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…

What I’m Reading:  I finished And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini, which was less like a novel, and more like a series of short stories about several loosely related people. It’s a beautifully written story about family and friendship, identity and loyalty, and while it was excellent, I didn’t love it *quite* as much as A Thousand Splendid Suns.

I’m currently reading Canary by Rachel Alpine, which I’ll review next week for Bookanistas and The Debut Author Challenge. Also, I’m in the middle of reading my CP Temre Beltz‘s middle grade manuscript (the one she wrote during Ready. Set. Write!), a tragic sort of story that’s so surreal and darkly funny and gorgeously written, it’s hard to put its awesomeness into words. I am a lucky CP!

What I’m Writing: I finished my “light” revision, and was reminded, yet again, that no revision is ever actually light. Funny how tweaking one tiny  thread can wreak havoc on an entire story! But, it’s done, and it’s better, and I’m excited! Also, the story scored a cool new title — thank you for helping me brainstorm, Temre and Alison! So… want to read a bit of what I’ve been working on?

He stretches out next to me and I reach for him, trailing my hand up and down his forearm. He’s watching me, and his expression… It’s awed and disarming and adoring. No one’s ever looked at me the way he’s looking at me now, and for a moment I’m overwhelmed by the intense physicality of my feelings for him. I’ve heard love talked about a million times, in a million different ways, but I’ve never imagined it like this, a raw, all-consuming need.

“Thank you for today,” I say to him. “For everything.”

He smiles, his hand wandering over to rest on my stomach. His fingertips drift under my shirt and trace circles over my skin, slowly, higher and higher. His touch makes me shiver.

Like the gentleman he was raised to be, he stops. “I won’t push you.”

“You’re not.”

“Not yet,” he says with a wink. 

Aww… I kind of love these characters. ♡

Now that my revised manuscript is in my agent’s hands, I get to dive back into the WiP I started working on during Ready. Set. Write! I’ve had some time to think it through, and I’m pretty sure I know where it needs to go. Back to drafting!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Getting ready for my parents to visit. My mom is coming on Saturday, and my dad is joining her later in the week. We haven’t seen them since April, and we’re looking forward to a great visit. Also, we’re gearing up for my girlie’s first soccer game. Should be fun!

 
Over the weekend, my husband and I had a rare date night. We went to The Inn at Spanish Bay (part of Pebble Beach) for drinks and to watch their famous bagpiper play during sunset. It was glorious! If you’re ever in the Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur area, check it out. We also had a leisurely dinner at a new restaurant, thanks to our awesome friends who offered to to let our kiddo play at their house for the evening. Such a treat!


We’ve been taking “family runs” lately, which basically consist of my husband and me trying to keep up with our daughter (on foot) while she flies down the waterfront trail on her bike for six miles. It’s quite a workout, and we often reward ourselves with donuts after. 🙂

What’s Inspiring Me Now: This quote from Alan Bennet (most recently shared by illustrator Simini Blocker in her review of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl):

The best moments in reading are when you come across something – a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things – which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.

Because, yes, I have had several such moments while reading, and they never fail to give me chills. As a writer, I long to have a similar impact on readers.

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.

{Please make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, other participants can visit your blog and check out what you’ve been up to. In that same spirit, I urge you to visit as many new blogs as you can every Wednesday. The most awesome aspect of What’s Up Wednesday and Ready. Set. Write is that they include a built-in support system. Let’s make sure we’re rooting each other on and offering as much encouragement as we can. Who knows… You might make an awesome new writing buddy, or a find a fantastic beta reader, or hook up with an amazing critique partner!}

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

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

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

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

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

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

ready set write button

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

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

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

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


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

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

What’s up with you today?

What’s Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you.

{Please make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, other participants can visit your blog and check out what you’ve been up to. In that same spirit, I urge you to visit as many new blogs as you can every Wednesday. The most awesome aspect of What’s Up Wednesday and Ready. Set. Write is that they include a built-in support system. Let’s make sure we’re rooting each other on and offering as much encouragement as we can. Who knows… You might make an awesome new writing buddy, or a find a fantastic beta reader, or hook up with an amazing critique partner!}

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

What I’m Reading: I recently read In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods by Matt Bell. It was… weird. Very literary and very dark. If you like adult fiction that steps way outside the box, you might want to check it out. Now I’m reading The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, a futuristic dystopian/thriller. It’s action-packed and pretty fantastic so far.

