So I’ve been seeing people posting lists of 16 good things that happened in 2016, to at least try to end this trash can of a year on a positive note. I thought I’d play along because why not. Some pretty spectacular things happened this year. I’m going to mix it up though and list 13 positive things and three things that weren’t so great, but that I hope to learn from. I think that’s fair. Because of course I made mistakes in 2016, and I’d like to try as hell not to repeat what I can control. Most of these are author-related but some are personal too.
Let’s go with 13 rad things that happened in 2016 (in no particular order):
- The Cyberlove series: I don’t even know what to say about this that isn’t rambly but it boils down to a whole lot of surprise. Santino Hassell and I wrote The End to Strong Signal as the ball dropped on 2015. We thought it was a niche book that our core readers would love. We were proud of it, but didn’t expect it to have any sort of mass appeal. We were wrong. Not only did I remember how much I loved writing while drafting this series, the books did things we never anticipated. We sold audio rights and foreign rights to three countries. Fast Connection was named a best romance of the year by The Washington Post. Suz freaking Brockmann tweeted us about it! And I gained a solid friend out of all of this in my co-writer. I’m so grateful for this experience.
- Changing His Game hit the USA Today Bestseller’s list. This one is still crazy to me. Due to a sale and boost by Bookbub, one of my dirtiest, nerdiest books (lol) made top 20 in the Kindle store and earned me a spot on the bestseller list. I still remember the excited phone calls from my agent, and me shouting to the news to everyone I knew.
- I wrote the first male/male romance for the Brazen imprint with Entangled Publishing. Tied to Trouble came out in January, and Chad and Owen did better than I expected. I still get regular emails and messages about this book, jokes about bow ties, and requests to see the art for The Dapper Dick.
- I released by first non-co-authored self-published title, Daring Fate. Well, it’s my first self published since that very fist book in 2013 when I had no idea what I was doing. I learned this year that I suck at self-imposed deadlines. I need a contract and publishing house breathing down my neck to finish a book. So publishing Daring Fate on my own was a huge accomplishment to me. It was also my first paranormal romance, and the response from my readers was incredible. I can’t wait for you all to read my vampires in 2017!
- I signed my first print deal. In 2018, I’m releasing a romantic suspense series with Grand Central Publishing. It’ll be in stores! And it’s totally Megan-ish romantic suspense because it’s about a motley crew of hackers. I’m so so excited because this is a concept I’ve been working on for over a year. I never gave up finding a home for this series, and neither did my agent.
- On a personal note, my husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage by riding roller coasters at Hershey Park (despite what I write, our romance game is low. Wouldn’t have it any other way). We’ve been together since we were eighteen. He’s my very own Cyberlove story, because we first met online over AOL messenger. He’s my rock and so supportive of my career. I couldn’t have done this without him, and I look forward to the next ten years and beyond.
- I hired an assistant – Keyanna Butler – who is such a huge asset. With her help, we grew my readers Facebook group Meg’s Mob from 350 to over 700 and growing. It’s my happy place on the Internet that is drama-free and full of Tom Hardy, hot guys in sweatpants, and cat memes. I love showing them snippets of my WIPs, holding giveaways, and providing bonus content. I’m so proud of it, and love interacting with readers. It’s my favorite. 😀
- I work hard to remember where I started. I still talk to my author friends every day who I’ve been talking to since I queried agents – AJ Pine, Natalie Blitt, and Lia Riley. They are amazing authors in their own right, and we keep each other grounded and humble. They tell me when I’m being an asshole, and I return the favor, haha. They mean the world to me, and I can’t wait to see them again at the RT Convention in Atlanta in 2017! Save me some challah, Natalie. 😀
- I went to my first big signing – Shameless Book Con in Orlando. I got to hug my co-writer and we wore onesises that made us look like sugar gliders. I hugged readers I’d seen before, and met new ones. We ate hibachi while drunk, we visited the City Walk, and I drank a beer with a little gecko hanging out beside me. Hands down, one of the best experiences of my life.
