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 The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi. It’s a modern-day story about two teenagers of different Afghan ethnicities who fall in love. It wasn’t as romance-focused as I’d been expecting, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Pick it up if you’re looking for unique, multi-cultural YA. Now, I’m reading Ashes to Ashesthe final book in the under-hyped Burn for Burn trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. This is one of my most anticipated 2014 books (this series — SO GOOD), and I cannot wait to see how it all wraps up!

What I’m Writing: I’ve gotten notes back from a few brilliant and thoughtful beta readers (seriously, thank you so much, Erin and Sara! <3) and now I’m working on incorporating their feedback into Where Poppies Bloom, as well as cleaning it up and prepping to send it to my agent. All the nerves…

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’ve been beta reading a lot over the last couple of weeks, and I count myself so lucky to be able to read for such creative and talented writers. My own writing is benefiting, plus it’s tons of fun.


Saturday was my daughter’s first official cheerleading effort and she did amazingly well. I would not call her a natural dancer and she’s normally a little bashful, but she she went all out at the game and I was super proud of her! Though, this WSU alum *really* wishes her uniform wasn’t purple and gold. :-)


I’ve been easing back into running after a long hiatus. It is SO hard to workout outdoors in Florida during the summer — for this Pacific Northwesterner, anyway. But, I miss running regularly. It’s my quiet meditation time, and it feels good to get out on the road again. Plus, new shoes!

What Works For Me: I’ve putting finishing touches on one manuscript and gearing up to heavily revise another, but to be honest, I’ve been a little lacking in motivation. So, I turned to Netflix for inspiration (and distraction) and found Tiger Eyes, the movie adaptation of Judy Blume’s classic YA novel. Guys, it was so good! My husband watched with me, and he couldn’t find anything to make fun of, which is saying a lot when it comes to “teen” movies. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for a creative boost, and let me know what you think!

Tell me… 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 finished Rainbow Rowell’s Landline, which was predictably glorious. Now I’m reading The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi. It’s a modern-day story about two teenagers of different Afghan ethnicities who fall in love, and it is brutal. So far, I’m captivated. Here’s hoping it finishes as strongly as it’s opened.

What I’m Writing: I finished another round of revisions for my story Where Poppies Bloom. It’s in the hands of a few betas now, and I’m hoping to have it off to my agent in the next few weeks — yay! Now, I’m mentally gearing up to revise the shitty first draft of my summertime WiP, The Road So Far.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Mama stuff: shuttling my daughter from school to guitar to cheerleading. I also started practicing yoga again after a long hiatus. I found a great class in my town and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the way my body’s fallen right back into the poses.


I finally got to see If I Stay! My expectations were admittedly low. The novel is one of my very favorites and I did not want to be disappointed. Luckily, I ended up blown away. I LOVED IT. Even my husband, who hasn’t read the book and had no idea what the story was about, admitted it was better than the “chick flick” he’d been expecting. I thought Mia and Adam were just perfect. I adored the music and Mia’s parents and the way the romance came alive onscreen. I’ve been reading lukewarm reviews, but I say… Go see it if you haven’t already!

  
I crossed a Thirty Before 35 goal off my list when I baked a Rainbow Cake for my daughter’s sleepover. Because I only have two 8 inch cake pans, I had to bake the layers in shifts; combined with frosting and decorating, this was a time-consuming project. Totally worth it, though! It was tons of fun to prepare from scratch, and it tasted very yummy!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Music. I bought the If I Stay soundtrack, plus I’ve been listening to a lot of Sugarland and Tom Petty and Tim McGraw (obviously). I’m letting my mind mull over a bunch of tiny new WiP nuggets and there’s no greater way for me to do that than to zone out to some well-loved songs. 

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

c0500-tree7025

“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…And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: Landline, which is predictably glorious. I’m pretty sure Rainbow Rowell is incapable of mediocrity. All four of her books are must-reads if you’ve yet to check them out.

What I’m Writing: I’m working on revising my WiP, Where Poppies Bloom, according to my CP’s notes. It’s coming along, and I’m looking forward to sending it off for one more round of feedback before my agent gets a read.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Aaah! SO much!


