Friday, December 31, 2010

My Favorite Books of 2010 (And a Few Other Things)

As we say goodbye to 2010, I thought it would be a good time to look back on this fabulous year, to say a few thank yous and to list my top three favorite books of the year. First, a look back. As some of you who've known me for a while now will recall, 2009 was a bummer around here. My dad suffered a life-threatening head injury, my brother got divorced (sniff), my father-in-law died, two of my aunts died, my best friend's mother died far too young and we lost our darling 17-year-old dog Consuela who'd been with us since the second month we were married. A bummer of a year by anyone's standards. 2010 had to be better right? Well, it was!

While my family and friends thrived and good health abounded (other than those two unfortunate episodes of diverticulitis for yours truly), my writing "career" finally seemed to take off in 2010. As of today, I will have signed FIVE contracts with Harlequin for four Fatal books and a novella. I could hardly have seen that coming going into this year when Fatal Affair was on submission to Harlequin's new Carina Press. Over the years I have learned to submit and forget about it until you get a reply. So it was with great delight that I heard of Carina's interest in Fatal Affair in early February. They bought it later in February, Fatal Justice went in May (and is out on MONDAY!), Fatal Consequences in August, Fatal Destiny and Fatal Flaw in November. A very, very good year indeed. In 2010, I wrote a book to deadline for the first time and survived the process, proving a few things to myself. This fall came the spectacular news that Fatal Affair had been chosen for one of Harlequin's direct-to-consumer programs and will be sent—in print—to all of HQN's mystery and romantic suspense subscribers in July 2011. It was also released in October as an audio book. Some days I still wake up and want to pinch myself over all the good stuff that happened this year. And that brings me to my first thank you: To all the people who bought Fatal Affair, who wrote to express their love for Sam and Nick and Freddie and the rest of the gang, THANK YOU! I can't tell you how much it means to me to be writing this series the way I wanted to write it, with Sam and Nick front and center in every book. If there's one thing I know for sure about publishing it's that there would be no book 4 in the works if book 1 hadn't done fairly well. That is all on you, my faithful readers and I thank you so profoundly for that. I fought hard for this series, and I knew there were readers out there who would embrace this couple, so thanks for coming through for me! :-)

The second thank you is to ALL the readers who have checked out the two offerings I posted to Amazon: True North and The Fall. You guys have OVERWHELMED me with your response to these two books. People have asked me why I went ahead and posted some of my unsold books on my own. Well, the answer to that is easy: no one was interested in them except my readers. I had a feeling you all would connect to Travis and Liana and Ted and Caroline, and judging by the numbers, the reader reviews and the emails you've sent, I was right about that. So thank you. Truly, you have humbled me with your support. There will be more coming in 2011, so keep your eyes posted here and on my Amazon author page for more of my favorite books!

The next thank you goes out to all my new friends! Whether we found each other through Facebook or you wrote to me about my books or we met at a conference, I am deeply grateful for each and every one of you. The fun we've had on Facebook has made my somewhat lonely existence working two jobs from home so much brighter. I look forward to our daily banter and can't wait for more fun in 2011. I want to say a special thank you to Ronlyn Howe, Alyson Hackett, Kara Conrad, Hope Frost, Kris Gilson, Anne Woodall, Mary G and all the ladies who've supported our new Romance and Oreos Book Club. The book club has been GREAT FUN and I'm so glad we've gotten it up and running in 2010. I'm looking forward to a fun year of new books and fabulous authors in 2011. I have read some truly AMAZING books this year thanks the recommendations from the Whip Cracking Book Club Wenches, so thank you for that, too! Thank you also to the amazing authors who have come bearing gifts and given of their time and insight to the book club. We appreciate you more than you know!

Finally, this year I decided to keep track of how many books I read and to note the ones I particularly loved. You've heard me say before that I am not a big fan of authors rating other authors so you won't see me scoring books on Goodreads or Amazon. Instead I give a little * to those that really resonated with me. That doesn't mean I don't like the others. I liked most of the books I read this year with few exceptions. The final total for the year was 112. To be honest, I am surprised it's that low. I would've guessed closer to 200. In years past, it probably was 200 or more. But now that I am having to be even more disciplined about writing, the reading time is getting ever more precious. I still read for fun every single day. My day is simply not complete without at least 30 minutes of reading time. And in 2010, I became an e-book convert. In early November, I downloaded the Amazon app to my iTouch (okay, let's be real, Emily did it for me) and have become an e-book reading fool. I'm a total convert. I never imagined I'd love it so much!

So now without further ado, I give you my top three favorite books for 2010:
1. A Summer in Sonoma by Robyn Carr. This book contained all the things that make a book unforgettable to me: amazing, well-crafted characters dealing with serious issues in their lives along with a healthy dose of romance. Four interwoven stories told from Robyn's unique perspective made this book a total winner for me. I know I will remember it for some time to come. And, I'm delighted to call Robyn a new friend in 2010. Her Virgin River books rank right up there among my all-time favorites.

