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 Loop by Karen Akins and enjoyed it so much. I literally laughed out loud several times (a rarity), plus this one had awesome pacing and a super cute boy. Win! Now I’m reading Losing It by Cora Carmack which is funny and sexy and full of sassy voice. I can see why it’s so popular!

What I’m Writing: Oh, hey, remember when I signed up for National Novel Writing Month? No? Well, that’s probably because I joined the fun spur-of-the-moment on November 8th. (That’s right.) I mostly signed up because I was stressed about a lot other stuff, and I figured NaNo would be an awesome way to heap some different stress on my plate, therefore taking my mind off the original stress. See how that works? Anyway. I caught up last week, which was an amazing feeling, and now I’m on track to win and (since I started NaNo-ing with Stars Like Dust, a project I was already about 15K into) finish my first draft around the same time. So, yeah, I’ve been writing A LOT, and it’s so satisfying because even though my story is all kinds of messy at the moment, I love it.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Uh, freezing my butt off, for starters. Have I mentioned how much I hate being cold? I preheat my bed every night with a super-powered electric blanket, for example, and I complain (a lot) when the temperature dips below fifty-five, which it has often lately. Brrr…


My daughter, on the other hand, is loving the cold because she gets to wear her new “puffer” jacket out and about. Silver lining, I guess. And my silver lining? Chestnut Praline Lattes from Starbucks. Yum!

  
And can we talk about how cute Daphne’s been lately?

What Works For Me: I’ve talked about music before, but not this specific aspect of how I apply it to writing: Often, when I’m trying to draft but feel distracted and/or uninspired, I put on headphones and blast my WiP theme song(s) on repeat. The familiar lyrics and melodies help me find my writing flow (it’s pretty much a Pavlovian response now), and turning it up loud almost makes it white noise, which drowns out all of the nonsense swirling in my head (and house). For my NaNo WiP, my go-to songs are Shakira’s “Empire” and Taylor Swift’s “Out of the Woods.” Do you listen to music when you write? 

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 Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater, and it was predictably awesome. I have such a book crush on Gansey, and I love that we saw a more vulnerable side of him in this installment. I adore these characters and this world (man… it is so deep), and I cannot wait to read the fourth and final book! Now, I’m reading Loop by Karen Akins, which is a super fun time-travel novel. It’s making my morning elliptical workouts fly by.

What I’m Writing: I’ve cleared 31K on my WiP, which is sort of exciting and sort of scary. I have a basic idea of how the story is going to end, but I still haven’t done much plotting or mapping of how I’m going to get there. Yikes. But… I *think* things are moving along okay. I’ve got a protagonist who I adore. I’ve got a cute, swoony boy. I’ve got a lovely setting. I’ve got tension. And, I’ve got kissing (finally!). What more does a story need? 😉

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Over the weekend we went horseback riding and it was so much fun! I love horses (not horse books, though — go figure) and we got to explore some gorgeous trails. Cannot wait to do it again!

  
My horse’s name was Thriller, my girl rode Dusty, and my husband rode a badass black war horse named HoHo.


Last week I made Stromboli, which was much easier than it looks, and very tasty. We ate the whole thing in one sitting — yum!


I’ve been making all kinds of WiP notes in the gorgeous journal my CP, Alison, sent me. The title of the manuscript I’m working on (Stars Like Dust) is borrowed from a Rumi poem, and he’s significant to the story for lots of other reasons. So, new journal = most thoughtful gift EVER. ❤

What Works For Me: Inspiration in its many forms. The Rumi journal I mentioned above. The lyrics of Taylor Swift’s Out of the Woodswhich play into my WiP pretty damn perfectly (I’ve been listening to it on repeat while I draft), and this excerpt from Stephen King’s On Writing

Who doesn’t want to be emotionally flattened by an amazing book? That’s why I read, and it’s my goal when I write. Curious: What’s the last story to sweep you away? (For me, Blue Lily, Lily Blue and When Joss Met Matt — recommend!)

So… 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: 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

“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 posting quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. Join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, or a great way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you.

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Can you believe Ready. Set. Write! is over?! *sob* Not that I’m going to stop goal-setting and writing and participating in What’s Up Wednesday, but still… Our fantastic summer writing intensive is all said and done!

ready set write button

My fabulous co-hosts and I would like to thank you for participating and celebrate your success by offering critiques. Of course, we don’t presume to be experts, but we do know how helpful it can be to get a fresh perspective on our writing. So… Erin, Jaime, Elodie, Alison, and I are offering feedback on the first ten pages of five Ready. Set. Write! participants’ stories. That’s FIVE critique giveaways! All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter below…
(Giveaway is international. Open to those who participated in Ready. Set. Write!)

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

Best of luck! 

