Friday Fun: Inspiring Authors and Would you rather…?

Happy Friday!

I’m kind of excited about this weekend. Tonight my neighbors and I are having a fun little Wine Walk block party. My house is the last stop on the journey, which means I get to serve desserts (chocolate pretzel twists, Avalanche Bars, and pumpkin cookies [no link for these; I buy the cookie dough from my milkman–cheater!]). I’ve also got Apricot Ale and delish JFJ Sparkling Almond Wine–my favorite! Tomorrow, my girlie and I are having a super lazy day at home with movies and pedicures, and on Sunday we’re taking Mimi (my husband’s mom) to a Mad Hatter Tea Party at our local bakery. So fun!

But first, a Friday Five with Paper Hangover:

This is hard! There are so many amazing authors who’ve influenced and inspired me over the years. I had to go with six (I know, I know…). Here they are, in no particular order…

1. Beverly Cleary – Ramona! Ramona, Ramona, Ramona. I grew up with this precocious girl, and oh my goodness, did I adore her. Actually, I kind of wanted to be her. I wanted a big sister like Beezus, a best friend like Howie, and a neighborhood like Klickitat Street. I remember going to the hairdresser with my mom and asking to have my hair cut like Ramona. Now, I read the Ramona books to my daughter. She’s equally smitten.

2. Melina Marchetta – Sigh. An author whose work I love with a passion that borders on embarrassing. Her books absolutely gut me. (Jellicoe Road is my favorite young adult novel EVER.) Her characters get inside me and stay there (I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I totally want to name a future son Jonah :)). Her worlds, her writing, the complex plots and character relationships she builds and always brings full circle… Wow.

3. JK Rowling – I have a feeling the creator of Harry Potter has inspired just about every aspiring middle grade and young adult author. What a success story! Many credit her with helping a whole generation fall in love with fiction (fantasy, even!). I watched the interview she did with Oprah last year and was blown away by her creativity and brilliance, not to mention her humility and sense of humor. Such a class act.

4. Gayle Forman – If I Stay was the first YA book I read that made me think: I want to write like THAT. So emotional and beautiful and perfect. And Where She Went… Best. Follow-up. Ever. Plus, I find Gayle Forman to be a social media rock star. She’s incredibly eloquent and strikes me as thoughtful and intelligent. Also, when she recommends a book on her blog or Twitter, I know it will be good.

5. Judy Blume – I was (AM!) such a fan of BlubberJust as Long as We’re TogetherTales of a Fourth Grade NothingAre You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Forever… Somehow Judy Blume manages to write for a large age span with such a perfectly authentic voice. Her books are moving no matter how silly the subject matter happens to be, and totally timeless. Who can’t relate to Margaret, or Katherine, or Stephanie at some point in their lives?

6. Jodi Picoult – Such a prolific author, one who knows her niche and embraces it. Her books are incredibly well-researched and usually spark political, moral,  or ethical debate which, I think, is one sign of a powerful story. They’re also widely appealing. I read my first Jodi Picoult book in high school and loved it, and still find her work to be exceptional.

So, those are six authors who’ve inspired me. I’m curious… which authors inspire you?

And an incredibly profound Would you rather…?

Would you rather have a lifetime supply of ice cream, or a lifetime supply of chocolate?

(And NO, you can’t combine and have chocolate ice cream! Have fun mulling THAT one over!)

See you on Monday for a Debut Love post… Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday Fun: Fives (x2!)

Happy Friday, Friends!

First, a Friday Five from Paper Hangover, a fantastic group blog offering writing tips, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews. Here’s today’s prompt:

What are the FIVE best ages of your life and why?

1. Zero to Twelve – This might be a bit of a cop-out, but yeah… I had a lovely childhood full of wonderful people and experiences. There’s not one particular age I can pinpoint as the BEST of my childhood, but I can say that somewhere just after twelve, preteen anxiety and awkwardness set in. It was all down hill from there.

2. Nineteen – High school was, all in all, a pretty tragic experience. Though I had some great friends (a few I’m still friends with!) and was athletic, I was painfully shy and always obsessing about what people thought of me. I didn’t date or go to dances because I was majorly lacking in confidence. But by the time I turned nineteen and started college (Go Cougs!), I came into my own. At nineteen, I nailed down a career path (teaching, which turned out to be fairly temporary), joined a sorority (you can’t help but be social in the Greek system), and met my future husband (who has always been the life of the party and, whether he realizes it or not, played a big part in bringing me out of my shell).

