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

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 Amy Reed’s Beautiful and loved it. It’s stark and gritty and disturbing, not to mention incredibly well written. I can’t wait to read more of her work! Now, I’m reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King. One of my Thirty Before 35 goals is to read and review one of his novels (I’ve never picked up his fiction, if you can believe that) and I chose this one because there’s no movie adaptation to spoil the story, and because I like time travel and history. This book is dense, y’all, but so far, so good. Look for a review soon!

What I’m Writing: I made a mood board for my SNI and it’s now my computer’s desktop background. It’s so pretty! (Incidentally, I used the collage function in Pic Monkey to make this mood board because the site I’ve used in the past, Mood Share, appears to be no more. Lame.) I also did some title research and found (what I think is) the PERFECT title. And, I wrote a query-like pitch, which helped me focus all the ideas floating in my head into (what I hope will be) a compelling story. My agent gave the pitch a thumbs-up, so I’m getting busy with some serious plotting and a little bit of drafting.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I pulled something in my neck (sneezing, because I’m awesome) and I’ve been dealing with tightness and spasming muscles for the last week. I finally broke down and went to the doctor yesterday, and now I have some glorious muscles relaxers that are making movement slightly less than torturous. Yay medicine! Other than that…

  
Lots of cheerleading with my little lovely. I adore the above photo of my husband giving her a pep talk through the fence. <3

  
We also visited Sweet Seasons Farm to make our way through their corn maze (my daughter: “I’m a maze runner!”) and pick out a few pumpkins. Fall is so much more tolerable when it’s 85 degrees ouside. :-)

What Works For Me: Accountability. I have some awesome writing buddies who help me stay on track with drafting/revision goals. One of my CPs and I often exchange snippets of what we’ve recently worked via email. Not for critique, but for encouragement and inspitation. Knowing that I have to send a sample off to her at the end of the day really keeps me motivated. Plus, getting to read her samples is an excellent reward! I also have a trio of writer friends who I check in with on a shared spreadsheet. Seeing that they’ve written 1K+ or 2K+ or 3K+ words in a day makes me want to keep up with them. Nothing like a little peer pressure to fuel production!  

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 finished 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen and I adored it. Awesome voice, plus a cleverly nuanced take on high school stereotypes and self-image and wanting more out of life. Recommend! I also read a super sexy NA, The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan, and I’ve gotta say… I loved it. Strong characters, dry humor, and a smokin’ hot college football player — yes please! Now, I’m reading Amy Reed’s Beautiful, which is stark and gritty and disturbing (the MC is 13 — holy hell!) but very well done.


My husband: “Why are you reading Avril Lavigne’s biography?”

What I’m Writing: I’m at a weird place, writing-wise. I’ve finished all of my beta reading commitments, I’m waiting on feedback from my agent on one manuscript, and I’m waiting on feedback from CPs on another. I’m mentally musing what I hope is going to be my next project (and I’m super excited about it!) but I haven’t actually written anything yet. I do have a first line in mind, and I’m paging through a nonfiction book for research, and I’m doing a lot of inspirational online image searches. This is sort of my process, I guess. I’m a slow, sort of muddled starter, but once I get drafting, I can move relatively quickly. Hopefully I’ll be there soon!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Cleaning, exercising, hanging with my family…


Saturday we visited WonderWorks in Panama City Beach. It’s a really cool science museum and we had an awesome time. My daughter loved the Bubble Lab (obviously) and the Ropes Challenge, for which she wore a harness and tight-rope walked three stories in the air. I almost had a mommy-heart-attack!

IMG_6028Because I was super lame and didn’t send out Christmas cards last year (excuse: we were moving across the country), I’ve gotten my act together and ordered a bazillion to put in the mail come December. Above is one of the photos I used (from our little family photo shoot) because I think the sky is gorgeous.

What Works For Me: Writer friends… Mine are the best (no, really!) and they play a huge part in maintaing my sanity and lending me inspiration. Lately, I’ve been emailing/texting/tweeting/meeting for coffee (I still owe you, Amanda!) my writer buddies to chat about WiPs and reading and life and, particularly, the challenges of writing and being a mom and a wife and melding all of that together in a balanced, happiness-evoking way. Even when they don’t have all the answers, knowing that I’m not alone in the Writer Crazies is invaluable. <3

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 finished 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma and whoa… It was a trip. The story turned out to be something completely different from what I was expecting and I am impressed. Such gorgeous writing! Now, I’m reading 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen, which is adorable. I recommend it for the utterly authentic voice alone. It’s so much fun being in Claire’s head!

