NaNo Update #7

Progress (word count or a general status update): 44,038

Current Mood: So, so hopeful! I think I might actually “win” this NaNo thing… Who would’ve thought?! The end is in sight, and therefor I am motivated. Even if I end up having to write out of order, I WILL finish this thing. And by the way…. Congrats to those of you who have already won! I am absolutely in awe, and your success have given me an extra boost of inspiration!


The hope of a writer is to create this kind of magic...

Goals as of Today: I hit my 40K by Friday goal from last week, so that’s exciting. As of today, my goal is to keep pace so I’ll see 50K on or before this Friday… YAY!

Recent Favorite NaNo WiP Bit: 

       There was nothing more than his hands gripping her waist and his mouth open against hers, the balmy autumn air heavy and damp against her skin. The kiss wasn’t unpleasant, exactly, but there was no emotion accompanying it, nothing that made Bree want to deepen it, or even prolong it.

       Still, she was patient. She let Henry draw back first. And when he did, he was grinning, obviously proud, like he’d just cleared an enormous hurdle while wearing weighted shoes. 

Non-NaNo News (because life DOES go on): Our Thanksgiving was awesome. We had potluck celebration with our local military friends and fun was had by all. Also, I made a Pecan Pie Cake, and ate WAY too much.

In other news, my husband, daughter, and I saw Rise of the Guardians this weekend and we LOVED it. The story is perfection, and the movie is visually stunning. I’m not a big 3D fan, but definitely see Rise of the Guardians in 3D. You won’t regret the inflated ticket price. 🙂

In my downtime I’m reading: Mini book review… I finished Saving June by Hannah Harrington over the weekend. Guys… I adored this book — it’s a new favorite! It’s a mash-up of Jandy Nelson’s lovely prose and Courtney Summers’ s bold storytelling, all wrapped up in an epic road trip. And the boy… Jake. He totally made me swoon. And if all that isn’t enough, the songs that are a part of the various mixed CDs mentioned throughout the story are compiled into playlists at the end. I want to download them all and relive the book while I listen!

Saving June

In an attempt to cure my Awesome Book Hangover, yesterday I started Reached by Ally Condie. I’m a fan of the first two books of the Matched trilogy, and I’m excited to see how the series wraps up.

You should read this blog post: Increasing Your Book’s Momentum By: Editor Laura Carlson Because: It’s full of awesome tips for getting your story up and running, and for infusing it with plenty of excitement and an unputdownable pace.

You should also read this blog post: The Fine Art of Story Resonance By: Author Susan Dennard  Because: Story resonance is so important, and Susan shares lots of hints for weaving subplots together to create a deep, complex, echoing plot (think Jellicoe Road and If You Reach Me).

Gratuitous Photos (Because I love ‘em!):

Autumn treasures, my favorite little face, and a lovely California sunset.

If you’re NaNoing, are you on track to win? And if you’re not NaNoing, what’s new in your writing world? 

NaNo Update #6

Progress (word count or a general status update): 32, 506

Current Mood: Improving… Last week sucked, frankly, but I’ve come to terms with it and I’m moving on with what needs to be done. I know that’s elusive, and for that I apologize. I can report that I’m making awesome progress on my NaNo project, and it’s more a joy to work on than a chore… A good thing!

Inspiration: It’s hard to wait around for something you know might never happen, but it’s even harder to give up when you know it’s everything you want. ~ Unknown

Goals as of Today: Hit 40K by Friday. That’s lofty, especially since my girlie is out of school this week, but seeing that benchmark will make me feel very confident about finishing the month with 50K.

Recent Favorite NaNo WiP Bit:

As Bree neared town, the running path became busier. Cyclists with aerodynamic helmets and bikes worth thousands streaked by shouting, “On your left!” Women in the dredges of middle age, power-walked in expensive sweat suits, carrying lattes and chattering. Runners, like Bree, who were out to perform, raise their heart rates and sculpt their calves and drop their times. When she could spare the concentration, she smiled at a few. But she felt a kinship with them all. They were like her, intense and dedicated. Competitors.

Non-NaNo News (because life DOES go on): I ran the Big Sur Half Marathon yesterday! Guys. It was *really* hard. It wouldn’t have been bad three weeks ago before I aggravated my sciatic nerve, but yesterday… Wow. I’m still limping. The good (great!) news is that I finished, and I got to have beer at the end of the race.

