Ready. Set. Write! 2015 Wrap-Up

RSW2

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!

It’s been fun, RSW!

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 in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on my goal(s) overall.

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom.
2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far.
3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week.
4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks.
5. Maintain my tan.

I’m pretty excited about what I accomplished this summer. My two most important goals were to finish a major revision of Where Poppies Bloom and finish a first draft of my WiP, The Road So Far. I did both! I barely squeaked by on that first draft; I only just finished the other day, but I FINISHED. 🙂 As far as my reading goals, I averaged just over one YA/adult novel a week, and I averaged just under one MG book (read with my girl) every two weeks. I’m calling that success. And I maintained my tan! #Priorities

* The biggest challenge I faced this summer.

Time management for sure, but I think I did okay. I got A LOT of work done, I had tons of fun with my family, and I got some sleep, too. My DVR is full of all the shows I didn’t have time to watch, but they’ll keep.

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

The End 

For real. But there was this, too…

“You ready for the final leg?”

She rests her head on my shoulder. “Not really. I’d road trip with you forever, Tucker Morgan”

* Something I love about my WiP. 

The two writing projects I worked on this summer are related. Same characters, same world. A duology, if you will. What I love most about them is the relationship between the two main characters. They start off strangers in Poppies, and by the end of Road, they’ve forged a really special bond, which makes their stories my favorite of any I’ve written.

I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! went for you. Don’t forget to share the link of your very last post below!

CP/Beta Match-Up

Okay, RSWers, now that you’ve spent all summer working on your story, you’re going to need some constructive feedback. You’re in luck! This Thursday, August 28th, there will be a beta/CP match-up facilitated by your Ready. Set. Write hosts, Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. There’s no pressure to participate if you’re not ready for feedback, or if you’ve got trusted readers already, but if you’re interested in taking advantage, here’s now it’ll work…

This Thursday, we encourage you to share about your story in a post on your blog. You and other RSW participants will then be able to “shop around” and leave comments on the posts with stories you’re interested in reading. From there, you can decide who might be the best fit and contact them via their blog/Twitter/email. Some suggestions about what to share…

*a love list, elevator pitch, or query description

*an excerpt

*genre/age category

*whether it’s a stand alone or series

*where you’re at in the timeline (ie: ready for a beta/CP as of the end of summer or perhaps later in the fall)

*whether you’re looking for betas or CPs (or both)

*any warnings that might be applicable (ie only offer to beta if you don’t mind swearing, sex, drug use, etc.)

And here are some great links on CP/beta relationships, plus some tips on providing and receiving feedback:

5 Things To Know About Working With Beta Readers by The Book Designer

First Readers and Critique Partners by Susan Dennard

Critique Etiquette by Jodi Cleghorn

What Should We Look For in a Beta Reader by Jami Gold

Crafting the Perfect Critique Sandwich by Erin Bowman (for Pub(lishing) Crawl

How to Beta Read by Corrine Jackson

The Critique Partner Relationship: Here’s Looking at You, Kid by YA Buccaneers

Looking forward to hearing all about your projects! 

RSW Update 10

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 in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. I’m super close, y’all! I wrote 6,783 this week for a total of 70,383 words. (Special thanks, Sara, for cracking the whip and cheering me on during my final push! <3) Five scenes left to write!

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I finished Mary Kubica’s debut, The Good Girl, and loved it. Definitely one to check out if you’re a fan of Gillian Flynn or Heather Gudenkauf. I also read Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins, which was well worth the wait — I think it’s my favorite of her three now… So cute!

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… IN PROGRESS! I’m actually kind of failing on this one. We’re STILL working on Rump by Leisl Shurtliff. It’s fantastic and totally unique, but read-aloud time with my girl’s been limited lately.

5. Maintain my tan… YES! We went kayaking twice. Florida is just lovely.

* My goal(s) for this week.

So. We’re going out of town on Wednesday for a family wedding that’s all the way across the country and a pretty big deal (YAY Sammy and Kacie!). But… writing time is going to be scarce. I’m not setting a numeric word count goal, but in a perfect world, I’ll finish my first draft of The Road So Far this week. (Oh my gosh… How terrifying! And amazing! And terrifying!)

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

I swear to God, my heart grinds to a halt.

I’m faint… Seeing spots… Barely breathing.

Holy. Shit.

There she is, hurrying out the door with this smile that’s all hers, and hauntingly mine.

