Saturday, September 15, 2018

ONLY YOU Cover Reveal Sign-Ups

My last post here on the blog was talking about finishing the first draft of my tenth novel. Things have moved quickly since then. I don’t normally go straight into revisions after finishing a first draft; I think it’s important to give yourself distance from the story, let it breathe, and approach it with fresh eyes. This time was different for me, though. It took several months to write this book, and since I never edit as I go, when I started the revision process the entire first half of the book hadn’t been touched in months. Since my writing and publishing schedules have been so out of whack the last couple of years, I wanted to get this book edited and ready to publish as quickly as possible so I could get back into a routine and start writing my next project sooner than later. As of now, I’ve done two rounds of revisions, my alpha reader has read it (and loved it, eep!), and it’s been sent to my amazing team of beta readers. Now while I wait to hear back from them, I’m going forward with the marketing plan I’ve been concocting for ages, and working on a few other projects. It’s all really exciting and kind of overwhelming, but after the last couple of years I’ve had, it’s wonderful to be getting back into a routine. The first step in my marketing plan is the cover reveal. The cover is already designed, and I’m thrilled with it. I’m planning a fairly small-scale cover reveal because I want to put more money, time, and energy into a blog and bookstagram tour for release week. If you’d like to help with the cover reveal, I’d be incredibly grateful. There are lots of options - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, blog. You can find all the information on the sign-up form. There will be 2 $5 gift card prizes for participants...along with my everlasting gratitude, of course!


Want to know more about ONLY YOU? Here’s the synopsis:
  Ivy's new boss is sexy, Scottish…and comes with an expiration date. When Ivy reluctantly takes a job at Santa’s Village, it’s a means to an end. Doing this favor for her pain-in-the-neck roommate means she 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 she can 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 GoodReads TBR 

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If you want to stay up to date with all my book news, including information about ARCs, the release week blog/bookstagram tour, giveaways, and much more, the best ways to do that are: *Join my Facebook reader group, Marie’s Sweeties *Sign up for my newsletter *Follow me on BookBub
*Follow me on Amazon 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Thoughts on Finishing the First Draft of my Tenth Book

This past Saturday, I wrote ‘The End’ on my tenth novel. *throws confetti* If you’ve been following along for awhile, you’ll likely know I’ve had a lot of setbacks in the last few years. My last full-length novel, Something in the Air, was released in November of 2015, and even getting to that point was a struggle. Shortly after that, a lot of crap happened in my family that basically turned my life upside down. I lost my motivation, I lost my drive, and there were times when I honestly felt like I'd lose my mind. I worked away at different projects, but had trouble focusing on anything, plus my writing time was much more limited than it was previously. Depression and anxiety were basically the cherry on the shit sundae. I knew I couldn’t give up, though. I love writing and have always loved writing, even when writing didn’t necessarily love me. I would have bursts of creativity where I’d write for a few days in a row, thinking 'maybe this is finally it, maybe I'm getting my mojo back', and then not touch that project again for days or even weeks. But I kept going. I believed things would get better. I tried to stay positive even when it felt like there wasn’t much to be positive about. I used to be able to write a book in a matter of months. My personal best was two weeks in 2012, when I wrote Waiting for the Storm. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do that again, and I’m not entirely sure I want to; while that book is my personal favourite and the book that’s closest to my heart, it was also fueled by grief and my need to keep myself afloat and not drown in my own sorrow. That being said, I’d love to return to the days when I was able to write a book in one to three months, and that pride in having a daily (or almost daily) writing routine. So many things have been out of my control in the last two and a half years, but when I wrote ‘The End’ on my latest novel, I felt like I got some control back. Some of the issues that prevented me from writing are still present, and my mental health issues are still...well, an issue...but I’ve proven to myself something I’ve always known: I can do anything I put my mind to. I’m strong, I’m capable. I'm resilient. I still have a lot of work ahead of me, but I’m ready. I’m actually excited to dive into edits and start a marketing plan for this book. Want to know more about the project I’ve been working on? *It doesn’t have a title yet. Yesterday I realized the book needed an epilogue (the MC kept telling me something that happened a few months later!). When I wrote the final line, I decided there was a possible title in there, but I need to give it some more thought. *The main character is Ivy Sima, who was first introduced in my 2017 Christmas novella Mistletoe Kiss as the main character Bridget's best friend. Bridget gets a fair bit of page time in this book, but it can definitely be read as a standalone. *The love interest is Scottish. And swoony. And I love him a whole lot. *The story started out as a Christmas novella, but morphed into something completely different. It takes place around Christmas, but isn’t a Christmas-y story. It ended up being a full-length novel at just over 83K words. *I’ve been calling it a romcom, but I need my beta readers to tell me if it’s actually funny enough to call it a romcom, haha! If not, it’ll be categorized as Contemporary Romance. *Tentative release date is November 13th, 2018. In the next few weeks, I’ll share more info about the book, including the title and synopsis. I’ll also be putting out a call for beta readers, reviewers, and people who are willing to help with the cover reveal and other promo. Watch the blog, along with my bookstagram account for more information. 