My girlie started second grade. *sniffle*

   
Shortly after, we flew across the country for my brother-in-law’s wedding in Portland. My husband was the Best Man, and my daughter was a flower girl. <3


From Portland, we headed to the Seattle area, where my in-laws live. Of course we had to make a special trip to the American Girl store.

  
We also went to a Washington State University football game. We pre-funked with my in-laws (including my new sister-in-law!) and I got to visit with my longtime friend (and fellow Coug), Kari Bradley.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: My fellow Ready. Set. Write! participants! You all did amazingly this summer — congratulations on your successes! I cannot wait to see what comes of the novels we worked on over the last three months! Also, the enthusiastic response I got to last week’s Wanna Beta post. Knowing people are intrigued by my little story is so motivating and humbling. THANK YOU! <3

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

August Reading Wrap-Up

Last month I read a fantastic adult novel, a gripping nonfiction, and a few excellent contemporary YAs. As always, covers link to Goodreads pages.

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand – Not my usual fare, but I enjoyed this story so much. It’s a nonfiction account of Olympian and WWII veteran Louis Zamperini’s life experiences, and it’s equal parts horrifying and inspiring. I cannot believe what this man survived: forty-seven days floating in a raft on the open ocean, followed by almost two years in a harrowing POW camp. Unbroken is the sort of biography that’s accessible and humanizing, and I suspect you’ll be captivated by Louie’s story even if you’re not war buff or history fanatic. Recommend!


The Bridge From Me to You by Lisa Schroeder – This was such a sweet and poignant novel, told in dual POVs. I adore Lisa Schroeder’s verse, and The Bridge from Me to You proves her prose to be just as beautiful. Protagonists Lauren and Colby feel so layered and real and fresh, and the reverential way they treat each other is heartening; there’s no manufactured drama here. I love this story’s small-town setting, not to mention its high school football backdrop. If you’re a FNL fan (like me!), I bet you’ll fall for Lauren and Colby’s story too.


The Good Girl by Mary Kubica – I’ve had my eye on this novel for months, ever since I first saw its striking cover. The story’s summary intrigued me, as did the comparisons between it and Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. I understand why people group these two books together (fast-paced, thrilling, multiple narrators, fantastic twists), but I’ve got to say… I liked The Good Girl better than Gone Girl,  and that’s because its characters have redeeming qualities — even those who do seemingly terrible things. The Good Girl is full of surprises, thoughtful commentary on parent/child relationships, and an unexpected romance I bought into so completely, I ended having one of those elusive All the Feels moments at the book’s conclusion. Big recommend!


Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – My favorite of Stephanie Perkins’ trio of novels, though when I think about it objectively, I wouldn’t call it her strongest. I loved this story so much because I related to its characters completely. I’m more like Isla than Anna or Lola, and my husband is more like Josh than Cricket or St. Clair. Neither of us are as self-destructive as Isla and Josh, but still… I understood them and their motivations, and they totally made me swoon. Isla and the Happily Ever After is a story about staying together, not so much getting together, and that’s another reason I loved it so much. It’s romantic and angsty and really hot. And, as is to be expected from a Stephanie Perkins novel, the characters and settings are unique and incredibly well drawn. Plus, the final chapter! So satisfying!


Behind the Scenes by Dahlia Adler – Such a refreshing read! Hollywood plots aren’t usually my cup of tea, but Dahlia is delightful and continuously recommends fantastic books, so it came as no surprise that hers was unputdownable. I enjoyed her flawed-but-charming characters, and I loved all the steamy, swoony scenes between Ally and Liam. Ally’s relationship with her BFF, Vanessa, felt genuine and true, and I was particularly moved by the scenes she shared with her father. Their bond was lovely, and it made me care about Ally’s story all the more. Definitely pick this one up if you’re looking for a romantic upper YA novel with real relationships and tons of voice.

Tell me: What’s the best book you read in August?

Wanna beta?

Okay, RSWers! Today is your opportunity to share a bit about what you’ve been working on all summer, and hopefully find a CP match made in blog heaven!

