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 Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and I thought it was incredible. A must-read if (like me) you’ve been slow to jump on the bandwagon. Incidentally, Speak has been out for fifteen years now. The fact that it’s remained relevant through a decade-and-a-half of changing YA trends says more about its quality than I ever could. I also read Tess Sharpe’s debut Far From You, which is unflinching and heart-shattering and beautifully written. Loved it. Yesterday I started Emery Lord’s debut, Open Road Summer, which several of my book besties have promised I’ll adore. So far, so good! 

What I’m Writing: Nothing. But I did hear back from my agent regarding my most recent manuscript and… She’s on board! She got the characters and the conflict and the conclusion and reading her email was just about the greatest feeling ever. Huge, hUgE, HUGE sigh of relief. Now I can start something new without the weight of anxiety I’ve been shouldering over the last few weeks. In beta reading news (ready to be super envious?) I got to read Meredith McCardle‘s latest manuscript, which is freaking fantastic. I had the privilege of reading her upcoming debut, The Eighth Guardian, last year and it totally blew me away. It comes out in less than a month (yay!) and I can’t wait for you all to read it!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’ve tried really hard to get into The Secret Life of the American Teenager because I love Shailene Woodley in The Descendants and The Spectacular Now. But Secret Life… NO. Not for me, guys. Not at all. I found the message much too heavy-handed, and the dialogue is absolutely cringeworthy. Looks like I’m going back to Gossip Girl. Darn. 😉

   
I’ve achieved another Thirty Before 35 goal! We took our first trip to the beach on Saturday, and it was beautiful. My daughter played with her buddies and I lounged and chatted with a few girl friends. We had a (sandy) picnic lunch, which is one of those things I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. Check!


And, much to my daughter’s embarrassment, I pulled the truck over while passing the above field of flowers the other day so I could take her picture. Just couldn’t resist all that pink against her little hippie sundress. 

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Rock the Drop, one of my favorite bookish events of the year, is tomorrow! It’s a celebration of Support Teen Literature Day during which book lovers can drop novels with “Rock the Drop” bookplates in public places for teenagers to find and read and hopefully fall in love with. I’ve rocked the drop for the last two years (2013 and 2012), and I’ll definitely be participating tomorrow. Look for photos on my Instagram feed, and here on my blog coming soon. Visit ReaderGirlz for all the details. 

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

   

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

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

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


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

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

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

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

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

What I’m Reading: I’m halfway through Lauren Oliver’s Panic. I’m moving slowly, but not because I’m not enjoying it — I am! It’s just been a busy (and crazy) week and I haven’t had much time for reading. Boo. Panic‘s a trip, though, and I’m very anxious to see how it all plays out. This one’s quite a departure from Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, but Lauren Oliver’s prose is predictably beautiful. So far, so good.

What I’m Writing: Another revision round’s nearly in the bag. CP and beta notes are helping me so much (it’s amazing what people who aren’t neck-deep in the story pick up on!), and I’m excited about how this draft of Good Girls is turning out. It’s much more layered and cohesive and interesting, and its ending is a thousand times stronger. I’m so happy with my revision progress, in fact, that I decided to go to Disney World.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: No, really — I went to Disney World! My girlie and I took a rather impromptu road trip to Orlando to meet up with some of our favorite friends for a few days and we had an incredible time! I love all things Disney so much. The parks and the magic just never get old…


Obligatory Mickey shot. 🙂

   
These girls had so much fun together! It’s been nearly a year since they’ve seen each other, yet they picked up right where they left off.

PhotoPossibly my new favorite photo. ❤

{There are more on Instagram. Check them out if you’re so inclined.}

What’s Inspiring Me Now: First, an awesome post from my agent, Victoria Marini, entitled On Bones and Knowing Your Characters. It’s about digging deeper and making sure your readers know your characters as well as you do. Also, a post by Corey Ann Haydu called How to Relationship (for Stacked), which talks about all of that crazy-awkward stuff that happens in the shadows between kissing and sex in YA, and how it’s pretty awesome when authors get brave and explore those shadows in authentic ways. (Obviously Corey says it way better than I do.) Highly recommend both of these articles!

