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



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!).


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!


 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.


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!


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! 


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



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.


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.


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…


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!


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?


(I plan to do a “Currently” post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me… Find the origins of the idea HERE.)



Author Natalie’s Whipple’s (wonderfully transparent) When It Feels Like Everyone Is Getting What You Want blog post. Free (quick and intense) workouts on Cassey Ho’s Blogilates YouTube channel (thanks for recommending them, Jennifer!). Writerly/YA-ish podcasts: This Creative Life, First Draft, and The Oral History. This adorable dandelion travel mug (thanks for pointing it out, Jaime!). And old-school notecard plotting:


Last week I read Erin Bowman’s Forgedwhich was a fantastic conclusion to her Taken trilogy. I love when a series wraps up in a gloriously satisfying way. You can read my thoughts on Forged and all of my April reads HERE. Now, I’m finishing up Emery Lord’s The Start of Me and You, which I’m loving, possibly even more than her debut, Open Road Summer.



I’m nearly done watching the first season of Gilmore Girls, which I adore. Lorelai and Rory have such an interesting relationship, and I’m totally crushing on Luke. I’m still now sure how I didn’t catch this series in the early nineties, but I’m so glad to have found it now.

Listening To

Hozier… Take Me To Church is grossly overplayed on the radio, but I’m loving Like Real People Do and Someone New. Good writing music.

Thinking About

My WiP. I still haven’t started to draft, partly because I’m scared, and partly because I’m not entirely sure if I want one narrator or two, or if I want to use first-person or third-person. I know what my instincts are telling me and I know what is traditionally an easier sell. Unfortunately, this time instincts and marketability aren’t meshing, and I’m so torn! What would you do?


Home! My husband and I have been house-hunting for the last four days and I miss my girlie. Can’t wait to see her! ❤

Us, on one of our many trips to the hotel’s bar. Because finding a nice rental in Virginia is really freaking hard!


That you’ll all be able to read my friend Elodie‘s latest manuscript soon. I’m beta reading it now and oh, my gosh… It’s uber creepy, in the best sort of way. She knows how to write a thriller, that’s for sure!

Making Me Happy

The beach. I’m going to miss living on the Gulf Coast — it’s truly beautiful.

What’s currently making YOU happy?

Present in 2015

While I’ve set some goals for the New Year, I haven’t made any traditional resolutions, and I didn’t the last few years either. Instead, I’ve chosen a focus word to keep in mind. In the past, those words have been resolve, acceptance, and stoicism. I think I’ve done a decent job of making them a part of my daily attitude and behavior.  

I’ve put a lot of thought into my 2015 focus word, and I’ve come up with…
I want to concentrate more on enjoying and appreciating moments as I experience them. I want to minimize stress and worry and distractions. I want to delight in what’s happening now, not stew about what happened yesterday, or brood about what might happen tomorrow.

So, PRESENT. That’s me in 2015. 

Do you have a focus word for the New Year? 

2014 in Review…

Happy New Year!

2014 has been full of changes, hard work, and lots of fun.

This Year’s Highlights


Over the holidays, we moved across the country, from central California to the Florida Panhandle. I kind of love it here.

We welcomed a kitten, Daphne, into our family. ❤

Also, I began revising the manuscript I wrote in 2013, Good Girls, a story inspired by the Tim McGraw song of the same name. I blogged about Goal SettingGateway Books, and the Books I Read in January.


I made a Thirty Before 35 list (thirty things I want to accomplish before I turn 35 in 2016). I’ve crossed ten items off so far!

I made one of my *best* life decisions and started binge watching Friday Night Lights. I finished a month later.

I continued plugging away at my Good Girls revision, participated in #WriterRecharge, and blogged about the Books I Read in February. And… The Seahawks won the freaking Superbowl!


We visited Disney World with some of our best buddies.

And saw a few Tallahassee highlights with my brother.

I blogged about How I’ve Found CPs, shared bits of Good Girls in a the Next Big Thing post, and talked about the Books I Read in March.


We made our first trip to the Destin beaches. Florida is lovely in the spring.

I Rocked the Drop!

Good Girls was approved by my agent and went out on its first round of editor submissions. Honestly, I felt very good about it — high hopes. Additionally, I blogged about My Process, and talked about Books I Read in April.


We hit up a few minor league baseball games in Pensacola.

My husband and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary –sort of. He was deployed, but still… It was a celebration. 🙂

I started a new manuscript, The Road So Far, which has since become my favorite of all the stories I’ve ever written.

I shared the Love List I made for The Road So Far, participated in the Writers On Writing blog hop, and chatted about the Books I Read in May.


My sweet girl finished 1st grade. ❤

We spent a week in Phoenix with my parents.

I started a rewrite of an old manuscript, Where Poppies Bloom.

Good Girls languished in Summer Submission Hell. I received lots of conflicting feedback (nothing I could apply to the manuscript) and decided to dive headlong into Where Poppies Bloom and The Road So Far. I co-hosted Ready.Set.Write with some other amazing writers, and raved about the Books I Read in June.


My mom and dad come all the way to the Panhandle to hang out with my girl and me (and, maybe, to enjoy our amazing beaches, too).

I finished my Where Poppies Bloom rewrite and sent it off to a few trusted readers for feedback before jumping back into The Road So Far.