3. Twenty-Two – A huge, wonderful year! I graduated from college, got married, and moved from Washington to Arizona. Twenty-two was the age at which I became a real grown-up. My husband and I bought cars, rented an apartment, learned to manage money, and figured out how to cook for ourselves. I got my first full-time job (management at Bath and Body Works… thank you, teaching degree), and we also acquired our first “baby,” a mutt named Lucy Pup-perman, who’s still driving me crazy.

4. Twenty-Five – By this point, we were living in Tennessee (loved that duty-station!), I was actually using my degree to teach fifth graders, and we had upgraded from an apartment to a house. My husband was deployed for the first chunk of this year which sucked up and down, but other than that,  life was really great. I had the most amazing class, coworkers I adored, and friends who were loads of fun. I went on a fabulous cruise with my parents and brothers, and got to welcome my husband home from a year in Iraq. Twenty-five was also the age at which I ended up with a bun in the oven. 🙂

5. Twenty-Six to Thirty – I know, I know… another cop-out, but I really can’t distinguish any one year since my daughter’s birth as greater than another. She’s just my absolute favorite person in the world, and she makes even the challenging times (three more deployments, sick family members, stressful moves) more bearable. Plus, it was during the last few years that I started writing with the goal of publication which, despite its extreme highs and lows, has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I’ve had.

Oy. I bet you didn’t think you were going to  get my whole life story out of that simple prompt.

Do tell: What were the five best ages of your life?

And, in an effort to stick with the Friday Five theme (for once!), I present you with FIVE writerly funnies…

(Courtesy of Sara McClung!)

Hope your weekend is full of awesome!

Friday Fun – Is time travel the new black? And, Pay It Forward!

So much to share today! Let’s dive right in, shall we?

First, an interesting trend I’ve noticed of late: Of the eight novels I’ve read since September 1st, FOUR have included an element of time travel. This is a peculiar coincidence because before September 1st, I can’t tell you the last book I picked up that had anything to do with time travel. Also, if you had asked me two months ago if I like stories that utilize time travel as a plot device, I would have said, “Eh.” I certainly don’t seek time travel novels out, but I have enjoyed the ones I’ve read lately (actually, two of the four have been added to my All-Time Favorites list. Huh…).

What do you think of novels that include time travel? Have you noticed them trending the way I have? Any favorite time travel books to recommend? 

Speaking of time, it’s been way too long since I’ve posted a Friday Five, and today Paper Hangover, a fantastic group blog offering writing tips, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews, has selected a topic I just can’t pass up:

It’s so difficult to choose just five! My childhood was FULL of books (thank you, Mom and Dad :)), and I’ve been an avid reader since the moment I realized that letters strung together on paper could transport me to new and exciting places. The five books listed below stick out in my mind for different reasons–charm, illustrations, descriptions, humor, characters, adventure, timelessness–and between the ages, oh,  five and twelve, I read each one repeatedly. (All blurbs are from Goodreads.)

1. Corduroy by Don Freeman – Don Freeman’s classic character, Corduroy, is even more popular today then he was when he first came on the scene over thirty years ago. These favorite titles are ready for another generation of children to love.

2. King Bidgood’s in the Bathtub by Audrey Wood – In this raucous tale, the Knight, the Duke, the Queen–and eventually the whole court–all try to lure King Bidgood from his cozy bathtub, but he won’t get out! Will anyone be able to solve this problem?

3. The entire Baby-Sitters Club Series by Ann M. Martin (and a long parade of ghostwriters, I assume) – Follows the adventures of Kristy and the other members of the Baby-Sitters Club as they deal with crank calls, uncontrollable two-year-olds, wild pets, and parents who do not always tell the truth.

4. The Hatchet by Gary Paulsen – Since it was first published in 1987, the story of thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson’s survival following a plane crash has become a modern classic. Stranded in the desolate wilderness, Brian uses his instincts and his hatchet to stay alive for fifty-four harrowing days.

5. Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume – Stephanie, 12, is into “hunks” even though she’s never met one herself. But when she starts seventh grade and finds out that she and her best friend, Rachel, aren’t in any of the same classes except gym, Stephanie has more to worry about than boys. A new girl, Alison, moves in; she’s a welcome new friend, but her presence alters the relationship between Steph and Rachel. For the first time, Rachel has secrets from Steph. But worse, Stephanie accidentally learns that her father isn’t in California on business, but that her parents have separated, and that her father has a girlfriend. She even suspects her mother of having a “fling.” The relationships within the story among the three friends, and between Steph and her parents, are complicated, and Blume handles this aspect realistically and with great ease. The story is lively and captures the nutty, poignant world of young teenagers.

Next: Today Alex Cavenaugh and Matt of the QQQE are hosting the Pay It Forward Blogfest! The idea is to introduce your readers to three bloggers you find awesome.

Here’s how it works: In my post, I’ll list, describe, and link to three blogs I enjoy reading, then you can hop around and check out their awesome for yourself. How fun is this idea?! Just so you know, it was incredibly difficult to narrow my list to ONLY three blogs, but in the end I went with three  that, when updated, I feel extra  excited to read.  

1. Alison Miller’s Left Brained by Day; Write Brained–All the Time – Alison is adorable! Her posts (on writing, books, motherhood, and life) are witty, thoughtful, and fun. Her taste in books is quite similar to mine, which makes her reviews over-the-top  aMaZiNg! 

2. Erin Bowman – Another blogger with fabulous taste in YA books! Erin’s blog is full of style and insight. She consistently shares her experiences with reading and writing, and advice on the publishing process (her debut, The Laicos Project, will be released Winter, 2013… can’t wait!). 

3. Tracey Neithercott of Words on Paper – I could include Tracey based on her conception of The Fall Book Club alone, but, she has even more brilliance to share with the blogosphere. Her posts are  a sassy combination of smart, sharp, and, clever, and she always takes Road Trip Wednesdays in an enviably unique direction. 

And a special mention to agent Vickie Motter of Navigating the Slush Pile, because–hello!–she’s fantastic. Her Wednesday Reads feature is one of my favorites, and she’s posting helpful information on writing, querying, and publishing. 

Please do stop by the Pay it Forward Blogfest to check out the many posts, and maybe even participate yourself!

And, since we’re (sort of) on the subject, a time-travel-inspired “Would you rather…?”

If it were safe and feasible and you were given the choice, would you rather travel back in time to the past, or forward to visit the future?

Tragic pick-up line, or totally awesome science geek opener?

Friday Fun: Where I Write and What You Eat…

First, a Friday Five from Paper Hangover, a fantastic group blog offering writing tips, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews. Here’s today’s prompt:

Oh, sheesh… pictures? Do you really want pictures of various locations around my house? I’ll try to mix it up a bit. Here’s where I like to write…

1. My La-Z-Boy. It was a pregnancy gift from my husband (he may have been a *tiny* bit tired of hearing me complain about my aching back when he bought it five years ago :)), and it’s the most comfortable seat in my house. It’s where I most often write.

2. The kitchen table. Lame-o, but yeah… it’s certainly the most functional sopt for when I need to spread papers and notebooks and index cards out.

3. Target. Weird? Maybe. I used to go to Borders to write during my daughter’s preschool hours, but of course Borders is closed now. So, I’ve recently discovered that Target’s little cafe area is quiet and relatively empty from 10:30-12:30 every day. Also, there’s no free Wi-Fi, is a blessing in disguise. My productivity while a Target is through the roof.

4. Tully’s Coffee. True confession: I really dislike Starbucks. I find it to be very yuppy-ish. Also, the Starbucks near me is always cold and loud. (Why, incidentally, do mothers organize play-dates at Starbucks? Your toddlers aren’t having fun there.) Tully’s, on the other hand, is quiant and adorable and they serve amazing coconut chai tea. I work there every Friday while my daughter is at her Spanish lesson. Look how cute!

5. My desk, but honestly I use this space more to sew. I only work here when I want to feel like a “real” writer. Real writers work at desks, right?

I showed you mine… Now what are your favorite writing spots?

And, a totally unrelated, completely frivolous, sort of funny Would you rather…?

Would you rather give up eating meat forever, or cut all carbs from your diet indefinitely?

