The four best books I read this year

These were my favorite reads this year. Give them a try! (These books are recently published, but not during 2021.)

ECHO IN ONYX. This fascinating page-turner from Sharon Shinn is about a royal society where a select few have dopplegangers (exact replicas of themselves) who are integrated into society and accompany and interact with their primary individual in fascinating ways. I was totally immersed in this book. The first book in a trilogy–also available in audio book.

 

KLARA AND THE SUN. A Booker Prize-winning book by literary author Kazuo Ishiguro. It’s a surprisingly believable view into the mental world of a humanoid-looking AI. The story conveys a sweet and sometimes unbearable poignancy. Ishiguro is a master of irony, where the reader is aware of things that the main character is not. Some may find it a bit slow, but I didn’t.

 

THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET. If you’ve read David Mitchell’s science fiction, you’re already a fan. He’s a total powerhouse literary writer and this one, with small elements of fantasy, is historical fiction set in 18th century Japan. The main character is a Dutch merchant who run afoul of his corrupt employer and harbors a secret love love of a Japanese woman.

 

GREAT STORIES DON’T WRITE THEMSELVES.  From the brilliant teacher Larry Brooks, a clear-sighted, inspiring guide to using major turning points in the novel, using a popular mystery book by Robert Dugoni as an example. His structural approach to the novel is the most helpful advice I’ve ever been given. I recommend all his other books as well!

40 free science fiction stories

Just in time for cozy cold weather reads, see these “Tales from the Future” free stories from new and established science fiction writers! Fill up your e-reader with the ones that appeal, and sign up for some cool newsletters, too. Because it’s always fun to find new authors or journeymen writers you haven’t yet discovered. One of mine tucked in there, too.

Ends November 30.

Check them out here.

 

My Top Writing Tips 2021

Photo by Anil Xavier on Unsplash

It’s almost winter, so here once again are my top 10 writing tips. Except different. Every year I post my latest distillation of best fiction strategies. Why do I change my mind from year to year? Because I’m still learning–often from great novels I read–or workshops. Life-long learning is one of the joys of the writing life. You can always tell a more compelling story!

 

Kay’s top ten, sure-fire, fiction writing tips:

1. Work harder on an original premise: The Napoleonic wars with air power from dragons; a murdered girl relates her story from heaven; forbidden love between a modern witch and a powerful vampire. Respect your ideas, but deepen them. Read More…

When you don’t feel like writing

Long ago I stopped asking myself on any given day if I felt like writing. Often the answer would be, “Actually, I don’t.” Another question I stopped asking was “Well, WHY don’t you feel like writing?” Not that there aren’t a bunch of pretty good reasons not to write your story, or not today, anyway.

  • discouragement about how the last story sold
  • resentment of the industry which is so vile and unfair plus random
  • a shrewd analysis of how your writing sucks
  • embarrassment over the total absence of anything professional to Twitter about
  • fury and sorrow that your agent does not answer your emails
  • you are on page 85 or page 200, two classic pages that are hard to write. OK, those are just the ones that are tough for me. Getting stuck at typical points in your manuscript is mysterious and irrational. But on those pages or nearby, I way too often get a bout of I don’t feel like writing today.

Read More…

Indie Book Promotion Workshop

Does promoting your book have to be a horrible exercise in self-shilling? No!

Join this zoom meeting with promotion guru Anthea Sharp and come away with real, actionable items that will help you reach the next level in your book-promotion quest.

Book Promotion for Indies. And tips for traditional routes, too!

Sunday, July 25, 10 to noon

Writing the book is the easy part…
At least that’s what they tell you, once your novel is finally out there in the world. Now, whether you’re publishing yourself or are with a publisher, it’s time to face the daunting task of getting the word out about your new book (a task increasingly left up to authors, even in the world of traditional publishing).

There’s a new world out there, and promoting your book should keep up with the times. In this workshop, we’ll cover the many different ways authors can find and connect with their readers, regardless of who holds the publishing reins. Read More…