Q is for Quiet

You might remember when, a few weeks ago, I blogged about my addiction to all things social media. Well, since then I’ve done something sort of revolutionary.

Something sort of… crazy.

Are you sure you’re ready for this?

Well…

I’ve SILENCED MY CELL PHONE.

No, really!

Shhh...

Not long ago, when I was working to complete a pretty intense revision, I turned my phone to vibrate. All of the pings and chirps and rings were a major distraction and, quite frankly, they were driving me nuts. Predictably, I was able get a hell of a lot more revising done — a hell of a lot quicker — without having to stop and fiddle with calls and emails and texts. Imagine that!

Unpredictably, the self-imposed break from social media (and the demands of constant communication in general) turned out to be something of a relief.

I never could have guessed how freeing it would be to check my email and Twitter and Google Reader when I felt like it, NOT every time my phone summoned me. Instead of answering calls and getting tied with a chat, I listened to voicemails and returned calls when I had time to give friends and family my full attention. I replied to texts and emails when I had a few spare moments, rather than dropping everything (or pausing in my revising) to key out immediate responses.  I let myself surf Pinterest and Facebook during lunchtime (and only after my daughter finished eating and left the table). It was… really nice, and even though my revision is since complete, my phone is still set to vibrate.

And you know what? I think it’ll stay that way for awhile.

Have you ever hushed YOUR phone?

P is for #PhotoADayApril

I am head over heels in love with Instagram, a photography app that lets iPhone and Android users edit photos with all kinds of cool filters, then share them with friends and followers on a feed. This month, in addition to the A-Z Blogging Challenge, I’m participating in one of Instagram’s many photo challenges: #PhotoADayApril. Basically, it’s a fun way to stretch my creativity, and it’s super inspiring to see how other people interpret the prompts. Here they are:

And here are a few of the photographs I’ve posted:

Day 4: #SomeoneWhoMakesYouHappy... Two someones for me!

Day 6: #Lunch (Hummus should *totally* be its own food group!)

Day 10: #Cold... Iced tea after a long bike ride.

Day 13: #SomethingYouFound... Daisy, wandering the mean streets of Tennessee eight years ago. (She's yawning, not snarling. :))

Day 16: #Flower

Do you use Instagram? How (other than writing) do you exercise your creativity?

O is for Oh. Em. Gee!

My favorite book (or movie) moment has got to be the Oh. Em. Gee!

I like to be surprised. No, scratch that… I like to be shocked. I love a plot twist that makes me rethink everything I thought I knew. I love how, as I’m reading one of those Holy shit, that just happened! scenes, my heart begins to race and my skin breaks out in shivers. I love when the absolutely unexpected  reaches out and slaps me across the face. I love being awed by the way dozens of once-hidden clues suddenly become SO OBVIOUS. And I love nothing more than when an author ties numerous seemingly loose threads into a neat and tidy bow.

I love to have my mind blown.

A few books that totally rock the elusive Oh. Em. Gee! moment (there’s a reason these are on my FAVORITES list):

   

   

   

   

Do you have any Oh. Em. Gee! book recs for me?

N is for Noteworthy

First, an important bit of business: The announcement of the TWO winners from my Lucky Me, Lucky You book giveaway, chosen randomly. Congratulations…

Jaime Morrow and Sophia Richardson

The first winner to email me at katy(dot)upperman@live(dot)com will have her choice of either a signed copy of John Green’s The Fault in our Stars or a free book of choice from The Book Depository, up to $20. The second winner to email will receive the remaining prize. (Don’t forget to include your mailing address in your email so I can get your book to you!)

Congrats again, Jaime and Sophia, and thanks so much to everyone who entered and helped spread the word about Lucky Me, Lucky You!

🙂

And… Here’s a super fun idea you might be interested in participating in, especially if you’re looking to rejuvenate your blog, or get into (or back into) the habit of blogging regularly:

Gorgeous banner created by crazy-talented Tracey Neithercott! 

The brainchild of writer/blogger/all-around-awesome-person Sara McClung, Blog Me MAYbe is a weekly blog format for the month of May, an easy schedule to follow with topics built right in. Of course, if posting every day sounds like too much, or if you miss a few days, or only do a couple posts a week, no biggie. Blog Me MAYbe is all about ease and fun! You don’t have to worry about following every blogger who participates or commenting on everyone’s daily posts (though if you want to do that, feel free!). The intent of Blog Me MAYbe isn’t to gain followers — although that could very well happen — but to branch out, make a few new friends, share information, and get into the head space where ideas for blog posts flow freely.

