Apollycon 2017 (and 2018!)

Wellp, it's been, let's see... an entire freaking year since I last posted. 

I had some personal stuff to take care of and, because of it, took a long writing hiatus. And then I couldn't figure out how to get back into my writing groove. BUT thank god for writer friends, because mine have been a constant support with check ins and lunches and retreats--and they pushed be back into my current draft.

(Which, for the record, is a romantic suspense that I've finally finished and love just as much as I did when I started it way back when. More on that another time, though.)

I just got back from Apollycon in Orlando, one of the best and most energizing signings I've had yet in my career. Jennifer L. Armentrout and her organizers are amazing. I met so many readers and bloggers--both new and old. (Dude, some of my readers brought my books from home. Like, they'd already read them multiple times and were actually excited to meet me. I mean, what?) AND I also hung out with some completely brilliant authors, some new, some known. I did my best not to fangirl too hard. But it wasn't easy. 

Actually, now that I think about it--the first Apollycon back in 2015 was my first ever signing, and I had an absolute blast back then too. So I'm even more excited to be a part of the lineup for next year's event in DC! 

And speaking of signings, I'll be in Roanoke for the Roanoke Author Invasion in a week and a half (April 8) so come see me if you're in the area. I've got fun stuff lined up for the next year, some announced, some not quite yet, but I'll keep my events page updated. 

xo Riley

Currently #4

Here's what I'm up to:

Loving

My writing friends. I've just returned from an annual writing retreat (#countryroadsretreat) and it was glorious. I've had a really rough/busy last few months (Thanksgiving out of town, husband's emergency appendectomy/healing process, sick toddler, Christmas, in-laws visiting for a week, stomach flu that had me puking so violently I threw out my back #awesome...) and I haven't written since the end of November. But after this past weekend with some of my best writing friends? I'm finally, finally getting back on track.

#countryroadsretreat

Reading

My own manuscript! I've got 46,000 words in this sexy (sexyyyy) romantic suspense from back in November so I'm re-reading and submerging myself in the story and with my characters. And I have to say, I love love this book! I think I'll be announcing both the book and series titles soon, so sign up for my newsletter or join my Facebook reader group if you want to be among the first to know.

Watching

Five episodes in a row of Impractical Jokers the night my buddy Alison Miller arrived for the retreat. Damn that shit is so uncomfortably funny. Also, the Critic's Choice Awards over the weekend, for which Amy Schumer's speeches made the show hilarious. #drunkcelebsforthewin

Listening To

Adele. Always. And Jasmine Thompson because her voice is like spun glass, just gorgeous. Both are lovely to write to!

Thinking About

Better time management. I've gotten really into Pure Barre and I take my classes at 5 and 6am during the weekdays, which is when I used to write. Now that I'm writing again... I have to figure out how to fit it in without giving up the workouts that I'm pretty sure are saving my life. (I had gestational diabetes so now I'm super paranoid about diabetes and getting an hour workout in 5-6 days a week makes me feel SO much better about it all.) But it's really hard to balance. Writing, writing business stuffs, working out, family time, being a stay-at-home mom, housework and daily things. I don't know how the hell people do it!

Anticipating

Finishing this manuscript--I have to take a long, hard look at my schedule for it because I have a bunch of signings coming up, starting in April, and I'd love to have this book available at some of them. And also, hubs booked us a getaway to Mexico in a couple of months for our anniversary and I can't waitttttt. (And it's also awesome because if you read the wishing section of my last currently post, I literally wished for a way to take a trip somewhere with him.)

Wishing

We'd won the Billion Dollar Powerball. Don't pretend like you weren't wishing for the same thing.

Making Me Happy

Being home with the peanut. Getting away for the retreat was amazing, but I have such a hard time being away from her! (Now, ask me again later when she's throwing a tantrum and I might say something different :P )

What's going on with you?

 

2015 Highlights

Yeah. I've meant to do a best of 2015 post for like a month and it just hasn't happened. Instead, here's a quick* highlight reel of some of my favorite things last year--things I don't want to forget.

2015 was the year where I really, really focused on taking my career to the next level. (Up from...well...not much, really.) There are two main areas that made the hugest difference.

