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 Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy and adored it. I thought the ending, in particular, was perfection. And Harvey! ❤ I also read Love and Other Theories by Alexis Bass and loved it so much. Awesome voice, awesome characterizations, total Katy Book — pretty much the highest praise I can give. More on both of these duebuts coming Friday in my monthly reading wrap-up post. Now, I’ve started Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers, which is predictably amazing so far. It’s the only one of her novels I’ve yet to read, though I’ve owned it for years. Her writing is incredible.

  

What I’m Writing: I accomplished last week’s goal of replotting the last third of my NaNo project, Stars Like Dust. What a relief! I’ve got most of the big picture stuff figured out now, and I feel comfortable diving back into the actual drafting. I’m guessing I have about 15K left to write and I’m hoping to get about half of that done in the next week because on February 6th, I’m leaving for a weekend writing retreat where I’ll *hopefully* finish this first draft.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: My husband’s been traveling a lot for work, so I’ve been spending bunches quality time with my girl.

 
Didn’t she do a most excellent job on this cute little sewing project?!


Saturday night’s sunset. I’d much rather look at this than snow!

What Works For Me: Celebrating my friends’ successes! Two of my favorite writing buddies have signed with literary agents in the last few months: Liz Parker and Tracey Neithercott. It just so happens I’ve read both of the stories that helped them snag their new agents, and they are aMaZiNg. You should totally go congratulate them! Additionally, my former agent-mate and overall wonderful person Kris Asselin recently shared the cover of her debut, Any Way You Slice It. Check it out HERE!  

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 All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven and oh, my gosh… It was incredible. Like, so, so good. I already suspect it’ll be among my most-loved 2015 releases. Now, I’m reading Side Effects May Vary by Julie Murphy, which is fantastic so far. Incidentally, if you’re not listening to Sarah Enni’s First Draft podcast, you should be. Last week she interviewed Julie, who was endlessly delightful. It was their transparent and engaging conversation that made me want to rescue Side Effects from my towering TBR pile.

What I’m Writing: I got feedback on my road trip book, The Road So Farfrom my agent. I’m pleased to report that she loved it — phew! Of course, this book’s a follow-up, so its predecessor has to sell first, but it’s such a relief to know that she understands what the story is meant to be and is on-board.

As I’ve mentioned, I’ve been dragging my feet on finishing my NaNo book, Stars Like Dust, and I’m starting to realize that the reason for my procrastination is… I screwed something up along the way –> the pacing of what will eventually be the final third. I was discussing the problem with my husband the other day and he said (plainly, like the solution was obvious), “Why don’t you just have [important event] come before [other important event]. And I was like… “Huh.” Negative: The fix is going to be a pain in the butt. Positive: The fix is going to make the story much stronger. Goal: Adjust what’s already written, then replot the end of Stars Like Dust so I can tackle it during February’s writing retreat.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: We’ve been playing tourist in our own area, which is always fun. We move A LOT and in order to make the best of it, we make a point to see as much of each new “home” as possible…


We visited Destin’s Gulfarium, an aquarium that’s literally on the beach. My girl and I have been once before, but we wanted my husband to see how awesome it is, too. If you’re ever on the Emerald Coast, check it out!


We also visited Fort Barrancas, a centuries-old military fort and National Historic Landmark overlooking the Pensacola Bay. It’s very cool (especially if you’re into military history, like my husband) and the views are gorgeous.


This girl started her basketball season. It’s been so fun to watch her improve with every game. My sweet, gentle child is becoming so aggressive!

What Works For Me: What works for me? THIS…

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

Class of 2014: YA Superlatives Blogfest BEST IN SHOW

The Class of 2014: YA Superlative Blogfest (hosted by Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and me) runs Monday, December 15th through Thursday, December 18th and will highlight favorite books published in 2014 using a variety of fun superlative categories. The Class of 2014: YA Superlative Blogfest is all about promoting the extraordinary young adult books published this year, so if you haven’t already, draft a post and sign up to participate at the end of this post. We can’t wait to see your favorite reads of 2014!

