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.Everybody in the world who’s going to read this series has probably already read it by this Christmas, but it’s the perfect gift for those we love who live under rocks! Set in post-apocalyptic America, in the Appalachian area, it reminds me a lot of The Lottery by Shirley Jackson and the Triwizard Tournament in the Harry Potter series, minus the magic.

2. Divergent by Veronica Roth.Love. So much love for this book/series (the second one Insurgent, is really good too and won the 2012 Goodreads Best Young Adult Fantasy category). If you liked the Hunger Games, you’re going to LOVE this series. So it’s perfect for those in Hunger Games-withdraw until the next movie comes out. Post-apocalyptic America, in a shabby, war-torn Chicago, teenagers have to choose a “faction” (basically, the Harry Potter house sorting ceremony minus the sorting hat) that they believe in: Dauntless, Abnegation, Erudite, Candor, or Amity…or risk becoming one of the homeless factionless. There’s a plot to overthrow the system though, complete with bad guys and corruption.

1. Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan.Set in snowy NYC during the holiday season, complete with all the top tourist attractions everyone’s sure to be familiar with–The Strand, Wax Museum, FAO Schwartz, etc.–along with a few quirky relatives, it’ll get you in the Christmas spirit. Who wouldn’t want to find a clue in a random book at The Strand that puts a boy on a hunt to prove himself to and find a mysterious girl?

If you’re a historical fiction fan–or know someone who is–I have a whole separate list of the best historical fiction I read this year, too.

Apparently, I’ve noticed, 2012 was the Year of Series and Epic-ness! Hope you all enjoy! Any other books you’d recommend adding to the list?

So, You’re Going to the NYU Summer Publishing Institute, 2012

We’ll be taking a brief break from the normally scheduled blog series “So, You Want to Work in Publishing” this week. If you’ve missed any of the advice of Season 1, you can find it all right here. If you’re a publishing professional interested in guest blogging for Season 2, just let me know!

In the meantime, Thursday posts will continue to be dedicated to the publishing industry. NYU just posted an awesome article which quotes many NYU 2011 graduates, with contributions from some of our very own guest bloggers (me included!). So if you’re gearing up to attend the 2012 institute or are thinking about applying in the future, definitely read this article chock full of advice of what to do, what not to do, and what to expect in the six-weeks you’re there.