What I’m Writing: Still plugging away at my WiP. I made a Love List for it and, despite all its 1st draft flaws, I do really and truly love this story. I wrote 5,913 words this week (my goal was 3,000) and I’m up to 32,592 total. Considering that I started Ready. Set. Write! with about 9,000 words, my forward progress makes me really happy. This baby is starting to feel like a story that’s finishable! A favorite bit written last week:

He’d just shredded a hole into his already precarious acquaintanceship with Dylan, a hole that could very well be beyond mending, yet here he was, instantaneously and inappropriately enamored with her sexy black underthings. But really… Who could blame him? It’d been months since he’d seen a bra.

My goal for the coming week is 3,000 words, which should be doable. I’m finding that writing at least 500 words a day is becoming a routine, one I definitely want to keep up as the summer begins to wind down.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’m honored to have been chosen to help judge the August Pitch+250 Contest held by one of my favorite blogs, Adventures in YA and Children’s Publishing. Submissions will be accepted starting Wednesday, July 31st at 6:00pm EST, and will close August 3rd at 11:00pm EST, or when 50 submissions are received, whichever comes first. If you’ve got a complete and polished manuscript, consider submitting a pitch (not a query) and the first 250 words of your story. All the details of the contest are HERE.

 Also, over the weekend, we visited the The Old Mission in San Jaun Bautista. The Catholic church’s construction began in the early 1800s, ending in 18 12. The building and grounds are ornate and beautiful. We also explored San Jaun Bautista, which is a charming little town with some cool antique shops and a fabulous Mexican restaurant, Jardine de San Juan, that we totally pigged out at.

 
And, finally, I’ve been doing the mom thing, carting my girlie from activity to activity, supervising playdates, giving pedis, and reading countless stories. School starts August 7th in these parts, so I’m already beginning to mourn the end of summer. It’s flown by so quickly!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: My WiP’s new setting, based on a mash-up of a few small agricultural towns near us. I’m calling my tourism “research.”


What’s up with you today? 

(If you’re a Ready. Set. Write! participant, don’t forget to enter our fantastic giveaway. Alison MillerElodie NowodazkijErin FunkJaime Morrow, and I will be sending an awesome Writer’s Care Package to one lucky winner. The giveaway closes in one week. Find the Rafflecoptor and more details HERE.)

Love List ♥ ♥ ♥

Many moons ago, I read an inspirational guest post about Love Lists by contemporary young adult author Stephanie Perkins’ for author Natalie Whipple’s blog. Here’s what Stephanie had to say:

Whenever I begin a new project, I also begin a list called “What I Love About This Story.” I start by writing down those first ideas that sparked the fires of my mind, and then I add more ideas as I discover them during my push through early drafts. I use this list as a touchstone to remind myself during the hard times why my story is worthwhile. It’s easy to forget the GOOD STUFF when I’m wading through the muck, and the end is still months away, and it feels pointless and hopeless to continue. This list becomes a crucial reminder: Yes! This is a story worth telling! 

Brilliant, right? Last year I made a Love List for Cross My Heart and, since I’m currently knee-deep in the Muddled Middle of my new WiP, I thought it might be a good time to write up its Love List. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

Best Friends
Boone’s Farm
Birthdays
Betrayal
Baseball
Bubble Gum
Small Towns
Red Hair/Freckles
Vintage Movie Theaters

Fast Cars
Full Moons
First Love
Desperate Love
Dancing Under the Stars
Dead Ends
Dusty Libraries
“Love is a splendid tragedy…”
Kissing (Obviously)
Tim McGraw
Train Tracks

Twiggy
Unspeakable Secrets
Escaping/Fleeing/Breaking Free
“Inside all of us is a wild thing…”

Have you ever made a Love List for a work-in-progress?
(If you decide to make a Love List for your WiP, let me know…
I’d love to check it out! Also, be sure to visit the Love List my friend Alison Miller posted today — it’s awesome!)

