Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently…” post every other Tuesday. You should join me! Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

Mount Vernon! We made our third trip the other day (we’re trying to visit during each of the four seasons), and it was beautiful as usual. George Washington’s home is one of our favorite D.C. spots. If you’re ever in the area, definitely give yourself a day to check it out.

Reading

I recently finished Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Kiss, my most anticipated release of the year, and it was just… perfection. It made me feel a million feelings and the end was just so satisfying. Plus, it’s a NYT Bestseller! Check out my more detailed review in March’s Reading Wrap-Up. Now I’m reading Emery Lord’s latest release, When We Collided, and it’s lovely so far.

Watching

Nothing much, honestly. The older I get, the less patience I have for TV and I just haven’t had time for movies lately. That said, despite my ranting at the end of the last season of Game of Thrones (*sob*), I am looking forward to April 24th and the first episode of Season 6.

Listening To

I just finished All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, and it was fantastic. Powerful and important and, unfortunately, timely. I’m so impressed with how layered the characters are, and how complex Rashad and Quinn’s relationships with family and friends turn out to be. Plus, the audiobook narrators are exceptional. Big recommend.

Thinking About

My WiP. It’s coming along, word-count-wise, but oof… it’s a mess. I keep reminding myself that I can’t fix words that aren’t written, but I’ve never dealt with a first draft this shitty. Hopefully by the time I’m done drafting I’ll have figured out what this story’s actually about. I did come across this line, though, written months and months ago — She smells like fields of lavender. She tastes like strawberries. She kisses like a freaking champ. — and I kind of like it. I’m hoping that, eventually, I’ll kind of like the rest of the book.

Anticipating

So, so excited about the Gilmore Girls revival — especially now that Entertainment Weekly has released photos from the set. Can’t wait to be reunited with Lorelai, Rory, Luke, Sookie, and the rest of the gang!

Wishing

That you’ll check out the following Goodreads lists: YA Novels of 2017YA Debuts 20172017 Debut YA/MG Novels, and Books Published by Swoon Reads. Kissing Max Holden has found its way onto all of them, which is so exciting! Maybe you’d like to vote for my debut, or add it as “To Read”. 😘

Making Me Happy

Longtime friends who flew across the country to visit, and were willing to participate in a 10 mile trek through D.C., during which dozens of tourist attractions were viewed. We’re having an awesome time with Kari and Patrick!

Did you post a “Currently…” this week?
Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to visit! 

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Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently…” post every other Tuesday. You should join me! Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

There’s a lot about living in Northern Virginia that bugs me — the crowds, the terrible drivers, and the allergens, for starters — but one thing I’ll never complain about is the abundance of restaurant options. Coming from a small Florida town where the dining-out choices were Panera Bread, Firehouse Subs, and a mediocre sports bar, the possibilities in D.C. are mind-boggling. We’ve had amazing Latin American, Lebanese, Thai, and Iranian food, and most recently, we had “fast” food from Burger Tap & Shake, which was incredible. I had a falafel sandwich, sweet potato fries, and a cookies-n-cream shake — yum! If you’re ever in Foggy Bottom or Tenleytown, grab yourself some lunch.

Reading

I recently finished Katie Van Ark’s The Boy Next Door, a YA romance set in the world of competitive pairs figure skating. It’s utterly unputdownable, and the character arcs are steep, which I loved. I also read Shannon Parker’s The Girl Who Fell, a contemporary YA about a girl who gets wrapped up in a manipulative, eventually abusive relationship. It’s really well done, and really frightening. Up next? Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Kiss, which is out TODAY and is hands down my most anticipated read of the year. Excuse me while I disappear with my new book!

Watching

Twinsters, which is the most heart-warming documentary I’ve ever seen. It’s the story of Korean twin girls who were split up as infants and adopted by two different families. They grew up on different continents, not knowing about each other until they serendipitously connect via YouTube. So good! Also, I saw Zootopia with my husband and daughter, and we all rate it 5 stars. It’s clever and deep and timely and funny. And, finally, the other night my husband and I watched As Above, So Below, a freaking scary movie set in the Catacombs of Paris. I’m kind of over the “found footage” thing, but I’m willing to forgive it in this case because the story was creative and wildly intense, and the atmosphere was dark and exceptionally terrifying.

Listening To

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier — for some reason, I’d pegged this YA a super serious fantasy, but it’s actually a humorous and entertaining time travel novel full of voice and adventure. To me, it reads on the younger side of YA, but it’s fast-paced and all kinds of fun. The audiobook narrator is excellent, too.