- I went to Vegas for the RT Book Convention. VEGAS. I walked around the Bellagio. I rode down the strip in a fancy Mustang with a reader turned friend. I took pictures with some guys dressed as Avengers and stuffed my face at the Rio buffet. It’s a trip I’ll never forget, most especially because it was a place I never thought I’d get the chance to go.
- I started a bullet journal! I was tired of forgetting dates–when my son was supposed to wear his spirit shirt at school and when my daughter was supposed to provide the snack to her preschool class. Now I’m writing down daily to do lists and keeping track of my LIFE and while I still feel out of control 60% of the time, that’s an improvement over 100%. (Look at me using numbers.) Anyway, it’s been life changing, and also a way for me to keep track of my goals.
- I was asked to be a Discovery Author for 1001 Dark Nights. It’s a program I’ve admired for years, and to be a part of the family is a true dream come true. Getting that email was so freaking cool. 😀
- This one is kind of ambiguous, but overall I felt like I figured out my little place in the industry? I settled into the fact that I can’t stick to one subgenre and like to write it all. My readers so far have been so supportive of that. I like to be honest about my life and writing on Twitter, and that’s been immensely rewarding to me to feel like I’m giving back to newbie writers in some way (even though I’m still a newbie!). I never thought this was the career I’d have. I always wanted to write fiction for a living, but never thought I could actually make money or consistently put out books. It’s kind of cool proving myself wrong.
Ok and now onto the things I would like to learn from:
14. 2016 was not a great year for me mental health wise. I had a couple really bad weeks where my spoons were so low, I had trouble getting out of bed. I couldn’t write. I just wallowed in a ball of anxiety. It sucked so bad and I’d really prefer not to repeat it. Overall, I know I don’t have control over this, but I definitely noticed there were triggers. Social media is a big one, which is hard because I am dependent on it to connect to my readers. But sometimes, it’s just too much. Too stimulating. Too many voices, and it drowns me. I have begun taking more social media breaks to ensure I don’t stay down and never come back up for air. I’m looking into regularly scheduling them for 2017. We’ll see how it goes. 😀
15. My work/life balance sucks. To a degree, I’ve accepted this. My house is a mess, and I still kind of fly by the seat of my pants. But this year was really hard in regards to spending time with my husband. He works long hours too, and while we both are completely independent and value our alone time, I still need to ground myself with him occasionally. And it’s been that way since we got together. Moving forward, I’m making more of an effort to schedule date nights with him without the kids so we can actually have discussions and act like, ya know, we’re married.
16. I took a small writing break in 2016 and looking back, I’m not actually sure it was good for me. I know it’s important to refill the well. But I think my well doesn’t do well with long periods of inactivity. I kind of flailed and started a dozen projects without finishing them and it wasn’t even that fun. It was just frustrating. I need to keep my schedule full and stick to my deadlines and not let myself off the hook. But relating to the last point, I need to remember to breath. To every once in a while stare at my shelf of books and be proud of what I’ve done. All those words, all those hours, all that coffee, and that new keyboard (I guess I type like an animal). I did that. Me. And it’s healthy to see what I’m capable of, and remember all that I want to do.
Okay, so if you made it this far, thank you? That was a lot of rambling that you might not even care about, but I felt like writing it down anyway. That’s one of my points, you know. To look back and appreciate what I’ve accomplished. To all the readers I’ve met this year, whether online or in person, I just…don’t even know what to say. I love you, I appreciate you, and you mean the world to me. I’m humbled every time you compliment me on my books and so many of you inspire me with your own lives.
What’s next: Well, on Jan. 11, Santino and I reveal the cover for Hard Wired, which we release in February. So stay tuned for that, because we have so much fun stuff planned.
Here’s to a much better 2017. Let’s all kick ass. <3