What’s Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a fun weekly meme started by my friends Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. You’re invited to join us if you’re looking for something to blog about, a way to let your blog friends know what’s been going on with you.

{Please make sure to link your What’s Up Wednesday posts to the list on Jaime’s blog each week. That way, other participants can visit your blog and check out what you’ve been up to. In that same spirit, I urge you to visit as many new blogs as you can every Wednesday. The most awesome aspect of What’s Up Wednesday and Ready. Set. Write is that they include a built-in support system. Let’s make sure we’re rooting each other on and offering as much encouragement as we can. Who knows… You might make an awesome new writing buddy, or a find a fantastic beta reader, or hook up with an amazing critique partner!}

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

What I’m Reading: I finished Jessica Spotswood’s Born Wicked. It’s an awesome book, but the ending! Cate… Finn… My heart! I need to get my hands on Star Cursed as soon as possible! I also read a middle grade story, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo, which was absolutely beautiful. Thanks so much for recommending it, Tem! And in a jarring change of literary pace, I started Dare You To by Katie McGarry, which is pretty darn good so far. In fact, I think I like it even better than Pushing the Limits. Plus, there’s a fantastic scene-related playlist that includes tons of country music — yay!

What I’m Writing: I’m glad I scaled down my word count goal for the last week. Because we had family visiting, I knew my writing time would be limited, and I didn’t want clouds of guilt and pressure hovering over my head while we had company. I was shooting for 2,000 words and ended up doubling that with 4,012 words. The surplus is courtesy of a few bouts of insomnia (boo!), but I passed the 20K mark and I still like my story, so I can’t complain. In the next week, I’m hoping to add another 3,000 words to my story. Here’s an excerpt:

It’d been a weird month. Despite his parents’ not-so-subtle discouragement, Tyler had managed to leap into a new relationship just weeks after moving to Clayton City. This thing he’d started with Jenna was good, new and different and intoxicating, but it was far from effortless. The girl was sweeter than honey and the mere sight of her got him all hot and bothered, but her mood was precarious at best. She was never bad-tempered, exactly, but her timidness had a way of blurring into unjustifiable panic, and that scared Tyler shitless.

He was polite and considerate, had always heeded signals and treated girls with respect. He’d learned by example: Tyler had never heard his father utter a discourteous word in his mother’s direction. But when it came to Jenna, good manners fell just short of enough. Tyler was always on his toes, endlessly aware of and adjusting to her moods for fear of upsetting her.

He took off his hat and ran a hand through his sweat-dampened hair. Jenna… She was wound tighter than a monkey’s nuts and she made him anxious as hell, but she was exhilerating in a way he’d never experienced—a prize just out of reach. They’d been making out for a month and the kissing was really freaking good, but Tyler wanted more. Of course he did.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’ve gone a whole week without baking, so no tasty recipes to share, but I have been keeping busy with other things…


For starters, last week I hit a big running benchmark: I ran my 1,000 mile of 2013. I’ve been keeping track of my distances each day (whether they be on the road, treadmill, or elliptical), and as I inched closer and closer to the 1K mark, I started pondering physical locations 1,000 miles away that I could have run to. For example, Monterey Bay to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Or, Monterey Bay to Spokane, Washington. Not that I have a burning desire to go to Santa Fe or Spokane, but still… Fun to think about.


We had a wonderful visit with family last week. My daughter enjoyed plenty of cousin time, and we did lots of fun touristy things: the aquarium, Carmel, the beach. We also ate lots of yummy food and indulged in plenty of treats and laughs. Just look at those smiles…

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Lately I’ve read a couple of craft posts that have been both helpful and inspiring. First, Why the Hero’s Journey is a Tourist Trap by Lisa Cron (at Writer Unboxed), about focusing on your story, trusting your intuition, and continually asking why?. And second, Trouble Shooting Deep Point of View and Voice by Susan Dennard (at Pub[lishing] Crawl) about understanding your POV character’s world view, and the questions you can ask to get to know that character on a deeper level. I highly recommend both articles! What else…


A cool new book-related Instagram photo challenge, hosted by RaeGunRamblings. I’m having all kinds of fun with this one!