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

First: Isla and the Happily Ever After. I spent most of my free time on Thursday and Friday binge reading. So worth it, though! Second: Fear of finishing. I’m not sure why I get like this, but when I’m nearing The End of a draft, I get sort of petrified and hesitant to write those last few scenes. It’s not that I’m reluctant to finish because I SO want to finish, and it’s not that I’m dreading revisions because I LOVE revisions. It’s just… the end of my own little era, I guess. Is that weird?

* Something I love about my WiP. 

Everything. We’ve had a good week together. ❤

I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! is going for you. Don’t forget to share the link of your latest post below!

In other news, next Monday (August 25th) marks the end of Ready. Set. Write! (Crazy how fast the summer flew by, isn’t it?!) Let’s use that day to give a general report on our overall progress and how we felt about RSW. Sound good?Here’s hoping everyone has high word counts and tons of success to report. 🙂

Also, be on the lookout for more information regarding a beta/CP match-up facilitated by your Ready. Set. Write hosts, Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself!

RSW Update 9

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 in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. I wrote 5,447 words this week for a total of 63,607 words in the manuscript.

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I read Lisa Schroeder’s The Bridge from Me to You, which was absolutely delightful. Now, I’m reading Mary Kubica’s debut, The Good Girl, and I’m super impressed.

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… IN PROGRESS! Still working on Rump by Leisl Shurtliff — so cute!

5. Maintain my tan… YES! We went to the beach on Thursday and we were in Orlando all weekend, soaking up the sun at the Magic Kingdom. *happy sigh*

* My goal(s) for this week.

Add at least 6K new words to The Road So Far. Mentally ponder plot hole fixes for Where Poppies Bloom (tricky!).

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

(FYI: This scene takes place at a wedding…)

The song fades into Marvin Gaye’s Let’s Get it On, which strikes me as both borderline inappropriate and hysterically funny, considering the number of old people milling around. From across the room, Bennett gives me a smarmy smile and a thumbs up. His bride’s swaying to the music, wasted, practically riding his leg. Jesus. What are we doing here?

I’m about to comment on the insanity when Callie makes a move for our table.

I grab her hand. “You’re not gonna dance with me?”

“I thought you hated me,” she says, scrunching her face into a scowl. 

“And I thought you knew better.” I lace my fingers through hers and pull her against me. She winds an arm around my neck, pressing her cheek to mine. I hold her so close we pretty much are getting it on.

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

I hadn’t anticipated doing much of anything, writing-wise, over the last week because we had tons of family stuff going on. So, I’m patting myself on the back for adding to my WiP at all. 🙂

  
Our little family is complete again! Plus, my girlie started cheerleading!

* Something I love about my WiP. 

I’ve got THE END in my sights! I suck at conclusions, but I’m getting there, and I’m SO excited to wrap this draft up so I can start fixing it. 🙂 Also, did you see the mood board I made for The Road So Far? I posted about it HERE.

I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! is going for you. Don’t forget to share the link of your latest post below!

RSW Update 8

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 in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

~ I will do my best to respond to comments on today’s post, as well as blog hop to comment on all of your wonderful posts, BUT… My husband’s coming home from a 6 month deployment this morning! We’re obviously very excited and we’ll definitely be busy. I’ll be back to blogging 100% next week. 🙂 ~

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. Moving right along! I wrote 6,680 words this week (6K was my goal) for a total of 58,160 words for the manuscript. Thirteen (planned) scenes and five (planned) chapters left to write!

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. Not the sort of book I’m used to reading, but I LOVED it. Thanks to my mom and my sister-in-law for the recommendation!

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… IN PROGRESS! We’re working on Rump by Leisl Shurtliff. It’s awesome!

5. Maintain my tan… YES! We spent Friday swimming at the nearby AFB pool, and on Saturday I mowed the grass. Again. I like neat, trim lawns. 🙂

* My goal(s) for this week.

This week is going to be very busy. My husband’s coming home, my daughter starts cheerleading, and we’re spending the weekend in Orlando. So, I’m going to give myself a break and not set a concrete goal because, honestly, I don’t feel like stressing about it. This week, forward motion’s where it’s at

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

From The Road So Far

It’s not long before we’re approaching the Colorado River. It’s preceded by a big 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 takes my hand as we cross the border. She’s smiling, but she looks anxious too. I get it. If ever we’ve had a there’s no going back moment, this is it. We’re driving blind now, into a state that none of us has even 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.

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

Busyness! My daughter’s seventh birthday was yesterday (*sniffle*) and we spent the whole day doing fun, girlie things. Also, we’ve been going-going-going with homecoming preparations. Writing time was hard to come by.

* Something I love about my WiP. 