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2014 Reading List (starred = debut): The Winner’s Curse, *Let’s Get Lost, *Loop, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, *17 First Kisses, Ashes to Ashes, *The Secret Sky, *Behind the Scenes, Isla and the Happily Ever After, *The Only Thing To Fear, Bleed Like Me, The Bridge From Me to You, *Creed, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, I’ll Give You the Sun, *One Two Three, *Of Scars and Stardust, We Were Liars, *Wish You Were Italian, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, Frozen, What I Thought Was True, *The Eighth Guardian, *Pointe, *Push Girl, *Open Road Summer, *Far From You, *The Symptoms of My Insanity, Panic, *The Truth About Alice, *NIL, Complicit, The Summer I Found You, The Evolution of Emily, Into the Still Blue, Heartbeat, The Killing Woods, Brown Girl Dreaming

Best In Show

Favorite Cover

    
Lots of beautiful covers in 2014… These four stuck out: The Secret Sky by Atia Abawi, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, Pointe by Brandy Colbert, and Complicit by Stephanie Kuehn. All four are excellent reads, as well!

Cutest Couple

  
Gwen and Cassidy from Huntley Fitzpatrick’s What I Thought Was True, and Isla and Josh (despite their drama) from Stephanie Perkins’s Isla and the Happily Ever After — too cute to choose, too cute for words. ❤

Most Likely to Succeed (Pick a Printz)


Not only did Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun hit me harder in the feels than any other book I read this year, it’s also one of the most beautifully written stories I’ve encountered.

Most Likely to Make You Miss Your Bedtime


Could. Not. Put. Down The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. The romance, the pacing, the twists, the crazy-compelling characters. So, so good!

Best Repeat Performance (Sequel or Follow-Up)


These The Raven Cycle books just keep getting better, don’t they? I adored Maggie Stiefvater’s Blue Lily, Lily Blue, and I can’t wait to see how this series ends when the final novel comes out next year.

Favorite Finale or End of Series Novel

  
I’ve followed Laini Taylor’s and Veronica Rossi’s trilogies since their opening books, and Dreams of Gods and Monsters and Into the Still Blue held up through the end. Love and recommend both of these fantastical series!

Romance Most Worthy of an Ice Bath


Isla and the Happily Ever After‘s Isla and Josh in Spain… Need I say more? Thank you, Stephanie Perkins, for bringing the swoon. (Honorable Mention to Dahlia Adler’s Behind the Scenes — hot, hot, hot!)

Best Breakout Novel (Debut Author) 


This one’s hard because I’ve read some *fantastic* debuts this year, but my love for Adi Alsaid’s Let’s Get Lost knows no bounds. It’s just so charming and and heartwarming and poignant. Plus, hello, adorable cover!

Best Old-Timer (Favorite Novel Pubbed BEFORE 2014)

  
Late to the party on both of these (seriously — what took me so long?!) but Morgan Matson’s Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour and Cristin Terrill’s All Our Yesterdays both lived up to and then completely surpassed their hype. If you’ve put off reading either or both, remedy that soon!

Most Likely to Make a Grown Man Cry

  
We all know I’m not a book crier, but Christa Desir’s Bleed Like Me and Elodie Nowodazkij’s debut One, Two, Three pulled at my heartstrings in major (though very different) ways.

Most Pleasant Surprise


I’m not sure I would have picked up Caroline Tung Richmond’s The Only Thing to Fear if I didn’t know and adore her — the cover doesn’t exactly scream Katy Book. But I’m so glad I gave this debut a go because it’s one of the most unique and creative stories I’ve read. Loved it!

Most Creative Use of a Love Triangle


Sophie from Tess Sharpe’s Far From You is tangled up between a brother and sister and oh my goodness, it’s messy. Plus, there’s a murder mystery and drug addiction and guilt and sadness to contend with. Such an enthralling read.

