Category Archives: Ready. Set. Write!

Ready. Set. Write! 2015 Wrap-Up

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself.

*** Thanks so much to everyone who joined us for RSW this year. It’s been an incredible summer, and I’ve had so much fun following along with your progress and celebrating your successes. Thanks to my fellow hosts, too, who’ve been a constant source of support and encouragement. ❤ ***

How I did on this summer’s goals…

1a.  Draft at least 30K words in my new WiP by summer’s end.

Success! My new WiP’s sitting pretty at 30,619. I plan to finish the first draft during the next few months. (Hopefully.)

1b. Revise The Road So Far.

Success! The Road So Far is currently with my agent.

2. Read 12 books by summer’s end.

Success! I actually read 14: Something Real, The Wrath & the Dawn, Devoted, Emmy & Oliver, The Devil You Know, Saint Anything, A Summer Like No Other, More Happy Than Not, All We Have Is Now, Pretty Baby, Play On, Lord of the Flies, Truth & Temptation, and Jesse’s Girl.

3. Get stronger.

Success! I kept up with my exercise goals all summer. Hoping to do the same through autumn.

4. Explore a new place each week.

Success! Guys, we’ve been all over the place, and seen so many cool things! Highlights: swimming in the Gulf of Mexico, a walk through Savannah, a ghost tour in Charleston, putt-putt golfing in Hilton Head, a tour of downtown DC, a journey around Antietam Battlefield, kayaking in the Occoquan River, a trip to Mount Vernon, a visit to the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History and National Museum of the American Indian, shopping at the American Girl store, Taylor Swift and Toby Keith concerts, The Beach at the National Building Museum, a visit to the site of the Battle of Bull Run, and most recently, a tour of downtown Philadelphia and a day riding coasters at Hersheypark. So fun!

5. Cross at least two items off my Thirty Before 35 list. 

Success! I planted my herb garden and completed my 500 piece puzzle.

And now… Manuscripts and Manicures

I’ve chosen to focus on The Road So Far for Manuscripts and Manicures, first because it’s done, and second because it’s my favorite. It’s about Tucker, an eighteen-year-old who embarks on a west coast road trip with his girlfriend and two best friends in search of his mother, who’s been missing his whole life.

 Here’s the story’s Pinterest board, if you’re curious. 

  

And here’s an excerpt…

We fall back onto the highway. Callie pulls the pastries we ordered from their paper bag, tucks a leg under to twist in her seat, then feeds me pieces of croissant and coffee cake.

“You’re the best travel buddy ever,” I tell her between bites.

She smiles. “No, you are.”

I snag her hand and kiss her palm. “Seriously, Cal. You’re my compass.”

We drive on, through flat colorless terrain. The sky’s unobstructed and endless, an electric blue that’s incongruous with the scrubby, monochrome landscape. Puffy clouds drift by. Callie points out shapes: a dragon, an angel, a dolphin, an arrow pointing west, backward.

Not an omen, I tell myself. Not. An. Omen. 

It isn’t long before we’re approaching the Colorado River, marked by a sign with Arizona’s state flag, a golden star surrounded by rays of red and yellow. The Grand Canyon State Welcomes You, it declares. Callie squeezes my hand as we cross the bridge. She looks as anxious as I feel. If ever we’ve had a there’s no going back moment, this is it. We’re driving blind now, into a state none of us has visited, searching for a person who might’ve left years ago. We’re setting ourselves up for disappointment, for failure, and I’m leading the charge with my dumbass flag flapping proudly in the breeze.

And… my manicure! 

IMG_2351Dashed lines like the middle of a road, bright red like stop signs, silver sparkles like snow, and a heart, because romance (of course).

Did you participate in RSW this summer?
Don’t forget to link to your wrap-up below!

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RSW – Update 11

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself.

–> –> SUPER IMPORTANT REMINDERS –> –> 

This is the last week of Ready. Set. Write! Next Monday, August 31st, we’ll be posting our wrap-ups. Seriously, how has this summer flown by so quickly?!