What I’m Writing: I took some much needed time away from the first draft of my road trip book, The Road So Far, and now I’ve finished an initial round a revisions. This story is a follow-up (or a companion — whatever) so it was a challenge to weave in pertinent elements/information from the first story without dumping big chunks of backstory into the narrative. Hopefully I’ve struck a balance. If not, I’m sure my trusted and brilliant readers will let me know. :-)

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Listening to This American’s Life‘s new program, Serial, and *loving* it. From the website: Serial is a podcast where we unfold one nonfiction story, week by week, over the course of a season. We’ll stay with each story for as long as it takes to get to the bottom of it. This season’s story is a sort of high school murder mystery/possible wrongful conviction situation and it is fascinating. Highly recommend!


We finally, finally, FINALLY had professional family photos taken! It’s only been six years. ;-) This was one of my Thirty Before 35 goals, and I’m super excited to cross it off the list. I’m also super excited about this sneak peek our photographer, Andrea Faye Photography, shared with me.


I found Autumn-colored M&Ms at the store the other day and thought cookies would be the perfect way to use them. I tried this recipe for the first time and they turned out so yummy!

  
Over the weekend we visited the Gulf Breeze Zoo, which is quaint and really fun. My daughter got a kiss on the hand from a giraffe!

What Works For Me: Taking inspiration from successful writers. This conversation between Lena Dunham (creator/star of HBO’s Girls, a show I adore) and author Judy Blume (the voice of my childhood) for instance (click the link for an edited transcript). So inspiring! Plus, book birthdays this week for two amazing books from two delightful authors: Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir and Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah. I’ve read them both and they’re fab!

  

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 finished Cristin Terrill’s All Our Yesterdays and loved it. Highly recommend! Now I’m reading 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma. I’m not super far along yet, but the mystery is intriguing and the writing is gorgeous.

What I’m Writing: I’m still spending most of my work time beta/CP reading (aMaZiNg stories by Mandie Baxter, Riley Edgewood, and Alison Miller), but I have started revising The Road So Far (I’m happy to find that I still love it after six weeks away), and I’m thinking about my next project. Last week I asked my husband what I should write and his answer was REALLY GOOD. We’ve been brainstorming together (which is odd because he rarely helps me with writing stuff, but very cool too!) and I’m feeling super inspired.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: More of the usual…


I’m enjoying what’s left of Florida’s beautiful summer…

  
Watching Daphne and Daisy act extra cute…


And cheering on the sweetest little cheerleader.

What Works For Me: Visual inspiration. I use Pinterest obsessively and have boards for all my writing projects. I finally made my Where Poppies Bloom board public, though some WiP boards are still secret, like that of the story I’m musing now. Here are a few of the images I’ve pinned so far…

 
 

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

September Reading Wrap-Up

So many excellent books this month!
(As usual, cover images link to Goodreads pages.)

Landline by Rainbow Rowell – Oh, this book… *happy, happy sigh* It’s a perfect example of magical realism (the MC talks with her husband-in-the-past via a magic yellow landline telephone — YES), and it’s everything I want from adult fiction: thought-provoking, genuine, heartfelt. Plus, there were some truly funny moments. Georgie and Neal were both so uniquely wonderful, as were Heather and Seth and all of the tertiary characters (the pugs!). Rainbow Rowell writes relationships so beautifully and authentically, and this book left me wanting to be a better wife and mom and person. Love when that happens!


The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi – I was super excited to read this debut, a story about forbidden love in Afghanistan. I wanted it to be the YA version of A Thousand Splendid Suns (one of my Top Five Favorite Books Ever) and it did share similarities with that story. The Secret Sky was less romantic than I’d been anticipating, but I still very much enjoyed it. The details about Afghan culture and Muslim traditions were fascinating, and the characters were incredibly well-drawn. There were some brutal scenes in this novel, but its conclusion left me hopeful, and with a satisfying sort of curiosity. Check it out if you’re looking for riveting  contemporary YA with diverse characters and/or settings.


