Thursday, December 31, 2015

Fave Reads of 2015

Every year, around this time, I like to recap my favorite reads of the year.

A quick look at my goodreads list shows a solid tie between Romance and NA books. And no wonder, I absolutely love the emotional intensity and mature heat level of NA. They are so much fun!

Here are some of my faves, in no particular order.


1.NA Romance:The Capital Confessions Series (three books) by Chanel Cleeton

This series is classic Chanel Cleeton - meaning it's chock full of authentic, steamy heat. I couldn’t put it down. All three books are a fun read (but the second book was my fave).

2. NA Contemp Romance: Deep Blue Eternity by Natasha Boyd.

This book was gripping and steamy. There is this scene in the's hot, hot, HOT.

3. YA Contemp/Urban Fantasy: Trust Me, I’m a Ninja by Natalie Whipple

The second book in Natalie's ninja series is aw-some! With ninja’s, high school drama, a crush between two bad ass kids? Um, yes please. I adored this story. Like a lot of Natalie’s books, this one is action packed and full of swoon worthy scenes. I definitely recommend it.

4. Adult Sports Romance: In The Zone (a hockey romance series) by Kate Willoughby.

I'd never read sports romances before my friend recommended them. I started with these hockey romances and fell in love. Kate's stories are hot and sweet. They offer the full package of longing, desire, heat, and happiness. I love these books and think you will too.

5. NA Romance:Fall With Me by Jennifer Armentrout

I adore books by Jennifer Armentrout (aka J Lynn). This book is just as steamy as the rest of her stuff and it’s adorable. I couldn’t put this book down. I believe Fall With Me is my favorite in the series. Did you read any of these books this year? What did you think?

Those are my faves this year.

What were some of your favorite books of 2015?

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 Year in Review - and other observations from a caffeinated introvert

This year marks the beginning of a new normal and adjusting to the newness has been tough. New levels of stress have really thrown me off balance.

December has been slower, at least. And this time of year I always like to pause and reflect on what I’ve accomplished. Mostly because no one is going to do it for you (you gotta toot your own horn). And also because it’s empowering to see what all you’ve done with the minutes, hours, and days you’ve been given.

This year has been remarkable and here’s why:

More than 51 thousand words written. Now, that's a lot less than last year. However, I did stop tracking my words after August (because my writing time was random and fleeting so I didn't count words - I more celebrated the fact that I was writing at all!). That’s good considering my law school work took a boat load of my personal time. *0.0*

76 blogs posted

100 + new Twitter followers

12000 blog views (More than double the views from last year)

32 novels read (11 more than last year)

0 writing class attended (unfortunately)

1 WIP completed *woo hoo* and one outlined

0 contests entered.
Ooops. Missed that goal but you know what. Primarily because my story wasn’t contest ready this year and there was a lot of stuff to do with school.

I started law school! I did the work and I took the exams. I survived (*just barely*)! Law school is pretty flipping hard so I'm thrilled with my performance so far.

Running took a backseat as school took most of my time. I didn't even make it to the personal trainer appointments (because they conflicted with my school schedule).

But we did run more than 190 miles this year (including the DOPEY CHALLENGE! Check out my Dopey Challenge posts: 5k, 10k, Half, Full, and my Dopey Recap).

There was travel for vacations and business: St. Louis, MO, various parts of FL (including Disney World), North GA Mountains, a Caribbean Cruise AND an Alaskan Cruise!! These trips included hiking, running, tubing, swimming, and time on the beach. I even attended an awesome bike week in Panama City. I spent a lot of time with family which was my ultimate goal.

Overall, I accomplished a good deal - however, I missed some milestones and goals along the way, but the end result was success and momentum. An (not concurrently, of course)d a kick ass first semester of law school.

It’s time to celebrate our momentum and achievements. It's time to look forward to another great year. I, for one, am going to read a book, sleep, and sleep some more.

How do you plan to celebrate?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

TBT: Supporting Small Business aka Your Favorite Author

It's December which means the time to buy gifts for our friends and loved ones is here. And when commercialism takes the stage, front and center, in our lives it's easy to shop big. Heck, it's easy for us to mistake a lot of 'businesses' as big.

I was recently reminded of the 'author-as-a-small-business' paradigm and thought I'd share with everyone. For today's TBT I'm sharing Supporting Small Business aka Your Favorite Author



Pursuing publishing as a career has made me acutely aware of small businesses and the way they operate.