*lol not quick at all

Facebook Advertising

The best thing I did all year toward financial success was to enroll in Mark Dawson's Facebook Ads course. It cost a bit more than I was comfortable with at first (thank God for business credit cards) but I made the expense back in sales (and then some) within the first month after I started implementing his techniques with my Facebook ads. 

Understanding how to reach readers who are looking for my types of stories has opened an entire world to me. Emotionally--and financially. Not that I'm, like, rolling in the dolla dolla bills y'all, but I am finally able to contribute toward our bills and that feels fucking fantastic, tbh.

It's worth mentioning, too, that the reason I even discovered Mark's course was because I first signed up for Nick Stephenson's Your First 10k Readers course. Also brilliant information, though more focused on growing a mailing list. 

Margie Lawson

The other biggest game change for me--in this case, for personal writing growth--was my discovery of Margie Lawson and her brilliant (no exaggeration) Master Immersion course. I first purchased a few of her lecture packets (including Writing Body Language and Dialogue Cues, and Empowering Characters' Emotions) and these alone were huge game changers. But when I found out she was holding an intensive locally to me in the DC area? I couldn't believe my luck. And then I went and met Margie (and other wonderful writers) and learned as much as I was able to hold onto--and then I still couldn't believe my luck.

Margie's a psychologist who studied thousands of best selling books and kept track of the techniques that made the writing in those books so strong. She takes all that knowledge and she teaches you these same writing approaches to consider while you're writing (or, more likely, revising) to really, really add polish and originality and sharpness to your prose. 

The first book I publish in 2016 will be my first post-Margie book, and I can't freaking wait to share it with my readers <3

(LOL Mark Dawson and Margie Lawson--two people who made the biggest impact on my writing life in 2015--and I've just noticed for the first time while writing this post that their names rhyme, haha.)

Favorite Authors of 2015

  • Colleen Hoover. Just always. I doubt I need to even explain why.
  • Tarryn Fischer--who hit publish on her latest book last night! F*ck Love. I can't freaking wait to read this puppy (like, hurry the fuck up Amazon, god.) She's got an amazing way with words and description and can tug at my heartstrings like no other. 
  • Tiffany Reisz. Her Original Sinners series is one of my all-time favorites. I care more about her characters--even the most fucked up ones--than I do about almost any others that I read all year!
  • Ella James. Specifically her book, Sloth. Holy hot smut. Like, whoa. But also totally engaging, gut punching character arcs. If you haven't read Sloth, READ IT. (It's free on kindle unlimited, too.)
  • Lila Pace. Specifically Asking for It. Whoo, boy. A risky (trigger warning) theme written brilliantly with compassion and some serious freaking steam. 

Also Noteworthy
(My process, signings, events, people who are awesome)

  • It too me almost the entire year (and is very much thanks in part what I learned with Margie), but I finally came to terms with the fact that I'm not an author who can get a book out every month. I'm in total awe of authors who can kick ass that way! But at this point in my life, I can't reach my own quality standards when I try to bust it out like that. Which isn't to say I won't hit high word counts every day (or at least try)... It's just that my process takes longer.

    BUT even saying that, I think I'll have three books out this year (including Vera's story!!) with a possible fourth if I push super hard for it. And I'm okay with that. My career will be a slower build than I'd planned, but I'll also be able to look back in, say, five years, and be proud of what I produced.

    (As for these three or four 2016 books I mention, join my mailing list (and get Rock & Release delivered for free!) or Facebook reader group if you want to be the first to know deets!)
     
  • I had my first ever signing at Apollycon in Philly--and it was the absolute best way to kick off the experience. I mean, a huge event to celebrate Jennifer L Armentrout, and I was invited to be a part of it? Oh hell yes. It was fun, I met amazing readers and authors... It's definitely one of my favorite memories of the year.
     
  • I met some truly amazing people. Other authors, readers, business professionals. At conferences, online... Didn't seem to matter the medium, there are genuinely kind and helpful people everywhere in this industry. And the notes I received from readers--especially regarding Truth & Temptation? Gah, I don't even have words for how much every single one meant to me.