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 Stephanie Kuehn’s Complicit (out in June) and holy hell, was it good. If you’re a fan of Stephanie’s debut, Charm & Strange, I think you’ll be all over her sophomore novel. And if you haven’t read Charm & Strange yet, you should remedy that right away. Now, I’m reading Nil by Lynne Matson, who is lovely. The story is set in the most fascinating island world, and it’s edge-of-my-seat exciting so far.

What I’m Writing: I’m revising according to (brilliant) CP notes. You know how when you’re writing, sometimes you know something’s not clicking but you’re not sure how to fix it, so you press on with the hope of making it right later? Well, CP Alison picked up on those areas of my manuscript that weren’t working and gave me some awesome suggestions for fixing them. So, that’s what I’m doing now. Inserting a few new scenes, filling holes, and taking advantage some missed opportunities, all while catching some rays. Love this part!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Getting ready to go to Disney World with my girl! We’re meeting some great friends there for a few days of fun and we cannot wait. I am such a sucker for all things Disney, and it’s been way too long since we last visited a park. Like, more than a year. Way overdue. 😉


I’ve been pretty good about eating healthfully lately (I haven’t had a beer in a month!), but on Friday I caved and baked cookies. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, to be specific. I followed this recipe, but I didn’t have Reese’s Pieces, so I used Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips instead. They turned out SO WELL. This combination of ingredients creates cookies of the perfect peanut-buttery consistency. Recommend!

  
My girlie celebrated Dr. Seuss’ birthday at school all last week. I made her green eggs for breakfast one day, and she also participated in a Read-A-Thon, which I totally crashed and photographed because I’m *that* mom.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: I officially crossed the first item off my Thirty Before 35 bucket list: I finished watching the Friday Night Lights TV series. In the words of the incomparable Tami Taylor: Good lord, y’all! This show ranks right up there with Breaking Bad and Six Feet Under as an all-time favorite — it is so freaking good! I mean, it’s definitely about football (which is awesome), but there’s so much more to it. For starters, there’s Tim Riggins who’s all broken and brooding and conflicted and, um, hot

And then there are these deep relationships between people who, for the most part, have very little in common aside from football (Vince & Luke, Tyra & Landry, Eric & Buddy, Matt & Smash, Matt & Tim, Matt and his grandma ❤)…

And then there are the romances (Julie and Matt are super sweet, and I love Vince and Jess too, but I will always ship Tim and Lyla)…

And then there’s Tami Taylor, who makes me want to be a better wife, mother, and person, and who’s totally making y’all happen. Plus, she has the most impeccable football-wife style…

Aren’t you sad you won’t get to hear me rave about this show week after week anymore? What should I watch next? I’m thinking maybe Gossip Girl?

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 Jamie Blair’s  Leap of Faith and absolutely adored it. My only (tiny) complaint is that I wanted more from the ending. Not a different ending — just more. I fell so in love with the characters and I was left feeling a little uncertain about their futures. Maybe Jamie Blair will write a sequel? That would be awesome! Now I’m reading Lucy Christopher’s The Killing Woods. Her Stolen: A Letter to My Captor is one of my favorite YAs ever, so I’ve got super high expectations. So far I’m intrigued and I like the dual POVs a lot. It took me a little while to warm up to the story itself because there are so many unknowns, but so far so good!

What I’m Writing: Incase you missed it, I’m cohosting a #WriterRecharge with Alison MillerLiz ParkerElodie Nowodazkij, & Sara Biren. We’re setting goals for the month of February, posting them, writing/revising together on Twitter, and holding each other accountable. It’s an awesome way to stay motivated and up productivity, plus it’s just fun! If you’d like to sign up, you can do so at Sara’s blog. My main goal for February is to have a readable draft ready for my CPs by the month’s end. It’s a big goal, but one I *think* is doable.

