What’s Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to. And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: Last week I read Isla Bick’s Drowning Instinct, a very intense, very dark contemporary. I love that there are no real heroes or heroines — just a bunch of broken people making messes of each others’ lives. It’s really well done. I’m currently making my way through Victoria Aveyard’s fantasy debut, Red Queen so I can participate in YA Book Club next week.

  

What I’m Writing: NOTHING. I sent Stars Like Dust to my agent yesterday. Phew! Now, I wait (and stress about whether she likes it). In the meantime, I’m reading a most excellent manuscript by my CP, Alison Miller. This one’s super smart, heartfelt, and truly funny — like, legitimately laugh-out-loud funny. And, it’s so unique, I refuse to tell you any more about it. :-)

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Last week I skipped out on WUW because we took an impromptu journey across the U.S. to Washington. My husband’s grandmother passed away, and we wanted to be at her funeral. She was a fun and fiesty French lady, and we loved her lots.


While there were some sad moments during our trip, there were some good times, too. We saw family and reveled in the Pacific Northwest’s (rainy) spring.

 
Now, it’s spring break and I’ve been spending quality time with my girl. Over the weekend we saw Cinderella (say what you will about its lack of fierceness/ingenuity, but I loved it!), on Monday we treated ourselves to fro yo, and yesterday we went strawberry picking. Today, we’re off to the beach!

What Works For Me: I’ve been feeling the writerly blues lately. Not really sure why, but this happens to me from time to time, and usually the best cure is a step back — time away to freshen my perspective. I recently reread a pretty fabulous blog post by writer Robin Lafevers titled Surviving Almost There. If you’re feeling stuck or stagnant or like it’s NEVER going to happen, I highly recommend checking it out. 

Tell me… What’s up with you today?

What’s Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to. And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I read Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse back in November, kind of begrudgingly, actually — it didn’t sound like my jam at all. But I ended up LOVING it (in the same way I love the Graceling Realm and Lumatere Chronicles novels), and waiting for its sequel, The Winner’s Crime, has been torture. But I finally have this most-anticipated sequel in my hot little hands, and I’m almost done reading. Guys, it is gLoRiOuS. It’s rare that I have physical reactions to books, but this one’s got my face flushed and my heart racing; I’m pretty much obsessed with these characters. Highly recommend! (Also, if you’re curious like I was, Marie Rutkoski says Arin like “Aaron” but advised the audiobook reader to pronounce it “R-rin” because that’s more in keeping with the Herrani language. The more you know!)

What I’m Writing: Now that my latest project, Stars Like Dust, is with some brilliant and trusted readers, I’m taking a bit of a break from my own stuff. I’m using my time to read one of my CP’s middle grade manuscript and, oh my gosh, I am so lucky! This story is fanciful and emotional and beautifully written. It’s magic on a page, and I’m loving it!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: We’ve been having lovely, sunny weather in Florida, so my little family and I have been exploring the panhandle…

  
This weekend we went to Falling Water’s State Park, home of Florida’s highest waterfall. We’ve been to Yosemite so, honestly, the waterfall wasn’t all that impressive, but the rest of the scenery was beautiful.


We also visited the Seacrest Wolf Preserve, which was very cool. We got to interact with and pet wolves, and we learned tons about wolf conservation. Definitely worth checking out if you’re ever in the area.

What Works For Me: Positive feedback. I appreciate constructive criticism as much as the next writer, but sometimes I just really need to hear, “Hey, I LOVE this thing you wrote.” I let my husband read Stars Like Dust over the weekend, and he seemed genuinely impressed. I’m not sure what he was expecting, or what he thinks I’ve been doing over the last many years if not improving my craft, but yeah. He had complimentary things to say, and that made me feel really good. He even said my story was better than all of the Nicholas Sparks movies I’ve made him watch over the years, so there’s that. <3

Tell me… What’s up with you today?

What’s Up Wednesday

d542d-wuwwinterholly1(It’s warm enough for shorts today so this graphic seems sort of odd, but I suppose it’s still winter in some places. Brrr…)

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to. And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: Lots of love for two of my favorite NAs, both of which released recently. Find my rave reviews of Riley Edgewood’s Surf & Surrender HERE and Ellie Cahill’s When Joss Met Matt HERE. I’m currently reading Kathryn Holmes’ The Distance Between Lost and Found, which is pretty incredible so far. I love the 3rd person narrative, and the survival aspects of the story are gripping. Can’t wait to see how it plays out!

