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: Still working on 11/22/63 by Stephen King. This is one loooong book, friends. It’s super entertaining, though. Along with time travel and history and conspiracy theories, there’s a bit of romance. I’m moving right along, and hoping to finish before Halloween.

What I’m Writing: I’ve got more than 11K written in the new contemporary YA WiP I’m drafting. Its working title is Stars Like Dust, which is a line I borrowed from a Rumi poem, which is significant to the story for a lot of reasons. Plus, it’s pretty! This new story is challenging me in a lot of ways:

1. I haven’t plotted it. I am usually a very detailed plotter (my last WiP, The Road So Far, was plotted down to the gas station stops my characters made on their road trip) and it’s scary to just write, write, write without a set plan. That said, I know this story’s beginning-middle-end, and I’ve got a good handle on the main characters, so I’m hoping it’ll all work out.

2. One of my two main characters is from another country and while he speaks English well, he speaks it very formally and precisely. Still, he’s a teenage boy and I want his dialogue to flow naturally. It’s a fine line I’m walking.

3. I’m playing with writing small sections of the story in verse. I have never written in verse and it is super challenging. But… I’m kind of loving it. The bad thing? It takes me the same about of time to write 200 words of verse as it takes me to write 2000 words of good ol’ prose. Plus, the verse stuff is requiring TONS of tinkering. I’m still not 100% satisfied with any of it, but I hope I will be…

What Else I’ve Been Up To: On Saturday we went to the Pensacola Interstate Fair and it was so much fun! We rode rides, ate corn dogs and funnel cake, watched a rodeo, and saw Eli Young Band. One of their songs, Crazy Girl, is on my The Road So Far playlist, and seeing it performed live was awesome. And, it just so happens that go to a(nother) country music concert is one of my Thirty Before 35 goals, so I get to cross one more item off the list — yay!

  

What Works For Me: I recently read a post by Kat Zhang (for Pub(lishing) Crawl) about writing out of order, and I found it so helpful. Here’s an excerpt:

When I write out of order, I know “Okay, so I have Fun Scene A here and Fun Scene B here…now I just need to get my characters from Scene A to Scene B as quickly and efficiently as possible.” If the middle parts aren’t “Fun Scenes,” I should probably be either trying to get my readers through them as quickly as possible, or finding out some way to spice them up.

I’m jumping around while drafting Stars Like Dust, and even though my Type-A personality is unhappy about the chaos, it seems to be working. Kat shares some fantastic insight and awesome tips about why writing out of order is worth a try. Definitely check out her article! 

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

168cd-wuwautumn

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to. And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished Amy Reed’s Beautiful and loved it. It’s stark and gritty and disturbing, not to mention incredibly well written. I can’t wait to read more of her work! Now, I’m reading 11/22/63 by Stephen King. One of my Thirty Before 35 goals is to read and review one of his novels (I’ve never picked up his fiction, if you can believe that) and I chose this one because there’s no movie adaptation to spoil the story, and because I like time travel and history. This book is dense, y’all, but so far, so good. Look for a review soon!

What I’m Writing: I made a mood board for my SNI and it’s now my computer’s desktop background. It’s so pretty! (Incidentally, I used the collage function in Pic Monkey to make this mood board because the site I’ve used in the past, Mood Share, appears to be no more. Lame.) I also did some title research and found (what I think is) the PERFECT title. And, I wrote a query-like pitch, which helped me focus all the ideas floating in my head into (what I hope will be) a compelling story. My agent gave the pitch a thumbs-up, so I’m getting busy with some serious plotting and a little bit of drafting.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I pulled something in my neck (sneezing, because I’m awesome) and I’ve been dealing with tightness and spasming muscles for the last week. I finally broke down and went to the doctor yesterday, and now I have some glorious muscles relaxers that are making movement slightly less than torturous. Yay medicine! Other than that…

  
Lots of cheerleading with my little lovely. I adore the above photo of my husband giving her a pep talk through the fence. ❤

  
We also visited Sweet Seasons Farm to make our way through their corn maze (my daughter: “I’m a maze runner!”) and pick out a few pumpkins. Fall is so much more tolerable when it’s 85 degrees ouside. 🙂

What Works For Me: Accountability. I have some awesome writing buddies who help me stay on track with drafting/revision goals. One of my CPs and I often exchange snippets of what we’ve recently worked via email. Not for critique, but for encouragement and inspitation. Knowing that I have to send a sample off to her at the end of the day really keeps me motivated. Plus, getting to read her samples is an excellent reward! I also have a trio of writer friends who I check in with on a shared spreadsheet. Seeing that they’ve written 1K+ or 2K+ or 3K+ words in a day makes me want to keep up with them. Nothing like a little peer pressure to fuel production!  