A shot of the course (also my regular running route — I am very lucky!). Can you see the little runners in the distance?

Finished! Tired but excited, and with beer! (Why does my neck appear freakishly long in this picture? I look like a turtle…)

I love the medals!

In my downtime I’m reading: Saving June by Hannah Harrington. I just started, but so far this one reminds me a bit of The Sky is Everywhere. Which is to say: A dead sister is involved, the writing is gorgeous, and I already love it.

You should also read this blog post: What’s Next in Publishing: Agent Laurie McLean Looks in Her Crystal Ball By: Agent Laurie McLean (guest-posting on author Anne R. Allen‘s blog) Because: It’s a succinct view of publishing then, now, and in the future from an industry insider.

Gratuitous Photo (Because I love ‘em!):

I can’t pinpoint why, exactly, but I love this photograph. I think it’s the combination of obvious daddy/daughter fun, my girlie’s joyful smile, and the flags billowing so perfectly in the background. (Not to toot my own horn or anything. :))

Tell me: How was your weekend? What are you reading these days?

NaNo Update #5

Progress (word count or a general status update): 27,556

Current Mood: Not great. Some things have happened this week that have significantly dampened my writing spirit, and my word count goals have suffered. I’m still on track to write 50K by the end of the month, but I’ve suddenly got a lot of new issues and commitments I wasn’t counting on. I’m worried about having the time and the appropriate frame of mind to officially “win” NaNo. I’ve come so far, though, and because of that, I’m not ready to give up. I love my characters and their story. I do not want to abandon them.

Inspiration: “I’m so overwhelmed… I’m not sure if I’ve found a rope or lost my horse.” ~ Unknown (Not exactly writing-related, but very much how I’ve been feeling lately.)

Goals as of Today: Finish November with 50,000 words. That is all.

Recent Favorite NaNo WiP Bit: Henry was a good boyfriend, sweet and considerate, quick with compliments and generous with gifts. He had never become outwardly angry with Bree, even though she was sometimes purposely difficult. He told her that he loved her, and not just when he wanted something. He said it often and with feeling; Bree suspected he meant it, which terrified her to her core. 

Non-NaNo News (because life DOES go on): In the interest of sparing you a big ol’ heap of negativity, I’m going to skip this one. Let’s just say that November is not turning out at all the way I’d hoped.

In my downtime I’m reading: I’m nearly finished with Starters by Lissa Price. While this one certainly requires some suspension of belief, it’s one of the stronger dystopians I’ve read this year. I’m a fan of main character Callie, and the action-packed climax has me wanting to just finish already!

You should read this blog post:  What the Rest of the World Doesn’t Get About YA By: Author Natalie Whipple Because: It’s a personal, uplifting story about why writing YA is so, so important.

You should also read this blog post: Shady Business By: Agent Sarah LaPolla Because: It’s chock full of awesome advice regarding researching backgrounds and track records to ensure that the agents, agencies, and small publishers writers are querying and/or submitting to are legitimate.

Gratuitous Photograph (because I love ‘em!):

Lovely California dawn…

Tell Me: What do you have going on this weekend? 

NaNo Update #4

Progress (word count or a general status update): 22,611

Current Mood: Eh. I didn’t write AT ALL on Sunday, and I payed for it yesterday. It was hard to get back into the mood, though I did manage to knock out 2,371 words. I’m approaching the dreaded “sagging middle” (am I the only writer who hates that term?) and I’m stressing about keeping the story’s momentum going. That said, I still like my story, and I still enjoy being immersed in its world. I referred to my daughter as Bree the other day, which is my MC’s name. So that’s fun.

Inspiration: Simple…

Goals as of Today: My girlie’s school has a week of half-days thanks to parent/teacher conferences, so my goal is to keep my head above water. That means, log at least 1,600 words a day. In my perfect world, I’ll hit 2K every day through Friday.

Recent Favorite NaNo WiP Bit:

Their two conversations, brief and random as they’d been, had somehow become the highlight of Bree’s week. Good weird, he’d written in his note. She couldn’t help but agree. 

After a relatively quiet breakfast with her parents, she got dressed for school. The little slip of paper on which Duncan had scribbled his note found its way into the small inner pocket of her bag. It gave the bag added weight, a pleasant solidity that kept Bree tethered to the ground as the day wore on. 

