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2016: A Year in Review

I’ve seen a lot of posts today with people sharing 16 things that went well/made them appreciate 2016. My first thought was, Wow, 16 things is a lot, especially when the year has ended with so much negativity. Do I have 16 significant life events to discuss that will make me appreciate this past year? My second thought was, Shit,  I haven’t blogged since sometime in 2015. Do I really want to start back up now? 

The answer to the first question is YES. No matter what challenges I faced in 2016, personal or otherwise, I am, without a doubt, always grateful for another year on this planet. Another year with my kids. Another year getting to write romance. And when I went back through my camera roll on my phone, I found tons of evidence for what made this past year a good one for me. The answer to the second question…about blogging…I’m not so sure. Let’s maybe start with baby steps with more pictures than words. With that, I give you my sometimes writing related/sometimes not look back at the highlights of 2016.

1. The end of 2015 gave us The Force Awakens, and from there the Twitter handle of @VeryLonleyLuke was born. Literally a great start to 2016.vll

2. A fun first! I was part of a self-published anthology of NA stories that took place in the 80s, and for this I wrote my first novella inspired by The Stone Roses’ 1989 song, “She Bangs the Drums.”80s

3. I binged Hart of Dixie on Netflix and regret NOTHING. #teamwade

HART OF DIXIE

4. My good friend and fellow author, Lia Riley, turned me on to Liane Moriarty’s books. Not only are her stories compelling reads, but she writes women so brilliantly. I’m hoping some of this brilliance rubs off on me. bll

5. I published three of four books in my contemporary romance series, the Kingston Ale House series, starting with The One That Got Away. I loved getting to work on these four books with my amazing editor, Karen Grove, at Entangled Publishing.
totga

6. I got asked to present at Writers Week, an amazing event at the school where I used to work, and was honored to share some program space with some pretty impressive names.
ww

7. I really felt like I made it when I was asked to sign someone’s arm at another school visit.
arm-signing

8. This pic of Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was saved on my camera roll (originally from Details magazine). Definitely a 2016 highlight.
kingslayer

9. I got more ink, writing related and personal. I added more birds for more published books, and an infinity symbol with my kids’ initials because I love them infinity. (I’m actually due for two more birds!)
ink

10. Captain America: Civil War released, and it was everything. Any guesses whose team I’m on?
civil-war

11. As librarian me, I attended the School Library Journal Day of Dialog conference in Chicago. One of the keynote speakers was YA author, Laini Taylor. Her Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy is by far one of my all-time favorite series. Period. And her lyrical, masterful, prose is too gorgeous for words (how ironic). I fangirl hard for her.
laini-taylorI also attended the Anderson’s YA Literature Conference with a couple of my YA Lit loving writers/friends/educators.

andersons

12. I participated in my local RWA Chapter’s (Chicago North) conference, Spring Fling. It was my very first romance-related local signing, and I had so much fun meeting readers…especially one of whom was a sorority sister from college I hadn’t seen in years!
spring-fling-collage-1

13.  Spring Fling also meant a weekend with some of my lovely writer friends who I only get to see once or twice a year and fangirling while I was in a Christina Lauren sandwich.
spring-fling-collage2

14. In July I made it to RWA Nationals in San Diego where I got to hang out with MOAR of my talented friends I only see at events like this, including some of the amazing crew from Heroes and Heartbreakers (where I sometimes guest blog) and two of my critique partners, Lia Riley and Jennifer Blackwood. Natalie Blitt and Megan Erickson (not pictured because I have not seen them this year *cries*), I will see YOU at RT in Atalanta. Cannot wait.
rwa-collage
15. The Kingston Ale House series got a sexy new cover makeover (still just as sexy between the pages…as it already was).
kingston-ale-house

 

16. And finally, I signed a contract for my first print deal with Forever Romance, a three-book series that will be out in early 2018. AND, I co-authored a book with my talented friend, Lia Riley, that was acquired as a four-book series for Harlequin’s new sexy category line, also releasing in 2018. A great end to the year.
deals

Okay, so I just learned a couple of important things. First, how the past year looks is all about perspective. Are there things that happened in 2016 that I wish hadn’t? Yes. Of course. But I also learned that there is a lot (big and small) that was positive for me. Second, as a first foray back into blogging after over a year…doing a post based on pics rather than text is NOT faster than just writing a post. I’m just sayin’.