 

What I’m Writing: I FINISHED MY 1ST DRAFT OF STARS LIKE DUST. What a relief! I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to see this one through, guys. Not because I don’t love it, but because I love it so much I’m desperate to do it justice. Hopefully I’m getting there. I’m the sort of writer who revises as she drafts, so this manuscript is fairly clean. I’m taking care of some small-ish issues now, and I’m hoping to have it to my CPs in the next couple of days. For more on my writing, you can check out my #WriterRecharge Wrap-Up HERE. Goal for the next week: Start outlining my next project. :-)

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Aside from writing and revising a TON, I’ve mostly just been hanging out with my girl…


We celebrated the end of her basketball season with a party at our favorite fro-yo spot. Is there a better way to spend an afternoon than with a cute kid and bowl of banana frozen yogurt? She and I also had a girls’ day in Pensacola, full of shopping (Target and Michael’s — yay!), plus lunch at Red Robin.

What Works For Me: I mentioned my planner in last week’s post and to be honest, I’ve gotten to the point where I live and die by the thing. (I worked out this morning because my planner told me to, and my husband was like, “I wish I had a planner that had that kind of control over me.”) As well as tracking my schedule and writing progress, I’ve also been using it to write down daily gratitudes, an idea I got from my friend Elodie — thanks, lady! Each night, I take a few minutes to jot down three things I’m thankful for. Sometimes they’re big (like finishing Stars Like Dust) and sometimes they’re little (last week I was super thankful for NyQuil). Either way, gratitudes help me reflect on and appreciate the positive things happening in my life — never a bad thing.

Tell me… What’s up with you today?

#WriterRecharge Wrap-Up

Writer Recharge FB

It’s February, which means it’s time for Writer Recharge!

Once again hosted by Alison Miller, Liz Parker, Elodie Nowodazkij Sara Biren, and myself, Writer Recharge is your chance for a four-week jump start in the middle of a cold, dreary winter. Set goals for yourself, check in once a week, and connect with other recharging writers. Find all the details HERE.

#WriterRecharge Wrap-Up

  • WRITE/REVISE – By the end of February I want to be done drafting my WiP, Stars Like Dust, and I’d like to have started addressing the revision to-do list I’ve made for it. –> Success! Honestly, I wasn’t sure this was going to happen (and it definitely wouldn’t have without #WriterRecharge), but with the help of sprints with some awesome writer buddies (Jaime, Lola, Alison, Tracey, Sara, Rebekah — THANK YOU!) I managed to type THE END on Wednesday — yay! I’ve already started to attack the revisions I know I need to do, and I’m hoping to have this story off to my CPs in the near future. 

  • READ/REREAD – I’d like to read at least four books in February, at least one non-contemporary, and at least one a non-YA. –> Success! I read I Was Here by Gayle Forman, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson and I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios. Find reviews all four novels HERE
  • STRETCH - One of my Thirty Before 35 goals is to write something that’s not contemporary YA, so I hope to start brainstorming what that something might be. I have some vague ideas, but writing anything outside the realm of Real Life is a big stretch for me, which means this project is going to require a lot of musing. –> Success! I have a legit idea and some backstory in mind, and I’ve watched a few documentaries as research. I’m pretty excited, and I’m feeling inspired. I plan to start plotting next month. 
  • SELF - I’d like to pick up yoga again. I’ve been slacking over the last several months, and I hope to practice at least twice a week. –> Success! I practiced yoga at least twice a week (sometimes three or four times a week) all month. Hoping to keep it up into spring.
  • CONNECT - Ooh, this one’s easy! I’m headed to West Virginia for a weekend-long writing retreat. I’ve never done one, and some of my favorite writing friends are coming! –> Success! The writing retreat I went on was amazing, and I cannot wait to do another!
  • FUN - My daughter and I are going to start a quilt this month. Even if we only make it to the store to choose fabrics… it’s happening. –> Success! We’ve picked out fabrics, and we’ll start start cutting and sewing sometime in March. 

Did you participate in Writer Recharge?
If so, thanks so much for joining us!
Don’t forget
 to visit Sara’s blog to link your wrap-up post!

