LeAnn’s 2014 Recap

I’ll try to keep this short and sweet, but no promises (I am working on a book, after all). So many things happened in 2014 that were amazing, wonderful, and completely unexpected. My husband and I are very spontaneous people, so whenever I mentioned a book signing I wanted to attend, he was excited to go! We love road trips and traveling and we did a ton of that in 2014, maybe more than I have in my whole life. It was thrilling and incredible! I hope 2015 is the same way.

Let’s go back to late June, can anyone guess what was significant about that month? UtopYA Con!!!!! I went very last minute, and only Friday during the free signing but it was so worth it. Plus, Nashville is so close to me that it was really a no-brainer.

UtopYAcollage2014

As you can see, I met some incredible authors. Carlyle Labushagne, Shelly Crane, Amy Miles, Quinn Loftis, Heather Lyons, and Misty Provencher are just the ones pictured. There were so many others I didn’t get a picture with, sadly, but everyone was so friendly. This was only the second signing I had attended, and my first one was so different. I felt like there was an “us vs. them” vibe going on and some of the authors were a bit rude. UtopYA was a completely different story! It felt like one big family, and everyone welcomed me with open arms. These were my people. So, if you ever get a chance to attend this convention, DO IT. I hope I can attend this year too.

There was another convention I was dying to go to, and had been anticipating for a year. Amy Miles had talked to me in 2013 about organizing an event for the following year so of course I had to go. However, my husband and I are horrible at planning things in advance, but I was determined to go.

The closer the time came, the more nervous I got. I kept telling my husband I had to go to this event, and some circumstances almost prevented it from happening but thankfully we were able to go! So we spent the weekend in St. Louis, which is a city I had spent very little time in. We enjoyed some amazing food (PI pizza, enough said), and took in some of the sights. My favorite thing was probably the art museum. It completely blew me away! I fell hard for St. Louis that weekend and can’t wait to go back this summer (crossing my fingers).

PennedConcollage2014

Tish Thawer, Lori Otto, Wendy Owens, Danielle Bannister, Amy Bartol, Ren Reidy, Desiree DeOrto, Paige Weaver, Colleen Hoover. Jocelyn Stover, me, Amber Natusch, Amy Bartol, Shannon Morton, Tish Thawer.

Now, let’s talk about Penned Con. It was a two day event, and if I thought UtopYA was amazing, well, Penned was like coming home. It was such a well organized event and there were so many talented authors there. I had the pleasure of eating lunch with Ren Reidy the first day. We had never met before so it was awesome getting to know a well-known blogger. On the second day, I was lucky enough to sneak into the author’s only lunch. It felt incredible eating in a room filled with so much talent. The room was alive with it. It just further proved to me what an amazing community I’m a part of. That night, Tish Thawer invited me to dinner, which was surreal. I had never met her before this event but it felt like we had been friends for years. She is so sweet and welcoming. I love her spunky attitude.

Since it was a two day event, I got to bond with several of the authors and make connections with those people that have only grown since then. The barrier between author and reader was non-existent. We talked together, laughed, and even played games. The cherry on top of the cake was seeing Rick Miles get a pie in the face from his son Landon. Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay for Griffin Peterson’s concert but at least I got to see him 😉

it was truly an amazing experience, one that I will cherish for a long time to come. If you can only go to one event this year, go to Penned. Trust me, you won’t regret it! Rick and Amy Miles did a fantastic job of organizing and planning the event. Proceeds from the event plus donations, and silent auctions helped them raise over $11,000 for Action for Autism. I couldn’t be more proud of them and I am honored to know them. In February, I became part of their PR firm- Red Coat PR and working with them has been a blast. The company is expanding and growing and I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store for us.

Shortly after Penned, on September 16th, Daniela asked me if I would join this blog. We had been talking for several months by this point. Our tastes in books are almost identical, and we have an easy friendship. I have enjoyed getting to know her this year and hopefully in March we’ll finally be able to meet! So when she “popped the question” I couldn’t be happier. I had been toying with the idea to start my own blog, but there are so many out there right now and it’s hard to start from scratch. So accepting her offer was easy. Thanks Daniela and Soreonne for letting me ride this crazy adventure with you guys<3

When I heard about Queen City Indie Con, I knew that going was a no-brainer considering I live only an hour from Cincinnati. Plus, some really great authors would be there.

Queencitycollage

I was thrilled to finally meet Samantha Young. I’ve been a big fan since reading her Warriors of Ankh and Fire Spirits series. Her accent is just adorable and she’s so humble and down to earth. She’s a lovely person and I was so happy to finally meet her. Many of the authors there were also at Penned so it was nice to see some familiar faces, like Michele G. Miller, Annalisa Grant, and Amy Bartol. These ladies rock my socks, there is just no other way to say it. They are some amazing women and it’s been incredible getting to know them and form lasting friendships and connections with them, even though Amy Bartol is probably sick of seeing me (this was my fourth time meeting her). It was great to have dinner surrounded by so many talented women (I sat next to Aleatha Romig!) and interact with them in a normal setting. They weren’t authors then, just people and that was a humbling experience. These are just everyday people, but they have changed my world in ways they don’t even know. They have introduced me to characters that I will hold close to my heart. My only regret is that I didn’t take more pictures, but I’m sure I’ll see some of the same people in the near future.

In November, I signed up to do NaNoWriMo for the first time. Writing 50k words in only 30 days was intimidating, but that wasn’t my ultimate goal. My goal was to write, every night, and I did. With support from other authors like Michele G Miller and Courtney Houston, I was able to get into a good routine and my muse was alive. By the end of it all, I had written 17k. Now my WIP stands at 55k and I am thrilled by these numbers. So, my goal for 2015 is to finish the first draft, edit it, find an editor, and hopefully get this baby published!

2014 was a great year. When I think about all the people I met, the authors and readers I got to interact with at conventions and online, my heart feels so full. It really makes me appreciate the indie community so much, because these people get me. I can talk to them about fictional characters as if they are real people (duh, of course they’re real), gush and squeal about book boyfriends, fangirl over our favorite authors, and authors even fangirling over me. We can all cheer each other on, build up and encourage each other in our separate journeys. These are my people.

So I hope 2015 is as good, if not better, than 2014. I hope your new year is filled with wonderful experiences, great books, and priceless time spent with family and friends. It’s a new year, a blank page. So write your story.

leann

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