Category Archives: Inspiration

Ready. Set. Write! {2015}

It’s that time again…

RSW2

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 with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself.

(Testimonial: Last summer I fully revised a previously finished manuscript, and wrote about 70K words of a new manuscript, completing it just before RSW closed. Accountability works!)

Ready. Set. Write! will kick off with an initial goal-setting post on Monday, June 8th, with the first check-in on Monday, June 15th, and subsequent check-ins each Monday throughout the summer. RSW will conclude on August 31st.

Here are the headings we’ll be using:

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

**As mentioned, Week #1 will only be goal setting.**

Accountability and goal setting are super important, but we don’t want RSW to detract from writing, which is, of course, the whole point of this summer intensive. With respect to our weekly check-in posts, THE BRIEFER THE BETTER. Your hosts will be limiting their answers for each heading to 2-3 lines at most, and we encourage you to do the same. (Save the words for the WiPs!)

Each Monday there will be a linky sign-up on all of the host blogs. Leave the link to your check-in post, hop around to other participants’ blogs, and spread encouragement like sunscreen. (This is a summer writing intensive after all. ☼)

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Click HERE for the RSW 2015 buttons, courtesy of Jaime, who’s crazy-talented.

Stay tuned for info on giveaways and be sure to watch Twitter for spontaneous #RSW writing parties. To review, Ready. Set. WRITE! will kick off on Monday, June 8th with our goals post, followed by updates every Monday thereafter until August 31st. In the meantime, decide what you want to write/revise. Set goals. Write a little. Or a lot. Spread the word! And be prepared to Ready. Set. WRITE!

Leave questions in the comments and tell me…
Are you planning to participate in Ready. Set. WRITE!?

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently” post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me… Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

Author Natalie’s Whipple’s (wonderfully transparent) When It Feels Like Everyone Is Getting What You Want blog post. Free (quick and intense) workouts on Cassey Ho’s Blogilates YouTube channel (thanks for recommending them, Jennifer!). Writerly/YA-ish podcasts: This Creative Life, First Draft, and The Oral History. This adorable dandelion travel mug (thanks for pointing it out, Jaime!). And old-school notecard plotting:

Reading

Last week I read Erin Bowman’s Forgedwhich was a fantastic conclusion to her Taken trilogy. I love when a series wraps up in a gloriously satisfying way. You can read my thoughts on Forged and all of my April reads HERE. Now, I’m finishing up Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You, which I’m loving, possibly even more than her debut, Open Road Summer.

  

Watching

I’m nearly done watching the first season of Gilmore Girls, which I adore. Lorelai and Rory have such an interesting relationship, and I’m totally crushing on Luke. I’m still now sure how I didn’t catch this series in the early nineties, but I’m so glad to have found it now.

Listening To

Hozier… Take Me To Church is grossly overplayed on the radio, but I’m loving Like Real People Do and Someone New. Good writing music.

Thinking About

My WiP. I still haven’t started to draft, partly because I’m scared, and partly because I’m not entirely sure if I want one narrator or two, or if I want to use first-person or third-person. I know what my instincts are telling me and I know what is traditionally an easier sell. Unfortunately, this time instincts and marketability aren’t meshing, and I’m so torn! What would you do?

Anticipating

Home! My husband and I have been house-hunting for the last four days and I miss my girlie. Can’t wait to see her! <3


Us, on one of our many trips to the hotel’s bar. Because finding a nice rental in Virginia is really freaking hard!

Wishing

That you’ll all be able to read my friend Elodie‘s latest manuscript soon. I’m beta reading it now and oh, my gosh… It’s uber creepy, in the best sort of way. She knows how to write a thriller, that’s for sure!

Making Me Happy

The beach. I’m going to miss living on the Gulf Coast — it’s truly beautiful.

What’s currently making YOU happy?

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently” post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me… Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

This (incredibly easy) Chocolate Cake recipe. My favorite (free!) yoga videos: Yoga With Adriene. Washi tape — I am officially obsessed. Pura Vida bracelets. This fantastic “beYOUtiful raglan t-shirt,” of which 1/4 of the price is donated to First Descents, providing free adventure experiences for cancer fighters and survivors. And a recent Pub(lishing) Crawl post by Erin Bowman, all about how to support authors before, during, and after release day.

Reading

Jessica Park’s Flat-Out Love (NA at its most adorable), and Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap (one of the weirdest, most beautifully written books I’ve read in a long time). These two stories couldn’t be more different, but I loved them both, particularly Bone Gap — pure magic. Now, I’ve started All the Rage by one of my favorite authors, Courtney Summers. More about this recent release soon!

   

Watching

Guys, I finished Gossip Girl! I thought the series finale was quite satisfying — though I wanted more Chuck and Blair (always). I’ve just finished watching the first season of The CW’s The 100 which, as promised by many, has drastically improved since its fist few episodes. It definitely has its cheese-tastic moments, but it also has enough twists and romance to hold my attention. So far, so good. Hurry up and make season 2 available, Netflix!