Sleeper Hit (Novel So Awesome I Wish It’d Been Hyped More)

    
I wouldn’t call Elizabeth Scott’s Heartbeat, Jessica Love & Chelsie Hill’s Push Girl, Lisa Schroeder’s The Bridge From Me to You, or Stephanie Kuehn’s Complicit “under the radar,” but they’re all so good, I wish I was seeing them featured on everyone’s end-of-the-year “Best” lists. If you haven’t read any of the four of these and are a fan of contemporary YA, you MUST check them out!

Favorite Outlier (Best 2014 Picture, MG, NA, or Adult Book)

  
  
Roxane Gay’s An Untamed State, Rebecca Behren’s When Audrey Met Alice, Riley Edgewood’s Rock & Release serial, and Mary Kubica’s The Good Girl are all such different books, but all four are so affecting. They each blew me away with their amazingness.

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Click below to add your name and your Best in Show post link to our sign up so we can hop around and check out your selections. 

This weekend, Jessica, Tracey, Alison, and I will randomly select FOUR Superlative Blogfest participants to win a 2014 YA book of their choice. Make sure to include your post links to all of the linky lists that apply so you’ll be eligible to win… 

And thanks so much to those who participated, commented, and helped spread the word about this blogfest… I’ve had a blast reading all of the posts, and my TBR list has grown by leaps and bounds!

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 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 – Plus a Giveaway!

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

Giveaway details at the end of this post!!!

What I’m Reading: I read a lot over the last week. I finished Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before and thought it was absolutely adorable. I can’t wait for the follow-up, P.S. I Still Love You. Next, I read The Summer of No Regrets by Katherine Grace Bonds, which came highly recommended by Sara Biren, and I thought it was fantastic. Loved the unconventional family set-up, and the budding romance was sweet and different and rather mysterious, which was cool. Plus, the Pacific Northwest, and cougars! Then, I flew though Tammara Webber’s Easy, the most unputdownable book I’ve encountered in ages. I haven’t read tons of NA, but this one was quite different from the ones I have perused. While sexy and wildly entertaining, it was also beautifully written and emotional and deep. I’m so looking forward to reading its companion, Breakable. Now, I’m reading Kristin Rae’s debut, Wish You Were Italian, which is a discordant follow-up to Easy (Italian is very much “clean teen”), but I’m still loving it. Pippa is too cute, and the setting (Italy, obviously) is giving me a wicked case of wanderlust.

  

What I’m Writing: I finally finished my outline (it’s very detailed, but — I think — flexible enough), and I am super excited about this new project, guys. I wrote the opening chapter a few weeks ago and have since discovered that I started in the wrong place (as usual). So, yesterday I rewrote that first chapter. Now it fits nicely into my outline and my beat sheet. Much better.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Still watching Gossip Girl. Still swooning over Blair’s clothes and Nate’s baby blues. I just finished Season 2, which was all kinds of melodramatic and awesome. In other news, on Monday I went to a book signing in celebration of the release of Of Neptune by Anna Banks, who’s a local author. I’ve yet to read any of the Syrena Legacy books, but I’ve managed to acquire them all over the last few days and I’m looking forward to diving into this new series (see what I did there?!). And, finally, I’m having lots of fun playing mama. The school year is winding down, and my daughter and I are soaking up the last few weeks of first grade, and making big plans for summer fun.

 
I had a lovely Mother’s Day! My girlie made me breakfast in bed (toast with honey and blackberries), gave me an adorable coupon book and a piece of art she made at school, and hung with me at the beach. Couldn’t ask for a better day. 


Also, I made easy (yummy!) homemade brownies. Here’s the recipe.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: My WiP! I’m having a blast working on it! I love this stage, when a project feels fresh and new and exciting. Hopefully it lasts a good, long while. Additionally, I’m finding an article by Janice Hardy at Fiction University called Four Questions to Ask to Make Your Scenes Pop really helpful. Great reminders for those drafting or revising. 

