What’s Up Wednesday

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“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 Loop by Karen Akins and enjoyed it so much. I literally laughed out loud several times (a rarity), plus this one had awesome pacing and a super cute boy. Win! Now I’m reading Losing It by Cora Carmack which is funny and sexy and full of sassy voice. I can see why it’s so popular!

What I’m Writing: Oh, hey, remember when I signed up for National Novel Writing Month? No? Well, that’s probably because I joined the fun spur-of-the-moment on November 8th. (That’s right.) I mostly signed up because I was stressed about a lot other stuff, and I figured NaNo would be an awesome way to heap some different stress on my plate, therefore taking my mind off the original stress. See how that works? Anyway. I caught up last week, which was an amazing feeling, and now I’m on track to win and (since I started NaNo-ing with Stars Like Dust, a project I was already about 15K into) finish my first draft around the same time. So, yeah, I’ve been writing A LOT, and it’s so satisfying because even though my story is all kinds of messy at the moment, I love it.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Uh, freezing my butt off, for starters. Have I mentioned how much I hate being cold? I preheat my bed every night with a super-powered electric blanket, for example, and I complain (a lot) when the temperature dips below fifty-five, which it has often lately. Brrr…


My daughter, on the other hand, is loving the cold because she gets to wear her new “puffer” jacket out and about. Silver lining, I guess. And my silver lining? Chestnut Praline Lattes from Starbucks. Yum!

  
And can we talk about how cute Daphne’s been lately?

What Works For Me: I’ve talked about music before, but not this specific aspect of how I apply it to writing: Often, when I’m trying to draft but feel distracted and/or uninspired, I put on headphones and blast my WiP theme song(s) on repeat. The familiar lyrics and melodies help me find my writing flow (it’s pretty much a Pavlovian response now), and turning it up loud almost makes it white noise, which drowns out all of the nonsense swirling in my head (and house). For my NaNo WiP, my go-to songs are Shakira’s “Empire” and Taylor Swift’s “Out of the Woods.” Do you listen to music when you write? 

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

Happy VIP Day!

The first act of one of my very favorite new adult stories is out today!

VIP, Act 1 of Riley Edgewood‘s sexy NA serial Rock & Release, is available for eBook purchase RIGHT NOW, and you should hurry, hurry, hurry to Amazon or B&N or iBooks and order it this very second. It’s only $.99, and it’s so, so good!

Here are the details…

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When Cassidy Evans scores VIP tickets to a concert, she decides to use them for one carefree night before beginning a summer internship at her father’s Fortune 500 company. But one carefree night turns into a few too many martinis—with two unexpected twists: A steamy encounter with Gage Logan, sexy singer and guitarist, and a tempting job offer from Gage’s boss to work at the concert venue she now knows quite intimately. 

She can’t take the job. Her internship is an opportunity any business major would kill for. But the thought of working with her father, a man furious with grief over a family tragedy that struck six months ago, fills her with dread.  

Then there’s Gage. Working with him all summer could be hot. Cassidy can’t stop flashing back to their night together. Molten kisses. His hands smoothing across the skin of her belly. The weight of his body above her own…  

And suddenly the decision about how to spend her summer is much, much harder to make.

VIP is the first act of the three part sexy romance serial, Rock & Release. The final two acts, Starstruck and Show Stopper, will release on December 1 and December 15 respectively, and you won’t want to miss those either — trust me!

A teaser (borrowed from Riley’s blog) to get you — ahem — excited. ;-)

Congrats, Riley! <3 <3 <3

What’s Up Wednesday

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“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 Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater, and it was predictably awesome. I have such a book crush on Gansey, and I love that we saw a more vulnerable side of him in this installment. I adore these characters and this world (man… it is so deep), and I cannot wait to read the fourth and final book! Now, I’m reading Loop by Karen Akins, which is a super fun time-travel novel. It’s making my morning elliptical workouts fly by.

