2014 in Review…

Happy New Year!

2014 has been full of changes, hard work, and lots of fun.

This Year’s Highlights

JANUARY

Over the holidays, we moved across the country, from central California to the Florida Panhandle. I kind of love it here.

We welcomed a kitten, Daphne, into our family. ❤

Also, I began revising the manuscript I wrote in 2013, Good Girls, a story inspired by the Tim McGraw song of the same name. I blogged about Goal SettingGateway Books, and the Books I Read in January.

FEBRUARY

I made a Thirty Before 35 list (thirty things I want to accomplish before I turn 35 in 2016). I’ve crossed ten items off so far!

I made one of my *best* life decisions and started binge watching Friday Night Lights. I finished a month later.

I continued plugging away at my Good Girls revision, participated in #WriterRecharge, and blogged about the Books I Read in February. And… The Seahawks won the freaking Superbowl!

MARCH

We visited Disney World with some of our best buddies.

And saw a few Tallahassee highlights with my brother.

I blogged about How I’ve Found CPs, shared bits of Good Girls in a the Next Big Thing post, and talked about the Books I Read in March.

APRIL

We made our first trip to the Destin beaches. Florida is lovely in the spring.

I Rocked the Drop!

Good Girls was approved by my agent and went out on its first round of editor submissions. Honestly, I felt very good about it — high hopes. Additionally, I blogged about My Process, and talked about Books I Read in April.

MAY

We hit up a few minor league baseball games in Pensacola.

My husband and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary –sort of. He was deployed, but still… It was a celebration. 🙂

I started a new manuscript, The Road So Far, which has since become my favorite of all the stories I’ve ever written.

I shared the Love List I made for The Road So Far, participated in the Writers On Writing blog hop, and chatted about the Books I Read in May.

JUNE

My sweet girl finished 1st grade. ❤

We spent a week in Phoenix with my parents.

I started a rewrite of an old manuscript, Where Poppies Bloom.

Good Girls languished in Summer Submission Hell. I received lots of conflicting feedback (nothing I could apply to the manuscript) and decided to dive headlong into Where Poppies Bloom and The Road So Far. I co-hosted Ready.Set.Write with some other amazing writers, and raved about the Books I Read in June.

JULY

My mom and dad come all the way to the Panhandle to hang out with my girl and me (and, maybe, to enjoy our amazing beaches, too).

I finished my Where Poppies Bloom rewrite and sent it off to a few trusted readers for feedback before jumping back into The Road So Far.

I did more writing than blogging this month, but I did talk about the many fantastic Books I Read in July.

AUGUST

Such a busy month… My girlie turned SEVEN.

My husband FINALLY returned from Afghanistan.

I finished the first draft of The Road So Far, then dove into revisions of both it and Where Poppies Bloom. 

We traveled to Oregon and Washington to celebrate my brother-in-law Sam’s marriage to my new sister-in-law, Kacie.

I shared a bit about Where Poppies Bloom in a Wanna Beta? post, blogged about Mood Boards (and how much I love them), and talked about the awesome Books I Read in August.

SEPTEMBER

This girl started 2nd grade. How time flies!

I baked the most beautiful cake to ever come out of my kitchen.

After a long summer of being on submission with Good Girls, I accepted that it’s not going to be The One and, upon thoughtful reflection, decided that it might not be the right debut book for me anyway. While I’m very proud of it, it’s quite dark and perhaps not entirely reflective of my tone. So, I sent Where Poppies Bloom off to my agent. It was well-received (yay!), and is currently on its first round of submission. Cross your fingers! Furthermore, I blogged about Banned Books and the Books I Read in September.

OCTOBER

We had family photos taken for the first time since 2008.

I started a new manuscript, a contemporary YA called Stars Like Dust. I adore it, and hope to finish the last 10K or so in the coming months.

I also pushed through revisions of The Road So Far and sent it off to my CPs,  participated in the 777 Challenge, and shared the Books I Read in October.

NOVEMBER

My cutie pie wrapped up her first cheerleading season.

And I won National Novel Writing Month!

I shared the Love List I made for my NaNo project Stars Like Dust, and blogged about the Books I Read in November.

DECEMBER

I visited New Orleans with my husband — so fun!