Thinking About

Plotting. Why is it so hard?! I’m in the process of drafting my sixth(-ish) manuscript, and I’m no better at planning a book than I was way back when I wrote that first (awful) story. And so, I’m reading Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants, a clear and concise book about plotting with the goal of increasing drafting speed and commercial appeal. I’m learning a lot, and having a lot of duh moments. Highly recommend reading it if you’re someone who’s struggling to become a more successful plotter, like me.

Anticipating

Camp NaNoWriMo! I’ve got a 20K word goal for April, and I’m part of an excellent cabin of writers. I’m such a bad drafter, guys, and I love the idea of community when it comes to slogging through the muddled middle of a new manuscript, which is exactly what I’m in the midst of doing. Can’t wait to get busy in the new month!

Wishing

That you’ll check out the following Goodreads lists: YA Novels of 2017YA Debuts 20172017 Debut YA/MG Novels, and Books Published by Swoon Reads. Kissing Max Holden has found its way onto all of them, which is so exciting! Maybe you’d like to vote for my debut, or add it as “To Read”. 😘

Making Me Happy

Springtime in Virginia. We’ve been having such beautiful weather.

Did you post a “Currently…” this week?
Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to visit! 

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently…” post every other Tuesday. You should join me! Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

Two skin care discoveries… My complexion has been not so great lately, and I’m always on the hunt for products that make my face feel healthy and look luminous. First, Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream, which I’ve been using as an eye cream and, oh my gosh, I love it. It’s super hydrating and really gentle, and it makes the skin beneath my eyes look smoother and more supple. Also, it’s something like $7 — total steal. Second, Tony Moly Sheet Masks. You can order eleven different masks via Amazon for less than $11, and after wearing one for a half-hour, my skin feels smooth and full of moisture and like I’ve enjoyed a trip to the spa (I wish!).

Reading

First & Then by Emma Mills, which was everything I wanted it to be. Devon is a most excellent narrator (she’s got voice for days!) and the complications of friendship and first love play out so deliciously. I also read Jessica Love‘s second novel, In Real Life, and even though I beta-ed an early version of this story a few years ago, the finished copy still gave me all the feels. Hannah and Nick are just too cute, and so easy to root for. Adored both of these contemps!

Watching

 The Fosters, a show about a foster family whose last name is — wait for it — Foster. Oddly enough, in the novel First & Then [above] the boy who is essentially Devon’s foster brother is also named Foster. Clever. 😉 Anyway, for an ABC Family (apparently now “Freeform”) show, The Fosters is quite good. I love Maia Mitchelle (she’s how I picture Kissing Max Holden‘s Jillian), and so far I’m impressed with the diversity of the cast and the quality of the writing.

Listening To

Last week I listened to James Alexander Thom’s Follow the River, which is based on true events and is apparently something of an American classic, though I hadn’t heard of it until my mom started reading it. If you like history and/or survival stories, this is the book for you. I enjoyed it very much, though the audiobook is narrated by a man — an odd choice, as this is a woman’s story. He used weird (distracting) falsettos every time Mary, her sister-in-law, and her female companion spoke. Still, the story and author’s note are fascinating.

Thinking About

The NoVaTEEN Book Festival, which was packed with talented authors including Jennifer Donnelly, Kelly Fiore, and Julie Murphey, as well as Natalie C. Parker, Lisa Maxwell, and Holly Black, who are pictured below. As an added  bonus, I got to meet two Swoon Reads authors, Sandy Hall and Kelly Zekas, who are predictably delightful, and I got to hang with some cool volunteers, including fellow Swanky 17 authors Christina June and Sarah Nicole Lemon.

17fc5-12826198_868513766591232_1691782327_nAnticipating

Drafting. Guys, I haven’t drafted anything new since before I submitted Kissing Max Holden to Swoon Reads back in October. I’ve got two messy partial manuscripts sitting at about 30K words each, and I started reading one over the weekend. It’s actually… better than I recall. (Isn’t it awesome when that happens?) As soon as I finish my refresher read-thru, I’m going to get serious about plotting and drafting its second half. It’s fun to feel inspired!

Wishing

You’ll check out the debut group I belong to, The Swanky Seventeens. We’re growing every day, our members’ books sound fantastic. We’re currently featuring interviews with 2016 debut authors on our blog. You can follow us on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Making Me Happy

Yesterday, in honor of Pi Day, I baked a blueberry pie. It turned out so pretty and it tasted delicious. I love making homemade pie crust — you can find my favorite, no-fail recipe is HERE. Also! My friend Elodie Nowodazkij’s NA romance, Love in B Minor is out today. Friends, you will LOVE its twisty plot, its sexy characters, and its beautiful Parisian setting!

