#Finalists for the 2018 #HugoAwards for #ScienceFiction

The #finalists for the 2018 #HugoAwards were announced on March 31, 2018, by members of the World Science Fiction Convention (#WorldCon) for #sciencefiction of all lengths and types.


http://www.thehugoawards.org/

Winners of the Hugo Awards, the award for best young adult (YA) book, and the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer will be announced at Worldcon 76 on August 16, 2018.

Main Categories: Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Graphic Story, Best Series, Best Related Work, Best Novelette, Best Short Story, and Best Young Adult Book. Finalists lists, below.

FMI and the lists of finalists in all categories: http://www.thehugoawards.org/2018/03/2018-1943-hugo-award-finalists-announced/#more-3163

John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer

Katherine Arden
Sarah Kuhn
Jeannette Ng
Vina Jie-Min Prasad
Rebecca Roanhorse
Rivers Solomon

BEST NOVEL

The Collapsing Empire (The Interdependency) by John Scalzi

New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Provenance by Ann Leckie

Raven Stratagem (Machineries of Empire) by Yoon Ha Lee

Six Wakes by Mur Lafferty

The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth) by N. K. Jemisin

BEST NOVELLA

All Systems Red: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

“And Then There Were (N-One)” by Sarah Pinsker (Uncanny, March/April 2017)

Binti: Home by Nnedi Okorafor

The Black Tides of Heaven (The Tensorate Series) by JY Yang

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children) by Seanan McGuire

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey

BEST GRAPHIC STORY

Bitch Planet, Volume 2: President Bitch, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick, illustrated by Valentine De Landro and Taki Soma, colored by Kelly Fitzpatrick, lettered by Clayton Cowles

Black Bolt, Vol. 1: Hard Time, written by Saladin Ahmed, illustrated by Christian Ward, lettered by Clayton Cowles

Monstress, Volume 2: The Blood, written by Marjorie M. Liu, illustrated by Sana Takeda

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris

Paper Girls, Volume 3, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Cliff Chiang, colored by Matthew Wilson, lettered by Jared Fletcher

Saga, Volume 7, written by Brian K. Vaughan, illustrated by Fiona Staples

BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor (DOUBLE FINALIST)

The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller

The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage (Book of Dust, Volume 1) by Philip Pullman

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

Summer in Orcus by T. Kingfisher

Best Novelette

“Children of Thorns, Children of Water” by Aliette de Bodard (Uncanny, July-August 2017)

“Extracurricular Activities” by Yoon Ha Lee (Tor.com, February 15, 2017)

“The Secret Life of Bots” by Suzanne Palmer (Clarkesworld, September 2017)

“A Series of Steaks” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Clarkesworld, January 2017)

“Small Changes Over Long Periods of Time” by K.M. Szpara (Uncanny, May/June 2017)

“Wind Will Rove” by Sarah Pinsker (Asimov’s, September/October 2017)

Best Short Story

“Carnival Nine” by Caroline M. Yoachim (Beneath Ceaseless Skies, May 2017)

“Clearly Lettered in a Mostly Steady Hand” by Fran Wilde (Uncanny, September 2017)

“Fandom for Robots” by Vina Jie-Min Prasad (Uncanny, September/October 2017)

“The Martian Obelisk” by Linda Nagata (Tor.com, July 19, 2017)

“Sun, Moon, Dust” by Ursula Vernon (Uncanny, May/June 2017)

“Welcome to your Authentic Indian Experience™” by Rebecca Roanhorse (Apex, August 2017)

Best Series

The Books of the Raksura by Martha Wells

The Divine Cities by Robert Jackson Bennett

InCryptid by Seanan McGuire (DOUBLE FINALIST)

The Memoirs of Lady Trent by Marie Brennan

The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson

World of the Five Gods by Lois McMaster Bujold

Best Related Work

Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate by Zoë Quinn (PublicAffairs)

Iain M. Banks (Modern Masters of Science Fiction) by Paul Kincaid
A Lit Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison by Nat Segaloff

Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters by Ursula K. Le Guin

Sleeping with Monsters: Readings and Reactions in Science Fiction and Fantasy by Liz Bourke

2017 Winners of the National Book Award: Kudos to these Authors!

2017 #Winners of the National #Book #Award: Kudos to these #Authors!


National Book Foundation, presenter of the National Book Award
Website: http://www.nationalbook.org/

from the story on NPR:
“[F]our writers emerged with one of the world’s most illustrious literary prizes, the National Book Award:
—Jesmyn Ward’s “Sing, Unburied, Sing,” won for fiction;
—Masha Gessen’s “The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia,” for nonfiction;
—Frank Bidart’s “Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016,” for poetry; and
—Robin Benway’s “Far from the Tree,” for young people’s literature.

“In addition to a bronze medal and statue, each winner receives $10,000 with the distinction. That said, the finalists don’t go home bereft — each author gets $1,000 and a bronze medal of their own.

“…Annie Proulx [is] the novelist who won the medal for distinguished contribution to American letters, the National Book Foundation’s slightly verbose name for their lifetime achievement award.”

FMI: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2017/11/16/npr-books-national-book-awards?utm_campaign=The+Thread_20171117&utm_medium=email&utm_source=sfmc_Newsletter&utm_content=The%202017%20National%20Book%20Award%20winners%20are…

2017 WINNERS and FINALISTS, National Book Award

Fiction
Jesmyn Ward
Jesmyn Ward: Sing, Unburied, Sing = WINNER

Ward’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Jesmyn-Ward/e/B001JOW9NW/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1
Ward’s Publisher Website: http://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Jesmyn-Ward/547648874

FICTION FINALISTS:
Elliot Ackerman: Dark at the Crossing
Lisa Ko: The Leavers
Min Jin Lee: Pachinko
Carmen Maria Machado: Her Body and Other Parties: Stories

Nonfiction
Masha Gessen; Photo: © Tanya Sazansky
Masha Gessen: The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia = WINNER