What I’m Writing: I’ve cleared 31K on my WiP, which is sort of exciting and sort of scary. I have a basic idea of how the story is going to end, but I still haven’t done much plotting or mapping of how I’m going to get there. Yikes. But… I *think* things are moving along okay. I’ve got a protagonist who I adore. I’ve got a cute, swoony boy. I’ve got a lovely setting. I’ve got tension. And, I’ve got kissing (finally!). What more does a story need? ;-)

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Over the weekend we went horseback riding and it was so much fun! I love horses (not horse books, though — go figure) and we got to explore some gorgeous trails. Cannot wait to do it again!

  
My horse’s name was Thriller, my girl rode Dusty, and my husband rode a badass black war horse named HoHo.


Last week I made Stromboli, which was much easier than it looks, and very tasty. We ate the whole thing in one sitting — yum!


I’ve been making all kinds of WiP notes in the gorgeous journal my CP, Alison, sent me. The title of the manuscript I’m working on (Stars Like Dust) is borrowed from a Rumi poem, and he’s significant to the story for lots of other reasons. So, new journal = most thoughtful gift EVER. <3

What Works For Me: Inspiration in its many forms. The Rumi journal I mentioned above. The lyrics of Taylor Swift’s Out of the Woodswhich play into my WiP pretty damn perfectly (I’ve been listening to it on repeat while I draft), and this excerpt from Stephen King’s On Writing

Who doesn’t want to be emotionally flattened by an amazing book? That’s why I read, and it’s my goal when I write. Curious: What’s the last story to sweep you away? (For me, Blue Lily, Lily Blue and When Joss Met Matt – recommend!)

So… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

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“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 finally finished 11/22/63 by Stephen King and ended up liking it a lot. My full review is HERE, as a part of my October Reading Wrap-Up. Next, I read Ellie Cahill’s When Joss Met Matt and loved it so much. It’s a contemporary NA about a unique and precarious friends-with-benefits situation (sorbet, if you will) and it is fantastic. The writing is spot-on, the characters are layered and likable, and the steamy scenes were just the right sort of steamy. When Joss Met Matt is one of those All the Feels books, and I can’t remember the last time I rooted for a couple so enthusiastically. It’s out February, 2015! Now, I’m reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue and damn it if it isn’t gorgeous. Can I be Maggie Stiefvater when I grow up? And I can have a Gansey of my own, too?

 

What I’m Writing: I’m still drafting my contemporary YA WiP, Stars Like Dust, and I’m still loving it. *sigh of relief* It’s super challenging, but from challenge comes reward (or something) and I’m doing my best. I’m up to about 18K, and I’ve set a 1K per day (with the exception of Saturdays — family day) goal. I’m part of a Google spreadsheet with some other awesome writers, and the thought of entering a number less than 1K in my little cells makes me feel like a loser, so I’m properly motivated. Whatever it takes, right?

What Else I’ve Been Up To: The last week has been busy! We did all the fun Halloween things like pumpkin carving and candy buying and dressing up…

   
My girlie and I were witches. She specifically asked to be “the pretty blonde witch from Hocus Pocus” (Sarah Jessica Parker) and I think we nailed it. ;-)


She also wrapped up her cheer season. The football team she cheers for ended up winning the championship game last night — pretty exciting!


The other day I baked Pumpkin Bread with Streusel and it was very yummy, more like a dessert than a bread. My daughter said, “This is healthy because it has pumpkin in it, right?” Yep. Pumpkin, plus three cups of sugar.

What Works For Me: Cheering on my friends as they do amazing things! Have you see the cover of Riley Edgewood’s VIP, the first of three acts in her steamy NA, Rock & Release? It’s gorgeous, and the story’s even better. If you like books featuring strong-but-searching protagonists and sexy musicians and beautiful writing, you should most definitely check Riley’s Rock & Release. Seriously. I love this story!