Did you post a “Currently…” this week?
Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to visit! 

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently…” post every other Tuesday. You should join me! Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

The National Gallery of Art… We went last weekend for my birthday and it was so cool. We saw work by Picasso and Matisse and Van Gogh, among many, many other artists — the gallery is enormous! I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in DC. Beautiful, and free to view. 🙂

Reading

How to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozzo, which is fantastic so far. Nikki is such a relatable, complex protagonist, and love interest Pax… all the swoon, guys. I’m loving the premise of this book — the fallout of a terrible cyberbullying incident — and I can’t wait to see how Nikki’s story plays out.

Watching

Fuller House, obvs. It’s so cheesy, but I’m kind of loving it. I’m also going catch up on Project Runway All Stars this week, and hopefully start The Fosters. I turned in my first round of Kissing Max Holden edits the other day, so I’ve got a sudden abundance of free time. 🙂

Listening To

I recently listened to Cristina Moracho’s Althea & Oliver, which I reviewed in yesterday’s February Reading Wrap-Up. The condensed version: A gritty story set in the late nineties that made my heart hurt bad. Now, I’m listening to Marie Rutkowski’s The Winner’s Crime (I read the novel last year) in preparation for this month’s release of The Winner’s Kiss.

Thinking About

The Author Bucket List I recently created. It’s got all sorts of professional goals on it (short-term and long-term) and I’m so looking forward to crossing items off as I accomplish them. (Speaking of bucket lists, I revised my Thirty Before 35 list, and I’m now calling it my Life List. Find it HERE, if you’re interested.)

Anticipating

The NoVaTEEN Book Festival! It’s this Saturday, and I’m volunteering my time to help with registration and room monitoring. Mostly, I’m just excited about all the fan-girling I’ll get to do, because the author line-up is aMaZiNg.  If you live in the area, you should come — it’s not too late to register, and it’s free. 👍

Wishing

You’ll check out the debut group I belong to, The Swanky Seventeens. We’re growing every day, our members’ books sound fantastic, and we’re currently featuring interviews with 2016 debut authors on our blog. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Making Me Happy

My friend Jessica Love‘s second novel, In Real Life, releases today! Guys, I read an early version of this contemporary YA romance (think Catfish set in Vegas) a few years ago, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the finished copy. It’s an incredible story! Find its summary, advance praise, and order links HERE. Congrats, Jess! ❤

Did you post a “Currently…” this week?
Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to visit! 

Thirty Before 35 –> Life List

(Read my original Thirty Before 35 post here.)

Sun

Tomorrow I turn 35. Yowza.

If you’ve been following along for awhile, you know I set some goals two years ago, when I turned 33. I’ve crossed quite a few off the list, which makes me really happy. I’ve also stopped caring about accomplishing others. Others still, I’m hoping realize one day. And so, I’m giving myself more time.

Indefinite time, in fact. 

I’m going to revise my Thirty Before 35 list, and I’m going to start calling it my Life List. I’ll add to it occasionally, too, because surely I’ll come up with new goals as time passes. I’m excited!

So, here’s my Thirty Before 35 list as it stands today…

  1. Bake a Rainbow Cake.
  2. Sell a novel (or two!).
  3. Complete a 500 piece puzzle.
  4. Have a picnic on the beach.
  5. Read and review a Stephen King novel.
  6. Drink a Hurricane in New Orleans.
  7. Have professional family photos taken.
  8. Run Disney’s Princess 1/2 Marathon.
  9. Attend a writers’ conference or festival.
  10. Order a Stitch Fix box.
  11. See a musical.
  12. Plan and host a tea party with my girl.
  13. Make a quilt.
  14. Take an international vacation.
  15. Watch Friday Night Lights in its entirety.
  16. Complete a three day juice cleanse.
  17. Write a manuscript that’s not contemporary YA.
  18. Pass 2K Twitter followers.
  19. Read Speak (my most shameful YA gap book).
  20. Host a brunch.
  21. Master “Space-A” travel.
  22. Attend a writers’ retreat.
  23. Get a massage.
  24. Make Chocolate Babka.
  25. Add another child to our family.
  26. Visit Mount Rushmore.
  27. Master “Crow” pose in yoga.
  28. Go to a(nother) country music concert.
  29. Plant an herb garden.
  30. Teach my daughter to swim (really well).

