I'm Back . . . with the best of 2007
We just got in yesterday afternoon from a wonderful vacation in which we visited with friends and family - even our house - in three states. I wish I could have seen more people we kind of passed through, like my nieces in the Atlanta suburbs and my nephews and niece in another part of Indiana than the one where we stopped, but there's just not enough time. (I'd also like to tour Lincoln's log cabin birthplace in Kentucky, any bourbon distillery, the U.S. Mint in Kentucky, and the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, but haven't gotten to any of them yet, either.) The worst thing that happened to us was that my husband's cell phone died as we were leaving an Atlanta suburb after visiting family, and that was hardly trip-spoiling. The best part? Everyone (and everything) is feeling and looking well. A person can't ask for a better Christmas gift for their loved ones . . . although that diamond jewelry Santa gave me was a very close second. Plus, I got a new cell phone as well! I hope your celebration was happy as well.
While in Tampa I got to meet my fellow blogger Patricia Woodside, who's cute as a button (she's got dimples, y'all!). We had a great chat over breakfast. Patricia is the first person who called me on my new cell phone. I didn't even have the ringer on, but I was fiddling with it while my husband was in the barber chair getting rid of his Grizzly Adams look in time for Christmas when I noticed I had an incoming call. I've since adjsuted the volume.
I hope you caught my guest blog on Blogging in Black on Christmas Eve (if not, click the link!). It was a bad day for posting because everyone was busy with their families, but I hate to think that no one will read it.
Since I got my galleys for Once Upon A Project sent back to Kensington the day before we left, the nine days I was away was the longest stretch without writing in recent memory. I did find myself thinking about a new story involving a truck while gazing out at all those truck cabs (and while talking to a friend who is a former driver of an 18-wheeler after Christmas dinner), and then the magic happened. The bulk of the story came together in my mind. I dashed it out on my laptop in our hotel room in Chattanooga on Friday night.
Today is the last day of the year, and I realized I need to post my choices for best book of the year. I didn't read a whole lot, and most of what I read was forgettable. I do recall two wonderful stories, one by a relatively new author and one by a veteran writer, that each had execution problems, namely not-that-great writing. It's a good thing that the stories stayed with me. The new author will hopefully polish her skills, and if she does I predict big things for her. The veteran author falls under the "If it's not broke, don't fix it" category; she's doing fine sales-wise. I just can't help thinking how much better her books would be if she'd change some things about her execution.
This leads me to the best book I read this year. Last year I chose a mainstream and a romance. The few romances I compelted were all flawed, so this year I'll do a best mainstream and a runner-up.
The runner up first, in true beauty contest fashion . . . .

We'll Never Tell by Kayla Perrin, published last spring, is a riveting murder mystery on the campus of a public university in upstate New York. Kayla weaves a story so intriguing, I didn't even mind that the characters were 30 years younger than myself. She's a very talented author. This book also gets the prize for Best Book Not Part of a Series. If you haven't read it, check it out! Y'all know I'm not easily impressed.

And now for my vote for Best Book of 2007 (that I've read, anyway):

Yes, it's a celebrity book. Blair Underwood's name appears much more prominently on the cover than those of his more experienced co-writers, the husband-and-wife team of Tananarive Due and Steven Barnes. While I have nothing against Blair Underwood (I'm an Underwood myself by marriage, and since he and my husband have the exact same ears I've always wondered if there's a familial connection), earlier in the year I wrote a blog column in which I expressed being less than thrilled about the automatic media splashes made by celebrity-authored books (like the so-called author whose bio describes him as the ex-husband of a prominent person, his sole claim to fame). After having read this particular novel, I can say it deserves the attention. Good writing is good writing, good storytelling is good storytelling, and when they both happen in a published work it makes for something special. This is the first in a series, and since the next one won't be out until later in 2008 (a well-spaced 15 months after the first one), this series hater might even read that as well!

Gotta go turn in the rental vehicle. Be sure to check back tomorrow for the first of four monthly character blogs from Once Upon A Project, and later in the week, when bestselling author Kimberla Lawson Roby will take five of my questions.
Have a safe and happy New Year's Celebration. See you in '08.


Ender said...

Atlanta! I enjoy Atlanta thoroughly. I've only been there once for a short time but loved it.

Anyhow this blog reminded me of a story I came across. I'm a Tragedian at heart so I read this children's book kind of on a whim, it was a sci-fi and rather dark for a children's story. However, as I read it, I fell in love with it. Not at all cause of the writing, or even the character's represented. I just LOVED the dark setting and I could see sooooo many ways it could have been executed better. I often see stuff like that, things that have incredible potential, but are never truly exploited.

Just my observations as a fellow writer.

Merry new year's eve! : )


Patricia W. said...

"Cute as a button"? Y'all, Bettye and I had a great time. She is funny and humorous and we clicked like old friends.

She said I need a new picture because my hair is shoulder length and permed now (but I'm waiting until I get a few more lbs off!) Anyway, Bettye needs a new one too because "cute as a button" describes her as well as me.

And yes, since I got to meet her Bernard, there is a slight resemblance to the other Underwood. :smile:

bettye griffin said...

Thanks for your comments, Greg and Patricia!

Gwyneth Bolton said...

I'm glad your trip went well and you made it back safely. I'm too jealous that you and Patricia got to meet, wish I could have been there too. :-) And I just read Casenegra during the reading spree I had during the holiday break. The book was awesome. I have always been a big fan of Tananarive Due. I think the three of them did an excellent job with the novel. I sincerely hope that Hollywood brings it to the big screen. I couldn't put it down, pulled an all-nighter reading it. And the charecters stayed heavy on my mind when I was done. My goodness I wanted to weep for the lost lives. Your right that was some damn good writing. It would go on my list. If I wasn't too lazy and too busy trying to squeeze in more reading to make one...


bettye griffin said...

Gwyneth, it would have been the icing on the cake if you could have joined Patricia and me! But I'll see you at the Slam Jam.

I thought of you and your admiration for the talents of Tananarive Due while reading Casanegra. I'm not familiar with her other works, but I know she's an experienced writer just from hearing her name. I'm not automatically accepting of most people's recommendations . . . but I highly respect your judgment. And with good reason . . . you were right.

Kimber An said...

(Kimber waves excitedly) Hi, Patricia and Gwyneth!

I do agree about the celebrity author thing, but Blair Underwood is so mighty fine too.