Writer Recharge

Thanks to #WriterRecharge, I’ve been revising A LOT. It’s crazy how knowing that people will be checking in on my progress motivates me. Whatever it takes, right? I’m about halfway through this major first revision and I’m feeling pretty good about it. Thanks to some help from one of my CPs (you’re the best, Alison!) I’ve got one of my big issues worked out. Now I’m mostly trimming all the fat so I can make room for the awesome new bits I know I need to add.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Cheering on the Seahawks to a Super Bowl championship, of course. Like most Pacific Northwesterners, we are beyond excited about Sunday’s victory!


I took a break from running over the last several weeks, but now I’m back at it. My endurance has suffered (last spring I could run five miles in under forty minutes), but I’m not too discouraged. I’m taking it slow and building up my stamina, and even though my neighborhood is ridiculously hilly, I’m enjoying it.


My girl turned six-and-a-half on Monday. We don’t celebrate half-birthdays with parties or presents of course, but it’s a big milestone in her little mind so we indulge in a bit of coddling. She got to choose dinner (homemade chicken strips, mashed potatoes, and “build your own” salads), and she got lots of extra hugs and kisses from us and Daphne. ♡

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Seattle Seahawks Changing Future of Football with Yoga and Meditation — yes, this article is football-centric, but there are lots of awesome points about positivity and building players up that can be applied to all aspects of life, including writing and parenting. Clearly, these unconventional methods are working for this year’s Super Bowl Champions. 🙂 Also inspiring: Taylor Swift’s latest release All Too Well. I’ve loved this song since my girl and I bought the Red album last year, but lately its lyrics have really spoken to the tone of my WiP. This bit especially…

And maybe we got lost in translation
Maybe I asked for too much
But maybe this thing was a masterpiece
Till you tore it all up
Running scared, I was there, I remember it all too well

And you call me up again, just to break me like a promise
So casually cruel in the name of being honest
I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here
Cause I remember it all all all too well…

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: Over the weekend I read Charm & Strange by Stephanie Kuehn, which isn’t a book I normally would have picked up because there’s much talk of wolves in the summary. But it is so, so good, guys. The plotting — WOW. And the writing… it’s beautiful. The entire story is visceral and haunting, one of those where you’re never quite sure what’s real and what’s not. The other day it  was named the William C. Morris YA Debut Award winner– well deserved! I highly recommend it. (Also, can we talk about Stephanie’s next release, Complicit? It’s one of my most anticipated 2014 books!). Now, I’m reading Leap of Faith by Jamie Blair, which came highly recommended by Tracey Neithercott, a book bestie who has yet to fail me. I’ve only just started, but so far it’s lovely.

  

What I’m Writing: I’ve been making great strides in my revision. Funny how after several weeks away it is VERY easy to see what’s awesome and what’s embarrassingly cheesy and needs to go. I’ve also made some important decisions regarding my characters’ motivations and the challenges I need to present them with, so I think I’m moving in the right direction. Guess what else I wrote this week? A RESUME! Which was really challenging, considering I haven’t worked outside my home in seven years. Big thanks to my husband for all his help!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Mostly, I’ve been trying to remain motivated and in my revision zone. I’ve been also spending tons of time with my husband and my girl. We’ve been watching a lot of Modern Family, a show we’ve only recently discovered. As a rule, I hate sitcoms, but this one is laugh-out-loud funny (I love Phil so much!), plus it’s full of heartfelt moments that aren’t totally gag-inducing. Cam cracks my girl up, which in turn cracks my husband and me up.


My daughter has been studying landforms at school and had a take-home volcano project to complete last week. She had a blast (see what I did there?) mixing and molding and painting, and was thrilled when the chemical reaction actually worked. Watching your child get excited about learning is hands-down one of the best parts of parenting.