Monday, July 30, 2018

Small Business Spotlight: Canterbury Road Co


July is the one-year anniversary of my favourite bookish candle shop, Canterbury Road Co. I don't remember exactly when I discovered Shan's shop, but it wasn't long after she opened. I was envious of my fellow bookstagrammers who had a plethora of bookish and fandom candles as props in their pictures. I had checked out a few different shops and figured I would remain candle-less because of the cost of shipping to Canada. I knew it wasn't the shop owners' fault - they don't control the price of postage, but it was disheartening. Finally, I decided I just had to have some of Canterbury Road Co's gorgeous creations, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Since then, despite the price of shipping, I've placed several more orders with CRC because her candles are just that awesome. I watched Shan's Instagram feed like a  hawk for a rep search, and when she finally announced one, I crossed my fingers and applied. The day she messaged me to ask if I'd be a rep for her for the month of July was pretty much my best bookstagram day ever!

 

My rep package for the month of July included four of Shan's July releases: Narnia (the newest in her Literary Passport line), Reading Under the Covers, Friends-to-Lovers Romance (the newest in her Romance line), Reading at the Beach, plus her anniversary candle, The Canterbury Tales, and one of my wishlist candles, One More Chapter. I love every single one of them. Shan's candles are beautiful and they smell incredible. She makes the most unique scent blends that just blow my mind.


Shan has staples that always stay up in her shop, and she adds new monthly candles, most of which are only available for that month. She also occasionally has sales (like her recent anniversary sale) where she brings back popular/most requested retired or older scents. She also does BOGO sales on her wax melts, which always seem to be popular! The best place to learn about her sales and promos is from her Instagram.
 

I only have a couple of days left in my rep term, but I'll continue to support Shan in every way I can because she's an incredible person and a ridiculously talented candle witch. Until the end of July, you can use my rep code SWEETMARIE17 to save 17% on any order, and after that you can visit Shan's Instagram feed to find her other reps for their codes.


Being a rep for Shan for the month of July has been such an honour. She's so talented and generous, and it's been a joy to show off her candles as often as I can. Pictured above are all the candles I currently own. I'll be adding to this massive stack soon because I bought five more during her anniversary sale!

If you'd like to see more of my pictures featuring Shan's candles (there are a lot; I love them so much I can't help but include them in the majority of my pictures), check out my bookstagram feed sweetmarie_83. You can see other people's pics of Shan's candles by checking her tagged photos or the hashtag #canterburyroadco.

Please note, Shan is moving her shop from Etsy to a standalone site in August (you can be notified by email when the site is ready). I'll update this post when that happens, but for now, you can check out her Etsy shop for her beautiful creations!


Do you have any of Canterbury Road Co's candles? Any you'd like to have? Do you have a favourite bookish candle shop?
 

