BRANDED: Five years later...

Five years.

That's how long ago I published Branded.  To the day.

It was five years ago that I told my husband about this thing called "self-publishing," about an e-reader called a Kindle, about a company called Createspace that you could print your book with.

Five years ago since he told me "why not?"

Because five years and one month ago, I was about ready to give up on BRANDED.

I'd been trying to find an agent who would find me a publisher for five months.  I'd recieved around 60+ rejections.  Sure, there had been lots of requests to look at it.  But in the end, they all had passed. And I was pretty crushed.  Because I believed in this project.  I'd gotten such good feedback.  And I thought it could do something.

So my husband said "why not" and everything changed.

I made a ton of mistakes.  I knew nothing about formatting.  I didn't have an editor.  I had no clue how to market.  And I didn't know a single other person who had self-published.  This was 2010, before the publishing world changed so dramatically.  So boy did I have a lot to learn.

And here we are, five years later.  That book that 60+ literary agents rejected has had some 800,000+ downloads, thousands of reviews, and devoted fans.  I never saw that coming in 2010 when I was feeling like a failure.

So it's been five years that I've been in this business.  I've done well.  I'm incredibly blessed and I still marvel every day that I am where I am.  There's been times that my head got filled with too much hot air and I've been shot down by a bad review or a dip in income.  And I'm grateful for those fiery darts.  They keep me humble and remind me that I don't always know what the heck I'm doing.  That I am a constant student.  That nothing is ever certain.

Thank you all, so much for going on this five year journey for me.  You've made all the difference in my life.

As my thank you to you, I'm offering up five SIGNED copies of BRANDED.  This is open worldwide.  Enter using the form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

PLAYING IT KALE - Available Now!

This marks my Novel Dozen.  I don't know if that's a real thing, but I'm calling it a thing.  Because TWELVE books.  Twelve.  That feels...unreal.  And amazing.

Thank you so much for supporting me.  For being with me these past five years of publication.

It was one of the scariest things I’d ever done: walking out on stage, opening my mouth, and singing for everyone at that wedding to hear. Because I’m awkward. I always mess things up, I forget my lyrics, and guaranteed, I’ll do something weird. I’m a nerd, a lab assistant. Not a pop star. 

But that night, I met someone who changed my life forever. Kale McCain. World-famous model, ladies’ man, not a flaw to him. And the most unexpected thing happened—sparks flew. Everything about Kale is smooth: his attitude, his voice, his body… He is my polar opposite. But somehow, him—me, we work. 

Then there was the video he made. Us together, me singing, him grinning like I was the sun, moon, and stars. And my simple life exploded. Suddenly, the world has a new celebrity couple to obsess about. We’ve barely started a relationship. Now there’s all this pressure. When our once seemingly perfect life gets shaken, will we come out stronger, or will what everyone has been saying about us—that this is too quick, too serious, and that we’re too young for this to be real—come to truth? 

I’m Whitney Ford, and from the second Kale McCain walked into my life, I knew it would never be the same. 

The McCain Saga 

2014--The Year of Learning and Reminders

I started self-publishing in 2010.  That was a major year for learning and mistakes.

2011 was the year of amazing possibilities.

2012 was the year to realize that my writing was a business.

2013 was the year of arriving at a whole new level of taxation.

2014 was the year that I looped back around to learning.

If you follow many self-published authors, you've probably already heard how pretty much ALL of us are way, way down this year.  There's a lot of factors tied to the downward spiral--the flooded book market, the intruduction of the Kindle Unlimited program, etc--and we're all feeling the hurt.  I'm no exception.

My shock in everything changing was two part: first, I realized in about Feb that all the marketing tactics I had been using for the past few years weren't as effective as they once were.  My methods for reaching readers wasn't working as well.  The market, social media, everything was shifting, and it didn't take very long for me to get "out-dated."  So I had to re-evaluate everything I was doing.  The market today is not what it was six months ago, and I've realized that it won't be the same in six months from today.  Everything takes constant reevaluation.

The second part didn't come until this summer.  My sales were down.  Even though I had more books out, my income was taking a dip.  And for a while I started panicking, thinking I was doing something wrong and why was this happening to ME.  But then I started hearing everyone saying the same thing.

I kind of feel like I backslid about 3 years...

But it's taught me to remember one important thing:


Not because of the money it brings/has brought to me.

Not because I want to get famous (though trust me, this isn't a motivation to me...)

I write because I love creating worlds, characters, words.