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And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished Morgan Matson’s Second Chance Summer. While the writing was lovely and the characters were well-drawn and likeable, this was a tough story to get through. The inevitableness of a tragic event is made clear early on, and the entire book is a journey to a heartbreaking conclusion. Yet, there’s a sense of hopefulness that keeps it from from becoming unbearably sad. More next week for YA Book Club. Now, I’m reading The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater, which is predictably awesome and packed with beautiful prose. Big thanks to Krispy, who generously loaned me her ARC!

What I’m Writing: Guys, I’m busting through my WiP. I wrote 6,831 words this week, and I think most of them are good words — yay! Since Ready. Set. Write! began a few months ago, I’ve written just short of 50K words, a number I’m thrilled with. The other day I completed what I’m pretty sure is the strongest, most emotionally charged scene I’ve ever written. We’ll see what my CPs have to say down the line, but for now I’m feeling encouraged and successful and really excited about my writing. I’m rolling with it.

Daisy is excited too.

In addition to working on my WiP, I started revising another project I’ve been working on off-and-on for the last couple of years. There are a few issues with the conflict and, with the help of my super savvy agent, I’m going to solve them. In an effort to assess the story’s pacing and reacquaint myself with its structure, I put the Plot Dot Test to use. I love visual aides (and graph paper!).

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Other than reading and writing, I’ve mostly been spending time with my girl, which is sort of funny since she’s in school almost all day now. Quality over quantity, I suppose. We’ve been making the most of our afternoons and weekends, reading books, doing art projects, having special breakfasts, and going on girls-only shopping trips. It’s been fantastic!


Perfect morning beach walk with my favorite girlie. We love California!


The start of a new soccer season. Coordinating practice uniforms are important.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: I recently rediscovered Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb while watching my boy Leo in The Departed (love that movie!). Even though this song isn’t country, its tone and lyrics fit my WiP extraordinarily well. Plus, it’s really chill writing music. I’ve been listening to it on loop.

Also, from blogger/mama/Aussie/super creative person Chantelle (AKA FatMumSlim), a very cool compilation of “what to blog about” ideas. A great list to check out next time you’re in a bit of a blogging rut.

So, tell me… What’s up with you this week?

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.

{Please make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, other participants can visit your blog and check out what you’ve been up to. In that same spirit, I urge you to visit as many new blogs as you can every Wednesday. The most awesome aspect of What’s Up Wednesday and Ready. Set. Write is that they include a built-in support system. Let’s make sure we’re rooting each other on and offering as much encouragement as we can. Who knows… You might make an awesome new writing buddy, or a find a fantastic beta reader, or hook up with an amazing critique partner!}

And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: Over the weekend I read OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu. Don’t let the cheery yellow-and-pink cover mislead you; OCD Love Story is a heavy book about teens dealing with sometimes debilitating mental illness, and there are some cringeworthy moments. But there are also moments of humor and a sweet, sweet romance, making this an issue book that doesn’t feel like an issue book. Now, I’m reading Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, which is dark and magical and gorgeous, and I am loving every minute of it.

What I’m Writing: Bleh. I’m mad at my WiP. It’s being uncooperative and troublesome. My goal for last week was to read through the first 35K and revise it according to some changes I’m making to backstory/character motivations. I got a good chunk of it done, but I didn’t finish completely. Boo. The sections I have revised are much improved, though, and I am making progress, but it’s slooooow progress. My goal for this week is to keep plugging away. I WILL finish my read-through/pre-revision, and I’d like to write at least one new scene. That said, my daughter’s birthday party is Friday, her official birthday is Saturday(!), and we’ve got a date with friends at the water park on Sunday. It’s going to be a busy weekend, but I’m going to do my very best to make time for my WiP.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Mostly, I’ve been gearing up for my girl’s sixth birthday. She wants a rocker-girl theme, a guitar cake, a piñata, and lots of music. So, that’s what we’re doing. I’ll share pictures next week. 🙂

 
Last week’s Kenny Chesney concert was AMAZING. He’s such a dynamic performer, and he played all of my favorite songs — I was so happy! John Mayer made a surprise appearance and spent some time jamming with Kenny on stage. So cool! The party bus was also predictably awesome, and we had a fantastic time with our friends. I was beside myself with glee the whole night. 🙂

I also tried a new cookie recipe… Total win. Peanut butter and chocolate are pretty much the best combination ever, and when paired with a frosty bottle of Well’s Banana Bread Beer (YES), well, that’s pretty much culinary nirvana. (I used this cookie recipe, but instead of peanuts, I used peanut butter chips. Yum.)

What’s Inspiring Me Now: My daughter, who met her summer reading goal a few weeks before school started. I’m so proud of what an excellent reader she’s become. Her love of books thrills me.

Tell me… What’s up with you?

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.

Before I tell you about my week, an important note for those taking part in Ready. Set. Write!: Please make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, other participants can visit your blog and check out what you’ve been up to. In that same spirit, I urge you to visit as many new blogs as you can every Wednesday. The most awesome aspect of Ready. Set. Write! is its built-in support system. Let’s make sure we’re rooting each other on and offering as much encouragement as we can. Who knows… You might make an awesome new writing buddy, or a find a fantastic beta reader, or hook up with an amazing critique partner. I’ve met my best writing friends through my blog and theirs, and I am grateful for them every day!