You can preorder VIP for your eReader (only $.99!) by clicking HERE.

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

October Reading Wrap-Up

Happy Halloween!

I’ve got an unintentional red-orange theme running through the covers I’m posting this month. They look pretty together, right? Lots of good stories, too!
(As always, covers link to Goodreads pages.)


17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma – Going in, I thought this book was merely a ghost story, but it turned out to be so much more. Nova Ren Suma’s writing is gorgeous and evocative. She handles this subject matter with nuance and sensitivity (where it could have easily careened into overwrought territory) and I was completely engrossed. I love how the mystery of the missing girls unfolds, and I love how layered and complicated MC Lauren is (a liar? mentally unhinged? truly seeing these ghostly girls?). I love, too, that I was surprised by every turn of the page. Recommended if you’re into eerie but literary novels.

17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen – Another lovely surprise! I opened this book thinking I’d get a fluffy story about boy-chasing, but what I got was a complex contemporary about family, friendship, stereotypes, and (yes!) kisses. MC Claire’s voice is one of the most authentic I’ve read in a long time. She’s real and relatable and transparent (in a good way), and I totally would’ve wanted to be friends with her in high school. Speaking of friends — Claire’s are a complicated bunch. Initially, they seem like caricatures of the teenage stereotypes we’re all familiar with, but they’re not. Watching their connections with Claire change and evolve was fascinating, as were Claire’s relationships with her family members — her mom, especially. I highly recommend this one if you’re a (picky) fan of contemporary YA, like me.


The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan – Do not judge this book by its cover, y’all. The story is a bazillion times better. It’s a college-set (football!) NA, and it is hot, hot, hot. Honestly, it’s hard for me to objectively “review” this book because I was so onboard with MCs Anna and Drew, any flaws that may have fallen into the narrative flew right over my head. I will admit that I was skeptical through the first few chapters because there’s some pretty intense insta-lust going on, but as Anna and Drew spent more and more time together, their affection became palpable. They grew to adore each other, which made me adore both of them. There’s all kinds of drama going on in this story, but it wraps up realistically and satisfyingly. Can’t wait for the next book in this series!


Beautiful by Amy Reed – Ugh. This story was hard to get through – not because it isn’t excellent (it is), but because the MC, Cassie, is only 13 and she finds herself in some truly horrifying situations. Her life is just so, so sad, and my heart broke for her over and over. Beautiful is one of those books where you hope for more, more, more for the protagonist, but end up watching her crash into hurdle after hurdle. It’s agonizing, but unputdownable. Amy Reed’s prose is stark, frank, and arresting, and despite the gloominess of this novel, it concludes with a hint of promise. I look forward to reading more from this author.


11/22/63 by Stephen King – I read this book so I could cross another goal off my Thirty Before 35 list (read and review a Stephen King novel), and I ended up enjoying it even more than I’d anticipated. It’s the story of a modern man who’s introduced to a portal that leads to 1958 Maine. He uses it with the hope of changing the past, particularly the Kennedy assassination — he wants to stop it, rewriting history in the process.

This novel was a sloooow start, but I was expecting that because Jake (AKA George) has to wait several years beyond 1958 for the Kennedys to arrive in Dallas. He uses the time to research the assassination, hatch a plan to stop Oswald, and navigate life in an era without cell phones, the Internet, and GPS.

There’s a lot going on in this story, as Jake/George makes a life for himself in “The Land of Ago.” There are dozens of characters (Deke and Mike and Bobbi Jill and Miz Ellie — love them all!) and tons of tiny plot threads that (of course) make big splashes later.

Though 11/22/63 isn’t a horror story, it includes a nod to King’s It, as well as some graphic and brutal imagery. Conversely, there’s a romance involving a lovely woman named Sadie. Her relationship with Jake/George felt so sweet and genuine, despite the many necessary lies he was obligated to tell her. While I definitely liked the romance, there were a few references to sex that made me raise an eyebrow – hearing about “love making” from Stephen King is a lot like what I imagine hearing about it from my grandfather would be like.