And, of course, gorgeous summer sunrises. The promise of views like the one above are what get me out of bed early each morning.

Tell me: What’s up with you this week?

TAG! A moment in time…

My friend (and Ready. Set. Write! participant) Juliana Haygert tagged me for a fun WiP post. (Hers is HERE and it’s fantastic.) The parameters are as follows:

Search for the words “moment,” “forever,” or “time,” in your work-in-progress, pick your favorite excerpt, post on your blog, and tag others!

Easy, right? Here’s a bit from the contemporary young adult WiP I started a few months ago. I’ll be working on it this summer for Ready. Set. Write!, and I hope to finish the first draft by the end of August…

******

Though eye contact seemed to pain her, the girl managed a sympathetic smile. “Ms. Parnell is a hard ass when it comes to schedule switches after the start of the semester,” she said, her voice soft, wispy. “But I hear flattery goes a long way.”

“Yeah? Thanks for the tip.” Tyler thought about introducing himself with a handshake, but the girl was staring down at her feet again, nudging a rip in the carpet with the toe of her shoe. Were they done already?

“I’m Tyler,” he said in an attempt to recapture her attention. He kept his hands to himself. “New to Clayton City by way of Cleveland.”

She glanced up. Her cheeks were stained pink, and Tyler had the distinct impression that she was thrown by his continued attempts at conversation.

“Oh,” she said. “Well, welcome to Small Town, USA, I guess.” She hesitated, then, like an afterthought, added, “I’m Jenna.”

Jenna. A sweet name. An innocent name. After his time with Kendra, Tyler was starting to think sweet and innocent were the way to go. And it didn’t hurt that this Jenna was a surreal sort of hot. She made him think of the nymphs he’d read about last year in English, shapely and elemental and sort of hypnotic. He liked her hair, its color and its length; he could imagine her thick ponytail wrapped around his hand. He liked her eyes, too, the way she looked at him through her lashes like she was playing at demure. Or, maybe she actually was demure—an intriguing notion. She was wearing a long dress with little flowers scattered about the fabric, and a denim jacket that covered her from collarbone to wrist. She wasn’t baring an inch of inappropriate skin.

Tyler was equal parts fascinated and frustrated.

******

And… I’ll tag Temre Beltz, Tracey Neithercott, and Katharine Owens. I hope you girls play along too!

That’s YAmore!

The girls at Oasis for YA love blogfests. And they love good YA romance. So they’re back, combining the two again in their second annual That’s YAmore Blogfest. Starting today, they’re inviting YA writers to post 250 romantic, steamy, swoon-worthy words from their WiPs on their blogs. Then participants can hop around to check out all the other steamy entries.

Fun, right?!

So, because I’m awesome and currently knee-deep in a rewrite, I’m posting an excerpt from Cross My Heart (the contemporary YA romance formerly known as Loving Max Holden), the very same WiP I pulled from for last year’s That’s YAmore Blogfest post. Now, before you start to wonder if I’m crazy and completely obsessed with this story (I TOTALLY AM), please know that I do have other projects I’m working feverishly on. It’s just that I can’t let go of Cross My Heart and Max and Jill and all their angst. In the down time between my other WiPs, I find myself continuously coming back to their story, working to better it so eventually it’ll be fit to see the light of day.

*sigh*

We’re getting there.

That said, here’s a steamy little excerpt from Cross My Heart:

“What were we talking about again?” Max asks.

He’s close, so close I can see the dark stubble on his chin. I study it to avoid his eyes, but then I want touch it, to feel the roughness for myself. I look down at my hands, clasped tightly in my lap. My heart is pounding so ferociously I’m certain he hears it too.

“How everything’s changed,” I say softly.

“Jilly.” I sink unwillingly into his embrace as he whispers the nickname that never fails to melt me. “If you tell me to go home, I will.”