And celebrated a lovely Christmas with my family.

In addition, I completed my revision of The Road So Far and sent it off to my agent for feedback. Here’s hoping she loves it! Also, for the 4th successive year, I co-hosted the YA Superlatives Blogfest, participated in the Terrible Titles blog hop, and blogged about the Books I Read in December.

What I Learned in 2014

1. I can work on more than one project at a time.

2. CPs who say “screw that person who didn’t get your story” are SO important.

3. CPs who say “nope, your story’s just not there yet” are even MORE important.

4. Procrastination is most often my head’s way of telling me a story needs more time to bake, and that’s okay.

5. With each and every manuscript, my writing really does improve.

6. Writing a story that inspires me is worth any risks involved (like the story I wrote this summer… the sequel of a book that hasn’t sold yet — yikes).

7. Having an agent I trust, an agent who believes in my work and says things like “it WILL happen” is golden.

8. Making my goals public is the best way to guarantee I’ll accomplish them.

9. Family is my go-to source for true happiness.

Goals For 2015

An aside: I know I shouldn’t make “sell a book” a goal because I have no real control over editors’ tastes and the current marketplace, but traditionally publishing my stories will forever be something I strive to accomplish. I will write my fingers to the bone to make it happen, so…
There it is.

Here’s to a wonderful 2014, and an even better 2015. ❤

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Terrible Titles

I was tagged by Kate Hart (who is spectacular — her debut, After the Fall, comes out in 2016) for the “Terrible Titles” blog hop. Her post is HERE, and her randomly generated titles are actually… kind of awesome.

The rules of the blog hop are simple: Scroll through your manuscript and stop in random places. Whatever words/phrase the cursor lands on becomes one of eight terrible titles.

Fun, right? Since my NaNoWriMo project is a very messy mess, I’m going to use the mostly clean manuscript I wrote over the summer, my road trip story currently called The Road So Far.

But, if it should need an alternate title, here are eight (terrible) contenders…

1. I Find Myself Bitter, Again
2. They Bump Hips 
3. So Full of Hollow Faith
4. We’ve Talked This Shit To Death
5. Long Winding Roads (huh… not so terrible, actually)
6. I Want to Hate Her
7. My Significant Other’s Underwear
8. Stare Out the Windshield

So, there you go… I’m thinking numbers 4 and 7 have potential. 😉

I tag my YA Superlative Blogfest co-hosts: Jessica LoveTracey Neithercott, and Alison Miller, plus my writing buddies Riley Edgewood, Lola Sharp, Elizabeth Briggs, and Elodie Nowodazkij.

Happy terrible titling, friends!

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 The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski and loved it SO MUCH. Amazing world-building, and a super-swoonworthy slow-burn forbidden romance. I also read Caroline Tung Richmond’s debut, The Only Thing To Fear, a reimagining of the outcome of WW combined with some genetically modified people with X-Men-esue super powers — it was excellent! Now, I’m reading Brown Girl Dreaming, Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award winning historical verse story. It’s beautiful so far.

  

What I’m Writing: I’ve been revising my road trip book, The Road So Far, according to notes from my amazing CPs. They have helped me SO MUCH and I am endlessly grateful. I sent the manuscript off to my agent yesterday, so we’ll see what she thinks. *crosses fingers* Now, I’m back to drafting the end my NaNo story, Stars Like Dust. Hoping to finish by the end of the month.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: All the holiday prep…

I baked my husband’s favorite Christmas treat, Mexican Wedding Cookies

  

And made a Christmas craft, Cinnamon Star Garland

And addressed Christmas cards with my little elf. ❤

What Works For Me: Amazing published novels as inspiration. Luckily, 2014 has been full of exceptional reads! Jessica Love, Tracey Neithercott, Alison Miller, and I are celebrating with our 4th annual YA Superlatives Blogfest, a fun and interactive way to highlight our favorite books published during the last year. The blogfest begins Monday, December 15th and runs through Thursday, December 18th. We hope you’ll join us!

