RSW Update 7

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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 passed 50K, and wrote just over 10K words total for the week. Feeling really good about my momentum!

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I finished Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver’s upcoming debut, Creed. I also read Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. Guys, this series is totally incredible! If you haven’t read it, get on that. The final installment comes out in September!

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… YES! We read The Space Between, a Never Girls (Tinker Bell) book. We also stared Rump by Leisl Shurtliff — so clever and fun!

5. Maintain my tan… YES! We spent last Thursday swimming at the pool, and on Friday I mowed our enormous lawn.

* My goal(s) for this week.

Add at least 6K words to The Road So Far.

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

The four of us make our way to the room, labeled Jungle Rocks. I crack up laughing as soon as I swing the door open. The carpet’s bright blue and so is the ceiling, the comforters look like zebra pelts, the walls are made of rock, and there’s a shiny leather sofa which, I suspect, has a sullied past.

Drew nudges me. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“That we’ve inadvertently stepped onto the set of a ’70s porn shoot?”

He chuckles. “It’s like we’re riding the same wave length. And to think… I forgot to pack my 8 millimeter.”

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

Two things… The first: Research. I’m writing a road trip book, so every single chapter is set in a different place. I’ve been combing Wiki and YouTube like crazy, which is slowing me down. And the second: Mom Guilt. I want to write, write, write, but my kiddo can’t sit in front of the TV all day. I’m trying find balance.

* Something I love about my WiP. 

I complained about all of that road trip research above, but it’s part of what makes this WiP so fun. Every scene is different and new and exciting!

In other news… July is the month of RSW giveaways! 
Congrats to last week’s winner… Jessica Leake!
(Jessica, shoot me an email with your mailing address and I’ll get your package sent out right away! katy.upperman@live.com)

During the four weeks of July, ErinJaimeAlison, and I will be giving away some spectacular Writer’s Care Packages. All you have to do to be eligible to win is participate in Ready. Set. Write! and enter via the Rafflecopter link below.

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

***NOTICE: We’ve changed the entry process in order to make it easier and quicker… You no longer need to provide a link for each of your entries, though we will be verifying the winner’s participation upon selection.

This week, Alison’s giving away… A journal, sage and citrus reed diffuser, Post-Its, highlighters, gummi bears, Werther’s candies, index cards, Myndology cards, a note pad that reads I am so proud and jealous of you, DFTBA plaque, and, because she hope everyone’s having one, one of her favorite boy books, Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz.

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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!

RSW Update 6

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 did a complete read-through of the 39K I already had, cleaned it up, and added another 2K words.

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I read Burn For Burn by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian and thought it was excellent. I’m now reading the creepfest that is Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver’s upcoming debut, Creed.

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… YES! We finished The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. This was a reread for me, but the first time my daughter has heard the story. She loved it like I do.

5. Maintain my tan… YES! We spent last Thursday at the pool on the AFB near our home. I love swimming with my girl!

* My goal(s) for this week.

Write every day. Add at least 6K new words to my WiP. Brainstorm conflict issues with Alison (and hope she has a solution for my problems!).

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

(I had an f-bomb riddled excerpt here initially, but at the last minute I swapped it out for a sweet one. Why am I totally comfortable cussing like a sailor in stories [and in real life], but not on my blog?)

I edge across the expanse of mattress between us and brush her long hair off her face. She shifts. Her eyes don’t open, but her hand relaxes, releasing its bundle of sheet, and she reaches with purple-tipped fingers to brush my arm. She does it in sleep, on an instinct ingrained in her unconscious mind, and I feel minutely better because even when she’s dead to the world, she’s still confident that I’m an arm’s length away. 

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

This was a FUN challenge, though still a challenge… I beta read Jennifer Pickrell’s fantastic contemporary YA romance, and I kind of wanted to work on her story more than I wanted to work on my own writing. Oops. :-)

* Something I love about my WiP. 

My MC, Tucker. I think he’s my favorite of all the book boys I’ve written. He’s just so inherently good, and he adores his girlfriend so completely. He’s High School Katy’s dream boy (and not so dissimilar from my husband, come to think of it).

In other news… July is the month of RSW giveaways! 
Congrats to last week’s winner… Stephanie Allen!
Two Stephanies in a row! If that’s your name too, the odds of winning this week are forever in your favor. ;-)

During the four weeks of July, ErinJaimeAlison, and I will be giving away some spectacular Writer’s Care Packages. All you have to do to be eligible to win is participate in Ready. Set. Write! and enter via the Rafflecopter link below.

A Rafflecopter Giveaway!

