RSW Update 10

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. I’m super close, y’all! I wrote 6,783 this week for a total of 70,383 words. (Special thanks, Sara, for cracking the whip and cheering me on during my final push! <3) Five scenes left to write!

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I finished Mary Kubica’s debut, The Good Girl, and loved it. Definitely one to check out if you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn or Heather Gudenkauf. I also read Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, which was well worth the wait — I think it’s my favorite of her three now… So cute!

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… IN PROGRESS! I’m actually kind of failing on this one. We’re STILL working on Rump by Leisl Shurtliff. It’s fantastic and totally unique, but read-aloud time with my girl’s been limited lately.

5. Maintain my tan… YES! We went kayaking twice. Florida is just lovely.

* My goal(s) for this week.

So. We’re going out of town on Wednesday for a family wedding that’s all the way across the country and a pretty big deal (YAY Sammy and Kacie!). But… writing time is going to be scarce. I’m not setting a numeric word count goal, but in a perfect world, I’ll finish my first draft of The Road So Far this week. (Oh my gosh… How terrifying! And amazing! And terrifying!)

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

I swear to God, my heart grinds to a halt.

I’m faint… Seeing spots… Barely breathing.

Holy. Shit.

There she is, hurrying out the door with this smile that’s all hers, and hauntingly mine.

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

First: Isla and the Happily Ever After. I spent most of my free time on Thursday and Friday binge reading. So worth it, though! Second: Fear of finishing. I’m not sure why I get like this, but when I’m nearing The End of a draft, I get sort of petrified and hesitant to write those last few scenes. It’s not that I’m reluctant to finish because I SO want to finish, and it’s not that I’m dreading revisions because I LOVE revisions. It’s just… the end of my own little era, I guess. Is that weird?

* Something I love about my WiP. 

Everything. We’ve had a good week together. <3

I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! is going for you. Don’t forget to share the link of your latest post below!

In other news, next Monday (August 25th) marks the end of Ready. Set. Write! (Crazy how fast the summer flew by, isn’t it?!) Let’s use that day to give a general report on our overall progress and how we felt about RSW. Sound good?Here’s hoping everyone has high word counts and tons of success to report. :-)

Also, be on the lookout for more information regarding a beta/CP match-up facilitated by your Ready. Set. Write hosts, Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself!

RSW Update 9

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. I wrote 5,447 words this week for a total of 63,607 words in the manuscript.

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I read Lisa Schroeder’s The Bridge from Me to You, which was absolutely delightful. Now, I’m reading Mary Kubica’s debut, The Good Girl, and I’m super impressed.

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… IN PROGRESS! Still working on Rump by Leisl Shurtliff — so cute!

5. Maintain my tan… YES! We went to the beach on Thursday and we were in Orlando all weekend, soaking up the sun at the Magic Kingdom. *happy sigh*

* My goal(s) for this week.

Add at least 6K new words to The Road So Far. Mentally ponder plot hole fixes for Where Poppies Bloom (tricky!).

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

(FYI: This scene takes place at a wedding…)

The song fades into Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On, which strikes me as both borderline inappropriate and hysterically funny, considering the number of old people milling around. From across the room, Bennett gives me a smarmy smile and a thumbs up. His bride’s swaying to the music, wasted, practically riding his leg. Jesus. What are we doing here?

I’m about to comment on the insanity when Callie makes a move for our table.

I grab her hand. “You’re not gonna dance with me?”

“I thought you hated me,” she says, scrunching her face into a scowl. 

“And I thought you knew better.” I lace my fingers through hers and pull her against me. She winds an arm around my neck, pressing her cheek to mine. I hold her so close we pretty much are getting it on.

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

I hadn’t anticipated doing much of anything, writing-wise, over the last week because we had tons of family stuff going on. So, I’m patting myself on the back for adding to my WiP at all. :-)

  
Our little family is complete again! Plus, my girlie started cheerleading!

* Something I love about my WiP. 

I’ve got THE END in my sights! I suck at conclusions, but I’m getting there, and I’m SO excited to wrap this draft up so I can start fixing it. :-) Also, did you see the mood board I made for The Road So Far? I posted about it HERE.