If you’re looking for new readers or are interested in beta reading someone’s WiP, and you find someone you think you might connect with, feel free to peruse that person’s RSW posts from this summer (a lot of us have been sharing lines from our WIPs so it might give you a better idea of writing styles), and leave a comment on that person’s post indicating your interest in beta reading. There’s a chance not everyone will find a potential partner this way, so if others don’t take you up on your offer to read or if someone doesn’t offer to read for you, please keep in mind  that there are any number of factors involved (ie: timing, genre, whether a person needs one or more betas, etc).

Hopefully the stars are aligned for a beautiful critique match-up! I can’t wait to learn about your story, so don’t forget to sign up on the linky below!

******

I’m looking for feedback on my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom, the first story in a potential duology. It’s a mystery/romance (heavy on the romance), and it’s definitely on the upper end of YA. I’m looking for big-picture comments regarding the mystery, specifically. I’ve overhauled this manuscript, and I need to be sure all of its elements are working together and making sense. It should be ready in the next few weeks. 

First Line

I never used to be the type of girl who hotboxes her bathroom.

Visual Inspiration

   

  

 

Love List

Scars
Victorians
Swimming
Lost Love
Found Love
Rain Storms
Beach Kisses
Breakfast

Power Ballades
Ghosts
Cluttered Attics
Crashing Waves
Kittens
Beating Hearts
Poppies
Bookstores
Bonfires 

Intrigued? Wanna read? Let me know in the comments. <3

It’s been fun, RSW!

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 my goal(s) overall.

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.
3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week.
4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks.
5. Maintain my tan.

I’m pretty excited about what I accomplished this summer. My two most important goals were to finish a major revision of Where Poppies Bloom and finish a first draft of my WiP, The Road So Far. I did both! I barely squeaked by on that first draft; I only just finished the other day, but I FINISHED. :-) As far as my reading goals, I averaged just over one YA/adult novel a week, and I averaged just under one MG book (read with my girl) every two weeks. I’m calling that success. And I maintained my tan! #Priorities

* The biggest challenge I faced this summer.

Time management for sure, but I think I did okay. I got A LOT of work done, I had tons of fun with my family, and I got some sleep, too. My DVR is full of all the shows I didn’t have time to watch, but they’ll keep.

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

The End 

For real. But there was this, too…

“You ready for the final leg?”

She rests her head on my shoulder. “Not really. I’d road trip with you forever, Tucker Morgan”

* Something I love about my WiP. 

The two writing projects I worked on this summer are related. Same characters, same world. A duology, if you will. What I love most about them is the relationship between the two main characters. They start off strangers in Poppies, and by the end of Road, they’ve forged a really special bond, which makes their stories my favorite of any I’ve written.

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

CP/Beta Match-Up

Okay, RSWers, now that you’ve spent all summer working on your story, you’re going to need some constructive feedback. You’re in luck! This Thursday, August 28th, there will be a beta/CP match-up facilitated by your Ready. Set. Write hosts, Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. There’s no pressure to participate if you’re not ready for feedback, or if you’ve got trusted readers already, but if you’re interested in taking advantage, here’s now it’ll work…

This Thursday, we encourage you to share about your story in a post on your blog. You and other RSW participants will then be able to “shop around” and leave comments on the posts with stories you’re interested in reading. From there, you can decide who might be the best fit and contact them via their blog/Twitter/email. Some suggestions about what to share…

*a love list, elevator pitch, or query description

*an excerpt

*genre/age category

*whether it’s a stand alone or series

*where you’re at in the timeline (ie: ready for a beta/CP as of the end of summer or perhaps later in the fall)

*whether you’re looking for betas or CPs (or both)

*any warnings that might be applicable (ie only offer to beta if you don’t mind swearing, sex, drug use, etc.)

And here are some great links on CP/beta relationships, plus some tips on providing and receiving feedback:

5 Things To Know About Working With Beta Readers by The Book Designer

First Readers and Critique Partners by Susan Dennard

Critique Etiquette by Jodi Cleghorn

What Should We Look For in a Beta Reader by Jami Gold

Crafting the Perfect Critique Sandwich by Erin Bowman (for Pub(lishing) Crawl

How to Beta Read by Corrine Jackson

The Critique Partner Relationship: Here’s Looking at You, Kid by YA Buccaneers

Looking forward to hearing all about your projects! 

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!