2. Hot Island Nights by Sarah Mayberry. What a terrific book about a hero dealing with unimaginable grief and all it's accompanying issues. I love the way Sarah tackles the subject of post-traumatic stress in the context of a new romance. To be honest, I've come to expect a lighter, fluffier read from a lot of the Blaze line and with the title of this book, I was expecting a sexy beach romp (not that there is ANYTHING wrong with a sexy beach romp!). This book was SO much more than that. I thought about it for weeks after I finished it, and that made this book one of my top 3 for 2010. Well done, Sarah!

3. Extreme Exposure by Pamela Clare. I chose this book because it set me off on a reading frenzy that reminded me of when I read the Virgin River books. For about 20 days in November I was all Pamela Clare all the time. Her I-Team series, which begins with Extreme Exposure, was some of the most riveting reading I've done in a long time. I tend to shy away from contemporaries and romantic suspense because that's what I write, and I never want to be influenced by other books. However, my book club wenches insisted I read this series, and WOW, I am so glad I did. As a former reporter myself, I loved reading about Pam's investigative reporters and their many adventures. If you haven't read this series, what are you waiting for? Even though I listed Extreme Exposure as one of my top three, I am STILL on team Julian (ALY)! He is the hero from book 2, Hard Evidence. One word: YUM. Thank you for the many hours of entertainment, Pamela!

Honorable Mention
1. Last Chance Rescue Series by Christy Reece. Riveting. Amazing. Heart-pounding.
2. Kelly Group International Series by Maya Banks. Outstanding. Sexy. Thrilling. Can't wait for the third book! Six yummy brothers. What more do we need?

So much for avoiding romantic suspense, huh? :-) I am shocked to not see a historical on my top 3 list. I truly enjoyed Nine Rules to Break When Romancing a Rake by Sarah MacLean (coming soon to book club) and 10 Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn. And, of course, A Wallflower Christmas and the final Hathaway book by Lisa Kleypas.

I end 2010 a thankful, grateful wife, mother, daughter, sister, cousin, friend and author who is surrounded by amazing people who make life a happier place to be. Whether you are near or far, I love you all and look forward to 2011. Happy New Year!

Now, tell me your top three favorite books for 2010 and your resolutions for 2011!


Mary G said...

Hi Marie
What a wonderful post! I, too, am glad that you published your own books. I love your writing and it was excruciating to wait for more.
I still can't believe that more people haven't found you yet but I know that will change in the future. Keep on keeping on.

It's been great getting to know you as well. Just the icing on the cake. LOL

flchen1 said...

Wow, Marie-- not sure I could choose just three! ;) Many congrats on your 2010 releases and successes--hoping 2011 brings you many more of both!

Marie Force said...

Thanks so much, Mary! You were one of the first to find me after Line of Scrimmage was released, and one of my truest reader friends! Thanks for your friendship and support in 2010! Look forward to 2011!

And the same to you, Fedora--again one of my earliest supporters. Thank you so much for all your support, too!

Sheila Deeth said...

Lovely post, and full of interesting ideas. Fascinating to know you published your own books and your readers found them there. Another neat step on the journey.

Marie Force said...

Hi Sheila,
Thanks for coming by! The decision to self-pub a few of my books was one I wrestled with for a long time. A lot of my well-established author friends encouraged me to go for it, and I am SO glad now that I did. The response has been truly amazing. Thanks for all your support of my blog in 2010 and happy New Year to you!!

Kay said...

I fully agree with you on the e-books, I was reluctant to try it but have fallen in love with the format. I'm going to start downloading your list of favorites that I haven't already read. I fully agree with you, Maya Banks KGI series is a winner.

Thanks for posting your "unsold" books on Amazon. We want more, especially if it means we get more of your books faster...

I just finished "The Fall" this morning and it really got to me. There was so much emotion in there. I'll put it on my list of top 3. Very very few books wrench a tear from me, and this one had me sniffling all morning. "Line of Scrimmage" also got me teary-eyed. I'm definitely hooked on your books and anxiously waiting for "Fatal Justice" on Monday.

"No Mercy" by Lori Armstrong is definitely in my top 3, and along with that go the 4 books in her Julie Collins mystery series. While these are mysteries, they also have a good dose of relationships inter-woven in the stories. I also love her romance books authored as Lorelei James.

Picking a 3rd I'll go with "The Homecoming" and anything by JoAnn Ross. She does a wonderful job of developing not only the characters but also the setting.

Wishing you health, happiness, peace and prosperity in 2011 and beyond.

Marie Force said...

Hi Kay,
Thank you so much for stopping by and for your lovely thoughts on The Fall. I LOVE that book, always have, and couldn't wait any longer to share it with readers. I'm so happy to hear that Ted's story resonated with you. Thank you for ranking it in your top 3. I just moved my 2010 reading list to a page that you can find at the top of the blog if you want to see the 2010 list of books I read.

Come by our book club on Thursdays and feel free to suggest a book you'd like to feature sometime. We're always happy to welcome new reader friends to our gang!

Happy New Year to you and thank you so much for your interest in my books!

Knitsy said...

I'm so behind. I've been on Goodreads thinking i was catching all the scoop. I love your blog! Your year end post was wonderful. As far as my favorite 2010 books- I'll have to go w/ Lora Leigh's Renegade, Rachel Gibson's Nothing But Trouble, and although it came out a few years ago I read Shayla Black's Wicked Ties and NUM NUM NUM!!