I love that I can feel my story challenging me, and making me a better writer. (Is that weird? Whatever… It’s totally true!)

And, finally, a big congrats to our last Writer’s Care Package giveaway winner… Leandra Wallace! 

I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! is going for you. Don’t forget to share the link of your latest post below!

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 in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary-ish YA, Where Poppies Bloom.

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. I passed 50K, and wrote just over 10K words total for the week. Feeling really good about my momentum!

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I finished Lindsay Currie and Trisha Leaver’s upcoming debut, Creed. I also read Fire With Fire by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. Guys, this series is totally incredible! If you haven’t read it, get on that. The final installment comes out in September!

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… YES! We read The Space Between, a Never Girls (Tinker Bell) book. We also stared Rump by Leisl Shurtliff — so clever and fun!

5. Maintain my tan… YES! We spent last Thursday swimming at the pool, and on Friday I mowed our enormous lawn.

* My goal(s) for this week.

Add at least 6K words to The Road So Far.

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

The four of us make our way to the room, labeled Jungle Rocks. I crack up laughing as soon as I swing the door open. The carpet’s bright blue and so is the ceiling, the comforters look like zebra pelts, the walls are made of rock, and there’s a shiny leather sofa which, I suspect, has a sullied past.

Drew nudges me. “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”

“That we’ve inadvertently stepped onto the set of a ’70s porn shoot?”

He chuckles. “It’s like we’re riding the same wave length. And to think… I forgot to pack my 8 millimeter.”

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

Two things… The first: Research. I’m writing a road trip book, so every single chapter is set in a different place. I’ve been combing Wiki and YouTube like crazy, which is slowing me down. And the second: Mom Guilt. I want to write, write, write, but my kiddo can’t sit in front of the TV all day. I’m trying find balance.

* Something I love about my WiP. 

I complained about all of that road trip research above, but it’s part of what makes this WiP so fun. Every scene is different and new and exciting!

In other news… July is the month of RSW giveaways! 
Congrats to last week’s winner… Jessica Leake!
(Jessica, shoot me an email with your mailing address and I’ll get your package sent out right away! katy.upperman@live.com)

During the four weeks of July, ErinJaimeAlison, and I will be giving away some spectacular Writer’s Care Packages. All you have to do to be eligible to win is participate in Ready. Set. Write! and enter via the Rafflecopter link below.

A Rafflecopter Giveaway

***NOTICE: We’ve changed the entry process in order to make it easier and quicker… You no longer need to provide a link for each of your entries, though we will be verifying the winner’s participation upon selection.

This week, Alison’s giving away… A journal, sage and citrus reed diffuser, Post-Its, highlighters, gummi bears, Werther’s candies, index cards, Myndology cards, a note pad that reads I am so proud and jealous of you, DFTBA plaque, and, because she hope everyone’s having one, one of her favorite boy books, Invincible Summer by Hannah Moskowitz.

photo (21)

I can’t wait to read about how Ready. Set. Write! is going for you. Don’t forget to share the link of your latest post below!

RSW Update 3

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 in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

1. Complete a revision of my contemporary YA, Where Poppies Bloom… Still IN PROGRESS. I’d been hoping to be done by now, but… nope. This revision is proving to be much trickier than I’d originally assumed. (Surprise, surprise.) I did revise twelve scenes, and I’m really happy with how they turned out. So… Yay?

2. Complete the first draft of my contemporary YA, The Road So Far, by the close of RSW… IN PROGRESS. Ugh. I’d hoped to add at least 5K new words, but I didn’t work on this project at all last week. *womp womp*

3. Read (on average) one YA/adult novel per week… YES! I finished Laini Taylor’s Dreams of Gods & Monsters, and I read Elizabeth Brigg’s More Than Music, a fantastic just-released NA full of music and steam and swoon.

4. Read (on average) one MG novel with my daughter every two weeks… YES. We’re still working on one of Sara Mylnowski’s Whatever After books, but my girl read a couple of books with my mom over the last week, so… Success!

5. Maintain my tan… YES! I read (and slept) at the beach on Saturday.

* My goal(s) for this week.

Keep on keeping on with Where Poppies Bloom. It’s my priority this week. Hopefully I’ll have time to add something new to The Road So Far too.

* A favorite line from my project OR a word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised.

In honor of Independence Day…

The explosions of color are gorgeous, vibrant pinwheels of pink, yellow, and blue. I’m mesmerized. When the air cools, Tucker wraps his arm around my shoulders, pulling me into his warmth. I tear my attention from the sky to look up at him; his eyes are starbursts reflected in pale, pale green. They disappear as his lids fall closed, as he leans down and presses his mouth to mine. 

