Thursday, January 3, 2019

2018: A Year in Review


Happy New Year!

I’ve been sick for over a week (this is actually Round 2 with the Cold From Hell in the last month), and instead of continuing to go full-tilt like I normally do, I’ve taken the time to rest and relax, plus reflect on the past year and plan for the year ahead. One thing I know for sure going into the new year: I need to be more mindful. It was something I intended to work on in 2018, but now when I look back and so much of the year was a blur, I realize the life of intention and mindfulness I wanted to lead turned into a big jumbled mass of days with a few highlights in between. Despite that, unlike the last several years, I can look back and say 2018 was mostly good.
Here are a few of the highlights of 2018:

I wrote and published a new contemporary romance, ONLY YOU, plus worked on a few other projects. I thought 2018 would be the year I finally got back into the swing of writing and publishing, but it was still a struggle. I’m proud of what I did accomplish though, and I love this sweet, funny, sexy romance.

In June, I met one of my favourite authors, Susanna Kearsley. My mum and I have been big fans of hers for years, so I was excited we could share that experience. Susanna was so lovely, warm, and funny, and I had a total fangirl moment when she immediately recognized me and came over to hug us and speak to us. She spoke for an hour or so about writing, publishing, and researching, and then signed books. If you follow me on bookstagram, you'll recognize Foxy, my little felt fox in the picture below; I brought him along and Susanna didn't bat an eye when I asked if he could be included in one of our pictures. It made me love her even more!

I didn’t travel far in 2018, but I did get to go to one of my absolute favourite cities (Kingston, Ontario) twice to visit my friend Krista. It was hot as hell when I visited in July, but we had so much fun playing tourist, eating a ton of amazing food, and vegging at her apartment. One of the highlights was visiting Queen’s University while it was completely deserted and getting to wander around and take a bunch of pictures. My trip in November was equally amazing, especially because we got to attend a Victorian Christmas tea; we’d wanted to do a high tea when we visited London in 2015 but didn’t have time, so this was amazing. The November trip was an early 35th birthday celebration for me since my birthday is so close to Christmas and I rarely get to do anything out of the ordinary. Both trips and all the new memories I made with Krista are high on my list of best days of 2018.

Bookstagram continued to be a huge source of joy for me. I’ve made so many wonderful friends there, and I love the creative outlet it gives me. Two major highlights this year: being chosen as a July rep for Canterbury Road Co and recently being asked to be a rep for 1107Studio. I love these companies (and their respective owners) and it’s such an honour to get to represent them.

Looking ahead at 2019...

I have a lot of writing-related goals this year. I'm currently working on a companion book to ONLY YOU, and after that, there will be one more book in that standalone series. I also have a romcom I wrote year before last that I plan to edit and publish toward the end of the year. I've also been thinking about mixing things up and working on something different from my norm...but it's early days yet, so you'll have to stay tuned to see what I'm talking about!

I read 105 books in 2018, and my goal for 2019 is to read at least 80 books.

I want to be more consistent about blogging. After 8 years of having this blog, I finally bit the bullet just before writing this post and officially bought a .com domain for it. No more .blogspot.com for me! Hopefully that'll inspire me to do something with this little of the net and produce more content. My goal is going to be at least one post a week, ranging from bookish and writing posts to travel posts to general lifestyle posts.

I don't have any concrete plans yet, but I decided last year that 2019 is the year I'm finally going to Scotland. Stay tuned for more as I figure out the how and when and all that fun stuff. I'm going to make it happen!
My word for 2019 is CONNECT. I want to connect to my self - be more mindful, intentional, and work on a lot of personal things that are important to me. That also includes connecting to my body and working on getting healthier and stronger. I want to connect to readers, both old and new, and make them laugh, feel, and fall in love when they read my stories. I want to connect to my roots by finally visiting Scotland. I want to connect to nature and not spend so much time at my desk. I feel good about this word because it's broad and it covers a lot, but it can be specific in a million little ways that mean a lot to me.



How was 2018 for you? What were some of your stand-out moments? Do you have any goals or big plans for 2019? Do you have a word for the year?



Previous Yearly Recaps:

2017: A Year in Review

2016: A Year in Review
Looking Back on 2015
Reflecting on 2014 and Looking at the Year Ahead 
2012: A Year in Review
2010: A Year in Review



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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Celebrating a Book Birthday: ONLY YOU


Today is release day for my new contemporary romance ONLY YOU!

I'm so excited Ivy and Hugh's story is finally out in the world. I had so much fun writing this sweet, funny, sexy book, and I sincerely hope people will enjoy reading it.

 
Ivy's new boss is sexy, Scottish…and comes with an expiration date. When Ivy reluctantly takes a new part-time job, it’s a means to an end. Doing this favor for her pain-in-the-neck roommate means Ivy can have her apartment to herself again much sooner. The last thing she expects is Hugh—the hot Scot who just happens to be her new boss—asking her out on a date. And then another. And another. Something about Hugh makes Ivy want to let her guard down and open up, which would be perfect if he wasn't returning to Scotland in a matter of weeks. But maybe that doesn’t matter. Maybe Ivy can learn to live in the moment and have a little fun, even if it means setting herself up for heartache later. ONLY YOU is a standalone contemporary romance about taking chances, unexpected friendships, and holding on to the things—and people—that matter most.

