Category Archives: Tasty Treats

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently…” post every other Tuesday. You should join me! Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

Last weekend we went kayaking at the coolest place — Mallows Bay on the Maryland side of the Potomac River, where tons of “ghost ships” have been sunk, creating a mini ecosystem for plants and birds and fish. Those trees in the photo below? They’re growing out of a war ship that’s just barely hidden under river water.

The photo below is not mine (I found it HERE), but it shows the outlines of many of the ships. Our kayaks floated right over them, and a lot of the time we were navigating huge, rusty nails that stuck up out of the water. The ship at the top of the photo sits mostly above water, and there are enormous hawks’ nests on its deck. Big recommend if you’re a DC local looking for an off-the-beaten-path outdoor activity.

Reading

I recently finished Chelsea Sedoti’s The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett (great title, great cover!) and and I thought it was fantastic. A perfect example of awesome YA voice, and it’s full of heart. It’s out January, 2017 and you should most definitely put it on your TBR list. Now I’m reading and loving Christina June’s It Started With Goodbye, out May, 2017. Pretty sure her MC, Tatum, could be BFFs with Kissing Max Holden‘s Jilly. So far, June’s all about Swanky books!

Watching

Roots, and whoa. I never read the book or saw the original series, so the story’s all new to me and it is so visceral and so sad and so powerful. Must watch.

Listening To

 Me Before You by JoJo Moyes. I own a hard copy of this book but when I saw that it was available on audio from my library, I knew I wanted to listen rather than read. Guys, I really enjoyed this story. It’s heartbreaking and intense, but there’s humor, too, and I happen to think its message is inspiring. I’ve seen a lot of backlash about the #LiveBoldly tagline; it seems some people assume it means that those with physical challenges can’t live boldly, but Me Before You is Lou’s story, and she learns to live boldly through Will, even while he’s made an incredibly polarizing decision (one he’s entitled to because he’s an adult with autonomy; I’m pro Death with Dignity, for what it’s worth). Anyway, if you’re curious about this one and have yet to give it a read, know that its portrayal of disability isn’t faultless, but the overall story’s got my stamp of approval.

Thinking About

What I’m going to work on next because… round two of Kissing Max Holden edits have been turned in! YAY! What a relief, and the best part is that I’m SO PROUD of how the story’s coming along.

Anticipating

The vacation we’re taking this weekend… We’re meeting friends at a beautiful Virginia lake, where we’ll spend four days swimming and sunning and catching up, and maybe having a cold beer or two.  🍻

Wishing

You’ll check out the recently revealed Swanky 17 covers! They’re all so gorgeous — my fellow Swanks are winning the cover lottery all over the place! Find the YA covers HERE and the MG covers HERE.

Making Me Happy

I created an original brownie recipe, which makes me all sorts of excited. They’re rich and decadent and dark-chocolate-y, and they’re inspired by this scene in Kissing Max Holden during which Max eats (and raves about) Jill’s homemade brownies. In fact, they’re called Max’s Favorite Dark Chocolate Chunk Brownies. 🙂  Good news — eventually I’m going to share the recipe with you, then we can all bake them and have a virtual brownie party!

Did you post a “Currently…” this week?
Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to visit! 

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently…” post every other Tuesday. You should join me! Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

There’s a lot about living in Northern Virginia that bugs me — the crowds, the terrible drivers, and the allergens, for starters — but one thing I’ll never complain about is the abundance of restaurant options. Coming from a small Florida town where the dining-out choices were Panera Bread, Firehouse Subs, and a mediocre sports bar, the possibilities in D.C. are mind-boggling. We’ve had amazing Latin American, Lebanese, Thai, and Iranian food, and most recently, we had “fast” food from Burger Tap & Shake, which was incredible. I had a falafel sandwich, sweet potato fries, and a cookies-n-cream shake — yum! If you’re ever in Foggy Bottom or Tenleytown, grab yourself some lunch.