Gessen’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Masha-Gessen/e/B001H6MBXK/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1
Gessen’s Publisher’s Website: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/authors/9953/masha-gessen

FINALISTS:
Erica Armstrong Dunbar: Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge
Frances FitzGerald: The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America
David Grann: Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Nancy MacLean: Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

Poetry
Frank Bidart; Photo from Sigrid Estrada
Frank Bidart: Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016 = WINNER

Bidart’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Frank-Bidart/e/B001H6W2N4/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_book_1
Bidart’s Publisher’s Website: https://us.macmillan.com/author/frankbidart

FINALISTS:
Leslie Harrison: The Book of Endings
Layli Long Soldier: WHEREAS
Shane McCrae: In the Language of My Captor
Danez Smith: Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems

Young People’s Literature

Robin Benway: Far from the Tree = WINNER

Benway’s Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Robin-Benway/e/B001JP7ZO4/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
Benway’s Publisher’s Website: https://www.harpercollins.com/cr-115402/robin-benway

FINALISTS:
Elana K. Arnold: What Girls Are Made Of
Erika L. Sánchez: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter
Rita Williams-Garcia: Clayton Byrd Goes Underground
Ibi Zoboi: American Street

Speculative Fiction #Genres, According to one Jaded #Feminist

Speculative Fiction #Genres, According to one Jaded #Feminist (and two other, actual experts…)

Here are two great sources of info about the overall genre of Speculative Fiction (Spec Fic) and all its subgenres, (also the two main sources of the images, below):
About Speculative Fiction, from blogger/author, Sherry D. Ramsey at http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005; and,
The Difference between Speculative Fiction and Science-Fiction, from SPi Global, at http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/


from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

So, you don’t have to go by my jaded, biased, perhaps not entirely fair or accurate descriptions, below.

Also, check out many of the Spec Fic online and hard-copy ‘zines and subscription magazines that publish short stories, plays, graphic novels or excerpts, art, poetry, novellas and announcements, such as: Heliotrope: Online Speculative Fiction Magazine, http://www.heliotropemag.com/

JUST MY OPINIONS, below.

  • Science-Fiction (also known as sci-fi):
    ◙ Stories about what could be or might have been that feature science, tech, weaponry that does not exist (yet); mostly written by men and somewhat invisible women; mostly about men and almost invisible women; if in graphic novel form, the females are scantily clad for no apparent reason, while men are wearing body armor; mostly about men, with one or no female main characters, except to support or be loved by males.
    ◙ If part of a series, “good guys” do not prevail for the long-term but do win in skirmishes, until the end, which can be dystopian (no HEA–Happily Ever After) or partly HEA (at least, for the romantic component).
    ◙ If politically and/or social commentary-oriented, can illustrate the ways our current cultures are harsh (but accurate) regarding racist, species-ist, misogynistic practices and attitudes.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but usually not in the first parts of a series.


    from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

  • “Hard” Science-Fiction:
    ◙ Futuristic stories mostly about the male “heroes” (and steroid/testosterone-ridden women, cyborgs and robots) fighting alone or in groups against whom/whatever, using lots of weaponry and spaceships; see above, for costuming; mostly about men, with one or no central female main characters, except to support or be loved by males or inhabit computers.
    ◙ If part of a series, “good guys” do not prevail for the long-term but do win in skirmishes, until the end, which can be dystopian (no HEA–Happily Ever After) or partly HEA (at least, for the romantic component).
    ◙ If dystopian (typically), often includes destruction of one or more planet, victors’ having slaves, horrible classism and race/species discrimination and other awful plot points and outcomes.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but can be reborn into tech creatures. Often, a “space opera” that spans many years/centuries and vast expanses.


    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Steam-Punk Fantasy/Science-Fiction:
    ◙ Stories about what might have been or could be, written by both men and women; depicts women in low bodices, wearing corsets, and carrying fans; men have pocket watches, vests, and private (“public” in England) educations or tutors; everything is run by steam engines; characters are mostly Anglo and espouse or resist British/American Anglo upper- and middle-class Victorian values (e.g., either virginal or whorish women, class distinctions, elitist “manners,” rigidly gender-ized clothing); stories are mostly about men, with one or no central female main characters, except to support or be loved by males.
    ◙ If there are GLBT characters, they are usually depicted as deranged/homicidal, stereotypes, and/or objects of ridicule or pity. Rarely has human characters who are not Anglo (so I deliberately included a drawing that has males of color, here).
    ◙ Can include murders and other crimes in which females are the victims or need to be rescued.
    ◙ May not be clear who the “bad” guys are, at first (think, prostitute or crime lord with the “heart of gold”).
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless already replaced by a successor.


    from https://writingcareer.com/black-power-the-superhero-anthology-is-seeking/

    This anthology, whose prototype cover is above, Black Power: Superheroes of Color, was released last month, February, 2017: https://thenerdsofcolor.org/2017/02/27/black-power-the-superhero-anthology/
    edited by Balogun Ojetade, with a great line-up of authors within it.

    Real cover:

  • Fantasy:
    ◙ Usually set in some pseudo-medieval or -Renaissance, Earth-like setting or Earth’s own possible past or present, but with talking animals, mythical creatures, imaginary creatures (e.g., fairies, gnomes, dwarves, trolls, dragons, giants, ogres, witches, warlocks, wizards); usually includes some kind of magic or pseudo-science mixed with magic; if there are non-human creatures, they are almost always male or overly glamorized females (large breasts, small waists, heavy make-up); could have human shape-shifters who usually become large predators (wolves, bears, lions, panthers, etc.); can have vampires, whose subplots usually include some kind of incapacitation and then sexual assault accompanying the blood-sucking, usually of women by both males and females.
    ◙ Always has “good guys” and “bad guys,” with the “good guys” prevailing in the end.
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless already replaced by a successor.


