Category Archives: Critique

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?

Advertisements

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. ❤

Tell me… What’s up with you today?

It’s been fun, RSW!

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 in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on my goal(s) overall.

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom.
2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far.
3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week.
4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks.
5. Maintain my tan.

I’m pretty excited about what I accomplished this summer. My two most important goals were to finish a major revision of Where Poppies Bloom and finish a first draft of my WiP, The Road So Far. I did both! I barely squeaked by on that first draft; I only just finished the other day, but I FINISHED. 🙂 As far as my reading goals, I averaged just over one YA/adult novel a week, and I averaged just under one MG book (read with my girl) every two weeks. I’m calling that success. And I maintained my tan! #Priorities

* The biggest challenge I faced this summer.

Time management for sure, but I think I did okay. I got A LOT of work done, I had tons of fun with my family, and I got some sleep, too. My DVR is full of all the shows I didn’t have time to watch, but they’ll keep.

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

The End 

For real. But there was this, too…

“You ready for the final leg?”

She rests her head on my shoulder. “Not really. I’d road trip with you forever, Tucker Morgan”

* Something I love about my WiP. 

The two writing projects I worked on this summer are related. Same characters, same world. A duology, if you will. What I love most about them is the relationship between the two main characters. They start off strangers in Poppies, and by the end of Road, they’ve forged a really special bond, which makes their stories my favorite of any I’ve written.

I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! went for you. Don’t forget to share the link of your very last post below!

CP/Beta Match-Up

Okay, RSWers, now that you’ve spent all summer working on your story, you’re going to need some constructive feedback. You’re in luck! This Thursday, August 28th, there will be a beta/CP match-up facilitated by your Ready. Set. Write hosts, Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. There’s no pressure to participate if you’re not ready for feedback, or if you’ve got trusted readers already, but if you’re interested in taking advantage, here’s now it’ll work…

This Thursday, we encourage you to share about your story in a post on your blog. You and other RSW participants will then be able to “shop around” and leave comments on the posts with stories you’re interested in reading. From there, you can decide who might be the best fit and contact them via their blog/Twitter/email. Some suggestions about what to share…

*a love list, elevator pitch, or query description

*an excerpt

*genre/age category

*whether it’s a stand alone or series

*where you’re at in the timeline (ie: ready for a beta/CP as of the end of summer or perhaps later in the fall)

*whether you’re looking for betas or CPs (or both)

*any warnings that might be applicable (ie only offer to beta if you don’t mind swearing, sex, drug use, etc.)

And here are some great links on CP/beta relationships, plus some tips on providing and receiving feedback:

5 Things To Know About Working With Beta Readers by The Book Designer

First Readers and Critique Partners by Susan Dennard

Critique Etiquette by Jodi Cleghorn

What Should We Look For in a Beta Reader by Jami Gold

Crafting the Perfect Critique Sandwich by Erin Bowman (for Pub(lishing) Crawl

How to Beta Read by Corrine Jackson

The Critique Partner Relationship: Here’s Looking at You, Kid by YA Buccaneers

Looking forward to hearing all about your projects! 

What’s Up Wednesday

0a7bd-buttonlargenoborder

“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…And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished Stephanie Kuehn’s Complicit (out in June) and holy hell, was it good. If you’re a fan of Stephanie’s debut, Charm & Strange, I think you’ll be all over her sophomore novel. And if you haven’t read Charm & Strange yet, you should remedy that right away. Now, I’m reading Nil by Lynne Matson, who is lovely. The story is set in the most fascinating island world, and it’s edge-of-my-seat exciting so far.

What I’m Writing: I’m revising according to (brilliant) CP notes. You know how when you’re writing, sometimes you know something’s not clicking but you’re not sure how to fix it, so you press on with the hope of making it right later? Well, CP Alison picked up on those areas of my manuscript that weren’t working and gave me some awesome suggestions for fixing them. So, that’s what I’m doing now. Inserting a few new scenes, filling holes, and taking advantage some missed opportunities, all while catching some rays. Love this part!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Getting ready to go to Disney World with my girl! We’re meeting some great friends there for a few days of fun and we cannot wait. I am such a sucker for all things Disney, and it’s been way too long since we last visited a park. Like, more than a year. Way overdue. 😉


I’ve been pretty good about eating healthfully lately (I haven’t had a beer in a month!), but on Friday I caved and baked cookies. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, to be specific. I followed this recipe, but I didn’t have Reese’s Pieces, so I used Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips instead. They turned out SO WELL. This combination of ingredients creates cookies of the perfect peanut-buttery consistency. Recommend!

  
My girlie celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday at school all last week. I made her green eggs for breakfast one day, and she also participated in a Read-A-Thon, which I totally crashed and photographed because I’m *that* mom.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: I officially crossed the first item off my Thirty Before 35 bucket list: I finished watching the Friday Night Lights TV series. In the words of the incomparable Tami Taylor: Good lord, y’all! This show ranks right up there with Breaking Bad and Six Feet Under as an all-time favorite — it is so freaking good! I mean, it’s definitely about football (which is awesome), but there’s so much more to it. For starters, there’s Tim Riggins who’s all broken and brooding and conflicted and, um, hot

And then there are these deep relationships between people who, for the most part, have very little in common aside from football (Vince & Luke, Tyra & Landry, Eric & Buddy, Matt & Smash, Matt & Tim, Matt and his grandma ❤)…

And then there are the romances (Julie and Matt are super sweet, and I love Vince and Jess too, but I will always ship Tim and Lyla)…

And then there’s Tami Taylor, who makes me want to be a better wife, mother, and person, and who’s totally making y’all happen. Plus, she has the most impeccable football-wife style…

Aren’t you sad you won’t get to hear me rave about this show week after week anymore? What should I watch next? I’m thinking maybe Gossip Girl?

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

0a7bd-buttonlargenoborder

“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…And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished Sarah Ockler’s The Book of Broken Hearts and, dare I say, it might be tied with Twenty Boy Summer as my favorite of her novels. I enjoyed JuJu’s voice (so spirited and perfectly teen), I adored Emilio (especially the sweet way he treated JuJu and her father), I loved the family dynamics (Holy Trinity FTW. Also, Pancake!), and there were several Friday Night Lights references. Pretty much an ideal Katy Book. Now, I’m reading Stephanie Kuehn’s Complicit (out in June), which is totally blowing my mind with it’s twisty awesomeness. If you’re a fan of Stephanie’s debut, Charm & Strange, I think you’ll be all over her sophomore novel. So incredible, guys!  

What I’m Writing: Nothing! I finished my revision on Sunday, and now I’m taking a bit of a writing break. It’s kind of nice to wake up in the morning and know that I don’t have a big fat goal hanging over my head. That said, I’m already missing my characters, so I’m sure I’ll end up tinkering soon. Since I’m not writing right now, I’m using my time to read for my CP Alison Miller, who’s written this really amazing story called Those Magic Changes. It’s a clever spin on Freaky Friday that includes musical theater and baseball and Star Wars references, plus Alison’s incredibly funny voice. Let’s just say… I’m a lucky CP. 

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Still watching Friday Night Lights. I’m over halfway through Season 4, and while I had my doubts (lots of changes between Seasons 3 and 4), I’m loving it. Episodes 5 and 6 (The Son and Stay) particularly got me (Tim and Lyla… *sigh*). Also, I’m totally digging farmboy Luke and his dynamic with Becky and inner-city Vince. Such a fantastically complex show.

 
My girlie and I drove to Tallahassee on Saturday, where we met my brother (who lives in Jacksonville). We visited The Museum of Florida State History, had a tasty lunch al fresco, and walked around the city. We accidentally wandered onto FSU’s Greek Row, which my brother very accurately described as smelling of Axe Body Spray and cheap beer. It was nothing like my days on WSU’s Greek Row. 😉

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Author Claire Legrand‘s article entitled The Importance of the Unlikeable Heroine, which very eloquently states everything I feel about “unlikeable” female characters, inculding why they fascinate me. A must read. Also, my friend Christa Desir‘s post about Consent and Sensitivity: “Good Sex” in YA Literature, which comes with a lot of thoughtful commentary and some really fabulous book recommendations.  

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

WUW2

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a  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…And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished Rebecca Behren‘s middle grade debut When Audrey Met Alice and oh my goodness… It was SO GOOD. One of the best middle grade novels I’ve read. Cute, cute, cute, and it makes me want to read an Alice Roosevelt biography! I’ll rave about it more in next week’s Bookanista post. Up next? These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

What I’m Writing: I’m taking a break from my revision to beta read my friend Liz Parker‘s incredible YA manuscript. It’s a unique blend of history and fantasy and romance and adventure, and I’m pretty much the worst beta reader ever because almost all of my comments consist of the words awesome and love and wow. I hope at least some of my feedback helps Liz! I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to read for her because I’m learning tons about pacing, characterization, and stakes from her story. After this, I’m back to applying what I learned to my own manuscript. 🙂

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Cheering the Seattle Seahawks on to a win, for starters. Over the weekend, my brother came from Jacksonville to watch the game with us, and we made an event out of it. Beer, pizza, and wings. Good stuff.


He doesn’t have kids and isn’t nearly the Disney freak my girl and I are, but he (sort of) held his own during Head Bandz. 🙂


I finally baked in my new kitchen! Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies… The recipe I linked calls for chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but I was fresh out of those, so I used Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips. They turned out great!

   
Daphne the kitty is fitting into the Upperman family quite nicely. She’s super playful and sweet, incredibly patient with her six-year-old master, and (mostly) tolerant of Daisy, who really just wants to scarf down her cat food. We’re technically fostering Daphne to make sure she’s a “good fit” for our household, but on Saturday we get to sign official adoption paperwork!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Writing-wise, a recent post from my savvy and witty agent Victoria Marini titled On ALMOST Making It. Similarly-themed, a post from brilliant author Courtney Summers about Closed Doors. On the artistic front, I continue to be inspired by an experience we had when we were in New Orleans a few weeks ago. We visited Gallery Burguieres, a French Quarter gallery owned and operated by artist Ally Burguieres. We were only there for a short while, but I left feeling absolutely inspired. Ally’s paintings are gorgeous — cheery and colorful and whimsical — and Ally was charming. She welcomed us into her gallery and answered all of our art-ignorant questions. She even let us pet her sweet pup. If I had thousands of dollars to drop on original art, I’d totally invest in Ally’s. As it is, we’re on a budget, but we did splurge on an Alice in Wonderland print for C’s bedroom. It looks adorable hanging on her wall!

{Original art by Ally Burguieres}

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.

******

Exciting news! It’s time for AlisonElodieErinJaime, and I to announce the winners of our “Fresh Perspective” Giveaway!

Five Ready. Set. Write! participants have been chosen at random to send the first ten (double-spaced) pages of their manuscript to my email address. 
— katy(.)upperman(@)live(.)com [remove parentheses!] — 
Alison, Elodie, Erin, Jaime, and I will divvy up the manuscripts, and each winner will receive a fresh perspective critique from one of us. Congratulations to…

Carrie-Anne Brownian
Prerna Pickett
Robin Moran
Liz Parker
Dawn Allen

Winners, please email your ten pages to the above email address by October 31. 

******

And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished The Dream Thieves. Once again, Maggie Stiefvater has made me care about her characters in ways I never thought possible. I loved this book, and I am so excited to see where the series goes. Honestly, I cannot even imagine, but I trust Maggie to rock it. Book 3, please! Now, I’m reading And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. I’m only about seventy pages in, but I have high hopes. A Thousand Splendid Suns is one of my all-time favorite books, and I think Afghani culture and history are fascinating. So far, Mountain‘s characters are terribly damaged and flawed, and yet, I’m sympathetic. I love when an author makes that happen.

What I’m Writing: I wrote 4,295 words in my WiP over the last week, and crossed the 60K mark — yay! I also got through a challenging scene (all the feelings) and did some mental reassessing of where this thing’s going. Daunting, to say the least. I need a little time to really think on this manuscript, so I’m going to take a tiny break from it (like, a week) and work on the light revision I recently mentioned. So far, it’s been fun to revisit an “old” manuscript, one that’s all polished and pretty. Plus, the characters of this particular story are some of my favorites. So… hopefully the revision goes smoothly, and then this manuscript will be back in the hands of my awesome agent.

A less verbose writer would be done.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Same old! Spending time with my girlie, watching Breaking Bad with my husband, hanging out with neighborhood friends, running, cleaning, cooking, laundry. All kinds of glamorous stuff!

 
I baked two super yummy treats this week. First, Blueberry Almond Sugar Cookies, which were exceptionally easy (no need to chill the dough!) and incredibly tasty. My husband ate ten in one night — no joke! And second, Paula Deen’s Gooey Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, which was rich and dangerously delicious. Peanut butter and chocolate are pretty much the best combo ever.


This kiddo joined the Run Club at school. Running is one my favorite things to do, and it makes me really happy to know that my daughter is interested in it as well. The other day we ran a full mile together, and I was so proud of her!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Mapping Your Book to Ensure it Works, a post from Martina Boone at Adventures in YA Publishing that details a very cool revision technique that involves finding the “core” of your novel and relating each scene back to it. Also, a post from ExPress-O called Best Moments in Peoples’ Lives, in which she shares photographs prompted by a tweet from writer Richard Deitsch that asked: How many of you have a photograph of the single best moment of your life? If so, what a gift! Some of the resulting images made me a little teary! And finally, the string of beautiful weather we’ve been experiencing inspires me. In our part of the world, summer doesn’t really begin until September. The gorgeous days we’ve been having are well worth the wait.

What’s up with you this week?