And now… Today’s Giveaway

I lost my copy of The Baby Name Wizard during our cross-country move back in December — cue sad face. I searched for it for months because I love it for naming my characters, and because my copy had tons of names highlighted from seven years ago, back when I was trying to name my yet-to-be-born daughter. Anyway. I finally broke down and purchased a new copy, the 3rd edition pictured below, because I have characters who need names, like, yesterday. Wouldn’t you know it — I found my original copy an hour after the new one was delivered. After paging through the 3rd edition, I decided it isn’t all that different from the 1st, at least not in ways that matter for my needs. Plus, my old copy has sentimental value. So, that pretty new 3rd edition is up for grabs! Details below…

*Anyone who comments on this post will be automatically entered in the random drawing. If you already own this book or don’t have a need for it but would still like to comment, just let me know that you’re not interested in the drawing and I’ll exclude you. 

*Giveaway is open through Sunday at midnight, and I will announce the winner in next week’s What’s Up Wednesday post, after emailing him/her.

*Giveaway is open internationally (while this book focuses on name popularity in the US, I personally think it’d be helpful to anyone, anywhere). Writers and actual baby-namers alike are welcome to enter. 🙂

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

What I’m Reading: I finished Huntley Fitzpatrick’s What I Thought Was True and really enjoyed it. Perhaps not quite as much as her debut, My Life Next Door, but WITWT was the perfect book to get me into that lazy, hazy summer mindset, and its love interest, Cass, is adorable as can be. I also read Erin Bowman’s sophomore dystopian novel, Frozen. While I’m still recovering, I *think* I’ve decided that I liked Frozen even more than its predecessor, Taken. Poor, poor Gray. Also, my love for Bree knows no bounds. Now, I’m reading Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, which is delightful. I’m a huge fan of Jenny’s Summer trilogy, and Boys is certainly stacking up. Its protagonist, Lara Jean, reminds me a bit of my favorite Baby Sitters Club character, Claudia Kishi. Both girls have Asian lineage (Lara Jean is Korean American, while Claud is of Japanese descent), but I think their similarities run deeper. Lara Jean and Claudia both possess this genuine sort of innocence that’s just so charming, and they’re both into artsy things and have distinct, unique personal style. So far, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is totally winning me over.

  

What I’m Writing: Well. I’ve been trying to plot my new mystery WiP (that follow-up/sequel/whatever I’ve been hinting about) for days, but to be honest, I’ve only been muddling along, filling in bits here and there, and mostly just mentally flailing about. Yesterday, though, I had an epiphany: I’m not going to be able to solve this mystery along with my characters like I originally planned (my misguided attempt at pantsing, I guess). I NEED TO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENS, ALL THE DETAILS OF THE MYSTERY, BEFORE I BEGIN TO DRAFT. So, I spent most of Monday and Tuesday prewriting, filling in the background stuff that’s necessary for plotting my characters’ journey. Things are going much smoother now. Yay for literary breakthroughs!


New favorite workspace…

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Lots of summery things, like beach-going and  early morning strolls with good ol’ Daisy.

  
I know it’s not yet summer in most areas of the country, but we’ve had a string of 80+ degree days and this sun worshipper is loving it. I’m already so tan!


I was lucky enough to win Sara Biren’s Blogoversary Giveaway, and on Monday I received the oh-so-amazing prize package. Sara even surprised me with an under-the-radar YA romance that I can’t wait to read, and sent super cute Hello Kitty hair accessories for my girl! Happy, happy mail! Thanks so much, Sara!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: This, a thousand times…


I’m proud of my daughter and all of her positive personality traits  — she’s astute, kind, courageous, witty, and compassionate — but few things thrill me more than seeing her engrossed in a story. I took the above photo about an hour after tucking her into bed for the night. She was supposed to be sleeping, but really… How can I be mad at her for sneaking in extra time with a book — especially when I remember doing exactly the same thing when I was her age?

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

2013 YA Superlatives :: Best in Show

The Class of 2013: YA Superlative Blogfest (hosted by Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and me) runs Monday, December 16th through Thursday, December 19th. All of our fantastic participants will highlight favorite books published in 2013 using a variety of fun superlative categories. The Class of 2013: YA Superlative Blogfest is all about promoting the extraordinary young adult books published this year, so if you haven’t already, draft a post and sign up to participate at the end of this post. We can’t wait to see your favorite reads of 2013!

