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

What I’m Reading: I finished The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu (out in June) and totally dug it, and I read Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson and fell head-over-heels in love. I talked about both books in more detail in my March Reading Wrap-Up. Over the weekend, I read The Infinite Moment of UsSince reading Shine, I’ve become a fan of Lauren Myracle’s style and prose, and Wren and Charlie’s story really impressed me. This is one steamy book, friends, and I kind of loved it. (Though, the ending — I definitely could’ve used one more scene for the sake of closure!) Now, I’m reading The Symptoms of My Insanity by Mindy Raf and it is aWeSoMe! Seriously funny, and with a voice that’s just fantastically unique. How is this book not getting more hype?

   

What I’m Writing: Nothing, technically. But I am doing a lot of mental brainstorming for my Shiny New Idea, and I’m pinning all kinds of images and research sites to a (currently) secret Pinterest board. I’ve also been doing lots of beta reading, which has been a pleasure. I learn so much from immersing myself in the fantastic work of my talented friends.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’ve been weirdly sick over the last week. I’ll spare you the details, but it hasn’t been much fun. My girl and I have been laying low, watching a lot of The Voice and reading a lot of books. We did venture out of the house to see Noah, which sucked, frankly. There are fallen angels made of of stone, a creepy warlord who’s a descendant of Cain, plus a totally bizarre storyline involving Emma Watson (the movie’s only bright spot) and neonaticide. It’s not the kid-friendly Bible story I recall, so… Don’t take your six-year-old.

  
My girlie and I have also been doing a lot of doodling. As I mentioned above, I’m musing my next writing project, and drawing has been a sort of palate cleanser. I’m able to let my mind wander without any real commitment. It’s kind of fun!


And then there are my two furry friends. I’ve been spending a lot of time with them, too. Cuteness overload, right?

What’s Inspiring Me Now: The essay Nuts and Bolts: “Thought” Verbs by Chuck Palahniuk will be a year old in August, but I only just stumbled across it. I’ve gotta say, it’s one of the best “how to write” articles I’ve ever read, and it totally changed the way I think about point-of-view and showing vs. telling and the work required to truly paint a picture for readers. I think it’s a must-read for writers at any stage of the game. (I’ve already reread it!)

 
And… Shiny New Idea inspiration!

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

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Bookanistas Rec: LIVE THROUGH THIS

Today’s Bookanista recommendation: Live Through This by Mindi Scott (Simon Pulse, available now)

Live Through This

From Goodreads: From the outside, Coley Sterling’s life seems pretty normal . . . whatever that means. It’s not perfect—her best friend is seriously mad at her and her dance team captains keep giving her a hard time—but Coley’s adorable, sweet crush Reece helps distract her. Plus, she has a great family to fall back on—with a mom and stepdad who would stop at nothing to keep her siblings and her happy. But Coley has a lot of secrets. She won’t admit—not even to herself—that her almost-perfect life is her own carefully-crafted facade That for years she’s been burying the shame and guilt over a relationship that crossed the line. Now that Coley has the chance at her first real boyfriend, a decade’s worth of lies are on the verge of unraveling. In this unforgettable powerhouse of a novel, Mindi Scott offers an absorbing, layered glimpse into the life of an every girl living a nightmare that no one would suspect.

Coley is leading a double life. From the outside, things appear pretty great, but behind closed doors her world tragic, fraying at the seams. She’s very good at compartmentalizing, tricking herself into a normal frame of mind, and excusing away the absolutely unacceptable behavior of a family member. She lies often and to everyone — not something I normally tolerate in a narrator — but Coley’s lies are a survival mechanism, plain and simple. Instead of turning me against her, they helped me sympathize with her. And aside from sympathizing with Coley, I also just really liked her. She’s a smart girl, a caring girl, and real girl, someone I would have wanted to hang out with in high school.

Coley’s got a few great friends and she’s on the dance team, but the brightest spot in her life is Reece, a sweet band sort-of geek. Coley’s relationship with Reece plays out slowly and realistically, and I found myself wanting to hug him more than once. He’s thoughtful and funny and patient, romantic without being cheesy. He’s what high school boys should aspire to be.

Despite Coley’s likability and Reece’s charm, Live Through This is a rough read. It left me raw and sad and confused, much like Coley feels throughout the course of novel. That was okay, though, because this is a dark, serious book, an important book, one that might be capable of helping people who think they’re alone in the world feel a little less so.The subject matter is heavy. It’s dealt with in an unflinching manner that, while appropriate for this kind of “issue book,” sometimes made me uncomfortable. Mindi Scott’s clean, capable prose and Coley’s believable character arc kept me reading, though, as did the many adorable moments Coley shared with Reece.

One last note: I’ve read a few reviews that expressed displeasure with Live Through This‘s abrupt ending, but I think it works. Coley’s problems aren’t the sort that can be wrapped up neatly with a few hugs and an apologetic conversation. Mindi Scott gives her protagonist resolution, but not necessarily closure, and I found that courageous. I imagine Coley’s got a tough road ahead and to conclude this novel with a happily-ever-after would have, in my opinion, been inauthentic.

I applaud Mindi Scott for writing Live Through This, especially since (according to this letter) she has personal experience with the subject matter. And I thank Stephanie Perkins (who said: “Live Through This is by turns harrowing, sad, funny, and romantic. I couldn’t put it down.”) for sharing an ARC with me. And if you’re looking for another writer’s thoughts on this story, check out my friend Christa Desir’s post on culpability and the beauty that is Live Through This.

Don’t forget to check out Jessica Love’s recommendation of Time Between Us!

Tell Me: What’s the best “issue book” you’ve read recently?

C is for Cummings, E.E.

E. E. CummingsE.E. Cummings, 1894-1962

I’m a fan. His poetry is sparse and experimental and moving and, when he decided to become a poet as a young child, he proceeded to write a poem a day until he was twenty-two. Pretty amazing.

For more on E.E. Cummings, check out his biography at the Poetry Foundation.

One of my faves…

ee cummings cutout

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)

i fear no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want

no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

What’s your favorite poem?

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?