#WriterRecharge Wrap-Up

Writer Recharge FB

It’s February, which means it’s time for Writer Recharge!

Once again hosted by Alison Miller, Liz Parker, Elodie Nowodazkij Sara Biren, and myself, Writer Recharge is your chance for a four-week jump start in the middle of a cold, dreary winter. Set goals for yourself, check in once a week, and connect with other recharging writers. Find all the details HERE.

#WriterRecharge Wrap-Up

  • WRITE/REVISE – By the end of February I want to be done drafting my WiP, Stars Like Dust, and I’d like to have started addressing the revision to-do list I’ve made for it. –> Success! Honestly, I wasn’t sure this was going to happen (and it definitely wouldn’t have without #WriterRecharge), but with the help of sprints with some awesome writer buddies (Jaime, Lola, Alison, Tracey, Sara, Rebekah — THANK YOU!) I managed to type THE END on Wednesday — yay! I’ve already started to attack the revisions I know I need to do, and I’m hoping to have this story off to my CPs in the near future. 

  • READ/REREAD – I’d like to read at least four books in February, at least one non-contemporary, and at least one a non-YA. –> Success! I read I Was Here by Gayle Forman, Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson and I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios. Find reviews all four novels HERE
  • STRETCH - One of my Thirty Before 35 goals is to write something that’s not contemporary YA, so I hope to start brainstorming what that something might be. I have some vague ideas, but writing anything outside the realm of Real Life is a big stretch for me, which means this project is going to require a lot of musing. –> Success! I have a legit idea and some backstory in mind, and I’ve watched a few documentaries as research. I’m pretty excited, and I’m feeling inspired. I plan to start plotting next month. 
  • SELF - I’d like to pick up yoga again. I’ve been slacking over the last several months, and I hope to practice at least twice a week. –> Success! I practiced yoga at least twice a week (sometimes three or four times a week) all month. Hoping to keep it up into spring.
  • CONNECT - Ooh, this one’s easy! I’m headed to West Virginia for a weekend-long writing retreat. I’ve never done one, and some of my favorite writing friends are coming! –> Success! The writing retreat I went on was amazing, and I cannot wait to do another!
  • FUN - My daughter and I are going to start a quilt this month. Even if we only make it to the store to choose fabrics… it’s happening. –> Success! We’ve picked out fabrics, and we’ll start start cutting and sewing sometime in March. 

Did you participate in Writer Recharge?
If so, thanks so much for joining us!
Don’t forget
 to visit Sara’s blog to link your wrap-up post!

Good news! Sara has put together the most adorable care package (pictured below and including: a cream scarf, a mug, Earl Grey tea, Pink Pineapple nail polish, Beachy nail polish, a 4-pack of Always Anna notebooks, and notecards). Anyone who has participated in #WriterRecharge via Twitter or their blog will be automatically eligible. Winner to be drawn March 6th!

Recharge Prize Pack

WHEN JOSS MET MATT Virtual Blog Tour

CAHILL_WhenJoss_blogtour banner

I’m not sure if I’ve ever participated in a virtual blog tour before, but when I got an email inviting me to be a part of one celebrating the release of Ellie Cahill’s NA romance When Joss Met Matt, I could not pass up the opportunity. Guys, I LOVE this book. I lucked into an advanced copy late last year, and it ended up being one of my favorite novels of 2014. It’s sexy and fun, full of humor and heart, and it’s absolutely unputdownable. Keep reading to learn more about it, and for a chance to win your own copy of When Joss Met Matt!

From Goodreads –> Dating can be fun, but it can leave a nasty taste in your mouth. For Joss, ever since her longtime boyfriend cheated on her, she doesn’t want her last memory of a guy to be that jerk. Enter her college friend, Matt. They come up with a theory: after a bad break-up, a person needs to cleanse the palate with a little sorbet sex. Lovers for a night, but always back to being friends in the morning. The two can handle it because they have a contract: rules they wrote, rules they follow and rules they can sometimes bend. The arrangement works: everyone needs a little sorbet now and again … until it starts to be the only thing you want. And then Joss breaks the one rule they never wrote down: don’t fall in love.

SorbetSexRules_HIREZ_V2

My thoughts –> I adore this book, and I will absolutely read any NA novels Ellie Cahill publishes in the future. When Joss Met Matt is a contemp about a unique and precarious friends-with-benefits hook-up situation (sorbet sex, if you will), set during college and the years just after. The narrative voice is spot-on, the steamy scenes are just the right sort of steamy, and the characters are layered and likable (Joss is delightful and a bit nutty; Matt is so sweet, but a little dense when it comes to romance). When Joss Met Matt is one of those All the Feels books, but with more tenderness than angst. There’ve been few couples who I’ve rooted for as enthusiastically as I rooted for Joss and Matt.

