Happy Holidays…

Pinned ImageHere’s to generous spirits, unwrapped gifts, new books :), delighted faces, grateful hearts, delicious food, and full tummies!

I’ll see you back here on the 27th for the Class of 2011: YA Superlative Blogfest! (There’s still time to sign up if you haven’t already!)

Merry Christmas!

2011 IN REVIEW…

Lots of people do wrap-ups at the end of the year, but lovely posts by Jessica Love and Erin Bowman in particular have inspired me to do one of my own. Fair warning: This is a LONG post. It’s also full of pictures, many of which include my daughter. If you’re getting bored with those, please accept my apologies. She’s just so darn cute!

All in all, 2011 was a strange year, full of very high highs and some super low lows. Here’s what sticks out…

JANUARY

High – Revised and started querying my manuscript, Where Poppies Bloom, in hopes of snagging a fantastic literary agent.

High – Cheered on the Seahawks, a sort of last hurrah with my husband before he headed out to Ranger School.


Low AND High – Said a sad goodbye my hubby and began a year of serious bonding with my favorite girl.

February

High – Sent more Poppies queries, received some requests, then some encouraging rejections, revised, queried some more.


Low – Turned thirty… Eep! I’m old! (Though the Ben and Jerry’s was a high.)

High – Took serious inventory of my eating and lifestyle habits and decided to make some major changes. I’ve since become a healthy eater and happy runner and yoga-er. I’ve lost a significant amount of weight and feel amazing.

March

Becoming a Low – Had a few close calls with Poppies, revised, queried some more. (Are we beginning to see a pattern here?)

High – Welcomed Spring with open arms.

Low – My girlie lost her first tooth. (Okay, it was knocked out. She cried. I did too.)

High – I acquired a niece! I’d already been blessed with three nephews, so this was a VERY exciting event! Isn’t she sweet?

High – While Poppies was in the hands of several agents, I decided to give it a mental rest in favor of something shiny and new. This idea (creatively entitled Bus WiP) resulted in a detailed outline that’s still awaiting a first draft.

April

High – Celebrated Easter with my Sweet Pea.

High – Trekked across the country to watch my husband graduate from Ranger School in Georgia. So proud of him! (Also, he’s not normally this thin. Ranger School is grueling.)

High – Received an offer of representation from an amazing agent while on vacation! Notified others who were reading. Waited…

High – Visited Disney World with my parents, my husband and our girl, and my in-laws. Such a wonderful trip!


High – Visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hogsmeade! Butterbeer! Rollercoasters! Dream come true. 🙂

May

High – Received a second offer of representation. Contemplated. Made a challenging but thrilling decision. Signed with Agent Vickie. Celebration ensued!

Low – Watched and worried as my dad’s health mysteriously deteriorated, culminating in TWO brain surgeries and a discouraging diagnoses. I can’t really describe what this was like, except to say that watching a man who’s appeared invincible your entire life rapidly decline is absolutely heartbreaking.

Low – Waved a tearful goodbye to my husband as he deployed to Afghanistan. Again, it’s hard to express how horrible a feeling it is to say farewell to the person you love most, especially knowing there’s a possibility he could be hurt or killed while away. It’s the very best part of yourself, ripped away.

June

High – Happily welcomed Summer!

High – Got down and dirty with the Poppies revision ideas Agent Vickie suggested. Fleshed out characters. Upped the mystery. Added detail to the setting and backstory.

High – Watched the world’s hammiest little hula girl dance the Hukilau.

High – Fell in love with my small town all over again.

July

High – Successfully completed my first 5K, and my first round of revisions.


High – Celebrated the Fourth of July with family and friends.


Low – Dealt with this hideous creature cock-a-doodle-dooing all day and night for weeks. (I found out later that my neighbor shot him. Yikes.)

High – Dove into another round of revisions. (Yes. I am freakishly pragmatic.)


Low – Said goodbye to Harry Potter. The end of an era, I tell ya!

High – My girlie and I visited my parents in Phoenix. My dad was weak but beginning to recover, thank goodness.

August

High – Celebrated my girl’s fourth birthday…

…with a very Tangled Birthday Bash!

High – Completed a second 5K, and submitted another revised version of Poppies to Agent Vickie. Getting close!

Low – Rushed my Sweet Pea to the ER after she fell face-first on the pavement. Tears all around. A terrifying night, but luckily there was no lasting damage.

High – Discovered yoga and became a total junkie.