Reading

I recently finished Katie Van Ark’s The Boy Next Door, a YA romance set in the world of competitive pairs figure skating. It’s utterly unputdownable, and the character arcs are steep, which I loved. I also read Shannon Parker’s The Girl Who Fell, a contemporary YA about a girl who gets wrapped up in a manipulative, eventually abusive relationship. It’s really well done, and really frightening. Up next? Marie Rutkoski’s The Winner’s Kiss, which is out TODAY and is hands down my most anticipated read of the year. Excuse me while I disappear with my new book!

Watching

Twinsters, which is the most heart-warming documentary I’ve ever seen. It’s the story of Korean twin girls who were split up as infants and adopted by two different families. They grew up on different continents, not knowing about each other until they serendipitously connect via YouTube. So good! Also, I saw Zootopia with my husband and daughter, and we all rate it 5 stars. It’s clever and deep and timely and funny. And, finally, the other night my husband and I watched As Above, So Below, a freaking scary movie set in the Catacombs of Paris. I’m kind of over the “found footage” thing, but I’m willing to forgive it in this case because the story was creative and wildly intense, and the atmosphere was dark and exceptionally terrifying.

Listening To

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier — for some reason, I’d pegged this YA a super serious fantasy, but it’s actually a humorous and entertaining time travel novel full of voice and adventure. To me, it reads on the younger side of YA, but it’s fast-paced and all kinds of fun. The audiobook narrator is excellent, too.

Thinking About

Plotting. Why is it so hard?! I’m in the process of drafting my sixth(-ish) manuscript, and I’m no better at planning a book than I was way back when I wrote that first (awful) story. And so, I’m reading Libbie Hawker’s Take Off Your Pants, a clear and concise book about plotting with the goal of increasing drafting speed and commercial appeal. I’m learning a lot, and having a lot of duh moments. Highly recommend reading it if you’re someone who’s struggling to become a more successful plotter, like me.

Anticipating

Camp NaNoWriMo! I’ve got a 20K word goal for April, and I’m part of an excellent cabin of writers. I’m such a bad drafter, guys, and I love the idea of community when it comes to slogging through the muddled middle of a new manuscript, which is exactly what I’m in the midst of doing. Can’t wait to get busy in the new month!

Wishing

That you’ll check out the following Goodreads lists: YA Novels of 2017YA Debuts 20172017 Debut YA/MG Novels, and Books Published by Swoon Reads. Kissing Max Holden has found its way onto all of them, which is so exciting! Maybe you’d like to vote for my debut, or add it as “To Read”. 😘

Making Me Happy

Springtime in Virginia. We’ve been having such beautiful weather.

Did you post a “Currently…” this week?
Let me know in the comments, and I’ll be sure to visit! 

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently…” post every other Tuesday. You should join me! Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

My most recent craft book purchase: The Emotion Thesaurus. ABC Family’s holiday movie marathon — here’s full the schedule! This recipe for Beer Mac-N-Cheese — the best homemade mac I’ve ever made. My new favorite pens: Pilot’s FriXion Point Erasable Gel Pens. And the beautiful #SipSwap mug (and super thoughtful extras!) sent to me by Laura Marcella.

Reading

Over the long weekend I read Sloth, an adult novel by Ella James. It was intense, and very good (I reviewed it HERE). Now, I’m reading Erin Bowman’s Vengeance Road. It’s as excellent as its cover implies. (Don’t forget to peruse my November Reading Wrap-Up HERE.)

Watching

Mockingjay – Part 2, finally. Overall, I think The Hunger Games movies are an excellent adaptation of the book series. Jennifer Lawrence is a goddess, and the films are visually stunning. Also, Effie and Haymitch? I buy it…

Listening To

I’ve been listening to my Kissing Max Holden playlist in the car a lot lately (driving my daughter nuts in the process). It’s full of awesome country music, plus a few fun poppy numbers, and includes songs by Taylor Swift, Johnny Cash, Lady Antebellum, Kenny Chesney, Tim McGraw, The Band Perry, Echo Smith, Dolly Parton, and Zac Brown Band, among others.