I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! is going for you. Don’t forget to share the link of your latest post below!

Mood Boards

If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’ve probably figured out that I’m a super visual person. Instagram is my favorite social media forum, and I’m an enthusiastic pinner. In fact, I make Pinterest boards for all of my WiPs, some secret, some not. The drawback to pinning WiP-inspired images on Pinterest, though, is that it’s hard to get an over all picture/mood/feeling for a story without pulling up the whole board. And you can’t use the board unless you’re logged on to Pinterest, which isn’t always convenient.

Imagine my excitement when I heard author Jenny Han talking about mood boards (via Sara Zarr’s awesome This Creative Life podcast). In short, a mood board is an online bulletin board that can be constantly changed, updated, and personalized. Using Mood Share (free!), creative people can “tack” images (uploaded or searched for by way of the site) to their board(s), then save the board(s) for personal use (that’s what I do) or share with other users. It’s fantastically fun, not to mention inspirational. I set the board I made for my WiP, The Road So Far, as the desktop background on my computer so I can access it easily. Every time I look at it, I want to open my doc and write, write, write!

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So cool, right? Check out Mood Share (and the above-mentioned Sara Zarr/Jenny Han interview) and let me know what you think!

RSW Update 8

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

~ I will do my best to respond to comments on today’s post, as well as blog hop to comment on all of your wonderful posts, BUT… My husband’s coming home from a 6 month deployment this morning! We’re obviously very excited and we’ll definitely be busy. I’ll be back to blogging 100% next week. :-) ~

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. Moving right along! I wrote 6,680 words this week (6K was my goal) for a total of 58,160 words for the manuscript. Thirteen (planned) scenes and five (planned) chapters left to write!

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Not the sort of book I’m used to reading, but I LOVED it. Thanks to my mom and my sister-in-law for the recommendation!

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… IN PROGRESS! We’re working on Rump by Leisl Shurtliff. It’s awesome!

5. Maintain my tan… YES! We spent Friday swimming at the nearby AFB pool, and on Saturday I mowed the grass. Again. I like neat, trim lawns. :-)

* My goal(s) for this week.

This week is going to be very busy. My husband’s coming home, my daughter starts cheerleading, and we’re spending the weekend in Orlando. So, I’m going to give myself a break and not set a concrete goal because, honestly, I don’t feel like stressing about it. This week, forward motion’s where it’s at

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

From The Road So Far

It’s not long before we’re approaching the Colorado River. It’s preceded by a big sign with Arizona’s state flag, a golden star surrounded by rays of red and yellow. The Grand Canyon State Welcomes You, it declares. Callie takes my hand as we cross the border. She’s smiling, but she looks anxious too. I get it. If ever we’ve had a there’s no going back moment, this is it. We’re driving blind now, into a state that none of us has even visited, searching for a person who might’ve left years ago. We’re setting ourselves up for disappointment, for failure, and I’m leading the charge with my dumbass flag flapping proudly in the breeze.

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

Busyness! My daughter’s seventh birthday was yesterday (*sniffle*) and we spent the whole day doing fun, girlie things. Also, we’ve been going-going-going with homecoming preparations. Writing time was hard to come by.

* Something I love about my WiP. 

I love that I can feel my story challenging me, and making me a better writer. (Is that weird? Whatever… It’s totally true!)

And, finally, a big congrats to our last Writer’s Care Package giveaway winner… Leandra Wallace! 

I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! is going for you. Don’t forget to share the link of your latest post below!

July Reading Wrap-Up

Here’s what I read in July…
As always, covers link to Goodreads pages. :-)

Gated by Amy Christine Parker – When I first saw this novel’s hardcover image, I thought it was a story about zombies. Then I mentioned on Twitter that I’m fascinated by cults, and my friend Kristen recommended Gated. It’s a compelling look into zealotism and dynamic leaders and group-think, and it’s terrifying because it’s fiction based on troubling cases that’ve taken place in the real world. I found MC Lyla’s  journey engrossing, and I thought Gated‘s pacing was fantastic. The ending, especially, was a trip. Check it out if you like books with unusual contemporary settings or if, like me, you find cults captivating.


