Monday, December 15, 2014

Best Reads of 2014

It's that time again! This year, I've read about 90 books. Here are my top 10, in no particular order:


1. ONE PLUS ONE by Jojo Moyes -- Moyes wrote one of my favorite books of all time (ME BEFORE YOU) and I didn't think she could ever top it. This one didn't exactly top it, but it came pretty damn close.

2. DANGEROUS BOYS by Abigail Haas -- Haas' last book, DANGEROUS GIRLS, was one of my favorite reads last year (if you haven't read it yet, do yourself a huge favor). The author herself sent me an ARC of this book and when she offered to email it to me, I freaked out like I'd won the lottery. It did not disappoint.

3. POINTE by Brandy Colbert -- Hands down the best YA contemp I read this year. Beautiful writing and characters that stuck with me.

4. BIRD BOX by Josh Malerman -- I read this on Halloween and scared the hell out of myself. A great horror story. Don't read before bed. Or in the dark. Or alone. 

5. ISLA AND THE HAPPILY EVER AFTER by Stephanie Perkins -- A lovely end to a lovely trilogy. I think this one was my favorite of the three. 

6. WRITTEN IN MY OWN HEART'S BLOOD by Diana Gabaldon -- It's no secret that I'm a diehard Outlander fan. This is book freaking EIGHT and the story and characters are still as addictive as ever.

7. BREAKABLE by Tammara Webber -- EASY is my favorite New Adult book and I wasn't sure how Breakable would compare. I shouldn't have wondered. This one is just as good, if not better.

8. CITY OF HEAVENLY FIRE by Cassandra Clare -- I've read so many disappointing ends to series', but this one got it right. 

9. MR. MERCEDES by Stephen King -- I think I'm one of the few who likes King's new stuff better than his old. *ducks and runs* I get lost in his books--the storytelling is just that good.

10. BIG LITTLE LIES by Liane Moriarty -- I love Moriarty's books and will read anything she puts out.


Honorable mentions:

PANIC by Lauren Oliver 
SPLIT SECOND by Kasie West 
ON THE FENCE by Kasie West
AFTER THE END by Amy Plum
EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU by Nina LaCour
THE ART OF LAINEY by Paula Stokes
OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord
SINCE YOU'VE BEEN GONE by Morgan Matson
BEHIND THE SCENES by Dahlia Adler
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT by Dahlia Adler
AFTER I DO by Taylor Jenkins Reid
ME SINCE YOU by Laura Wiess
17 FIRST KISSES by Rachael Allen
I'LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
YES PLEASE by Amy Poehler
YOU by Caroline Kepnes
REVIVAL by Stephen King
THE TREATMENT by Suzanne Young

What were YOUR best reads of 2014?




Tuesday, October 28, 2014

UNTIL NOW (Just You #3)







UNTIL NOW (Just You #3) is available (almost) everywhere today! 

Pick up a copy at:



Only two things are keeping Robin Calvert on the right track: the support of her best friend Taylor, and Drake and Lila, her three-year-old twin siblings. Former party girl turned dedicated college student, Robin strives to be a good role model for her younger brother and sister. But when her mother disappears, and her stepfather ships the twins off to live with their grandparents, the stable life she's worked so hard to maintain comes crumbling down around her.

Without her siblings around to motivate her, she backslides to her old reckless ways--vodka, hangovers, and bad boys who give her nothing but trouble. One bright spot is Jane, the grandmotherly stranger who takes Robin under her wing and welcomes her into her big, loving family. There, she forms an unexpected connection with Jane's son, Ryan, a divorced single dad whose pale blue eyes make her question her policy against dating guys with kids.

Ryan has baggage of his own, but the closer Robin gets to both him and his family, the more she understands what it truly means to be home.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

FAKING PERFECT

Two days ago, the cover of Faking Perfect was revealed on the Barnes and Noble blog. In case you missed it, here it is again:





Isn't it gorgeous? *pets it*

You know how authors talk about "the book of my heart"? Well, this is probably mine. I started writing it in the fall of 2012, after a whirlwind few months of ABNA stuff and getting an agent. I set a goal to finish it before May 2013, and I did. The first draft was done in April 2013.

Why is it the book of my heart? I'm not sure. Maybe because it's the first book I've written that didn't give me writer's block even once. The words just kept coming and coming. Maybe because it's different than anything I've ever written before. Maybe because I worked harder on it than the others (I cut almost 15k words from first draft to last, changed/added/deleted many scenes, and even axed a character). Maybe because it's the book that got me three offers and a book deal. I don't know, but I think it might have something to do with the characters.

I've always written such nice, sweet book boys, but Faking Perfect has the first "bad boy" I've ever created. And I had SO MUCH FUN with him. Tyler is by far my favorite boy character, probably because he's so flawed. But he's not the only boy in this book. There are three of them, all very different, all of them important to Lexi in different ways. This book is about discovering new sides to people, even the people we think we have pegged. And, like with all my books, it's also about family and overcoming your past.

I've written six books to date, but Faking Perfect (Speaking of the title, it took my agent Carly and me months to come up with it! It was worse than naming a baby or a cat), is probably the book I'm most proud of, and the one I absolutely can't wait to share with you all.


Faking Perfect will be released in Summer 2015 by Kensington Publishing.


Pre-order links:

Barnes and Noble
Amazon
Powell's

Add to your Goodreads TBR shelf.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

UNTIL NOW (Just You #3)

Wow, it's been a long time coming, this book. I started the Just You series about five years ago, published them two years ago and, until a few months ago, was pretty damn adamant that I'd never write a third Just You book.

Then I wrote a third Just You book.