Good news! Sara has put together the most adorable care package (pictured below and including: a cream scarf, a mug, Earl Grey tea, Pink Pineapple nail polish, Beachy nail polish, a 4-pack of Always Anna notebooks, and notecards). Anyone who has participated in #WriterRecharge via Twitter or their blog will be automatically eligible. Winner to be drawn March 6th!

Recharge Prize Pack

WHEN JOSS MET MATT Virtual Blog Tour

CAHILL_WhenJoss_blogtour banner

I’m not sure if I’ve ever participated in a virtual blog tour before, but when I got an email inviting me to be a part of one celebrating the release of Ellie Cahill’s NA romance When Joss Met Matt, I could not pass up the opportunity. Guys, I LOVE this book. I lucked into an advanced copy late last year, and it ended up being one of my favorite novels of 2014. It’s sexy and fun, full of humor and heart, and it’s absolutely unputdownable. Keep reading to learn more about it, and for a chance to win your own copy of When Joss Met Matt!

From Goodreads –> Dating can be fun, but it can leave a nasty taste in your mouth. For Joss, ever since her longtime boyfriend cheated on her, she doesn’t want her last memory of a guy to be that jerk. Enter her college friend, Matt. They come up with a theory: after a bad break-up, a person needs to cleanse the palate with a little sorbet sex. Lovers for a night, but always back to being friends in the morning. The two can handle it because they have a contract: rules they wrote, rules they follow and rules they can sometimes bend. The arrangement works: everyone needs a little sorbet now and again … until it starts to be the only thing you want. And then Joss breaks the one rule they never wrote down: don’t fall in love.

SorbetSexRules_HIREZ_V2

My thoughts –> I adore this book, and I will absolutely read any NA novels Ellie Cahill publishes in the future. When Joss Met Matt is a contemp about a unique and precarious friends-with-benefits hook-up situation (sorbet sex, if you will), set during college and the years just after. The narrative voice is spot-on, the steamy scenes are just the right sort of steamy, and the characters are layered and likable (Joss is delightful and a bit nutty; Matt is so sweet, but a little dense when it comes to romance). When Joss Met Matt is one of those All the Feels books, but with more tenderness than angst. There’ve been few couples who I’ve rooted for as enthusiastically as I rooted for Joss and Matt.

More praise for When Joss Met Matt:
 
“Hands down, one of my favorite New Adult reads . . . Ellie Cahill is definitely one to watch!” — New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack 

“This is one of those books that make you forget everything around you. Prepare to be consumed by this story.” – Sophie Jordan, New York Times bestselling author of Wild
 
“Fun, sexy, and full of amazing chemistry, When Joss Met Matt is an entertaining escape that will leave you smiling with every turn of the page.” — Cassie Mae, author of The Real Thing

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ellie Cahill is a freelance writer and also writes books for young adults under the name Liz Czukas. She lives outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband, son, and the world’s loudest cat. Facebook Twitter Blog Instagram

And, lucky you — there’s a giveaway! Click on the link below for a chance to win one of 10 copies of When Joss Met Matt

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

February Reading Wrap-Up

Four books in February…
(As always, covers link to Goodreads.)

I Was Here by Gayle Forman – I finished this novel a month ago, and my feelings regarding it are still sort of muddled. There was so much I enjoyed: Cody’s strength and courage, the road trip element, the portrayal of familial relationships (Cody and her mom, Cody and Meg’s family), the eccentricities of Meg’s housemates, and the romance. But then, the romance threw me a little, too. Cody and Ben have awesome chemistry (of course — this is a Gayle Forman novel), but I found myself wanting a little more from the “good girl makes bad boy see the error of his ways” trope. That said, I loved the final pages, so maybe the trope eventually worked for me after all? Another I Was Here component worth mentioning: the suicide support chat rooms. *shudder* I had no idea such places existed online, and as Cody dove deeper into their seediness, I was left feeling increasingly uncomfortable. I suspect that was the point, and it was well executed. Overall, I Was Here is a strong, moving novel and Gayle Forman’s characters and prose are as affecting as ever.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – This is so not a Katy Book. While I can see its literary merit, I am not a fan of this dystopian-set social-commentary/bizzaro novel. I know that’s an unpopular opinion (it is a classic, after all), but I found Brave New World‘s writing dull and its plot whacky (and kind of gross, actually). My husband read it just before I did and he liked it. He’s been trying to convince me of all the reasons I should be applauding it, but… nope.