More praise for When Joss Met Matt:
 
“Hands down, one of my favorite New Adult reads . . . Ellie Cahill is definitely one to watch!” — New York Times bestselling author Cora Carmack 

“This is one of those books that make you forget everything around you. Prepare to be consumed by this story.” – Sophie Jordan, New York Times bestselling author of Wild
 
“Fun, sexy, and full of amazing chemistry, When Joss Met Matt is an entertaining escape that will leave you smiling with every turn of the page.” — Cassie Mae, author of The Real Thing

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Ellie Cahill is a freelance writer and also writes books for young adults under the name Liz Czukas. She lives outside Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with her husband, son, and the world’s loudest cat. Facebook Twitter Blog Instagram

And, lucky you — there’s a giveaway! Click on the link below for a chance to win one of 10 copies of When Joss Met Matt

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

February Reading Wrap-Up

Four books in February…
(As always, covers link to Goodreads.)

I Was Here by Gayle Forman – I finished this novel a month ago, and my feelings regarding it are still sort of muddled. There was so much I enjoyed: Cody’s strength and courage, the road trip element, the portrayal of familial relationships (Cody and her mom, Cody and Meg’s family), the eccentricities of Meg’s housemates, and the romance. But then, the romance threw me a little, too. Cody and Ben have awesome chemistry (of course — this is a Gayle Forman novel), but I found myself wanting a little more from the “good girl makes bad boy see the error of his ways” trope. That said, I loved the final pages, so maybe the trope eventually worked for me after all? Another I Was Here component worth mentioning: the suicide support chat rooms. *shudder* I had no idea such places existed online, and as Cody dove deeper into their seediness, I was left feeling increasingly uncomfortable. I suspect that was the point, and it was well executed. Overall, I Was Here is a strong, moving novel and Gayle Forman’s characters and prose are as affecting as ever.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley – This is so not a Katy Book. While I can see its literary merit, I am not a fan of this dystopian-set social-commentary/bizzaro novel. I know that’s an unpopular opinion (it is a classic, after all), but I found Brave New World‘s writing dull and its plot whacky (and kind of gross, actually). My husband read it just before I did and he liked it. He’s been trying to convince me of all the reasons I should be applauding it, but… nope.

The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson – This one came highly recommended via the Class of 2014: YA Superlatives Blogfest, and I’m so glad I decided to buy it. It’s a very cool fantasy (by the author of The Adoration of Jenna Fox), one that’s rich and unique. There’s a love triangle — often a turn-off for me — but this one is fresh because there’s a mystery element to it: one boy is a prince and one boy is an assassin sent to kill the royal MC, Lia. The magic comes from the fact that as a reader, you’re not sure which boy is which. (For the record, I guessed correctly, and I was very happy with the outcome.) The Kiss of Deception‘s world-building is thorough and luxurious, and its characters are layered and absorbing. I’m very much looking forward to reading the next book in this series.

I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios – Full disclosure: Had this novel not come highly recommended, I would not have read it. One of its main characters is a Marine who’s just returned from Afghanistan minus a leg, plus a whole lot of post-war issues. I haven’t enjoyed most of the military-esque YA I’ve read (with the exception of Trish Doller’s Something Like Normal, which is incredible) because it’s hard for me to turn off the critical part of my brain that constantly wants to catalogue the ways authors get military life wrong. I went into I’ll Meet You There ready to roll my eyes, but… I ended up loving it. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I love it. This novel is real and raw and unflinching, and its voice… extraordinary. Highlights: Skylar (my favorite MC of late), Josh (his chapters literally made my heart hurt, plus he’s hot), the portrayals of poverty and Marine loyalty, the romance (oh my, the romance), and most of all ~ slight spoiler ~ the seriousness with which Skylar and Josh come to take their relationship. Their absolute commitment to one another — baggage and all — is refreshing and beautiful and (for me) very relatable. I’ve a feeling this novel will  be one of my 2015 stand-outs. Recommend!

What’s the best book you read in February?  

What’s Up Wednesday

e11ef-wuwwinterholly1

“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 I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios last week and absolutely loved it. More about why in Friday’s February Reading Wrap-Up post, but for now I’ll just say that it’s totally a Katy Book. Now, I’m reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and I’m digging it. It was a bit of a slow start because it took me awhile to figure out what the hell was going on, but now I’m completely hooked.

