Taking Stock of My Year: 2016 Accomplishments & 2017 Goals

It’s time to take stock of what I’ve accomplished in the last year and what I’d like to do in the next one. I live in a perpetual state of feeling like I’ve never accomplished enough. So sometimes it’s healthy for me to take a minute to say, “Look, you did these things. There’s actual proof!”

In 2016, I published the following books:

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00075]
Will & Patrick Fight Their Feelings
Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00075]
Will & Patrick Meet the Mob
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Will & Patrick’s Happy Ending

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00050]
Angel Undone

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Pictures of You
you-are-not-me-high-res
You Are Not Me

In 2016, I had the following books released as translations:

vesperal
Vespéral
saison entrainement
Saison d’entrainement: Entrainement tome 1
entrainement

Centre d’entrainement: Entrainement Tome 2
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Überraschend … verheiratet!
training-season
Training Season: La stagione dell’allenamento
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Un fiume in piena

The year has had its blessings and its troubles. I think the most surprising thing I’ve discovered is that I need to create two new pen names in order to work on non-Leta Blake brand ideas. In the end, I think it will serve me well to have three brands to allow my creativity to flow, but in the meantime it will bring on some lean times.

Which brings me to my 2017 Goals…

1) AUDIO: I’d like to explore audio and after much thought I’ve decided that Will & Patrick Wake Up Married is probably the way to go. The length of each installment is less than my usual book and so, hopefully, it would be more affordable to produce. I haven’t even begun to look into it, but intend to do so starting in January.

2) 90s COMING OF AGE BOOKS 3 & 4: I intend to finish the 90’s Coming of Age series in 2017. They are tentatively called We Can Be Good and We Make It Real.

3) M/F SERIAL: I want to start putting out the M/F serial I mentioned above. I have planned out twenty installments, but I’d like to get that down to ten, and put out three to five of them next year.

4) DARK EROTICA PEN NAME: Books published under this name won’t be “Leta Blake brand”. I intend to put out two (or possibly four) books under this name next year, depending on how things go.

5) A CHRISTMAS BOOK: I have three ideas and whichever one jumps me hardest will get my attention.

6) A LETA BLAKE BRAND BOOK: I’m waffling here. I’m torn between a Will & Patrick sequel, a heist book I’ve wanted to do forever, the Gareth/Lowell book from Smoky Mountain Dreams universe, and a book about Varun from Will & Patrick’s universe. But I’m already pushing the limits of my abilities with these goals, so I will just say that I’ve got to make a choice on this rather soon. It’s important to me that I get a stand alone Leta Blake brand book out this year.

It’s my belief that 2017 will be a building year for me. It will be a lot of work and expense with potentially little profit. It will probably feel a lot like the uphill part of the roller coaster, and I hope it only takes one year to get to the top of it. It’d be nice to experience a fun ride down before I start building again. Because that’s life, isn’t it? You go up that hill and then whoosh, it’s over in a flash, and you do more work to get up the next hill, and whoosh. There’s always hard work to earn the rush. I can promise there will be books to show for the work. I truly hope readers will enjoy them.

Let me take this opportunity to thank all the readers out there, all across the world, who’ve made my writing career thus far so wonderful. You’ve allowed me to write books that move me and I’ve loved hearing that they also moved you. Thank you for your trust. I know you invest money and time whenever you read one of my books. It’s an honor to be granted those precious hours of your life.

Thank you and blessings.

My Top Seven M/M Reads for 2015! #gay #amreading

The rules for this list were simple: books I read in 2015, loved like whoa, and didn’t beta read.

Without further ado, posted in the order I read them! Click on the book cover to purchase! 

The blurb doesn’t do this book justice. It’s full of yummy tropes and hot scenes. It’s a good length too, justifying the price tag. I think about parts of it months later and felt sort of bummed when it was over. Always a good indication that I loved the world/characters! I totally recommend this book.

