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? 

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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 reread Meredith McCardle’s The Eighth Guardian, which was even better the second time around. It’s out May 6th, but I’m posting a Bookanista recommendation tomorrow and giving away a SIGNED copy. Make sure you check back to read my (raving) review and enter to win! I also read Open Road Summer, which is most definitely one of my favorite reads of the year thus far. It’s as if Emery Lord took all of the things I love (romance and road trips and country music and friendship and awesomely rendered characters) and mashed them into one beautiful novel. I’ll do a Bookanista rec of this one next month. Too good not to. 🙂 Last night I finished Brandy Colbert’s debut, Pointe, which was mind-bogglingly amazing. It’s tragically complicated and gorgeously written, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

What I’m Writing: I revisited my YA contemporary All Mixed Up. My agent had a fantastic idea for tweaking a certain plot line, so I revised and sent the story off to two beta readers to assess. I’m also writing bits of a potential sequel, which I discussed in more detail in #3 of last week’s Friday Five post. Who knows if it’ll go anywhere, but I’m feeling inspired and that’s pretty much the best.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: I don’t know… Not a whole lot, with the exception of reading and writing and revising, plus hanging with my girl (we Rocked the Drop together last Thursday, which I recapped HERE — so fun!). The last week seems to have flown by. I feel like I’ve been crazy-busy, but I don’t have much to show for it. Hmm…


I did make Chocolate Chip Cookies on Saturday because my daughter wanted to snack on the cookie dough. (She is so my child.) I’ve shared my favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe before, but these babies are so tasty and easy, the very perfect cookie texture, and I think it bears repeating. Find it HERE

  
We celebrated Easter with a big brunch, a fun basket, an egg hunt, and a hike around a local lake because it was too cool for the beach. Low key, but really nice. 

What’s Inspiring Me Now: An important post by 2014 debut author Alexandra Duncan called The Slutshelf Giveaway. Long story short, someone on Goodreads placed her novel on an invented virtual shelf called “Slut.” Let’s just put aside the fact that the protagonist in Alexandra’s novel, Salvage, (which I haven’t read yet but am very much looking forward to) only has sex once (with a person she apparently loves and intends to marry) and get down to the heart of the matter: A “Slut” shelf? Really? I can’t even… So, I’ll just point you, once again, in the direction of Alexandra’s post. She’s putting a positive spin on the absurdity with a fantastic giveaway that you should definitely check out because for every person who enters, she’ll donate one dollar to the Freedom to Read Foundation (up to $1,000). And her agent, Kate Testerman, has agreed to match all donations. Awesome, right? Please do help spread the word!

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

What I’m Reading: I’m halfway through Lauren Oliver’s Panic. I’m moving slowly, but not because I’m not enjoying it — I am! It’s just been a busy (and crazy) week and I haven’t had much time for reading. Boo. Panic‘s a trip, though, and I’m very anxious to see how it all plays out. This one’s quite a departure from Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, but Lauren Oliver’s prose is predictably beautiful. So far, so good.

What I’m Writing: Another revision round’s nearly in the bag. CP and beta notes are helping me so much (it’s amazing what people who aren’t neck-deep in the story pick up on!), and I’m excited about how this draft of Good Girls is turning out. It’s much more layered and cohesive and interesting, and its ending is a thousand times stronger. I’m so happy with my revision progress, in fact, that I decided to go to Disney World.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: No, really — I went to Disney World! My girlie and I took a rather impromptu road trip to Orlando to meet up with some of our favorite friends for a few days and we had an incredible time! I love all things Disney so much. The parks and the magic just never get old…


Obligatory Mickey shot. 🙂

   
These girls had so much fun together! It’s been nearly a year since they’ve seen each other, yet they picked up right where they left off.

PhotoPossibly my new favorite photo. ❤

{There are more on Instagram. Check them out if you’re so inclined.}

What’s Inspiring Me Now: First, an awesome post from my agent, Victoria Marini, entitled On Bones and Knowing Your Characters. It’s about digging deeper and making sure your readers know your characters as well as you do. Also, a post by Corey Ann Haydu called How to Relationship (for Stacked), which talks about all of that crazy-awkward stuff that happens in the shadows between kissing and sex in YA, and how it’s pretty awesome when authors get brave and explore those shadows in authentic ways. (Obviously Corey says it way better than I do.) Highly recommend both of these articles!

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

What I’m Reading: So… I had to put Holly Black’s White Cat aside. I only got about ten pages into the story and while I’m intrigued, I’m just not in the right mood for urban fantasy these days. I’ll definitely go back to it, but for now, I’m going to stick with contemporary YA. What can I say? It’s where my heart is (just look at those covers below!). I finished Jolene Perry’s The Summer I Found You, which I’ll review in detail in tomorrow’s Bookanista post, and now I’m reading Sarah Ockler’s The Book of Broken Hearts. Loving Juju’s voice so far!

  

What I’m Writing: I talked about my revision of Good Girls in Monday’s #WriterRecharge post, but let’s review: I finished my Cut All the Crap round, and now I’m going through my revision to-do list and fixing the issues I know exist — mostly having to do with character development and cohesion. I’m also doing some polishing and shifting and texturing. I think this baby’s going to be ready for readers by the end of the week!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Other than rocking my revision goals, I’m still watching Friday Night Lights like a feign. I’m nearly done with season 3 and holy crap… I love this show so much. I actually met one of its creators, Peter Berg, a few months ago and it’s a good thing I hadn’t started watching FNL yet. I probably would’ve fangirled all over the poor man. (Incidentally, I did tell him about the enormous crush I have on Marky Mark Wahlberg, so there’s that.) 


