My Favorite Genres

Last week I talked about the genres I don’t like to read, so this week I want to tell you the genres I do! There’s a few genres I don’t read because they don’t resonate with me and I don’t get a lot out of reading them. Because time is precious and I want to be spending my time on books that I get a lot out of, these are the genres I usually turn to:

Young Adult
Pretty much everything I read is YA. I don’t know if it’s because these books meant so much to me growing up or because I love a good coming-of-age story or because I make up stories for a living and don’t quite feel like an adult, but YA books have always been my favorites. When I go into a bookstore or library, you can find me heading straight to the teen section.

Science Fiction and Dystopian
I’ve always been fascinated with the future and with space, and so that’s why I’ve always loved science fiction books. I love the dystopian subgenre in particular because even though these stories depict negative futures, they’re usually full of so much hope.

Fantasy
I don’t read fantasy books as much because they’re usually so long and I have trouble sitting still long enough to read them, but I love fantasy books because of the amazing world building. Because I write a lot of stories set in the future, world building is a big part of my writing process. Fantasy books are a great addition to science fiction to read and be inspired about world building

Christian Nonfiction
My faith is the most important part of my life, and so I love reading Christian living books and devotionals. These books help me to focus on God and grow in my faith, which I always want to be doing.

Romance
I only recently got into the romance genre, but because I read a lot of heavy and dystopian books, romance novels are light and fun to take a break with.These are some of my favorite books in these genres.

These are some of my favorite books in these genres.

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You can definitely see the influence of my favorite genres to read on what I write. I primarily write young adult contemporary and science fiction because those stories have always resonated with me the most. What are your favorite genres to read and write?

Genres I Don’t Like

As a writer and a book-lover, I sometimes feel pressured to read and like all kinds of books. A while back I wrote a post on giving up on reading certain books, which is a way to respect your time a writer. It’s okay not to like everything. Everything was not meant for you to be read. And if you need to give up on reading a book that’s not resonating with you, you definitely should put it down and pick up something you’d enjoy more.

So today I wanted to admit what genres I don’t like and what books I almost never pick up. There are always exceptions, but for the most part these are the genres I avoid:

Classics
When I think of classics, I think of the books I was forced to read in high school that made me hate reading for a while. I just have so much trouble connecting to stories written so long ago. Plus the different styles of writing make most of these books a struggle for me to read. I much more enjoy contemporary stories, even though there are a couple exceptions on my favorites shelf.

Poetry
I’m sorry, but I don’t like poetry. I prefer straight-forward writing, and so I find poetry extremely difficult to get into. I don’t hate all poems, but I usually won’t pick poetry up by choice.

Horror, Thrillers, and Westerns
I’m grouping these together because I don’t have much experience reading any of them. But none of these genres hold any appeal to me.

Urban Fantasy
I’m honestly surprised I don’t like this genre because I enjoy that feeling of mixing past and present. Urban fantasy does this by setting magical elements (which you typically think of as belonging in fairy-tale-like settings) into a modern environment. But every book I’ve tried in this genre just hasn’t seemed to click with me. I think I just prefer fairy tales too much.

These books are a few of the exceptions in these genres that I actually do enjoy.

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What are the genres that you don’t like? Next week I’ll be talking about my favorite genres, so look out for that!

How to Get Ideas: Titles

Writers are always asked how they come up with their ideas, but it’s often hard to know exactly where a story idea comes from. Ideas seem to come from anywhere and everywhere, and they sometimes come when you’re not even trying. But for those who are newer to writing and for those who are having trouble figuring out what to write next, ideas can be hard to find and you might have to force yourself to come up with them.

That’s what this blog series is all about—how to get ideas and how to develop stories from those ideas. Last time I wrote about what if questions, and today I’ll be digging into titles.

How to Get Ideas

I don’t pick up books based on their covers. I choose to read a book based on its title. A good title asks a question, and if that question intrigues me, I’ll choose to read a book.

For example, one of my favorite titles ever is Thirteen Reasons Why. The title of Jay Asher’s novel poses so many questions: Reasons why what? Did something bad already happen? Why are there 13 reasons? Does the number 13, which is usually thought of as unlucky, have any significance? The title alone makes me as a reader want to know what happens. And that’s what a title should do.