Ashes to Ashes by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian – One of my most anticipated reads of the year and I LOVED it until (major spoilers in white — highlight to read)... the end. I adore Jenny Han’s and Siobhan Vivian’s previous works and it pains me to say this, but I’m disappointed by how this trilogy ended. That has nothing to do with quality of prose or plotting or character development, and has everything to do with Reeve. He lost EVERYTHING even though (I think) he was the character who grew the most. I hated him in the first book, and now (thanks to some truly brilliant writing) I ♡ him. I desperately wanted a satisfying ending for him and he didn’t get one and I am just so bummed. Still. Which brings me to Lillia and Alex riding off into the sunset together, happily ever after. Just… no. REEVE AND LILLIA ARE SUPPOSED TO END UP TOGETHER! And then there’s poor Kat. She doesn’t get to go to her dream school and her dad, who’s awesome, up and dies from a heart attack. Why, authors? WHY?! *sad, sad, SAD face* I mean, I get it — writers have to be true to their story, but man… I’ve been SO invested in these characters. I wanted so much more for them. My reactions to this series have been intense since book one, and my passion for these fictional people says a lot about their world and their relationships and the arc of their story. I love that these books made me think hard about revenge and redemption, and I’m a huge fan of the trilogy. You should read it so we can discuss. :-)


Unlit Star by Lindy Zart – I’m not usually a fan of kissing covers, but I think this one’s sort of beautiful. Unlit Star came highly recommended and while the writing style and main character, Delilah (who’s a little prickly), took  some getting used to, I ended up totally consumed by the story. Truly — I read it in a day. Love interest Rivers is so appealing and the romance rang completely true. This novel reminded me a little bit of A Walk to Remember, so if those sorts of sad-but-lovely stories are your thing (they’re mine, obviously) give it a read.


All Our Yesterdays by Cristin Terrill – I cannot believe it’s taken me so long to read this story! It’s a total Katy Book, and I loved it completely (plus, hello, pretty new cover!). This novel’s world-building is thorough and its elements of time travel are well thought-out and gripping, but it was the romance that had me unable to put it down. I *adored* Finn and Em together (so sweet and steamy!), and I found myself rooting for Marina and James despite the twists and turns that kept coming. All Our Yesterdays is beautifully written and thrilling and romantic, with a kick-ass main character — I highly recommend it!

Tell me… What’s the best book you read in September?

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, or 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: Well… I finished Ashes to Ashesthe final book in the  Burn for Burn trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. I can’t comment on it yet. Let’s just say… It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had such a visceral reaction to a novel, and I’m still kind of traumatized. I also read Unlit Star by Lindy Zart, which came highly recommended and turned out to be a super emotional romance. Such a pretty cover, right? Now, I’m reading Cristin Terrill’s All Our Yesterdays and it is aMaZiNg. Totally twisty and romantic and unputdownable. I can’t wait to see how it wraps up!

  

What I’m Writing: Nothing! Where Poppies Bloom (which I finally wrote a summary for and posted HERE) is all revised and beautiful. It’s in my agent’s hands. I’m hoping she loves it! I’m celebrating by beta reading for some buddies, and musing my next WiP.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Watching movies… My family and I saw Dolphin Tale 2 (cute but cheesy — not as good as the first) and The Maze Runner (exciting and unpredictable — we really liked it!). Plus, my husband and I watched 12 Years a Slave, which was brutal. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll recover. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it, but prepare yourself for heartbreak.


I’m keeping up with yoga, and I’m learning how to do inversions! I have never in my life tried to hold myself upside down, but I’m getting it. Don’t judge my form — I’m still practicing. Yay for progress! :-)


I made my first pumpkin-y recipe of the season, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies. My husband: “These really do melt in your mouth.” :-)

What Works For Me: This week I’m inspired by all of the excitement regarding intellectual freedom, diverse books, and Banned Books Week. I did a post on the topic HERE. Some of my favorite challenged/banned books? To Kill a Mockingbird, Speak, Looking for Alaska, Twenty Boy SummerThe Hunger Games, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the Harry Potter series. What are some of your favorite challenged/banned books?

Tell me… What’s up with you today?