His words give me sudden, stark clarity, forcing me to view the situation from a distance, unencumbered by his scent and his warmth and his touch. I’m a reasonable person. A smart girl. He’s drunk, looking for distraction, a good time. As much as I want to help him come out of the darkness he’s been hiding in, I won’t be his no-strings-attached hook-up, the other woman to his obnoxious relationship with Becky McMahon. I resolve to tell him as much—that he should, in fact, go home, that he should drink a glass of water and swallow a couple of Aspirin before bed, and that I’ll see him tomorrow at school.

But before I can utter a syllable, he’s charging forward, eyes glazed, lips parted. I’m so astonished, so shocked, I let him push his mouth against mine, and even though it’s aggressive and sloppy and utterly unexpected, I fall headlong into his rhythm. I can’t help it, and I certainly can’t process this frantic, feverish kiss. I didn’t even know I wanted it, but—oh my God—it’s good.

And just like that, I forget all about the millions of reasons kissing Max Holden is a terrible idea.

...

Yep. That’s Max and Jill.

I ♥ them.

Don’t forget to stop by Oasis for YA to check out all the other swoon-worthy That’s YAmore entries!

RTW: Non-SENSE-ical


Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where the ladies at YA Highway post a weekly writing- or reading-related question for participants to respond to on their own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

Today’s RTW: The Five Senses… How do you use them in your writing? How are you inspired by them? What books have used them well? Which ones are currently missing from your work? 

I think description is one of my strengths as a writer (hopefully my CPs and agent didn’t just read that statement and think, No, it’s not!) I love writing descriptions, getting in touch with all five of my senses, and hopefully piquing the senses of my reader. Whenever possible, I try to experience something before writing about it. I find it much easier to go into detail and get creative with my words if I’ve actually walked barefoot on that sun-drenched beach, tasted that decadent chocolate cake, or watched that fiery sunset.

The Five Senses* defined, as they relate to writing:

SIGHT – the ability of the eye(s) to focus and detect images of visible light… that generates electrical nerve impulses for varying colors, hues, and brightness.


From my manuscript Where Poppies Bloom: I dream of a cemetery, headstones ashen and crumbling, staring straight ahead; soldiers in a row. The sky is  liquid mercury, churning up thunder and rain. Flashes of lightning illuminate the graves, trees, bouquets of flowers left by mourning family members.

Books that do it well: Chime, Across the Universe, The Sky is Everywhere

HEARING – the sense of sound perception. Hearing is all about vibration.


From Where Poppies Bloom: I need the solitude of laps swum alone. It’s funny—the pool can be both alarmingly loud and serenely quiet all at once. The rush of water in my ears washes away everything else.

Books that do it well: Linger, Just Listen, Freefall

TASTE – the ability to detect the flavor of substances such as food, certain minerals, and poisons, etc.


From Where Poppies Bloom: I pick up my fork and take a small bite of crepe; the blueberries are summery sweet, slippery on my tongue.

Books that do it well: Anna and the French Kiss, Wither, Harry Potter

SMELL – hundreds of olfactory receptors each binding to a particular molecular feature. The odor molecules possess a variety of features and, thus, excite specific receptors more or less strongly.


From Where Poppies Bloom: He plops down in a rocker, still breathing heavy. He smells of cut grass and whatever deodorant he uses, and more faintly, sweat.

Books that do it well: Twilight, Dirty Little Secrets, The Replacement

TOUCH – a perception resulting from activation of neural receptors, generally in the skin. A variety of pressure receptors respond to variations in pressure.


From Where Poppies Bloom: His splayed fingers run the length of my scalp, from the base of my neck to my crown. He does it again and the pressure is amazing. I turn to beeswax, softening under his warm fingers, melting into the fine sand.

Books that do it well: Lovesick, Willow, Firelight, The Body Finder

*Actual definitions from Wikipedia

So, that’s my RTW take on the five senses as they relate to writing. How do you include descriptions that touch on all five senses in your stories?

And, this obviously has nothing to do with Road Trip Wednesday, writing, or the five senses, but I have to share… Four years ago today this happened:

I know I look about 14 in this picture, but I was actually 26, wearing no make-up and fresh from a sobfest.