Wrapping Up

Because holy crap this post is long and I haven't even said everything I wanted to say--but here's to my goal of blogging more in 2016 to keep from having a ginormous wrap-up post at the end of the year :) 

xo

Currently #3

I love when Katy posts these because it reminds me to do them too :)

Here's what I'm up to:

Loving

I've started getting up early again to write (5:30am oh yeah) and I'm loving it. I had a few weeks of not doing it and thought it'd be way harder to get back in the habit, but it hasn't been. I started today with over 400 fresh words before the peanut woke up, which means while she naps, I'll be ready to pick up the flow again (instead of effing around online for a good hour first while waiting for yesterday's motivation to kick in, ha). 

Reading

I had the pleasure of an early read for Elizabeth Briggs' upcoming sexy, rockstar romance, More than Once. If you've read her Chasing the Dream series, you'll know the two stars of this book, Becca and Andy--though he goes by Andrew these days. (And is so, so yummy.) I think it's Liz's best book to date. It's sexy and emotional and I can't remember when I've rooted more for a main character than I did for Becca. 

Watching

Okay. I'm totally obsessed with a show called Mr. Robot on USA. N and I are marathoning it (read: one episode a night after the peanut goes to bed, if we don't pass out first) and I can't get enough. Awkward mega hacker MC and all these dark, broken characters twisted into a super high stakes plot. It's on demand right now and will somebody please FOR THE LOVE watch it so we can discuss?? 

Listening To

The new Adele song. God. Her voice is just pure and deep and gorgeous. I really can't wait till the full album drops in November!

I, ahem, also (kinda accidentally) am digging some of Bieber's new tunes. I know. I know. Judge all you want. I don't even care though.

Thinking About

Figuring out how to better organize my life. Starting with my home. We have so much clutter. And it's not that I want a pristine, sterile house that doesn't look lived in. But I have to declutter. I donated 15 boxes of clothes/kitchen wares/books/etc to Purple Heart last week, but it barely made a dent. I just know I'm happier and more motivated when I'm in a neat space. But I've never gotten to the point that keeping things neat comes easily to me. Womp womp. I need to read Marie Kondo's book--which I own--but I don't feel like I have the energy to make such a huge commitment...

Anticipating

Definitely still the Margie Lawson Immersion Master Class retreat I have in a couple of weeks. I'm nervous because my WIP's been stalled due to life things and it's not nearly as close to completion as I'd hoped it would be, but even that doesn't still the excitement that rushes my veins whenever I think about the class! 

Wishing

I had a gazillion dollars and could take a trip somewhere tropical and fabulous with N. I've been going through old photographs in preparation for this year's holiday album (for the peanut's grandparents) and I stumbled across an album of photos from a trip we took to Jamaica a few years ago. We looked so young and happy and relaxed. I'd love to hit that level of contentment again :) 

Making Me Happy

Getting back into my romantic suspense WIP! It's been such a fun challenge trying to tackle the suspense part (romance is second nature for me) and I can't wait to finish it, revise the hell out of it, and hear what early readers think.  I think I'll have info to share about the first book (title, synopsis, release date, etc) soon! 

 

What are you currently up to?

Currently... #2 (and #teasertuesday)

currently.jpg

It's been a hot minute since I last did one of these things. My bad. But thanks to Katy's recent post, reminding me, I'm back. I know you've missed me desperately. Right?

Right?

Bueller... Bueller... Bueller...

😘

Here's what I'm up to:

Loving

Fall! I think it's my favorite season. (Though, honestly, I love them all.) There's something so refreshing to the snap of the chill in the air. Wrapping myself in my robe every morning to combat the coolness when I get up early to write. Not having to deal with the boobsweat days of summer... 

ALSO. My new website! Look around, you likey? The fabulous Nancy from Colbert Creative designed it and, not gonna lie, I'm obsessed. 

Reading

Katy Upperman's swoony YA manuscript, Kissing Max Holden--which is up, for free, on the Swoon Reads website! Go. Read. Thank me with chocolate. (You can also read the first chapter on her website.) If you love her story--which I know you will--vote for it! The site is hosted by a MacMillan imprint and the stories submitted might get picked up for publication. And, trust me, Katy's manuscripts? Are definitely deserving of publication. You'll see.

AND Elodie Nowodazjik's new release, Always Second Best. A wonderful YA dance/love story. Second chance romance, fucked up family ties, forbidden love and deep, deep secrets. Plus, a plot that twists and turns and breaks your heart and then puts it (almost completely) back together.