Class of 2014_Banner
Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

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

What I’m Reading: I finished Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid, and loved it so, so much! I chatted about it (and all of my November reads) in Monday’s Reading Wrap-Up post. I also read Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover, a fabulous contemporary NA. Loved the musical component, and a particular element of diversity (no spoilers!) I haven’t seen represented much in literature. Also, it *almost* made me cry, which is extremely rare. Yesterday, I started The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski. While fantasy is not my genre of choice, this one’s been too highly praised to pass up. It’s excellent so far! 

What I’m Writing: I took a writing break after winning National Novel Writing Month (!!!) last week. I didn’t even open my laptop over the long Thanksgiving weekend, which was a very nice recharge. Though I still need to finish the last 10K or so of my NaNo story (I shared its Love List last week), I’m putting it on the back-burner to work on a CP-recommended revision of my WiP The Road So Far. I’m so happy to be back with this story and these characters! 

What Else I’ve Been Up To: All the holiday things! Baking, buying, wrapping, mailing, decorating… It’s been a busy week…

  
I had a lovely Thanksgiving with my little family, and I made a super yummy Chocolate Pecan Pie, among many other goodies. So many leftovers! 


Last year we moved over the holidays so we didn’t get to put up any of our holiday decorations. It’s been wonderful to trim the tree and hang stockings in a house this year. My daughter is beside herself with excitement! 

What Works For Me: Perseverance, which for me, is all about shutting down the voices of uncertainty that are constantly chattering in my head. The only way I know how to do that is to continue to push on, writing-writing-writing, even when it feels like there’s no point. The busier I am, the less time I have for second-guessing. *Curious: How do you quiet the doubt monsters?

What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

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

What I’m Reading: I finally finished 11/22/63 by Stephen King and ended up liking it a lot. My full review is HERE, as a part of my October Reading Wrap-Up. Next, I read Ellie Cahill’s When Joss Met Matt and loved it so much. It’s a contemporary NA about a unique and precarious friends-with-benefits situation (sorbet, if you will) and it is fantastic. The writing is spot-on, the characters are layered and likable, and the steamy scenes were just the right sort of steamy. When Joss Met Matt is one of those All the Feels books, and I can’t remember the last time I rooted for a couple so enthusiastically. It’s out February, 2015! Now, I’m reading Blue Lily, Lily Blue and damn it if it isn’t gorgeous. Can I be Maggie Stiefvater when I grow up? And I can have a Gansey of my own, too?

 

What I’m Writing: I’m still drafting my contemporary YA WiP, Stars Like Dust, and I’m still loving it. *sigh of relief* It’s super challenging, but from challenge comes reward (or something) and I’m doing my best. I’m up to about 18K, and I’ve set a 1K per day (with the exception of Saturdays — family day) goal. I’m part of a Google spreadsheet with some other awesome writers, and the thought of entering a number less than 1K in my little cells makes me feel like a loser, so I’m properly motivated. Whatever it takes, right?

What Else I’ve Been Up To: The last week has been busy! We did all the fun Halloween things like pumpkin carving and candy buying and dressing up…

   
My girlie and I were witches. She specifically asked to be “the pretty blonde witch from Hocus Pocus” (Sarah Jessica Parker) and I think we nailed it. 😉


She also wrapped up her cheer season. The football team she cheers for ended up winning the championship game last night — pretty exciting!


The other day I baked Pumpkin Bread with Streusel and it was very yummy, more like a dessert than a bread. My daughter said, “This is healthy because it has pumpkin in it, right?” Yep. Pumpkin, plus three cups of sugar.

What Works For Me: Cheering on my friends as they do amazing things! Have you see the cover of Riley Edgewood’s VIP, the first of three acts in her steamy NA, Rock & Release? It’s gorgeous, and the story’s even better. If you like books featuring strong-but-searching protagonists and sexy musicians and beautiful writing, you should most definitely check Riley’s Rock & Release. Seriously. I love this story!


You can preorder VIP for your eReader (only $.99!) by clicking HERE.

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

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

What I’m Reading: Still working on 11/22/63 by Stephen King. This is one loooong book, friends. It’s super entertaining, though. Along with time travel and history and conspiracy theories, there’s a bit of romance. I’m moving right along, and hoping to finish before Halloween.

