Today marks the day of Sweet Oblivion's One Year Birthday/Anniversary...whatever you'd like to call it. The point is, one year ago today, I hit publish on Amazon and Smashwords for my very first book ever. My heart was pounding so hard, my chest hurt with all sorts of fear, worry, and anxiety. By this point, the only other person to have read this book was my sister, who had helped me write it. We were the only two in the world to have read this thing, and I was freaking out about publishing it. I was also super excited, of course, but mostly terrified out of my mind. We kept it secret from everyone we knew, including our family - except for our husbands.

I thought since every other author and blogger out there seems to be posting their Top Lists of 2013, I thought I'd give a little something to celebrate this momentous occasion in my life.

Here are some things I learned during my first year of being an author. Some are good, and some are not so pretty:

1). I will never, not ever, be comfortable with my writing. I just sent off Sweet Requiem (#3 in my series) to my editor and also to a friend, then literally - I was close to breaking into tears of terror. Like, it was a little pathetic. You should just ask Mary about my total freak-out session I was having with her. I'm sure she now thinks I'm a lunatic. :) I'm scared out of my mind that the book isn't good. I know I will never get over this one thing, regardless of how many books I write. It just isn't possible.

2). There is an amazing Indie community out there. I have met so many incredible authors and even more amazing bloggers since I started this journey December 30, 2012. Some of these authors are like..big time sellers, and yet - they are some of the most down to earth people I've ever met. They befriended me like I was one of them and helped get my books out there. Incredible, right? To this day I am touched by their acts of kindnesses and we're-in-this-together support.

And then there's the bloggers! Oh, my word. Before I published Sweet Oblivion, and even a few days after, actually, I had no idea that book bloggers existed. These people take HOURS out of their lives to review books and promote them for absolutely free. Why, you ask? Because they fall in love with your story and do it out of their love for your books and the goodness of their hearts! It's amazing, really. I was sooo blown away by the love and support given to me by the blogger world, and out of it I made some of the best friends I'm sure I'll ever have. I'm so grateful for each and every one of them.

3). When you're new, you will ALWAYS make mistakes (and even when you're a pro, you will still make some mistakes, but they might be a little less (; ). Boy, when I first published Sweet Oblivion, I had no idea how to publish a book. I did all this research and learned about formatting, and all the ins and outs of publishing. But, my sister and I couldn't afford professional editing, or a professional book cover. Man, was that a mistake. I ended up publishing several different versions of Sweet Oblivion each time I had learned something new. It was stressful, and just...a very rough time. The good news is, I learned from each of my mistakes, and even though I'm nowhere near being a "pro," I'm at least a lot less of a "newbie." ;)

4). Getting your book professionally edited BEFORE you publish is a MUST. You may think - Well, I went through my manuscript tons of times, I'm pretty sure it's clean. Do I really need to waste money on an editor right now? I could always get it edited later.

WRONG. It is so important to start with your best foot forward, and this is no exception. Editing is an absolute must. It is my #1 regret for when we published Sweet Oblivion.

5). My #2 regret? Not going with my instincts. I have learned this past year that some of my "failures" are because I did not go with my instincts. I listened to what other people wanted me to do, especially when it came to the cover of Sweet Oblivion. I never liked the original cover, but I was told that what I had liked wasn't as good. So I went with what they liked, despite not agreeing/liking it. I never should've listened to this advice. Thankfully, readers are forgiving and they were warm and accepting to the makeover I gave to Sweet Oblivion. But during that process, it happened again with both the new cover for Sweet Oblivion and the 2nd book - Sweet Escape. I created both covers, and I was told they weren't good, that they didn't like them at all - basically hated them, in fact.

But, I learned my lesson from the first time, and I went with my instinct instead of the advice I was getting. And guess what? Both covers have been getting praise, and Sweet Escape's cover even made one of my favorite book reviewer's Best Covers of 2013 list! She probably has no idea how much that truly means to me. More than I can say, it was a huge proud moment for me, because it proved that I was right to follow my gut.

My point is, it's YOUR story. It's YOUR book. Don't let other people influence how YOU want it to be, and that includes the cover.

