Category Archives: Life List

Thirty Before 35 –> Life List

(Read my original Thirty Before 35 post here.)

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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. 🙂

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Let’s Talk About #ThirtyBefore35

  (New to the blog? Read my original Thirty Before 35 post HERE.)

Sun

So. I turn 35 in exactly two months. Time to reflect on my successes and get real about my unfinished goals.

Let’s take a look, shall we? (Completed goals {in blue} link to more information about each individual experience.)

  1. Bake a Rainbow Cake. So much fun, and my daughter loved it. 
  2. Sell a novel (or two!). I still can’t believe this is real! 
  3. Complete a 500 piece puzzle. Super relaxing. I’m going to start doing more puzzles. 🙂
  4. Have a picnic on the beach. Dude. I wish I could do this every day.
  5. Read and review a Stephen King novel. Not too shabby, Mr. King. 
  6. Drink a Hurricane in New Orleans. *snort* This led to a night of Big Easy debauchery and a lot of fun. 😉 
  7. Have professional family photos taken. Damn it if I still haven’t had any printed. Soon!
  8. Run Disney’s Princess 1/2 MarathonSo, this isn’t going to happen. I’m way out of shape, and you have to register far in advance, which I have not done. But! I’m going to start running again after the New Year (no, really!) and I’d like to at least do a 5K before my birthday. 
  9. Attend a writers’ conference or festival. Baltimore Book Fest. 👍
  10. Order a Stitch Fix box. Ha! And then some!
  11. See a musical. Still hoping to do this on time. Surely there’ll be a musical to see in the DC area in the next two months… 
  12. Plan and host a tea party with my girl. I think I can make this happen, too. 
  13. Make a quilt. My cat naps on it daily. 😻
  14. Take an international vacation. I wish! Unless my husband has an epic surprise up his sleeve, this won’t be happening in the next two months. Hopefully one day soon, though! 
  15. Watch Friday Night Lights in its entirety. Best decision ever. #33
  16. Complete a three day juice cleanseDo I even want to do this anymore? Not really, but maybe I’ll give it a go just for the experience.
  17. Write a manuscript that’s not contemporary YA. I’m working on it! I’ve got a magical realism manuscript that’s about half done. Guys, non-contemp is so challenging for me! 
  18. Pass 2K Twitter followers. Again, working on it. I’m somewhere in the mid-1600s. 
  19. Read Speak (my most shameful YA gap book). Totally lived up to all the hype.
  20. Host a brunch. Maybe I can combine this with the tea party? 
  21. Master “Space-A” travel. Yeah, I don’t care about this anymore. I looked into it, and it seems like more hassle than it’s worth. *shrugs*
  22. Attend a writers’ retreat. It was amazing. I’m going on another next month!
  23. Get a massage. Again, amazing!
  24. Make Chocolate BabkaOh, I’m totally doing this in a few days! Jillian, the main character in Kissing Max Holden, makes it, too.
  25. Add another child to our family. A source of frustration. We’re in the midst of applying to be a foster family so, while this won’t happen in the next two months, it is in the works. 
  26. Visit Mount Rushmore. Again, I wish! One of these days…
  27. Master “Crow” pose in yoga. Working on it! Must. Strengthen. Core. 
  28. Go to a(nother) country music concert. I’ve actually been to three since setting this goal — yay!
  29. Plant an herb garden. Definitely doing this again next spring.
  30. Teach my daughter to swim (really well). Guys, she’s a little fish!

So, we’ll see how the next two months go. I’m determined to knock a few more items off my list. Those I can’t fit in before the dreaded 3-5 will likely become part of a new Life List… Stay tuned!

RSW – Update 9

RSW2

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 with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

1.1a.  Draft at least 30K words in my new WiP by summer’s end. –> Success!
1b. Revise The Road So Far. –> Success! (It’s with beta readers now.)

I’d been hoping to add more wordage to my WiP (sitting at just over 30K, but I was super lazy this last week. I read a lot, but the writing just wasn’t coming. Hoping to do better in the coming week!

2. Read 12 books by summer’s end. –> In progress. I finished my ninth book, All We Have is Now by one of my favorite YA authors, Lisa Schroeder. Loved this beautiful story about making the most of each day.

3. Get stronger. –> In progress. I cardio-ed twice and practiced yoga three times.

4. Explore a new place each week. –> Success! We headed to an outdoor amphitheater in Bristow, Virginia to see Toby Keith, who puts on such an incredible show. My husband and I saw him play something like ten years ago, and I’d totally forgotten how awesome he is live.

5. Cross at least two items off my Thirty Before 35 list. –> In progress. I’ve planted my herb garden, I saw (another) country music concert, and I’m working on #17 as I draft my WiP.

