Category Archives: Inspiration

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?

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?

What’s Up Wednesday

e0440-castle2bbutton2bfinal

“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: Since the month started, I’ve read Gayle Forman’s I Was Here (she’s a favorite author of mine and I loved this book, though I had mixed feelings about a few elements) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (I guess I can see its merit, but this dystopian classic was NOT for me). Now, I’m reading The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, and it’s incredible so far. Thanks to everyone who recommended it during the 2014 YA Superlatives Blogfest!

  

What I’m Writing: I’ve made progress with Stars Like Dust (new words — yay!), and I’ve been working here and there on a mindless short story. More on my writing in Monday’s #WriterRecharge Update. Goal for this week: draft some more. At least 3K, hopefully.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’ve had a busy few weeks! I traveled all weekend and had tons of appointments and shopping to knock out. Plus…

 
My girlie earned her way onto the Honor Roll (hence the giant celebratory cookie) and turned 7 1/2. Exciting week! 
Also, I posted on Instagram about my Favorite Fictional Females. From top to bottom: Hermione, Mariam and Laila, Reena, Lennie, and Bitterblue.

What Works For Me: Community… One of my Thirty Before 35 goals was to attend a writers’ retreat, and I finally did! I spent an amazing weekend in West Virginia with some lovely literary friends. We did tons of drafting, editing, brainstorming, chatting, laughing, and eating. Not only did the retreat give me the kickstart I needed to finish my first draft of Stars Like Dust, but it was excellent for my mental health. It’s amazing to spend time with smart, creative, like-minded people. Can’t wait to do it again! <3 

Tell me… What’s up with you today?

What’s Up Wednesday

e0440-castle2bbutton2bfinal

“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 All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and oh, my gosh… It was incredible. Like, so, so good. I already suspect it’ll be among my most-loved 2015 releases. Now, I’m reading Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy, which is fantastic so far. Incidentally, if you’re not listening to Sarah Enni’s First Draft podcast, you should be. Last week she interviewed Julie, who was endlessly delightful. It was their transparent and engaging conversation that made me want to rescue Side Effects from my towering TBR pile.

What I’m Writing: I got feedback on my road trip book, The Road So Farfrom my agent. I’m pleased to report that she loved it — phew! Of course, this book’s a follow-up, so its predecessor has to sell first, but it’s such a relief to know that she understands what the story is meant to be and is on-board.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been dragging my feet on finishing my NaNo book, Stars Like Dust, and I’m starting to realize that the reason for my procrastination is… I screwed something up along the way –> the pacing of what will eventually be the final third. I was discussing the problem with my husband the other day and he said (plainly, like the solution was obvious), “Why don’t you just have [important event] come before [other important event]. And I was like… “Huh.” Negative: The fix is going to be a pain in the butt. Positive: The fix is going to make the story much stronger. Goal: Adjust what’s already written, then replot the end of Stars Like Dust so I can tackle it during February’s writing retreat.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: We’ve been playing tourist in our own area, which is always fun. We move A LOT and in order to make the best of it, we make a point to see as much of each new “home” as possible…


We visited Destin’s Gulfarium, an aquarium that’s literally on the beach. My girl and I have been once before, but we wanted my husband to see how awesome it is, too. If you’re ever on the Emerald Coast, check it out!


We also visited Fort Barrancas, a centuries-old military fort and National Historic Landmark overlooking the Pensacola Bay. It’s very cool (especially if you’re into military history, like my husband) and the views are gorgeous.


This girl started her basketball season. It’s been so fun to watch her improve with every game. My sweet, gentle child is becoming so aggressive!

What Works For Me: What works for me? THIS…

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 This Shattered World by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. It’s incredible. I’m in awe of the brilliant plotting, plus the complex characters the authors created. And, there are some wonderfully steamy moments which, of course, I loved. I also read The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson, which is poignant and evocative and cold and lonely, just as beautiful as her Tiger Lily. She’s quickly becoming a favorite author of mine. Now I’m reading All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and even though I’ve only just started, I’m loving Finch and Violet and their authentic voices.

  

What I’m Writing: Continuing to read through my NaNo manuscript, (which still doesn’t have a conclusion). I’ve left myself tons of notes about things I need to research/revise, and I’ve cleaned up a lot of its messiness. I’ve also got a plan for The End, which (GOAL) I’m going to carefully plot in the coming week. I’m going on a most amazing writing retreat in February (yay, yay, yay!), during which I hope to do the actual writing.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Playing around with Tumblr. I just signed up and though I have no idea what I’m doing, I’ve enjoyed posting (reblogging?) pictures of books and Disney characters and Taylor Kitsch and inspirational images, plus quotes on writing and success. Do you Tumbl? Is that even a word? I’m HERE if you’re interested in linking up!


Spreading the word about Cavalcade of Authors West, a literary conference for Western Washington middle school students. My longtime friend Kari Bradley is one of the organizers and their list of participating authors is aMaZiNg — Kimberly Derting, Peggy Eddleman, Kristin Halbrook, Mindy McGinnis, Richelle Mead, Marissa Meyer, Alyson Noel, Lisa Schroeder, Liesl Shurtliff, and Staia Ward Kehoe, to name a few. You can learn more about COA West on the post I shared last week, or you can visit the official site. If you’re able, I highly encourage you to donate to this fantastic literary event.


And, since one of my 2015 goals was to fix more treats, I present… A plate of super rich, super delicious Rocky Road Fudge. (You’re welcome.)

What Works For Me: Vlogagrams! Author Megan Whitmer had the brilliant idea to initiate a weekly vlogagram challenge on Instagram, and it’s been so much fun! I find vlogging daunting, normally, because I’m shy and I hate the pressure of coming up with a topic and having to speak in an entertaining manner for minutes upon minutes. Vlogagrams are short (fifteen seconds) and Megan is hooking participants up with weekly themes, which makes the process much less intimidating. I’ve loved “meeting” fellow writers and building on the sense of community I’ve already found via IG. If you’re interested, check out the vlogagram hashtag. The videos I’ve done so far are HERE

Tell me… What’s up with you today?