Listening To

Echosmith‘s Bright, which is so damn cute. It’s the perfect theme song for my WiP, Stars Like Dust, too.

Thinking About

My Shiny New Idea! It’s in its very earliest brainstorming stages, but I’m *really* excited about it. I was at the dentist a few weeks ago and during my cleaning, two songs from the same movie soundtrack played — one of my favorite movies. I was suddenly super inspired, and I’ve been stewing over plot-ish things ever since. I’ve named my main characters, and I’ve made a mood board that’s now my computer’s desktop –> progress!

Anticipating

I can’t wait to randomly select the winner of my 5 Year Blog-iversary Giveaway! I’ve got YA books, notecards, a travel mug and Jelly Bellies up for grabs. If you haven’t already, enter HERE. The giveaway closes this Thursday, April 23rd at midnight, and is open internationally. Good luck!

Wishing

That the people who picked up the novels my daughter and I left around our community during last week’s Rock the Drop will love the stories they scored!

Making Me Happy

My family, always. <3

What’s currently making YOU happy?

Currently…

(Since I’m not What’s-Up-Wednesday-ing anymore, I thought I might go back to an old favorite –> “Currently…” I originally got the idea from Kate Hart, who snagged the idea from Amy Lukavics, who picked it up here. I’m planning to post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me!)

Loving

Jelly Bellies (duh). Quilting. Florida’s warm, sunny spring. My planner. Emails with writing buddies and book besties. This milk frothing gadget. Sirious XM Radio. Uppercase book subscriptions. My emerging tan. This homemade mac-n-cheese recipe. Those times a person contacts me to let me know they’ve just read a book they think I’ll love. Chai tea. Essie’s spring colors. Fresh donuts.

Reading

Yesterday I finished recently-released Vanishing Girls, and I liked it quite a lot. I consider Lauren Oliver an insta-buy author and, as usual, her prose is enviable. I figured out what was going on in the story fairly early on (I’ve read a few other books in the last couple of years that have a comparable premise), so I wasn’t exactly surprised by the last 100 pages. That said, I recommend this one for its gorgeous writing and super complex characters.

Watching

Gossip Girl. Still. It literally takes me three days to get through an episode because I pretty much only watch while I’m folding laundry, or on the rare occasions I put on makeup. I’m nearing the end of season 5, though, and it’s the best sort of bizarre. **Spoiler Alert** –> Dan and Blair together? No way! Chuck ♡ Blair forever!

Listening To

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill — totally random, I know. I bought the CD my senior year of high school and listened to it constantly for months. I’ve just now rediscovered it, and I’m falling in love all over again. (Favorite: Tell Him)

Thinking About

Our summer move, and hoping it will be easy, easy, easy. House-hunting from afar sucks. Packing sucks. Leaving a state you love sucks. Moving sucks. BUT. I am incredibly excited to live near some of my favorite writerly friends, and in a place with a thriving YA community. Plus, it’ll be nice to be in a city with plenty of educational and culturally diverse things to do and see.

Anticipating

Notes from my agent regarding my latest manuscript, Stars Like Dust. This project was such a stretch, guys. Writing it was a challenge and a joy and I love the (sort of) finished product deeply, but I’m nervous about what others will think. Some days this story makes me feel excited and confident; some days it makes me feel insecure, like a complete hack. Aah, writerly angst… Something else I’m anticipating? Rock the Drop!

Wishing

That I’d made Daphne a quilt earlier! She loves hers, and we had a blast putting it together. My daughter picked out all the fabrics, and I did the sewing. Now that it’s done, I’m checking off another of my Thirty Before 35 goals — yay!

Making Me Happy

Beach days with my favorite girl. There are few things better than sitting back, sinking my toes in the sand, and watching my kiddo play in the surf.

 

What’s currently making YOU happy?

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: Last week I read Isla Bick’s Drowning Instinct, a very intense, very dark contemporary. I love that there are no real heroes or heroines — just a bunch of broken people making messes of each others’ lives. It’s really well done. I’m currently making my way through Victoria Aveyard’s fantasy debut, Red Queen so I can participate in YA Book Club next week.

  

What I’m Writing: NOTHING. I sent Stars Like Dust to my agent yesterday. Phew! Now, I wait (and stress about whether she likes it). In the meantime, I’m reading a most excellent manuscript by my CP, Alison Miller. This one’s super smart, heartfelt, and truly funny — like, legitimately laugh-out-loud funny. And, it’s so unique, I refuse to tell you any more about it. :-)

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Last week I skipped out on WUW because we took an impromptu journey across the U.S. to Washington. My husband’s grandmother passed away, and we wanted to be at her funeral. She was a fun and fiesty French lady, and we loved her lots.


While there were some sad moments during our trip, there were some good times, too. We saw family and reveled in the Pacific Northwest’s (rainy) spring.