Non-NaNo News (because life DOES go on): Raise your hand if you’re tired of hearing about my runner’s injury… Wait — You too?! My sciatic nerve is still giving me grief. I ran a slow five miles on Saturday and suffered the consequences all day Sunday. The good news is that I now know that I’m capable of pushing through the pain. So, watch out Big Sur!

In other news, I got my match for Sip Swap 2012 hosted by  Kelsey and Jessica. Now I’m even more excited about the swap because my my match is someone I know through her blog and mine. If you’re reading this right now, you *might* be my match. Can’t wait to go mug shopping!

In my downtime (ha!) I’m reading: Starters by Lissa Price. I’m about 130 pages in and honestly, I thought I was going to be annoyed by this book. But I’m not — not even a little bit! The main character is turning out to be all kinds of likable.  Starters is a page turner, and it’s kept me guessing which, considering the dystopian-saturated YA world in which we live, is pretty impressive.

You should read this blog post: Your Style, Your Voice, and Why, Yes, You Are a Special Snowflake By: Writer Amanda Hannah (via YA HighwayBecause: The post defines the sometimes confusing term “voice,” which we hear so often in the writing world, and tells us how our own voice is like a fingerprint we leave on our readers.

You should also read this blog post: 12 Movies That Inspired My Love of YA (And Influenced the Way I Write It) By: Moi! (Over at YA ConfidentialBecause: Teen movies are the best, and I’d love to hear about your favorites.

Gratuitous Photograph (because I love ‘em!):

I hosted a baby shower for a lovely friend on Sunday, and this little guy helped set the mood. Directions for making one of your own are HERE.

Hangin’ out with my favorite girl.

Tell Me: What are you reading? How’s your writing coming along? How’s your week shaping up?

NaNo Update #3

Progress (word count or a general status update): 17,009

Current Mood: Inspired, yet daunted. I keep coming up with awesome ways to challenge my main character, and I’ve had all kinds of ideas for cool little subplots. These are good things! BUT. I’m starting to worry that I might have too many good things going on. Is that even possible at 17,009 words? I’m not sure… Too many ideas are better than NO ideas, right?

Inspiration: Good writing is supposed to evoke SENSATION in the reader. Not the FACT that it is raining, but the FEELING of being rained upon. ~ E.L. Doctorow

Goals as of Today: Lots going on this weekend, so today I’d like to write at least 2,000 words. I’d like to follow-up with at least 1,000 words on both Saturday and Sunday.

Recent Favorite NaNo WiP Bit:

Duncan was smiling. It was a private sort of smile, the kind Bree shared with Payton when an inside joke come up in a room full of people.

“And your boyfriend,” Duncan said. “He’s real, right? Not some convenient product of your imagination? One you use to deflect strange guys who ask for your number?”

“He’s definitely real,” Bree confirmed, though for the first time in the three years since she’d signed on as Henry’s girlfriend, she kind of wished he wasn’t.

Non-NaNo News (because life DOES go on): My pulled muscle turned out to be sciatica, which is definitely NOT AWESOME. Seriously, guys. Stepping off a curb wrong brings tears to my eyes. I might be crawling the Big Sur Half Marathon…

In lighter news, the other day while my girlie was watching me put my husband’s laundry away (yes, I put my husband’s laundry away… Best Wife Ever), she said, “Mommy, I never want to get married.” When I asked her why not she said, “It just looks like A LOT of work.”

Pretty much, kiddo. It’s so worth all the work, though!

In my downtime (ha!) I’m reading: I finished Bittersweet, and it was very charming. Last night I opened Starters by Lissa Price, but I was so freaking tired I only made it through a few pages. No complaints yet, though. 🙂

You should read this blog post: The YA Boy Problem (Again) By: Author Kristin Halbrook (via YA Highway)Because: She eloquently addresses the many ways YA breaks identity barriers and questions social mores while telling beautiful, quality stories (and she tells “YA tourists” why they’re doing themselves a disservice). Plus, she includes a whole list of male-protagonist YAs.

You should also read this blog post: Losing Perspective on Your Writing: Does This Sing or Suck? By: Author Roni LorenBecause: She reminds us that we’re probably never as good OR as bad as we think. It’s the perfect post to balance the emotional ups and downs of NaNoWriMo.

