Favorite How-To Book:
Outlining Your Novel: Map your way to success, by K.M. Weiland I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more comprehensive book on outlining–and I’m not just saying that because Katie is my critique partner. She did an incredible job on this book, gave tons of examples, got quips and quotes from other authors. Granted, I’m still not a dedicated outliner, but Katie’s book gave me some wonderful tips that work for pantsers and hybrids like me too.
Favorite Read from Donald Maass’s The Fire in Fiction Bibliography:
In case you don’t remember, I made a resolution for 2010 to read all the books Maass used as examples in his how-to. Of course, I didn’t succeed–but not because I didn’t try. I just didn’t realize how big of a task I was taking on! Anyway, my favorite this year is The Survivors Club, by Lisa Gardner. Lisa is the master of characterization, but she also writes a seat-edge thriller. Because of this novel and Gone which I also read this year, she’s my new favorite secular author. (Keep in mind–“secular” means there’s language and scenes that aren’t appropriate for sensitive readers).
Favorite Book Written by a Friend:
Hands down: I Called Him Dancer, by Eddie Snipes. With a fresh voice and wonderful talent, Eddie wrote a unique novel about a young man’s climb and downfall–from magnificent dancer to street dweller–and what God has planned for him.
Favorite Literary Novel:
To Be Sung Underwater, by Tom McNeal. A blend of backstory and Judith Whitman’s current life tells the complex tale of a woman’s heart, and the consequences when that heart is denied. Although I loved this story, there was one line in the book that I found so offensive, I literally scratched it out. Still, I have no problem recommending it.
Favorite Book Written by an Established Christian Author:
Predator, by Terri Blackstock. Terri did a terrific job keeping the tension up with this one. The premise of the story, that a predator can capture his prey through social sites very much like Facebook, is timely and terrifying. It’s a “Parent, Beware!” story if I’ve ever seen one!
Favorite Book Written by an Established Secular Author:
As much as I hate duplicating, this one would also go to Lisa Gardner. Her The Survivors Club really impressed me in its complexity and characterization.
And finally, My All-’Round Favorite Book for 2011 would have to be The Survivors Club.
For the legal eagles who spy on personal blogs, here’s the disclaimer: The only books listed above that I purchased are The Survivors Club and Predator. I won To Be Sung Underwater on Goodreads; Eddie submitted I Called Him Dancer to be considered for The Canopy Bookstore, and I helped with Outlining Your Novel, so Katie sent me a complimentary copy.
For all those who wonder whether the fact some of these books were freebies influenced my decision, the answer is no. I received an inordinate amount of complimentary books this year, and in my opinion, these were the best of the best of both the freebies and the purchases.