Sometimes I participate in Photo A Day challenges via Instagram. At the end of each day, Fat Mum Slim (aka Australian blogger Chantelle) chooses a “Fab Four” group out of thousands of entrants. Imagine my surprise when my photo of Daisy on the front porch (for the prompt “My Space”) was selected. It totally made my day to have my simple little image featured with three incredibly lovely photographs. Daisy was also flattered.  ♥


We’ve been having a stretch of crappy weather (I’m not impressed with Florida so far) and my daughter’s school has been closed for the last two days. Yesterday we baked Homemade Yeast Bread together and it was so much fun. My girl learned how to knead dough, and then we ate warm bread with butter for a snack. Yum!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: I love author Erin Bowman‘s recent Pub(lishing) Crawl post entitled Making the Most of Social Networks as a Writer. It is everything you need to know about the various social media platforms available today, as well as advice for how to make the most of them as a writer. Definitely check it out. My WiP’s Pinterest board has also been inspiring me lately. Every time I get stuck, I turn to it for a creative boost, and it’s totally working. 

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

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

What I’m Reading: I finished These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner yesterday, and it was glorious. Not at all what I expected, especially since I’ve read in several different reviews that it’s like Titanic on a spaceship. Not much of the novel takes place on a spaceship, actually. In fact, almost all of it takes place on a strange alien planet, and the story is all about survival and acceptance and love, and there’s this chilling mystery running beneath everything else, and it’s just… awesome. Also, Tarver. ♥

What I’m Writing: I’m back to brainstorming ways to fix my manuscript — yay! No, really… that was a non-sarcastic yay. 🙂 I’m thrilled to be back with this story and these characters, and I’m so excited to mold this mess into something compelling and beautiful and tragic and unputdownable. Wish me luck!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Our house is finally completely unpacked. There are no boxes left in closets or in the garage, everything that’s supposed to be hung up is, in fact, hung up, and I’ve got some pretty stellar organization going on. These are the things that make me happy.


Our new town is what one might call… small. Our nearest “big city” is Destin. That’s where Target and PetSmart and Michaels and all of the chain restaurants and clothing stores are. Conveniently, that’s also where the beach is, and it is beautiful. We drove down the other day to officially adopt Daphne the kitty (!) and made a stop at the water to snap a few photos. It was freezing, but still lovely. Can’t wait until it’s warm enough to swim in the Gulf of Mexico!


Speaking of Daphne… She’s so weird. She’s the most dog-like cat around, which is probably why I like her so much. She hates to be alone, as evident by the fact that she sat on the edge of the tub and batted at suds for the duration of my bubble bath the other day. She’s definitely not one of those anti-social kitties that hides under the bed all day!

My mother-in-law has a pretty impressive dessert catalog, and this Texas Chocolate Cake is in one of my favorites of all the treats she makes. It’s, like, the best breakfast ever. And, it’s super easy as far as cakes go. I made this one in a 9×13 rather than a jelly roll pan and it turned out wonderfully.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Uh, THE SEAHAWKS! I grew up in Western Washington and come from a family of passionate Seahawks fans. My dad and my brothers worry over the team as if they own it, and my husband does his fair share of screaming/cheering/carrying-on every time they play. There’s talk of lucky hats and lucky seats and lucky beer on game days. Broadcasts are DVRed and picked apart later. It’s sort of nuts, but hard not to get caught up in. Washington’s not exactly known for exceptional professional sports teams, so excuse us if we get a little excited in the face of victory. Anyway. The Seahawks are NFC Champions and they’re going to the Super Bowl!

In related news, in case you missed all of the media coverage regarding Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman’s post game interview with Erin Andrews, let me give you the abbreviated version: he shouted about being the best, about going up against a mediocre player, and basically let tons of adrenaline fly into homes across America. To which I say: Who cares? He’s a grown man. He was crazy-pumped about a huge play, and a huge win. He’s clever, he’s a character, and he’s making a splash. But, across social media people have been calling him “ghetto.” People have referred to him as a “thug.” As “classless.” So what if he got caught up in the moment? So what if he grew up in Compton? So what if he’s a little cocky, louder than most, different than most? Against all odds, Richard Sherman graduated at the top of his high school class, then he graduated from Stanford, one of the most competitive universities in the country. He’s smart, he’s a talented athlete, and he’s a philanthropist. He’s a character, but he also has character. Learn more HERE, HERE, and (written by Sherman himself) HERE. Let’s stop generalizing people based on ten-second media soundbites, shall we?