Thinking About

Some of my most anticipated 2016 YA releases…

Anticipating

The holidays! We’ve decorated our house; it looks lovely and festive. Now I need to get my shop on. My dad and my father-in-law are always the most difficult to buy for… Any gift recommendations for men in their early sixties?

Wishing

You’ll check out my post about how you can help support a fantastic literary event aimed at middle schoolers: Cavalcade of Authors West. It promotes Pacific Northwest YA and MG authors while introducing kids to a variety of genres and subject matter and promoting reading and writing within the community. And in case you didn’t know, today’s Giving Tuesday — the perfect day to donate to worthy causes. Click to support to Cavalcade of Authors West

Making Me Happy

The long holiday weekend, which is exactly what I needed to recharge for another week of substitute teaching.

What’s currently making YOU happy?

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently…” post every other Tuesday. You should join me! Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

My new Nikes, which I’ve been eyeing for months. Chestnut Praline Lattes with coconut milk, ’cause everything’s better with coconut milk. Erin Condren notebooks — since I’m going with an InkWell Press Planner in 2016 (!!!), I used my stockpile of EC credits to score a notebook and several dividers, and I’m going to use it to record family recipes. Finally, Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cinnamon Cream Cheese Frosting — so yummy!

Reading

I recently finished Violent Ends, an anthology about a school shooting which totally blew me away. Find my review and an opportunity to win a copy of your own HERE. Last night I finished The Game Plan by Kristin Callihan, the recently released third book in her Game On series, which I’m kind of obsessed with. A smutty good time. 😉 Now I’m reading Grave Mercy by Robin LeFevers, which is excellent so far.

 

Watching

Parks and Recreation. Sitcoms aren’t usually my thing, but this one… I’ve been watching compulsively, and ~literally~ every episode makes me laugh. Plus, they’re short, easy to fit in while I’m folding laundry or cleaning a bathroom. (My life is so glam.)

Listening To

I 💜 Echosmith!

Thinking About

My WiP, a contemporary YA set in Northern Virginia/DC. It’s been extra fun to draft because I’ve taken myself on a few field trips to visit some of the locations where scenes are set. For example, the Washington National Cathedral, which is gorgeous. My WiP’s hovering right around 30K, and I’m currently brainstorming fun and unexpected ways to move it forward. 
Anticipating

November 15th, the last day readers can leave ratings and comments on their favorite Swoon Reads stories to help give them a shot at publication. After the 15th, Swoon Reads editors will start reading and considering… All the nerves! (Find my story, Kissing Max Holden, HERE.)

Related… A reader at Swoon Reads recently left the loveliest comment on Kissing Max Holden — totally made my day. An excerpt from her review: This seems like it wasn’t written to impress anyone. No ego in it – just humanity in all its joyous and shattering pieces.

Wishing

That I could relive this night! I met Judy Blume, guys, and she was wonderful. So sweet and enthusiastic and encouraging and inspirational. She was exactly the woman I’ve imagined over the nearly thirty years that I’ve been a fan. ❤

 

Making Me Happy

Sip Swap is approaching! I’ve signed up for this super fun writers’ mug exchange hosted by Kelsey Macke and Jessica Love — have you?!

What’s currently making YOU happy?

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently…” post every other Tuesday. You should join me! Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

Bath & Body Works yummy “gourmand” inspired candles — Pumpkin Coconut and Buttercream Icing are next on my to-buy list. Also loving The Smithsonian’s National Zoo, which we visited last weekend. It’s free, and it’s full of  beautiful, unique animals, like pandas. So cute! Additionally, Dunkin’ Donuts Old Fashioned Donut ground coffee — my favorite. Finally, homemade lentil soup. My recipe’s in my head, but it’s similar to the one I linked. I add crumbled Italian sausage, though, because my husband believes all meals should involve meat.