If you enjoyed this post and would either like to refer to it again or help spread the word about this amazing small business, please share on Pinterest, Facebook, and/or Twitter!



Thursday, May 3, 2018

The Angel Island Series Rebrand: Why I Redesigned My Book Covers

 
At the beginning of this week, I revealed the brand new covers for my Angel Island series. It wasn’t an easy decision to redesign the covers, but after thinking about it for at least the last year, I knew it was necessary, especially from a marketing standpoint. I published Waiting for the Storm in April 2013. When I was looking for an image for the cover, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted something with a beach setting, and probably a young couple. After a ton of searching, I found an image of a girl standing alone on a stormy beach, and I knew that was it. It was literally a scene from the book. That girl was Charlotte, no question. A little less than a year later, it came time to design the cover for After the Storm, the standalone sequel to Waiting for the Storm. I started searching for images of couples and quickly discovered the majority of pics were white couples. The problem with that? River is Mohawk. I found a few images that would have been perfect if the guy hadn’t had light skin and/or light hair. I talked to some of my close writing friends, people who had been with me on my writing journey from the beginning, and one of them suggested I stick with the theme of a girl alone so it would tie with Waiting for the Storm. When I found an image of a girl walking along a sunny beach, holding a rainbow umbrella, it seemed perfect. When it came time to design the cover for Take Them by Storm, I didn’t bother searching for couple shots, I just looked for solo girls. As with Waiting for the Storm, when I found the image for Sadie’s cover, I knew it was perfect. The girl was wearing an almost identical outfit to one Sadie had worn in After the Storm. The suitcases were perfect too since the story is about Sadie leaving Angel Island to go to college. The cover is a bit different from the others stylistically, but I figured it fit because the other two are Young Adult and Take Them by Storm is New Adult.

waiting for the storm after the storm take them by storm marie landry contemporary young adult new adult romance lgbtq+
Jump ahead a few years, and while I love all three original covers and think they’re a great representation of the characters, they’re not a good representation of their respective genres. As a visual person (and a self-proclaimed cover snob - I do judge a book by its cover), I’ve learned what sells and what doesn’t. Just because something is pretty and the author thinks it's a good representation of the book and/or characters doesn't mean it's going to sell. There are millions of authors out there publishing books at an unbelievable rate, leaving a small window to grab a reader's attention and make them take a look at your book. So while I loved the original covers, I had a feeling they were part of the reason behind my less-than-stellar sales. I knew the stories were good, I knew the writing was good, and all three books were priced well, so it came down to the covers. Because the thing is, they could have been any number of genres; I think it’s obvious they’re contemporary, but contemporary what? Young adult? New adult? Adult? Romance? Chick lit? Literary fiction? It was impossible to tell from the covers. Something I knew for sure the new covers had to have was couples. After learning a lot about branding in the last few months, I also wanted all the covers to match so people knew (beyond the titles) they tied together as a series. I did a lot of research, scoured my favourite stock photo site, and made countless mock-ups that ended up in the trash, all before finally having an 'aha' moment. From there, the covers came together with ease, and I couldn't be happier with them. They’re a much better representation of their respective genres - contemporary Young Adult for Waiting for the Storm and After the Storm, and contemporary New Adult LGBTQ+ for Take Them by Storm. I’m particularly pleased that Sadie’s cover finally has a f/f couple, since I think the book got overlooked by a lot of people searching for f/f stories because of the ambiguous original cover.
waiting for the storm after the storm take them by storm marie landry contemporary young adult new adult romance lgbtq+

This is one of the many things I love about self-publishing: the freedom to try things. Take risks. Make changes. It's a lot of work, and it can be stressful and frustrating, but I wouldn't want to give up the control I have over my own books. I hope you like the new covers as much as I do, and I hope you'll check out the Angel Island series (which, by the way, can all be read as standalones). You can find all the buy links (Amazon, Kobo, Nook, iBooks, and Smashwords) here.
 


