Tag Archives: Stephen King

10 Favorite Books of 2013

**Note:  These are books that I read in 2013, not books that were published this year**

Since I read a ton and it is the end of the year, I thought I’d come out with an obligatory best of 2013 list of books that I’ve read. I’ve broken it up into fiction and nonfiction because I read way more fiction. The small descriptions don’t contain spoilers–just a few thoughts and reasons why I liked the book.

Non Fiction

3. Finally Free by Michael Vick

Despite what you think about Michael Vick, I feel this is a good book for anyone to read. His autobiography maps how he lost everything, and the actions leading up to his fall. He talks about growing up in a bad part of town, football, prison, and so much more.

2. The Kick-Ass Writer by Chuck Wendig

Chuck Wendig’s writing books are fantastic. If you’re a writer looking for a pat on the back, this isn’t for you. Wendig’s style is more of a kick you in the rear sort of thing. He uses humor to keep your attention, all while stuffing your brain with great writing knowledge.

1. Wonderbook by  Jeff VanderMeer

If you’re a writer and you don’t have this book, you’re doing yourself a disservice. I only had to flip through a few pages to know that I’d get my money’s worth. Its diagrams and flowcharts are only the beginning to what the book has to offer. When you get into the text, you realize it is a book for the serious writer who is truly looking to tell a great story. The book serves as a large fountain of ideas to think about as you’re writing/editing your book.

Fiction

7. Divine Misfortune by A. Lee Martinez

This is a fun book based on a simple but unique idea. The idea is that any human can pick a specific Deity as if it were an item at a department store. You get the benefits from having said deity, but it also comes with a cost.

6. Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King

I went on a big Stephen King reading binge this year, and this book was one of my favorites. It’s actually a collection of novellas. I know what you’re thinking ‘Yeah Ben, I saw Hearts in Atlantis, and the movie was terrible’. Yes, the movie was terrible. The book, however, is very entertaining–especially if you’re familiar with The Dark Tower series.

5. 11/22/63 by Stephen King

I was surprised by how much I liked 11/22/63. It’s a book where the main character travels back into time to stop the Kennedy assassination.  Life gets harder for him the closer it comes to 11/22/63. King does a great job in keeping with the feel that you’re really in the past.

4. The Emperor’s Edge by  Lindsay Buroker

Although I’ve yet to finish the series (it’s on my to-do list), The Emperor’s Edge was a pleasant surprise. It follows a young woman and her crew of misfits as they try to stop people from killing the Emperor. Best thing about this book: it’s free on Amazon as an ebook. Check it out…you won’t regret it.

3. The Long Walk by Richard Bachman/Stephen King

I love reading Stephen King novels, but they don’t scare me like they do other people. It’s not that I’m not afraid of anything, but his classic novels (IT, Carrie, Cujo, Salem’s Lot, etc.) deal with things that could never happen. That doesn’t scare me. However, this book does. Why? Because it’s a dystopian fiction novel centered around a very simple premise similar to The Hunger Games. Each year 100 kids are chosen to go on the long walk. When you can’t walk any longer, they shoot you. The walk goes on until only one person is left.

2. Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig

I heard of Wendig through his blog, and it was earlier this year when I decided to check out Blackbirds. This book is fantastic. It follows an unlikable yet compelling character Miriam as she struggles with her ‘gift’ of seeing how everyone she comes into contact with will die.

1. Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

This is my favorite book that I’ve read all year–one of my favorite SK books outside of the Dark Tower series. I initially wanted to compare it to The Shining, but found early on that the story was completely different. Yes, it follows Dan, but this time, he’s trying to save a little girl, all while battling with his own deep character flaws. I didn’t want King to follow up any of his classic books, but after reading this, I’d love to see more of them.

Six Things I’ve Learned from Writing a Novel

Deadly Colors medium1. I’m completely garbage when it comes to spelling.

  • It’s embarrassing! I ought to be ashamed of myself. If you could only see the words I misspell on a regular basis, you’d think I was a moron (I just misspelled the word misspell for the record). I don’t know how I made it past the third grade sometimes. Thank god for spell-check, or this entire post would be unreadable.

2. Your book will be ruined by passive voice.

  • Shout out to my eleventh grade English teacher for telling us we shouldn’t use passive voice. I never saw the problem with it, though. Then I read my own writing—it sounds awful, weak, awkward, stale, [insert other negative adjectives]. It’s hard to avoid it entirely. I still live in a glass house when it comes to b*%#$ing about passive voice, but I try to avoid it like the plague.

3. It’s not as difficult as you think.

  • I went into it thinking it would be a near impossible task that I’d struggle with for the better part of a year. Then I read a book called On Writing by my favorite author Stephen King which changed my whole mindset. He said it shouldn’t take your more than three months to write your first draft. Challenge Accepted! It’s all about setting word count goals. Mine happened to be 1,000 words a day which put me at a finishing time of 80 days. But I found words come easy once you get going, and I finished in a little over two months. If you keep showing up every day, you’ll get it done. It won’t seem like an impossible task, once you get going.

That being said…

4. Rewriting is the real work.

  • My mindset going in: Writing the first draft would take ages. Then, after a couple passes through my novel for spelling and grammar, it’s all set to go. Wrong. Rewriting is exactly that. You have to go through the book, make sure it’s paced correctly for your genre. You need to make sure you develop the characters well, so they don’t become corny, cardboard cutout caricatures—easier said than done. You have to move scenes around, get rid of others, write new ones, and fill every plot hole you originally missed.  Then you send it to other people to look for more problems in the plot (there will be more), and finally someone has to check spelling, grammar and punctuation, as well. Rewriting/editing is the real challenge.

5. If you try really hard, you can come up with all kinds of crazy story ideas.

  • I never thought of myself as a creative person at all. Yet, when I put my mind to it, I create fake people, places, events, brand download (1)names, slogans, etc. Has all of this crap always in my head? I have no idea. Either everyone has the ability to come up with crazy stories straight from their imagination, or I’m a little insane—only time will tell. I like to think the former is true, but you never know, do you?

The picture above is the digital voice recorder I keep on my nightstand. Need story/plot ideas? They seem to come much easier when you’re half asleep for some reason. However, around a third of the recordings on there are inarticulate ramblings from my subconscious (which is a good title for a book, in and of itself).

6. The hardest part about writing is that voice in your head that doesn’t stop screaming, “You suck!”

  • Everyone has an inner critic. I don’t know about you—but mine just won’t shut the #$@& up! It’s sooo easy to give up because you feel you’re not good enough; because you fear what others will say; because you’re afraid of being wrong or standing out; because you don’t want people to think you’re a sociopath—whatever it may be. I’ve managed to overcome those thoughts (for the time being), but it’s a constant struggle.