YA Book Club: WANDERLOVE


{YA Book Club is the brainchild of writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
For guidelines and additional info, click the image above.}

February’s YA Book Club selection is Wanderlove by Kirsten Hubbard

From GoodreadsIt all begins with a stupid question: Are you a Global Vagabond? No, but 18-year-old Bria Sandoval wants to be. In a quest for independence, her neglected art, and no-strings-attached hookups, she signs up for a guided tour of Central America—the wrong one. Middle-aged tourists with fanny packs are hardly the key to self-rediscovery. When Bria meets Rowan, devoted backpacker and dive instructor, and his outspokenly humanitarian sister Starling, she seizes the chance to ditch her group and join them off the beaten path. Bria’s a good girl trying to go bad. Rowan’s a bad boy trying to stay good. As they travel across a panorama of Mayan villages, remote Belizean islands, and hostels plagued with jungle beasties, they discover what they’ve got in common: both seek to leave behind the old versions of themselves. And the secret to escaping the past, Rowan’s found, is to keep moving forward. But Bria comes to realize she can’t run forever, no matter what Rowan says. If she ever wants the courage to fall for someone worthwhile, she has to start looking back.

Tracey provided some structure for this month’s book club post in the form of a few setting-related questions, which I think is an excellent idea. I’m planning a Bookanista recommendation for Wanderlove in a few weeks, so I’m going to save my official review (Spoiler: I kind of loved it!), and focus on the talking points below:

1. How did setting play a part in the story?

While Wanderlove‘s characters are fantastic and its writing is beautiful, it is, at its essence, a story about finding one’s self after high school — pretty basic YA material. What makes it exceptional is its unique setting, one very few people could have captured as stunningly as Kirsten Hubbard (she is, according to her bio, a bit of a  Global Vagabond herself).

Kirsten used her story’s setting to challenge its characters, especially Bria. The ocean, the language barriers, the currency differences, the strange foods and customs, the dangers of traveling alone in a foreign country — it all threw Bria for a loop, forcing her to take a good hard look at herself and attitude. Had Wanderlove been set in, say… a midwest suburb… I doubt its underlying themes of independent exploration, self-discovery, and autonomy would have been illustrated as effectively as they are in lush and vivid Central American.

2. Could this story have been told in a different setting and still been the same?

Certainly not the same, but I think the story could have been set in any tropical, slow-developing, mostly-foreign-language-speaking area of the world. Bria needed to feel totally displaced and occasionally helpless, a fish out of water, to take control of her life and accountability for her decisions, both past and present. I loved the richness of the Central America setting, though. It definitely gave me a case of wanderlust!

3. What tips did you pick up from Kirsten Hubbard when it comes to setting?

Setting can be — should be! — a character in and of itself. I’ve heard this advice many times, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen it executed as skillfully as Kirsten does in Wanderlove.  She used setting not only as a vibrant backdrop, but as a tool to express her story’s themes. Plus, Kirsten’s descriptions are rich and imaginative, and she makes use of all five sense when discussing the countries mentioned in the story. She made me feel like I was backpacking with Bria and Rowan, eating mango, lounging in a hammock, gazing at a million sparkling stars, which made Wanderlove unputdownable. I didn’t want my vacation to end!

4. Did you feel the use of illustrations enhanced the story?

I did! I loved the illustrations, and thought they added a unique layer to the story, and to the setting. It was a treat to see — not just read about — what Bria saw during her trip, especially since drawing is such a huge part of her identity. The illustrations also helped demonstrate her character arc. Her drawings grew with her, and as the story progressed, I started to look forward to them with the same enthusiasm with which I anticipated the progression of Bria’s relationship with Rowan. Incidentally, I predicted what the last illustration of the story would be, but I did NOT allow myself to page ahead for a peek. I wanted to wait it out with the characters. 🙂

Tell me: Have you read Wanderlove? What were your thoughts on its unique setting?

If you haven’t read it, will you?

YA Book Club – THE FAULT IN OUR STARS

(YA Book Club is the brainchild of writer/blogger Tracey Neithercott.
For guidelines and additional info, click the above image!)

February’s YA Book Club selection is The Fault in our Stars by John Green.