Here’s the schedule:

  • Mondays: May I tell you something about writing?
    • This can be anything writing-related. A post on craft. A post on your process. A snippet of your WIP, if you like to share. A book on craft that you want to recommend. Things you struggle with. Things you rock at. ANYTHING at all!
  • Tuesdays: May I tell you something about myself?
    • Pretty self-explanatory… Share something about yourself that your followers might not know. Or, maybe they do. It doesn’t matter–this is just so people who read your blog can get to know you a little better. 
  • Wednesdays: May I ask something about you?
    • Ask your followers something about themselves.
  • Thursdays: May I tell you something about someone else?
    • Make this post about someone else. A writing friend. A critique partner. A person from history who’s fascinating. A character from a book. Have a guest poster. Give an interview. Get creative, but let the spotlight shine on someone else!
  • Fridays: May I share something funny?
    • Fridays = The start of the weekend… BOOYA! A reason to celebrate and laugh on its own — plus, who doesn’t want to see something amusing after a long week?

Fun, right?! I’m already committed to participating, as are Sara, Cambria, Tracey, Jessica, Lola, Alexandra, and AlisonBlog Me MAYbe begins on the first of May, so head over to Sara’s blog if you’re interested in signing up, and feel free to grab our banner or the button in my sidebar to use on your own blog.

Tell me: Will you participate in Blog Me MAYbe? 

M is for Max

Today is the very last day to enter my Lucky Me, Lucky You Giveaway — it closes tonight at midnight, PST! A  signed copy of John Green’s The Fault in our Stars and a free book of choice from The Book Depository are up for grabs for TWO winners. Click HERE if you’d like to enter!

Also, I wanted to give a quick shout to writers and fellow A-Zers Pam Harris and Marquita Hockaday. They’ve themed their Challenge posts over at their Y(A)? Cuz We Write! blog, focusing on controversial issues and subject matter in YA. So far their topics have been timely, incredibly interesting, and well thought-out. Plus, they’re plugging books that deal with each day’s controversial topic. Very cool! I definitely recommend you check their blog out.

On Wednesday (J!) I blogged about my girl Jillian, protagonist from my WiP, Cross My Heart. Today, I’d love to introduce you to her adorable neighbor, one-time best friend, and greatest frustration: Max Holden.

Max is the baby of his family, and his three older sisters never let him forget it. He loves football, classic country music, and cheap beer. He’s a straight-shooter, super energetic, and forever impulsive. One of his favorite pastimes? Making Jillian blush. Max is all kinds of fun — the life of every party — and that’s exactly why you’d never guess how much the challenges at home wear him down.

Dean Geyer
Meet Max…

...
Where he sleeps…


Where he lives

Johnny Cash Men's Canvas Strap Watch
What he loves…


What he dreams of…


How he jokes…

River ...
Where he unwinds…

Love... !!!
What he learns…

Oh, Max, how I ♥ you!

Tell me: What one quality is a must in your ideal significant other?

L is for Lucky Seven

Have you entered my Lucky Me, Lucky You Giveaway? A  signed copy of John Green’s The Fault in our Stars and a free book of choice from The Book Depository are up for grabs for TWO winners. The giveaway ends tomorrow night… Click HERE to enter!

Happy Friday the Thirteenth!
Fittingly, I’ve got a LUCKY Seven post to share with you…

The Rules:

  1. Go to page 77 of your current MS.
  2. Go to line 7.
  3. Copy down the next 7 lines/sentences, and post them as they’re written. No cheating.
  4. Tag 7 other victims …er, authors.

Fun, right?!

So, I’ve been tagged three times now… Thanks to fabulous Kate Avelynn for tag #1. If you haven’t visited her blog, I recommend it. Her upcoming debut Flawed is one of my most favorite contemporary YA stories EVER. And thanks to adorable Sara McClung for tag #2. The seven lines she posted for Lucky Seven are absolutely fantastic, and you should definitely check them out! And thanks to Kris Asselin, one of my agent sisters and a lovely contemporary YA writer. Please do check out her sweet Lucky Seven post as well.

It just so happens that for my Lucky Seven post, you’re getting seven steamy lines from my WiP, Cross My Heart. I hope you enjoy!

When he pulls away, for one horrible second I think it’s over. But then the softest groan escapes him and he walks me backward, presses me against the wall, and opens his mouth over mine. I taste candy cane peppermint on his tongue, mingling with beer.

Will I ever know what he tastes like sober, under normal circumstances?

I immediately shove that particular musing out of my head, content to focus on the here and now: Max Holden is kissing me like it means something. Like he wants to keep kissing me, forever.

And now I get to tag seven friends… You’re up, Tracey Neithercott, Alicia Gregoire, Yahong Chi, Kat Owens, Rebecca Behrens, Kris Asselin (who’s getting tagged back because she promised a snippet from her MG!), and Taryn Albright!

In celebration of Friday the Thirteenth, tell me: Are you the superstitious sort?