   

What I’m Writing: I ~think~ I’m going to finish my first draft of Stars Like Dust (the contemporary YA romance I started for National Novel Writing Month) today. Send some positive writing vibes my way, would you please? More on my writing (plus an excerpt) in Monday’s #WriterRecharge post.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: It’s been awhile since I’ve done a What’s Up Wednesday post, so I’ll backtrack a bit…


My girlie and I had mama/daughter pedicures on Valentine’s Day, courtesy of my incredibly thoughtful husband. He made the appointment in secret, took us out to lunch, then dropped us off at the salon. Best part? He remembered to bring flip-flop so our pretty toes wouldn’t get smudged on the way home. <3

 
I celebrated my 34th birthday with my husband and my daughter. They got me an antique French blanket chest (above) because I’ve been wanting a new coffee table for ages. I adore it! Speaking of birthdays, I posted a Thirty Before 35 Progress Report last week. One year to accomplish the rest of my goals!


The other night, my daughter played her last basketball game of the season. She knew nothing about the sport when she started back in November, and I’m so proud of the progress she’s made. She’s even starting to throw a few elbows. ;-)

What Works For Me: So, I got a new planner. (It’s Erin Condren, and I love it. Thanks for recommending them, Sara and Donna! If you’re interested, check them out HERE!) I’ve been writing everything down in it — chores, to-dos, meal plans, workout goals, errands, water intake — and my OCD absolutely refuses to allow me to skip out on my plans once they’re on paper. Like, yesterday I woke up feeling tired and kind of sick, but I’d already written down that I was going to hit the elliptical, and there was no way I was going to cross that item off without achieving it first. So, I hauled myself out of bed and did the damn elliptical. I’ve also been using my planner to track writing progress. I give myself a literal gold star for every hour of dedicated revising I manage, and every 500 new words I write. I know that sounds kind of juvenile and silly (I thought so too, at first), but seeing my progress has helped so much. Totally recommend this motivational method if you’ve yet to try it.

 

Tell me… What’s up with you today?

Writer Recharge Update Three

Writer Recharge FB

It’s February, which means it’s time for Writer Recharge!

Once again hosted by Alison Miller, Liz Parker, Elodie Nowodazkij Sara Biren, and myself, Writer Recharge is your chance for a four-week jump start in the middle of a cold, dreary winter. Set goals for yourself, check in once a week, and connect with other recharging writers. Find all the details HERE.

#WriterRecharge Update Three

  • WRITE/REVISE – By the end of February I want to be done drafting my WiP, Stars Like Dust, and I’d like to have started addressing the revision to-do list I’ve made for it. –> So. Much. Better! Thank you all for your words of kindness and commiseration and encouragement in last week’s comments — they helped so much! I wrote and/or revised every day last week but one (I took a break on my birthday) and, though progress is slow, I am moving forward. I’m ~almost~ done drafting Stars Like Dust, and I couldn’t be more relieved and more excited. Guys, I love this story. I shared an excerpt last week, so here’s another: Desperate to fix whatever broke him, I coil my arms around his waist, holding him tightly, lashing all our parts together until we’re seamless. Until we’re one. Until we’re us. I’m in tears and then he is too, and we’re such a mess, such a perfectly beautiful mess, I don’t care if time screeches to a halt and we’re frozen in this colorless hallway for eternity. At least I’ll be frozen with him. #WriterRecharge is quickly coming to a close, and I’m hoping to be able to tell you I’ve reached The End in Friday’s wrap-up post. 
  • READ/REREAD – I’d like to read at least four books this month, at least one non-contemporary, and at least one a non-YA. –> I finished The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson — yay! Such a cool book. I also read I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios, which was a heartbreaker, but the amazing kind (also, it was my fourth book for February, so I met this goal!). Now I’m reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I’m not far along yet, but I’m already hooked. 
  • STRETCH - One of my Thirty Before 35 goals is to write something that’s not contemporary YA, so I hope to start brainstorming what that something might be. I have some vague ideas, but writing anything outside the realm of Real Life is a big stretch for me, which means this project is going to require a lot of musing. –> Still brainstorming… Sound familiar? Actually, something real and exciting is taking shape. I plan to start researching and plotting once I finish my draft of Stars Like Dust.
  • SELF - I’d like to pick up yoga again. I’ve been slacking over the last several months, and I hope to practice at least twice a week. –> Success! I practiced yoga four times last week. Hoping to make this a real habit — thanks, #WriterRecharge!
  • CONNECT - Ooh, this one’s easy! I’m headed to West Virginia for a weekend-long writing retreat this Thursday. I’ve never done one, and some of my favorite writing buddies are coming! 
  • FUN - My daughter and I are going to start a quilt this month. Even if we only make it to the store to choose fabrics… it’s happening. –> Success! We picked out fabrics — Hello Kitty was our jumping off point because my girl has decided that this quilt is going to be for our cat. Because Daphne doesn’t have enough places to lounge. :-) I can’t wait to start cutting and sewing!
    Participating in Writer Recharge? Don’t forget to head over to Sara’s blog to link your update post!