The Fault in Our Stars

From Goodreads Diagnosed with Stage IV thyroid cancer at 12, Hazel was prepared to die until, at 14, a medical miracle shrunk the tumours in her lungs… for now. Two years post-miracle, sixteen-year-old Hazel is post-everything else, too; post-high school, post-friends and post-normalcy. And even though she could live for a long time (whatever that means), Hazel lives tethered to an oxygen tank, the tumours tenuously kept at bay with a constant chemical assault. Enter Augustus Waters. A match made at cancer kid support group, Augustus is gorgeous, in remission, and shockingly to her, interested in Hazel. Being with Augustus is both an unexpected destination and a long-needed journey, pushing Hazel to re-examine how sickness and health, life and death, will define her and the legacy that everyone leaves behind.

Yay for a contemporary Book Club selection! Contemporary YA is where my heart’s at, so I couldn’t be happier to discuss John Green’s work. I’ll do my best to keep this post spoiler-free…

First of all, I’m not a huge fan of “cancer books.” I’ve read my fair share, but I don’t love it when authors use illness as a plot device. That said, I found The Fault in our Stars to be incredibly well done–equal parts hilarious and heartbreaking. This is not *just* a cancer book.

John Green’s style is so distinct–witty and insightful, with perfectly timed punchlines and just the right amount of emotion. He possesses the ideal narrative voice to tell a story which could have easily been bogged down by sadness and grief. During many of the moments I was overwhelmed by the wretchedness of Hazel and Augustus’s situation, one of them would spout something totally off the wall and hysterical and I’d feel a huge wash of welcome relief.

Hazel Grace was a darling protagonist. Her observations about life and love and death were strikingly YA and incredibly profound. At one point she says about Augustus: I fell in love the way you fall asleep: slowly, then all at once… Simple and beautiful and perfect. I would have happily remained in her head for another three-hundred pages. And Augustus… I never thought I’d be attracted to a video-game-obsessed boy with one leg, but yeah… Gus was pretty much a stud. To view him through Hazel’s adoring eyes was a treat. The two of them made one of the most naturally compatible couples I’ve read in YA.

While we’re on the subject of amazing TFIOS characters, I have to say: Isaac was freaking awesome. Quite possibly my favorite character of the story. That’s all I’ll say, though, because I believe he should be experienced under a totally fresh, unbiased perspective. Oh, and I also have to give a shout-out to both Hazel and Augustus’s parents. They were incredible–refreshingly involved, anxious, loving, normal moms and dads. Three cheers for fantastic fictional adults!

My one gripe with this book was Peter Van Houten. While I got him and his attitude and the reasons that he was the way he was, I didn’t particularly like him. His scenes made what was already a sad book almost unbearably depressing. Every time he appeared on the page, I found myself wishing for a witty and/or romantic Hazel/Augustus interaction instead of a rambling monologue from self-centered and borderline crazy Van Houten. Maybe that’s just me though… I am a romance girl, after all. 🙂

TFIOS doesn’t take the place of Looking for Alaska as my most beloved John Green novel (maybe because Alaska was my first? Maybe because it’s one of the few books to ever make me laugh out loud? Maybe because Miles was just SO uniquely awesome?), but it was still a wonderful read. Though I didn’t cry (admittedly, I’m not a crier) and I’m not sure I’d put it on a list of my very favorite books, I enjoyed it immensely and I’d definitely recommend it. I mean, it’s John Green… he’s yet to write a book that disappoints.

Have you read The Fault in our Stars? What did you think?

Fall Book Club…

*SAD FACE*

I was so incredibly excited about today’s discussion of The Scorpio Races, a novel by Maggie Stiefvater and the third book selected for Fall Book Club, brainchild of the lovely Tracey Neithercott. But, unfortunately I’ve committed a big ol’ Book Club FAIL and neglected to actually FINISH the The Scorpio Races. You have no idea how sad and ashamed I am to admit this, especially since I’ve started the book and am loving it so far. But in my (pitiful) defense, my parents have been in town all week and I’ve been pretty busy.

*Cue dramatic violin music.*

That said, I am half way through The Scorpio Races and, as I mentioned, I’m absolutely smitten. I’ll be recommending the novel for my Bookanistas post this Thursday. If you’re so inclined, please check back then to read all about why I’m head over heels for this book.