All in all, 11/22/63 was fantastic. It scared me and it made me laugh and it made me think, a lot, about time and the butterfly effect and the consequences of our actions. I absolutely recommend it.

What’s the best book you read in October?

What’s Up Wednesday

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“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: Still working on 11/22/63 by Stephen King. This is one loooong book, friends. It’s super entertaining, though. Along with time travel and history and conspiracy theories, there’s a bit of romance. I’m moving right along, and hoping to finish before Halloween.

What I’m Writing: I’ve got more than 11K written in the new contemporary YA WiP I’m drafting. Its working title is Stars Like Dust, which is a line I borrowed from a Rumi poem, which is significant to the story for a lot of reasons. Plus, it’s pretty! This new story is challenging me in a lot of ways:

1. I haven’t plotted it. I am usually a very detailed plotter (my last WiP, The Road So Far, was plotted down to the gas station stops my characters made on their road trip) and it’s scary to just write, write, write without a set plan. That said, I know this story’s beginning-middle-end, and I’ve got a good handle on the main characters, so I’m hoping it’ll all work out.

2. One of my two main characters is from another country and while he speaks English well, he speaks it very formally and precisely. Still, he’s a teenage boy and I want his dialogue to flow naturally. It’s a fine line I’m walking.

3. I’m playing with writing small sections of the story in verse. I have never written in verse and it is super challenging. But… I’m kind of loving it. The bad thing? It takes me the same about of time to write 200 words of verse as it takes me to write 2000 words of good ol’ prose. Plus, the verse stuff is requiring TONS of tinkering. I’m still not 100% satisfied with any of it, but I hope I will be…

What Else I’ve Been Up To: On Saturday we went to the Pensacola Interstate Fair and it was so much fun! We rode rides, ate corn dogs and funnel cake, watched a rodeo, and saw Eli Young Band. One of their songs, Crazy Girl, is on my The Road So Far playlist, and seeing it performed live was awesome. And, it just so happens that go to a(nother) country music concert is one of my Thirty Before 35 goals, so I get to cross one more item off the list — yay!

  

What Works For Me: I recently read a post by Kat Zhang (for Pub(lishing) Crawl) about writing out of order, and I found it so helpful. Here’s an excerpt:

When I write out of order, I know “Okay, so I have Fun Scene A here and Fun Scene B here…now I just need to get my characters from Scene A to Scene B as quickly and efficiently as possible.” If the middle parts aren’t “Fun Scenes,” I should probably be either trying to get my readers through them as quickly as possible, or finding out some way to spice them up.

I’m jumping around while drafting Stars Like Dust, and even though my Type-A personality is unhappy about the chaos, it seems to be working. Kat shares some fantastic insight and awesome tips about why writing out of order is worth a try. Definitely check out her article! 

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

777 Challenge

The 777 challenge is one writer challenging another writer to share seven lines of text, seven lines down, on the seventh page of a work-in-progress. I was tagged by my friend Rachel (check out her seven lines — they’re fantastic!) and couldn’t resist jumping in.

I’m posting seven lines from my WiP, Where Poppies Bloom (summary HERE)…

Chloe made me a big sister—she made me me. She’s silly jokes and morning bed-head, peas hidden in linen napkins and Sunday mornings spent watching The Wizard of Oz. She’s races in the pool and petty arguments and endless laughter. Sometimes I want to remember, drown in my memories and never come up for air. And sometimes I want to ignite my memories with a lighter’s flame, so they smolder until nothing’s left but ash and despair.

Guilt is a vulture. Guilt picks me apart, bit by bit. Guilt never, ever flies away.

 

I’m tagging a few of my favorite writing buddies: Alison, Riley, MandieTracey, and Elodie. Thanks again for the tag, Rachel! <3