    from http://www.sherrydramsey.com/?page_id=1005

  • High Fantasy:
    ◙ Similar to Fantasy, but with more court-like/royal characters and class conflicts/settings; usually some star-crossed royalty romance for the teen or young adult main characters that ends HEA (Happily Ever After); usually has dragons or other mythical creatures centrally featured; for specious reasons, characters often speak in upper-class British accents/styles and/or insert French- or Spanish-sounding words randomly; often heavily laced with sword fights, quests, riddles and other “tests” for the main characters (usually male), which they have to lose at least twice before becoming victorious (“getting the girl” is usually part of their “prize”).
    ◙ Duels are common.
    ◙ Usually HEA (Happily Ever After).
    ◙ Main characters cannot die unless they’re old or can become mythologized and/or unless already replaced by a successor.


    from the cover of Issue 5 of http://www.heliotropemag.com/

  • Urban Fantasy:
    ◙ Similar to Fantasy, but set in decaying cities; usually dystopian/post-apocalyptic; can blend magic with tech, though not as originally or interestingly as the author believes; not enough female characters and frequent fighting among the males; duels are common; cyborgs, androids, political and social tyrants, crime and criminals abound.
    ◙ Only HEA (Happily Ever After) for about 3 “beats,” then more fighting.
    ◙ “Good Guys” can be ethically challenged and compromised frequently.
    ◙ Main characters can die.


    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Dark Fantasy:
    ◙ Exactly like one or both of the above Fantasy genres, but with more sex (sometimes BDSM or hard-core porn, here); lots of blood, gore, fighting, elements of Horror, etc.; has conflicts that maim, kill off or otherwise harm the female characters severely, who then need to be rescued (when possible); hauntings, ghosts, evil from other dimensions and realms, summonings gone wrong and other horror-like elements can occur frequently, usually showing the main characters to be idiots; features ominous castles and fortresses a lot.
    ◙ Does not usually go with HEA (Happily Ever After) because the main characters get to be “happy” (have amazing sex and lie around together afterwards) for about 3 “beats” before someone tries to kill one or both of them.
    ◙ Main characters can be cursed, ensorceled and/or die.


    from http://wallpaper-gallery.net/wallpapers/dark-fantasy-wallpapers.html

  • Horror:
    ◙ Similar to Dark Fantasy or Dystopian Sci-Fi, but with more gore, blood, death, suspense, killing, maiming, scaring, scarring, psychological and physical trauma of all kinds as both the causes/ motivations and outcomes for the characters AND the readers (can you tell I do not read Horror?); often has demons, demonic forces, battles between “good” and “evil” embodied in various physical and spirit bodies.
    ◙ Doesn’t even think about including “Happy” endings, except as punctuation marks between disasters and/or parodies.
    ◙ Main characters can and do die, usually horrifically (pun intended).


    from http://www.spi-global.com/blog/cs-blog/the-difference-between-speculative-fiction-and-science-fiction/

  • Young Adult Speculative Fiction (usually known as YA Spec Fic):
    ◙ Usually dystopian, futuristic Sci-fi or Fantasy; features an abundance of orphans or single-parent-raised main characters; usually has one female for every two male main characters; often includes a plot/characterization that starts with the MC as an undistinguished, low-living, bullied, betrayed, enslaved or harried young person who then experiences the uncovering of special powers or previously unknown importance revealed in the first few chapters.
    ◙ Big on “destiny,” “fate,” “saving the world” and such…really, the MCs are attempting to help only a small number of beings within or a local geographic section of their/”our” world.
    ◙ Can be leaning more toward Fantasy or Sci-fi or blend both.
    ◙ Main characters can die, but usually only within an extended series; most do not.
    NOTE: YA Spec Fic is probably the best source among all Spec Fic subgenres for finding stories that feature people of color, those with disabilities or who are neuro-atypical, queer and other non-mainstream main characters and sidekicks.


image from a guest post by Julia Ember (no relation) on Jamie Kramer’s Books and Ladders blog, http://booksandladders.blogspot.com/2016/06/guestpost-unicorn-tracks-by-julia-ember.html


I told you I was jaded. I am not the only one, by any means. The following quote and analysis (please read entire article; link below) sums up my major complaints perfectly:

[Spec Fic is] not just about shiny, phallic rocket ships populated by deep-in-the-closet Aryan brethren conquering the Final Frontier, people. It’s about different futures, alternate realities, dangerous fantasies. You’d think such places, where dragons dwell, would be heavily populated with equally unusual people, but nope. Looks like everybody important there is white, male, anglophone and straight. Not to mention perfectly healthy physically and mentally.

—penned by Paula R. Stiles, “Diversity in Speculative Fiction,” on http://www.fantasy-magazine.com/non-fiction/articles/diversity-in-speculative-fiction/, from the Dec., 2016 (Issue 60) – People of Colo(u)r Destroy Fantasy! Special Issue [NOTE: “Fantasy Magazine has merged with its sister publication, Lightspeed, so this site will no longer be updated with new content. However, the fiction and interviews you would have found here at Fantasy will now be part of Lightspeed, so please sign up for our newsletter (sent out once or twice a month) to receive updates about the release of new issues of Lightspeed Magazine, news about the magazine, and more.”]
——-Lightspeed Magazine also published, starting in 2014, Queers Destroy… each of the subgenres (Fantasy, Horror, Fantasy), starting with Science-Fiction Special Issues, which you can find out about here: http://www.destroysf.com/queers/
And, on that same page, they have links to their POC [People of Color] Destroy… series of Special Issues for each subgenre (Fantasy, Horror, Fantasy)


2015’s Queers Destroy Science-Fiction cover

—Women are at the forefront of these critiques and do them so well, I have so many to choose from. Here is another, from an interview conducted by Alexandra Alter with N. K. Jemisin [Jemisin was the the first African-American writer and the first woman of color to win a Hugo Award for “best novel” (others have won for short fiction)], “N. K. Jemisin on Diversity in Science-Fiction and Inspiration From Dreams,” published by the New York Times (!?) on https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/25/books/n-k-jemisin-on-diversity-in-science-fiction-and-inspiration-from-dreams.html?_r=0
Jemisin says she “decided to focus on an oppressive society at the macro scale and what that society does to individuals” in her spec fic novels. Why? Because “a woman of color from an impoverished culture, being brought up among wealthy, privileged white people and having to cope and perform in ways that she has not been raised to do… was obviously drawn from some personal experiences. I do that in everything — explorations of power, identity and belonging.”