 

I’m just going to flat out state that I disliked the first book in this series (The Winter Courtship Rituals of Fur-Bearing Critters). Like, I seriously, very much did not like it. (The reasons were: under-developed, super-rushed, basically love at first sight, didn’t really feel the couple, etc.) After reading the first one, I was baffled as to why this was such a popular series. I actually read Book 1 in 2014 and didn’t plan to read any more. But, for some reason, in early 2015 I decided to read Book 2. Maybe it was “free” on Scribd and I thought I’d just give it a go? I’m not sure why I chose to look past how much I really disliked the first book and go on to the second, all that I know is that I did. AND I LOVED EVERY OTHER BOOK IN THE SERIES SO MUCH OMG. Like the rest of the series pushed every last button I have and I was a pile of goo. I’m not sure you have to read the first one to enjoy the others. To be honest, I might skip it. But if you go in with lower expectations than I had for the first book, maybe you’ll like it more than I did. Regardless, the rest of the series is all gooey, feel-good magic.

This book is only $1.99 right now! Again, I’m going to be flat out honest with you and tell you there are some editing issues with this book. It was put out by Kensington, a respectable house, so I don’t know what their deal was, but that’s on the publisher, not the author. The book concept is really fun: reality tv show competition that gets super-duper hot. There are some incredibly sexy scenes, too, some of the dirtiest/hottest I read this year. The relationship isn’t all about the sex, though. There’s sweetness and personal growth, too. The psychological exploration of the more conservative main character and the family expectations that bind him are so well done. I’ve thought about this book a lot since reading it and am looking forward to the next installment in this series (Love Me Tenor) coming soon. I also enjoyed Status Update by Ms. Albert, and it was better edited (put out by Carina, by the way), but I loved Treble Maker and these characters just a little bit more.

 

Screenshot 2015-12-31 10.28.48

I am a huge Ginn Hale fan, so it’s no surprise that I loved the continuation of the Cadeleonian series. I love thick, lush world-building and characters that make me love them from the moment they appear on page. These books can probably be read alone, but there’s no doubt they would be more enjoyable if you’ve read the other Cadeleonian books (Lord of the White Hell Books 1 & 2) first.

 

Absolutely adorable fluff fantasy with lots of tropes and laughs. Highly recommended. I’ll probably buy this one in paperback. In fact, maybe I already pre-ordered that? I can’t remember. Regardless, super duper adorable, fun, charming, laugh-inducing, and just an all-around fantastic read.

Absolutely the most unusual book I’ve read in a long time. I will just c/p my Goodreads review here. “I wish they would make this into a mini series. One of my favorite reads this year.” I feel like I should give a heads up that there is some anachronistic modern language tossed in at times that would momentarily me jerk me out of the story, but for the most part I was able to get immersed in this and visualize every scene like something on a movie/tv screen. The descriptions were perfection. Another thing I enjoyed about this book was how many questions it raised for me: what was William Shakespeare truly like, was this a portrayal that I could buy into (for the purposes of this book, yes), and so much more. Highly recommend, but I can tell you now that it’s not your typical m/m read, not even your typical historical. Imagine a gay BBC Merlin-esque Shakespeare story and go with that.

Highly recommended! Megan Derr has expanded on a freebie novella and turned it into a long, satisfactory read. I absolutely loved it and have thought about it nearly every day since finishing it. My only wish is for even more of this universe and more of this couple. Unf. Loved it so much.

I’m excited to see what books I read and love in 2016! I’ll let you know next year! 😀 LOL! Happy New Year’s Eve! May this year bring us all some good reading!

Writing Round Up – Taking Stock of the Year #amwriting #2013

Over on LiveJournal, under my fandom persona, I’ve always done an end of the year round up of writing meme. I decided to transfer that here this year.

Number of Books Published in 2013
1. Ascending Hearts with Keira Andrews
2. Love’s Nest with Keira Andrews
3. Training Season

Words Written in 2013
1. Training Season – 60,000 new words
2. Love’s Nest – hilariously, I had 51,900 at the end of 2012, but didn’t actually finish the book until February of 2013, and, after edits, it was down to 51,061. So, I netted no words there. – 0 words
3. Binasco Bakery – 5,630
4. ’90s Coming of Age – novel – 24,000 new words (at least, but I don’t have a good ‘before’ count)
5. Falling – novella – 10,000 new words
6. Smoky Mountain Dreams – novel – 0 new words
7. Everything Is Yes – novella – 10,000 new words
8. Trans* Story – novella – 11,242
9. Sheriff Jackson – novella – 951
10. Lost Souls – novel – 0 new words
11. Bucket List – novel – 1,034
12. Ask Jungle Jason – novel – 2,314
13. Always Naked Men – short – 2,648
14. Heist – 457
15. Stalking Dreams – novella – 9,986
16. Leuka – original novel – 0 new words (poor Leuka)
17. Lost Sea – original novel – 0 new words
18. HertClub – original novel – 0 new words
19. Stalking Novel – novel – 44,777
20. For Reasons – novel – 3,158

Subtotal: 186,197 <–Wow, that is totally not enough! Not even close to enough. I have to do better this year.