I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga – This book was SO COOL. I put off buying it for a long time because, while I’d heard it was Dexter for the YA set, I didn’t believe Barry Lyga would take Killers to the levels of gruesome and gritty and disturbing Dexter attained. But, he did and his story’s incredible as a result. MC Jazz is complex and tragic (worst childhood ever — seriously), but he’s also super smart and darkly funny, and he wants so badly to be normal — nothing like his father, the most notorious serial killer America’s ever seen. Jazz’s friends are awesome too. Howie is hilarious and Connie is badass and, along with Jazz, they make a fantastic mystery-solving, crime-fighting trio. One of the most interesting aspects of this novel was Jazz’s bond with small-town sheriff, G. William Tanner. He’s the man who put Jazz’s Dear Old Dad behind bars, but he becomes something of a father figure to Jazz. Watching their relationship unfold and deepen was riveting and incredibly satisfying. Big recommend!


The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo – A reread for me, because I wanted to share this gorgeous middle grade novel with my daughter. Once again, the final pages gave me chills. Edward Tulane‘s themes of giving and accepting love are relayed with such nuance, and main character Edward, a ceramic rabbit who likes fine clothing (yes), is so compelling. This book’s chapters are short and its language is accessible, but the story is so profound. If you’ve got kiddos, I recommend reading Edward Tulane with them.


Creed by Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver (November, 2014) – One of the most unique YAs I’ve read in a long time — this is true horror, friends. Creed is atmospheric, quietly (and then not so quietly) creepy, and shocking in too many ways to list. Every time I thought, no, the authors won’t go THERE, they totally did, and then I’d send Lindsay Currie frantic DMs that read, What?! No! Not THAT person! I imagine she read my messages while laughing maniacally. ;-) Here’s your pre-Creed warning: This book boasts a cast of well-drawn and (mostly!) likable characters, but don’t get too attached to anyone. *shudder*

  
Burn For Burn and Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian – Okay. How are these books not getting all the hype? I mean, some people are talking about them and they have awesome Goodreads ratings, but they’re not getting nearly the exposure they deserve. These books are aMaZiNg. I’m an unapologetic Jenny Han fangirl and I think Siobhan Vivian’s The List is fantastic, but I was in no way prepared for the awesomeness that is the Burn For Burn series. The plotting is tight, the writing is seamless, the voices are genuine, and the characters… I feel like Kat, Lillia, and Mary are are my friends — that’s how well I’ve gotten to know them. These books are full of bitterness and revenge and unrequited love and lasting friendship; they have a large, dynamic cast (Lillia and Reeve are my favorites!) and a twisty, jaw-dropping storyline. I HIGHLY recommend them. Read Burn For Burn and Fire With Fire back-to-back before Ashes to Ashes comes out September 16th. I can’t wait!

What’s the best book you read in July?

RSW Update 7

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. I passed 50K, and wrote just over 10K words total for the week. Feeling really good about my momentum!

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I finished Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver’s upcoming debut, Creed. I also read Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. Guys, this series is totally incredible! If you haven’t read it, get on that. The final installment comes out in September!

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… YES! We read The Space Between, a Never Girls (Tinker Bell) book. We also stared Rump by Leisl Shurtliff — so clever and fun!

5. Maintain my tan… YES! We spent last Thursday swimming at the pool, and on Friday I mowed our enormous lawn.

* My goal(s) for this week.

Add at least 6K words to The Road So Far.

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

The four of us make our way to the room, labeled Jungle Rocks. I crack up laughing as soon as I swing the door open. The carpet’s bright blue and so is the ceiling, the comforters look like zebra pelts, the walls are made of rock, and there’s a shiny leather sofa which, I suspect, has a sullied past.

Drew nudges me. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“That we’ve inadvertently stepped onto the set of a ’70s porn shoot?”