Add ONLY YOU to your TBR on GoodReads



Since this book has a strong emphasis on friendship, I thought it was only fitting to dedicate it to friends; my very best friend, my mum; my soul sister, Krista; and my bookstagram friends. I'm so lucky to have so much support and encouragement from so many amazing people.

Ready to fall for the hot Scot? ONLY YOU is available now on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, and Nook for just $2.99


 

Friday, November 9, 2018

HoHoHo Readathon: Challenge & Giveaway + TBR & Recommendations


Today kicks off the sixth annual Ho Ho Ho Readathon, hosted by Kimberly at Caffeinated Reviewer! I think I've participated all but two of the years, and I always enjoy meeting new people, reading wintry/holiday books, participating in the fun challenges, and getting into the Christmas spirit. This year I'm extra excited because I'm hosting a challenge!

Keep scrolling for the challenge, my readathon TBR, and some book recommendations.

My challenge for the readathon is Movie Madness. The only thing I love as much as Christmas books are Christmas movies. I just got into Hallmark movies last Christmas, and this year there's a Canadian channel that will be airing all of them, so I'm ridiculously excited. I'm going to watch as many as I can!

This challenge isn't about those, though, it's about well-known Christmas movies. I'll give you hints for six movies, and for each movie you know, enter the title in the Rafflecopter. I want to make this easy and fun, so if you're really stumped, I'll give a spoiler for each, but hopefully none of you will need it! There are three family-friendly movies and three romcoms because romcoms are my jam!

Movie #1
-A '90s classic starring an actor from a popular '90s sitcom
-Set mostly at the North Pole
-"Seeing isn't believing. Believing is seeing."
-The first of a series of three movies 

Stumped? Find the movie here


Movie #2
-A romcom starring two famous actresses and two famous actors
-An inter-continental house swap
-A Hanukkah party and Christmas fettucine
-"Iris: if you were a melody. I used only the good notes."

Stumped? Find the movie here


Movie #3
-Another '90s classic, featuring a little boy and the 'Wet Bandits' in New York City
-"Merry Christmas, ya filthy animal." 
-Basically a how-to manual for how to fight off burglars/escaped convicts
-The second of two movies...well, technically there are five of them, but I refuse to watch beyond 1 & 2

Stumped? Find the movie here 


Movie #4 
-A romcom featuring at least half the actors in Britain
-"If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around."
-An iconic scene where a man tells his best friend's wife he's in love with her via giant flashcards
-A nativity play that for some reason includes not one but two lobsters

Stumped? Find the movie here
 
 
Movie #5
-A hilarious movie for the whole family about a man who doesn't quite fit in at the North Pole and heads to NYC to discover his true identity
-The main character lives on a diet of the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup
-"Santa! Oh my god! Santa's coming! I know him! I know him!"
-"The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear."

Stumped? Find the movie here
 
 

Movie #6
-Technically not a Christmas movie but some of my favourite scenes are set at Christmas, and even though I watch it several times a year, I have to watch it around Christmas.
-Turkey curry buffet and a man in a hideous reindeer jumper 
-"But the thing is, what I'm tying to say, very inarticulately, is that, in fact, perhaps despite appearances, I like you. Very much. Just as you are."
-An epic kissing scene in the snow with the main female character in little more than her knickers

Stumped? Find the movie here 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be sure to check out the other challenge hosts for more challenges and giveaways!


 

https://amzn.to/2DskJJ2 https://amzn.to/2DsOkSr https://amzn.to/2F7tSYY https://amzn.to/2RGeW5G


Time for a little shameless self-promo! I love reading Christmas books, and I also love writing them. In fact, I have three Christmasy books, with the latest coming out next Tuesday, November 13th.


Mistletoe Kiss is just 99 cents and it's also currently available in Kindle Unlimited. It's a super sweet fairytale type romance. Think Hallmark movie - the kind that's wonderfully cheesy and heartwarming and leaves you feeling good and smiling
Amazon US || Amazon Canada

Speaking of Hallmark movies, The Most Wonderful Time of the Year is my other sweet romance, and it's available for $2.99 and also in Kindle Unlimited.
Amazon US || Amazon Canada

Only You is still sweet, but definitely not Hallmark sweet. This one is sexy and steamy with a slow-burn romance featuring a hot Scot. It also has an emphasis on friendship, self-discovery, and following your dreams. Don't let the non-wintry cover fool you - the book is set around Christmastime, and an amusement park called Santa's Village plays a key role in the story. I love this book so much and I can't wait for people to meet Ivy and Hugh. Only You hits virtual bookshelves next Tuesday and can be pre-ordered now for just $2.99 on Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, and Nook. If you read Only You during the readathon, let me know and I'll send you some swag (postcard and mini bookmarks)! I'm happy to mail worldwide, just leave me a comment or hit me up on Twitter @sweetmarie83!


If you're looking to fill out your TBR for the readathon or the rest of winter, these are a few books I've read and loved in the last year.

https://amzn.to/2FbZPj0 https://amzn.to/2D4QFlP https://amzn.to/2D9mUjJ

https://amzn.to/2PJQe7e https://amzn.to/2SV9HAj https://amzn.to/2F9yDkO

That's it! I hope you enjoyed my challenge, and I hope you read some fantastic books during the readathon!


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