High – Contemplated and planned for a rewrite of a previously “finished” manuscript. This one’s still in the works, and it’s one I’m really excited about.

September

High – My girlie began another year of preschool. Where has the time gone?!

High – Got our country on and traveled to the Tacoma Dome to see…

Taylor Swift!

October


Low – Begrudgingly accepted that Fall was on its way. We’re sunshine girls… What can I say?

High – Our annual trip to the local Pumpkin Patch.

High – Halloween with Rapunzel. (I was Hermione Granger, obviously.)

High – I was invited to join the Bookanistas, a group of writers who review exceptional picture, middle grade, and young adult literature.

November

High – Finished revising Poppies! Embraced my next project.


High – Lots of bonding with fantastic friends, especially this girl, who I adore!

Low – Realized that I’m a compulsive book buyer. Yeah…

High (sort of) – Had all kinds of fun with my family, cheering my beloved Cougs on to an Apple Cup… LOSS. *sigh*

High – Got all dolled up to see Cinderella at the Fifth Avenue Theater in Seattle. (Loved.)

December

Low – Accepted Winter for its frigid days and early nights. Boo. Still, with sunrises like this one, it’s not all bad. (How cool is the shadow of Mt. Rainier on the clouds?)

High – Rediscovered my love of baking. Now I just need my husband to return so he can eat all my confections!

Low – Speaking of my husband, I came to terms with the fact that my daughter and I will be spending another holiday season without him. Painful, but I’m so thankful this deployment is winding down.

High – Reconnected with old friends. I’ve known these girls since I was sixteen (one since I was ten!).

There you have it… My 2011. The highs, the lows, and everything in between. This post (while incredibly time consuming to put together!) was a fun trip down memory lane. It’s reminded me how lucky I am, how much I’ve grown in twelve months, and, most importantly, that the highs always outnumber the lows.

Tell me, what was your highest high of 2011? Your lowest low?

Closing Out 2011…

My friend Jessica Love blogged yesterday about her plans to use December to read through all of the books in her TO-READ pile that were published in 2011. I’ve been toying with the same idea for the last few weeks, and now I’m making it official. Not sure if I’ll get through every single 2011 book on my nightstand, but my goal is to knock as many of these babies onto the READ list as possible.

(By the way, I have a very good reason for my Pubbed in 2011 push… Check in Monday to find out what that reason is!)

Here’s what I’ve got:

Crossed by Ally Condie (reading now!)
Imaginary Girls
by Nova Ren Suma
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Where I Belong by Gwendolyn Heasley
Tris and Izzie by Mette Ivie Harrison
The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr
The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler
What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen
Rival by Sara Bennett Wealer
And Then Things Fall Apart by Arlaina Tibensky
The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker

So, which of these MUST I move to the top of the pile? And what books will you read during December?

RTW: Stepping into the Spotlight…


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 Topic: Tell us which supporting characters you think deserve the spotlight! Who deserves their very own YA novel?

Wow. There are so many fabulous supporting characters I’d love to know more about, particularly when it comes to back story. Two, specifically, come to mind:


Tobias (or Four) from Veronica Roth’s Divergent. Everything about him fascinates me, but I find his relationship with his father and his choice to be Dauntless particularly interesting. Tobias is so genuine and courageous and direct, I believe that he could absolutely carry a novel of his own. Plus, it would be amazing to read about his relationship with Tris from his point of view.


I think Alaska from John Green’s Looking For Alaska would also make a remarkable protagonist. I’m always fond of a well-written unreliable narrator, and I think John Green could make Alaska just that. She had an incredibly intriguing back story, and I’d love to know more about what made her so rash and fanatical and intense.

So, what supporting characters would you like to see in their very own novel?

Tuesday Tunes: Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?

It’s been a long while since I’ve been inspired enough by a song to post about it in a Tuesday Tunes. Thompson Square’s Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not has been out for a few months now, and I’ve adored it since the first time I heard it. I love that it’s a duet, I love that its sound is very country-contemporary, and I love the sort of epic-love-story quality of the lyrics (It was the best dang kiss that I’d ever had/Except for that long one after that). Here’s the video, with lyrics* below…

We were sittin’ up there on your momma’s roof
Talkin’ about everything under the moon
With the smell of honeysuckle and your perfume
All I could think about was my next move

Oh, but you were so shy, so was I
Maybe that’s why it was so hard to believe
When you smiled and said to me
“Are you gonna kiss me or not?”

Are we gonna do this or what?
I think you know I like you a lot
But you’re about to miss your shot
“Are you gonna kiss me or not?”