—Another great article, “Genrequeer,” by Theodore McCombs at http://www.fictionunbound.com/blog/2016/4/6/genrequeer, offers this excellent insight: “To make space for black achievement and transcendence, speculative fiction lets us change all the rules that should never have been rules in the first place.”


So, there is a lot of hope for increasing diversity, better representation of women and girls, more interesting stories and compelling ways to resolve conflicts than wars and violence in the Spec Fic genre and all its subgenres, with dozens of websites, groups and other resources to help us find them.

Here are some:
—The Black Science Fiction Society: http://www.blacksciencefictionsociety.com


Logo from Black Science Fiction Society website, 2017

—The Speculative Literature Foundation offers “Diverse Writers and Diverse Worlds Grants …The two $500 awards support any purpose that writer recipients may choose to benefit their work.”
FMI: http://speculativeliterature.org/ and a resource list of orgs for writers of Spec Fic: http://speculativeliterature.org/writers-resources-2/writers/writers-organizations-2/

African-American Sci-Fi: http://www.africanamericansciencefiction.com/

Latino Spec Fic: http://www.latinospeculativefiction.com/, which published Latin@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy, which “is the first anthology to bring together U.S. Latinos/as who are working in science fiction, fantasy, and other speculative genres”; edited by Matthew David Goodwin.


Cover of Latino@ Rising: An Anthology of Latin@ Science Fiction and Fantasy

—Two other not-so-recent anthologies: Dark Matter: Reading the Bones (2005), edited by Sheree R. Thomas, and Cosmos Latinos: An Anthology of Science Fiction from Latin America and Spain (2003), edited by Andrea L. Bell and Yolanda Molina-Gavilán, which “showcase African-American and (mostly) Spanish-speaking spec-fic writers, respectively.”

—Check out writers in the sub-category of Afrofuturism, which is defined in Wikipedia: “Afrofuturism addresses themes and concerns of the African diaspora through a technoculture and science-fiction lens, encompassing a range of media and artists with a shared interest in envisioning black futures that stem from Afrodiasporic experiences.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afrofuturism

Tracy Mumford, about a year ago, wrote, in: “‘We want to hear new voices’: Diversity in sci-fi and fantasy” for https://www.mprnews.org/story/2016/04/05/books-diversity-in-sci-fi-and-fantasy [as part of The Thread newsletter, which I recommend you sign up for right now (on that page)], some great commentary about those topics.
This article also has a great recommended reading list, curated during and prior to 2015, mostly, of diverse writers’ work in spec fic.

—Queer Sci-Fi has so much to offer, now, and via so many sites. Here is one website that may list the majority of them and offers more resources, besides: https://queerscifi.com/


Weigh in, please. I’d love to have great discussions, here, about other elements of Spec Fic and intersectionality (the places that social identities overlap and in which we analyze privilege, oppression and efforts to effect change). What have I left out, got wrong, etc.?

I’d love to hear from you. I also welcome Guest Bloggers (see my site for Guidelines): http://www.sallyember.com/

“Best of 2015” Book Lists from several sources, including PASTE online zine’s “30 #Best” in #Fiction, #Nonfiction and #YA Fiction from 2015

“Best of 2015” Book Lists from several sources, including PASTE online zine’s “30 #Best” in #Fiction, #Nonfiction and #YA Fiction from 2015

I present only the lists, here, with titles and authors for fiction and a brief categorization for nonfiction. Go to the links to read each reviewer’s summary and opinions of each entry, below. I also present a few alternative lists and authors, just so you know some of what else is out there.

Read! Enjoy! Buy/borrow books! Write reviews!

(NOTE: PASTE also provides the 30 best cookbooks, 18 documentaries about writers, and more at http://www.pastemagazine.com/books )


30 Best Fiction of 2015 from PASTE
[20 of 30 are male. Sigh.]
http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/12/the-30-best-fiction-books-of-2015.html
By Frannie Jackson & Tyler R. Kane | December 16, 2015
1. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff
2. Language Arts by Stephanie Kallos
3. The Wolf Border by Sarah Hall
4. City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
5. Purity by Jonathan Franzen
6. The Harder They Come by T.C. Boyle
7. The First Bad Man by Miranda July (short story collection)
8. So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano
9. You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine by Alexandra Kleeman
10. Woman with a Blue Pencil by Gordon McAlpine
11. Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg
12. Fortune Smiles by Adam Johnson (short story collection)
13. The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
14. Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
15. The Incarnations by Susan Barker
16. The Unfortunates by Sophie McManus
17. Sweetland by Michael Crummey
18. Suitcase City by Sterling Watson
19. Submission by Michel Houellebecq
20. Paradise City by Elizabeth Day
21. The Unnoticeables by Robert Brockway
22. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
23. The Rocks by Peter Nichols
24. Girl at War by Sara Nović
25. Golden Son by Pierce Brown
26. Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (short story collection)
27. Golden State by Stephanie Kegan
28. Morte by Robert Repino
29. A Poet of the Invisible World by Michael Golding
30. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Here are some other fiction lists “best of 2015” from different perspectives, which I appreciate enormously. Please go peruse these annotated lists at the links provided, below, to pick from each a few to read yourself! Ask your local library and bookstores to carry your favorites! Write reviews!

