Favorite Things of 2014

Usually this post is limited to my favorite books, but I decided to do it differently this year for a variety of reasons. Long before I was a writer, I was an avid reader and I still am. Reading is truly my favorite pastime. I read voraciously, and because of this it’s hard for me to narrow down the hundreds of books I read each year into a tidy little list of ten or twenty. Also, when I started listing my favorite books they weren’t attached to names and faces, lovely people I call friends. But now many of them are, and for this reason it’s hard for me to remain objective. So I figure this year I will share my very favorites in many different categories.

So here it is. My favorite things of 2014

Favorite Book:

tmoet

 

Alice Hoffman is my very favorite author in the world, so it’s no surprise that this is my favorite read of 2014. Her prose is beautiful, her descriptions lyrical and her tone haunting. Her books always leave an impression on me, and I enjoy every moment of them. This book was gorgeous from start to finish. I highly recommend it.

Runner up:

Okay, so in this category I felt that my second pick needed to be mentioned as well. Here is my second favorite book of 2014 –

the kitchen house

I’m not a huge historic fiction reader. And if I do read a historic novel it’s usually royal fiction by Philippa Gregory. But I read this book because a friend of mine urged me to. And I am so glad I did. This book seriously surprised me. The writing was fantastic, the plot interesting and suspenseful, and the characters engaging. I loved everything about this book!

Favorite song:

sweaterweather

Music is my second love and I listen to music constantly while I write. Therefore it was difficult to pick a favorite song. But when I sat down and really thought about it, I knew I had to pick SWEATER WEATHER by The Neighbourhood. I think I actually fell in love with it in 2013, but I’ve listened to it almost nonstop this year. It’s one of those songs that just never gets old to me.

Favorite Band:

civilwas

thenbhd

I couldn’t choose so this one is a tie. The Civil Wars have been my favorite for awhile. I love their sound, their uniqueness and their voices. They are perfection in my opinion. But The Neighbourhood swiftly stole my heart this year. Their sound is so different from anything out there, Jesse’s voice is amazing, and the dark quality of their music is so easy to write to.

Favorite Movie:

gonegirlmovie

This is an easy one for me. I’m not a huge movie-goer but this year I did watch more movies than normal. I think because there were so many books made into movies. But the best movie by far was Gone Girl. I read the book in 2013 and it was one of my favorite reads of the year. It was chilling and dark, and had a plot twist that blew my mind. I had worried that the movie wouldn’t live up to the book, but I felt like it did. The actors portrayed the characters with just the right amount of creepiness. They were perfect. And the plot twist was just as delicious on screen. This movie has haunted me ever since I stepped out of that theater.

Favorite TV Show:

nashville

I don’t watch much TV. In my downtime I would always rather crack open a book then turn on the television. Therefore I usually only have one or two shows I watch religiously. Nashville has been that one show for me for the past couple of years. I love the music, the plot, and the romance of course.

Favorite Wine:

wegat

 

I love wine. Red wine mostly. Lodi and Paso Robles have been my favorite wine regions for awhile, but Lodi has surpassed Paso for me in the last year or so. And this year my favorite wine is the 2012 Wegat from M2 Winery in Lodi.

Favorite new activity:

biking

Even though we live in a town that is very bicycle friendly with trails everywhere, I’ve never really gotten into biking. However, this year my family all got bikes and we started riding quite a bit. Now I’m kind of addicted.

Favorite writing moment:

#1a

FOR THE WIN was my bestselling release this year. And I was beyond honored when it hit #1 in numerous categories. Thank you to all the readers who picked up and read this book!

Thanks for indulging me. What were some of your favorites of 2014? Share them in the comments below!

 

How I’ve Failed at my Job

The truth is that I’m not very good at my job.

When I decided to publish my first book I had this grandiose idea that I would throw it out into the world and it would miraculously sell while I started work on the next one. You see, what I want to do is play in fictional worlds all day long. I want to crawl inside the pages of my latest manuscript and hide out there. But being an author is so much more than just writing. There are other aspects I hadn’t considered when I first took the plunge into this crazy business.

firstbooksigning

I’m a one-man show. Since I don’t have a publisher, I am in charge of every aspect of the writing and publishing process, which includes editing, revising, formatting, cover design, uploading and marketing. Lucky for me, I have a team of people who help me and they are truly invaluable – my PA, my editor, my cover designers, my beta readers – and up until a book is released things go pretty smoothly. It really is the release and beyond that I suck at. I mean, truly suck at. Can I be real with you? I’m horrible at marketing. My creativity seems to be limited to my characters and plot lines. I have absolutely no creativity when it comes to how to market and promote my work. Plus, I’m tired. As an author, I rarely sleep because my characters keep me up all night talking nonstop in my head. (Okay, I’ll move on so you don’t have me admitted to an insane asylum). And I work pretty much round the clock during the day. So by the time I sit down to brainstorm marketing ideas, my mind is blank.

Earlier this year, I discovered a band I love. They’re called The Neighbourhood, and you may have heard their song Sweater Weather before. What I found interesting about them was their unique branding. All of their videos and images are in black and white and have a very distinct feel. Their music all has a certain distinct mood and feel to it as well. Honestly I was impressed with this group of young men and how well they had branded and marketed themselves. It’s clear from listening to their music that they are creative like me, but unlike me they had come up with a game plan long before releasing their first album.

thenbhd

It sort of made me want to turn back the clock and start over. Before I released my first book I hadn’t thought about who I wanted to be as a writer or what my vision was. In all honesty, I’m not sure I knew at that time. But I do now. I have spent time thinking about who I am, what makes my books unique, and what my vision for the future is. About six months ago I came up with a branding campaign and my tagline was Addicted to Love. I thought it was cute and fun. Problem is that I don’t think it really describes what I’m about. See what I mean about sucking at this part? I can’t even figure out a tagline that works for me. 🙂

Knowing that this isn’t my strong suit, I turned to my fans and asked them what made me different as an author. I got responses like:

In your books I’ve learned to expect the unexpected

Unexplained love

True love

Love that heals

Suspense

Twists I never saw coming

Clean reading experience

You always write good guys. Guys I want my daughter to date

And then I knew it was time to re-brand myself. All of these answers are true. My books are always clean, and the guys are always good, upstanding guys. I actually explained why this is in an earlier blog post called Bike Ride Musings. And I do always have unexpected plot twists in all of my books.

Even though I’d love to hide out with my characters and never have to deal with the business aspect of this job, I know that isn’t possible. It’s also not possible for me to turn back time and start over. So I have to change things up starting today. And today I’m launching a branding campaign. It kicks off with this blog post where I’m revealing my new logo and tagline.  In the near future I will be revealing a series of videos for you to get to know me better and hear from my heart. I’ve already posted the first couple earlier this week to get the ball rolling, but check back in for the rest!

Without further ado, here is my new logo:

logo

 

Thanks for indulging me. Now I’m off to my writer’s cave. My characters are calling!