Happy New Year, everyone. I hope you had 16 or more highlights this past year and am wishing you many, many more in 2017.

 

Make it Last Release Day!!! (and giveaway)

cover
Title: Make it Right (Bowler University #2)
Author: Megan Erickson
Age: NA
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse

Max Payton lives by two rules:

 

Size and strength win any fight, and never show weakness.When a rash of assaults sends Bowler University for a tail spin, Max volunteers to help teach a self-defense class. One of the other instructors is the beautiful pixie-faced girl he keeps butting heads with…and who challenges everything he thought he knew.

 

Lea Travers avoids guys like Max – cocky jocks who assume she’s fragile because of a disability caused by a childhood accident. She likes to be in control, and something about being with Max makes her feel anything but. But during the moments he lets his guard down, Lea sees a soul as broken inside as she is outside. Trusting him is a whole other problem…

 

When the assaults ramp up and hit close to home, Lea and Max must learn, before it’s too late, that true strength can come from vulnerability…and giving in to trust is sometimes the only way to make things right.

 im-just-max im-just-lea-new-01

 

 

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Links

 

Don’t
miss the first book in the series!

 

 

 
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Links
 
Giveaway
About Megan Erickson
Megan worked as a
journalist covering real-life dramas before she decided she liked writing her own endings better and switched to fiction. 
She lives in
Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. When she’s not tapping away on her laptop, she’s probably listening to the characters in her head who won’t stop talking.


For more, visit 
meganerickson.org | Twitter | Facebook

UPSIDE DOWN by LIA RILEY: RELEASE DAY & GIVEAWAYS

I’m crazy thrilled to get to talk about Lia Riley’s debut novel, UPSIDE DOWN. I’m honored to have read this book prepublication and to call Lia my friend. Her words give me all the feels as a reader and all the inspiration as a writer. I’m so happy for you, Lia! UPSIDE DOWN is on of my absolute favs. Happy, happy release day!

Lia and I wanted to do something extra fun for her release today, so you’ve got TWO giveaway opportunities! Enter the rafflecopter after the fabulous UPSIDE EXCERPT for a great Australian themed prize pack. To win an ARC OF BOOK TWO (you heard me), SIDESWIPED,  play along with our little game right here.

Lia is a brave soul who is not afraid to admit when she makes a mistake, especially when it comes to pop culture bloopers. She made
upsidedownblooper2Maleficentupsidedown_blooper1Hans a couple in UPSIDE DOWN, which were remedied before publication. I credit myself with finding one of these, and it will forever be one of my favorite inside jokes with Lia
(and now with you too). So, Lia is sharing her pop culture snafus with you. To enter to win an arc of SIDESWIPED (arc available most likely next month), all you have to do is leave a comment on this post sharing a pop culture mistake you’ve made. Get creative. This can include messing up character names, song lyrics, you name. Lia will show you hers if you show her yours.  Can you tell what’s wrong with both or either of these? Here’s a hint for my favorite one. Thanks for sharing, Lia. Readers, make sure you comment and share yours!
UPSIDE DOWN by Lia Riley
(August 5, 2014; Forever E-Book; $3.99)

If You Never Get Lost, You’ll Never Be Found

Natalia Stolfi is saying good-bye to the past-and turning her life upside down with a trip to Australia. Everything is going to plan until she meets a brooding surfer with hypnotic green eyes.

Bran Lockhart is having the worst year on record. Yet no amount of disappointment could blind him to the pretty California girl who gets past all his defenses. He’s never wanted anyone the way he wants Talia. But when Bran gets a stark reminder of why he stopped believing in love, he and Talia must decide if what they have is once in a lifetime . . . or if they were meant to live a world apart.

Buy Links:

Excerpt

“A few meters more, you’re almost there.”

It’s like we’re at the end of some old-school adventure tale, one where the heroes are stoic even as the blizzard rages, avalanches fall, and death hovers like a benevolent ghost.

Well, Bran is the hero.

I’m like one of the minor sidekicks who goes down during some important turning point. My death might even inspire the hero on his journey or teach him a valuable lesson. But at this point in the flick, the minor sidekick should be well and truly dead. Not white-knuckling a column of dolerite rock, thighs gripping the stone like it’s the world’s best lover.

“That’s it, Talia,” Bran’s voice is encouraging. “You’re holding tight, that’s great. Now, I’m going to need you to release your left hand and reach up a few inches to grab the next hold.”