Reading

I recently finished Love Fortunes and Other Disasters by Kimberly Karalius, which was just as cute as its cover. In the spirit of Halloween, I’m currently reading a YA horror, Daughters Unto Devils by debut author Amy Lukavics, which is atmospheric and creepy and spectacular so far.

 

Watching

I finished Gilmore Girls! Spoilers ahead… I’m so relieved by how things wrapped up between Luke and Lorelai — they are so obviously meant to be! Even though they were left sort of open ended (as in, they didn’t marry or move in together or start a family), as far as I’m concerned, they’ve gotten their happily ever after. I’m not so content with how things ended between Rory and Logan, though, especially considering they were together for three years. Logan definitely had his faults, but he totally grew on me and was my favorite of Rory’s boys. Even though I understand why she didn’t accept his proposal, the whole “Goodbye, Rory,” followed by Logan just walking away felt… abrupt.

ETA – GILMORE GIRLS SERIES REVIVAL COMING TO NETFLIX!

Now I’m watching Parks and Recreation, and it’s totally cracking me up. I’ve got such a crush on Chris Pratt!

Listening To

Little Big Town’s Girl Crush. I’ve been obsessing over it since the beginning of the summer and I’m still amazed by the awesomeness of its lyrics.

Thinking About

Our weekend trip to the pumpkin patch. We visited Cox Farms, an enormous farm in Northern Virginia, and had a blast even though it was freezing. (Okay, it was, like, fifty degrees, but my fingertips were numb and the wind chill was practically glacial.) We walked a corn maze, went on a hayride, ate apple cider donuts, petted baby cows, flew down slides, and picked out some very cute pumpkins. Highly recommend if you live in the area. 🎃🍂
Anticipating

Halloween! Aside from carving our pumpkins, we’re ready. My daughter changed her mind about dressing up as a black cat; now she’s going as a movie star. We picked out a fancy dress and a feather boa and some super star sunglasses — all adorable. She’s so excited to trick-or-treat!

Wishing

For warmer weather. *womp womp* I know I sound like a broken record, but I just don’t get fall. It’s so cold and windy, and my yard is a mess of leaves, and — call me crazy — but I think Pumpkin Spice Lattes are gross. Give me iced tea and afternoons by the pool any day!

Making Me Happy

The flattering, humbling, and entirely inspiring comments I’ve been getting about my manuscript Kissing Max Holden over at Swoon Reads. I’m awed (but not at all surprised) by how supportive you all have been. Seriously. THANK YOU. If you missed my original post about Kissing Max Holden, you can find it HERE. You can find the story in its entirety (and read for free!) HERE
What’s currently making YOU happy?

Currently…

(I plan to do a “Currently” post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me… Find the origins of the idea HERE.)

Currently

Loving

This (incredibly easy) Chocolate Cake recipe. My favorite (free!) yoga videos: Yoga With Adriene. Washi tape — I am officially obsessed. Pura Vida bracelets. This fantastic “beYOUtiful raglan t-shirt,” of which 1/4 of the price is donated to First Descents, providing free adventure experiences for cancer fighters and survivors. And a recent Pub(lishing) Crawl post by Erin Bowman, all about how to support authors before, during, and after release day.

Reading

Jessica Park’s Flat-Out Love (NA at its most adorable), and Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap (one of the weirdest, most beautifully written books I’ve read in a long time). These two stories couldn’t be more different, but I loved them both, particularly Bone Gap — pure magic. Now, I’ve started All the Rage by one of my favorite authors, Courtney Summers. More about this recent release soon!

   

Watching

Guys, I finished Gossip Girl! I thought the series finale was quite satisfying — though I wanted more Chuck and Blair (always). I’ve just finished watching the first season of The CW’s The 100 which, as promised by many, has drastically improved since its fist few episodes. It definitely has its cheese-tastic moments, but it also has enough twists and romance to hold my attention. So far, so good. Hurry up and make season 2 available, Netflix!