—-

“Top 10 Feminist Books of 2015” 12/23/15 by Kitty Lindsay from Ms. Magazine
Has a mix of fiction, poetry and non-fiction with titles almost no one else lists (big surprise), with several written by some of feminism’s iconic leaders and award-winning authors (even has two male authors!), including:
God Help the Child by Toni Morrison (Fiction)
I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou (Autobiography; poetry) (a re-issue from 1969, commemorating her passing in 2015)
Stone Mattress by Margaret Atwood (Fiction; short story collection)
My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (Memoir)
Then Comes Marriage: United States v. Windsor and the Defeat of DOMA by Roberta Kaplan with Lisa Dickey (Non-Fiction)
How To Grow Up by Michelle Tea (Memoir)
Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution by Mona Eltahawy (Non-Fiction)
Octavia’s Brood: Science-Fiction Stories From Social Justice Movements Edited by Walidah Imarisha and adrienne maree brown (Science-Fiction Anthology; including authors Tananarive Due, LeVar Burton, Terry Bisson and essayists, activists, artists, filmmakers, journalists) ALSO, editor adrienne maree brown, “an independent science-fiction scholar and a social justice activist, has been chosen as the 2015-16 Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellow. Brown lives in Detroit, Michigan…. The Le Guin Feminist Science Fiction Fellowship, now in its third year, is sponsored equally by the Center for the Study of Women in Society, Robert D. Clark Honors College, and the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives. The award supports travel for the purpose of research on, and work with, the papers of feminist science fiction authors housed in the Knight Library”; AND editor, Walidah Imarisha wins the Tiptree Award (named for feminist female author who wrote under the name “James Tiptree, Jr.,” in order to get published in the sci-fi world as a woman) and cash prize for 2015!
Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town by Jon Krakauer (Non-Fiction)
Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism by David S. Cohen and Krysten Connon (Non-Fiction)
http://msmagazine.com/blog/2015/12/23/your-holiday-reading-list-top-10-feminist-books-of-2015/

AND another “best of” list from Ms. Magazine: “15 Women Writers Every Badass Woman Should Read” by E. CE Miller on 12/14/15
Ths list includes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and cross-genre feminist authors, some of whom appear on other lists, here, but several who do not. Enjoy!
http://www.bustle.com/articles/128770-15-women-writers-every-badass-woman-should-read

—-“55 Best Indie [Self-Published] Books of 2015,” 12/2/15, from Indie Reader‘s year of reviews. Their lists are divided into subgenres of fiction, including: Fantasy, Historical, Horror, Inspirational, Kids, Literary, Mystery/Thriller, Science-Fiction, Thriller, Young Adult (YA). They also have nonfiction (which includes poetry) in a separate list.
http://indiereader.com/2015/12/56-best-reviewed-self-pubbed-books-2015/

What’s fun about this self-pubbed list is that I am “friends” with one of the authors on social media sites! Mazel Tov to D. Hart St. Martin (Blooded, in YA).

AND, I now have an entirely new list of authors to invite to my online video talk show for 2016, CHANGES conversations between authors (see https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/ for past and upcoming shows and details about how to watch an Episode or how to be on one.

CHANGES Trailer Image_3

I resume my almost-weekly Wednesdays at 10 AM Eastern USA time one-hour live format on January 20 with returning guest, author John Howell.

Three other fiction lists:

—-“My Favorite African Science-Fiction and Fantasy (AfroSFF) Short Fiction of 2015″ by Wole Talabi, 11/28/15 https://wtalabi.wordpress.com/2015/11/28/my-favorite-african-science-fiction-and-fantasy-sff-short-fiction-of-2015/

AND

—-“Best Books 2015: Genre Fiction” on the Library Journal Reviews page, has several genres (African-American, Christian, Historical, Mystery, Romance, Thrillers, Women’s Fiction and Science-Fiction/Fantasy).
http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/2015/11/best-of/best-books-2015-genre-fiction/

The African-American Fiction list by Rollie Welch includes:
Mama’s Boy by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Caught Up by Shannon Holmes
Playing for Keeps by Deborah Fletcher Mello
Stand Your Ground by Victoria Christopher Murray
Stone Cold Liar: The Misadventures of Mink LaRue by Noire

The Science-Fiction/Fantasy Fiction list by Megan M. McArdle & Jessica E. Moyer includes Water Knife (see Paste‘s list), and:
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen
Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho
The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin
The Autumn Republic by Brian McClellan
Uprooted by Naomi Novi
Trailer Park Fae by Lilith Saintcrow
A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
The Fifth House of the Heart by Ben Tripp

AND

—-Entropy mag‘s “Best of 2015 Fiction Books” from 12/8/15 includes only one or two that overlap Paste’s list and is a much more multicultural/global (includes several translated-into-English novels) and fascinating group of 50 titles, plus one “Honorable Mention.”
http://entropymag.org/best-of-2015-best-fiction-books/

AND

—-Let’s get political, please! Here are lists created by The Guardian and The Observer‘s reviewers, which they endearingly call “2015’s master list” of books, from 12/11/15, subdivided into: Fiction [Thrillers, Science-Fiction/Fantasy, Children’s, Graphic Novels (no one else remembered these, apparently!)]; non-Fiction [Sports, Food, Drink, two lists for Biographies, History, Nature, Politics, Music, Poetry, Architecture, Art, Photography, Science, Celebrity Memoirs]; and a few groups by odd categories [Paperbacks, Stocking-fillers (size-related? cost-related?), Novels].
http://www.theguardian.com/books/ng-interactive/2015/dec/11/all-of-the-best-books-of-2015

You can also go cruise on Google for other “best of 2015” fiction lists, such as those from or by Small Presses, Independent Publishers, more Indie/ Self-Pubbed authors, Debuts, Flash Fiction, and on and on. Have fun! https://goo.gl/itQw0i

AND

—-Brain Pickings has several “best of 2015” lists. Here are links to two of them (Children’s, list of lists and All Books):
https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/12/15/best-childrens-books-2015/
http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=13eb080d8a315477042e0d5b1&id=60eab78aa3&mc_cid=773f043fba&mc_eid=3da2b98925
https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/12/21/best-books-2015/?mc_cid=773f043fba&mc_eid=3da2b98925


Also from PASTE:

30 Best Young Adult (YA) Fiction of 2015
[only 4 male out of 30 writers here…hmmmm…]
http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/12/the-best-ya-books-of-2015-1.html
By Eric Smith | December 10, 2015
1. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
2. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
3. Blood & Salt by Kim Liggett
4. Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed
5. Joyride by Anna Banks
6. The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall
7. None of the Above by I.W. Gregorio
8. An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
9. An Infinite Number of Parallel Universes by Randy Ribay
10. Mosquitoland by David Arnold
11. Winter by Marissa Meyer
12. Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
13. Tiny Pretty Things by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle Clayton
14. My Heart & Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
15. The Walls Around Us by Nova Ren Suma
16. A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
17. Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson
18. Hit by Delilah S. Dawson
19. The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi
20. Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard
21. Shutter by Courtney Alameda
22. Those Girls by Lauren Saft
23. The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey
24. Tracked by Jenny Martin
25. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
26. Golden Son by Pierce Brown
27. Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley
28. Under the Lights by Dahlia Adler
29. For the Record by Charlotte Huang
30. Half Wild by Sally Green

—-How about a YA list of the best of 2015 from the United Kingdom? 12/15/15 from Martin Chilton, Culture Editor of The Telegraph, Rebecca Hawkes and other reviewers/ contributors, offers 45 titles in this genre, with a few overlapping from the above list.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/books/young-adult-books/best-of-2015/

AND

—-Bustle‘s YA best fiction list from 12/10/15, Caitlin White
http://www.bustle.com/articles/116096-the-25-best-ya-books-of-2015

AND

—-Pop Crush‘s 10 best YA from 2015 posted on 12/7/15 by Emily Maas, here:
http://popcrush.com/10-best-young-adult-books-2015/

AND

My favorite, from an fantastic site that promotes excellence in girls and young women with daily info posts (subscribe!), MIGHTY GIRL, offers: “Top Read-Aloud Books Starring Mighty Girls,” which gives you and your favorite child a lot of choices for spending time together. Become and share being inspired by the amazing achievements, courage, insight, smarts and talent of these MIGHTY girls and women! This site also reviews TV/films (by category), toys (by category, type and ages), music ((by category) and clothing. MIGHTY GIRL also provides an incredible list that they call their “Character Collection,” which you have to peruse, their “Best of…” lists of almost everything, and offers resources to educators and parents.

If you’re (your girls are) really into reading, join the MIGHTY GIRL Book Club!

There are 172 books on this list. Some are for younger, some are for older, many are for all ages. These books are selected from several decades and countries, but all are available in English (although many have been translated into several other languages and you can find those versions easily).

The left menu bar lets you sort the list by target age (88 are for younger and 73 are for teens), award-winners (National Book—12, literature [Newbery—39], civil rights [Coretta Scott King—2], Parents’ Choice—15, and others), and price (free to under $20, and over $20 [only 2], but don’t forget: most are in local libraries as well).

Many of the older books have been turned into films, TV specials and series, so you can share the stories together aloud, then go watch some on screen together.
http://www.amightygirl.com/mighty-girl-picks/top-read-alouds


30 Best Non-Fiction of 2015 from PASTE
[18 male authors for 17 of the books; a bit more balanced, gender-wise, here]
http://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2015/12/the-30-best-nonfiction-books-of-2015.html
By Frannie Jackson & Tyler R. Kane | December 23, 2015
1. Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates—memoir/current events
2. Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein—music history/memoir
3. M Train by Patti Smith–memoir
4. Red Notice by Bill Browder—biography/social commentary/current events
5. Missoula by Jon Krakauer—social commentary/current events
6. The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic by Jessica Hopper—music criticism collection
7. Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell—history
8. Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari—social commentary
9. The Light of the World by Elizabeth Alexander—memoir
10. Dead Wake by Erik Larson—history
11. One of Us: The Story of Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway by Åsne Seierstad—biography/social commentary/current events
12. The Seven Good Years by Etgar Keret—radio journalist’s collection
13. The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck—memoir/history
14. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson—memoir
15. Country Soul by Charles L. Hughes—history
16. Dime Stories by Tony Fitzpatrick—print journalist’s collection
17. We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War by Doug Bradley and Craig Werner—history
18. On the Move by Oliver Sacks—memoir
19. Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink by Elvis Costello—autobiography
20. The Wright Brothers by David McCullough—biographies
21. The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery—about octupi
22. Once in a Great City by David Maraniss—history
23. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson—poetry, philosophy, criticism, memoir
24. Silver Screen Fiend by Patton Oswalt—memoir
25. Madness in Civilization by Andrew Scull—history
26. Ongoingness by Sarah Manguso—essays/opinions
27. Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon—autobiography, of Sonic Youth founder/member
28. The Folded Clock by Heidi Julavits—memoir
29. H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald—about hawks
30. Gumption by Nick Offerman—profiles of 21 individuals

—-In case you want another set of opinions about Non-Fiction (but they duplicate many of Paste‘s), here you go:
EarlyWord‘s Best Non-Fiction of 2015 from 12/8/15
http://www.earlyword.com/2015/12/08/best-books-nonfiction-2015/

—-Also, several more lists from EarlyWord: http://www.earlyword.com/category/best-books-2015/


—-For those of you who haven’t caught up with your reading and don’t much care about being trendy or up-to-date but keep looking for good books to read, try this list from 5/22/15, by Nina Bashaur, posted on HuffPost Women:
“21 Books From The Last 5 Years That Every Woman Should Read” (but I would say every PERSON…).
[Oh, oh: I’ve only picked up 5 of these and actually read only 3. Sigh.]
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/19/recent-books-women-should-read_n_7314166.html

buy-books-and-feel-good

“Should You #Write What You Know?” Guest Post by Krysten Lindsay Hager

I am excited to welcome back a previous guest blogger for today’s post, someone who was also a guest on Episode 15 of #CHANGES conversations between authors (see below for links), and who is an award-winning #YA and middle grades #novelist, #blogger and nonfiction author, Krysten Lindsay Hager!

Read her insights into what an #author ought to write about, below, and please comment here, http://www.sallyember.com/blog and on her site (see below for all her links).