And now, here’s what’s up with me this week…

What I’m Reading: I finished Strands of Bronze and Gold the other day. It was a beautifully written story, though not so much my cup of tea. I do think people who enjoy historical fiction will like it; the descriptions of life in the 1850s are fascinating. Now, thanks to Tracey Neithercott, I’m reading an ARC of Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller and I am LOVING it. It’s exactly my type of book, just as Tracey suspected it would be. Callie is an incredibly compelling protagonist, and I’m already smitten with Alex. I can’t wait to see how the story plays out. Because I’m borrowing Tracey’s ARC and can’t crack its spine so I can read it on the elliptical (I know some of you are shuddering at the thought of a cracked spine — sorry!), I also started The Particular Sweetness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. It’s an already-worn novel I checked out from the library, so I have something to read at the gym on the mornings I don’t run outdoors. So far, it’s a lovely story with a very unique concept.

What I’m Writing: I’m making forward progress on my WiP, and I give most of the credit to Ready.Set.Write! I’ve had so much fun writing with my buddies via Twitter. I met my weekly goal of 3K words on Sunday, then surpassed it, closing out the week with 4,390 words. I’ve knocked out a few scenes and, for the most part, I’m excited about how my story is coming along. Now that the manuscript has passed 13K words, though, I’m starting to suffer from occasional yet terrifying bouts of doubt. Is this story boring? Is it stupid? Will people hate it? Am I doing the concept justice? I’m doing my best to push those pesky uncertainties away, but you know how it is. Bleh…

What Else I’ve Been Up To: It’s been a busy summer already!


Last Friday I got to help my cutie prepare for a Father~Daughter Dance. She was so excited to get all dressed up and dance the night away with her daddy. I know I’m biased, but I think she looked pretty darn adorable, and she had a BLAST.

     
I’ve been doing lots of baking, as per usual. Last week I made an Almond Sheet Cake with Butter Frosting for a dinner party with friends and it was very well received. If you like desserts that are sweet and rich, you will love this relatively easy cake. Also, I bought a new cookie cooling rack. It slides together for easy storage and it is aWeSoMe. Thank you, Bed Bath & Beyond!


And I’ve been doing lots of this: Playing and laughing with my favorite girl. ♥

What’s Inspiring Me Now: I’ve mentioned a few times that my WiP’s plot is inspired by a Tim McGraw song. Well, that song is not Highway Don’t Care — it hadn’t yet debuted when I started working on my project —  but I’m still loving this collaboration. The desperation and longing in the lyrics align perfectly with the tone I’m going for in my story, so I’ve been listening to it on loop. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate Tim McGraw’s perfection, shall we?

Tell me: What’s up with you today?

Currently…

(I originally got the idea for “Currently…” from Kate Hart, who snagged the idea from Amy Lukavics, who picked it up here.)

Loving

Hot apple cider. Random, but it’s been tasting extra yummy lately…
My new L’Oreal Hair Serum. Finally a product to counteract our hard water…
Trader Joe’s — I always feel so happy in that store…
Babies! On Sunday, one of my favorite friends had an adorable little boy. Yesterday I got to visit him and hold him… So fun!

Reading

I’m a few chapters from the end of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects. Just like last year’s Gone Girl, Flynn’s debut is FREAKING ME OUT. So many deplorable, pitiable characters. So many visceral, disturbing images. Such astute, evocative language. I cannot put it down.

Watching

HBO’s Girls. Lena Dunham is brilliantly funny. Never before has a show made me enjoy cringing. Also, MTV’s Catfish. I have a mini-crush on Nev, and every single episode is absolutely captivating. (On the subject of TV, I’m ready for Breaking Bad and The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones to return!)

Thinking About

The end of my revision. I’ve incorporated all the feedback my agent and I discussed and I am loving the results. Just a few chapters left in my final read-through, a quick beta test, and then my manuscript will be on its way back to the inbox of Agent Victoria… Yay!

Anticipating

That quick beta test I mentioned above? I’m swapping manuscripts with one of my favorite blog friends. We both love to read and write upper contemporary YA (with lots of romance!), but oddly enough, we’ve never read each other’s work. That’s serving us well, though, because we’re both needing fresh eyes on our manuscripts. I can’t wait to read hers!

Listening To


Ho Hey by The Lumineers… Not exactly country, but this song rocks.

Wishing

For warmer weather! I acclimated to the pleasant temperatures of my new California home pretty quickly. Lately, though, it’s been freezing! Okay, that’s probably dramatic. Today it got up to 55, but in the mornings when I get up to run… Brrr! Hurry up, spring!

Making Me Happy

My loves… always.

What’s currently making YOU happy?