K is for Katsa

Happy Bookanista Thursday! Today I’m excited to recommend a kick ass (K again!) book, one I should have read ages ago:

Graceling by Kristen Cashore

Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms, #1)

Love this cover!

From Goodreads: Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, she should be able to live a life of privilege, but Graced as she is with killing, she is forced to work as the king’s thug. When she first meets Prince Po, Graced with combat skills, Katsa has no hint of how her life is about to change. She never expects to become Po’s friend. She never expects to learn a new truth about her own Grace—or about a terrible secret that lies hidden far away. . . a secret that could destroy all seven kingdoms with words alone. With elegant, evocative prose and a cast of unforgettable characters, debut author Kristin Cashore creates a mesmerizing world, a death-defying adventure, and a heart-racing romance that will consume you, hold you captive, and leave you wanting more.

I shouldn’t have waited so long to read Graceling. I should have known, having seen the rave review of my friend Erin Bowman (who has exceptional taste in books), that Graceling would blow my mind. And it did!

Graceling reminds me a bit of Plain Kate by Erin Bow (fantastical elements, multi-faceted herione), a bit of Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin (epic power struggles, shady politics), and also a little of X-Men, what with the Graced and their exceptional skills. Thanks to Kristin Cashore’s elegant and imaginative writing, all these larger-than-life components come together in an incredibly captivating story.

Because I have no interest in spoiling the awesomeness of Graceling for you, I only want to discuss one of its aspects, and that just happens to be one of my favorite aspects: Katsa’s character arc. Anyone who reads and/or writes YA probably knows about the call for strong female protagonists. There’s a lot of discussion about what makes a female protagonist strong (ex: Katniss) or weak (ex: Bella) and what affect these varying degrees of strength have on the teenage girls (or adult women!) who read about them.

What I loved most about Graceling‘s Katsa is that her strength, while very much present, is not at all black and white. Sure, she’s physically strong (thanks to her Grace, she can whip the asses of scores of men all at once), but inwardly, she’s kind of a mess. She’s fiercely independent, but she’s not in control of her bodily power — in fact, she’s afraid of it and the carnage it’s capable of causing — so she spends quite a bit of time doubting herself, her integrity, and her intelligence. But once Katsa begins to confront her anger and her past (thanks in part to the unwavering friendship of one very adorable Graced prince), she learns to trust, and she’s able to start taking control of her physical strength and get a handle on her emotions. A slew of external challenges force her to continuously test her patience and willpower, and Katsa eventually grows into a wholly likable and entirely powerful person.

And if Katsa’s steep and compelling arc isn’t enough to convince you to pick up a copy of this book…

That Graced prince I mentioned above? You will TOTALLY fall for him. ♥

Check out what my Bookanista friends are up to today:

Christine Fonseca gives a shout out for REGRET
Carrie Harris swoons for STRUCK
Corrine Jackson cries heaps over STORY OF A GIRL
Stasia Ward Kehoe loves up THE LIBERATION OF MAX MCTRUE
Tracy Banghart shares some CLARITY and PERCEPTION
Jessica Love delights in THE SCORPIO RACES
Hilary Wagner hosts a Guest Post by Author Aaron Kato on YA Voice

Tell me: Which YA heroine do you consider to be exceptionally strong?

J is for Jillian

Have you entered my Lucky Me, Lucky You Giveaway? A  signed copy of John Green’s The Fault in our Stars and a free book of choice from The Book Depository are up for grabs for TWO winners. Click HERE to enter!

As you may know, I’m currently working on a rewrite of my contemporary YA manuscript, Cross My Heart. This story is a labor of love — emphasis on the word LABOR. Once called Loving Max Holden (a title I might revert back to), it’s been giving me headaches for nearly two years. But I CANNOT let it go. Why, you might ask, have I stuck with a troublesome manuscript for so long? Well, its main characters, Jillian and Max (who you’ll meet on Saturday!), are just too adorable for words. I love them so much, and, simply, I can’t not tell their story.

Jillian is the most like me of any character I’ve written. She’s got a dry wit about her, and one might say she’s emotionally stunted. She’s constantly measuring herself against others, wondering how she compares. Though she puts on a casual-cool air, she’s highly analytical. She’s tight with her dad and angsty about her (pregnant and perfect) step-mom. Jill loves to bake, and she’s got clear goals in mind. She’s not the swooning type, and she’s definitely not that girl who’d let her life be derailed by a boy.

Until… it is.

Fun shoes!
Meet Jillian…

...
Where she sleeps…

Blue & White
Where she lives

Cupcakes Coffee Cream Brownies White Chocolate Lemon Truffles
What she loves…

pastries.
What she dreams of…

Interesting...
What she reads…

Cream in your coffee?
What she drinks (no sugar, please)…

. Meet in the middle.
What she learns…

Tell me: Do you use visual inspiration for your WiPs?