If you’re interested in checking out my take on previous Book Club selections, you can find my thoughts on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children HERE, and Daughter of Smoke and Bone HERE. Also, please do take a moment to check out the posts from more contentious Book Clubbers who’ve finished The Scorpio Races and posted links to their thoughts HERE.

In an effort to make up for my Book Club fail and prove that I really was a busy girl over the last several days, a few gratuitous pictures of my cutie pie and me. 🙂

Decorating the tree on Thanksgiving…

Getting our Coug on for Apple Cup 2011…

Settling in to watch Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella at the Fifth Avenue Theater in Seattle… Highly recommend!

How was your Thanksgiving (assuming you celebrated)? Do anything fun over the long weekend?

Five on a Friday…

Happy Friday!

1. Guys. I’m in over my head. May I present you with… my To-Read piles:

So intimidating, I don’t even know where to start! I’m working on The Piper’s Son now (LOVE) and up next is The Scorpio Races for Fall Book Club, but then what? How do even begin to tackle all of these books?! (Oh, and in case you’re tempted to plan an intervention, I’m not, like, a compulsive shopper or anything. Many of the books pictured above are on loan from wonderfully generous friends, and I’ve won quite a few in online giveaways.)

2. Speaking of online giveaways… I’ve been on a bit of a lucky streak lately. In the last few months, I’ve won A LOT of books. Probably around fifteen. This week alone I’ve won three books, plus a t-shirt! Though my good fortune has become a bit of a joke (How have I managed to rig random.org?!), I am nothing but grateful for my incredibly charitable blogging/writing/tweeting friends. If I haven’t said it enough, THANK YOU to everyone who’s hosted one of the giveaways I’ve been fortunate enough to win. 🙂 And, since we’re on the topic of giveaways, I’ve got one coming up RIGHT HERE very soon! Feel free to sign up for an email subscription to this blog if you haven’t already. The button is there in my right sidebar. —> Go ahead… give it a click. I wouldn’t want YOU to miss out on free books!

3. My husband recently told me that his soldiers agree: I send the BEST care packages. How cool is that? A definite point of pride for any good military wife. The key to a better-than-average care package? Theme! I’ve been focused on autumn for a while, but now I’ve moved on to Christmas. I’ve already got one big box full of Christmas-y treats ready to go, and I’ve got this in the works:

A countdown to Christmas! My husband is horrible with patience and gift-receiving and waiting out surprises (when deployed, he opens ALL packages IMMEDIATELY), so I thought this would be a fun way prolong the holiday spirit and inject a little extra cheer into his December. Each of these ten bags has a little treat with a cute coordinating card and a Why I love you… message inside. Notice: I had to write dates on the cards to indicate when he’s allowed to open each one, and I tied everything closed… he BETTER not peek! (Here’s the LINK to the printable tags if you want to do this for your loved one. So fun!)

4. Two awesome opportunities to give:

  • My fellow Bookanista and agent sister Carolina Valdez Miller is going on a medical mission trip to Haiti this January and needs your help. Please consider donating to this very worthy cause!

Support a good cause!

  • My longtime friend and aspiring literary agent Kari Bradley is spreading the word about a Barnes & Noble Bookfair, raising funds to benefit Curtis Junior High School’s library. If you’re planning to do any book shopping this weekend (in-store or online), please consider using Book Fair ID #10511327.


5. And, no Friday is complete without a funny…

What are you up to this weekend? Prepping for Turkey Day? NaNo-ing? Reading? Early holiday shopping? Watching Breaking Dawn Part I (eek!)? Tell me in the comments!

Fall Book Club: SMOKE AND BONE

I’m incredibly excited about today’s discussion of Daughter of Smoke and Bone, a novel by Laini Taylor. Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the second book selected for Fall Book Club, brainchild of the lovely Tracey Neithercott. (If you’re interested in checking out my take on last month’s selection, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, you can read it HERE.)

From Goodreads: Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war. Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

*Disclaimer: I’m going to do my best to discuss this book without revealing any major plot elements. I do mention small specifics here and there, though nothing that will spoil your reading experience. That said, if you haven’t read Smoke and Bone and prefer to go into books with a completely fresh perspective, proceed with caution…

So. I’m sort of at a loss as to what to say about Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Simply, I loved it. A few weeks ago I blogged about the Elusive Perfect Novel. Smoke and Bone is a combination of everything I included on the list of qualities MY perfect book must possess, plus an unidentifiable and unmatched sort of magic that’s hard to put into words. Very few books seduce me and capture me entirely, then gut me and leave me desperate for more. Daughter of Smoke and Bone did.