August 31st is also the date of our first ever Manuscripts and Manicures event. We’ll be painting our nails in a way that reflects our current WiPs, then posting a photo of our manicures, as well as anything else we want to share about the stories we’ve spent all summer working on, like a blurb or excerpt. So, get inspired, get painting, and enjoy this final week of Ready. Set. Write! 

In other news… Big congrats to Alicia Gregoire, lucky winner of last week’s Ready. Set. Write! prize package! I’ll be in touch for your contact info, Alicia!

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

1.1a.  Draft at least 30K words in my new WiP by summer’s end. –> Success!
1b. Revise The Road So Far. –> Success!

No recent progress on my new WiP, but I did incorporate the beta notes I’ve received into The Road So Far. Sent the manuscript off to my agent last night. Cue anxious waiting…

2. Read 12 books by summer’s end. –> Success! I finished my twelfth book of the summer, William Golding’s Lord of the Flies

3. Get stronger. –> In progress. I elliptical-ed once and practiced yoga four times. I love yoga, y’all. I’m starting to notice tiny muscles in my arms and shoulders — yes!

4. Explore a new place each week. –> Success! We visited downtown Manassas, Virginia, as well as the sight of the Battle of Bull Run (AKA the Battle of Manassas). I’ve got plenty of gripes about living in this part of the country, but I do love that there are tons of (often free) things to do. Plus, there’s lots of history, and the landscapes are gorgeous.

My girlie and I also went back-to-school shopping. Below is a photo of her, lamenting one of the super cute outfits I picked out. All she wanted was graphic cat t-shirts and leopard print leggings. Isn’t parenting fun? 😉

5. Cross at least two items off my Thirty Before 35 list. –> Success! I’m still working on #17 as I draft my WiP, but I’ve planted my herb garden and completed my 500 piece puzzle.

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

Add words to my (somewhat abandoned) WiP. Read Miranda Kenneally’s Jesse’s Girl. Keep up my exercise routine. Lots of family time.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

“It’s a California Historical Landmark,” Callie says after a sip of coffee. “It’s a good thing we stopped in Crescent City, guys. Lighthouses are good omens.”

Drew snorts. “Says who?”

“Says me. Their whole purpose is to guide sailors to safety.” She looks to me for confirmation, and I nod with exaggerated devotion.

Drew laughs. “Tuck, you’ll say the sky’s green if she tells you to.”

I shrug. “Maybe it is.”

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Doing the REAL work on The Road So Far. I had no problem addressing the easy-to-execute notes from my betas, but I dragged my feet big time when it came to the down-and-dirty stuff. Revisions are rough!

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

Over the last couple of months, I revised a sequel into a stand-alone novel. It was hard. I’m proud of what I accomplished.

Are you participating in RSW? 
Don’t forget to link to your update below.

RSW – Update 10

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself.

SUPER IMPORTANT REMINDER –> The last week of Ready. Set. Write! (8-24 – 8-31) we’ll be holding a fun virtual event called Manuscripts and Manicures. We’ll each be painting our nails in a way that reflects our current WiP, then posting a photo of our manicure creations. So, get inspired, and maybe treat yourself to a new bottle of nail polish! 🙂

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

1.1a.  Draft at least 30K words in my new WiP by summer’s end. –> Success!
1b. Revise The Road So Far. –> Success! 

No progress on my new WiP, but I did incorporate lots of beta notes into The Road So Far. Hoping to finish up with that in the coming week.

2. Read 12 books by summer’s end. –> In progress. This week I read books ten and eleven: Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica, and Play On my Michelle Smith.

3. Get stronger. –> In progress. I elliptical-ed two times and practiced yoga three times.

4. Explore a new place each week. –> Success! My girlie and I met up with some old friends (a couple of families from the kindergarten class she was in three years ago when we lived in Monterey) at the National Building Museum. They construct a new, limited-time exhibit each summer, and this year’s attraction is The Beach, which is basically a gigantic, white ball pit. It’s really cool!