Yeah, this is totally a no-brainer for me. I rarely eat mean anyway (and usually only chicken or fish), so I’d gladly lose it in favor of pasta and bread and rice and pastries. That said, I’ve been trying hard to cut back on carbs, and when I do eat them usually go for whole wheat.

Usually… not always. 🙂

Have a fabulous weekend!

Friday Fun: Best Books of Summer, T-Swift(!), and Love Musings…

Happy Friday!

I had a summer of amazing books. In fact, it’s difficult to limit my list of favorites, but Paper Hangover–a fantastic group blog offering writing tips, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews–is making me do it!

Here’s a Top Five countdown to my favorite book of the summer…

FIVE: A Need So Beautiful by Suzanne Young – I flew through this one. Main character Charlotte is likeable and totally torn, and she has a hot boyfriend you’ll want to date. This book has a unique perspective on Heaven and Hell and a message that’s–dare I say–inspirational.

FOUR: Room by Emma Donoghue – About the strength of the human spirit and an incredible mother-son bond. While I wouldn’t call Room a “thriller,” I certainly found it to be a page-turner.

THREE: Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta – I recommend this one to anyone who enjoys contemporary YA. You’ll love the setting (an Australian all boys’ Catholic school that’s recently opened its doors to girls), the dialogue (smart, funny, perfect), and the characters (engaging, delightful, memorable).

TWO: Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly – Just finished this one yesterday and LOVED it! Main character Andi is someone I want to know in real life. Revolution is a very sophisticated contemporary-historical-time-slip novel that will make you desperate to learn more about the French Revolution. No–really!

ONE: Chime by Franny Billingsley – The characters, the mythology, the humor, the writing–oh, the writing. The language is absolutely amazing: lyrical, beautiful, enviable. I cannot sing the praises of Chime enough. It’s gorgeous. It’s unique. It’s a bit of a trip. It’s completely unputdownable.

So, there are my Top Five. What are the best books you read this summer? 

And, since summer is coming to a close, my husband and I decided to surprise our daughter with… tickets to Wednesday night’s Taylor Swift concert! Now, my daughter is only four which–in my opinion–is way too young for a concert. But, she adores Taylor Swift. Like, really and truly idolizes her. She knows the names, lyrics, and stories behind all of her songs, asked for (and got!) a guitar for her birthday, wants “long, yellow, curly hair” like Taylor, and aspires to sing country music when she grows up.

So, we splurged on last-minute tickets, got all gussied up…

and hit the Tacoma Dome…

Let me tell you, Taylor Swift puts on an AMAZING show. She is totally adorable, so genuine, and a fantastic live performer.

My daughter was in awe (so was I, actually!) and rocked out right on through the encore. 🙂 I highly recommend you check out one of Taylor’s concerts should the opportunity arise. I’m so glad we did!

And finally, a bit of a deep Would you rather…?

Would you rather love and not be loved back, or be loved but never feel love yourself?  

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday Fun: Touch, Titles, and Technology

First and foremost, huge CONGRATULATIONS to my fantastically talented CP Jus Accardo, who now has a cover for her amazing debut YA novel, Touch (available November, 2011). Observe the awesomeness:

A fine example of perfectly capturing the mood of a book...

And of course, the official blurb: When a strange boy tumbles down a river embankment and lands at her feet, seventeen-year-old adrenaline junkie Deznee Cross snatches the opportunity to piss off her father by bringing the mysterious hottie with ice blue eyes home. Except there’s something off with Kale. He wears her shoes in the shower, is overly fascinated with things like DVDs and vases, and acts like she’ll turn to dust if he touches her. It’s not until Dez’s father shows up, wielding a gun and knowing more about Kale than he should, that Dez realizes there’s more to this boy—and her father’s “law firm”—than she realized. Kale has been a prisoner of Denazen Corporation—an organization devoted to collecting “special” kids known as Sixes and using them as weapons—his entire life. And, oh yeah, his touch? It kills. The two team up with a group of rogue Sixes hellbent on taking down Denazen before they’re caught and her father discovers the biggest secret of all. A secret Dez has spent her life keeping safe. A secret Kale will kill to protect.

Guys. I have read this book. It is INCREDIBLE. Add it on Goodreads HERE. And, if you’re so inclined, pre-order it from Amazon HERE.