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

Laziness. I worked hard and often, but there were a few instances when naps proved more appealing than revising. Like at the beach on Saturday, for instance. Luckily I had Daphne to cheer me on.

* Something I love about my WiP. 

The romance. Still. I’m at this particular place in Where Poppies Bloom where things are really good for the MC and her love interest, so that’s fun.

How did RSW go for you this week? 

#WriterRecharge {Update Two}

Writer Recharge

Writer Recharge is a month-long motivational challenge similar to last summer’s Ready. Set. Write! So many of us benefited from setting goals, connecting with other writers, and social media-based accountability. So, let’s do it again! Whether you’re delighting next to the crackling fireplace of a Shiny New Idea with a warm cup of tea and or spinning out on the ice-covered roads of revisions in an attempt to avoid the snow-packed ditch, we want to write with you! Learn more HERE

This last week has been weird. I had a lot of Army Wife Stuff to deal with (lawyerly will-drafting meetings, Family Readiness stuff, etc…) which took up more time than I would have liked. I also ended up revisiting an old story that I may or may not be breathing new life into. All things considered, I still made decent progress with my revision of my WiP, Good Girls, and I’m feeling hopeful about my goal of having a reader-ready draft by the end of February.

I mentioned in last week’s WUW post that I really like my story. I know that seems like a given, but there’ve been a few occasions where I’ve reached this point in the revision game and thought, This story is SO BORING, and threw in the towel. Because if *I* think it’s boring, certainly everyone else will too. So far, I’m not finding Good Girls boring, thank goodness, because I’ve been working on it for nearly a year . It’d suck to give up on it now! 

Lots of #WriterRecharge friends shared excerpts last week and I love that idea, so I’m going to include one today… 

Begrudgingly, Jenna slipped her hand from Tyler’s and shuffled down the row behind Dylan. When their feet hit the stadium steps, Dylan linked their arms and dragged her to the ladies’ room, where she chose the stall adjacent to Jenna’s. 

“Spill it,” she demanded, her voice carrying under the aluminum wall that separated them. 

Jenna would have preferred to pee in peace, but evasiveness would never fly. 

“I’m having fun,” she said. “I like him.”

“No shit. I saw a lot of hushy-hushy conversation on your end—when I wasn’t slapping Brody’s hand away from my thigh, that is. What were you guys talking about?”

“Baseball.” Jenna smoothed her skirt and flushed the toilet with her foot. When the roar of water quieted, she added, “He wants to go out again.”

“I bet he does.” Dylan emerged from her stall and followed Jenna to the sinks. 

“I think he might actually like me. But that’s crazy, right?”

“Yeah. Totally crazy.” In the cloudy bathroom mirror, Jenna saw Dylan give her eyes a cynical roll. Dylan liked to say that every guy who possessed a working pair of balls considered Jenna covetable yet unattainable. The preacher’s virgin daughter, the songbird with enviable talent, the shy girl with the fiery hair… The way Dylan described her made Jenna blush—it was ridiculous to think that boys might desire her. She was mousy and jittery, cast away in her first day of life by the person who was supposed to love her most.

“Come on, Jenny,” Dylan said, flicking water at her. “Why else would he have asked you to come tonight?”

Jenna considered. “Maybe because he’s new to town? Or because he’s nice? Or because he doesn’t know you yet?”

Goal for this week: Wrestle my story’s ending into something awesome. 

Tell me: How’s #WriterRecharge going for you?
If you’re participating, don’t forget to post about your progress and share your link at Sara’s blog

Happy Valentine’s Day

Cutest valentine ever. 

Happy Valentine’s Day!

In honor of the most romantic day of the year, I’ve got two presents for you–presents that are *almost* as good as chocolate and roses and diamonds.

First, a sweet little excerpt from one of my writing projects, All Mixed Up. It happens just before Valentine’s day, so it’s sort of perfect for the occasion… 

“Hey,” he says. “Saturday’s Valentine’s Day. Let’s hang out.”

“What should we do?”

He ponders, toying with the ends of my hair. “Seattle,” he says decidedly. “Something fun. Something to cheer you up.”

“It’s not your job to cheer me up, Max.”

“Sure it is. Maybe you haven’t noticed, but my happiness is directly related to yours. I never, ever want to see you cry again.”

I nestle closer. “That might be the sweetest thing you’ve ever said, Holden.”

“I have my moments.” I hear the smile in his voice. “Remember when you had that horrible summer job walking the Nelsons’ dog?”