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My Books Pubbed in 2013 Reading List (starred books are 2013 debut novels): Shades of Earth, *The Tragedy Paper, Just One Day, *If You Find Me, *Nobody But Us, *Taken, Through the Ever Night, Eleanor & Park, Requiem, *Pretty Girl-13, *Uses For Boys, This is What Happy Looks Like, Quintana of Charyn, *The S-Word, The 5th Wave, *Nantucket Blue, *The Sea of Tranquility, Golden, *Strands of Bronze and Gold, Where the Stars Still Shine, Dare You To, All I Need, Out of the Easy, *OCD Love Story, The Dream Thieves, *Canary, The Truth About You and Me, Fangirl, *My Life After Now, September Girls, *Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Dead Silence, Invisibility, Just One Year, *Fault Line, Allegiant, *How to Love, The Beginning of Everything, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, *Unteachable, Dangerous Girls, and *Reclaimed (Covers link to Goodreads pages!)

Here are my selections for Best in Show

Favorite Cover 

       
Erin Bowman’s Taken, Leila Howland’s Nantucket Blue, Katie Cotugno’s How to Love, and Bennett Madison’s September Girls all struck cover gold as far as I’m concerned. (Maybe I have a thing for teal?)

Cutest Couple 

   
Is Rainbow Rowell capable of writing a not-cute couple? I adore both Eleanor and Park from Eleanor & Park (duh) and Cath and Levi from Fangirl.

Most Likely to Succeed (Pick a Printz Winner)

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys is exceptional. It has the “literary merit” the Printz committee looks for year after year. It’s beautiful in every way.

Most Likely to Make You Miss Your Bedtime

    
I stayed up way too late reading all three of these. Leah Raeder’s Unteachable, Katie Cotugno’s How to Love, and Katja Millay’s The Sea of Tranquility are all absolutely unputdownable.

Best Repeat Performance (Favorite sequel or follow-up.)

   
I enjoyed both of these follow-ups even more than their predecessors, if that’s possible. Maggie Stiefvater’s The Dream Thieves and Gayle Forman’s Just One Year added so much to their characters’ stories. Loved them both!

Favorite Finale or End of Series Novel


Shades of Earth by Beth Revis is everything I need a series conclusion to be. It answered my questions in a satisfying way while still introducing new twists and characters, and it ended in a way that left me feeling content — thank goodness!

Romance Most Worthy of an Ice Bath

I mean… Is there any other answer? Unteachable by Leah Raeder is far and away the most graphic YA-classified book I’ve read. The main characters have major chemistry and their encounters are described in detail. In fact, if this story’s writing wasn’t so gorgeous, I’d call it smut.

Breakout Novel (Favorite book by a debut author.)

     
  How to Love by Katie Cotugno and OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu are stand-outs of all the books I read this year, not just those by debut authors.

Best Old-Timer (Favorite read of the year published BEFORE 2013.)

      
Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson, Fire by Kristin Cashore, and Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta are all books I’ve thought about often since reading them, in some cases even months after finishing. All three have lovely writing, dynamic main characters, and fantastical worlds. I highly recommend them all.

Book Most Likely to Make a Grown Man Cry

Fault Line by Christa Desir broke me off. That had a lot to do with the fact that it’s a story about rape told from a male’s point of view. Watching Ben struggle to make sense of his girlfriend in the aftermath of her assault shattered me.

Most Pleasant Surprise (Book I didn’t think I’d like, but totally did.)

The Truth About You & Me by Amanda Grace (Mandy Hubbard) is the story of a student/teacher tryst, subject matter I usually steer clear of. But this story was incredibly well done, full of gray areas and imperfect characters that left me reeling. I think the second-person narration was a stroke of genius.

Most Creative Use of a Love Triangle

I can’t give away too much about Sarah Guillory’s Reclaimed for fear of spoiling it, but let’s just say this is a take on the oft-utilized love triangle that I’ve never, ever seen before. My mind is still turning circles about how it all worked out.