I grit my teeth. The way he talks, you’d think I’m scaling Everest. Or at least Kilimanjaro. Instead—

“’Scuse, us, we’ll be by in a tic. That’s the way, Andy, right around the lady.”

I’m the lady. Andy is a kid who doesn’t look a day over seven who scrambles past me in a flurry of Spider-Man shoes and gap-toothed smiles. His parents bring up the rear, smiling up at their wild monkey child with obvious pride.

And they aren’t the first group to pass me.

Five Swedish women, a couple, and a guy who looked to be in his mid-seventies have also shot past me during the course of the last quarter hour.

The top is so close I can taste it. Bran is being nothing but encouraging, but below me is a twenty-foot drop. Not enough to kill me, unless I fall with some sort of suicidal intent, but enough to make me feel incredibly uneasy about the boulder field.

Bran eases toward me. “Talia, take my hand.”

“Can’t let go.”

“Talia.”

“No.” This is it; this is the reason. Bran isn’t going to admit it here, while I’m bordering on a panic attack on a trail being conquered by elementary school children and senior citizens, but there’s no doubt this is A REASON to lose interest in me. I’m giving him a big capital-lettered reason, but I can’t stop. I physically can’t let go.

“Talia. Take a deep breath.”

“Breath taken.”

“Another.”

“Okay.”

“Give me your hand, no bullshit. I want your fingers in mine. You’ll be safe. I’m going to keep you safe. I need you to trust me.”

Somehow I do it. I give him my fingers. He assists me up. We’re doing this together. My head clears the boulder and I can see the steel marker that identifies the summit ahead. Holy shit, he’s right. I’m going to reach the top.

A few more steps, easy now, and we’re there. The kid in the Spider-Man shoes munches a Vegemite sandwich. I want to scoop him up in a smooshy squeeze. Except his parents would likely object, so I switch gears to give Bran a long and passionate kiss.

“I knew you’d get here,” he says.

“I didn’t.”

He turns me to see the view, his hands tight around my waist. “Your place is here, Captain, in the sun,” he whispers in my ear. “Don’t ever forget that.”

About the author: 

After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, LIA RILEY Lia Riley_Photo Credit Kitti Hommescoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. When not torturing heroes (because c’mon, who doesn’t love a good tortured hero?), Lia herds unruly chickens, camps, beach combs, daydreams about as-of-yet unwritten books, wades through a mile-high TBR pile and schemes yet another trip. She and her family live mostly in Northern California.
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Accidentally Married On Purpose-Release Day and Giveaway!

 

People, this is one of my favorite books this year written by one of my favorite people. I’m such a huge fangirl of Rachel Harris’s words.  And this whole series, Love and Games, is fantastic. I don’t know how she does it, but I finish one book with a huge, goofy grin on my face and think nothing can top it. Then her next book does. This book, the third in the series, is my absolute favorite. It’s one of my favorite romance books. Period. I know I’m getting all gushy, but I just finished this book today and can’t stop thinking about it. Read my review. READ THE BOOK. You’ll see what I mean.

Congratulations, Rachel! I’m so happy to celebrate with you on your release day for Accidentally Married on Purpose (Love and Games #3)!

 

 

Title: Accidentally Married on Purpose (Love
and Games #3)
Author: Rachel Harris
Age: Adult
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Entangled Bliss
Release Date: July 14, 2014

 

Synopsis
One ring plus one wild night equals one crazy love.

Sherry Robicheaux loves men. She loves love. And she loves an adventure. So when she meets a mysterious man while working backstage at a country music concert in Vegas, she’s all about what’s happened in Vegas staying there.

Country music superstar Tyler Blue just wants a weekend of anonymity…though there’s something about the spunky waitress with the streaks of purple hair that tempts him like no other. Until the next morning, when they both wake up with fuzzy memories…and rings on their fingers.

Convincing Sherry to maintain the ruse for his public image isn’t the hardest part—it’s reminding himself that their time spent playing husband and wife in her small town of Magnolia Springs can’t last. Tyler’s first love will always be music—and the road is no place for a sweet downhome girl.

Displaying AMOP 3.jpg

Excerpt (One of my FAVORITE scenes in the book)

Laughing, he threw open the door and tore up the drive, expecting Sherry to be right behind him. But when he reached the front door and turned around, she wasn’t on the porch. Confused, Tyler walked back a few steps and found her instead in the yard, face tilted to the sky, arms stretched to capture the liquid drops.