Because a book’s title can pose so many questions, titles are also a great place to develop story ideas.

When I was young, I kept a notebook of story title idea—of things that sounded cool but that didn’t really have a story to them, at least not yet. One of these titles was The Means. I thought The Means, as in “do the ends justify the means” would make for such a cool book, even if I didn’t know at the time what that book would be. But in my capstone fiction class when I was in college, I turned back to that title and started writing a book. Even though it will probably never be published, I wrote an entire novel based on that two word title. I took The Means and built an entire story around it about a reality game show where anything goes and the goal is to win by any means necessary.

Writer’s Digest’s July/August 2017 issue had a wonderful article about titling books called “Naming the Baby” by Jacquelyn Mitchard. Mitchard suggested many strategies for naming a book such as places, common phrases made new, borrowed turns of phrases, and religious references. Titles can come from anywhere, but they must stand out and make people want to read the book.

What I’m suggesting is that you take something you think would be a good title and use that as your foundation to build your story around. Take a title that poses an interesting question, and then write a book to answer that question. Anything can inspire a book—why not the title itself?

Even if you have already got a seed of a book idea, you might want to come up with the title before you truly get started on writing the book. I have to know the title to be able to work on something. Having a title helps make the story seem more real, and it will also help you pinpoint the main theme you want your book to emulate.

What titles have made you want to read a book? Have you ever come up with a story idea from a title?

Ready for Spring!

Spring is my favorite season. I love sunshine and flowers and warmer days. Spring is so beautiful and full of new growth and fresh starts.

Because I live in Ohio, even though it’s officially spring already, the weather is still up and down and as I’m writing this it is still pretty cold outside. So to cheer myself up I wanted to write about everything I’m looking forward to this spring!

  • Egg the City
    My church puts on an amazing egg hunt every Easter called Egg the City. This year there’s going to be 100,000 eggs. I was on the setup team last year and this year my husband and I are leading the setup along with another couple. I can’t wait to cover the football field with eggs tomorrow and see all of the excited children! It’s going to be a great day followed by our Easter services that night and Sunday morning!

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  • Disney World
    My sister has been working in Disney World since January as part of their college program, and I finally get to go see her in a week and a half! I love Disney with all my heart, and I’ve been dying to go back since our last trip in December 2016. I’m also really looking forward to this trip because it’ll be just my mom and sister and me. We’ve never had a trip like this with just us girls, and we’re all really looking forward to it.

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  • Flowers
    I don’t care if I’m allergic to everything that grows, flowers are beautiful. They make me smile. I love this bouquet that my husband got for me last week when it snowed even though it was supposed to be spring.

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  • Books
    I’m always looking forward to books! Some of the books on my spring TBR are Midnight at the Electric by Jodi Lynn Anderson (again, I can’t get enough of this book), Called to Create by Jordan Raynor, and Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch.

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What are you looking forward to this spring?

Somewhere Only We Know’s New Cover!

My publisher updated Somewhere Only We Know’s ebook cover, and I wanted to share it here with you. I love the book’s original cover, but this new one is so beautiful!

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I love how the fog in the picture covers the forest and gives you an eerie feeling. I also love how they used the lowercase font for the title and my name, like on the original cover. This new cover definitely stands out and makes me want to read the book all over again!

If you’d like to get the ebook version of Somewhere Only We Know with the awesome new cover, check it out here.

When I’m Not Writing: Serving

I’ve really enjoyed sharing some of my favorite activities when I’m not writing, like jewelry-making and watching muscials. And while crafting is probably my favorite of my other activities, serving is the most important.

Engage City Church is amazing. My husband and I fell in love with this church when it launched in fall of 2016. We couldn’t believe how loving this church was and we were blown away by the difference it was making in our community. We feel so blessed that God brought this amazing church to our community, and we’ve loved all of the opportunities we’ve had to get involved.

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Over the year and a half that we’ve been attending Engage, I’ve been trying to do more for my church and my community. I’ve been trying to make my faith a big part of my life because God is the most important part of my life. And the best way to show my love for him is to serve him and to serve the people he’s placed in my life. I try to do this with my writing by creating books for people to enjoy and with my babysitting by caring for little ones. And now I try to do this with my serving at church.