Sleeper Hit (Book so awesome, I wish it had been hyped more.)

        
How to Love by Katie Cotugno, OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu, The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay, and Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller are not exactly under-the-radar books, but in my opinion, they’re so awesome that any and every YA fan should read them.

Favorite Outlier (Favorite picture, middle grade, or adult 2013 book)

   
And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini is deep and rich and compelling. The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, is clever and colorful and highly entertaining. Loved them both!

And…Katy’s Superlative Category: 
2014 YA Release You’re Most Anticipating

   
Into the Still Blue (Veronica Rossi) / Dreams of Gods & Monsters (Laini Taylor)

   
Panic (Lauren Oliver) / Isla and the Happily Ever After (Stephanie Perkins)

   
Frozen (Erin Bowman) / The Eighth Guardian (Meredith McCardle)

   
Push Girl (Chelsie Hill & Jessica Love) / Open Road Summer (Emery Lord)

   
Bleed Like Me (Christa Desir) / Complicit (Stephanie Kuehn)

   
Side Effects May Vary (Julie Murphy) / The Secret Sky (Atia Abawi)

Among many, many more! 🙂

Don’t forget to link your Best in Show post so I can visit!

Also, Trace, Jess, Alison and I will be randomly selecting four names from those who’ve participated in all four days of the blogfest. Those luckies will each win one 2013 YA book of their choice. Please make sure you’ve added your link for each day of the blogfest you participated in. Stay tuned… Winners will be announced soon!

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2013 YA Superlatives :: Elements of Fiction

The Class of 2013: YA Superlative Blogfest (hosted by Jessica LoveTracey NeithercottAlison Miller, and me) runs Monday, December 16th through Thursday, December 19th. All of our fantastic participants will highlight favorite books published in 2013 using a variety of fun superlative categories. The Class of 2013: YA Superlative Blogfest is all about promoting the extraordinary young adult books published this year, so if you haven’t already, draft a post and sign up to participate at the end of this post. We can’t wait to see your favorite reads of 2013!

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My Books Pubbed in 2013 Reading List (starred books are 2013 debut novels): Shades of Earth, *The Tragedy Paper, Just One Day, *If You Find Me, *Nobody But Us, *Taken, Through the Ever Night, Eleanor & Park, Requiem, *Pretty Girl-13, *Uses For Boys, This is What Happy Looks Like, Quintana of Charyn, *The S-Word, The 5th Wave, *Nantucket Blue, *The Sea of Tranquility, Golden, *Strands of Bronze and Gold, Where the Stars Still Shine, Dare You To, All I Need, Out of the Easy, *OCD Love Story, The Dream Thieves, *Canary, The Truth About You and Me, Fangirl, *My Life After Now, September Girls, *Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, Dead Silence, Invisibility, Just One Year, *Fault Line, Allegiant, *How to Love, The Beginning of Everything, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, *Unteachable, Dangerous Girls, and *Reclaimed (Covers link to Goodreads pages!)

Here are my selections for Elements of Fiction

Most Envy-Inducing Plot 

   
It’s a toss up between Abigail Haas’s Dangerous Girls and Jessi Kirby’s GoldenBoth books are exceptional contemporaries. I love the twists and sense of unknowing in Dangerous Girls, and I envy the way Jessi Kirby so seamlessly weaved past and present story lines into Golden.

Most Formidable World

   
Another toss up… The ether storms in Veronica Rossi’s Through the Ever Night terrify me, and the idea of a world without love as depicted in Lauren Oliver’s Requiem is equally horrifying. Come to think of it, there’s not a dystopian setting I’d want to visit.

Wanderlust-Inducing

I’ve not been to Nantucket, but Leila Howland’s debut Nantucket Blue made me want to book a summer house there. She describes the beach and the town and the people and the foods so clearly. I could feel the sand beneath my toes.

