January Book List | #GoIndie2016

Looking for a few indie books to read this month? Here are a few books I read and/or purchased last month. If you're new to the #GoIndie2016 challenge, read this post first.

ROMANCE BOOKS

This month, I picked up six romance books. I read Someone Else's Fairytale and Level Up, and enjoyed the heck out of them. They were smart, well-written novels that didn't rely heavily on any tropes or cliches. I'm excited to dive into the rest! 

THRILLER/SUSPENSE BOOKS

While this isn't my typical genre, I thought it was important to vary the books I read so that I can recommend a bit of everything. Blood & Water was the only one I read so far and you can watch my thoughts in the video at the end of the post. 

FANTASY/SCIENCE FICTION BOOKS

I'm super excited about these titles, y'all. I can't get enough of the dystopian/fantasy scene these days, and there are tons of them out there! Arena Mode was one of my favorite reads this past month. It's superhero meets hunger games, and it's fabulous. 

Want to know more? Watch the video below and look out for more books next month! 

*note: there are affiliate links in this post*

Three Reasons Why I'm only Reading Self-Published Books in 2016

Can I be honest with you? I love books. All books. The fact that there are entire stores dedicated to housing these amazing word-holders kind of blows my mind. I mean, don't even get me started on libraries. 

But this year? My book-reading will take a narrowed focus. This year will be a year dedicated entirely to self-published books. Here's why.

1. TO SUPPORT INDEPENDENT AUTHORS

When I first created this blog, I had a very limited view of the publishing world. I thought that if I wanted to write books, I would need to spend hundreds of hours perfecting my query letter and spend years waiting for a literary agent. And getting a publishing deal? Might as well be decades. 

This reality was not exactly accurate for a couple of reasons: 

  • Traditional publishing doesn't necessarily take eons. It's part luck-of-the-draw, part talent-based. (I can only comment so much on this platform because *spoiler alert* I self-published.)
  • Self-publishing exists. And it's awesome. (You can find a list of resources on self-publishing here.)

This year, I self-published my first book called These Are the Moments. (You can read the first ten chapters fo' free over here. I need to stop having side conversations with parentheses.) I completely fell in love with the process and made incredible friends that were starting their writing journeys the same was that I was.

This year is a year I want to dedicate to my friends and their stories:

  • I want to help dispel some of the outlandish self-publishing myths.
  • I want to write reviews and cheer on the people who have come to mean so much to me, while making new friends along the way.
  • I want to drink coffee. (I think I lost my point here. I also forgot the stop the side conversations.)

2. TO CONNECT READERS TO NEW AUTHORS

Let's test a theory, shall we? Open a new tab and head on over to Pinterest. In the search bar, type in "best books to read." Now, scroll down until you see the same book twice.

I bet you didn't get very far, did you? I was halfway through my first scroll when I saw Gone Girl for the second time. What's wrong with this picture? In 2016, let's usher in a new wave of authors. Let's play matchmaker with little-known authors and bright-eyed readers.

This year, I'll be tracking my reading journey in a few places. You can keep up with me here:

  • Instagram. I love posting photos over here. This year, I'll promote these self-published books as I read them via pictures. And maybe a little bit of review, too.
  • Goodreads. I don't know how I read books before Goodreads. I love that I can track what I've read each year, while setting a goal for myself. Be my friend!
  • Twitter. Who am I kidding? I spend the majority of my life on Twitter. So you're bound to see updates over there.

3. TO SEE WHAT HAPPENS

If I only read self-published books in 2016, will the world dissolve into a book-less existence and I will be blamed for singly-handedly destroying the written language? Uhh, no. I don't expect anything drastic to come from this challenge, but I would like a few answers to questions I have:

  • What makes a book, well, a book? Do you need a movie deal in order to be considered successful? Do you have to sell 1,000,000 copies to be valid? (I know the answer to this, but only from personal experience. I want exposure to other people's journeys too, because I'm nosy.)
  • How do we encourage future writers? Is buying an author's book the best means of support? What does it take to be a true fan? (Again, I may know this answer.)
  • How many people can I get on board with this?

THIS IS WHERE YOU COME IN.

Reading challenges are fun, but they're way more fun when you have people to share in them. Here are a couple of ways you can support this project:

Discussion Time: What books are on your to-be-read list for 2016? What are your thoughts on independent publishing?

15 Books You Probably Didn't Read in 2015

Can you believe that 2015 is almost over? If you're like me, you're trying to cram in as much book-reading as possible before the turn of the new year. I browse Pinterest for days, searching for the perfect books to read, and I discovered something quickly.

The same ten books keep showing up, over and over. Why not try a few different books for a change? Below, I've listed 15 books you probably didn't read in 2015, but absolutely should. If you have read these books, congratulations! We can be friends. (Links and details are below the infographic.)