I also wrote 75,000 words of pure smut under a different pen name. Nope, not sharing it here, but I did write it and it’s out there bringing in smut money. 😉 So, I’ll count those words toward my total count. (And also make note to decide if these words paid off monetarily in terms of focus, time, effort, etc.)

TOTAL WORD COUNT – 261,197

I’d like to hit 350,000 new words in 2014.

Overall Thoughts:

Looking back, did you write more than you thought you would this year, less, or about what you’d predicted?

I always overestimate what I’m going to get done, so I’d go with less. I’d have wanted to break 300k word count, at least.

What did you write that you would never have predicted in January?

I finished Training Season. That was never in my plan for the year. It hit me in August that I had an old draft of a book about an Olympian and that, hey, the Winter Olympics were coming up. If I wanted to do something about that, now was the time. So, when I started the year, Training Season was not even in my plans.

What’s your own favorite story of the year? Not the most popular, but the one that makes you happiest?

Training Season, actually. It is the kind of book I want to write and I’m proud of it.

Did you take any writing risks this year? What did you learn from them?

I decided to finish and self-publish Training Season. I learned that I love, love, love self-publishing. I love having control over when the editing happens, when it’s released, how the cover looks, etc. I love being able to make coupons for the book to provide discounts for special occasions. I love the freedom of choosing if I want to go to print or not. I love it all. At this point, I might need to be sold on why I should return to a publisher. The last one I dealt with offered very little in exchange for their 60% of profits, and they were often rude in correspondence, didn’t seem invested in getting my book out there, and sales were abysmal. So, yeah, I’m not sure where the benefit is, necessarily, except perhaps in access to readership. For that reason, I’ll probably submit a few books to publishers, but I will have to be won over whole hog before I’ll submit every book.

I’ve decided to take a huge writing risk next year. But I’ll save that for later!

From my past year of writing, what was…

My most popular story of this year:

Training Season, for sure.

Story of mine most under-appreciated by the universe, in my opinion:

Ha! Well, I guess it would have to be poor Love’s Nest. I’m not sure what the problem is with selling the book, because, though the other two fairy tales didn’t fare very well either, they acutally did better. I suspect it’s the pricing, but I have no control over that, since it’s not self-pubbed. (Oh, hindsight!)

Most fun story to write:

I loved working on Stalker Novel [half-finished]. It was a blast. I loved finishing up Training Season. I had fun with the expansion of Coming of Age Novel [also half-finished].

Story with the single sexiest moment:

I write so much sex that I have no f’ing clue! LOL!

Most “Holy crap, that’s wrong, even for you” story:

There’s a lot of that going on in Everything Is Yes [submitted to a press].

Story that shifted my own perceptions of the characters:

Everything Is Yes.

Hardest story to write:

Love’s Nest. I am very happy with how it came out, but there were parts that were like pulling teeth, and we knew sales would be abysmal, so feeling inspired to finish it was quite hard, to be entirely honest.

Biggest Disappointment: Everything about the publishing experience prior to self-publishing. Though, as I said, I’m willing to try another house and see if things are different. But, wow, I didn’t anticipate the complete lack of investment from the house we were with.

Biggest Surprise: Training Season‘s reception! What is this madness!?!?!

Most Unintentionally Telling Story: Oh, hell. They probably all are very telling. I’m sure the way I had to approach the kink in Training Season or Everything Is Yes is the most telling of all, though.

Do you have any goals for the New Year?

I want to put out ’90s Coming of Age Novel as a serial. I want to finish ’90s Coming of Age Novel, Stalking Novel, and Trans* Story. I also want to start the Bill/Angus companion novella to Training Season. Though, if you look above, I’ve got twenty-one works in progress, so I’m always wary of starting a new book. But, I think if I finish the three I mentioned, then I would be in the clear to go forward with Bill/Angus. I really want to get my het novel, For Reasons, mostly finished, too. I just opened it up to see the word count earlier, and, oh my god, I love it! Ahem. Anyway, that’s what I’d like to do, but I have no idea if that’s possible.