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to. And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma and whoa… It was a trip. The story turned out to be something completely different from what I was expecting and I am impressed. Such gorgeous writing! Now, I’m reading 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen, which is adorable. I recommend it for the utterly authentic voice alone. It’s so much fun being in Claire’s head!

What I’m Writing: I took some much needed time away from the first draft of my road trip book, The Road So Far, and now I’ve finished an initial round a revisions. This story is a follow-up (or a companion — whatever) so it was a challenge to weave in pertinent elements/information from the first story without dumping big chunks of backstory into the narrative. Hopefully I’ve struck a balance. If not, I’m sure my trusted and brilliant readers will let me know. 🙂

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Listening to This American’s Life‘s new program, Serial, and *loving* it. From the website: Serial is a podcast where we unfold one nonfiction story, week by week, over the course of a season. We’ll stay with each story for as long as it takes to get to the bottom of it. This season’s story is a sort of high school murder mystery/possible wrongful conviction situation and it is fascinating. Highly recommend!


We finally, finally, FINALLY had professional family photos taken! It’s only been six years. 😉 This was one of my Thirty Before 35 goals, and I’m super excited to cross it off the list. I’m also super excited about this sneak peek our photographer, Andrea Faye Photography, shared with me.


I found Autumn-colored M&Ms at the store the other day and thought cookies would be the perfect way to use them. I tried this recipe for the first time and they turned out so yummy!

  
Over the weekend we visited the Gulf Breeze Zoo, which is quaint and really fun. My daughter got a kiss on the hand from a giraffe!

What Works For Me: Taking inspiration from successful writers. This conversation between Lena Dunham (creator/star of HBO’s Girls, a show I adore) and author Judy Blume (the voice of my childhood) for instance (click the link for an edited transcript). So inspiring! Plus, book birthdays this week for two amazing books from two delightful authors: Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir and Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah. I’ve read them both and they’re fab!

  

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

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: I finished Rainbow Rowell’s Landline, which was predictably glorious. Now I’m reading The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi. It’s a modern-day story about two teenagers of different Afghan ethnicities who fall in love, and it is brutal. So far, I’m captivated. Here’s hoping it finishes as strongly as it’s opened.

What I’m Writing: I finished another round of revisions for my story Where Poppies Bloom. It’s in the hands of a few betas now, and I’m hoping to have it off to my agent in the next few weeks — yay! Now, I’m mentally gearing up to revise the shitty first draft of my summertime WiP, The Road So Far.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Mama stuff: shuttling my daughter from school to guitar to cheerleading. I also started practicing yoga again after a long hiatus. I found a great class in my town and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the way my body’s fallen right back into the poses.


I finally got to see If I Stay! My expectations were admittedly low. The novel is one of my very favorites and I did not want to be disappointed. Luckily, I ended up blown away. I LOVED IT. Even my husband, who hasn’t read the book and had no idea what the story was about, admitted it was better than the “chick flick” he’d been expecting. I thought Mia and Adam were just perfect. I adored the music and Mia’s parents and the way the romance came alive onscreen. I’ve been reading lukewarm reviews, but I say… Go see it if you haven’t already!

  
I crossed a Thirty Before 35 goal off my list when I baked a Rainbow Cake for my daughter’s sleepover. Because I only have two 8 inch cake pans, I had to bake the layers in shifts; combined with frosting and decorating, this was a time-consuming project. Totally worth it, though! It was tons of fun to prepare from scratch, and it tasted very yummy!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Music. I bought the If I Stay soundtrack, plus I’ve been listening to a lot of Sugarland and Tom Petty and Tim McGraw (obviously). I’m letting my mind mull over a bunch of tiny new WiP nuggets and there’s no greater way for me to do that than to zone out to some well-loved songs. 