Watching

The old seasons of Heroes, in preparation for the new season (which has already started but whatever. DVR for the win.) I forgot how much I loved this show. And HIRO! :)  Also, I'm totally into Pretty Little Liars (season 5 so far, no spoilers!) and S1 of Madam Secretary. I adore Téa Leoni. I watch the seasons super slowly, though, because when I have free time it's spent with my romantic suspense WIP. Which I'm in the middle of a love-hate relationship with. (Mostly love.)

Listening To

Halsey. Omg where has she been my entire life? I've been listening to her album, Badlands, on iTunes, on repeat while I write, and I don't see an end to loving her music anytime soon. 

Thinking About

Being an age that, when I was growing up, I used to consider old as fuck. Thirty-four feels like a weird, in-between age. Some days I feel like I've reached grown up status, others like I'm still somewhere in my teens. But I pay bills. I have responsibilities. I have a daughter. (The best thing to ever happen to me, btw.) (Having her makes it impossible for me to regret anything I've ever done because if I'd changed one thing about myself before she was created, maybe she wouldn't have been created.) (#deepthoughtswithriley)  Anyway, with the exception of chronic back pain, most days I'm still young. 

Anticipating

I'm taking an Immersion Master Class with Margie Lawson in November and I am literally counting down the days. (35.) If you've never heard of Margie Lawson, and you're a writer, I suggest getting to know her site and her teachings. I've worked through several of her lecture packets, and every drop of knowledge has been invaluable in strengthening my work. (This stuff is legit. I've taking other classes along the way--always looking to grow my skills--and I'm usually bored with how beginner they are. These? Not beginner.)

Wishing

Life hadn't thrown my the curveballs it has the past few months. I've had a bit of a rough go recently and I'm ready to get back on track. Luckily, I think it's happening. The whole back on track thing. Starting today. And it makes me immensely happy.

Making Me Happy

Other than the thing I just mentioned? My new planner arrived from InkWELL Press! And it's so pretty. And while I don't want to skip over the next few months, I also can't wait until 2016 because I'm ready to break this puppy in! If you're searching for a new planner, get an IWP! They're sold out now, but I there should be new 2016s available to order this month. And if you use this link, http://r.sloyalty.com/r/utuR7BPOTHwS, you'll get $10 off and I'll get referral points. :) 

The wood chevron color is so me. And I couldn't resist the ampersand notebook, either. Because, duh. (Paper quality: Top notch.)

The wood chevron color is so me. And I couldn't resist the ampersand notebook, either. Because, duh. (Paper quality: Top notch.)

What are you up to these days??

Oh. And here's the #teasertuesday part of my post!

This is a rough excerpt I shared with my Facebook reader group last week...

**********

Vaughn's expression didn't change, but he he stepped closer when Lulu shivered, unable to keep her fear from resurfacing. He didn't reach out to her. He didn't pull her toward him. She longed for it, for his reassurance, his touch. She hated herself for the longing. 

"If you won't go to the cops, you're staying with me." His voice was gruff, demanding. 

"Uh, yeah. I really don't think that's a good idea." 

"I really don't care."

God, he was annoying. She let her tone edge into a sharper terrain. "Good thing the decision isn't up to you then." 

"But it is."

"Don't be such a caveman."

"Don't make me throw you over my shoulder." He looked like he'd do it, too, his expression was serious enough to make her breath catch in her throat and drop back into her lungs. 

And the way his long hair fell over his shoulders and the scruff at his sternly set jaw… A part of Lulu was tempted to take him up on the offer. Vaughn swinging her over his shoulder held a certain appeal—one that zoomed straight down between her legs. But she was too irritated to give into it. "You don't even like me, Vaughn. Why the hell do you care what's going on with me?"

"I protect what's mine." A second after the words left his mouth, Vaughn looked as surprised to have spoken them as Lulu felt hearing them.

"I'm not yours," she said, her cheeks turning into miniature incinerators.

"You're in Markham's Cove," he said with a shrug that was too careless to actually be careless. "Everything in this town belongs to me."

"Yeah, and who died to make you king of the Cove?" She regretted the question the moment she asked it, thinking immediately of his parents. A darkness flickered through his honeyed eyes and she knew he'd followed the same thought process.