***NOTICE: We’re changing the entry process in order to make it easier and quicker… You no longer need to provide a link for each of your entries, though we will be verifying the winner’s participation upon selection.

This week, I’m giving away a fantastic package including an owl mug, chai tea, dark chocolate, Smarties, a “Think. Write. Create.” journal, a candle, owl notecards, pens, lip balm, and the latest Writer’s Digest.

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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!

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

What I’m Reading: Burn for Burn by Jenny Han and and Siobhan Vivian, which I’m loving (no surprise — I’m a huge fan of both authors). I’m also beta reading for Jennifer Pickrell. Her contemporary YA has been delightful so far.

What I’m Writing: Now that my Where Poppies Bloom revision is complete, I’m back to working on my road trip manuscript, The Road So Far. Normally I much prefer revising to drafting, but after the challenges Poppies presented, I am more than happy to be pounding out new words. More about it all HERE.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’ve skipped the last few What’s Up Wednesdays because things have been crazy with family and revisions and life, but I’m happy to be back. Here’s what’s been keeping me busy…

   
We spent Independence Day at the (insanely crowded) beach with my parents, Nana and Poppy, and then we met up with my brother and his girlfriend for BBQ and chocolate cake.


We had tons of fun hanging with Nana and Poppy in humid Florida for a week. :-)

   
I spent last week shuttling my girlie to and from Zoo Camp, which she loved. (Win-win for Mama, who had tons of extra revising time!)


And, we’ve been taking advantage of Destin’s shopping, restaurants, and beautiful sunsets.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Author Sara Zarr‘s “This Creative Life” podcast. I’m new to podcasts (if you have any recs, please do leave them in the comments!), but I’ve been catching up with this one obsessively. It’s awesome because it’s about as close as I’ll ever get to having a National Book Award finalist as a personal mentor. Sara is so wise and gracious and real, and I’ve learned so much from her and her guests (Stephanie Perkins, Nina LaCour, Siobhan Vivian, Nova Ren Suma, Sarah Dessen and Bennet Madison, to name a few). The conversations she has about creativity and balance and why/how/when creative people do what they do make me feel so… normal. And inspired. And like part of a community. All of the anxiety and doubt and fear and joy that’ve bounced around in my head as I try (and try and try) to get published are pretty standard, it seems. If you’ve yet to give “This Creative Life” a listen, I highly recommend it.  

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

RSW Update 5

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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… YES! I am d-o-n-e with the overhaul of my beloved Where Poppies Bloom. It’s now in the talented and capable hands of CP Alison, and I’m very much looking forward to her feedback.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. It’s been a few weeks since I worked on this project, so I reread some of my favorite scenes and prepared to dive back in.

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I read Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers. It’s a little bit Silence of the Lambs and a little bit Dexter written in a fantastic 3rd person teen perspective, and it is fAnTaStIc.

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… YES! We finished Sara Mylnowski’s Sink or Swim and we started The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. 

5. Maintain my tan… YES! I mowed our enormous lawn. Kind of boring, but at least I got my vitamin D fix.

* My goal(s) for this week.

Write every day. My Where Poppies Bloom revision stressed me to the point of a breakout, and I need to not feel the I-should-be-working! pressure for a week or two in order to replenish my creative well. I’m not taking a break, but I am not going to kill myself in the name of word count, either. Plus, Zoo Camp’s done, so… Write every day — that’s my goal.

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

Sometimes my personal obsessions find their way into my stories…

       Tucker has a thing for Jelly Bellies, if the huge mixed bag he bought from a local sweet shop during our walk through Bell Cove is any indication. Now, we’re sitting on a weathered bench in the town center and he’s schooling me on flavor combinations, like a lemon eaten with a coconut, which taste just like lemon meringue pie, and I’m laughing because he’s weirdly fanatical about his jellies. He’s already picked out all the black licorice beans because they’re “foul” and he “refuses to subject” me to them.

       “Try this one.” He passes me a crimson bean and then a white one with tiny black speckles. “Strawberry jam and French vanilla.”

       I chew discerningly. “Um… strawberry shortcake?”

       He grins like I’ve spouted an ingenious solution to the nation’s debt crisis.

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

Burn out. In order to finish my Poppies revision, I had to work on it every spare second. I haven’t watched Gossip Girl in weeks! I still love my story, but I’m excited about setting it aside for a while. We need some time apart. :-)

* Something I love about my WiP. 

Ha! That it’s done! In celebration, a gratuitous mama/daughter pic…

In other news… July is the month of RSW giveaways! 
Congrats to last week’s winner… Stephanie Scott

During the four weeks of July, ErinJaimeAlison, and I will be giving away some spectacular Writer’s Care Packages. All you have to do to be eligible to win is participate in Ready. Set. Write! and enter via the Rafflecopter link below.

