Ready. Set. Write! {2015}

It’s that time again…

RSW2

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 with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself.

(Testimonial: Last summer I fully revised a previously finished manuscript, and wrote about 70K words of a new manuscript, completing it just before RSW closed. Accountability works!)

Ready. Set. Write! will kick off with an initial goal-setting post on Monday, June 8th, with the first check-in on Monday, June 15th, and subsequent check-ins each Monday throughout the summer. RSW will conclude on August 31st.

Here are the headings we’ll be using:

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

**As mentioned, Week #1 will only be goal setting.**

Accountability and goal setting are super important, but we don’t want RSW to detract from writing, which is, of course, the whole point of this summer intensive. With respect to our weekly check-in posts, THE BRIEFER THE BETTER. Your hosts will be limiting their answers for each heading to 2-3 lines at most, and we encourage you to do the same. (Save the words for the WiPs!)

Each Monday there will be a linky sign-up on all of the host blogs. Leave the link to your check-in post, hop around to other participants’ blogs, and spread encouragement like sunscreen. (This is a summer writing intensive after all. ☼)

RSW7

Click HERE for the RSW 2015 buttons, courtesy of Jaime, who’s crazy-talented.

Stay tuned for info on giveaways and be sure to watch Twitter for spontaneous #RSW writing parties. To review, Ready. Set. WRITE! will kick off on Monday, June 8th with our goals post, followed by updates every Monday thereafter until August 31st. In the meantime, decide what you want to write/revise. Set goals. Write a little. Or a lot. Spread the word! And be prepared to Ready. Set. WRITE!

Leave questions in the comments and tell me…
Are you planning to participate in Ready. Set. WRITE!?

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently” post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me… Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

Starbucks is my least favorite coffee chain, but they have (a version of) coconut milk now, and it is delicious with their chai, iced or hot. Also, Cougar Gold Cheese (one of my husband’s coworkers, a fellow Coug, recently hooked us up with a can — yummy!). And then there’s this “Holy Swoon” t-shirt that I want so bad, but it’s $50 and I’m trying to be reasonable and responsible. It’s really difficult. Oh, and I’m totally in love with my Pilot Frixion Erasable Markers — so cool! And, finally, my Erin Condren Life Planner which, miraculously, is just as fun to use today as it was when I got it back in February.

Reading

Last week I finished Katie Cotugno’s 99 Days, which I absolutely loved — it’s messy and angsty and enlightening. This week I read Kathleen Davitt Bell’s recently released I Remember You, a unique and heart-wrenching YA romance with an MC who I found rather prickly. More on both of these YAs in my upcoming May Reading Wrap-Up post. I also flew through two NAs: Kristen Callihan’s The Friend Zone, and Dahlia Adler’s Last Will and Testament. I definitely wouldn’t put either of these in a young adult’s hands, but they’re both super good!

Watching

On Friday we went to see Pitch Perfect 2, which was a blast. I kept my expectations low (because the original is just so freaking good), and I’m happy to report that said expectations were blown clear out of the water. I mean, there were some ridiculously silly moments, but overall, I thought the sequel was funny and genuine and entertaining. Recommend!

Listening To

I recently discovered a most excellent podcast called The Narrative Breakdown. It’s about writing of all sorts (fiction, screenplays, journals, etc), as well as the many aspects of books and publishing (character, dialogue, literary agents and query letters, etc). I highly recommend it if you’re a podcast person with an interest in growing your craft.

Thinking About

Our move. Ugh. But… we found a house and we’ve got a signed lease, and that’s all a huge, HUGE relief. I really like the house, too, and the neighborhood, and I think (hope!) we’ll be happy there for the next few years.

Anticipating

Ready. Set. WRITE! It’s 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 within our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts will be Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, Elodie Nowodazkij, and myself. Find more info HERE, and look for a post with this year’s details next week. We hope you’ll join us for the fun!

Wishing

On a star (or a dandelion) that my most recently completed WiP will find success, and that my newest project (still in its brainstorming/plotting stages) will quit being such a jerk and just submit already. ;-)

Making Me Happy

Date nights with my husband, and a recent visit with my mom.

  

What’s currently making YOU happy?

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently” post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me… Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

Author Natalie’s Whipple’s (wonderfully transparent) When It Feels Like Everyone Is Getting What You Want blog post. Free (quick and intense) workouts on Cassey Ho’s Blogilates YouTube channel (thanks for recommending them, Jennifer!). Writerly/YA-ish podcasts: This Creative Life, First Draft, and The Oral History. This adorable dandelion travel mug (thanks for pointing it out, Jaime!). And old-school notecard plotting:

Reading

Last week I read Erin Bowman’s Forgedwhich was a fantastic conclusion to her Taken trilogy. I love when a series wraps up in a gloriously satisfying way. You can read my thoughts on Forged and all of my April reads HERE. Now, I’m finishing up Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You, which I’m loving, possibly even more than her debut, Open Road Summer.

  

Watching

I’m nearly done watching the first season of Gilmore Girls, which I adore. Lorelai and Rory have such an interesting relationship, and I’m totally crushing on Luke. I’m still now sure how I didn’t catch this series in the early nineties, but I’m so glad to have found it now.