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

Apply beta notes to The Road So Far. Add some new words (just SOME — anything!) to the WiP I’m drafting. Read Mary Kubica’s Pretty Baby. Exercise. Hit the pool a few times.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

I have to tip my chin to look up at him; he’s blue-eyed and russet-haired, strong-jawed and serious, but with a smattering of freckles that don’t match, like Converse with a tuxedo.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Motivation. Ugh. I’m lacking it.

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

That they’re YA. Occasionally well-meaning (non-writer) people try to sell me on drafting their ideas (which is strange, right?) and often, those ideas are for books that would fall into the adult category. Um, nope. I have zero desire to write adult fiction. I love reading it and I have all the respect for those authors who pull it off, but I’m a YA writer through and through.

Are you participating in RSW? 
Don’t forget to link to your update below.

In other news… Big congrats to Tonja Drecker, lucky winner of last week’s Ready. Set. Write! prize package!

This week we’re offering our fourth giveaway — a fantastic writer’s care package assembled by Alison

Alison's RSW Package

Alison’s package includes: a “Be Inspired” journal with inspirational quotes and writing prompts, Jane Austen air freshener, sticky notes and page markers, “I like BIG BOOKS and I cannot lie!” bookmark, spiral index cards, WRITE journal/composition book, Werther’s Originals caramel hard candies, Paddy Wax Ginger Peach soy candle, Trident Island Berry Lime gum, spiral memo pad in a rainbow of colors, Sinful Colors Decadent nail polish, post cards with inspirational quotes, mini Ink Joy pens.

Giveaway open internationally, to RSW participants only.
To enter, click the link below!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

RSW – Update 8

RSW9

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 with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

1a.  Draft at least 30K words in my new WiP by summer’s end. –> Success!
1b. Revise The Road So Far. –> Success! (It’s with beta readers now.)

2. Read 12 books by summer’s end. –> In progress. I finished Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not, one of the grittiest, most intense YAs I’ve read. Think Courtney Summers, but with a gay male protagonist, set in the Bronx. Loved it. Eight books down, four to go! (In case you missed it, last week I posted my July Reading Wrap-Up. Find it HERE.) 

3. Get stronger. –> In progress. I hit our elliptical up once and practiced yoga four times.

4. Explore a new place each week. –> Yesterday we visited the American Girl store in celebration of my daughter’s 8th birthday (which is today!). We had lunch and cake, and got our shop on, which was tons of fun.

5. Cross at least two items off my Thirty Before 35 list. –> In progress. I’m working on #17 as I draft my WiP, and last week we finally got around to planting our herb garden — yay! We have rosemary, parsley, tri-colored sage, two types of oregano, and apple mint. Hopefully I don’t kill it all. 😉

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

Go back to my non-contemp WiP (even though I met the RSW goal I set for it, I’m nowhere near done drafting) and add more words — at least 2,o00 this week, to be specific. Read Lisa Schroeder’s All We Have Is Now. Celebrate my daughter’s birthday BiG tImE. 🙂

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

We sat in the sand and she freaking wept, these gasping, body-shuddering sobs that sucked the spirit out of me even as I held her close. After, she apologized, face flushed, eyes red, voice raw, and I had a very clear, very singular thought: I will never be the reason she cries.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Nit-picking The Road So Far. It was “done” days before I sent it to my (amazing) betas, but I couldn’t stop going over it, obsessing about the tiniest things. Finally my (incredibly wise) husband said, “You’re just changing happy to glad. Send the thing off already!” So I did.

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

The romance. Always the romance. ❤

Are you participating in RSW? 
Don’t forget to link to your update below.

In other news… this week we’re offering our third giveaway — a fantastic writer’s care package assembled by Erin

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Erin’s package includes: “Embrace the Journey” journal with cork cover, “Enjoy the Little Things” notepad, Ink Joy mini pens, 2 pack of “Write On!” mini notebooks, Scrabble pencils that say: jot, note, write, create, compose, and inscribe, “Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy” pencil case, 2 packs of paperclips shaped like rabbits and crocodiles, manicure kit, Eos Fresh Flowers hand lotion, Revlon Fashionista nail polish (teal), David’s PomTango tea  (makes 34 oz.), Strawberry Fusion Tic Tacs, Cadbury Jelly Popping Candy chocolate bar, and Trident Very Berry gum.

Giveaway open internationally, to RSW participants only.
To enter, click the link below!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway!

Currently…

(Since I’m not What’s-Up-Wednesday-ing anymore, I thought I might go back to an old favorite –> “Currently…” I originally got the idea from Kate Hart, who snagged the idea from Amy Lukavics, who picked it up here. I’m planning to post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me!)