Listening To

Echosmith‘s Bright, which is so damn cute. It’s the perfect theme song for my WiP, Stars Like Dust, too.

Thinking About

My Shiny New Idea! It’s in its very earliest brainstorming stages, but I’m *really* excited about it. I was at the dentist a few weeks ago and during my cleaning, two songs from the same movie soundtrack played — one of my favorite movies. I was suddenly super inspired, and I’ve been stewing over plot-ish things ever since. I’ve named my main characters, and I’ve made a mood board that’s now my computer’s desktop –> progress!

Anticipating

I can’t wait to randomly select the winner of my 5 Year Blog-iversary Giveaway! I’ve got YA books, notecards, a travel mug and Jelly Bellies up for grabs. If you haven’t already, enter HERE. The giveaway closes this Thursday, April 23rd at midnight, and is open internationally. Good luck!

Wishing

That the people who picked up the novels my daughter and I left around our community during last week’s Rock the Drop will love the stories they scored!

Making Me Happy

My family, always. ❤

What’s currently making YOU happy?

Currently…

(Since I’m not What’s-Up-Wednesday-ing anymore, I thought I might go back to an old favorite –> “Currently…” I originally got the idea from Kate Hart, who snagged the idea from Amy Lukavics, who picked it up here. I’m planning to post every other Tuesday, and I think y’all should join me!)

Loving

Jelly Bellies (duh). Quilting. Florida’s warm, sunny spring. My planner. Emails with writing buddies and book besties. This milk frothing gadget. Sirious XM Radio. Uppercase book subscriptions. My emerging tan. This homemade mac-n-cheese recipe. Those times a person contacts me to let me know they’ve just read a book they think I’ll love. Chai tea. Essie’s spring colors. Fresh donuts.

Reading

Yesterday I finished recently-released Vanishing Girls, and I liked it quite a lot. I consider Lauren Oliver an insta-buy author and, as usual, her prose is enviable. I figured out what was going on in the story fairly early on (I’ve read a few other books in the last couple of years that have a comparable premise), so I wasn’t exactly surprised by the last 100 pages. That said, I recommend this one for its gorgeous writing and super complex characters.

Watching

Gossip Girl. Still. It literally takes me three days to get through an episode because I pretty much only watch while I’m folding laundry, or on the rare occasions I put on makeup. I’m nearing the end of season 5, though, and it’s the best sort of bizarre. **Spoiler Alert** –> Dan and Blair together? No way! Chuck ♡ Blair forever!

Listening To

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill — totally random, I know. I bought the CD my senior year of high school and listened to it constantly for months. I’ve just now rediscovered it, and I’m falling in love all over again. (Favorite: Tell Him)

Thinking About

Our summer move, and hoping it will be easy, easy, easy. House-hunting from afar sucks. Packing sucks. Leaving a state you love sucks. Moving sucks. BUT. I am incredibly excited to live near some of my favorite writerly friends, and in a place with a thriving YA community. Plus, it’ll be nice to be in a city with plenty of educational and culturally diverse things to do and see.

Anticipating

Notes from my agent regarding my latest manuscript, Stars Like Dust. This project was such a stretch, guys. Writing it was a challenge and a joy and I love the (sort of) finished product deeply, but I’m nervous about what others will think. Some days this story makes me feel excited and confident; some days it makes me feel insecure, like a complete hack. Aah, writerly angst… Something else I’m anticipating? Rock the Drop!

Wishing

That I’d made Daphne a quilt earlier! She loves hers, and we had a blast putting it together. My daughter picked out all the fabrics, and I did the sewing. Now that it’s done, I’m checking off another of my Thirty Before 35 goals — yay!

Making Me Happy

Beach days with my favorite girl. There are few things better than sitting back, sinking my toes in the sand, and watching my kiddo play in the surf.

 

What’s currently making YOU happy?