Loveliest Prose

I’m not usually fan of dialect in novels, but Emily Murdoch pulls it off beautifully in her debut, If You Find Me… My sister don’t talk much. When she does, it’s only to me, in moth-winged whispers, and only when we’re alone. The entire story is  this gorgeous and evocative.

Best First Line

Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys: My mother’s a prostitute. Not the filthy, streetwalking kind. She’s actually quite pretty, fairly well spoken, and has lovely clothes. But she sleeps with men for money or gifts, and according to the dictionary, that makes her a prostitute.

Most Dynamic Main Character

Reena Montero from Katie Cotugno’s How to Love is one of my favorite protagonists ever. She’s can be irresolute which makes her  relatable, but she’s also strong and funny and loving and smart. I’d be her friend in a heartbeat.

Most Jaw-Dropping Ending

I could go with Allegiant, Dangerous Girls, or Shades of Earth here, but the final lines of Katja Millay’s The Sea of Tranquility gave me actual, physical chills. Breathtaking and moving… I loved it.

Best Performance in a Supporting Role

Dee from Gayle Forman’s Just One Day. I had so much fun reading the scenes he shared with Allyson, and I appreciate how he’s more than just the fun best buddy type. He’s got depth and does his own growing as the story progresses.

Best Use of Theme

I love Trish Doller’s Where the Stars Still Shine for its characters and intense emotionality, but I also love it for its messages regarding forgiveness and family and kindness and love, and how it’s possible to recover and start over.

Don’t forget to link your “Elements of Fiction” post below!

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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!

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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: Last week I finished Tiger Lily, and I absolutely adored it. Such a beautiful, bittersweet story. In fact, I’m sort of sad that it was a library book. I might just have to buy a copy for my collection. Yesterday I finished Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo (my fiftieth book of 2013!). It’s awesome. The worldbuilding is stellar and totally unique, and The Darkling… what a fascinating character. A big recommend if you’re a fantasy fan, or if you like books that have super high stakes and are full of surprises. 

What I’m Writing: My WiP and I have mostly made up. She’s still challenging me at every turn, but that’s what makes writing fun, isn’t it? I’m one scene from finishing my read-through of the first half of the story, which is a pretty great feeling. I’m glad I decided to read and reassess and make adjustments as necessary, even though I’m still very much drafting. I rediscovered bits of the story that are lovely and well-written, and I reconnected with my characters. It’s been a motivating experience, and I feel  good about drafting the second half of the story. Here’s a tiny excerpt…

Sometimes Jenna thought of her parents, their expectations and the church’s. Sometimes she thought of Dylan, whether her best friend would ever find the escape she was searching for. Often, she thought of singing. How much she missed it and how, after years of projecting clearly and resonantly from deep within her soul, her song had gone mute in the space of a night.

But mostly, Jenna thought of Tyler. Tyler, who made her feel beautiful and melodic and lucky. Tyler, who, after Saturday night, might very well have written her off. 

My goal for the coming week is to add 3000 new words to my WiP. 

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What Else I’ve Been Up To: I spent most of last week planning and hosting my girlie’s sixth birthday bash (even as I type those words, I can’t believe I have a six-year-old). The music-themed party was a big success, and we had a fantastic time celebrating with lots of wonderful friends. Here are a few pictures… 

 
I made that purple guitar out of poster board for a “Pin the Pick on the Guitar” game. My mom made the birthday girl’s super-cute party dress. 

 
Lots of stars and guitars and bright colors. Taylor Swift provided the soundtrack. 

 
I’ve said this about a thousand times in the last few days, but I still can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that six years have passed between the days these two pictures were taken. I am *way* too young to have a six-year-old. 😉 


And, since I’m blathering about the too-quick passage of time, let’s all pause to appreciate the first day of 1st grade, which is TODAY! Lots of extra writing time in store for this mama!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: This post on the Plot Dot Test by agent Natalie Lakosil, because I love a good visual representation, and this one goes a long way in solving pacing problems. And this link, inviting us to “do nothing” for two full minutes. It’s way harder to relax and zone out than I thought it would be, and probably far more important than any of us realize. Try it! Also, this quote…

What’s up with you today?