A Rafflecopter giveaway!

This week, Jaime’s giving away a fantastic package including a notebook (Joan of Arc quote FTW!), a Things To Do notepad, a pocket/purse notepad, Post-It notes, flags, tea scented erasers (mmm!), bunny-shaped paper clips (cute!), a multi-colored pen, Essie nail polish in “Watermelon” (totally summer appropriate, don’t you think?), pomegranate mint gum, and Swedish berries.

Jaime's Package

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!

RSW Update 4

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 YA, Where Poppies Bloom… IN PROGRESS. I’d been hoping to be done by now, but still… nope. I revised ten scenes this week, and I have twelve left to go.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. I didn’t work on this project at all last week. Poppies has to be my priority now, but I can’t wait to get back to this one!

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I read Amy Christine Parker’s Gated, a seriously creepy contemporary about life in a cult.

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… YES! We’re working on one of Sara Mylnowski’s Whatever After books, and my girl read a chapter book on her own, one from the Baby-Sitters Little Sisters series.

5. Maintain my tan… YES! My family and I went to the beach on Independence Day and spent all morning in the sun.

* My goal(s) for this week.

Finish my Where Poppies Bloom revision. Send it to Alison. :-)

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

The first line from Where Poppies Bloom

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

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

I had family in town all week which was awesome, and of course I wanted to spend my time doing fun things with them. Revisions took a backseat, but I’m back at them now. My girlie’s going to Zoo Camp this week (!), so I’ll have every day from 9-3 to work, work, work.

* Something I love about my WiP. 

I kind of want to strangle my WiP right now, so… I baked Danish Puff and Texas Chocolate Cake. I love these desserts more than anything I’ve written lately.

In other news… July is the month of RSW giveaways! 

For the next four weeks, ErinJaimeAlison, and I will be giving away some pretty spectacular Writer’s Care Packages. All you have to do to be eligible is participate in Ready. Set. Write! and enter via the Rafflecopter link below.

This week, Erin’s giving away an adorable package including a journal, to-do notepad, mug, 2 kinds of tea (in the gold bag: wild cherry & chai chilli pepper), tea filters, rainbow pens, sticky tabs, Post-its, paperclips, Tic Tacs, and gum.

Erin's Pic

Enter to win here: A Rafflecopter giveaway!

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!

June Reading Wrap-Up

Lots of books this month! June’s been my most diverse reading month of the year by far, and I definitely found some gems…


Of Poseidon by Anna Banks – A fantastic book to kick of my summer reading. Of Poseidon has a lot going for it: I’ve been on a major mermaid kick lately, it’s set partially Destin, which is close to where I live, it’s written by a local author, and it’s surprisingly funny. MC Emma is full of snark, and her love interest, Galen, is still learning his way on land. Hilarity ensues. This is one twisty book, friends, and it ended with a big ol’ cliffhanger. Luckily I have the second and third installments, Of Triton and Of Neptune, waiting for me.


Just One Night by Gayle Forman – {This is spoiler-ish, so turn away if you haven’t read Just One Day and Just One Year!} Just One Night is an eNovella, yes, but it was also one of my most anticipated 2014 reads. I loved Just One Day and Just One Year, and I was all kinds of anxious to find out what happened to Allyson and Willem after that door opened. Luckily, Just One Night was the perfect finale to their globe-spanning story. It was sweet and joyful and laced with fantastic sexual tension. Basically, Gayle Forman is brilliant.


An Untamed State by Roxane Gay – I feel sort of terrible recommending this adult novel because it is absolutely brutal. But, it is also superbly written and utterly haunting (I had nightmares) and, I think, a must-read. It’s the story of a woman who is kidnapped for ransom in Haiti, and it chronicles her ordeal with the gang of kidnappers (whatever terrible things you’re imagining, multiply them by ten) and her (equally harrowing) journey to recovery. I recently read an analysis of this novel in which the reviewer said she “loved the book, but hated the story” and that’s exactly how I feel. So terrible. So incredible.


One Two Three by Elodie Nowodazkij – An incredibly entertaining fusion of the book Perfect Chemistry and the movie Save the Last Dance. In other words, One, Two, Three is angsty and sexy and fast-paced, full of diverse, layered characters who effortlessly won me over. I’m still thinking about them, and I’m still swooning. Fans of Simone Elkeles and Katie McGarry will be all over this one! Read more about Elodie’s fantastic debut HERE.