Gratuitous Photograph (because I love ‘em!):

We just really love living in California.

Saturday we’ve got my daughter’s last soccer game and Sunday brings a few social engagements I’m very much looking forward to. Oh, and I’ll be fitting some writing into the next few days, too. 🙂

What do you have going on this weekend?

NaNo Update #2

Happy Election Day!

Progress (word count or a general status update): 11, o33… We’re approaching Plot Point One, yo.

Current Mood: Excited… This thing’s starting to feel like it might be a REAL STORY someday!

Inspiration: Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only thing you have to offer. ~ Barbara Kingsolver (So wise!)

Goals as of Today: Write at least 2K every day for the remainder of the work week, and at least 1K on Saturday and Sunday.

Recent Favorite NaNo WiP Line: If Bree and Henry’s relationship excelled in any area, it was meeting the status quo…. Bree knew Henry would order Eggs Benedict and a large orange juice at brunch, just as she knew he favored heather-gray boxer-briefs and would agree to just about anything she suggested, so long as she was kissing his neck while she asked. 

Non-NaNo News (because life DOES go on): My pulled muscle is still pulled, so that sucks. I’ve been getting my elliptical on because I’m signed up to run the Big Sur Half Marathon in two weeks, but the gym sucks. I miss my running route. Here’s hoping my body will start cooperating soon.

In my downtime (ha!) I’m reading: Um. Still Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler. I rewarded myself with forty-five minutes of in-the-sun reading yesterday and it was glorious. I’m moving slowly on this book, but not because I don’t enjoy the story (I totally do! Hud’s voice rocks!), but because, as you might imagine, I don’t have tons of extra reading time these days.

You should read this blog post: Welcome to November By: My agency sister Taryn Albright Because: She offers some sage advice for “winning” NaNo. Plus, she’s smart and witty and fun.

You should also read this blog post: Manners Matter: 13 Etiquette Tips By: Literary Agent Rachel Gardner Because: Her tips are excellent reminders, especially in this vastly digital age.

Gratuitous Photograph (because I love ‘em!): Today you get two… Yay!


Write drunk; edit sober. ~ Ernest Hemingway (Yeah. I wasn’t actually drunk, but you’d be surprised at how the words flow after a Bud Light or two. :))

How’s your researching/plotting/drafting/revising/editing coming?

NaNo Update #1

Progress (word count or a general status update): 2,823

Current Mood: Enthusiastic

Inspiration: And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. ~ Roald Dahl (Love!)

Goals as of Today: Continue stockpiling words for the weekend so I can have some fun with my family.

Recent Favorite NaNo WiP Line: While observing young soldiers: Another had forgone the ever popular buzz cut in favor of a Bic-clean shave. In Bree’s opinion, that was an unwise choice. 

Non-NaNo News (because life DOES go on): I’ve pulled a muscle. This does not bode well for my morning runs, which does not bode well for my NaNo musings. Here’s hoping said-muscle starts cooperating, and quick.

In my downtime (ha!) I’m reading: Bittersweet by Sarah Ockler — really cute so far!

You should read this blog post: It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year By: Lindsay Roth Culli Because: She shares lots of fantastic arguments for giving NaNoWriMo a shot. Namely, gaining experience, the sense of community, and having fun. Plus, she quotes Anne Lamott!

You should also read this blog post: Denver and the Mind Reader By: Maggie Stiefvater Because: Simply, she’s awesome, and this story kind of gave me chills. And she mentions The Pig!

Gratuitous Photograph (because you know I love ’em!):

♥ Minnie and Merida ♥

So, how’s NaNo going for you? (And if you’re not NaNo-ing, how’s your November shaping up?

One-Word Wednesday

Happy Halloween, friends!