In a Twitter conversation with Tracey and Jaime Morrow last week, shortly after I’d finished reading, I tweeted this profound nugget: I’m trying to figure out how to write a coherent review. Can I just say: ENVIABLY BRILLIANT and call it a day? Because that pretty much covers it. And when I say “enviably brilliant,” I mean in a literal sense. I want to utilize language as beautifully (and seemingly effortlessly) as Laini Taylor does. I want to build a world as unique and dreamy and terrifying. I want to craft a plot that enraptures readers as Smoke and Bone enraptured me.

I should point out that if I had picked up Smoke and Bone in a bookstore and read the cover blurb, I probably would have put it back down. Fantasy, in general, is not my thing. Luckily, though, I’ve got my brilliant book friends and the YA community to fall back on for recommendations, and I knew better than to pass this one up based on genre alone. Even if you’re someone who’s resistant to fantasy (like me!), I suspect you’ll love Smoke and Bone. The fantastical elements, while certainly strong, are expertly executed and, for the most part, grounded in reality. They’re stated so clearly–of course there are otherworldly portals spread around Earth’s greatest cities; of course wishes come in denominations and at a price–you can’t help but jump feet first into the world Laini Taylor has created.

Let’s discuss main character, Karou… Words I’d use to describe our heroine: Fun, feisty, loyal, artistic, courageous, autonomous, lithe, talented and at times, funny. She’s everything I want out of a (female) protagonist, and additionally, everything I want in a friend. Plus, hello, her hair is azure. How cool! But poor Karou… as outwardly perfect as she may seem, she’s battling some major… um, demons. Her past is riddled with secrets and there’s just something missing from her life. I felt deeply for Karou, because her confusion and her pain felt genuine, just as genuine as she felt, and I was rooting for her up until the final page.

It’s hard to discuss the plot of Daughter of Smoke and Bone without giving its secrets away. I’m not going to go too far into the heart of the story, but I will say that there’s an element of “soulmate-ishness” at work. Usually, soulmate-ishness (yes, that’s totally a word) is cause for eye-rolling on my part. It often feels too easy, like a cop-out some authors use to get right into a romance without putting in the time and necessary back story. That was NOT the case here. The soulmate-ishness in Smoke and Bone made absolute sense, was explained thoroughly, and was necessary to the plot. It also raised the stakes considerably. The forbidden love, the impossible decisions, irrevocable actions, they made my heart hurt in the very best of ways.

While I’ve alluded to the awesomeness of Laini Taylor’s prose, I feel it warrants greater commentary. Smoke and Bone is told in third person, which is not my preferred POV. Here it works perfectly, though, giving enough distance to truly share the novel’s vast world, yet lending a sense of intimacy that lets us really know Karou. And the writing is just SO gorgeous; after the first few pages, I didn’t even notice the POV. The language is clever, thought-provoking, visceral, and full of voice–beautiful, but never, ever showy. I found myself reading sentences over and over, first to savor them, then to analyze what it was that I loved so much about their construction.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they “flew through” Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I did not. I spent a week with it, and purposely. I read slowly, enjoying every word, every twist, every revelation. And oh, the revelations are SO worth the ride. I read the last quarter of this book with my jaw on the floor, my heart literally pounding. So… if you’ve yet to pick up Daughter of Smoke and Bone, I highly, HIGHLY recommend you do. It’s among the best books I’ve read. Ever.

Oh, and these pictures BEG to be shared:

Though I bought the hard copy of Smoke and Bone (with the blue mask, pictured above) I was lucky enough to win this ARC from Kiersten White. Isn’t the cover image lovely?

And–holy crap!–it’s signed! This ARC might just be one of the rare material possessions I’d save in a house fire.

So… have you read The Daughter of Smoke and Bone? Were you as enchanted as I was? And don’t forget to drop by Tracey’s blog for links to today’s other Smoke and Bone posts!

