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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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, or 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: Well… I finished Ashes to Ashesthe final book in the  Burn for Burn trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. I can’t comment on it yet. Let’s just say… It’s been a long, long time since I’ve had such a visceral reaction to a novel, and I’m still kind of traumatized. I also read Unlit Star by Lindy Zart, which came highly recommended and turned out to be a super emotional romance. Such a pretty cover, right? Now, I’m reading Cristin Terrill’s All Our Yesterdays and it is aMaZiNg. Totally twisty and romantic and unputdownable. I can’t wait to see how it wraps up!

  

What I’m Writing: Nothing! Where Poppies Bloom (which I finally wrote a summary for and posted HERE) is all revised and beautiful. It’s in my agent’s hands. I’m hoping she loves it! I’m celebrating by beta reading for some buddies, and musing my next WiP.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Watching movies… My family and I saw Dolphin Tale 2 (cute but cheesy — not as good as the first) and The Maze Runner (exciting and unpredictable — we really liked it!). Plus, my husband and I watched 12 Years a Slave, which was brutal. To be honest, I’m not sure I’ll recover. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it, but prepare yourself for heartbreak.


I’m keeping up with yoga, and I’m learning how to do inversions! I have never in my life tried to hold myself upside down, but I’m getting it. Don’t judge my form — I’m still practicing. Yay for progress! 🙂


I made my first pumpkin-y recipe of the season, Melt-in-Your-Mouth Pumpkin Cookies. My husband: “These really do melt in your mouth.” 🙂

What Works For Me: This week I’m inspired by all of the excitement regarding intellectual freedom, diverse books, and Banned Books Week. I did a post on the topic HERE. Some of my favorite challenged/banned books? To Kill a Mockingbird, Speak, Looking for Alaska, Twenty Boy SummerThe Hunger Games, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and the Harry Potter series. What are some of your favorite challenged/banned books?

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 The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi. It’s a modern-day story about two teenagers of different Afghan ethnicities who fall in love. It wasn’t as romance-focused as I’d been expecting, but I still thoroughly enjoyed it. Pick it up if you’re looking for unique, multi-cultural YA. Now, I’m reading Ashes to Ashesthe final book in the under-hyped Burn for Burn trilogy by Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian. This is one of my most anticipated 2014 books (this series — SO GOOD), and I cannot wait to see how it all wraps up!

What I’m Writing: I’ve gotten notes back from a few brilliant and thoughtful beta readers (seriously, thank you so much, Erin and Sara! <3) and now I’m working on incorporating their feedback into Where Poppies Bloom, as well as cleaning it up and prepping to send it to my agent. All the nerves…

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I’ve been beta reading a lot over the last couple of weeks, and I count myself so lucky to be able to read for such creative and talented writers. My own writing is benefiting, plus it’s tons of fun.


Saturday was my daughter’s first official cheerleading effort and she did amazingly well. I would not call her a natural dancer and she’s normally a little bashful, but she she went all out at the game and I was super proud of her! Though, this WSU alum *really* wishes her uniform wasn’t purple and gold. 🙂


I’ve been easing back into running after a long hiatus. It is SO hard to workout outdoors in Florida during the summer — for this Pacific Northwesterner, anyway. But, I miss running regularly. It’s my quiet meditation time, and it feels good to get out on the road again. Plus, new shoes!

What Works For Me: I’ve putting finishing touches on one manuscript and gearing up to heavily revise another, but to be honest, I’ve been a little lacking in motivation. So, I turned to Netflix for inspiration (and distraction) and found Tiger Eyes, the movie adaptation of Judy Blume’s classic YA novel. Guys, it was so good! My husband watched with me, and he couldn’t find anything to make fun of, which is saying a lot when it comes to “teen” movies. Definitely check it out if you’re looking for a creative boost, and let me know what you think!