SURF & SURRENDER is out now!

I’m so excited for my friend Riley Edgewood — her second NA romance, Surf & Surrender, is out today and it is FaNtAsTiC!

From GoodreadsQuinn Westwood is completely over Sawyer Carson. He broke her heart years ago and disappeared from her life without a word. So yeah. She’s over him. Never even thinks of him. In fact, she’s spending her college summer break surfing and lifeguarding in the Outer Banks, while nursing a bruised heart from a different relationship gone wrong. She doesn’t have room in her mind or heart for Sawyer—until she runs into him at a beach bonfire and the sparks that fly between them are way hotter than the flames heating the sand. Sawyer never got over Quinn. The only thing stronger than what he feels for her is the secret keeping them apart, but sharing it would destroy more than just his life—it’d ruin hers, as well. Still, he can’t seem to keep away from her, can’t seem to keep his hands off of her soft, tempting skin. Especially since she has even less self-control when it comes to reigniting the physical side of what made them perfect together. But secrets have a way of slipping out, and when Sawyer’s is revealed it threatens to shatter everyone involved. He’ll have to face walking away a second time, and Quinn will have to decide if fighting for him is worth it when the fallout could affect more than just her heart, but also those of the people she loves most.

I adore Riley’s first novel, Rock & Release, but Surf & Surrender… It grabbed me and refused to let go. I love this story. It’s a mash-up of all my bookish favorites: first love, lost love, reclaimed love, hot boys, spirited girls, messy families, the beach, flowers, genuinely sexy sexy-times (that’s a technical term), beautiful writing, and a little bit of mystery. Riley’s characters are some of my very favorites: Quinn is all sorts of amusing and unaffected and awesome, and surfer boy Sawyer… swoon. I can’t wait to see a copy of this book on my shelf!

Sound like something you might like? Add Surf & Surrender to Goodreads HERE. Buy Surf & Surrender HERE. And find Riley HERE.

Thirty Before 35 Progress Report

Sun

Happy birthday to me!

Last year (when I turned 33) I posted about how I suck at birthdays and generally fail at aging gracefully — mentally. I look great. ;-) Anyway, you can read all about it HERE if you like. The gist of that original post is that I wanted to create a part to-do list, part bucket list that makes me feel positive and accomplished and excited about the passage of time.

I’m happy to report that so far it’s working. I’ve crossed twelve of the thirty items off my list over the course of the last year. Now that I’m 34, I’m determined to knock out as many of the leftovers as possible. (Though there are a few I’m not sure I care about anymore, like #8 and #21. Oh, well. If I manage them, great. If not, whatevs.) So. Here’s where I’m at…

  1. Bake a Rainbow Cake.
  2. Sell a novel (or two!).
  3. Complete a 500 piece puzzle.
  4. Have a picnic on the beach.
  5. Read and review a Stephen King novel.
  6. Drink a Hurricane in New Orleans.
  7. Have professional family photos taken.
  8. Run Disney’s Princess 1/2 Marathon.
  9. Attend a writers’ conference.
  10. Order a Stitch Fix box.
  11. See a musical.
  12. Plan and host a tea party with my girl.
  13. Make a quilt.
  14. Take an international vacation.
  15. Watch Friday Night Lights in its entirety.
  16. Complete a three day juice cleanse.
  17. Write a manuscript that’s not contemporary YA.
  18. Pass 2K Twitter followers.
  19. Read Speak (my most shameful YA gap book).
  20. Host a brunch.
  21. Master “Space-A” travel.
  22. Attend a writers’ retreat.
  23. Get a massage.
  24. Make Chocolate Babka.
  25. Add another child to our family.
  26. Visit Mount Rushmore.
  27. Master “Crow” pose in yoga.
  28. Go to a(nother) country music concert.
  29. Plant an herb garden.
  30. Teach my daughter to swim (really well).

Cheer me on, okay? <3