6). I have been through several hurdles this past year, but one thing remained the same. The people that matter are the ones there in the end. And this quote by Dr. Seuss: “Those who matter don't care, and those who care don't matter.”

This quote has stuck out in my mind sooo strongly this year. It is so true. I've had people judge me over the stupidest things, and then in turn I've had people who love me no matter what. I realized that those people who criticize my personality and the way I live my life don't matter. It's the people that don't care what I choose to be, what I choose to like, or how I choose to live my life. They'll love me for me, BECAUSE it's me. Those are the only people that matter.

7). To go along with the above, I learned that sometimes some of the people that don't matter can even be members of your family, and the people that DO matter are ones that aren't blood related at all. They can be strangers at once, but who grow to become your best friend and close confidant. You don't need to be blood related to be family, and sometimes the most disappointing ones in your life are the ones who share your blood.

8). Book conventions are a must. Yes, if you are a reader and love books, obviously book conventions are amazing because you get to meet all your favorite authors. But what I learned this year, is that book conventions can actually be more about the authors than the actual readers, and I don't mean that in a bad way, by the way...I mean it as, if you're an author, attending book conventions is a must because they offer so much inspiration and support, it's unbelievable just how much.

The love, support, and joy that you will find at these conventions, along with connections and friendships that may last for the rest of your life, is the reason I will be attending book conventions every chance I get. They're so fun, and I've never felt more motivated to write than after spending the weekend at one of these things.

9). When inspiration strikes, JUMP ON IT! Man, when I was writing Sweet Oblivion, the words just flowed out of me. I could barely get a moment's rest from the story and words that constantly wanted out. But then, with Sweet Escape, there were a few months where I held back because of things that had come up, and so I didn't write, even though I wanted to and was inspired to. What was I thinking?! Because guess what. Right after that, when I had the time to write, I had absolutely no inspiration to write at all. *face palm* So, I learned, that when inspiration strikes, don't push it down. Take advantage of it. Because you never know if you'll lose it a second later.

10). I hate deadlines. I hate release dates. When I published Sweet Oblivion, I told myself that I would never miss a release date. If I was going to give an "official release" date for a book, I would darn well meet it.

Oh, god. *Cue disaster music*

I missed the official release date for Sweet Requiem (#3). And, actually, it started the exact same way with Sweet Escape (#2) 6 months prior, too. I really thought I was going to miss the deadline for Sweet Escape, but I ended up getting it done early and the book released on time. *cue angelic music* But book #3? Nope.

I failed.

I wasn't able to get Sweet Requiem out by October 24th. And guess what? It's still not released. Though, thankfully, it is with the editor. That's a huge achievement, because I honestly thought I'd never get this book done. Anyway, the point is, I realized in that moment when I missed the release date, that I hate them. I always get readers asking me when the release date is for the next book, and I'm terrified to pick one, because honestly - I don't know. I have no idea when I'll be able to release Sweet Requiem. Right now, it's in the mercy of my editor. I have no idea how long she is going to take, and so it makes it impossible to know when I can release the book. Therefore, I'm done with official dates until I KNOW FOR CERTAIN I can meet it.

11). Readers. Are. AMAZING. Like, seriously. I had no idea just how absolutely heartwarming and mind-blowing a reader's love could be. They are incredible, and I honestly write for them. For YOU. I learned that I will never get sick of a simple - "Hey, just read your book and I LOVED IT" tweet or message on facebook. Never. These are the moments I live and write for. And the reviews...oh man, the reviews. Even the bad ones, I'm thankful for. I read all your reviews and I truly take them to heart. Sometimes your love even brings me to tears. So yes, I have learned that readers are the greatest things in the world. I give thanks to you every day and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

And that's my 11 things I have learned in my first year of being an author. :)

Any questions for me?! I'd be happy to answer!

Thank you for all your love and support over this past year. I truly cannot say how much you all mean to me and how grateful I am for you giving my books a chance.

So, Happy 1st Birthday/Anniversary, Sweet Oblivion! It's been a crazy year. :) <3

This isn't a book-related post, with an awesome announcement or sad news, or any type of news, really. This is only a just-because, on the whim, feeling frisky post. A little glimpse to learn more about me, if you will.