In other inspiring news,  the cover reveal of my friends Trisha Leaver and Lindsay Currie‘s co-authored debut Creed went live today. See it HERE (spoiler alert: it’s incredible!). Also, a post from The Seekers entitled 10 Reasons Our Heros Need Flaws. Awesome reminders! And, in keeping with my 2014 attempt at stoicism, less worrying, and more appreciation…

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

WUW2

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a  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 Rebecca Behren‘s middle grade debut When Audrey Met Alice and oh my goodness… It was SO GOOD. One of the best middle grade novels I’ve read. Cute, cute, cute, and it makes me want to read an Alice Roosevelt biography! I’ll rave about it more in next week’s Bookanista post. Up next? These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner.

What I’m Writing: I’m taking a break from my revision to beta read my friend Liz Parker‘s incredible YA manuscript. It’s a unique blend of history and fantasy and romance and adventure, and I’m pretty much the worst beta reader ever because almost all of my comments consist of the words awesome and love and wow. I hope at least some of my feedback helps Liz! I feel so lucky to have this opportunity to read for her because I’m learning tons about pacing, characterization, and stakes from her story. After this, I’m back to applying what I learned to my own manuscript. 🙂

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Cheering the Seattle Seahawks on to a win, for starters. Over the weekend, my brother came from Jacksonville to watch the game with us, and we made an event out of it. Beer, pizza, and wings. Good stuff.


He doesn’t have kids and isn’t nearly the Disney freak my girl and I are, but he (sort of) held his own during Head Bandz. 🙂


I finally baked in my new kitchen! Chocolate Peanut Butter Chip Cookies… The recipe I linked calls for chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but I was fresh out of those, so I used Reese’s Peanut Butter Chips. They turned out great!

   
Daphne the kitty is fitting into the Upperman family quite nicely. She’s super playful and sweet, incredibly patient with her six-year-old master, and (mostly) tolerant of Daisy, who really just wants to scarf down her cat food. We’re technically fostering Daphne to make sure she’s a “good fit” for our household, but on Saturday we get to sign official adoption paperwork!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Writing-wise, a recent post from my savvy and witty agent Victoria Marini titled On ALMOST Making It. Similarly-themed, a post from brilliant author Courtney Summers about Closed Doors. On the artistic front, I continue to be inspired by an experience we had when we were in New Orleans a few weeks ago. We visited Gallery Burguieres, a French Quarter gallery owned and operated by artist Ally Burguieres. We were only there for a short while, but I left feeling absolutely inspired. Ally’s paintings are gorgeous — cheery and colorful and whimsical — and Ally was charming. She welcomed us into her gallery and answered all of our art-ignorant questions. She even let us pet her sweet pup. If I had thousands of dollars to drop on original art, I’d totally invest in Ally’s. As it is, we’re on a budget, but we did splurge on an Alice in Wonderland print for C’s bedroom. It looks adorable hanging on her wall!

{Original art by Ally Burguieres}

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a 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: Oh, gosh. I wish I’d had more time to read so far this month. December was a great reading month (I recapped HERE), but my book time in January has been pretty sporadic, what with all the unpacking and settling in. I did read Butter, by Erin Jade Lange, a book with a unique and compelling concept, and now I’m reading Rebecca Behren‘s middle grade debut When Audrey Met Alice, which is out next month and absolutely adorable. I’m also beta reading a fabulously unique manuscript by my friend Liz Parker. I see such greatness in this story’s future!

What I’m Writing: *sigh* I’ve had to put my WiP revision on hold over the past few weeks, but now that we’re happy in our new house and my girl’s back in school, I’m looking forward to diving back in and polishing this story until it’s shiny. I’m hoping to finish mid-February so I can send it out for feedback.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Traveling. Settling. Exploring our new town. Want to see pictures from the last few weeks?