Not only did I say I'd never write a third Just You book, I also said I'd NEVER write a New Adult romance. YA is my thang, not NA. I'm not a big fan of NA, to be completely honest.

Then I wrote a NA.

New Adult involves college-aged characters (usually) between the ages of 18-25 (usually). I can relate to YA, because I was a teen once and went through typical teen things. I read a lot of YA. I write YA. I love YA. But NA? When I was 21, I had a baby. When I was 22, I got married. When I was 25, I had another baby. These are not typical New Adult experiences, so I wasn't sure if I could even write a NA book about typical NA people.

But I did. And I loved it. And here it is:


Only two things are keeping Robin Calvert on the right track: the support of her best friend Taylor, and Drake and Lila, her three-year-old twin siblings. Former party girl turned dedicated college student, Robin strives to be a good role model for her younger brother and sister. But when her mother disappears, and her stepfather ships the twins off to live with their grandparents, the stable life she’s worked so hard to maintain comes crumbling down around her.

Without her siblings around to motivate her, she backslides to her old reckless ways—vodka, hangovers, and bad boys who give her nothing but trouble. One bright spot is Jane, the grandmotherly stranger who takes Robin under her wing and welcomes her into her big, loving family. There, she forms an unexpected connection with Jane’s son, Ryan, a divorced single dad whose pale blue eyes make her question her policy against dating guys with kids. 

Ryan has baggage of his own, but the closer Robin gets to both him and his family, the more she understands what it truly means to be home.


UNTIL NOW officially releases on Amazon, Kobo, and Smashwords on October 28!


Pre-order on Amazon
Add to your Goodreads TBR list


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Writing Process

I've noticed some other writers doing blog hop posts about their writing process, which looked like a lot of fun. I haven't been tagged for a blog hop, and I won't use a fixed set of questions, but I thought I'd go rogue and join in. Other writers' routines and habits have always interested me.

My process:

1. Drafting

When the first draft is going well, there's nothing like it. When it's going really, really well? It's like what the main character in Stephen King's Misery says: the page opens up and you fall in. Hours go by in a blink. Words and ideas flow. Fortunately, first drafts are allowed to suck. Usually, mine are like 200+ pages of word vomit. And that's okay.

When I'm writing a book, I usually get down about 1000 words on weekdays--between meals, laundry, cleaning, shopping, kids, etc--and 2500+ on the weekend. I write on a laptop, which lives on my desk in the office/sitting room area. This room is on the main floor next to the kitchen and has no door for privacy:


















Or I write in my bedroom (which does have a door, obviously), where I sit on the bed, my back propped up with pillows, laptop table on my lap. (No, I'm not posting a pic of my bedroom)

It takes me anywhere from three to nine months to complete a first draft.


2. Revision

Usually, unless I'm doing NaNoWriMo, I revise as I go, reading over what I wrote the date before and then continuing. When Draft #1 is done, I go through the entire thing again on my laptop and edit page by page. Then I put it on my Kindle, which is a GREAT way to catch spelling errors and flow issues, and read it from beginning to end again. When I'm done, I go back to the laptop and fix mistakes, edit, rework, and deal with any pacing or consistency problems.

3. Beta Readers

I cannot stress enough how important this step is. Beta readers can be fellow writers or even just a friend who loves to read. Anyway, a good beta reader is honest and direct. They will tell you what works and what doesn't. They will catch mistakes and inconsistencies that you missed. They will praise the good, but also point out the bad. And there will be bad.

4. Revise Again

Now that I have notes from my beta readers, I do yet another revision. I take their suggestions and implement whatever screams "Oh my God, how did I not see that, they're totally right." Then I send re-worked scenes/chapters to my beta readers to make sure I'm on the right track. Then I read the manuscript on my Kindle again. After that, I go back for a final run-through until it's as perfect as possible. (By this time, I'm kinda getting sick of my own words.)

5. Send to Agent (if publishing traditionally)

My manuscript is now ready to be sent to my agent Carly. She reads it and sends me input on how to improve plot/characters/stakes. Carly always sends me fantastic edit notes, and it was mainly because of her spot-on suggestions that my fourth book, Faking Perfect, received three offers and then went on to get a two-book deal with Kensington Publishing.

Once I get my agent's notes, I proceed to--you guessed it--another revision. I think about Carly's notes, make changes, and send the manuscript back. While she's reading a second time, I work on evil-but-necessary things like the book synopsis (*shudder*). Then, once we're both happy with the revisions, off it goes on submission.

6. Formatting (if self-publishing)

I'm a hybrid author. From Writer's Digest: "A hybrid author is one who refuses to accept that there exists One True Way up the Publishing Mountain and who embraces all the methods available. The hybrid author prefers a diverse approach to getting her work out there, which means utilizing both the traditional system of publishing and also acting as an author-publisher in order to retain control and self-publish her own work."

For books I self-publish, I skip #5 and go to formatting for Amazon/Kobo/Smashwords/CreateSpace. By now, my book has been read and reread and edited so many times that I think I'd rather perform a root canal on myself with an icepick than look at it one more freaking time. But I do. I spend days formatting, periodically loading the finished product on my e-reader to see if it looks okay. By now, I have a cover and description and release date. I've also started marketing.

7. Publishing

For my traditionally-published books, the actual act of publishing is done for me. I'll admit, at this point, I'm very early in this particular process and not much has happened yet, so I can't truly describe it. For my self-published books, everything is up to me. I promote, hit the "publish" button on my pre-arranged release date, promote some more, do giveaways for visibility and reviews, etc. etc.

That's it! My book is now out in the world (or about to be). So, what do I do next? Ideally, this: