Friday Five

1. Have you seen the If I Stay movie trailer? Oh my gosh… it is so incredibly perfect. Exactly what I was hoping for. Seriously. #AllTheFeels. If I Stay is one of my most beloved books (it’s the novel that made me want to write contemporary young adult) and I have Very Strong Opinions regarding book-to-movie adaptations, especially when it comes to YA, and especially when it comes to books I love. Please, please, please let the movie live up the the trailer’s amazingness.

2. Yesterday I Rocked the Drop, and it was awesome. My girl and I dropped three books (Jellicoe Road, The Sky is Everywhere, and If I Stay — three of my favorite contemporaries) around our town. Here’s hoping three book-loving teens find them and adore the stories as much as I do.

   

   

3. Oh, hey, I wrote some new words. I have an inkling of an idea for a sequel to another of my finished manuscripts, and I started tinkering it with it the other day. I know that sounds ridiculous (why start a sequel to a book that hasn’t sold yet?), but I’ve got these scenes in my head and they’re inspiring me (keeping me up at night, actually) and I figure… Might as well write them and get them out of my system. Problem is, the more I write, the more ideas I have, and the more inspired I feel. A real story’s starting to take shape, which is exciting, but also scary. I can write this story, invest months and months of my life in it, but there’s a chance it’ll never go anywhere; it can’t stand alone without its predecessor. But, words are words and practice is practice, right? I’m pretty sure it’s okay to write what’s inspiring, and to occasionally let go worries of whether or not a story will sell. What do you think? How much time do you spend writing only for the pure joy of it?

4. Along with Open Road Summer (adorable!), I’m reading James Scott Bell’s Write Your Novel From the Middle, which is pretty brilliant so far. It’s all about finding your story’s “heart and heat,” which is most often at its middle. James Scott Bell says some smart things about novel structure, but I’m even more taken by his thoughts on voice. He says, When an author is joyous in the telling, it pulses through the words. When you read a Ray Bradbury, for instance, you sense his joy. He was in love with words and his own imagination, and it showed. This, I think, is what’s at the the core of that unteachable thing we call voice. If you’re looking for a fresh take on novel structuring (plotter or a pantser), this is definitely a book worth checking out. 

5. Happy Easter weekend! My girl and I have decided to spend tomorrow at the beach, and Sunday in our jammies watching movies. She told me she hopes the Easter Bunny will bring her an American Girl sports watch, pink Peeps, and a Slinky. Good news… The Easter Bunny Mama has found and purchased all three items. That may seem indulgent (must get the kid exactly what she asks for!), but my daughter is growing up way too fast and if Peeps and a Slinky help keep the magic of childhood alive another day, then I’m happy to provide them. 

Have a wonderful weekend! 

Five on Friday

1. Have you heard about the Jan Plan? It’s my friend Christa Desir‘s idea, and it’s very simple: Finish a project in January. Any project. At your pace, in your time, for your own benefit. Originally, I’d planned to finish the first draft of my NaNo WiP, but I just got at editorial letter from Super Agent Victoria (yay!) and I’ve decided that the project I’ll complete this month will be a revision of Cross My Heart. Nothing too crazy needs to be changed, but Victoria has given me some awesome ideas for upping the tension and tightening the pacing in the first half of the story. I’m all in. I hope to have Cross My Heart submission-ready before February. And when I do, I’ll tackle my NaNo Wip.

2. I’ve read some amazing books lately. Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor, which I mentioned during the YA Superlatives Blogfest but never officially reviewed (it’s disturbing and gorgeous and heartbreaking – read it!), and Graffiti Moon by Cath Crowley, which is captivating and romantic and gritty, not to mention beautifully written (thanks for the recommendation, Tracey!). Currently, I’m reading Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. While dragons aren’t usually my thing, so far I’m enamored by this book’s unique concept and incredible world building.

3. Speaking of books, I’ve got some highly anticipated novels in my very near future. I’ve preordered Shades of Earth by Beth Revis, Through the Ever Night by Veronica Rossi, and Just One Day by Gayle Forman (one of my literary heroes!). Plus, I’ve recently been told that The Age of Miracles and The Sweeter Side of Amy’s Bread (a pastry cookbook!) are must reads. Thanks for the recommendations Erin and Jess!

4. I signed up for the Debut Author Challenge! I haven’t signed up in previous years, but I always do my best to support new authors. Often debut releases end up being some of my favorites. 2013 is a huge year for debuts, seeing as how some of my friends have their first books coming out: Erin Bowman, Christa Desir, Ann Rought, Amie Kaufman, and Cristin Terrill, to name a few.

5. My husband, girlie, and I went to Phoenix to visit my parents for the New Year. I love the desert…


My girlie fed ostrich, and I let a bird land on my head. Yes.

Sunrise loveliness.

Happy New Year from us. 🙂

Oh, and this happened. Don’t forget to be awesome!

Tell me: What’s new with you? Are you participating in the Jan Plan? What are you reading these days?

Five on Friday

Aah, Friday… How I ♥ you!

1. I’ve been doing lots of fall-inspired baking lately. Last week I whipped up the best apple cobbler EVER using Fiji apples my girlie and I picked at a local orchard. And yesterday I made pumpkin fudge, my first attempt at legit candy using a candy thermometer. I think Jillian would be proud!

                   

2. I’m officially signed up for NaNo (my profile is HERE — let’s be writing buddies :)), and my story idea (read: PLOT — characters are easy!) is starting to take shape. Thank you, long morning runs! Next week I’m going to attend a meet-and-greet with locals who are also NaNo-ing. I’m very excited to meet some California-based writers, and to dive in to my new project. Yay for National Novel Writing Month!

3. We’ve been having a stretch of gorgeous weather here in Central California, and I am in heaven. I love sun and warmth and tan lines and afternoons at the beach. Last Sunday my family and I had one of those perfect Indian Summer days, one we spent kayaking and fishing and picnicking at a nearby lake. We capped it off with terrible-for-you pizza at a dive just off the highway. It was fantastic.

4. How to Plot a Novel in 27 Easy Steps… These videos by “Plot Whisperer” Martha Alderson are amazing. If you haven’t watched them, you should. Like, right now. Most are somewhere between five and ten minutes, and they’re like attending a free workshop on painless plotting right from the comfort of your couch. I took frantic notes and pondered my NaNo WiP while watching, and I learned SO MUCH. Thank you, Ghenet Merthil, for introducing me to the Plot Whisperer! (I’ve included the first video below, and the rest are on YouTube.)

5. Big things are happening here at the blog this Monday (as well as at the blogs of a few of my friends!). Be on the look-out for a post chock-full of information on something reading-related and awesome. (Don’t you love when people post enigmatic hints about wonderful things, then make you wait for the details? ;))

What are you up to this weekend, friends?

Friday Five: On taking a break…

As you may know, I’ve been working feverishly on a revision. And by feverishly, I mean I’m sitting in front of my laptop whenever a I have a quiet minute. When I’m NOT working (I have a family that, while fantastic, demands a fair amount of my time), I’m mentally obsessing about when I’ll be back at my computer, typing away.

Honestly, I was starting to get a little burnt out on my revision. My motivation was lagging and my creative inspiration was drained almost dry.

Until yesterday…

Yesterday was a very busy day. I was up at 4:30am and didn’t go to bed until after 10pm. I didn’t actively revise AT ALL. That’s a rarity, and all day I was feeling distantly guilty and a little bitter about my lack of time to work. I just want to finish this revision, you know?

But… yesterday was a really good day.  

1. I had an excellent run, and was home before the sun came up.

2. I got to volunteer in my girlie’s  kindergarten classroom. I got to spend time painting with adorable five-year-olds who told me sweet stories about their families and their favorite colors and the things they like most about school.

3. I had brunch at a very tasty restaurant with a very good friend. The girl talk was much needed and much appreciated!

4. I completed my first ever Bikram Yoga class. That’s twenty-six postures in ninety minutes in a one-hundred-five degree room. It was so freaking hard, yet I can’t wait to go back!

5. And, I found my first ever four leaf clover!

Moral of the story? Sometimes a day free of outlining/writing/revising can be a GOOD THING. While part of me wishes I’d made some progress on my WiP yesterday, a bigger part of me is grateful for the break. I feel refreshed and inspired and motivated, ready to tackle revising again today.

Tell Me: How often do you take a day off from writing? What do you do to reclaim your creative inspiration?

MAY I share something funny?

As I was browsing my Silliness board over on Pinterest the other day, I came to the realization that there are some incredibly creative, cheeky, and quite often inappropriate people lurking on the Internet (*gasp*). The general (and enviable) wit of some of these folks has made me snort with laughter time and again. Hopefully it’ll give you a Friday Five chuckle as well. 🙂

ONE

TWO

THREE (Couldn’t resist!)

FOUR

FIVE

So… My family and I are on the road, headed to California with all our worldly possessions. First, though, a detour to Cannon Beach, one of my very favorite cities. Can’t wait for some fun on the beach!

What are you up to this weekend?

MAY I share something funny?

In the spirit of Friday Five and Friday Funny, I give you:

Five Funny Things My Four-Year-Old Daughter Said This Week…

5. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if I had a Princess Leia tattoo?”

4. In reference to the 1986 film Labyrinth: “Hey, can we watch that movie where David Bowie steals Toby?”

3. “I’m sorry I acted naughty. I’m going through a growth spurt.”

2. When asked if she wanted to call her Nana and Poppy: “Nah. They’re probably still sleeping. Old people need a lot of rest.” (My parents are in their fifties and it was 10:00 a.m.)

1. “Daddy, your beard makes you look like a badass.”

♥ ♥ Cute & Sassy ♥ ♥

So? What’s funny in your world these days?

F is for Friday Five (The Hunger Games Edition)

Happy Friday, friends!

I’ve been wanting to post my thoughts on a little movie I saw two weeks ago, one you may have heard a bit about:

The Hunger Games

The thing is, I needed a good long while to fully absorb the undeniable epicness (totally a word) of  my viewing experience, and I didn’t want to do my review (a word I use loosely) an injustice by jumping the gun…

Me and my ticket stub. (I'll refrain from describing all the grumbling my husband did when I asked him to snap my photo in the theater.)

Spoilers Ahead!!!

So… I had a few minor issues with movie (no book-to-film adaptation is perfect, of course), but overall, I was a fan. A BIG fan. Its mood, its message, its unavoidable representation of all things YA lit — all wonderfully executed.

Here, in true Friday Five fashion, is a countdown of the things I loved most: 

5. The Overall Appearance of the Film (costumes, sets, Seneca Crane’s beard…) – The gray disparity of District 12 contrasted with the garish spectacle of the Capitol spoke volumes. The arena’s forests, the tracker-jackers, the tributes’ gear — it was all spot on. So much of what I pictured while reading The Hunger Games two years ago appeared, nearly identically, on-screen. This, as a reader and viewer and fan, was incredibly satisfying.

 

 4. The Add-Ins (or, things we didn’t get to “see” while reading) – I found the behind-the-scenes (and highly calculated) game-making fascinating, and the District 11 riot was absolutely chilling. Thanks to Katniss’ first-person narration, neither of these aspects were explicitly described in the book (we can safely assume they happened, at least in some capacity), yet they turned out to be two of my favorite bits of the movie.

3. The Acting (Woody Harrelson, Stanely Tucci, Lenny Kravitz, Amandla Stenberg, specifically) – While Liam Hemsworth is pretty, I could have done without his empty stares and choppy dialogue, but the majority of the cast… Yowza! I was in awe of the way they grabbed hold of their roles and perfectly personified their characters, often above and beyond my (admittedly high) expectations. For me, the  performances  of the actors and actresses in supporting roles are what truly brought the movie to life.

This scene: Win

2. The Reaping – I’m not a crier — never have been — but damn it if I didn’t choke up  during the Reaping. That little Prim, the way she trembles and cries out for her sister. The way Gale has to drag her, kicking and screaming, from the ceremony. The pity — and relief — in the eyes of the onlookers. The way Katniss’ voice breaks when she shouts, “I volunteer!”  That whole scene was cinematic gold.

1. Jennifer Lawrence – There was a time, many moons ago, when I rooted for Hailee Steinfeld to earn the lead role of Katniss Everdeen. While I still think Hailee is adorable, having now seen Jennifer Lawrence so totally embody Katniss, I can’t imagine any other actress playing the part. Jennifer was subtle and controlled, yet she executed a flawless Katniss: brave and bold and bright, self-sufficient and pragmatic, so obviously passionate. I could not take my eyes off her, and I cannot wait to see how she helps Katniss evolve as the trilogy progresses onscreen.

Jennifer Lawrence + Katniss Everdeen = Badass

Looking for more on The Hunger Games movie? Check out these thoughtful reviews from fellow reader-writer-bloggers Sarah Enni, Caroline Richmond, Maggie Stiefvater, and Farrah Penn.

Have you seen The Hunger Games yet? What did YOU love?

Friday Five…

It’s been so long since I’ve done a Friday Five,
I couldn’t help myself…

1. Writing Update – I’ve been deep in the throes of revising one manuscript and rewriting another. Sheesh… The writing process is HARD! And, it’s mostly the reason for the relative quiet here on my blog–revising and rewriting have sucked up all my creative energy. Plus, my husband’s been home for about a month now (yay!) and we’re still in that happy place of wanting to spend tons of family time together. So, when I’m not squinting at my computer screen and eating my weight in Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips, I’m hanging with my two favorite people.

2. #MarchPhotoADay – I’ve recently fallen in love with Instagram, a photography iPhone app that lets you edit your photos with all kinds of cool filters and then share them with your friends on a feed. This month I’m participating in one of Instagram’s many photo challenges: #MarchPhotoADay. I’m thinking of it as another way to stretch my creativity, and it’s super fun to see how other people interpret the prompts. Here they are:

And here’s my submission for Day 2, FRUIT:

You should definitely join in if you’re an Instagram-er! Oh, and if you want to find me there, I’m katyupperman.

3. Flawed – I was lucky enough to read this stunning contemporary YA novel by debut author Kate Avelynn early (it’s being released this July by Entangled Teen) and let me tell you, it is absolutely heart-wrenching. Like, you won’t be able to put it down because you’ll be THAT stressed about the future of the characters. If you’re a fan of books like Elizabeth Scott’s Living Dead Girl and Tabitha Suzuma’s Forbidden, you should definitely check out Flawed. (Click the cover and you’ll be redirected to Flawed‘s Goodreads page.)

Flawed
Sarah O’Brien is alive because of the pact she and her brother made twelve years ago—James will protect her from their violent father if she promises to never leave him. For years, she’s watched James destroy his life to save hers. If all he asks for in return is her affection, she’ll give it freely. Until, with a tiny kiss and a broken mind, he asks for more than she can give. Sam Donavon has been James’s best friend—and the boy Sarah’s had a crush on—for as long as she can remember. As their forbidden relationship deepens, Sarah knows she’s in trouble. Quiet, serious Sam has decided he’s going to save her. Neither of them realize James is far more unstable than her father ever was, or that he’s not about to let Sarah forget her half of the pact…

4. Homeland – I know I’m a little late jumping on this bandwagon, but have you seen Showtime’s Homeland? Holy hell… The first season was AMAZING. My husband and I don’t agree on many TV shows, but we flew through this one and are already itching for more. Homeland is fast-paced, powerful, and densely layered. No character goes without garnering at least a bit of sympathy (seriously–even the terrorists have clear motivations for acting the way they do), and every single episode is a game-changer. Plus, Claire Danes is freaking fantastic. Recommend!

5. Military Ball – Last weekend my husband and I lived it up at his unit’s Military Ball. Have I mentioned how happy I am to have him home? 🙂

So… What’s on your plate for the 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!

Happy Veterans Day + Five on a Friday

Happy Veterans Day!

As a proud Army wife, I encourage you to take a moment today to show your appreciation and gratitude to our nation’s Veterans, both past and present. My husband has served in the Army for nearly nine years and is currently rounding out his fourth deployment. Both of my brothers and my father-in-law are Veterans as well. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that they have all faced plenty of adversity and frustration during their deployments. Yet they never complain and each has accomplished amazing things while overseas. I am so very proud of and thankful for all who serve, but especially my incredibly selfless husband, my two courageous brothers, and my wise father-in-law. Thank you, Veterans!

With that said… I can’t believe another week has come and gone. How is it already mid-November? How is Thanksgiving only two weeks away? And Christmas… Must. Finish. Shopping! Regardless of my pre-holiday panic, I’ve got a good old-fashioned Friday Five for you today–all kinds of random about what’s going on in my life…

ONE – Though I’ve schooled my husband repeatedly on the realities of the book submission process, the statistics of a person actually selling a book, reasonable debut advance amounts and how they’re doled out, he continues to ask me this annoying yet slightly endearing question: When you sell a book, are you going to buy me a boat?

I honestly think he pictures our lives turning into a scene from Captain Ron, only insert an image of little ol’ me sitting on the boat’s bow, toiling away on my laptop, writing Best Sellers and earning bazillions of dollars. Don’t get me wrong–I’m obviously all for sailing the seven seas without a care in the world except for writing, but I can’t help but think his expectations might be the *tiniest* bit high. Please tell me I’m not the only aspiring author with a husband full of visions of grandeur!

TWO – Somehow a catalog for My Twinn dolls found its way into my mailbox, and then promptly into the hands of my daughter. She. Is. Smitten. Anytime someone asks her what she wants for Christmas, she mentions the Twinn dolls. I, however, am slightly less than horrified. Long story short, you can customize these things to look exactly like your child (down to hair texture and freckle placement) and they are NOT cheap (like, $140 for the BASIC doll!). And… they’re weird. I mean, feast your eyes on the creepy:

See! Weird, right?! Do I really need another doll taking up space in my house? One that has the EXACT same features as my daughter? One who is poseable in freakishly human ways? One whose eyes follow me around the room? Um. No, thank you, I do not.

THREE – Speaking of my daughter… We went to the most adorable Mad Hatter Tea Party last weekend! It was hosted by our local bakery (which always carries a full selection of to-die-for-amazing yummies), and we took my husband’s mom along with us. Such fun, and so well-themed! The little bottles of juice had stickers that said Drink Me! and there were cute little cookies (among MANY other treats) that said Eat Me! The bakery plans to host themed tea parties once a month. I can already proclaim with confidence that we’ll be attending all of them!

Love our local bakery!

Such an adorable theme…

Cheshire Smile Cupcakes!

Cutest girl ever! 🙂

FOUR – It’s official: Bravo has seduced me with yet another show. Work of Art, The Next Great Artist is a reality competition that’s right up my alley. Eccentric, highly emotional contestants? Check. Heaping doses of creativity? Check. Over-the-top challenges with nearly impossible deadlines? Check. Much like Top Chef, another of my favorites, Work of Art is the perfect combination of drama, talent, and completely unapologetic kookiness. There’s actually a participant who has graced himself with the moniker SUCKLORD. Like, for real. Wednesday nights, 9:00pm, Bravo. You simply must tune in!

FIVE – Pinterest. Oh, Pinterest. How I love you. I really, really do. Thanks to you, I’ve scored tons of tasty recipes and craft ideas that I’ve tried and loved and recommended to others. And, I’m getting ready to make a board full of images specific to the WIP I’m mentally preparing to rewrite. Yay for visual inspiration! But lately, Pinterest, I’ve found myself pinning pictures and links to items I adore, but don’t exactly need. I feel a little like my daughter with her Toys R Us Christmas catalog and black crayon. For example:

Herb Sheers… So cool, but a necessity? Maybe not.

A ring, which I LOVE, but probably can’t afford–not that I’d ever buy myself a diamond. That’s what husbands are for. 🙂

Boot socks! How cozy do these look? And the tops, made pretty to peek out from tall boots. I know it’s nearly winter and all, but can I honestly claim that I can’t live without these? Not really.

Smart Phone Gloves… These are genius, but can’t I just wait until I get inside to use my phone?

Aqua Notes = Coolness. Now this one… I *might* be able to justify this one.

Anywho… I’m certainly happy to see the weekend! I’ll be spending mine with my girlie and an eGalley of Kimberly Derting’s new dystopian The Pledge. As a self-proclaimed super-fan of The Body Finder series, I’m pretty excited about reading this book. Look for my Bookanista review next week!

So, what are you reading this weekend?