Listening To

Hozier… Take Me To Church is grossly overplayed on the radio, but I’m loving Like Real People Do and Someone New. Good writing music.

Thinking About

My WiP. I still haven’t started to draft, partly because I’m scared, and partly because I’m not entirely sure if I want one narrator or two, or if I want to use first-person or third-person. I know what my instincts are telling me and I know what is traditionally an easier sell. Unfortunately, this time instincts and marketability aren’t meshing, and I’m so torn! What would you do?

Anticipating

Home! My husband and I have been house-hunting for the last four days and I miss my girlie. Can’t wait to see her! <3


Us, on one of our many trips to the hotel’s bar. Because finding a nice rental in Virginia is really freaking hard!

Wishing

That you’ll all be able to read my friend Elodie‘s latest manuscript soon. I’m beta reading it now and oh, my gosh… It’s uber creepy, in the best sort of way. She knows how to write a thriller, that’s for sure!

Making Me Happy

The beach. I’m going to miss living on the Gulf Coast — it’s truly beautiful.

What’s currently making YOU happy?

April Reading Wrap-Up

April: Month of the Fascinating Fictional Female
I read some seriously good books this month!
(As always, covers images link to Goodreads pages.)


Faking Normal by Courtney C. Stevens – While I enjoyed this book from its earliest pages, it didn’t become truly impressive until its conclusion — I loved the way author Courtney Stevens wrapped this debut up. MC Alexi is a compelling narrator who’s struggling with a dark secret. While her behavior makes sense, there were moments when I wanted to give her a little shake — I so wanted her to see that what happened to her was not her fault. Luckily, she reconnects with sweet loner Bodee, who is one of the most endearing YA boys I’ve read. He’s battling his own demons, but he’s unwaveringly there for Alexi, and in a refreshingly nonjudgemental way. Bodee helps Lex regain her autonomy and become a girl who is strong and determined and far healthier than she is at the novel’s opening. While there were a few moments in this story that (for me) bordered on preachy, I think it’s an incredibly strong debut.

Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver – I’ve read two books in the last couple of years that have a premise similar to that of Vanishing Girls, so I figured out this story’s mystery fairly quickly. That said, knowing what was coming did not ruin my reading experience; rather, I used this novel as an opportunity to study how a talented author pulls off this sort of meandering, enigmatic plot. Lauren Oliver’s prose is predictably gorgeous and, once again, she has crafted complex, unpredictable characters who I cared about genuinely. I recommend Vanishing Girls if you’re a fan of dark, twisty YA.

 
Flat-Out Love and Flat-Out Matt by Jessica Park – These books were recommended to me by a friend who I now think of as my book soulmate. She was so right — I loved these stories! When I bought Flat-Out Love, I didn’t know it was a trailblazer in NA self-publishing (the paperback is now pubbed by Skyscape), nor did I know that there was a companion, Flat-Out Matt, or a follow-up, Flat-Out Celeste (which I can’t wait to read!). Flat-Out Love’s romantic tone reminded me of Anna and the French Kiss — the slow-burn romance is delicious torture. It’s so obvious who MC Julie is meant to be with, but thanks to a series of misunderstandings and missteps and messy family dynamics, her journey to coupledom is all sorts of complicated, and totally worth the ride. Flat-Out Matt is the perfection companion; several chapters from Flat-Out Love told from Matt’s POV, plus a very — ahem — special night told from Julie’s. Guys, these books are full of eccentric characters, outstanding nerd references, and writing that reads as effortless. I wish there were more NA stories like these on the market!


Bone Gap by Laura Ruby – The best book I’ve read so far this year. I’d heard that this novel is fantastical and sort of bizarre, but that’s all I knew going in, and I’m so glad I started reading blindly. Because how do you describe a book like this…? It’s about two sad brothers, a ballsy beekeeper, and a lovely, missing girl. There are summer jobs and whispering cornfields and first kisses; there is a fascinating small-town dynamic, a twisted fairy tale, and a magical horse. Bone Gap is so beautifully written, so evocative and powerful, it’s the sort of book that makes me want to work harder on my own writing. It’s a haunting, lyrical story about love and perception and feminism, and reading it is an enchanting experience — one I didn’t want to end. Highly recommend.


All the Rage by Courtney Summers – I’ve made no secret of my love of Courtney Summers’ writing. She is fearless, and her latest release is bold and gritty and so, so good. Romy is a protagonist unlike any I’ve read before. She’s rightfully lost and pissed and afraid, emotions that stem from a past sexual assault that went unpunished, as well as subsequent bullying from her classmates. Romy isn’t a likable girl in the traditional sense (she lies, she gets into fights, and she thinks cruel thoughts) but I happen to love her. She’s so honest — an uncomfortable, exhilarating sort of honest. Her supporting cast is also riveting. I particularly enjoyed Romy’s mother, who’s doing the best she can, as well as Todd and Leon, who become positive male figures in Romy’s life. All the Rage is a gut-wrenching story that illustrates how complicated it is to trudge through life as a female, and how scary it can be to raise a girl in this world. Read it.