“Should You #Write What You Know?”

What makes a person go back in time to those #teen years to relive all the awkward, cringe-worthy moments of growing up, crushes and trying to fit in while juggling homework and friendships? Was I crazy even to think about writing about that?

Probably.

Yes; most definitely, yes.

But, then again, sanity is overrated…or so I’ve heard.

Back when I began #writing seriously, I had been taking creative writing classes and even did a one-on-one independent study with my English professor. This is the first time that I finished a young adult novel. I liked my finished book, but I felt there was another story I needed to tell.

I tried different ideas out, outlined, free-formed it, scribbled on napkins and in journals, but nothing felt quite right. I had heard the phrase, “write what you know,” but it didn’t resonate that strongly with me. However, when I heard, “Write the book you would want to read,” well, that one hit home with me.

desk one

I decided that instead of trying to write for the market or what I thought people would want to read, I would write a story that I wanted to read. I told myself this story was just an exercise for me and there was no pressure to submit it or even finish it.

You know what happened? The words began to flow. It wasn’t so much about form and structure as it was about enjoying the process again. I’d soon learn that the writing reflected that.

A few months later, I had heard somewhat late about a writing conference that gave writers the opportunity to sign up for a critique. Since it was first-come, first-served, I had been waitlisted.

However, when I arrived at the conference, I saw that I had a spot in the critique queue. I asked the woman behind the counter how was it that I suddenly had a critique time assigned? I’m not saying she winked or anything, but she told me “they had found a spot” for me.

I didn’t question anything. I just said, “Thank you!” and I went to my appointment.

I went in, anxious and about to throw up. Those of you who have read any of my Landry’s True Colors Series or remember the scene in Next Door to a Star with Hadley getting ready for her first day of 10th grade, are now thinking, “Oh, that’s where Landry/Hadley gets her feel-the-fear-but–do-it-anyway bit from.”

The editor went through the chapter with me and then she came to the part in which my character has been left out by her two best friends and has to get up and walk across the room and ask another group of girls if she can join them. The editor looked at me and said: “My heart was in my throat as I wondered: would these new girls accept her? Would they let her sit with them?”

As she told me how she felt emotionally connected with the character, it hit me–—that moment I had written about was based on my own feelings. Way back in middle school, I had done that incredibly long walk in the cafeteria to another table to see if someone would let me in their group after my own crew had stopped talking to me for a day. (Who knows why, and, at the time, it seemed catastrophic to me.) That awkward, uncomfortable memory that I wasn’t even sure I should write about had brought up something in this woman who was reading it for the first time.

It was then that I realized that writing honestly about my character’s (and my) vulnerabilities was the only way to bring truth and authenticity to my stories. The fact that this person was so interested in this story’s world made me realize that I had something that someone wanted to read.

desk two
Krysten’s Writing Area

I found out that when I focused on the story I needed to tell and had written from a different place inside of me, that all brought my book to life. It made me realize the importance of writing what is in your heart–—the story only you can tell.


Krysten’s new release!

NEXT DOOR TO A STAR
by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Audience: Young Adult
Realistic Fiction

★ SYNOPSIS ★

Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible.

After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next-door-neighbor is none other than teen TV star, Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be–—pretty, popular, and famous—–and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.

Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.

To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…

He’s sweet and good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So, when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.

Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad.

Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?

Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnLXsu2c43k

Next Door to a Star
NextDoor Cover

Excerpt from Next Door to a Star:

The school year should end right after spring break, because all anyone can focus on is summer vacation. You can’t learn anything new because all you can think about is all the fun stuff you’re going to do once you don’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn. Summer always seems full of possibilities.

Nothing exciting ever happens during the school year, but maybe, during summer vacation, you could run into a hot celebrity and he’d decide to put you in his next music video. Okay, it wasn’t like I knew anybody that happened to, but my grandparents did live next door to a former TV star, Simone Hendrickson, and Simone was discovered in an ice cream parlor one summer. Of course, she lived in L.A. at the time and was already doing plays and commercials, so the guy who discovered her had already seen her perform. But hey, it was summer, she got discovered, and that was all that mattered.
Amazing stuff didn’t happen to me.

You know what happened to me last summer? I stepped on a bee and had to go to the emergency room. They’re not going to make an E! True Hollywood Story out of my life. I didn’t go on exotic vacations—–like today, I was being dragged along with my parents to my cousin’s graduation party. Most people waited until at least the end of May before having a grad party, but Charisma was having hers early because she was leaving on a trip to Spain.

I was dreading this party because I didn’t want to listen to everybody talk about how smart and talented Charisma was–—making me feel like a blob in comparison—–but my mom RSVP’d even though I said I’d rather die than go. My death threats meant nothing.

But still, for some strange reason, I had a feeling this summer was going to be different.

About Krysten

Krysten Lindsay Hager
(author photo courtesy of Shannon DiGiacomo)

Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Connect with Krysten Lindsay Hager

Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor
Twitter: @KrystenLindsay
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8298036.Krysten_Lindsay_Hager
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Book trailer for Landry’s True Colors Series provided by Videos by O.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFp2fPFbvTQ&feature=youtu.be

Buy links:
Amazon USA: http://www.amazon.com/Next-Door-Krysten-Lindsay-Hager-ebook/dp/B0149HTAK0
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Next-Door-Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/dp/1680582690
Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/next-door-to-a-star-krysten-lindsay-hager/1122588304?ean=9781680582697
Nook UK: http://www.nook.com/gb/search?utf8=%E2%9C%93&%5Bs%5Dkeyword=krysten+lindsay+hager
Books-a-million: http://www.booksamillion.com/p/Next-Door-Star/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/9781680582697?id=6130980443153
itunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/author/krysten-lindsay-hager/id890673226?mt=11
Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/search?query=Krysten%20Lindsay%20Hager&fcsearchfield=Author&fclanguages=all

If you enjoyed this post, please comment/like it here AND go visit Krysten’s sites.