Links (Because I’ve Got Nothin’)

Guys. I’m smack in the middle of incorporating a change into Where Poppies Bloom that has me absolutely giddy with its awesomeness. Unfortunately, all this revising has completely zapped my creativity and wit, so I’ve got nothing new or unique or valuable to contribute to the blogosphere today. BUT… lucky for you, my writing friends have managed to come up with some amazing posts and news, which I’ve compiled in the tidy little round-up below. Visit. Peruse. Comment. Enjoy. 🙂

This post on Suspense in Writing by the lovely Katharine Owens, complete with stills from some classic Alfred Hitchcock movies. Kat’s post is compilation of tips from Simon Wood’s original article for Writer’s Digest, which you can find HERE.

This bit of fabulous from Alison Miller on Reading for Pleasure.  “Look, I’m as busy as the next person, but reading is a priority to me.” Yep, I couldn’t have said it better myself, Alison. Not only is reading fun, inspirational, and relaxing, but for a writer, it’s crucial to professional development.

My CP Jus Accardo‘s debut Touch is available in eBook today!

You’ll have to wait until November 1st for the paperback version, but if you’ve got an eReader, you can find Touch at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, and Books on Board. And do check back here for more about Touch and an interview from Jus in the very near future!

And, finally, we’ve got an October novel for Tracey Neithercott’s Fall Book Club!


Around the world, black handprints are appearing on doorways, scorched there by winged strangers who have crept through a slit in the sky. 
In a dark and dusty shop, a devil’s supply of human teeth grown dangerously low. And in the tangled lanes of Prague, a young art student is about to be caught up in a brutal otherwordly war.  Meet Karou. She fills her sketchbooks with monsters that may or may not be real; she’s prone to disappearing on mysterious “errands”; she speaks many languages–not all of them human; and her bright blue hair actually grows out of her head that color. Who is she? That is the question that haunts her, and she’s about to find out. When one of the strangers–beautiful, haunted Akiva–fixes his fire-colored eyes on her in an alley in Marrakesh, the result is blood and starlight, secrets unveiled, and a star-crossed love whose roots drink deep of a violent past. But will Karou live to regret learning the truth about herself?

I couldn’t be more excited about this selection!

We’ll be discussing the book on Friday, October 28. If you have a blog, post your thoughts on the book there, then leave a link to your blog over at Tracey’s on October 28th. If you don’t have a blog, leave your thoughts in the comments on other members’ blogs, which you can easily get to by clicking the links on Tracey’s post. I hope you’ll participate!

So, that’s what I’ve got for you today. Do you have anything writerly, readerly, or otherwise interesting to share?

Have a lovely Monday, and I’ll see you in two days for Road Trip Wednesday!

Fall Book Club – MISS PEREGRINE


It’s that time! Time to discuss Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Childrena debut novel by Ransom Riggs. Miss Peregrine was the first book selected for Fall Book Club, brainchild of the lovely Tracey Neithercott.


From Goodreads: A mysterious island. An abandoned orphanage. A strange collection of very curious photographs. It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive. A spine-tingling fantasy illustrated with haunting vintage photography, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children will delight adults, teens, and anyone who relishes an adventure in the shadows.

First, can I just say: This is a beautiful book. The cover is intriguingly spooky, the pages are smooth and thick and creamy-white, the photography is mysterious and thought-provoking, and the chapter pages are burgundy and patterned. Miss Peregrine even has that crisp, expensive-paper scent… such a delight to read.

Overall, I enjoyed this book, mostly because of main character Jacob. He was exactly the type of protagonist I love: sharp, witty, analytical, and intensely aware of his short-comings, which gave a dose of dry humor to an otherwise serious story. And I’ll add: Ransom Riggs is a master of the adverb. I love nothing more, style-wise, than a well placed, brilliantly executed adverb. There were so many in Miss Peregrine, and they totally added to the coolness of Jacob’s personality and voice.

(An interesting side-note: Jacob’s voice reminded me a lot of Miles from John Green’s Looking For Alaska, which is funny because I after I finished Miss Peregrine, I noticed the complimentary blurb by John Green printed on the back of the book’s jacket!)

Now, while I loved Jacob’s narration, I found it to be almost too reflective to be considered YA. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily, but I’m just not sure why the book is marketed to a YA audience. It seems more as if Jacob is looking back on the events from an adult perspective, relaying them to us with a wisdom gained through time and experience, much like Lee from Curtis Sittenfeld’s Prep, an (awesome) adult novel about a teen in boarding school.