I is for Ice Cream

Have you entered my Lucky Me, Lucky You Giveaway? A  signed copy of John Green’s The Fault in our Stars and a free book of choice from The Book Depository are up for grabs for TWO winners. Click HERE to enter!

Ahh, ice cream… One of my favorite foodie indulgences. I could eat it daily (some weeks I do!), but I try to stick to the healthy-ish Dreyer’s Slow Churned, No Sugar Added variety. The Butter Pecan tastes pretty darn amazing, especially with a few crumbled pretzels and some Smucker’s Sugar-Free Hot Fudge drizzled on top. What can I say? I like the extra add-ins almost as much as the ice cream itself. 🙂

Lately, I’ve had the urge to experiment with making my own ice cream, and I’ve hunted down a few recipes that look promising:

chocolate cookie dough ice cream, cookie dough ice cream, gluten free cookie recipe, homemade chocolate ice cream, chocolate ice creamHomemade Chocolate Cookie Dough Ice Cream (vegan & gluten-free)
from My Man’s Belly, a newly discovered and awesome food/relationship blog.

Easy Homemade Ice Cream without a MachineEasy (Creamy!) Homemade Ice Cream (not exactly healthful, but without a machine AND without rock salt!) from Kevin and Amanda, another cool and creative food blog.

low calorie peanut butter ice creamLow-Cal Peanut Butter Ice Cream (gluten-free and sugar-free, also without an ice cream machine!) from Chocolate-Covered Katie, a healthy dessert blog featuring tons of vegan, sugar-free, and gluten-free treats.

Traditional Ice Cream in a Bag (great to do with kiddos!) from 2 Little HOOligans, a fun craft/cooking/mommy blog.

Tell me: What’s your favorite dessert?

And, have you ever made your own ice cream? Do you have a fantastic recipe to share? 

Oh, and a quick FYI: This Thursday I’m going to Rock the Drop. Please do click the image below for more information on this awesome literacy initiative!

H is for Hunk

Have you entered my Lucky Me, Lucky You Giveaway? A signed copy of John Green’s The Fault in our Stars and a free book of choice from The Book Depository are up for grabs for TWO winners. Click HERE to enter!

Teen literature is full of hunky boys and, if I’m being honest, they’re a big part of why I read YA books. The romantic interests are utterly swoon worthy. They’re so unlike the boys I went to high school with, but exactly like the boys I wish I’d gone to high school with. And, they come in every shape, size, color and persuasion, with varying hobbies and flaws and goals and backgrounds.

There’s the angsty rocker hunk, a la Adam from If I Stay

There’s the gawky science hunk, a la Cricket from Lola and the Boy Next Door

There’s the tattooed bad boy hunk, a la Alex from Perfect Chemisty

There’s the supportive beach boy hunk, a la Tyler from Moonglass

There’s the bold and valiant hunk, a la Four from Divergent

There’s the loyal boy-next-door hunk, a la Jay from The Body Finder

There’s the brooding hunk, a la Conrad from The Summer I Turned Pretty

There’s the cocky jock hunk, a la Doug from Forget You

There’s the super-sweet biker hunk, a la Harlin from A Need So Beautiful

The list goes on, and on, and on.

So, who’s my YA hunk of choice?

Easy…

Jonah Griggs from Melina Marchetta’s Jellicoe Road

On the Jellicoe Road

Why? Let me count the ways…

1. Jonah’s a badass cadet. My husband’s a soldier. Need I say more?

2. Jonah’s outdoorsy. He doesn’t shy away from dirt or exercise. Hot.

3. Jonah’s got a (very) tortured past, but he doesn’t let it hold him down.

4. Jonah’s tough-as-nails, but he’s incredibly sweet and sensitive and protective when it comes to his main squeeze, Taylor.

5. Jonah’s sort of crass. He doesn’t filter his language, and he doesn’t hesitate to flip someone the bird when they’ve earned it. Maybe I’m weird, but I find this kind of irreverence irresistible.

6. Jonah’s skeptical and analytical. His trust must be earned.

And, because Melina Marchetta portrays him, through Taylor’s eyes, like this:

“If you weren’t driving, I’d kiss you senseless,” I tell him.
He swerves to the side of the road and stops the car abruptly.
“Not driving any more.”

And this:

When I turn around, he cups my face in his hands and he kisses me so deeply that I don’t know who is breathing for who, but his mouth and tongue taste like warm honey. I don’t know how long it lasts, but when I let go of him, I miss it already.

And because he says things like this:

“I’m here because of you. You’re my priority. Your happiness, in some fucked way, is tuned in to mine. Get that through your thick skull. Would I like it any other way? Hell, yes, but I don’t think that will be happening in my lifetime.”

So, there you have him: Jonah Griggs, my YA hunk of choice.

Tell me: Who’s you ideal YA hunk?