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

c0500-tree7025

“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 Rainbow Rowell’s Landline, which was predictably glorious. Now I’m reading The Secret Sky: A Novel of Forbidden Love in Afghanistan by Atia Abawi. It’s a modern-day story about two teenagers of different Afghan ethnicities who fall in love, and it is brutal. So far, I’m captivated. Here’s hoping it finishes as strongly as it’s opened.

What I’m Writing: I finished another round of revisions for my story Where Poppies Bloom. It’s in the hands of a few betas now, and I’m hoping to have it off to my agent in the next few weeks — yay! Now, I’m mentally gearing up to revise the shitty first draft of my summertime WiP, The Road So Far.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Mama stuff: shuttling my daughter from school to guitar to cheerleading. I also started practicing yoga again after a long hiatus. I found a great class in my town and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the way my body’s fallen right back into the poses.


I finally got to see If I Stay! My expectations were admittedly low. The novel is one of my very favorites and I did not want to be disappointed. Luckily, I ended up blown away. I LOVED IT. Even my husband, who hasn’t read the book and had no idea what the story was about, admitted it was better than the “chick flick” he’d been expecting. I thought Mia and Adam were just perfect. I adored the music and Mia’s parents and the way the romance came alive onscreen. I’ve been reading lukewarm reviews, but I say… Go see it if you haven’t already!

  
I crossed a Thirty Before 35 goal off my list when I baked a Rainbow Cake for my daughter’s sleepover. Because I only have two 8 inch cake pans, I had to bake the layers in shifts; combined with frosting and decorating, this was a time-consuming project. Totally worth it, though! It was tons of fun to prepare from scratch, and it tasted very yummy!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Music. I bought the If I Stay soundtrack, plus I’ve been listening to a lot of Sugarland and Tom Petty and Tim McGraw (obviously). I’m letting my mind mull over a bunch of tiny new WiP nuggets and there’s no greater way for me to do that than to zone out to some well-loved songs. 

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

c0500-tree7025

“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: Landline, which is predictably glorious. I’m pretty sure Rainbow Rowell is incapable of mediocrity. All four of her books are must-reads if you’ve yet to check them out.

What I’m Writing: I’m working on revising my WiP, Where Poppies Bloom, according to my CP’s notes. It’s coming along, and I’m looking forward to sending it off for one more round of feedback before my agent gets a read.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Aaah! SO much!


My girlie started second grade. *sniffle*

   
Shortly after, we flew across the country for my brother-in-law’s wedding in Portland. My husband was the Best Man, and my daughter was a flower girl. ❤


From Portland, we headed to the Seattle area, where my in-laws live. Of course we had to make a special trip to the American Girl store.

  
We also went to a Washington State University football game. We pre-funked with my in-laws (including my new sister-in-law!) and I got to visit with my longtime friend (and fellow Coug), Kari Bradley.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: My fellow Ready. Set. Write! participants! You all did amazingly this summer — congratulations on your successes! I cannot wait to see what comes of the novels we worked on over the last three months! Also, the enthusiastic response I got to last week’s Wanna Beta post. Knowing people are intrigued by my little story is so motivating and humbling. THANK YOU! ❤

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

It’s been fun, RSW!

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on my goal(s) overall.

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

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

* The biggest challenge I faced this summer.

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

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

The End 

For real. But there was this, too…

“You ready for the final leg?”

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

* Something I love about my WiP. 

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

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

CP/Beta Match-Up

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

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

*a love list, elevator pitch, or query description

*an excerpt

*genre/age category

*whether it’s a stand alone or series

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

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

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

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

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

First Readers and Critique Partners by Susan Dennard

Critique Etiquette by Jodi Cleghorn

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

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

How to Beta Read by Corrine Jackson

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

Looking forward to hearing all about your projects! 

RSW Update 9

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at in our writing—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin Funk, and myself. Find the rest of the details HERE.

* How I did on last week’s goal(s).

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

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

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

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

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

* My goal(s) for this week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

* The biggest challenge I faced this week.

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

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

* Something I love about my WiP. 

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

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