Miss Peregrine is a… peculiar story. Hard to define. It’s got a bit of everything: horror, fantasy, history, time travel, romance, and those eerie photographs that gave me the shivers on more than one occasion. The book was so fanciful, in fact, that a plausible conclusion was hard to fathom. I kept wondering if it would  end with Jacob waking up safe and sound in bed, remembering an incredible dream. (It didn’t, just so you know. That would have been so lame!)

Still, the ending, in my opinion, was the tiniest bit unsatisfying. To me, it read as sort of muddled, and it was open-ending (though with a beautiful accompanying photograph). The lack of a hard and fast conclusion bothered me until I read that Ransom Riggs is writing a sequel. I’m quite curious to see where he’ll take Jacob’s story in the next installment.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is definitely a book I’d recommend. It’s beautifully written, full of deep, layered characters, and while it deals with themes that are common (finding one’s self, death, overcoming depression), it’s just so different. Worth the read!

Have you read Miss Peregrine? What did you think? And don’t forget to visit Tracey’s blog for links to the other reviews!

A few random-ish things…

Ahh, the start of a new week… I’ve got a few random things to share on this lovely Monday morning:

Last night I watched Disney’s Prom. I’ve wanted to see it since I caught the trailer ages ago, but I don’t make it to a lot of movies and when I have “free” time at home, I’m usually writing or cleaning or reading. So…


I finally got to spend a full ninety minutes lost in high school melodrama. It was glorious. Honestly, I’m partial to any movie set in a high school (The Breakfast Club, Clueless, The Girl Next Door, Grease, and Ten Things I Hate About You are a few of my favorites), and Prom was fairly average high school fare. A little slow, a little fluffy, but still cute enough to hold my attention and leave me with a tiny crush on Jesse, the movie’s bad-boy-heartthrob and, in my opinion, a baby Johnny Depp.


Tracey Neithercott’s Fall Book Club has officially begun! Click HERE for the official stuff (don’t worry, it’s all easy). Wondering what we’re reading?


Ransom Rigg’s Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children. I started this weekend and yeah… absolutely loving it so far. I highly recommend you jump into the fun and join the Fall Book Club.

I’m revising again, this time with a heavy focus on pacing. I recently read James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure (thanks for the recommendation, Jessi Kirby and Vickie Motter!) and it has been immensely helpful. Here’s what my copy looks like:


Sheesh. You’d think I’d never read a craft book! But there’s just something about James Scott Bell’s approach, his simple way of explaining what’s already trapped in the mind of any avid reader, that spoke to me. So, I highlighted the heck out of Plot and Structure, then drafted a revision plan that’s working miracles. Yippee!

Over the  last month I’ve become obsessed with this:


Best workout DVD ever. Seriously. I happily hop out of bed a half-hour early each morning to do it. I love Jillian Michaels’ no-nonsense approach. I love how I feel when I’m done. I love that my daughter now knows what “Down Dog” is. And the results! I’m seeing them! It’s so motivating!

And, finally, these photographs beg to be shared:


That’s my husband there on the left–you know, the deliciously handsome one :)–and that’s the Washington State University flag he and his buddy are raising in Afghanistan. Yep, our beloved Cougs are representing half-way around the world. Crazy to think about, right?

And one final, incredibly important thing: Happy birthday, Dad! Love you!

So, how was your weekend?

A Virtual Fall Book Club

Guys! Friend, writer, and blogger Tracey Neithercott has come up with a brilliant idea: A virtual  fall book club! From today’s blog post:

 So here’s what I’m proposing. A three-month book club. Here’s how it’ll work: We’ll read one book a month for three months. You’ll have about a month to read each so no one feels rushed. At the end of the month, I’ll host a discussion of the book here, complete with comments like OMG THIS IS THE BEST BOOK I’VE EVER READ and SORRY, I FELL ASLEEP AT PAGE FIVE. Each of you can write about the book on your blogs, leaving a link on my post so readers can jump from blog to blog and see everyone’s different take on the book.

Awesome, right? She’s taking suggestions for the first book we’ll read, and we’ll vote to make the final selection in the near future. So, if you’re interested in participating, hop on over to Tracey’s blog and check out her Fall Book Club post!

(Can you tell from the abundance of exclamation points in the this post that I’m super excited about this idea?!)