It was the best dang kiss I ever had
Except for that long one after that
And I knew if I wanted this thing to last
Sooner or later I’d have to ask for your hand

So I took a chance
Bought a wedding band and got down on one knee
And you smiled and said to me
“Are you gonna kiss me or not?”

Are we gonna do this or what?
I think you know I love you a lot
I think we’ve got a real good shot
“Are you gonna kiss me or not?”

So, we planned it all out for the middle of June
From the wedding cake to the honeymoon
And your momma cried
When you walked down the aisle

When the preacher man said “Say I do”
I did and you did too, then I lifted that veil
And saw your pretty smile and I said
“Are you gonna kiss me or not?

Are we gonna do this or what?
Look at all the love we got
It ain’t never gonna stop
Are you gonna kiss me or not?”

Yeah baby, I love you a lot
I really think we’ve got a shot
Are you gonna kiss me or not?

*Lyrics written by Jim Collins and David Lee Murphy

Check THIS out…

My writer/blogger/Twitter friend Caroline Richmond has interviewed me for  her fantastic After the Call series. Her blog is adorably stylish (as is she!), and her previous  interviews for this series have been enlightening and informative. Hopefully mine lives up! Check it out HERE.

Also, have you entered to win a brand new copy of Jessi Kirby‘s amazing debut Moonglass? The giveaway is super easy and ends this Friday, June  17th. Trust me: You want to read this book! Enter HERE.

Happy Monday!

Thankful Thursday

Oasis for YA knows that the surest way to get good things in life is to be thankful for what you have.  So why not encourage a group thankful-fest once a week in which we all send out good energy and hope to get some back in return? Plus, participating in Thankful Thursday is a great way to connect with other writers.

Here are the rules:
1.  Do your own blog post on what you’re thankful for today.  It doesn’t have to be book or publishing related (but it can be!).
2.  Be sure to grab our badge and include it in your post.
3.  Post a link to your blog in the comments here so that others can find you.
4.  Go forth and share your gratitude!  (And when friending new blogs, be sure to let them know you found them because of their participation in the meme.)

This week I’m thankful for nonsensical, mind-numbing reality TV. My husband is gone way too much, and I often need a little bit of empty entertainment to fill my evenings. Plus, let’s be honest: There’s something about reality TV that makes us “normal” folk feel really good about our lives. 

Here’s what I’m watching these days:

Sixteen and Pregnant – Equal parts riveting and depressing. Also, excellent birth control.

Pregnant in Heels – I rolled my eyes at the preview clips, but I have to say, Pregnant in Heels is so much better than I thought it would be. Rosie the ‘maternity concierge’ is quite knowledgable and very likeable.

 America’s Next Top Model – A tried and true favorite, although Tyra Banks grates my nerves more with every season. I watch this one with my neighbor (who walks down the street in PJs, often toting yummy flavored vodka to join me…  a true friend if ever there was one!).

Addicted to Food – Rehab for people with various eating disorders on OWN. Seriously fascinating.


Real Housewives of Orange County – I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I watch this, but I do and I love it. The amount of pointless drama these women conjur up is mesmerizing.

Top Chef Masters – Can you tell I have a thing for Bravo? I love the Top Chef franchise because I love food, competition, and the theatrics and excitement of it all. Recommend!


So, what are you thankful for this week?

First vs. Third

Exciting news: I’ve written the first scene of what will hopefully be my next manuscript, a little project I’m affectionately referring to as BUS WIP!!! (yep, with three exclamation points–not sure why, but every time I type BUS WIP!!! they’re there).

I’ve actually written this first scene twice. I’m experimenting, you see, with the POV I want to use for the story. I’m pretty sure I want to “hop heads” and my original instinct was to do dual first person POVs. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m starting to think that close third person might be more effective and, and I don’t know… professional sounding? The problem is this: I’ve always sort of thought I was incapable of writing in third person and honestly, I have a bit of an attitude about third person in general, especially in YA books. Often, it feels too distant.

Recently thought, I read Lisa McMann’s CRYER’S CROSS. In it, she used third-person, present tense and I thought it worked brilliantly. The right amount of distance for a creepy, horror kind of story, and an urgent, quick pace that worked really well for the subject matter.

While BUS WIP!!! is no horror story, I do intend for it to have short, suspenseful, action-packed scenes and a fast pace (whether I will actually pull this off is to be determined :)). So, present tense feels right. And shockingly, so does the close third person POV, but only after I wrote this first scene in first person, then converted it to third.