5. Cross at least two items off my Thirty Before 35 list. –> In progress. I’m working on #17 as I draft my WiP, and thinking about picking up a 500 piece puzzle to work on with my daughter in these final weeks of summer.

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

Finish applying beta notes to The Road So Far, and send the manuscript off to my agent. Read William Golding’s Lord of the Flies. Keep up my exercise routine. Buy a puzzle. Shop for school clothes with my girlie.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

My arms go around her and her head finds its place, the spot where my shoulder and neck fuse, and even though we’ve fixed nothing, we fit together like two pieces of wood in a dovetail joint. We’re better like this. Stronger.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Gilmore Girls. I’m watching the series for the first time, and I’ve got very little self-control when it comes to binging episodes. So good!

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

I feel like I’ve used this answer before, but the romance. It’s what keeps me motivated and inspired. ❤

Are you participating in RSW? 
Don’t forget to link to your update below.

In other news… Big congrats to Crystal Schubert, lucky winner of last week’s Ready. Set. Write! prize package!

This week we’re offering our final giveaway — a writer’s care package assembled by… me!

Giveaway

My package includes: “If You Obey All the Rules You Miss All the Fun” journal, floral mini sticky note pad, lined floral note pad, Jelly Bellies, starry pencil pouch, Honey Pear hand cream, Lavender Lemonade candle, peppermint mints, various washi tapes, Eos Strawberry Sorbet lip balm, writerly quote pencils, Bigelow Vanilla Chai Tea, and Twizzlers.

Giveaway open internationally, to RSW participants only.
To enter, click the link below!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

RSW – Update 9

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

1.1a.  Draft at least 30K words in my new WiP by summer’s end. –> Success!
1b. Revise The Road So Far. –> Success! (It’s with beta readers now.)

I’d been hoping to add more wordage to my WiP (sitting at just over 30K, but I was super lazy this last week. I read a lot, but the writing just wasn’t coming. Hoping to do better in the coming week!

2. Read 12 books by summer’s end. –> In progress. I finished my ninth book, All We Have is Now by one of my favorite YA authors, Lisa Schroeder. Loved this beautiful story about making the most of each day.

3. Get stronger. –> In progress. I cardio-ed twice and practiced yoga three times.

4. Explore a new place each week. –> Success! We headed to an outdoor amphitheater in Bristow, Virginia to see Toby Keith, who puts on such an incredible show. My husband and I saw him play something like ten years ago, and I’d totally forgotten how awesome he is live.

5. Cross at least two items off my Thirty Before 35 list. –> In progress. I’ve planted my herb garden, I saw (another) country music concert, and I’m working on #17 as I draft my WiP.

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

Apply beta notes to The Road So Far. Add some new words (just SOME — anything!) to the WiP I’m drafting. Read Mary Kubica’s Pretty Baby. Exercise. Hit the pool a few times.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

I have to tip my chin to look up at him; he’s blue-eyed and russet-haired, strong-jawed and serious, but with a smattering of freckles that don’t match, like Converse with a tuxedo.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Motivation. Ugh. I’m lacking it.

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

That they’re YA. Occasionally well-meaning (non-writer) people try to sell me on drafting their ideas (which is strange, right?) and often, those ideas are for books that would fall into the adult category. Um, nope. I have zero desire to write adult fiction. I love reading it and I have all the respect for those authors who pull it off, but I’m a YA writer through and through.

Are you participating in RSW? 
Don’t forget to link to your update below.

In other news… Big congrats to Tonja Drecker, lucky winner of last week’s Ready. Set. Write! prize package!

This week we’re offering our fourth giveaway — a fantastic writer’s care package assembled by Alison

Alison's RSW Package

Alison’s package includes: a “Be Inspired” journal with inspirational quotes and writing prompts, Jane Austen air freshener, sticky notes and page markers, “I like BIG BOOKS and I cannot lie!” bookmark, spiral index cards, WRITE journal/composition book, Werther’s Originals caramel hard candies, Paddy Wax Ginger Peach soy candle, Trident Island Berry Lime gum, spiral memo pad in a rainbow of colors, Sinful Colors Decadent nail polish, post cards with inspirational quotes, mini Ink Joy pens.