Because, *cue big reveal* every author is a small business. Just like your local book store or indie coffee shop is a small business. Even your local doctor’s office, accountant's office, or attorney's office. All small businesses.

Recently, a traditionally published author who I love/follow posted a blog about why she can't give away free stuff. It started a bit of a sensation. In this post she revealed her actual advance and other real elements of her contract with a big publishing house. Of course, a few hours after the post went live she was forced to take it down (it apparently violated the non disclosure terms of her contract). I read it while it was live and understood the main objective to be this: Authors aren't rock stars. They don't get bags of money. They don't get tons of support in marketing their book. And they certainly don't get unlimited free copies of their books they can give away for free.

In other words, authors are small businesses.

Even if an author has a book published by a traditional publishing house they are still, first and foremost, in business for themselves. The big 5 publishing company is just their partner. And it definitely doesn’t mean said author is instantly rich and famous.

Small businesses fight daily to stay a float, to feed their families, and to continue providing their awesomeness to the public. If you can, you should support a local or small business. Because your business, no matter how small, makes a difference to them.

It's something of an oddity to think your single purchase makes a difference in our current global economy. Walmart will go on without you but the local coffee house/bookstore/doctor/lawyer/author needs you.

And you should definitely not steal or use pirated materials. I know, you’re thinking, ‘it’s only one download, or ‘it’s really no big deal,’ or even ‘If they didn’t jack their prices so high I could afford it. They’re really forcing me to steal it.’

Stop right there. Pricing is not a conspiracy against you. It’s business. And business is aiming to make a profit. But not all profit is evil. In fact, I’d argue that no profit is evil (but I digress). Profits are what keep your favorite actor working, or your favorite writer writing. Profits are what keep your favorite TV shows on the air and what drives movies to be made.

You wouldn’t work for free, and neither would your favorite small business person (aka author, actor, writer, artist, doctor, lawyer, accountant, etc.)

Everyone wants to be paid for their work. Be apart of the writing/bookselling economy. Support your favorite authors. #shopsmall

For more on the 'Rich Author Myth' see Wendy Higgins post.

Monday, December 14, 2015

9 Things to Do Before Starting Law School #1Lhell

I'm done with my first semester of 1Lhell. Which means I'm sleeping as much as humanly possible and trying to have fun (you know, that three letter word that was so familiar BEFORE school). So I thought I'd take a moment to reflect over the beginning of it all. If you are starting law school in the future maybe these things will come in handy.

Here are my top 9 things to do before starting law school:

1. Talk to everyone! Tell everyone who will listen that you are going to law school. I mean, don’t be a jerk about it but get the word out. Who knows, someone may know someone who is an attorney and *boom* instant network connection. Networking is a constant in the professional world. For those who haven’t worked in a career before this will come as a shock. For those of you (like me) who are pursuing law as a second (or third) career you know networking starts now. Heck, maybe it started yesterday. Just get to it and don’t worry about sounding silly. You’re a 1L – no one expects you to know everything.

2. Get a good, light weight, laptop. This cannot be understated. You will already have about a billion pounds worth of books to lug around. Who wants to lug around a 5 million pound 17 in’ laptop? No one. *insert aint no one got time for that meme* I use a Microsoft Surface (pro 2) and I love it. Some people will tell you to get a Mac – I’m not a super Mac fan but if that’s what floats your boat then, by all means, float your boat.

3. Get your job sitch figured out – you don’t need any extra stress. Set expectations early with your employer that you will need flexibility in order to make school work.

4. Get your home sitch figured out – home is essential. It’s where you unwind. It’s where you relax. It’s where you spend your time when you aren’t at work or at the library. So start talking to your SO’s or family now. Set expectations with them early and often. This is going to be a HUGE change and they need to be on board. They are your partners in this endeavor. You need their support.

5. Have as much fun as possible – this is your last moment of freedom before you commit to a grueling lifestyle of hard work. Take this moment to celebrate EVERYTHING and ANYTHING! Celebrate getting into school. Celebrate the fact that it’s Thursday. Just be sure you are enjoying life because when things get hard you’ll want happy memories to see you through.

