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  • Writer's pictureDonna Norman Carbone

What a year 2023 has been: Top Ten

Each year, I write a blog post about my year in review. This year has been one I’ll never forget for so many reasons. 

This year, I got to be part of an amazing group of debut authors, and as such read many memorable books.

First, I’d like to mention my friend and podcast co-host Hope Gibbs whose award-winning novel Where The Grass Grows Blue found a special place in my heart: small town, southern setting, second chance at love, strong female protagonist. Hope and I signed on to Red Adept to publish our debuts within two weeks of one another and our books also published within weeks of each other; we became fast friends and we finally got the chance to meet in person in New York city this December when both of our books were on featured on billboards in Times Square.

Next, I’d like to continue the kismet train by sharing two special arcs I read this year. One, Weekend Friends, released in November, by Bella Ellwood-Clayton and the other, The Godfather of Dance by Andrea Barton, releasing January 1st. These were special for a couple of reasons. Foremost, they were both thrilling reads. Weekend Friends features a mother and daughter trying to fit into a new community (a quintessential mean girl clique)  and everything going awry. The Godfather of Dance focuses on a reporter whose dance instructor captivates her, leading her down a path that could compromise her own life. Besides highly recommending both of these books, I’d also like to acknowledge that Bella and Andrea were among my first critique partners, and, ironically, we all had our debut novels published within months of each other. I celebrate these women and I’m so happy their writing is finding its way into the hands and hearts of readers.

As a teacher of film, I am always so excited to see movies in a variety of genres.

This year brought us adaptations that did not disappoint. It absolutely warmed my heart to see Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, directed by Kelly Fremon Craig and adapted from Judy Blume's novel. This singular novel is responsible for turning me into a reader. As a nod, I include an allusion to it in All That is Sacred as a point of connection between my main character and her daughter. Are You There God? is a feel-good movie with a lot of heart.

I next need to mention Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, a movie I wasn’t excited to see. I really thought it would make a mockery of Barbie, a toy I loved as a young girl. Well, it was exactly the opposite. It’s a brilliant film that empowers women aimed at an audience of women AND men. Gerwig knocked this out of the park. For my full review, see What Does Barbie Have to Do with Writing? Or Anything? Everything, really.

In my downtime when I’m not reading, I like to watch television to chill out. I enjoy many genres including drama, sitcoms, news, documentary and reality. This year my absolute favorite television show is Ted Lasso. I'm not much of a sports fan, certainly not an English football fan, but this is a smart, comedic show with a great cast and a lot of heart. It’s one of those shows I can watch in reruns because every episode made me feel so good.

I’d also like to give a shout out to The Morning Show. What a sophisticated show that is on the pulse of current issues. I’m in awe of the cast and I always support Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine work because…women empowering women.

I listen to music all of the time; it’s the thing that no matter my current state of mind, I could find something to resonate with or alter it. This year, some stand out artists include: Taylor Swift, what a businesswomen; Miley Cyrus, I like how she’s re-reinvented herself; and Pink, who is a boss in my opinion.

And, finally, the top-ten moments of my year. This has been a year I will always remember for its polarities. 

Publishing my first novel has certainly changed my life in ways I couldn’t have fathomed. I love living this author-life and wholeheartedly embrace it. Most of the moments on this list are a direct result of my debut. It’s still very surreal to me, but I’m trying to soak it all up and live in the moment because I’ve dreamed of this for a very long time.

Then three months into 2023, I lost my sister, and first friend, unexpectedly. That has been a difficult shift to learn to live with, and I’m still working on it. To read my initial reactions, see When Reality Meets Fiction, a blog post I wrote soon after her death.

My favorite moments of every year center around my family. They are my rock, my pride and joy. Everything I do begins and ends with them. They have shared all the experiences with me and supported me through the difficult ones. I am so grateful.

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