He chuckles. “It’s like we’re riding the same wave length. And to think… I forgot to pack my 8 millimeter.”

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

Two things… The first: Research. I’m writing a road trip book, so every single chapter is set in a different place. I’ve been combing Wiki and YouTube like crazy, which is slowing me down. And the second: Mom Guilt. I want to write, write, write, but my kiddo can’t sit in front of the TV all day. I’m trying find balance.

* Something I love about my WiP. 

I complained about all of that road trip research above, but it’s part of what makes this WiP so fun. Every scene is different and new and exciting!

In other news… July is the month of RSW giveaways! 
Congrats to last week’s winner… Jessica Leake!
(Jessica, shoot me an email with your mailing address and I’ll get your package sent out right away! katy.upperman@live.com)

During the four weeks of July, ErinJaimeAlison, and I will be giving away some spectacular Writer’s Care Packages. All you have to do to be eligible to win is participate in Ready. Set. Write! and enter via the Rafflecopter link below.

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

***NOTICE: We’ve changed the entry process in order to make it easier and quicker… You no longer need to provide a link for each of your entries, though we will be verifying the winner’s participation upon selection.

This week, Alison’s giving away… A journal, sage and citrus reed diffuser, Post-Its, highlighters, gummi bears, Werther’s candies, index cards, Myndology cards, a note pad that reads I am so proud and jealous of you, DFTBA plaque, and, because she hope everyone’s having one, one of her favorite boy books, Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz.

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I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! is going for you. Don’t forget to share the link of your latest post below!

RSW Update 6

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. I did a complete read-through of the 39K I already had, cleaned it up, and added another 2K words.

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I read Burn For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian and thought it was excellent. I’m now reading the creepfest that is Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver’s upcoming debut, Creed.

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… YES! We finished The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. This was a reread for me, but the first time my daughter has heard the story. She loved it like I do.

5. Maintain my tan… YES! We spent last Thursday at the pool on the AFB near our home. I love swimming with my girl!

* My goal(s) for this week.

Write every day. Add at least 6K new words to my WiP. Brainstorm conflict issues with Alison (and hope she has a solution for my problems!).

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

(I had an f-bomb riddled excerpt here initially, but at the last minute I swapped it out for a sweet one. Why am I totally comfortable cussing like a sailor in stories [and in real life], but not on my blog?)

I edge across the expanse of mattress between us and brush her long hair off her face. She shifts. Her eyes don’t open, but her hand relaxes, releasing its bundle of sheet, and she reaches with purple-tipped fingers to brush my arm. She does it in sleep, on an instinct ingrained in her unconscious mind, and I feel minutely better because even when she’s dead to the world, she’s still confident that I’m an arm’s length away. 

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

This was a FUN challenge, though still a challenge… I beta read Jennifer Pickrell’s fantastic contemporary YA romance, and I kind of wanted to work on her story more than I wanted to work on my own writing. Oops. :-)

* Something I love about my WiP. 

My MC, Tucker. I think he’s my favorite of all the book boys I’ve written. He’s just so inherently good, and he adores his girlfriend so completely. He’s High School Katy’s dream boy (and not so dissimilar from my husband, come to think of it).

In other news… July is the month of RSW giveaways! 
Congrats to last week’s winner… Stephanie Allen!
Two Stephanies in a row! If that’s your name too, the odds of winning this week are forever in your favor. ;-)

During the four weeks of July, ErinJaimeAlison, and I will be giving away some spectacular Writer’s Care Packages. All you have to do to be eligible to win is participate in Ready. Set. Write! and enter via the Rafflecopter link below.

A Rafflecopter Giveaway!

***NOTICE: We’re changing the entry process in order to make it easier and quicker… You no longer need to provide a link for each of your entries, though we will be verifying the winner’s participation upon selection.

This week, I’m giving away a fantastic package including an owl mug, chai tea, dark chocolate, Smarties, a “Think. Write. Create.” journal, a candle, owl notecards, pens, lip balm, and the latest Writer’s Digest.

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I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! is going for you. Don’t forget to share the link of your latest post below!