Forged by Erin Bowman – I’ve been bad about keeping up with trilogies and series lately. I’ve started so many over the last few years, but most have fallen off my radar — even those whose first books I truly enjoyed. The Taken trilogy is one that’s held my interest since its first book released in 2013, though, and that’s because of its characters. Don’t get me wrong — the world-building is fantastic, the plot is unique, and the pacing is swift, but it’s Gray, Bree, Clipper, Emma, Sammy, and Blaine who’ve kept me committed. Bree, especially, continues to blow me away with her awesomeness. Though she’s not the lead character, she’s a standout thanks to her independence and toughness and vigor, and she lends a sense of humanity (and humility) to protagonist Gray. Author Erin Bowman concludes her debut series in a way that feels real and true and courageous and, though there were some genuinely heartbreaking moments, I closed this novel feeling hopeful and content. Recommend!

What’s the best book you read in April? 

Giveaway winner…

I have randomly selected a winner for my 5 Year Blog-iversary Giveaway, and that lucky person is…

*** Alexa Kirk ***

Congratulations, Alexa! Your package is headed to the post office today. :-)

Lots of love to all who entered and helped spread the word about this giveaway, and thanks so much for reading! <3

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently” post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me… Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

This (incredibly easy) Chocolate Cake recipe. My favorite (free!) yoga videos: Yoga With Adriene. Washi tape — I am officially obsessed. Pura Vida bracelets. This fantastic “beYOUtiful raglan t-shirt,” of which 1/4 of the price is donated to First Descents, providing free adventure experiences for cancer fighters and survivors. And a recent Pub(lishing) Crawl post by Erin Bowman, all about how to support authors before, during, and after release day.

Reading

Jessica Park’s Flat-Out Love (NA at its most adorable), and Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap (one of the weirdest, most beautifully written books I’ve read in a long time). These two stories couldn’t be more different, but I loved them both, particularly Bone Gap — pure magic. Now, I’ve started All the Rage by one of my favorite authors, Courtney Summers. More about this recent release soon!

   

Watching

Guys, I finished Gossip Girl! I thought the series finale was quite satisfying — though I wanted more Chuck and Blair (always). I’ve just finished watching the first season of The CW’s The 100 which, as promised by many, has drastically improved since its fist few episodes. It definitely has its cheese-tastic moments, but it also has enough twists and romance to hold my attention. So far, so good. Hurry up and make season 2 available, Netflix!

Listening To

Echosmith‘s Bright, which is so damn cute. It’s the perfect theme song for my WiP, Stars Like Dust, too.

Thinking About

My Shiny New Idea! It’s in its very earliest brainstorming stages, but I’m *really* excited about it. I was at the dentist a few weeks ago and during my cleaning, two songs from the same movie soundtrack played — one of my favorite movies. I was suddenly super inspired, and I’ve been stewing over plot-ish things ever since. I’ve named my main characters, and I’ve made a mood board that’s now my computer’s desktop –> progress!

Anticipating

I can’t wait to randomly select the winner of my 5 Year Blog-iversary Giveaway! I’ve got YA books, notecards, a travel mug and Jelly Bellies up for grabs. If you haven’t already, enter HERE. The giveaway closes this Thursday, April 23rd at midnight, and is open internationally. Good luck!

Wishing

That the people who picked up the novels my daughter and I left around our community during last week’s Rock the Drop will love the stories they scored!

Making Me Happy

My family, always. <3

What’s currently making YOU happy?

5 Years & Counting

{BLOG-IVERSARY GIVEAWAY!}

Today, my little blog turns five. When I started blogging, I’d just finished drafting my first manuscript (it was awful), and my daughter was still napping twice a day (giving me plenty of time to figure out how Wordpress works). Over the years, I’ve posted about writing and books and life, and I’ve met dozens of wonderful people who’ve showered me with support and friendship.

I appreciate you all so much, and to demonstrate my gratitude, I’ve assembled a prize package to send to one lucky reader!

This giveaway is open internationally, and will close on Thursday, April 23rd, at midnight EST. The winner will be selected randomly. He or she will be notified Friday, April 24th.

Here’s what’s up for grabs…

Giveaway

Novels by a few of my favorite authors (Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun, Gayle Forman’s If I Stay, Morgan Matson’s Since You’ve Been Gone), plus a Tervis travel mug, a bookmark and book-ish pin, a poppy notepad and package of thank-you cards, and Jelly Bellies — yum!

How To Gain Giveaway Entries

1. One easy automatic entry for all who comment on this post.

2. Follow me on Twitter for an additional entry. (Please note that you’ve followed or are already following in your comment.)

3. Tweet about the giveaway for an additional entry. (Please include a link back to this post and mention of me [@katyupperman] in your tweet. Don’t forget to note that you’ve done so in your comment on this post!)

4. Share about this giveaway via any other form of social media — Facebook, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, or your personal blog. (Please mention where you’ve shared in your comment, including appropriate links. Earn one additional entry for each and every share.)

There you have it!
Thank you for reading.
Thank you for commenting.
Thank you for being generally awesome.
And good luck!