Confused yet? Here are the first few (tentative) sentences of BUS WIP!!! –

In first person, present tense: 
        When I first notice Jace Bryant peeking at my Chem test, I can’t quite believe it. He’s supposed to be this all-around brilliant guy—Mr. Upstanding. He always seems to know everything, excels at anything he attempts. He wouldn’t possibly copy off me. Would he?       
        But then he does it again, this subtle stretch of his neck that allows him the perfect view of my test packet. He makes a mark on his paper, taps his pencil eraser on the desk a few times, then goes about the whole show again. Jesus! He is copying.

And in third person, present tense:
        When Lia Bonelli first notices Jace Bryant peeking at her Chem test, she can’t quite believe it. He’s supposed to be this all-around brilliant guy—Mr. Upstanding. She’s sure this is some kind of fluke; Jace always seems to know everything. He excels at anything he attempts. He wouldn’t possibly copy off Lia. Would he?      
        But then he does it again, this subtle stretch of his neck that allows him the perfect view of her test packet. He makes a mark on his paper, taps his pencil eraser on the desk a few times, then goes about the whole show again. Jesus! Lia thinks, enraged. He is copying.

So? Opinions? Which POV works better based on these little samples? Which POV do you prefer when you’re writing?

In case you’re interested in reading more about the positives and negatives of different POVs, here are a few links that discuss the subject in greater detail:

Tara K. Harper’s First Person or Third
Novel-Writing-Help.com’s First vs. Third Person Point of View
Janice Hardy’s First Vs. Third: Point of View and Character Development
Ingrid Sundberg’s Five Advantages of Third Person Omniscient POV
James Scott Bell’s Understanding the Effects of Your POV
Write It Sideways Which is Best: First or Third Person Point of View?
Tami Moore’s Close Third Person Point of View (I found this one particularly helpful.)

RTW: Favorite Lines


Road Trip Wednesday is a “Blog Carnival,” where YA Highway’s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question and answer it on their blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week’s topic:  What is your favorite line from your WIP (or from a book you read recently)?

Oh, how to choose? I have lots of favorite lines from the WIP I’m currently querying, Where Poppies Bloom. Wait–is that egotistical? I mean, I have to love the lines in my WIP, otherwise I’d delete them and try again (and again and again), right?

First, here’s a little summary: Drowning in guilt that stems from her younger sister’s tragic death, seventeen-year-old Callie Ryan travels to the Oregon coast to spend the summer with her aunt. Cheerful yard boy, Tucker Morgan, manages to resurrect a glimmer of the girl Callie used to be, but she also finds unlikely companionship in mysterious Nathan Stewart, the dark and ethereal ghost bound to her aunt’s house. When Callie discovers a chilling, decades-old connection between Tucker and Nathan, she must choose between life with the golden boy who dulls her pain, and eternal escape with the ghost who may harbor sinister motivations.

And here are a few of my favorite lines:

            “You’re beautiful,” he says without a hint of embarrassment. “And you seem… sad.”

            Mystified, I choose to ignore both of his assessments. “How come I couldn’t see you those other times?”

            “Because I didn’t want you to. It’s the difference between a whisper and a shout. Just as you won’t hear me if I don’t want you to, you won’t see me unless I let you.”

            “But I can feel you.”

*****

             There is one thing I’m sure of, and it’s dreadfully selfish: I want Tucker to kiss me. The spark of life I normally feel in his presence was multiplied by a thousand with his innocent kiss on the beach earlier. I can’t stop wondering what it would feel like if we really kissed. If I’d spontaneously combust with the emotional high of it all.

*****

            He presses his lips to mine. “This is good, Callie,” he says, serious now. “You and me? We’re good together.”

            There’s no denying that. I nod, reveling in the sensation of his finger tracing the lines of my face. The slope of my nose, the bow of my upper lip, the curve of my cheek. I watch his eyes as they follow the path of his finger, his expression adoring.

            “Tell me you feel it too,” he whispers.

*****

            It’s something like sinking, being sucked into a black hole of misery and guilt, only I’m not alone. I have a companion in Nathan. When his dark, sad eyes meet mine, it’s as if we’re inexplicably linked. Nobody can break that bond. Nobody but Tucker, who is Nathan’s direct opposite. If Nathan is a black hole, Tucker is the brightest of stars, twinkling incessantly, leading me home. 

What about you? Any favorite lines from your WIP? Your favorite books?