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson – This one came highly recommended via the Class of 2014: YA Superlatives Blogfest, and I’m so glad I decided to buy it. It’s a very cool fantasy (by the author of The Adoration of Jenna Fox), one that’s rich and unique. There’s a love triangle — often a turn-off for me — but this one is fresh because there’s a mystery element to it: one boy is a prince and one boy is an assassin sent to kill the royal MC, Lia. The magic comes from the fact that as a reader, you’re not sure which boy is which. (For the record, I guessed correctly, and I was very happy with the outcome.) The Kiss of Deception‘s world-building is thorough and luxurious, and its characters are layered and absorbing. I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios – Full disclosure: Had this novel not come highly recommended, I would not have read it. One of its main characters is a Marine who’s just returned from Afghanistan minus a leg, plus a whole lot of post-war issues. I haven’t enjoyed most of the military-esque YA I’ve read (with the exception of Trish Doller’s Something Like Normal, which is incredible) because it’s hard for me to turn off the critical part of my brain that constantly wants to catalogue the ways authors get military life wrong. I went into I’ll Meet You There ready to roll my eyes, but… I ended up loving it. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I love it. This novel is real and raw and unflinching, and its voice… extraordinary. Highlights: Skylar (my favorite MC of late), Josh (his chapters literally made my heart hurt, plus he’s hot), the portrayals of poverty and Marine loyalty, the romance (oh my, the romance), and most of all ~ slight spoiler ~ the seriousness with which Skylar and Josh come to take their relationship. Their absolute commitment to one another — baggage and all — is refreshing and beautiful and (for me) very relatable. I’ve a feeling this novel will  be one of my 2015 stand-outs. Recommend!

What’s the best book you read in February?  

What’s Up Wednesday

e11ef-wuwwinterholly1

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to. And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios last week and absolutely loved it. More about why in Friday’s February Reading Wrap-Up post, but for now I’ll just say that it’s totally a Katy Book. Now, I’m reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and I’m digging it. It was a bit of a slow start because it took me awhile to figure out what the hell was going on, but now I’m completely hooked.

   

What I’m Writing: I ~think~ I’m going to finish my first draft of Stars Like Dust (the contemporary YA romance I started for National Novel Writing Month) today. Send some positive writing vibes my way, would you please? More on my writing (plus an excerpt) in Monday’s #WriterRecharge post.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: It’s been awhile since I’ve done a What’s Up Wednesday post, so I’ll backtrack a bit…


My girlie and I had mama/daughter pedicures on Valentine’s Day, courtesy of my incredibly thoughtful husband. He made the appointment in secret, took us out to lunch, then dropped us off at the salon. Best part? He remembered to bring flip-flop so our pretty toes wouldn’t get smudged on the way home. <3

 
I celebrated my 34th birthday with my husband and my daughter. They got me an antique French blanket chest (above) because I’ve been wanting a new coffee table for ages. I adore it! Speaking of birthdays, I posted a Thirty Before 35 Progress Report last week. One year to accomplish the rest of my goals!


The other night, my daughter played her last basketball game of the season. She knew nothing about the sport when she started back in November, and I’m so proud of the progress she’s made. She’s even starting to throw a few elbows. ;-)

What Works For Me: So, I got a new planner. (It’s Erin Condren, and I love it. Thanks for recommending them, Sara and Donna! If you’re interested, check them out HERE!) I’ve been writing everything down in it — chores, to-dos, meal plans, workout goals, errands, water intake — and my OCD absolutely refuses to allow me to skip out on my plans once they’re on paper. Like, yesterday I woke up feeling tired and kind of sick, but I’d already written down that I was going to hit the elliptical, and there was no way I was going to cross that item off without achieving it first. So, I hauled myself out of bed and did the damn elliptical. I’ve also been using my planner to track writing progress. I give myself a literal gold star for every hour of dedicated revising I manage, and every 500 new words I write. I know that sounds kind of juvenile and silly (I thought so too, at first), but seeing my progress has helped so much. Totally recommend this motivational method if you’ve yet to try it.

 

Tell me… What’s up with you today?