The Nelsons, who live a couple houses down from the Holdens, hired me a few years back to walk their grouchy terrier once every weekday while school was out. It was a thankless job full of ankle nips and poop-scooping, worsened by the fact that it was one of the hottest summers on record. “Ugh. Yes. Why?”

“Remember how I used to walk with you?”

“I do.” Max’s company had kept me from strangling that dog.

“Do you know why I walked with you?”

“Because you weren’t old enough to get your driver’s license? You were bored?”

“Hardly.”

Curious, I fold my hands across his chest, drop my chin onto them, and work to make out his features in the darkness. “Why, then?”

“Because I thought I was in love with you.”

I laugh out loud, only lowering my voice when I remember I’m in Max Holden’s bed in the middle of the night, just down the hall from his sisters.

“Seriously,” he says. “I was convinced you were, like, my soul mate or something.” He pauses, grinning at the memory. “Even back then, watching you drag that shitty little dog down the block, I thought you were the most beautiful girl in the whole neighborhood.”

Aww… I love Max and Jill, and I hope you get to read more of their story one day.

And, your second present… Book recommendations! Here are some of my very favorite YA love stories. (Covers link to Goodreads pages.) 

    

  

    

    

    

     

There you have it, friends. I hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day!

Tell me: What’s your favorite love story? 

What’s Up Wednesday

WUW

“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 Judy Blume’s Just as Long as We’re Together and loved it just as much as I did when I was a kid. Even though it was published way back in 1987, it’s still perfectly relevant. Recommend! I also read Veronica Roth’s Allegiant, a book that pretty much crushed me with feels. That ending… It hurt my heart, but I thought it was courageous, a fitting conclusion to a fantastic trilogy. Now I’m reading Katie Cotugno’s How To Love and oh my gosh… I love it SO MUCH. It’s such a Katy Book. Along with a spectacularly intense romance, there’s the bonus of an incredibly sweet and real mother-daughter relationship. I’m adoring everything about this one!

What I’m Writing: Guys. I am almost done with the first draft of my WiP. I’m two-and-a-half scenes from THE END (85K words… jeez!), and I’m beyond excited. I’m going to finish this thing tomorrow (Halloween!), and then I’m going to eat buckets of candy to celebrate. A little excerpt…

He pulled her close because he couldn’t stand a breath of space between them—not tonight, not when he needed her like this. He hid his face in hollow where her neck met her shoulder, where the scent of vanilla was so hypnotic he could hardly think straight. “I’m happy when I’m with you,” he said softly. 

It was the absolute truth, as well as the biggest lie he’d ever told. Nobody in the world grounded him like Dylan—thrilled him like Dylan—but that didn’t mean her presence wasn’t comparable to excavating his heart with a rusty spoon. 

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Shopping for something to wear to the wedding we’re going to this weekend. It’s in Yosemite, which I’m excited about, but I haven’t been able to find the perfect dress yet. Wish me luck!


On Saturday I ran a 10K in Big Sur with some great friends. We all have girls in first grade, so it’s fun to trade stories about our daughters’ sassy moments. 🙂 The run was awesome, beautiful scenery and not too crowded, but most of it was through a campground and the campfire smoke was not exactly conducive to clean breathing. Still, I’d do it again in a heartbeat.


I made Chewy Nutella Brownies, my very favorite brownie recipe. These babies include an entire jar of Nutella, four eggs, dark chocolate cocoa powder, mini chocolate chips, and espresso. They’re rich in the very best way. I firmly believe that homemade brownies are worth the extra time and effort. These are proof!


And… We carved pumpkins! Hard to tell, but that’s my attempt at Wonder Woman back there. She was a challenge, but my daughter requested her. Of course I fully support her love of superheroes and girl power.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: My upcoming revisions! My To-Do list is a mile long, and I can’t wait to dive in. While I find first-drafting excruciating challenging, I love to revise. Mostly because when it’s finally time to do so, I know my characters well and I’ve figured out lots of cool ways to add depth and texture to the story. Also, it’s so satisfying to fill plot holes! I’d much rather polish something that already exists than try to spin a story out of nowhere (and I call myself a writer…). Anyhow, my friend/CP Alison Miller and I decided to set some revision goals for the next month (or two?) and root each other on during the process (mostly because we REALLY want to read each other’s stories!). From time to time, we’ll blog about our progress and encourage each other, and anyone else who wants to join us. How about it? Are you up for NaNoReviseMo?


Also, this cutie pie inspires me every day. She’s so full of smiles and joy. Love her.

Tell me… What’s up with you today?