I did more writing than blogging this month, but I did talk about the many fantastic Books I Read in July.


Such a busy month… My girlie turned SEVEN.

My husband FINALLY returned from Afghanistan.

I finished the first draft of The Road So Far, then dove into revisions of both it and Where Poppies Bloom. 

We traveled to Oregon and Washington to celebrate my brother-in-law Sam’s marriage to my new sister-in-law, Kacie.

I shared a bit about Where Poppies Bloom in a Wanna Beta? post, blogged about Mood Boards (and how much I love them), and talked about the awesome Books I Read in August.


This girl started 2nd grade. How time flies!

I baked the most beautiful cake to ever come out of my kitchen.

After a long summer of being on submission with Good Girls, I accepted that it’s not going to be The One and, upon thoughtful reflection, decided that it might not be the right debut book for me anyway. While I’m very proud of it, it’s quite dark and perhaps not entirely reflective of my tone. So, I sent Where Poppies Bloom off to my agent. It was well-received (yay!), and is currently on its first round of submission. Cross your fingers! Furthermore, I blogged about Banned Books and the Books I Read in September.


We had family photos taken for the first time since 2008.

I started a new manuscript, a contemporary YA called Stars Like Dust. I adore it, and hope to finish the last 10K or so in the coming months.

I also pushed through revisions of The Road So Far and sent it off to my CPs,  participated in the 777 Challenge, and shared the Books I Read in October.


My cutie pie wrapped up her first cheerleading season.

And I won National Novel Writing Month!

I shared the Love List I made for my NaNo project Stars Like Dust, and blogged about the Books I Read in November.


I visited New Orleans with my husband — so fun!

And celebrated a lovely Christmas with my family.

In addition, I completed my revision of The Road So Far and sent it off to my agent for feedback. Here’s hoping she loves it! Also, for the 4th successive year, I co-hosted the YA Superlatives Blogfest, participated in the Terrible Titles blog hop, and blogged about the Books I Read in December.

What I Learned in 2014

1. I can work on more than one project at a time.

2. CPs who say “screw that person who didn’t get your story” are SO important.

3. CPs who say “nope, your story’s just not there yet” are even MORE important.

4. Procrastination is most often my head’s way of telling me a story needs more time to bake, and that’s okay.

5. With each and every manuscript, my writing really does improve.

6. Writing a story that inspires me is worth any risks involved (like the story I wrote this summer… the sequel of a book that hasn’t sold yet — yikes).

7. Having an agent I trust, an agent who believes in my work and says things like “it WILL happen” is golden.

8. Making my goals public is the best way to guarantee I’ll accomplish them.

9. Family is my go-to source for true happiness.

Goals For 2015

An aside: I know I shouldn’t make “sell a book” a goal because I have no real control over editors’ tastes and the current marketplace, but traditionally publishing my stories will forever be something I strive to accomplish. I will write my fingers to the bone to make it happen, so…
There it is.

Here’s to a wonderful 2014, and an even better 2015. ❤

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 First Kisses by Rachael Allen and I adored it. Awesome voice, plus a cleverly nuanced take on high school stereotypes and self-image and wanting more out of life. Recommend! I also read a super sexy NA, The Hook Up by Kristen Callihan, and I’ve gotta say… I loved it. Strong characters, dry humor, and a smokin’ hot college football player — yes please! Now, I’m reading Amy Reed’s Beautiful, which is stark and gritty and disturbing (the MC is 13 — holy hell!) but very well done.

My husband: “Why are you reading Avril Lavigne’s biography?”

What I’m Writing: I’m at a weird place, writing-wise. I’ve finished all of my beta reading commitments, I’m waiting on feedback from my agent on one manuscript, and I’m waiting on feedback from CPs on another. I’m mentally musing what I hope is going to be my next project (and I’m super excited about it!) but I haven’t actually written anything yet. I do have a first line in mind, and I’m paging through a nonfiction book for research, and I’m doing a lot of inspirational online image searches. This is sort of my process, I guess. I’m a slow, sort of muddled starter, but once I get drafting, I can move relatively quickly. Hopefully I’ll be there soon!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Cleaning, exercising, hanging with my family…

Saturday we visited WonderWorks in Panama City Beach. It’s a really cool science museum and we had an awesome time. My daughter loved the Bubble Lab (obviously) and the Ropes Challenge, for which she wore a harness and tight-rope walked three stories in the air. I almost had a mommy-heart-attack!

IMG_6028Because I was super lame and didn’t send out Christmas cards last year (excuse: we were moving across the country), I’ve gotten my act together and ordered a bazillion to put in the mail come December. Above is one of the photos I used (from our little family photo shoot) because I think the sky is gorgeous.

What Works For Me: Writer friends… Mine are the best (no, really!) and they play a huge part in maintaing my sanity and lending me inspiration. Lately, I’ve been emailing/texting/tweeting/meeting for coffee (I still owe you, Amanda!) my writer buddies to chat about WiPs and reading and life and, particularly, the challenges of writing and being a mom and a wife and melding all of that together in a balanced, happiness-evoking way. Even when they don’t have all the answers, knowing that I’m not alone in the Writer Crazies is invaluable. ❤

Tell me… What’s up with you today?