And a Friday Five, hosted by Paper Hangover, a fantastic group blog offering writing tips and advice, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews. Here’s today’s prompt:

I love titles that are catchy, intriguing, and image-inducing. I love titles that make me ask a question or wonder about a character. The below titles stole my attention and I’ve added them to my Goodreads To-Read queue based (originally) on title and title alone. I’ve yet to read them, but I’m hoping the stories behind these fantastic titles will live up:

1) Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

2) The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand

3) The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer Smith

4) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

5) Raw Blue by Kirsty Eager

And, I chose to read the following books based solely on their fabulous titles. I can honestly and happily confirm that each one is equal to (or better than!) the splendor printed on its cover:

1) The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

2) The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

3) The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

4) Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

5) The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

What book titles do you love? Are there any you’re not a fan of?

And a fun Would You Rather…?

Would you rather live a month without the ability to talk on the phone or the freedom to check your email? 

(This one’s easy for me! I’d MUCH rather check my email than talk on the phone… you?)

Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

Friday Fun: Back to School…

*The above title is meant to be read in Billy Madison’s whiny sing-song voice…

First, the FIVE, hosted by Paper Hangover, a fantastic group blog offering writing tips and advice, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews. Here’s today’s prompt:

I chose the following five YA books specifically for their uniquely authentic portrayal of the high school experience. Plus, they’re all incredibly well-written and compelling (great for back-to-schoolers AND grown-ups like myself… :)). All summaries are from Goodreads.

1. Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers – Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard–falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend… if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first.

2. The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney – Some schools have honor codes. Others have handbooks. Themis Academy has the Mockingbirds. Themis Academy is a quiet boarding school with an exceptional student body that the administration trusts to always behave the honorable way–the Themis Way. So when Alex is date raped during her junior year, she has two options: stay silent and hope someone helps her, or enlist the Mockingbirds–a secret society of students dedicated to righting the wrongs of their fellow peers. In this honest, page-turning account of a teen girl’s struggle to stand up for herself, debut author Daisy Whitney reminds readers that if you love something or someone–especially yourself–you fight for it.

3. Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta – Francesca is stuck at St. Sebastian’s, a boys’ school that pretends it’s coed by giving the girls their own bathroom.  Her only female companions are an ultra-feminist, a rumored slut, and an an impossibly dorky accordion player.  The boys are no better, from Thomas who specializes in musical burping to Will, the perpetually frowning, smug moron that Francesca can’t seem to stop thinking about. Then there’s Francesca’s mother, who always thinks she knows what’s best for Francesca—until she is suddenly stricken with acute depression, leaving Francesca lost, alone, and without an inkling who she really is.  Simultaneously humorous, poignant, and impossible to put down, this is the story of a girl who must summon the strength to save her family, her social life and—hardest of all—herself.

4. Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles – When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she’s worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.  In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

5. A Separate Peace by John Knowles – John Knowles’ beloved classic has been a bestseller for more than 30 years and is one of the most moving and accurate novels about the trials and confusions of adolescence ever written. Set at an elite boarding school for boys during World War II, A Separate Peace is the story of friendship and treachery, and how a tragic accident involving two young men forever tarnishes their innocence.

And a high-school-inspired Would You Rather…?

Would you rather be constantly gossiped about or never talked about at all?

Have a wonderful weekend! 🙂

A MARA DYER Winner and Friday Five…

Thank you so much to everyone who entered my The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer ARC giveaway. I’m thrilled that so many people are excited about reading this book! I used to select a winner from the many entrants and the lucky winner is…

Tracey Neithercott!

Yay, Tracey! Please email me your mailing address at katy(dot)upperman@live(dot)com and I will have Mara to you in a few days.

An unexpected perk of hosting this giveaway were the awesome book recommendations you all left in the comments of the original post. So, for today’s Friday Five, I’d like to share a countdown of the top five most anticipated book releases selected by you, my lovely blog readers. Here they are:

5. The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (October 18, 2011)

4. The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson (September 20, 2011)

3. (TIE) Bloodlines by Richelle Mead (August 23, 2011)

and Shut Out by Kody Keplinger (September 5, 2011)

2. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin (September 27, 2011, and no surprise, since the giveaway was for this very book!)