Krysten Lindsay Hager was my guest on Episode 15 of CHANGES conversations between authors. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

Learn more about and get yourself or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest:    https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/


Want to be a guest blogger on my site? Visit my “Guest Bloggers Hall of Fame” to review other guest posts and read my guidelines. Then, contact me if you’re interested: http://www.sallyember.com/guest-bloggers-hall-of-fame/

“Trust the Process,” Guest Post by Krysten Lindsay Hager 

I am excited to host today’s post from another previous CHANGES conversations between authors’ guest (Episode 15; see below for links), blogger and author, Krysten Lindsay Hager

“Trust the Process”

Years ago, whenever I’d go to writing conferences, workshops, or critique groups, there was always one particular type of writer that showed up and made me feel anxious. I would wonder what I was doing with my life and/or career. It wasn’t that this person’s success made me question my work; they’d say something that seemed to imply that if we were not getting our work published, then we didn’t count as “real writers.”

I joined a critique group a few years ago that got me back into enjoying the very act of writing again. I found that having regular meetings was keeping me accountable and I enjoyed getting constructive criticism and feedback. I also appreciated talking about the story with people who were on the journey with me and my characters.

Then, another person came along with the constant talk about all the agents and editors they had met and often dismissing anything that wasn’t “hot” in the industry at the moment. I’ll never forget the day I brought a chapter of my young adult novel to read and I was excited to share it, but right before I went to read, this person declared that no agent or editor would ever be interested in my novel because it was written in first person. Her tone very dismissive, as if I shouldn’t even bother. I sat there feeling so small. I went on to read, but even I could hear the insecurity in my voice. I sounded like a little kid who had been reprimanded.

I went home that night and started to think about my story, how writing it and editing it had brought me so much joy. I had begun to rewrite that novel during a difficult time for me. I had gotten sick and was dealing with a whole new way of life. That story had brought me back, so to speak.

It hit me that the point of the writing process for me hadn’t been whether or not this piece got published, but the enjoyment I got from writing and working on it and sharing it with other people who enjoyed it as well. As I folded laundry that night (doing laundry is my stress reliever), I realized that there was more to writing than just getting to what some called the final destination—-publication. It was about the journey for me.

So, a few weeks later, I returned to the group, determined not to let this person into my head. They again put out little comments about how I shouldn’t bother with a first-person narrative, but this time I took it as an opinion and not the final word.

That night, I started reading a book called The Creative Call, which talks a lot about how it’s not about what the work can do for you or getting it published, but what the work can do for others. Reading that took the pressure off.

However, when I mentioned this very thing to my writing group a few weeks later, some of them weren’t receptive to it. A few of them had publication as their only goal. That’s fine, but for me, this was what I choose to believe: that I would do the work and leave the outcome (and my ego) out of what would make this story successful in my eyes. Even if the book were never published, I felt that writing, finishing, sharing and enjoying it would be enough for me.

A week after I finished reading The Creative Call, I realized that maybe I should send out my young adult novel, True Colors, to see if it would be something that might help teens dealing with the similar self-esteem/self-image and other young teen issues that my character faces. I knew that trying to navigate through upper elementary and middle school while attempting to fit in as well as dealing with frenemies and mean girls would resonate with many readers. I submitted the story.

True Colors Krysten

In less than two months, I got a contract for the book. I remember sitting at my computer staring at that acceptance email and I felt a calmness come over me. It felt as if a weight had been lifted. I guess I had always assumed I’d be dancing around the room, but it was more like a confirmation that writing was the right path for me. I knew that I was supposed to share my novel. Receiving the contract and knowing that the book (my first book in the Landry’s True Colors Series) was going to be published ended up not being about me at all, but more about what I could share with others.

The books I have written as part of this series are the ones I would have wanted to read at that age. The first one was now going out there into the world, which said to me that maybe there kids out there who need to read about these issues.

A lot of people go into writing wanting fame, money, etc., but I think that takes away from the purpose of writing a book. It’s not what you can get out of it, it’s what you can give back. For me, it has been about those messages and comments I’ve gotten from people who say that, when they see my character, Landry, and her insecurities and worries, they feel less alone in what they are going through. When I heard about a teen who had been upset about dealing with being left out by people she had called “best friends,” then she had read my book and gotten perspective on the situation, well, that made me happier than I was the day I signed that first contract. It made me feel that I had a purpose.

Sure, it took me a while to get to a place where I saw the benefits of enjoying the journey and not focusing on the end goal or numbers. However, it has been so gratifying to appreciate the writing process more fully and to feel connected to my greater purpose.

About Krysten:

Krysten Lindsay Hager
(author photo courtesy of Shannon DiGiacomo)

Krysten Lindsay Hager is a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series. Originally from Michigan, Krysten has lived in Portugal and South Dakota; she currently resides in Southern Ohio, where you can find her reading and writing, when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Connect with Krysten Lindsay Hager:
Website: http://www.krystenlindsay.com/
Instagram: http://instagram.com/krystenlindsay
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KrystenLindsayHagerAuthor
Twitter: @KrystenLindsay
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8298036.Krysten_Lindsay_Hager
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Krysten-Lindsay-Hager/e/B00L2JC9P2/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
Book trailer provided by Videos by O.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFp2fPFbvTQ&feature=youtu.be

If you enjoyed this post, please comment/like it here AND go visit Krysten’s sites.

Here is the cover of Best Friends Forever, Book Two in her Landry’s True Colors Series:

BestFriendsForever Krysten 2


Krysten Lindsay Hager was my guest on Episode 15 of CHANGES conversations between authors. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time:
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLPbfKicwk4dFdeVSAY1tfhtjaEY_clmfq

Learn more about and get yourself or recommend someone to be scheduled as a guest:    https://sallyember.com/changes-videocasts-by-sally-ember-ed-d/


Want to be a guest blogger on my site? Visit my “Guest Bloggers Hall of Fame” to review other guest posts, read my guidelines and then contact me if you’re interested: http://www.sallyember.com/guest-bloggers-hall-of-fame/