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

c0500-tree7025

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you. If you’re participating, make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, others can visit your post and check out what you’ve been up to.And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished Lauren Oliver’s Panic. While it’s not my very favorite of her novels, I did find it compelling. I’ll talk about it in more detail in tomorrow’s Bookanista recommendation. Over the weekend, I flew through The Vincent Boys by Abbi Glines. Guys, this is by no means award-winning literature, but I kind of loved it. It’s a perfect read-in-the-sun, guilty-pleasure romance. Next time you’re in the mood for a book of that sort, definitely pick this one up. I also read Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative by Austin Kleon, which was packed with awesome reminders and inspiring quotes about creation of all kinds. It’s a great, quick read, perfect for when you’re in need of a creative boost. Now, I’m reading The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu, which is intriguing so far. I’m digging its unique storytelling method.

   

What I’m Writing: Blog posts! Catching up now that my agent is reading my WiP, Good Girls (which I talked about in a Next Big Thing post on Monday). Also, I’ve got a whole bunch of mini Shiny New Ideas floating around in my head, and I’ve been pinning up a storm (secret Pinterest boards FTW), looking for further inspiration and trying to make them all fit together. Exciting!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Exercising with more regularity, watching some Gossip Girl, and hanging with my girl. It’s spring break, so we’ve been spending lots of quality time together. Movies, bike rides, frozen yogurt…

  
My productivity level has dropped quite a bit, but we’re having a blast. 🙂


I ordered my very first Stitch Fix box, AND crossed another item off my Thirty Before 35 List! In case you’ve never heard of Stitch Fix, it’s an online personal stylist service. Fill out a profile about the types of clothing you like to wear (including favorite colors and your size), schedule a shipment, and get five pieces to try on at home with the clothes you already own. Buy what you love, send back the rest in a pre-paid envelope. It’s easy, and really fun!

  
I really liked all five pieces of clothing I received (four tops and a maxi dress), but I think I’m only going to keep these two because, yanno… BUDGET. Looking forward to scheduling another shipment soon!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: In case you haven’t heard, my friend Jessica Love (co-author of up-and-coming Push Girl) has sold another book! This one’s all her, and it’s aMaZiNg! I read an early version last year, and I can hardly express how much I loved it. You all are going to adore Hannah and Nick and their crazy Vegas weekend! I can’t wait to have my very own copy of In Real Life so I can reread it, and then sit it on my bookshelf, right between my Stephanie Perkins and Sarah Ockler novels. Congratulations, Jess! I’m thrilled for you!

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

Thirty Before 35

It’s that time again. My birthday. As of today, I’m thirty-three.

I wish I was one of those people who approaches birthdays with grace and enthusiasm. I’m a whole year wiser — yay! But really, I sort of dread my birthday. I liked being twenty-six. Thirty-three sounds so… old.  But, unfortunately aging is one of those inevitabilities we can’t control, and in the spirit of my 2014 word stoicism, I’m going to accept it and move forward with a positive attitude.

Which brings me to…

Ever since I started following Ghenet Myrthil‘s blog, I’ve been inspired by her Thirty Before 30 project. She’s created a list of things she wants to do before she turns thirty this summer, and it’s been so fun to follow along as she fulfills her goals. What better way to make birthdays brighter than establishing objectives and finding a sense of achievement in accomplishing them?

I love Ghenet’s Thirty Before 30 project so much, I’ve decided to jump on board. Obviously I’m beyond thirty (*sob*), and thirty-five isn’t far off. So, I’m giving myself two full years to check the items off my list. Thirty Before 35, if you will.

I’ve thought long and hard about what I want to include on my list, and I’ve decided to go big or go home. I realize that some of the items are almost entirely out of my control (#2 and #25 specifically), but they’re things I desperately want to happen. So, I’ll do everything in my power to get there, and if I don’t, well, at least I’ll know I tried. Conversely, some of the items I’ve included may seem silly or trivial, but they’re ambitions I’ve had in the back of my mind for a long while, and several of them are things I want to do with my husband and/or daughter. Therefore, on the list they’ve gone.

What I’ve ended up with is part to-do list, part bucket list. I’m excited about it!

Sun

  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).

There they are. Thirty things I hope to accomplish before my thirty-fifth birthday. This list will be in a tab up there above my header, and (like Ghenet) I’ll cross items off (and most likely blog) as I accomplish them. Sounds fun, right?

Here’s to a happy birthday. I’ll be binge-watching Friday Night Lights and eating cake if you should need me. 🙂