And here it is:

I love dreams. I love any and all things that have to do with dreams/dreaming. In fact, my favorite thing to do is sleep just so I can dream some more. Yeah, I'm a bit obsessed, actually. It probably isn't very healthy, either, but I absolutely love it. I prefer to get like...12 hours of sleep, sometimes more, just because I love sleeping so much. I would give up happy and exciting plans if it meant I could sleep just a bit more. Isn't that crazy?! It's like a sickness. I mean, who does that? Who looks at their alarm when it goes off, and thinks - "How can I get out of going to Disney World today, so I can keep sleeping?" NO ONE...except me :D And I LOVE Disney and having fun at theme parks...but there is that one thing that I love more than anything -Sleep. Dreams. Ahhh, it's where I'm most happy.

That is so sad, though. There is a slight additional problem that I haven't mentioned yet...My dreams feel so very real, that I oftentimes mistake dreams for reality. Yeah. You heard me correctly.

There are countless times where I truly believe something happened, but when other people are like...What are you talking about? That never happened...and I go...Uh, yes it did. I SWEAR it did...and I think about it really hard to then discover that it had only been a dream. I even genuinely believe scenes that I've dreamt involving a book I'm reading actually happened, only to spend hours going through the book looking for it, and my friends think I'm losing it because they don't know what scene I'm talking about.


That happens all the time to me. I'm a bit crazy. Seriously. But only when it comes to sleep and dreaming. ;) And, like I'm sure many of you have experienced as well, I love when I have dreams within a dream. You know, where you wake up in your dream, but you're still dreaming? Yep. Those are super cool. I've "woken up" from a dream into another dream, then wake up a second time, all while still dreaming.

But my favorite is when I'm dreaming, and I know that I'm dreaming. I stay completely asleep and the dream goes on, but I know 100% that I'm dreaming, and I say to myself (in the dream) omg...I'm dreaming. It feels so real. And then I actual SAVOR the realness of it. I'll touch something, or I'll like...absorb the current feeling of whatever it is that's going on at the time. It's amazing!! I love it so much.

So, now that you know this about me...Let's hope it doesn't scare you away. :D What about you? Do you like dreaming, or are you someone who doesn't usually remember their dreams after waking up? I've discovered (from discussing it with multiple guys) that it seems most men do not think they dream, a.k.a they don't remember their dreams once they wake up. It's like a guy thing. Isn't that interesting?!

Before I leave you, I even have a theme song. Mhm, this song below literally is my life's theme song, it was like an ":O omg, this is me" moment the second I heard it soooo many years ago. I've included the lyrics and you can even listen to it if you wish! :D I feel it's very "Monday" appropriate.

Anyway, have a great start to your week!

"Heart Attack" by Sum 41

Remember when there was nothing else to do, but lie in bed and,
wonder how it was always up to you, and no one else and,
Early mornings, made by warnings, what's the point of the alarm that I'm ignoring?
It's either raining, I'm not complaining, but waking up is hard to do so,

Turn my head its back to bed with no delay, can't be bothered by the phone ten times a day,
Why get up my morning doesn't even start till two?
Forget reality, waking up is hard to do.

Remember when we would hang out every day, and we would rather,
Not be told what to do or what to say, Cause nothing mattered.
Never boring, with slept in mornings, not ashamed of bad habits that I'm forming.
It's not important if days are shortened, I can't make time when nothings new,
Cause waking up is hard to do so,

Turn my head its back to bed with no delay, can't be bothered by the phone ten times a day,
Why get up my morning doesn't even start till two?
Forget reality, waking up is hard to do.

What's a day when it all ends up the same, and lasts forever?
Can't complain when there's nothing there to blame, and things can't be better.
Summer evenings, teenage grievings, got no problem with the life that I've been leading.
No concentration on hesitation, I can't make time when nothings new, Cause waking up is hard to do so!

Turn my head its back to bed with no delay, can't be bothered by the phone ten times a day,
Why get up my morning doesn't even start till two?
Forget reality, 'cause waking up is hard to do.