Books You Probably Didn't Read in 2015 | Blots & Plots
Books You Probably Didn't Read in 2015 | Blots & Plots

Read on for book details!

Sweet Girl

Author Rachel Hollis runs a lifestyle blog called The Chic Site, and I'm a big fan of her Instagram. Her book Sweet Girl is about Max Jennings, a girl with hopeful dreams of being a pastry chef. She gets an amazing opportunity to work with world-famous Avis Phillips, and fun and romance ensues.

Finding Lily

I'm happy to call Rachel Del a friend of mine. She, like Rachel Hollis, has a killer Instagram game, and her blog, Big City Quiet is a must-read. Speaking of must-reads, her novel Finding Lily is perfection. This book follows Lily Gardner in the midst of a divorce from her husband, Thomas. It celebrates the idea of second chances, as we watch Lily pick up the pieces of her life.

These Are the Moments

Oh, hey! This looks familiar. My debut novel, These Are the Moments, released in May, and it's been an amazing experience so far! (I expect it to stay amazing. Don't read too much into that "so far.") These Are the Moments follows Wendy Lake and her relationship with on-again, off-again boyfriend Simon. It spans ten years of their relationship, back-and-forth through their tumultuous, yet exciting love story.

The Light Guardian

Meet my new friend Katie Sciortino! We recently met at our high school alma mater's career day, and found out we had so much in common. For instance, we both write books. Her first book, The Light Guardian, is a beautiful story about a young painter named Simon who receives a very special mission. This book is also illustrated beautifully.

Perfectly Imperfect

I recently discovered author Harper Sloan—and her insanely cool purple hair—and can't wait to get my hands on this book. Perfectly Imperfect is a standalone novel about self-image. It follows the main character Willow Tate, who struggles with body issues, and her love interest, Kane Masters. Swoon time! Bonus: Harper is a New York Times bestselling author. And did I mention the purple hair?

Now and Again

Another writer friend on the list! Jennifer Ellision has several amazing books in her repertoire, and I'm incredibly excited about this one. Now and Again is a book about the messy side of love. Em has never forgotten about Cole, even though she pushed him away years ago. Can they repair what might have been? I don't know, but I can't wait to find out.

The Art of Work

Jeff Goins hardly needs an introduction, but allow me to try. Jeff is the author or four books, including this year's popular non-fiction guide, The Art of Work. He's an empowering source of wisdom for all authors and makers, and his latest book is an amazing resource. Bored with your job? Want to live a meaningful, creative life? This book is right up your alley.

The Badlings

It's no secret how much I love Ksenia Anske. She was my biggest inspiration to self-publish my own book, and I'm happy to put her book on this list. The Badlings is an amazing concept. It follows the story of a group of children known as—you guessed it— Badlings, who abandon books before they finish them. Their punishment? Getting sucked into unfinished stories!

A Magic Dark and Bright

How can you not fall in love with this cover? Jenny Perinovic is not only an amazing writer, but a super cool friend of mine with amazing design skills. I am excited to share her book, A Magic Dark and Bright, with you. This is the first book in the Asylum Saga, and deals with ghosts and curses and death, oh my! (Too much? So sorry.) I recommend reading this book with the lights on, people.

Blood and Water

Oh, Briana Morgan. She is fabulous in every way. From her writing advice to her debut novel, she gets an A+ for the year 2015. Blood and Water is set in a post-apocalyptic world where a deadly virus runs rampant. Seventeen-year-old Jay Harris must fight to save both his sister... and himself. If you're looking for a sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat novel, grab yourself a copy of this.

Silent Memories

Hattie C. Cooper is a rising star. Along with her first novel, The Anxious Girl's Guide to Dating, her 2015 release is a gem. Silent Memories is the first book in The Sawmill Cove trilogy, which follows a mysterious murder in a small town. It'll take a village to solve this one, and forensic artist Ryan Hart is on the case. Scared yet? I know I am!

The Assassin

Speaking of people I love, meet Laura Teagan! She's another incredible writing resource, sharing great advice over on her blog, Ginger & Co. I met her on Twitter through our mutual love of writing and I'm proud to call her a friend. Her debut novel, The Assassin, is a kick-butt FBI novel. Cassie Morgan is set to investigate a rogue agent, but when things go awry, she winds up on the run from a serial killer known as The Assassin. How will she escape? We'll find out!

Kindling Volume II

I first discovered Writer's Edit Press through Twitter. On a whim, I decided to submit a story to their debut anthology, and I can still remember how excited I was when I was accepted. I'm thrilled to support their second anthology, Kindling Volume II. This book is filled with works of fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction. I'm a big fan of short stories, and if you want to support an amazing press, make sure to add this to your TBR list.