And here’s my new and improved…

Life List

Stay tuned for updates. 🙂

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently…” post every other Tuesday. You should join me! Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

Last Friday I came home to the most amazing surprise — a “congrats on your book deal!” package from my friend Tracey Neithercott. All kinds of wonderful things were included (First & Then, Jelly Bellies, and adorable paper products) but my very, very favorite item is the framed art below. It features a line from Kissing Max Holden and it made my heart incredibly happy. Thank you so very much, Tracey! ❤

Reading

Thicker Than Water by Kelly Fiore, which is fantastic so far. It’s a dark contemporary YA about drug addiction and its impact on a teen girl and her family. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here…

Watching

Over the last two weeks, I binge watched Making a Murderer, which was excellent. Obviously the documentary is biased and I’m still not 100% sure of the accuseds’ guilt, but I feel certain the trials were unjust. This decades-spanning story was both terrifying and utterly captivating. I recommend watching if you’re into true crime and/or criminal justice (or lack thereof).

Listening To

Erin Morenstern’s The Night Circusand it is magical. I’m not sure how I missed reading it when it was first published in 2011, but I’m so happy to be listening now. It’s narrated by Jim Dale (of Harry Potter audiobook fame) and he’s just as remarkable as the story’s plot and atmosphere and prose.

Thinking About

The weekend I spent on the Chesapeake Bay with these writers…

So thankful for stunning sunrise walks, time dedicated to my revision, and the opportunity to learn from and be inspired by these girls. ❤

Anticipating

The end of my first round of Kissing Max Holden revisions. I’m well on my way, and planning to be done by the end of February. I’m super excited about the changes I’m making — I think Jill and Max are benefiting. 🙂

Wishing

Okay, this is going to sound crazy, but I’m wish for snow — though not for me. (I hate snow. And winter. And being cold.) My daughter wants to sled and make snow angels and have snowball fights very badly, but so far we’ve had a super mild winter. For her sake, I’m hoping we get a few flurries soon.

Making Me Happy

The beach — I’ve missed it since we moved from Florida to Virginia. I feel very lucky to have been able to enjoy these views over the last few days. The Chesapeake Bay is beautiful; even though it was very, very cold, I found seashells and sea glass and even a shark’s tooth!

  

What’s currently making YOU happy?

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently…” post every other Tuesday. You should join me! Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

My new yoga studio! My husband bought me a membership for Christmas and it is aMaZiNg. I’ve practiced yoga for several years now, but mostly at home. I’ve never consistently attended classes, but after just a few short weeks in the studio with instructors who are deeply knowledgeable about the practice, I’m hooked.

Reading

Julie Murphy’s sophomore novel, Dumplin’, a contemporary YA about a small town girl who loves Dolly Parton and ends up an unlikely participant in a local beauty pageant. So far, it’s as glorious as its cover.

Watching

My husband and I just caught up on Homeland and, as per usual, my favorite character appears to have died in the season finale. I’m sad. My falling in love with a TV character pretty much guarantees his or her demise, which is why I don’t watch much TV.

Listening To

The new season of Serial, for starters. It explores the case of Bowe Bergdahl, the Army soldier who was held as a POW by the Taliban for five years. I have a lot of feelings about Bergdahl and the circumstances under which he was captured, and I’m finding Sarah Koenig’s reporting compelling as usual. I’m also listening to a YA historical fiction, Stacey Lee’s Under a Painted Sky (using the new-to-me OverDrive app). I’m enjoying the story and the narration very much.

Thinking About

Goal setting, and the sort of 2016 I’d like to have. In the past, I’ve set a focus word for the New Year (ResolveAcceptanceStoicism, and Present) and tried to keep that word in mind as I went about the business of being a wife, mama, friend, and writer. This year, though, I’ve decided to create a mission statement, one that will hopefully remind me to live my best life in 2016. Already, it feels like a postive step forward…

Anticipating

My upcoming writers’ retreat! I get to spend four days in a lovely Maryland house with five of my favorite writer buddies. I’ve got plenty to do as far as my Kissing Max Holden edits go, and I’m super excited about a girls’ weekend away. Can. Not. Wait!

Wishing

For smooth sailing as I tackle a fairly substantial revision. I know the changes on my To-Do checklist are going to make for a stronger story, but man… I’d forgotten how challenging revisions can be! One tiny alteration, and I’ve suddenly got a waterfall of adjustments to make. But! I love revising a thousand times more than drafting, so no complaints here. 🙂

Making Me Happy

Guys, I signed a publishing contract. I have an amazing editor, and an edit letter I believe in. Kissing Max Holden is on Goodreads. I have an author page on Facebook. In 2017, my book is going to be a BOOK. How can I not be happy?!

What’s currently making YOU happy?