What I’m Writing: I’ve got more than 11K written in the new contemporary YA WiP I’m drafting. Its working title is Stars Like Dust, which is a line I borrowed from a Rumi poem, which is significant to the story for a lot of reasons. Plus, it’s pretty! This new story is challenging me in a lot of ways:

1. I haven’t plotted it. I am usually a very detailed plotter (my last WiP, The Road So Far, was plotted down to the gas station stops my characters made on their road trip) and it’s scary to just write, write, write without a set plan. That said, I know this story’s beginning-middle-end, and I’ve got a good handle on the main characters, so I’m hoping it’ll all work out.

2. One of my two main characters is from another country and while he speaks English well, he speaks it very formally and precisely. Still, he’s a teenage boy and I want his dialogue to flow naturally. It’s a fine line I’m walking.

3. I’m playing with writing small sections of the story in verse. I have never written in verse and it is super challenging. But… I’m kind of loving it. The bad thing? It takes me the same about of time to write 200 words of verse as it takes me to write 2000 words of good ol’ prose. Plus, the verse stuff is requiring TONS of tinkering. I’m still not 100% satisfied with any of it, but I hope I will be…

What Else I’ve Been Up To: On Saturday we went to the Pensacola Interstate Fair and it was so much fun! We rode rides, ate corn dogs and funnel cake, watched a rodeo, and saw Eli Young Band. One of their songs, Crazy Girl, is on my The Road So Far playlist, and seeing it performed live was awesome. And, it just so happens that go to a(nother) country music concert is one of my Thirty Before 35 goals, so I get to cross one more item off the list — yay!

  

What Works For Me: I recently read a post by Kat Zhang (for Pub(lishing) Crawl) about writing out of order, and I found it so helpful. Here’s an excerpt:

When I write out of order, I know “Okay, so I have Fun Scene A here and Fun Scene B here…now I just need to get my characters from Scene A to Scene B as quickly and efficiently as possible.” If the middle parts aren’t “Fun Scenes,” I should probably be either trying to get my readers through them as quickly as possible, or finding out some way to spice them up.

I’m jumping around while drafting Stars Like Dust, and even though my Type-A personality is unhappy about the chaos, it seems to be working. Kat shares some fantastic insight and awesome tips about why writing out of order is worth a try. Definitely check out her article! 

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

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

What I’m Reading: I finished 17 & Gone by Nova Ren Suma and whoa… It was a trip. The story turned out to be something completely different from what I was expecting and I am impressed. Such gorgeous writing! Now, I’m reading 17 First Kisses by Rachael Allen, which is adorable. I recommend it for the utterly authentic voice alone. It’s so much fun being in Claire’s head!

What I’m Writing: I took some much needed time away from the first draft of my road trip book, The Road So Far, and now I’ve finished an initial round a revisions. This story is a follow-up (or a companion — whatever) so it was a challenge to weave in pertinent elements/information from the first story without dumping big chunks of backstory into the narrative. Hopefully I’ve struck a balance. If not, I’m sure my trusted and brilliant readers will let me know. 🙂

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Listening to This American’s Life‘s new program, Serial, and *loving* it. From the website: Serial is a podcast where we unfold one nonfiction story, week by week, over the course of a season. We’ll stay with each story for as long as it takes to get to the bottom of it. This season’s story is a sort of high school murder mystery/possible wrongful conviction situation and it is fascinating. Highly recommend!


We finally, finally, FINALLY had professional family photos taken! It’s only been six years. 😉 This was one of my Thirty Before 35 goals, and I’m super excited to cross it off the list. I’m also super excited about this sneak peek our photographer, Andrea Faye Photography, shared with me.


I found Autumn-colored M&Ms at the store the other day and thought cookies would be the perfect way to use them. I tried this recipe for the first time and they turned out so yummy!

  
Over the weekend we visited the Gulf Breeze Zoo, which is quaint and really fun. My daughter got a kiss on the hand from a giraffe!

What Works For Me: Taking inspiration from successful writers. This conversation between Lena Dunham (creator/star of HBO’s Girls, a show I adore) and author Judy Blume (the voice of my childhood) for instance (click the link for an edited transcript). So inspiring! Plus, book birthdays this week for two amazing books from two delightful authors: Bleed Like Me by Christa Desir and Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah. I’ve read them both and they’re fab!

  

Tell me… What’s up with you today?