Risen Gods

You probably know Joanna Penn from her award-winning writing blog, The Creative Penn. She's a Twitter fiend and a podcaster, a writer and a speaker. Basically, she's Wonder Woman. In addition to her wildly popular non-fiction books, she also writes thrillers, including her latest novel, Rising Gods. The Amazon tag line reads, "Can Ben and Lucy battle the Risen Gods to find each other again and save the country from destruction?" Well, I'm officially interested.

Invasion

I can't rave about Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant enough. Along with David W. Wright, they form The Self-Publishing Podcast crew, an incredibly content-filled podcast to teach you how to self-publish books... and make money from them. They have several book series, and I'm incredibly excited to dive into this new book, Invasion. Do you think it's about alien invasions? Well, you couldn't be more correct.

So what do you think? Did I miss any? 

*note: there are affiliate links in this post*



2015 Holiday Gifts for Readers

Scenario: the holidays are coming up. You ask the bookworm in your life what he/she wants for Christmas. They respond, "Surprise me!" What do you do? Well, you keep reading this post, that's what you do!

This year, I decided to round up a few of my favorite holiday gifts for readers, all featured on Etsy. Mom and Dad, if you're reading this, please feel free to pass this list onto Santa. Everyone else? Break out your credit cards.

2015 Holiday Gifts for Readers | Blots & Plots
2015 Holiday Gifts for Readers | Blots & Plots

So you liked what you saw, didn't you? I'm not surprised. That's a pretty crave-worthy list. Now, the links to the sites are below for you!

  1. Jane Austen Gift Set: includes journal, pocket journal, and pencil set.
  2. Time Machine Necktie. For the H.G. Wells fan in your life, you can't go wrong with this snazzy tie.
  3. Book Quote Art. So many books, so little time. No truer words have been spoken.
  4. The Catcher in the Rye Gift Set: includes coin purse, ornament, bookmark, and print.
  5. The Marauder's Map Harry Potter Scarf. I solemnly swear that I am up to no good and will wear this scarf everywhere.
  6. Sparkle & Shine Engraved Pencils. In case you're feeling inspired!
  7. Christmas in the Great Hall Soy Candle. Again, for the Harry Potter fans. Noticing a trend here?
  8. Ampersand Print Wall Art. As you can tell by my blog name, I'm a big ampersand fan. This is lovely!

So there you have it! This year's guide to holiday gifts for readers. Of course, you can always give lots and lots of books, as well. What are your holiday plans this year? What gifts are you hoping to get/give under your tree?

12 Days of Book Giveaways: Week One

12 Days of Book Giveaways | Blots & Plots
12 Days of Book Giveaways | Blots & Plots

Do you like free books? If the automatic answer isn't heck yes! then you may be on the wrong website. For the holiday season, I've teamed up with a few of my favorite authors to give you the chance to win up to twelve free books! Keep on reading for all the details.

Since the Blots & Plots community is super special and book-crazy, I wanted to do a special 12 Days of Book Giveaways this year. Ellen style, you know. Or maybe Oprah? YOU get a book and YOU get a book!

Okay, anyway. Here's how it works:

  • The when: Every weekday from the 7th-22nd, we'll be giving away one book from one new author. Each day will end at 10pm central time.
  • The where: This party's over on Instagram. Make sure to read the rules when you enter!
  • The how: Entering is super easy, my friends. All you have to do is follow my account + the author's account. Then, tag two friends who would also like free books. Bonus entries for those of you who repost the photo.

Are you ready for the who? Meet this week's fabulous writers!

Ksenia Anske

This girl's my indie publishing hero. She puts all of her books online for free and runs an amazing blog where she shares open and honest details of her writing journey. Today only, you can win a copy of her book, Rosehead.

Katie Li

In a way, Katie and I are publishing siblings. We share the same amazing editor, so it makes us related, I'd say. On Tuesday, make sure to head over to Instagram to win a chance at her fantasy novel, Somewhere in Between.

Rachel Del

Get excited to follow this amazing writer on Instagram. Rachel published her first book this year, Finding Lily, and I'm a big fan. If you like contemporary romance, you have to enter for her book on Wednesday.

Amanda Shofner

I can't praise this girl enough. Not only is she an amazing writer, but she's also a wealth of publishing information. On Thursday, you get the chance to win her book, Elusive Memories. Genetic Engineering? Memory Loss? What more could you want?

Nicole Feller

To close out the first week, we have the lovely Nicole Feller with her book Still the Song. If you love a good romance story, you'll swoon your way through this novel. I'm beyond excited to have her on our giveaway list.

What are you waiting for?

12 Days of Book Giveaways | Blots & Plots
12 Days of Book Giveaways | Blots & Plots