In his experience, women tended to get all Wicked Witch when it came to the wet stuff—they freaked if it touched them. While Sherry wasn’t overly dramatic about fashion, he’d seen her tackle box filled with makeup and witnessed the application ceremony. If anyone would avoid the risk of messing it up, it’d be Sherry.

But then, as he always seemed to be when it came to this woman, he’d been wrong.

“What the hell are you doing?”

She stuck out her tongue like a kid catching snowflakes and closed her eyes as the rain pelted her once flawless face. Lowering her head with a grin, she said, “It’s not like we’re gonna melt. Haven’t you ever danced in the rain for fun?”

“Danced?” Tyler edged closer to the end of the covered porch, shocked anew. Raising his voice over the torrent, he shook his head. “Can’t say that I have.”

His confession earned him a playful grin, and as she held out a hand toward him, she said, “There’s a first time for everything.”

Right now, he was dry. He was under a roof, warm and adequately dressed to impress the in-laws. But her smile was hypnotic. Placing his hand in hers, unsure why he was even doing it, he let her tug him into the storm.

As expected, it was cold. And wet. If anyone saw them out here—and with their photographic luck, people were definitely watching—they’d think he was nuts. But that didn’t matter because his adorable, silly, crazy-as-hell wife dropped his hand and began dancing. Spinning in a circle, laughing at nothing, scrunching her nose and making a Mick Jagger face as she shimmied her shoulders and swirled those luscious hips.

It was mesmerizing.

“Dancing isn’t a spectator sport,” she called out, eyebrow lifted, twirling again. “Don’t tell me you don’t dance, music man. I ain’t buying it.”

Oh, he had some moves. Not great moves, mind you, but he could carry his own. So, with his sassy brunette watching and waiting, Tyler gave the quiet street a cursory glance, and then bopped his head.

“Niiice,” Sherry teased, throwing her head back in a laugh. “Watch out, Timberlake.”

Shaking his head, a smile twitching his lips, he added his feet. Pleasure filled her eyes as she followed his every step, so he also did a Michael Jackson moonwalk, completely with a crotch grab. That sent her into hysterics. And made him feel like a damn king.

Rachel’s Favorite Quotes

  • Sherry shifted her head to look at him. Fear and vulnerability pooled in her eyes. “If I throw myself at you tonight, or even suggest we push the boundaries of our relationship…” His fingers stopped moving. “I need you to turn me down.”
  • “Tyler Blue,” the reporter replied with a huge smile, glancing back at her cameraman. She gave him some sort of signal and he stepped forward—just as the ground under Sherry’s feet started to shift. “Lead singer of Blue, God’s gift to country music. And your new husband. Am I right?”
  • “You burning, baby?” She nodded as he slid his nose along her jaw, inhaling her scent until he reached the gentle lobe of her ear. He tongued the delicate skin, sucked it into his mouth, and then whispered, “Me too.”
  • She was wearing a wedding veil. A wedding veil was on her head. It was white. It had lace. And it was on her freaking head. She didn’t have a single stich of clothing on her body otherwise, but she did have that.
  • If anyone saw them out here—and with their photographic luck, people were definitely watching—they’d think he was nuts. But that didn’t matter because his adorable, silly, crazy-as-hell wife dropped his hand and began dancing. Spinning in a circle, laughing at nothing, scrunching her nose and making a Mick Jagger face as she shimmied her shoulders and swirled those luscious hips. It was mesmerizing.

 

  

 

Check out the other books in this fun series!
Taste the Heat

 

GoodReads  |  Amazon  |   BN  |  iBooks

 

Seven Day Fiance

 

GoodReads  |  Amazon  |  BN  |  iBooks

 

 
 

 

GIVEAWAY
1-$25 gift card to Amazon, BN, or iTunes
About Rachel Harris

Award-winning and Bestselling author Rachel
Harris writes humorous love stories about sassy girls next door and the hot
guys that make them swoon. Emotion, vibrant settings, and strong relationships
are a staple in each of her books…and kissing. Lots of kissing.

An admitted Diet Mountain Dew addict and homeschool mom, she gets through each
day by laughing at herself, hugging her kids, and watching way too much Food Network with her husband. She writes young adult, new adult, and adult romance, and LOVES talking with readers.