Loving

Jelly Bellies (duh). Quilting. Florida’s warm, sunny spring. My planner. Emails with writing buddies and book besties. This milk frothing gadget. Sirious XM Radio. Uppercase book subscriptions. My emerging tan. This homemade mac-n-cheese recipe. Those times a person contacts me to let me know they’ve just read a book they think I’ll love. Chai tea. Essie’s spring colors. Fresh donuts.

Reading

Yesterday I finished recently-released Vanishing Girls, and I liked it quite a lot. I consider Lauren Oliver an insta-buy author and, as usual, her prose is enviable. I figured out what was going on in the story fairly early on (I’ve read a few other books in the last couple of years that have a comparable premise), so I wasn’t exactly surprised by the last 100 pages. That said, I recommend this one for its gorgeous writing and super complex characters.

Watching

Gossip Girl. Still. It literally takes me three days to get through an episode because I pretty much only watch while I’m folding laundry, or on the rare occasions I put on makeup. I’m nearing the end of season 5, though, and it’s the best sort of bizarre. **Spoiler Alert** –> Dan and Blair together? No way! Chuck ♡ Blair forever!

Listening To

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill — totally random, I know. I bought the CD my senior year of high school and listened to it constantly for months. I’ve just now rediscovered it, and I’m falling in love all over again. (Favorite: Tell Him)

Thinking About

Our summer move, and hoping it will be easy, easy, easy. House-hunting from afar sucks. Packing sucks. Leaving a state you love sucks. Moving sucks. BUT. I am incredibly excited to live near some of my favorite writerly friends, and in a place with a thriving YA community. Plus, it’ll be nice to be in a city with plenty of educational and culturally diverse things to do and see.

Anticipating

Notes from my agent regarding my latest manuscript, Stars Like Dust. This project was such a stretch, guys. Writing it was a challenge and a joy and I love the (sort of) finished product deeply, but I’m nervous about what others will think. Some days this story makes me feel excited and confident; some days it makes me feel insecure, like a complete hack. Aah, writerly angst… Something else I’m anticipating? Rock the Drop!

Wishing

That I’d made Daphne a quilt earlier! She loves hers, and we had a blast putting it together. My daughter picked out all the fabrics, and I did the sewing. Now that it’s done, I’m checking off another of my Thirty Before 35 goals — yay!

Making Me Happy

Beach days with my favorite girl. There are few things better than sitting back, sinking my toes in the sand, and watching my kiddo play in the surf.

 

What’s currently making YOU happy?

Thirty Before 35 Progress Report

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Happy birthday to me!

Last year (when I turned 33) I posted about how I suck at birthdays and generally fail at aging gracefully — mentally. I look great. 😉 Anyway, you can read all about it HERE if you like. The gist of that original post is that I wanted to create a part to-do list, part bucket list that makes me feel positive and accomplished and excited about the passage of time.

I’m happy to report that so far it’s working. I’ve crossed twelve of the thirty items off my list over the course of the last year. Now that I’m 34, I’m determined to knock out as many of the leftovers as possible. (Though there are a few I’m not sure I care about anymore, like #8 and #21. Oh, well. If I manage them, great. If not, whatevs.) So. Here’s where I’m at…

  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.
  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).

Cheer me on, okay? ❤

What’s Up Wednesday

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“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: Since the month started, I’ve read Gayle Forman’s I Was Here (she’s a favorite author of mine and I loved this book, though I had mixed feelings about a few elements) and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World (I guess I can see its merit, but this dystopian classic was NOT for me). Now, I’m reading The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, and it’s incredible so far. Thanks to everyone who recommended it during the 2014 YA Superlatives Blogfest!

  

What I’m Writing: I’ve made progress with Stars Like Dust (new words — yay!), and I’ve been working here and there on a mindless short story. More on my writing in Monday’s #WriterRecharge Update. Goal for this week: draft some more. At least 3K, hopefully.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’ve had a busy few weeks! I traveled all weekend and had tons of appointments and shopping to knock out. Plus…

 
My girlie earned her way onto the Honor Roll (hence the giant celebratory cookie) and turned 7 1/2. Exciting week! 
Also, I posted on Instagram about my Favorite Fictional Females. From top to bottom: Hermione, Mariam and Laila, Reena, Lennie, and Bitterblue.

What Works For Me: Community… One of my Thirty Before 35 goals was to attend a writers’ retreat, and I finally did! I spent an amazing weekend in West Virginia with some lovely literary friends. We did tons of drafting, editing, brainstorming, chatting, laughing, and eating. Not only did the retreat give me the kickstart I needed to finish my first draft of Stars Like Dust, but it was excellent for my mental health. It’s amazing to spend time with smart, creative, like-minded people. Can’t wait to do it again! ❤ 

Tell me… What’s up with you today?