Giveaway open internationally, to RSW participants only.
To enter, click the link below!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

RSW – Update 8

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

1a.  Draft at least 30K words in my new WiP by summer’s end. –> Success!
1b. Revise The Road So Far. –> Success! (It’s with beta readers now.)

2. Read 12 books by summer’s end. –> In progress. I finished Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not, one of the grittiest, most intense YAs I’ve read. Think Courtney Summers, but with a gay male protagonist, set in the Bronx. Loved it. Eight books down, four to go! (In case you missed it, last week I posted my July Reading Wrap-Up. Find it HERE.) 

3. Get stronger. –> In progress. I hit our elliptical up once and practiced yoga four times.

4. Explore a new place each week. –> Yesterday we visited the American Girl store in celebration of my daughter’s 8th birthday (which is today!). We had lunch and cake, and got our shop on, which was tons of fun.

5. Cross at least two items off my Thirty Before 35 list. –> In progress. I’m working on #17 as I draft my WiP, and last week we finally got around to planting our herb garden — yay! We have rosemary, parsley, tri-colored sage, two types of oregano, and apple mint. Hopefully I don’t kill it all. 😉

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

Go back to my non-contemp WiP (even though I met the RSW goal I set for it, I’m nowhere near done drafting) and add more words — at least 2,o00 this week, to be specific. Read Lisa Schroeder’s All We Have Is Now. Celebrate my daughter’s birthday BiG tImE. 🙂

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

We sat in the sand and she freaking wept, these gasping, body-shuddering sobs that sucked the spirit out of me even as I held her close. After, she apologized, face flushed, eyes red, voice raw, and I had a very clear, very singular thought: I will never be the reason she cries.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Nit-picking The Road So Far. It was “done” days before I sent it to my (amazing) betas, but I couldn’t stop going over it, obsessing about the tiniest things. Finally my (incredibly wise) husband said, “You’re just changing happy to glad. Send the thing off already!” So I did.

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

The romance. Always the romance. ❤

Are you participating in RSW? 
Don’t forget to link to your update below.

In other news… this week we’re offering our third giveaway — a fantastic writer’s care package assembled by Erin

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Erin’s package includes: “Embrace the Journey” journal with cork cover, “Enjoy the Little Things” notepad, Ink Joy mini pens, 2 pack of “Write On!” mini notebooks, Scrabble pencils that say: jot, note, write, create, compose, and inscribe, “Do One Thing Every Day That Makes You Happy” pencil case, 2 packs of paperclips shaped like rabbits and crocodiles, manicure kit, Eos Fresh Flowers hand lotion, Revlon Fashionista nail polish (teal), David’s PomTango tea  (makes 34 oz.), Strawberry Fusion Tic Tacs, Cadbury Jelly Popping Candy chocolate bar, and Trident Very Berry gum.

Giveaway open internationally, to RSW participants only.
To enter, click the link below!

A Rafflecopter Giveaway!

RSW – Update 7

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

1. Revise The Road So Far. –> In progress. I’m ~almost~ done!

2. Read 12 books by summer’s end. –> In progress. I finished Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything, as well as Elodie Nowodazkij’s A Summer Like No Other. Two fantastic contemps! I’m up to seven books so far this summer.

3. Get stronger. –> In progress. I hit the elliptical twice and practiced yoga three times. I seriously wish I had the time to get my yoga on daily.

4. Explore a new place each week. –> Success! My daughter and I visited our local farmers’ market, and we made a family trip to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

5. Cross at least two items off my Thirty Before 35 list. –> In progress. I’m working on #17 as I (slowly) draft my WiP. Also, I was totally going to plant my herb garden this week, and I found some fantastic herbs at the farmers’ market, but we walked there and I had no way of transporting a bunch of plants back home. Next time, I’ll drive. 🙂

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

Finish my The Road So Far revision and send it off to a few wonderful and gracious readers. Read Adam Silvera’s More Happy Than Not. Keep up with my exercise routine. Plant a damn herb garden!