Website  |  Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Street Team  |   Newsletter

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#CountTheCast: Megan Erickson’s Make it Count

Megan Erickson - Make it Count - Count the Cast (1)

MAKE it COUNT, by my amazingly talented CP and friend, Megan Erickson, releases in TWO DAYS, people! I love this book so much. I get a goofy grin just thinking about it. And I’m so thrilled to be a part of the #CountTheCast pre-release promo. I get to introduce you to Max and Lea, and then you can see what MiC is all about and pre-order so you don’t have to wait one more minute to read once June 3rd is here!!!

Max Payton
The Boyfriend
“Is that your way of saying you’re kinky? I think I could handle it.”

MaxCTC2

 

 

Lea Travers
The Fighter
“You steal one of my fries, and I’ll castrate you.”

LeaCTC

 

MAKE IT COUNT
Series info: Bowler University Series #1
Category/Genre: New Adult Romance
Publisher: William Morrow Impulse/HarperCollins
Release Date: June 3

Kat Caruso wishes her brain had a return policy, or at least a complaint hot-line. The defective organ is constantly distracted, MakeItCount (1)terrible at statistics, and absolutely flooded with inappropriate thoughts about her boyfriend’s gorgeous best friend, Alec…who just so happens to be her brand new college math tutor. Who knew nerd was so hot?

Kat usually goes through tutors like she does boyfriends–both always seem to bail when they realize how hopeless she is. It’s safer for her heart to keep everyone at arm’s reach. But Alec is always stepping just a little too close.

Alec Stone should not be fantasizing about Kat. She’s adorable, unbelievably witty, and completely off limits. He’d never stab his best friend in the back…

But when secrets are revealed, the lines of loyalty are blurred. To make it count, Alec must learn messy human emotions can’t be solved like a trigonometry function. And Kat has to trust Alec may be the first guy to want her for who she is, and not in spite of it.

 

Add to Goodreads
Preorder Links:
Amazon US
Amazon UK
Barnes and Noble
iTunes
Google Play
Avon Romance 

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Headshot3 (1)
Megan Erickson grew up in a family that averages 5’3” on a good day and started writing to create characters who could reach the top kitchen shelf.

She’s got a couple of tattoos, has a thing for gladiators, and has been called a crazy cat lady. After working as a journalist for years, she decided she liked creating her own endings better and switched back to fiction.

She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two kids and two cats. And no, she still can’t reach the stupid top shelf.

 WHERE TO FIND MEGAN ONLINE:
Author website
Facebook
Twitter

Selfies, Signings, and Swag at RT!!!

Tomorrow, weather and airport willing, I am heading to NOLA for the RT (Romantic Times) Booklovers Convention. This is my first time at an event so big, my first time at any sort of public event where one or two people might know me as a published author, and my first time meeting some of my twitter lovelies IN REAL LIFE, including my fabulous agent. Plan on me taking a selfie of us if we meet–THIS GOES FOR ANY AND ALL OF YOU.

When I signed up for the convention back in November, I was a newly contracted author but had no idea of when IF ONLY would release or any of that fun stuff, so I am attending the convention but not presenting or participating in any signings at the book fair on Saturday. So what will I be doing aside from attending some fantastic sessions on craft and losing my s*#t while I fangirl over some of my favorite writers?

I’ll be passing out IF ONLY swag…whenever you see me. Stuff like this:

RTSwag
Tattoos, Trading Cards, Buttons, and Pens!
Mini Business Cards!
Mini Business Cards!

Even if you don’t see me, I may see you…and send you on your way wearing IF ONLY swag without you even knowing it.

IF ONLY quote stickers!
IF ONLY quote stickers!

 

Aaaand…Even though I won’t be signing at the book fair, thanks toAutography1 Autography, as long as I have my iPad and some wifi, you can buy a signed digital copy of IF ONLY, which is still on sale for 99 pennies! I can even personalize it for you and add an image with an IF ONLY quote. You name it! Then you get a special signed page in your e-book that looks something like one of these! Even if you aren’t going to RT, you can still buy a signed copy of IF ONLY. Email me at amy [at] ajpine [dot] com, and I’ll tell you how!

Autography2

And of course I’ll be at as many social events as I can attend, including the Bourbon Street pub crawl where I hope to meet much of my Entangled family at Entangled’s stop on the crawl! Bottom line, I’m so excited to celebrate all things reading and writing (and maybe a little imbibing) in New Orleans this weekend! Please say hi if you see me! I can’t wait to see you!