1. And, with by far the most mentions, Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins (September 29, 2011… this is my most anticipated release too!)

Happy Friday… Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday Fun: Inspiration X2

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration, which works out well for today’s Friday Five, and for my new obsession with Pinterest.

First, the FIVE, hosted by Paper Hangover, a fantastic group blog offering writing tips and advice, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews. Here’s today’s prompt:

So, I’m going with living authors whose careers inspire me to write, read,  network, think business, think creative, branch out and explore:

1. Judy Blume…  One of my childhood idols (along with Walt Disney :)). I was (AM!) such a fan of Blubber, Just as Long as We’re Together, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Forever… I’d love to chat with Judy about where she lives part-time: the Florida Keys, and how she manages to write for a large age span with such a perfectly authentic voice. But, let’s be honest… I think that if I had the opportunity to speak to her, I’d be too star-struck to complete a sentence.

2. JK Rowling… I have a feeling the creator of Harry Potter is on any avid reader’s list of authors to meet. I watched the interview she did with Oprah last year and was blown away by her creativity and brilliance, not to mention her humility and sense of humor. And oh-my-gosh does she generate some amazing character names!

3. Ken Follet… Pillars of the Earth and World Without End are two of my favorite novels (and that’s saying a lot because I’m not normally a fan of historicals). Ken Follet has a knack for writing period drama full of emotion and rich detail. Also, he’s hugely prolific. Who wouldn’t want to pick his brain for tips on fostering a super successful writing career?

4. Melina Marchetta… My favorite YA author, and a complete and utter genius. Every time I finish one of her books my heart ends up shredded. I find myself thinking about it for weeks after, picking apart the nuances, reliving the romances. Her characters are so layered, so damaged, and so likeable. And her dialogue… LOVE. It’s so real and raw and enviable. Melina Marchetta is one of the few authors who’ve made me cry. So, yeah… I pretty much worship her.

5. Sarah Dessen… The Goddess of Contemporary Fiction. She writes like I want to write, about topics I like to explore: family, friendships, and romance. Her protagonists have a way of figuring out who they are within the context of their worlds without being preachy or condescending. I follow Sarah on Twitter and I’m certain she’d be all kinds of fun to meet. She often mentions reality TV, yummy food, and the beach, and she’s an admitted worrier, just like me! Plus, she was on the cover of Writer’s Digest. How awesome is that?

AND for further inspiration, I’d love to share some images (all found on Pinterest!) that have me thinking and pondering and toying with ideas and angles for a new story. It’s been awhile since I’ve written something brand new (I’ve been revising one manuscript and rewriting another most of this year), and lately I’ve been itching to start something fresh and totally from scratch. So, here’s the pretty that’s got my muse all abuzz:

Who or what has you inspired on this lovely Friday?

Friday Fun: WIP Inspiration, What I’m Reading, and a (Twilight) Would you rather?

Paper Hangover is a fantastic group blog offering writing tips and advice, book reviews, weekly blog topics, and teen interviews. I recommend you spend some time exploring the site–they have so much to offer!

Here’s today’s Friday Five prompt:

I’ve been talking about my story Where Poppies Bloom a lot lately (that might have something to do with the fact that I’ve been working on revising and editing it all summer), so I’m going to share five inspiring pictures from Cross My Heart, the manuscript I’ll hopefully be rewriting come fall. Cross My Heart is a contemporary YA romance with lots of friends-and-family drama, a main character I adore, and a love interest who’s obsessed with Classic Country music (also, he’s  hot-hot-hot!)…

How do images inspire your WIPs?

And my Friday Read: The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer… I’m only about 50 pages in, but I’m already super engrossed and totally intrigued. This one’s not like anything I’ve read before and the back cover blurb (on my ARC, at least) doesn’t give much away.

Speaking of giving something away (!!!) I plan to give away my ARC of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer here on my blog in the coming days. Please do check back and enter to win!

What are you reading this weekend?

And, finally, an Edward-and-Alice-Cullen-inspired Would you rather? question to ponder as your weekend begins…

Would you rather be able to read everyone’s mind all the time or always know their future?

Tomorrow is my daughter’s Tangled birthday party, so think of me as I’m wrangling four-year-olds and flinging birthday cake. Hope you have a wonderful weekend! 🙂