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

My jaw tightens. “Don’t tell me what I should be. You have no idea what you’re doing—what kind of mess you’ve made. You lied to your dad. To me.”

“Yeah, and if I hadn’t, you’d still be sitting in Bell Cove, just as lost as you’ve always been.”

There’re a million comebacks I should spit at her, but they scatter like roaches under a naked bulb.

She stares me down, unblinking.

Who the hell is this girl?

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Finding time to work has been tricky. My girlie’s on summer break and my husband’s back to work, so it’s up to me to keep our kiddo engaged during the day. We’ve been having all sorts of fun, but at the cost of my revising time. Totally worth it, though!

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

This road trip story? It’s my favorite of any I’ve written. There’s something about it… its characters, their adventures, their emotional journeys… I could work on it indefinitely without ever getting tired of it. I mean, hopefully I won’t have to work on it indefinitely, but you know what I’m saying. 🙂

Are you participating in RSW? 
Don’t forget to link to your update below.
(Also, another giveaway coming next week!) 

RSW – Update 6

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Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and myself.

1.  How I did on last week’s goals.

1.  Draft at least 30K words in my new WiP by summer’s end. –> Success! I’ve reached 30K in my messy, confusing, crazy-making story. And now I’m going to put it aside for further reflection. I need to work some stuff out, and I’m thinking I need distance to do so. But summer’s only half over, you’re probably thinking, and that’s true. Which means it’s time for a new goal…

Revise The Road So Far, the story I drafted during last summer’s RSW. It’s been hanging out in MS purgatory ever since, and it’s in desperate need of attention. Also, it’s my favorite of all the things I’ve ever written, so I’m excited!

2. Read 12 books by summer’s end. –> In progress. I’m working my way through my fifth book of the summer, Sarah Dessen’s Saint Anything, which is wonderful so far. (I need to pick up my pace to reach this goal!)

3. Get stronger. –> In progress. I ran twice and practiced yoga three times.

4. Explore a new place each week. –> Success! We visited Mount Vernon, George Washington’s beautiful historical estate. The house’s exterior was a mess of scaffolding thanks to a roof replacement project so no pictures, but here’s my girl at one of the farmsteads on the property.

5. Cross at least two items off my Thirty Before 35 list. –> In progress. My weird0 WiP will fulfill #17 (if I ever finish it!). And I’m planting an herb garden this week — for realz!

* Stretch Goals: Success! I wanted to journal every day last week, and I did. I also wanted to see Taylor Swift, which I did. My girl and I road the train into D.C. to watch her perform. She was predictably amazing, and we had the BEST time!

2.  My goal(s) for this week.

Make The Road So Far work. Finish Saint Anything and start A Summer Like No Other by Elodie Nowodazkij. Cardio twice, yoga three times. Continue journaling. Plant an herb garden.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

“She’s after Colby,” Antonia says, tugging on her swimsuit’s straps. “She had breakfast duty with us this morning and you should’ve seen the way she was flirting with him. It was wildly inappropriate, and I was right there. So were two hundred guests, all trying to digest their omelets while watching Gretchen hump my boyfriend’s leg.”

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write).

Figuring out how to turn The Road So Far, which was written as a sequel, into a novel that stands all on its own. Way harder than I anticipated.

5.  Something I love about my WiP.

Tricky as it is, it’s been really fun to think about The Road So Far again. I adore its characters, and I think road trips are pretty much the greatest.

In other news…

Big congrats to Liz Parker, lucky winner of last week’s Ready. Set. Write! prize package. More giveaways coming in August… Keep working hard and linking to your RSW posts so you’ll be eligible to win!

Are you participating in RSW?
Don’t forget to link to your update below.