You might also like: 
5 Things I've Learned in 5 Years of Publishing 
6 Mistakes Authors Make and How to Avoid Them 
7 Things Every Author Should Have on Their Website 
The Importance of Persevering When You Feel Like You’ve Lost Your Creative Spark




Sunday, April 22, 2018

Mother’s Day Gift Ideas for the Special Woman in Your Life

Yesterday was my mum’s birthday, and in three weeks we’ll be celebrating her again on Mother’s Day. Last month, I got a photo pillow with a picture of London from CanvasPop, and my mum is constantly telling me how much she loves it. She’s super subtle about it, naturally. *wink?* But her obsession has given me so many ideas of what to get her for Mother’s Day.

We have a large canvas print from CanvasPop with a picture of two of my nephews that hangs over our TV in the living room. We love looking at it, plus it’s a great conversation piece. People always remark on the great quality and want to know where we got it. My mum has often said she wishes we had a special keepsake that includes a picture of my niece, which has got the gift-giving wheels in my brain turning. Mum loves the canvas print we already have and she loves my pillow, so I know she’d be happy with either.



My mum, like so many other mothers, does so much for our family. She’s the heart and soul of our family, and has made countless sacrifices for us over the years. She rarely buys anything for herself and doesn’t do much for herself, so I figure the least I can do is get her something extra special for Mother’s Day. Flowers and a card are well and good, but flowers fade away and die. Don’t you think our mothers - or grandmothers, aunts, sisters, and the other special, hardworking women in our lives - deserve something that will last, something with sentimental meaning that they can keep and enjoy forever?

Treat the mother or mother figure in your life to something special this Mother’s Day. Take one of the pictures she loves and turn it into something beautiful like a canvas print, photo pillow, or photo collage. Show her the recognition she deserves and let her know how much you appreciate all she’s done for you.


Get started making a beautiful photo gift now!


Do you know what you're getting your mother this year for Mother's Day? If you're a mother, what's the best gift you've ever received? What would be your ideal gift?
 
 
 

Friday, March 23, 2018

CanvasPop Photo Pillows: The Perfect Personalized Gift for Anyone



We live in a digital world. With the popularity of sites like Instagram, many people consider themselves photographers these days, whether amateur hobbyists, professionals, or something in between. My phone is full of hundreds of pictures ranging from my travels to my family to random things I love, like books, scenery, and the things I collect. I’m always looking for unique ways to display my photos - bonus points if it’s in a meaningful, artistic, and/or functional way. If you’re perpetually on the look-out like I am, I have the perfect solution for you: photo pillows from CanvasPop. CanvasPop is known for their beautiful and high-quality canvas prints in various sizes, but with the addition of photo pillows to their site, you can get even more creative. I personally have limited wall space, and if you’re anything like me - an avid Instagrammer (and bookstagrammer) - you might be looking for something that’s not only beautiful and functional in your home, but that can also be incorporated into your photos in a number of unique ways.

CanvasPop photo pillow depicting the Mall and Union Jack flags in London, England

These pillows would make a lovely addition to any home. They’re the perfect gift for any person and any occasion. For my mum, I’d get one with her favourite picture of my niece and nephews. For my brother, I’d use a picture of the huge black bear he snapped once in the woods, or his beloved ginger cat Rosie. For my bestie, I’d use a picture of her rescue cats, or one of the thousands of photos from our 2015 European adventure (like the picture of London used in my pillow shown above). I could happily fill my own home with photo pillows. In fact, I spent days narrowing it down to this photo of London. My other choices were pictures of my niece and nephews, a photo I took recently of my bookshelves, scenes of Paris and Rome from my trip in 2015, and any of my book covers. I was even tempted to use the picture of myself taken at Platform 9 ¾ in London, rocking my Ravenclaw scarf. I have a love/hate relationship with buying gifts for people. I like personal, meaningful gifts, but some people are nearly impossible to shop for. I wouldn’t hesitate to get one of these photo pillows for any of my friends or family members. These 18 x 18 pillows are well made, durable, and the colours are so vibrant. If you’re looking for a unique way to use your own photographs or you want a personalized gift for someone special, a photo pillow is sure to be a hit.
CanvasPop photo pillow depicting the Mall and Union Jack flags in London, England 


If you were to get a photo pillow, either for yourself or as a gift for someone, what image would you choose?
 