6. Visit family – you may not be able to travel for every holiday anymore. Sure, you have Thanksgiving week off from class but it’s also the last week before finals. You’ll want that time to study. So maybe that means spending turkey day at home instead of with the fam. Plan now for how you will spend your holidays and set those expectations. You’ll feel a lot less stress if you take care of it now. Not to mention the total awesome feeling you’ll get from spending time with your loved ones.

7. Get your personal medical issues in order – I was getting headaches as I studied for the LSAT. I had Lasik about 10 yrs ago and knew it was guaranteed so I made time to visit with the eye doc and find out what was causing my headaches. The issue was nothing that could be corrected with a repeat procedure so it was determined that I needed glasses. Better that I got those glasses before school as opposed to suffering through and then getting them in the middle of first semester. This applies to mental health issues as well. I’m glad I didn’t wait until the semester started to discuss my mental health with my provider. This is serious stuff. You need to take it seriously.

8. Plan to protect your time – a lot of people will tell you that just because you’re in school doesn’t mean you need to give up on the things that you love. If you’re like me and you enjoy running and fitness then schedule time in your day to work out. It’s not enough to schedule the time. You need to protect that time like a momma bear protects her cubs. Luckily for me I’ve learned this skill because I love to write and writing is a task that can get easily run over by the rest of life. Now, this is easier said than done. For example, I regularly miss my workouts and have had to drop writing sessions completely for a while. But it’s not because I didn’t try. I did. I am. And I’m adapting my schedule to what will work.

9. Sleep. Sleeeeeeeeep. For the love of god sleep. You will likely run on less sleep than you thought possible once school gets underway. So make sure you aren’t going into it already operating at a deficit.

Hope these tips help you as you get ready to start your law school journey.

Have you been through 1Lhell? What did you wish you could have done before the semester started? Share here.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

TBT: How To Maximize Your Critique

I've recently had the pleasure of working with some amazing crit partners (CP's). They provide excellent, challenging feedback and help me grow as a writer. But not all CP relationships are productive.

For today's TBT I'm sharing a post on How To Maximize Your Crit. Keep these goals in mind when you start down the CP road. Good luck and Happy Writing!



Shakespeare said it best, “get thee to a crit partner.” No? Well, then the internet said it best: “get thee to a crit partner.” Whether you are writing your first or fiftieth novel you need to crit partner (CP). Preferably a team of them – because the more eyes on your book baby, the better. But simply having a CP isn’t good enough, usually. To get the most of your crits you might want to take some of these steps:

1. Define the aim of the crit:

Agree ahead of time on what you want. Are you looking for a big picture crit that examines potential plot holes, character inconsistencies, opportunities for improvement, etc. or more of a line by line (LBL) crit that digs deeeeep into each line looking to correct punctuation, grammar, and language usage. Or what about a Structure crit and evaluates the story structure as a device (beginning, middle, end) and the structure of each chapter. Or some combo of all of those.... It’s best to know what you’re looking for early on. Establish what you need from the crit so your using your CP’s time effectively. Have 3 CP’s? Maybe have each CP read with a different goal. Remember, your CP’s may have different strengths than you – use their strengths to compliment your own. And always, always, be respectful of their time.

2. Break your crit up into manageable pieces:

Revisions can be challenging. Breaking the revisions and feedback into manageable sections can make it feel more manageable. One CP I've worked with had a great system for this. She broke her MS into chunks of 3-5 chapters and sent them to her CP's with deadline 'goals' for having them returned. That way, she could work on revisions her CP’s suggested in chunks while her CP’s were busy reading the next few chapters. Also, it’s way less overwhelming to work on changes/suggestions to 3 chapters than 30.

3. Don’t forget your query letter and synopsis:

If you plan to start down the long, and winding road of querying be sure your CP’s have had a pass at your letter and synopsis. The query letter is so critical because it’s the only thing the Agent is guaranteed to read. If you can’t hook them with the query then they may never read your sample pages or synopsis.

Defining your strategy and goals can help ensure your crits are laser focused and productive. Need more on getting the most out of your CP relationships? Try these posts – list posts.

How do you approach a crit?

Want more about CP's:

SC Write - Handling A Tough Crit

Secret Life of Writers - The Secrets of and Awesome CP Relationship

Ladies Who Critique - CP 101

Writefully So... - What to do with the feedback from a crit

Writefully So... - The importance of taking criticism gracefully (regardless of source)
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...