I’ll resist the urge to weep about how fast time flies and how I sometimes wish I could rewind my life four years into the past so I can experience baby-hood all over again. Most days, though, I’m happy to stay in the now because I get to hang out with my smart, sweet, loving little cutie pie. She never fails to make me smile. Happy Fourth Birthday to my girl! 🙂

That’s YAmore!

It’s time for Oasis for YA’s Valentine’s Day BlogFest! Here’s how it works, straight from Oasis for YA’s That’s YAmore Blogfest page:

We love blogfests.  And we love good YA romance.  So we decided to combine the two in our first annual That’s YAmore Blogfest.

Starting the Friday before Valentine’s Day, we invite you to post 250 romantic, swoon-worthy words from your YA WIP.  Then check out the entries from some of the other participants.  (Just be sure you have a fan and/or a cold glass of water on hand.)  We know your Valentine will appreciate you getting yourself in a romantic state of mind…

So, my steamy contribution is from the contemporary YA WIP I’m currently revising, LOVING MAX HOLDEN, about a girl who’s in love with her best friend’s brother:

             Our linked hands rested on the seat between us the whole way back to our neighborhood. Max parked in his driveway—still free of Ivy’s car—then walked me across the lawn to the front porch of my house, just way I’d imagined. “Like a real date,” I joked.

            “I still owe you dinner.”

            “Have you been holding on to your Bunco winnings all this time?”

            “I have, actually. I knew that money would come in handy when you realized how bad you want me.” He stepped closer, grinning, and circled his arms around my waist. “So, how about it?”

            “Ivy can’t know about this, Max. Not yet.”

            He rolled his eyes. “Fine. If I keep my mouth shut you’ll let me take you out for real?”

            “Maybe if you kiss me goodnight after.”

            “I can probably manage that, although I kind of wanted to kiss you tonight too.”

            “But there’s no mistletoe,” I said with mock seriousness.

            He leaned in until his nose was barely brushing against mine. “Like I give a shit.”

            And then he kissed me, soft and slow, like he was certain there were a thousand more kisses in our future. I nestled in, absorbing his warmth, dangerously close to collapsing from the sheer bliss of it all. But he held me tight, his arms safe and secure around me. When he ran his tongue along my bottom lip, I shivered with a new kind of want. There was nothing in the world better than kissing Max Holden. 

So, that’s Max and Jill… I kind of love them. 🙂 If you’re curious about the aforementioned mistletoe kiss, you can read that excerpt HERE. Also, please do visit my critique parthers: Heather Howland, AE Rought, and Jus Accardo. They’re participating in That’s YAmore too, and well, they’re fabulous.

Don’t forget to visit That’s YAmore Blogfest to check out all the other steamy entries.

Teaser Tuesday! Well, sort of…

So, today is a big day in my little writing world:

I typed THE END at the bottom of my WIP, Where Poppies Bloom!

Eighty-five thousand words in just under three months. Whew! I can’t tell you how excited I am to be done with the first draft of this story. It’s become a labor of love, a leap out of my comfort zone, the bane of my existence and also the favorite of  any writing project I’ve ever worked on. All that, and I haven’t even started revisions yet!

The good news is, I’m a revisions kind of girl. The drafting part is SO HARD! Shining a story up, three dimensionalizing characters, tightening arcs, contemplating word choice, deleting bits and adding new ones, rearranging paragraphs, playing with sentence structure… this is the stuff of the writing process I love. (Interestingly, the lovely Mindi Scott wrote an insightful post about writers’ love/hate relationship with writing this week. You should check it out!)

Anyway, in celebration of the completion of WIP’s first draft, I’m teasing you with the last few lines. Don’t worry–they don’t give much away. 🙂

            He pulls me forward, up and out of my chair and into his lap. His arms come around me, enveloping me in warmth and the fresh sunshine scent I’ll forever associate with him. Leaning in close to my ear, he whispers, “Remember when I told you Bell Cove was the shit?”

            I nod, my skin breaking out in shivers.

            “It’s true, right?”

            I look him straight in the eye, a smile teasing my mouth. “Only because you’re here.”

            He laughs and leans in to kiss me again.

            This time, I meet him halfway.