This year I wrote 4 entire novels.  For some authors that's no biggie, but for me that was CRAZY, and so much work.  It was 258,833 words between Feb. 28 and Dec. 16.  291 DAYS.

I was working on something else before I started The McCain Saga.  It was a big project with a really complicated plot, a lot of characters, and a TON of world building.  And I hit a wall.  I was already exhausted from it and I was only 40,000 words in with 2/3 left to write.  So I took a step back, and started on something that was just for ME.

I never had any plans to publish my fun, light little project.  I just needed something that felt like therapy.  I just wanted to write this story about a corporate shark who wore amazing shoes and was everything I both loved about a power hungry woman but was also kind of afraid of.  And this man who pretented to be overly confident but really was scared of this woman too, but also totally in love with her.

This year I learned to write what my heart took me to.  And it was amazing.

I didn't break the New York Times or the USA Today lists.  I didn't become world famous or get a movie deal.  My income took a big 'ole dip and things got pretty terrifying for a minute as I adjusted.

But I'm not quitting.  I'm not moving on to other ventures.  I'm not saying "I'll try it again when the market stabalizes."  I'm still doing this.  I'm still creating worlds.  And living many lives.  Metting amazing characters.  

2014 was a year of learning and a year of harsh reality.  Don't worry, I'm nowhere near financial ruin.  We're fine, it was just an adjustment.  

It's also been a reminder year.  A reminder of my humble beginnings, of reminding me that I don't really know much and that I am always a student.  And a reminder of how much I love my supporters.  Thank you for always being there for me.

That Eden Movie Deal...

This has been the giant white elephant in the room for me for a long while now.  Something I've avoided talking about and just kind of let die.  Because it kind of sucks to talk about.  And it's all SUPER complicated.

You know that The Eden Trilogy started out as a standalone novel titled EDEN.  It was one book and I had no plans to turn it into a trilogy.  And then THIS happened.  Eden got optioned by the producer of the Twilight Saga.

So, what happened after all the hype, and all the articles, and all the awesome?

Well, everyone wanted Eden turned into a trilogy.  So I spent a lot of time deciding if I could do it.  And then I decided that I could.  Then, everyone wanted to see it traditionally published.  I hesitantly said okay.  From there, everyone helped me find an agent who we thought would be a good fit, because you need a literary agent before you get a traditional publisher.  So we found one.

This agent and I spent nine months reworking Eden into what would be book one in a trilogy.  There were some changes I knew the story could benefit from anyway, and we needed to set up new elements that would support a book two and book three.  So we spent a lot of time doing this.

Meanwhile, this whole time, the producers are breathing down my neck, asking when I would have a finished manuscript so that they could start getting a screenplay worked on.  They teased me about different actors they had talked to about being in it, but never telling me who...

During these nine months, it was becoming apparent that me and this agent didn't see eye to eye on what should happen in my story.  They wanted one thing, I wanted another.

We weren't a good fit.

But we rolled forward.

Finally, I sent this agent what I thought would be the FINAL round of edits.  And then didn't hear from them for two months.  My emails were ignored and unanswered.  The producers were practically breathing fire at me for the first month of waiting.

So, I sent one last, very demanding email.  I had to know what was going on.

Explanations were given, and I won't go into all of the reasons, some were their own, some I think were due to the bad fit, but in the end, the bottom line was that this agent thought it best we parted ways.

Which was VERY okay by me.

I went back to the producers and said "this is what's going on.  Now what?"

Come to find out, during the last month of silence and waiting, the production company I was signed with dissolved.  And they dropped ALL their projects.

All of them.  Including EDEN.

So there I was, with this finished, re-vamped manuscript, no more movie deal, no more agent.

So what's a girl to do?

Shake it off and move on.

I republished EDEN as THE BANE, and gave you all the awesome news that there was going to be a trilogy.  Despite everything that happened, I'm glad that it did.  Because it was an amazing experience writing books 2 and 3.  I LOVE Eve, and Avian, and West, and Royce, and everyone else.  In fact, THE EVE may be my favorite book I've written.  Maybe.

And even though the movie didn't happen, it was still AMAZING to get as far as I did.  Most authors will never have their book optioned and it was even more amazing because back then, in 2011, there were almost NO self-published books that got optioned.  So I will forever be grateful for the experience.  I have no hard feelings, I still have a good relationship with most everyone involved.

So there you have it, the full story, the full explanation.