   
My husband graduated with a master’s degree from the Naval Postgraduate School mid-December. We left Monterey the same afternoon.


First stop: San Diego’s SeaWorld, where we visited Shamu and Santa.

   
An Arizona sunset and an unbelievably blue New Mexico sky.


New Mexico’s Carlsbad Cavern, which was much cooler than I’d expected.


Christmas Day in San Antonio, a town  we absolutely loved. That said, what we saw of The Alamo was slightly underwhelming.


My favorite activity of all… Trail riding in Austin!

   
Our first visit to New Orleans. Even though it poured rain most of the day, I kind of loved this city. Also, the beignets… Yum!


We got to celebrate New Year’s Eve in our new house, though we were all exhausted after spending the day moving in.

   
Scenes from our new area. The beaches are indescribably gorgeous.


We adopted a new family member… Meet Daphne Upperman!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: I’m sort of late to the party on this incredible blog post, but 2013: A Learning Year: Managing Expectations by author Jessica Spotswood is too good not to share. It’s a must-read for published and pre-published writers alike. If you’ve yet to check it out, please do! Also, the Goodreads 2014 Debut Author Challenge (YA/MG/NA) list has me all kinds of inspired. It’s so fun to see the names and books of my writing friends officially on Goodreads. Be sure to peruse this list and add the debuts that interest you to your To-Read list!

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

WUW2

“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 Carol Rifka Brunt’s Tell the Wolves I’m Home and I thought it was a beautiful story. That said, it’s not a book that would have normally attracted me, so I’m incredibly thankful for Corey Ann Haydu’s recommendation. I loved this novel! Now I’m (slowly) reading Lauren DeStefano’s Perfect Ruin. So far, I’m super impressed with the worldbuilding, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing how the story plays out.

What I’m Writing: I’ve slacked on my revision over the last week, and I’m so bummed about it. I’ve just been so busy with the holidays and my husband’s upcoming grad school graduation and our impending move. I haven’t had time to sit down and focus on what my manuscript needs. Boo. I keep picturing myself all comfy on the couch in our new Florida home with my story document opened in front of me… Can. Not. Wait. In other news, I finished my blog posts for the Class of 2013: YA Superlatives Blogfest, which begins this Monday! Looking forward to sharing my favorite 2013 books with you, and to reading about the books you’ve fallen for this year!

Superlatives Button

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Blah. Need you ask? Organizing, purging, packing. The moving truck comes Friday. We’re loading all weekend. We sign out of our house next Wednesday. I can’t wait to be done with this nonsense.

   
Some girlfriends and I hosted a graduation party for our husbands this weekend. Of course I put myself in charge of desserts. I took a break from packing and instead spent two full mornings baking. I was so happy!


I got the cutest winter mug for #SipSwap a few mornings ago. As soon as I unwrapped it, I fixed myself some tea and ate some M&Ms. Because I am a grown up. Thanks so much to Simon Clark for sending such an adorable mug!

   
My girl is *almost* as graceful as I am. Last week at school she hurt her face on the jungle gym (I still don’t completely understand how), but she’s healing quickly. When I told her to not to pick at the scab on her forehead because it would leave a scar, she got all excited and said, “Really? Like Harry Potter?!” And then I was the proudest mom ever.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: I watched The Descendants over the weekend, and I absolutely loved it. I’d heard it was good from several people and I’ve been intrigued by the trailer since I saw it ages ago (plus there’s the whole Oscars thing), but it’s one of those movies that somehow slipped by me. It’s finally on HBO (yay!) and I couldn’t pass it up. Oh, it was so, so good. Flawed but incredibly likable characters. Poignant, but with moments of perfect humor (Sid! The best!). A gorgeous setting (Hawaii!). And Shailene Woodley — what a talent. She’s going to rock Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars. If you’ve yet to see this one, I highly recommend it. Amazing and inspiring storytelling. Here’s the trailer…

Tell me… What’s up with you today?