#4OClock :: Navigating a #cornmaze. #Autumn #Fall #PumpkinPatch #FMSPhotoADay
{Navigating the corn maze at the best pumpkin patch ever.}

{Listening to (and eventually enjoying) Red, the new Taylor Swift album. (Yes, my child has a DiscMan, not an iPod. She’s five, and we’re old school.)}

{Hula hoop tossing at the local Fall Festival. I know we’re only a few months into the school year, but so far I’m impressed with the community atmosphere of my daughter’s elementary school. This Fall Festival was a really cool family event/PTA fundraiser that kiddos of all ages seemed to have a blast at.}

{If you’ve never had Biscoff, you’re missing out. It’s a gingerbread-tasting spread that’s similar in consistency (and calorie count) to peanut butter. You can find it at World Market, and it is yummy! I found an fantastic recipe for Biscoff Chocolate Chip Cookies at Eat, Live, Run, one of my favorite food blogs. If you’re looking for a unique new cookie recipe, give this one a try! It’s definitely one of my new go-tos.}

{One-hundred ounces of Bud Light in preparation for the WSU vs. Standford football game that was awesome, despite a Cougar loss.}

{Remember the one-hundred ounces of beer? This is the kind of lasting memory it produces.}

{I’m plotting! A good thing, since NaNo beings TOMORROW! I’ve got my main characters and setting decided, along with my MC’s GMC and a loose plot outline. Tonight I hope to plot my first several scenes more specifically so I can hit the ground running tomorrow morning.}

{Pumpkin guts, I mean. My husband was deployed during Halloween last year, so this year’s annual pumpkin carving evening was extra special. My daughter ADORES Halloween and everything that goes with it — even pumpkin guts! Today she gets to participate in a costume parade and Halloween party at school, and then, of course, there will be trick-or-treating tonight. Can’t wait!}

How are you celebrating Halloween?
(And if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, are you ready?)

Come November…

Being cute at the pumpkin patch. 🙂

Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I doubt I’ll have much time or creative energy for blogging in November. That said, I hate to neglect my blog for a whole thirty days, and I think dropping off the face of the planet to draft kind of defeats the community spirit of NaNo. So… I’m planning to blog, but I’ve decided to simplify things. Along with an occasional Bookanistas recommendation and the sporadic sampling of Instagram photos I force on you all every so often, I’ve devised a little cheat sheet so I can continue to blog, but without devoting too much time to the practice.

Every few days (or maybe once a week, whatever seems to be working best) I’ll post this form, filled out all pretty:

Progress (word count or a general status update):
Current Mood:
Inspiration (a writing-related quote):
Goals as of Today:
Recent Favorite NaNo-WiP Line:
Non-NaNo News (because life DOES go on):
In My Downtime (ha!) I'm Reading:
You should read this blog post: By: Because:
Gratuitous Photograph (because I love 'em!):

And I encourage you to use it too! Feel free to copy the form exactly, or change it to fit your needs best.

Happy blogging, and happy NaNo-ing!

Five on Friday

Aah, Friday… How I ♥ you!

1. I’ve been doing lots of fall-inspired baking lately. Last week I whipped up the best apple cobbler EVER using Fiji apples my girlie and I picked at a local orchard. And yesterday I made pumpkin fudge, my first attempt at legit candy using a candy thermometer. I think Jillian would be proud!


2. I’m officially signed up for NaNo (my profile is HERE — let’s be writing buddies :)), and my story idea (read: PLOT — characters are easy!) is starting to take shape. Thank you, long morning runs! Next week I’m going to attend a meet-and-greet with locals who are also NaNo-ing. I’m very excited to meet some California-based writers, and to dive in to my new project. Yay for National Novel Writing Month!

3. We’ve been having a stretch of gorgeous weather here in Central California, and I am in heaven. I love sun and warmth and tan lines and afternoons at the beach. Last Sunday my family and I had one of those perfect Indian Summer days, one we spent kayaking and fishing and picnicking at a nearby lake. We capped it off with terrible-for-you pizza at a dive just off the highway. It was fantastic.

4. How to Plot a Novel in 27 Easy Steps… These videos by “Plot Whisperer” Martha Alderson are amazing. If you haven’t watched them, you should. Like, right now. Most are somewhere between five and ten minutes, and they’re like attending a free workshop on painless plotting right from the comfort of your couch. I took frantic notes and pondered my NaNo WiP while watching, and I learned SO MUCH. Thank you, Ghenet Merthil, for introducing me to the Plot Whisperer! (I’ve included the first video below, and the rest are on YouTube.)

5. Big things are happening here at the blog this Monday (as well as at the blogs of a few of my friends!). Be on the look-out for a post chock-full of information on something reading-related and awesome. (Don’t you love when people post enigmatic hints about wonderful things, then make you wait for the details? ;))

What are you up to this weekend, friends?