I‘ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson (September, 2014) – Oh, this book. I can’t even… It’s just so beautiful and magical and wonderful, and I love it more than I can adequately describe. It’ll be among my top 2014 reads, if not my very favorite of the year. (Mark it To-Read now if you haven’t already.) I’ll Give You the Sun is the story of twins, Noah and Jude, organized into chapters that tell of the past (his narration) and the present (her narration), with some of the loveliest, most whimsical and evocative prose I’ve read. I don’t want to give too much away, but this novel is equal parts sad and exuberant, and it is spectacular.


The One and Only Ivan
by Katherine Applegate – If I have a literary weakness, it’s animals in peril. Charlotte’s Web, Stone Fox, Shiloh, Because of Winn-Dixie all tugged at my heartstrings, and Ivan was no different. It’s a book with some truly sorrowful moments, but it’s a hopeful, heartening story as well, about love and loyalty and the true meaning of freedom. And the writing… It’s as if Katherine Applegate was transcribing for an actual gorilla — and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible. I laughed and I very nearly cried. My six-year-old daughter loved The One and Only Ivan just as much as I did.


Breakable
by Tammara Webber – I’ve made no secret of my love for Tammara Webber’s Easy. It’s, uh, easily one of my favorite NAs. When I heard about Breakable, I wondered if it might just be a gratuitous retelling of the original book from Lucas’s POV, and bits of it are. But, there’s also a lot of new material, as well as some fascinating insight into why Lucas/Landon is the way he is. Plus, there are some fun new characters — including Boyce, who literally made me laugh out loud. If you liked Easy, I bet you’ll like Breakable too. Definitely check it out if you’re a fan of sensational and steamy NA.


Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor – Epic for sure. I am such a fan of Laini Taylor’s prose, and Daughter of Smoke & Bone remains one of my very favorite fantasies. There’s something so intense about Karou and Akiva’s connection, and I’ve been rooting for them ever since I read that beautiful an angel and a devil fell in love opening. That said, I found Dreams of Gods & Monsters a bit dense. It wasn’t until page 200 that I felt drawn in, and even then, there were some chapters that seemed to drag (Zuzana spends five pages checking into a hotel, for instance). Still, the chemistry between Karou and Akiva is electric, and hello… Ziri and Liraz are pretty much the best. They made the last quarter of this novel unputdownable. Overall, I found Gods & Monsters a satisfying conclusion to a series I’ve loved since it debuted.


More Than Music  by Elizabeth Briggs – This was such a fun beach read. It’s NA without damaged characters, which was refreshing. That’s not to say MCs Maddie and Jared don’t have backstories and drama, but theirs felt less manufactured than most of the books I’ve read in this genre. Maddie is cool, not the typical NA virginal angel, and the supporting characters are equally engaging. Also, More Than Music is tightly plotted. The pacing was spot-on and the way everything came together at the conclusion felt like kismet. There was just enough surprise, just enough sentimentality, and just enough sexiness. I can’t wait to see what Elizabeth Briggs comes up with next!

So… What was the best book you read in June?

RSW Update 3

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 YA, Where Poppies Bloom… Still IN PROGRESS. I’d been hoping to be done by now, but… nope. This revision is proving to be much trickier than I’d originally assumed. (Surprise, surprise.) I did revise twelve scenes, and I’m really happy with how they turned out. So… Yay?

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. Ugh. I’d hoped to add at least 5K new words, but I didn’t work on this project at all last week. *womp womp*

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I finished Laini Taylor’s Dreams of Gods & Monsters, and I read Elizabeth Brigg’s More Than Music, a fantastic just-released NA full of music and steam and swoon.

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… YES. We’re still working on one of Sara Mylnowski’s Whatever After books, but my girl read a couple of books with my mom over the last week, so… Success!

5. Maintain my tan… YES! I read (and slept) at the beach on Saturday.

* My goal(s) for this week.

Keep on keeping on with Where Poppies Bloom. It’s my priority this week. Hopefully I’ll have time to add something new to The Road So Far too.

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

In honor of Independence Day…

The explosions of color are gorgeous, vibrant pinwheels of pink, yellow, and blue. I’m mesmerized. When the air cools, Tucker wraps his arm around my shoulders, pulling me into his warmth. I tear my attention from the sky to look up at him; his eyes are starbursts reflected in pale, pale green. They disappear as his lids fall closed, as he leans down and presses his mouth to mine. 

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

Laziness. I worked hard and often, but there were a few instances when naps proved more appealing than revising. Like at the beach on Saturday, for instance. Luckily I had Daphne to cheer me on.

* Something I love about my WiP. 

The romance. Still. I’m at this particular place in Where Poppies Bloom where things are really good for the MC and her love interest, so that’s fun.

How did RSW go for you this week?