Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 - A Year of Firsts

2013 was an amazing year – my debut year, one full of firsts, fears, and felicity.

In January, I revealed the cover for my debut novel, Reclaimed. I was so pleased with how it turned out, and the entire experience was surreal. That is another thing 2013 was – completely surreal.

The book went up for pre-order in March. Seeing my name on Barnes and Noble and Amazon was strange, like that person was completely separate from the one I am.

In May I had another first when I flew to NYC to attend BEA. Signings posters was incredible, as was getting to meet authors I admire, but the best part about BEA was getting to hang with all of the friends I’d met online. I can’t wait until we’re all in the same city again. Shenanigans!

In June I learned that Reclaimed had received two blurbs from authors I admire (Tiffany Schmidt and Mindi Scott). There was much jumping and squealing. Again, the idea that people whose writing I love also love mine was (and still is) so hard to grasp.

Kirkus gave Reclaimed a lovely review in July. I’m still not sure I believe that one.

August and September were ridiculously busy getting ready for Reclaimed’s release. I’m so grateful for my editor, my publicity team, and the Reading with Me girls.

October. My favorite month. The month Reclaimed begins. My birthday. Falling leaves and cooler temps and magic. And the release of my debut. It was a magical month indeed, full of author events and Twitter support and live chats. I saw my book on bookstore shelves. Finally, after three years, the characters I loved now no longer belonged only to me. It was so gratifying and humbling to hear that readers loved them too.

December has been a pretty exciting month as well, for reasons. J

The one regret I have this year is that I didn’t read as many books. I normally average around 100 books a year. Last year was my lowest at 62. This year was so busy that I read fewer than 50. But I read some great ones. Here are just a few of my favorites:

Eleanor and Park and Fangirl, both by Rainbow Rowell (This was the year I fell in love with Rainbow Rowell.)

Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare (I read this in March. I’ll re-read when/if I ever recover from it.)
Vicious by V.E. Schwab (And did you hear the movie news?)

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (I loved The Raven Boys, but I think I liked this one even better.)

Sweethearts by Sara Zarr (I love everything she writes.)

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau Banks by E. Lockhart (I know, I’m kicking myself for taking so long to find this one.)

2013 was a truly phenomenal year, and though I may be a bit sad to see it go, I am super excited about what 2014 will bring. There are so many great books just waiting to be discovered, and so many others that I’ve been waiting what seems like forever to read. My own writing is going well, and I have plenty to keep me busy in 2014. I’ll run my seventh marathon in February. I have exciting things planned for March. And I may just finally get to take that trip to England I’ve been dreaming about since I was in high school.

Thanks for coming along for the ride. Can’t wait to see where this road takes us.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

SHP Holiday Giveaway!

It's that time of year again. Time to eat too many sweets, watch cheesy Christmas movies, and begin to hope for a white Christmas. (Though in Louisiana, it's always green.) And it's time for the Spencer Hill Press Holiday Giveaway! The giveaway runs from December 8th-21st, and the prizes are amazing this year, so you're going to want to enter as many times as you can. (Visit J.L. Spelbring's blog for the full list of rules.) I've listed the goodies below, and the rafflecopter is at the very bottom. Good luck, and Happy Holidays!


Grand Prize:
Keshia Swaim: BLOOD BOUND
JL Spelbring: PERFECTION and Swag
Kelly Hashway: STALKED BY DEATH and Swag
Trisha Woolridge: THE KELPIE
Darby Karchut: FINN FINNEGAN
Jennifer Allis Provost: COPPER GIRL
Sarah Guillory: RECLAIMED
Megan Whitmer: Writer Care Package
SHP Family: $25.00 Gift Card
Rich “Platinum” Storrs-SHP Editor: Query and 1st ten pages critique
Stocking full of candy

2nd Place:
Aubrie Dionne:  Paper Machete Box
JL Spelbring: PERFECTION and Swag
Darby Karchut: FINN FINNEGAN
Brenda St John Brown: 2 Chapter Critique
Rhys A Jones: $5.00 Amazon Gift Card
SHP Family: $10.00 Gift Card
Stocking full of candy 

3rd Place:
JL Spelbring: PERFECTION and Swag
Trisha Woolridge: bracelet
Darby Karchut: FINN FINNEGAN
Brenda St John Brown: $10.00 Amazon Gift Card
Kimberly Miller: Query Critique
Stocking full of candy

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 6, 2013

Writer vs Author

Before I was published, I read several articles by authors who encouraged unpublished writers to enjoy their time without deadlines and expectations, to enjoy getting to be a writer, someone who polishes words and crafts stories and spends time prancing around in their characters’ heads.

Every time I saw an article like that, I thought: Easy for you to say. I assumed they didn’t remember the rejections, the worry, the doubt that the words they had bled over, the characters they loved so much, would never be seen by anyone else. I assumed they forgot what it felt like to doubt themselves.

They had not.

Both writers and authors still deal with self-doubt. They still aren’t as good as they want to be, and they worry they never will be. They still hate their first drafts (or maybe that’s just me).

Maybe what I’m saying isn’t true for everyone, but it is true for me. In my mind, the difference between being an author and being a writer is the business part. And for me, I love being a writer.

I want to immerse myself in my fictional world. I want to write new words, discover new characters, follow them on new journeys. I want to revise. (I really love that part.) I want to take the mess I’ve created and make it better. Smooth it out. Erase the wrinkles. Tuck in the corners. Tidy everything up.

I want to be a writer.

But sometimes I’m an author. Sometimes I have to answer interview questions. And work on marketing. (I’m not very good at that part.) I’ve done book talks and signings and Skype chats with classrooms. And I loved every single minute of it. I’m grateful for bloggers who are willing to interview me. I want people to hear about Reclaimed and read it. I adore my readers and am so very thankful.

And I absolutely love meeting with and talking to teens. They ask the best questions.

But if I’m not careful, being an author will start to siphon away the time I need to be a writer.

At the end of the day, it’s hard to take your art and make it a career. I’ve always had to horde my writing time, but that’s even more true now that I also have to carve out time for the author side of the equation.

Reclaimed has been out in the world almost two months now. I am so very grateful for readers, and bloggers, those who’ve emailed me how much they loved the book, and those who’ve written reviews. I’ve had a blast meeting you, answering your questions, sharing book recommendations. Thank you for taking this journey with me.

But now, I have to go write. It’s who I am after all.