Thank you for supporting me and for loving the Eden trilogy.  Thank you for demanding more books.  I'm so grateful that you did.

DEPTHS OF LAKE Pre-Order Links

You can now pre-order DEPTHS OF LAKE just about everywhere you can buy an e-book!

It was another day at the ranch, training horses and working fifteen hour days. And then the last person I ever expected showed up. Lake McCain: a Marine, tall, ripped—and the best friend of my dead fiancĂ©. Cal died to save Lake, and now Lake claims that he carries a debt to me that he can never repay. 

I wanted to brush him off. But then my mom, the manager of the ranch, went and hired him. We spend hours working together with the horses. Lake doesn’t say much. He’s layered and dark and he tries to seem shallow and simple. But he isn’t. There are things under his surface that matter. He works, quiet and strong, and never once lets me down. 

Until he confesses that he may be falling in love with me. I can’t deny that there is something between us. But a relationship? I just can’t. I’ve used up all my chances at love. My past relationships have ended in death or disaster, and now I have to live with all of that. 

I’m Riley James, and there are depths to Lake—depths to myself—that I don’t think I’ll ever fully understand.

So pre-order your copy today.  Cause you know you want to get to know this man:

And get a bit of this:

And a whole bunch of this:

EVER AFTER DRAKE - Available Now!

The next book in The McCain Saga is now available!  Links below!

It was my first day as a brand new high school teacher. But I got dumped that morning. Via text. And then one of my students hit on me. And the rest of the day was a complete mess. The beautifully single Mr. Drake McCain found me in my classroom, feeling sorry for myself. And not sixty seconds later he had me laughing and electricity racing through my blood. 

My family is broken and complicated. I literally don’t know my biological father’s name. My mother is absent and my half-brother barely knows who she is. But Drake? He’s not complicated. He’s sweet and kind and insanely adorable, and comes from a wonderful family. He is everything I want. 

The chemistry between us? It’s there in spades. I keep telling myself that I should be feeling really awful and depressed since I just got dumped a few days ago. But I keep getting this ridiculous smile on my face every time Drake is around and it’s kind of hard to keep telling myself that. 

I’m Kaylee Ray. I believe in fairy tales and happily ever after’s, and maybe the search for Prince Charming is over. 

 Cue reality check. 

And in case you missed it over on Facebook or Twitter, here is the cover and title for the third book, 
coming OCTOBER 14, 2014

 You can pre-order it over on iBooks now!  Check it out HERE.

RED RISING - The Best Book I've Read In Years

Red Rising (Red Rising Trilogy, #1)
Yes.  I just made that declaration.  This book was THAT good.  I haven't written a review on a book in years, but I couldn't NOT write one for this book.

It's difficult for me to describe my I loved this book so much without just saying it was bloodydarn brilliant.  But I'll attempt to sort it out into more specifics.

Transformation:  There are three distinct parts to this book.  Being a slave, transforming into a gold, and being a part of the Institute.  And they all felt. So. Different.  In the most amazing way.  I felt the oppression when he was a Red, or basically a slave.  The emotion when this event I can't spoil happened was raw and real and I felt dead inside too.  And then he starts his physical transformation and I was like WOW.  WOW.  WOW.  This is so bloody cool.  This is everything Captain America could have been and failed to achieve.  And then there's the time at the Institute when Darrow becomes brilliant and flawed and amazing.  Each part was so gripping in its own way.

Characters:  Holy crap does Brown know how to write characters.  Now, there are a LOT of characters in this book and it is really hard to keep track of them all.  But the stars shine brilliantly.  Darrow goes through some amazing development and he's a character you want to cheer for.  We all want to be Mustang, and we all want Pax on our team.  And can I say Servo?!  I think this may be my favorite side character EVER.  So loyal and smart.  He's weird, and slightly demented, and fan.freaking.tastic.  I want a Servo.

Normally when I love a book I devour it in two days.  You can't do that with this book.  Surprisingly, it took me about a week to read this one.  Because the way it is written, you have to pay such close attention to each and every word or you will get lost.  But I did not mind that it took me extra time to read it.  It just gave me more time to experience the awesomeness.
Golden Son (Red Rising Trilogy, #2)
I've never thought to make a top 5 favorite books, but I knew as soon as I read this one, it made that list.  I've read a LOT of books, and this is one of my favorites.  EVER.  10 out of 5 stars.

I may die waiting for book two, Golden Son.  January 13, 2015 is SO far away.  But read RED RISING.  Now.