As we like to say at Engage, we get to do this. We get to love on people. We get to help people. We get to create an amazing church-going experience for the people in our community.

At my church I watch babies in the nursery. I hold open doors and greet people. I help clean up after the service. My husband serves on the church board and helps run the lights for worship. Our small group spent our last couple meetings stuffing thousands of eggs for our 100,000 egg hunt in this Easter. (Yes, 100,000 eggs.) I try to do whatever I can to help out church and I want to keep growing and keep doing more.

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Serving others is the best way to show people God’s love, and “We love each other because he loved us first” (1 John 4:19, NLT). I want to live out my faith with what I do every day, so I try to serve others whenever I can.

Favorite Book Feature Leftovers, Part 2

On the last Friday of each month of 2017 I featured one of my favorite books. Because I have way more than only twelve favorites though, I thought I’d do a couple posts on the leftovers with short features about each of the books left on my favorite’s shelf. Click here to check out part 1. Here’s the rest of my favorite books:

The Giver and its companion books by Lois Lowry

I was first introduced to this series in the fifth grade when my teacher read Gathering Blue to my class. We were all amazed by the book, so she also read Messenger to us. But I didn’t end up reading the first book of this series, The Giver, until I was in college, and it is hands-down my favorite dystopian story.

Twelve by Nick McDonell

Twelve is definitely not a book most people would like, and most people have never heard of it. But I found this book in my library when I was sixteen years old and it blew me away with its power. And when I saw that the author of the book had only been seventeen when he wrote it, this book became a major source of inspiration to young-writer me.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

This book is on my favorites shelf mainly because of how innovative it is and how impressed I am by it as a writer. Spanning centuries, this book tells six different but connected stories. My favorite of these are of course the ones that take place in the future, but each of them are beautifully told.

1984 by George Orwell

This is the only classic on my shelf besides Fahrenheit 451, and I love it for many of the same reasons. Plus I had a pretty eccentric high school English teacher who covered the room from floor to ceiling with “Big Brother is Watching You” posters, so it was quite a memorable experience when I read the book for the first time.

The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

This book is as beautiful as it is haunting. The Lovely Bones is narrated by Suzie Salmon, a girl who was brutally murdered but who watches the aftermath of her death from her new home in heaven. This book has been a huge source of inspiration for my writing.

Unwind and the rest of the Unwind Dystology by Neal Shusterman

Like with [Everlost, Neal Shusterman blows my mind with everything he writes. This series takes place in the future after the second civil war was fought over abortion. Now children cannot be aborted, but from ages 13-18 they can be “unwound,” a process which results in 100% of their body being donated, so they’re not technically dead. These books are eerie and exciting and wonderful.

Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens

This is one of the books that made it’s way straight to my favorites shelf after reading it for the first time. This book is about a girl who was raped, and it’s a beautiful story about healing. Check out my What I’m Reading post about it here.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

I found Olive Kitteridge used and free, and I never would’ve picked it up otherwise, but my little beaten-up copy is one of my favorite books. A novel in stories, Strout tells the story of Olive and her Maine town. This book is beautiful and sad and just perfect.

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I’ve said before that I’m not a huge fan of big books. I have trouble focusing for a long time, and so it took me a long time to read The Book Thief, but this is one of those books that stays with you. Told from the perspective of Death, this novel takes you through Nazi Germany and the story of a young girl who fell in love with words. This story will also always hold a special place in my heart because I watched the movie version while waiting to meet my boyfriend on the night he ended up proposing to me.

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Unlike The Book Thief, Zusak’s other novel is fast-paced, funny, and still deeply meaningful. I Am the Messenger is the story of Ed and his friends who live in Australia and are just trying to get by. But then Ed receives a playing card in the mail with addresses listed on it, and he realizes he’s been chosen to deliver something important.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed all of my favorite book features! I’ve loved looking back at all the amazing books on my favorites shelf and telling you all about them. Check out the My Favorite Books page on my website to find links to all of my reviews, and let me know if we share any favorite books!