My Five Favorite Reads of 2013

This isn't a book review blog, but every December I like to share my favorites of the books that I've read this year.  I read a lot of great books from all different genres, but I guess I'm still a YA fantasy  nut at heart.  All five of these are speculative fiction, and four of the five are YA. 

And without any further ado...

1.  The Crown of Embers by Rae Carson

I find that I often get really invested into a series at the second book.  It happened with Catching Fire and The Queen of Attolia (see below), and also with Rae Carson's debut trilogy.  I enjoyed The Girl of Fire and Thorns (the first book in the series) when I read it last year, but I loooved The Crown of Embers.  Rae Carson does strong female characters incredibly well.  Too often, "strong female character" is taken simply to mean "good at beating people up" or  "stubborn."  But Carson's Elisa learns strength in the ways that matter -- in compassion, self confidence, independence, confidence, and integrity.  Elisa in The Crown of Embers is a stronger, surer one than in TGoFaT, but we still see her grow as a woman and a queen.  And Hector (swoon)!   Who knew he'd be so dreamy without the mustache? The Bitter Kingdom is on my bookshelf, and I'm very much looking forward to it.

How I Got An Awesome Cover Design from 99 Designs, and Why I'll Think Twice Before Using it Again

Last week, I mentioned using 99 Designs for Poison Dance’s cover. I love the book cover I ended up with, but I'm hesitant to use the service again. A few people asked me to elaborate.

My Traditional Debut and My Indie Debut: A Case Study Comparison

Note: Poison Dance is available at the following stores:
Ebook: Kindle (US) | Nook | Kobo | iBooks
Paperback: Amazon

I’m in the interesting position of being a first time author in both traditional and self publishing in the same year. My novel Midnight Thief comes out with Disney-Hyperion in July 2014, and I’ve recently self published Poison Dance, a prequel novella. (Is it a prequel if it was written after the novel but published before?)

Since there's so much discussion of traditional vs. indie these days, I thought it be interesting to do a step-by-step comparison of the process for both books. Obviously, there are differences – Midnight Thief is a 370 page novel and Poison Dance is a 54 page novella for one thing. Also, Poison Dance was published partly to help market Midnight Thief. But still, it’s an interesting case study.

So I broke it down by each step. I also noted the cost of each self publishing step when relevant.