 
Now, it’s spring break and I’ve been spending quality time with my girl. Over the weekend we saw Cinderella (say what you will about its lack of fierceness/ingenuity, but I loved it!), on Monday we treated ourselves to fro yo, and yesterday we went strawberry picking. Today, we’re off to the beach!

What Works For Me: I’ve been feeling the writerly blues lately. Not really sure why, but this happens to me from time to time, and usually the best cure is a step back — time away to freshen my perspective. I recently reread a pretty fabulous blog post by writer Robin Lafevers titled Surviving Almost There. If you’re feeling stuck or stagnant or like it’s NEVER going to happen, I highly recommend checking it out. 

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 read Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Curse back in November, kind of begrudgingly, actually — it didn’t sound like my jam at all. But I ended up LOVING it (in the same way I love the Graceling Realm and Lumatere Chronicles novels), and waiting for its sequel, The Winner’s Crime, has been torture. But I finally have this most-anticipated sequel in my hot little hands, and I’m almost done reading. Guys, it is gLoRiOuS. It’s rare that I have physical reactions to books, but this one’s got my face flushed and my heart racing; I’m pretty much obsessed with these characters. Highly recommend! (Also, if you’re curious like I was, Marie Rutkoski says Arin like “Aaron” but advised the audiobook reader to pronounce it “R-rin” because that’s more in keeping with the Herrani language. The more you know!)

What I’m Writing: Now that my latest project, Stars Like Dust, is with some brilliant and trusted readers, I’m taking a bit of a break from my own stuff. I’m using my time to read one of my CP’s middle grade manuscript and, oh my gosh, I am so lucky! This story is fanciful and emotional and beautifully written. It’s magic on a page, and I’m loving it!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: We’ve been having lovely, sunny weather in Florida, so my little family and I have been exploring the panhandle…

  
This weekend we went to Falling Water’s State Park, home of Florida’s highest waterfall. We’ve been to Yosemite so, honestly, the waterfall wasn’t all that impressive, but the rest of the scenery was beautiful.


We also visited the Seacrest Wolf Preserve, which was very cool. We got to interact with and pet wolves, and we learned tons about wolf conservation. Definitely worth checking out if you’re ever in the area.

What Works For Me: Positive feedback. I appreciate constructive criticism as much as the next writer, but sometimes I just really need to hear, “Hey, I LOVE this thing you wrote.” I let my husband read Stars Like Dust over the weekend, and he seemed genuinely impressed. I’m not sure what he was expecting, or what he thinks I’ve been doing over the last many years if not improving my craft, but yeah. He had complimentary things to say, and that made me feel really good. He even said my story was better than all of the Nicholas Sparks movies I’ve made him watch over the years, so there’s that. <3

Tell me… What’s up with you today?

What’s Up Wednesday

d542d-wuwwinterholly1(It’s warm enough for shorts today so this graphic seems sort of odd, but I suppose it’s still winter in some places. Brrr…)

“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: Lots of love for two of my favorite NAs, both of which released recently. Find my rave reviews of Riley Edgewood’s Surf & Surrender HERE and Ellie Cahill’s When Joss Met Matt HERE. I’m currently reading Kathryn Holmes’ The Distance Between Lost and Found, which is pretty incredible so far. I love the 3rd person narrative, and the survival aspects of the story are gripping. Can’t wait to see how it plays out!

 

What I’m Writing: I FINISHED MY 1ST DRAFT OF STARS LIKE DUST. What a relief! I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to see this one through, guys. Not because I don’t love it, but because I love it so much I’m desperate to do it justice. Hopefully I’m getting there. I’m the sort of writer who revises as she drafts, so this manuscript is fairly clean. I’m taking care of some small-ish issues now, and I’m hoping to have it to my CPs in the next couple of days. For more on my writing, you can check out my #WriterRecharge Wrap-Up HERE. Goal for the next week: Start outlining my next project. :-)

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Aside from writing and revising a TON, I’ve mostly just been hanging out with my girl…


We celebrated the end of her basketball season with a party at our favorite fro-yo spot. Is there a better way to spend an afternoon than with a cute kid and bowl of banana frozen yogurt? She and I also had a girls’ day in Pensacola, full of shopping (Target and Michael’s — yay!), plus lunch at Red Robin.

What Works For Me: I mentioned my planner in last week’s post and to be honest, I’ve gotten to the point where I live and die by the thing. (I worked out this morning because my planner told me to, and my husband was like, “I wish I had a planner that had that kind of control over me.”) As well as tracking my schedule and writing progress, I’ve also been using it to write down daily gratitudes, an idea I got from my friend Elodie — thanks, lady! Each night, I take a few minutes to jot down three things I’m thankful for. Sometimes they’re big (like finishing Stars Like Dust) and sometimes they’re little (last week I was super thankful for NyQuil). Either way, gratitudes help me reflect on and appreciate the positive things happening in my life — never a bad thing.

Tell me… What’s up with you today?