 
 
 
 
This post was written in partnership with CanvasPop. In accordance with FTC guidelines, I received the pictured photo pillow for free, in exchange for sharing my honest thoughts and opinions. All thoughts are my own.



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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Blog Tour Review: Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton
Published: February 6th, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
394 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary women’s fiction/historical fiction
Acquired this book: From the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for honest consideration
Rating: 4 stars
Warning: May contain spoilers
GoodReads || Buy the book: Amazon US ~ CAN || Chapters || B&N}


After the death of her beloved grandmother, a Cuban-American woman travels to Havana, where she discovers the roots of her identity--and unearths a family secret hidden since the revolution...

Havana, 1958. The daughter of a sugar baron, nineteen-year-old Elisa Perez is part of Cuba's high society, where she is largely sheltered from the country's growing political unrest--until she embarks on a clandestine affair with a passionate revolutionary...

Miami, 2017. Freelance writer Marisol Ferrera grew up hearing romantic stories of Cuba from her late grandmother Elisa, who was forced to flee with her family during the revolution. Elisa's last wish was for Marisol to scatter her ashes in the country of her birth.

Arriving in Havana, Marisol comes face-to-face with the contrast of Cuba's tropical, timeless beauty and its perilous political climate. When more family history comes to light and Marisol finds herself attracted to a man with secrets of his own, she'll need the lessons of her grandmother's past to help her understand the true meaning of courage.



I’ve been a fan of Chanel Cleeton’s books since her debut I See London. After her Wild Aces trilogy, she became an auto-buy author for me. I was certain her newest book, Next Year in Havana, wouldn’t disappoint, and I was right. This story weaves together an alternating narrative between present day and late 1950s Cuba and tells the stories of Elisa Perez and her granddaughter Marisol Ferrera. It’s a story of love, sacrifice, hope, and perseverance.

As someone who was extremely close to her grandmother and still feels the loss of her almost seven years later, I connected to Marisol’s grief and her desire to find answers about Elisa. Both women were strong, tenacious, and learned so much throughout the course of the book.

I’ll admit, I knew little to nothing about Cuba and its history. It was fascinating, horrifying, and heartbreaking to learn about the struggles and oppression its people have faced and continue to face. At times I felt like I was reading about a post-apocalyptic, dystopian society, because it’s hard to believe a place like that could really exist outside fiction. That being said, I was deeply touched by the pride of the Cubans who lived in the country as well as those who had left, and those, like Marisol, who had always considered herself Cuban despite never stepping foot in the country until after her grandmother died. As heartbreaking and at times bittersweet as this story was, it was also full of so much hope.

Romantic and rich in detail, Next Year in Havana is a beautiful, compelling story that’s sure to surprise you and touch you. It’s certainly a story that will stick with me for a long time to come.





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Originally from Florida, Chanel Cleeton grew up on stories of her family's exodus from Cuba following the events of the Cuban Revolution. Her passion for politics and history continued during her years spent studying in England where she earned a bachelor's degree in International Relations from Richmond, The American International University in London and a master's degree in Global Politics from the London School of Economics & Political Science. Chanel also received her Juris Doctor from the University of South Carolina School of Law. She loves to travel and has lived in the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. 

Website || Facebook || Facebook Reader Group || Twitter || GoodReads || Instagram || Newsletter   

Learn more about Next Year in Havana including downloading the book club guide and more here

Add Beatriz Perez’s story When We Left Cuba on Goodreads 

 

Have you read Next Year in Havana? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read any of Chanel's other books?




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