I made Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread, which turned out wonderfully. My girlie thought I was kidding when I told her I was fixing bread with zucchini *and* chocolate in it, and that would end up tasting like a treat. She loves it. 🙂


It’s been gorgeous in Florida lately, and we’ve been spending lots of time outdoors and at the park. Hearing about the crappy weather the rest of the country’s dealing with makes me thankful for this beautiful location the Army has moved us to. We’ve been so lucky these last few duty stations!


Oh, and I bought a garden gnome. She’s reading, and she reminds me a little of Moaning Myrtle. She makes me smile.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: My WiP is full of characters who make terribly selfish choices. Yet, I want readers to empathize with them and, at the very least, understand their motivations. When Flaws Go Too Far: Avoiding Unlikeable Characters by Angela Ackerman for Writer’s Digest has  fantastic tips for creating characters who are flawed, yet still relatable. I’m also inspired by this piece by Ruth Harris for Anne R. Allen’s Blog called From Pathetic to Professional: 8 Ways to Beat the First Draft Blues, which shares strategies for shaping and refining first drafts. Super helpful. Also, I’m loving Miss Megan Whitmer‘s latest vlog called Censoring Characters: Where Do We Draw the Line?  It’s an awesome conversation starter about writers staying true to their characters vs. remaining socially acceptable. Like Megan, I’ve yet to nail down my stance on this — tough stuff. Lots of great thoughts in the comments section too!

And, on a much more personal note, this week my former neighbor and dear friend Brittany wrote about the birth of her angel baby Bella Joy. It’s a heartbreaking story, but so beautiful and inspirational too. Brittany and her husband are amazing people and incredible parents (their five-year-old is one of my daughter’s favorite friends) and I wish them peace and love and all the best. ♥

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

What I’m Reading: I finished Jamie Blair’s  Leap of Faith and absolutely adored it. My only (tiny) complaint is that I wanted more from the ending. Not a different ending — just more. I fell so in love with the characters and I was left feeling a little uncertain about their futures. Maybe Jamie Blair will write a sequel? That would be awesome! Now I’m reading Lucy Christopher’s The Killing Woods. Her Stolen: A Letter to My Captor is one of my favorite YAs ever, so I’ve got super high expectations. So far I’m intrigued and I like the dual POVs a lot. It took me a little while to warm up to the story itself because there are so many unknowns, but so far so good!

What I’m Writing: Incase you missed it, I’m cohosting a #WriterRecharge with Alison MillerLiz ParkerElodie Nowodazkij, & Sara Biren. We’re setting goals for the month of February, posting them, writing/revising together on Twitter, and holding each other accountable. It’s an awesome way to stay motivated and up productivity, plus it’s just fun! If you’d like to sign up, you can do so at Sara’s blog. My main goal for February is to have a readable draft ready for my CPs by the month’s end. It’s a big goal, but one I *think* is doable.

Writer Recharge

Thanks to #WriterRecharge, I’ve been revising A LOT. It’s crazy how knowing that people will be checking in on my progress motivates me. Whatever it takes, right? I’m about halfway through this major first revision and I’m feeling pretty good about it. Thanks to some help from one of my CPs (you’re the best, Alison!) I’ve got one of my big issues worked out. Now I’m mostly trimming all the fat so I can make room for the awesome new bits I know I need to add.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Cheering on the Seahawks to a Super Bowl championship, of course. Like most Pacific Northwesterners, we are beyond excited about Sunday’s victory!


I took a break from running over the last several weeks, but now I’m back at it. My endurance has suffered (last spring I could run five miles in under forty minutes), but I’m not too discouraged. I’m taking it slow and building up my stamina, and even though my neighborhood is ridiculously hilly, I’m enjoying it.


My girl turned six-and-a-half on Monday. We don’t celebrate half-birthdays with parties or presents of course, but it’s a big milestone in her little mind so we indulge in a bit of coddling. She got to choose dinner (homemade chicken strips, mashed potatoes, and “build your own” salads), and she got lots of extra hugs and kisses from us and Daphne. ♡

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Seattle Seahawks Changing Future of Football with Yoga and Meditation — yes, this article is football-centric, but there are lots of awesome points about positivity and building players up that can be applied to all aspects of life, including writing and parenting. Clearly, these unconventional methods are working for this year’s Super Bowl Champions. 🙂 Also inspiring: Taylor Swift’s latest release All Too Well. I’ve loved this song since my girl and I bought the Red album last year, but lately its lyrics have really spoken to the tone of my WiP. This bit especially…

And maybe we got lost in translation
Maybe I asked for too much
But maybe this thing was a masterpiece
Till you tore it all up
Running scared, I was there, I remember it all too well

And you call me up again, just to break me like a promise
So casually cruel in the name of being honest
I’m a crumpled up piece of paper lying here
Cause I remember it all all all too well…

Tell me… What’s up with you today? 

What’s Up Wednesday

WUW

“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: This week I finished Jessica Verdi’s debut My Life After Now and enjoyed it. It read as a very entertaining PSA, and featured a protagonist who experienced some profound personal growth. I also read Tim Tharp’s The Spectacular Now, which I adored. It’s a raw, real story about a teen alcoholic who has deluded himself into believing he’s the life of every party, and that he’s helping (rather than corrupting) the shy girl who’s falling for him. Now that I’ve finished, I want to see the movie EVEN MORE. Check out my friend Erin Bowman‘s fantastic review of the novel and film. Now, I’ve started Bennett Madison’s September Girls, which has received some rather controversial reviews, but sounds mesmerizing. I’m excited to see what it’s all about!

What I’m Writing: I didn’t do much in terms of word count this week, but I did thoughtfully reassess the last several to-be-written scenes in my outline. I brainstormed some ways to raise the stakes, as well as streamlined things a bit. Now that I know exactly where I’m headed, I’m really excited to draft through the end of my manuscript. Of course, once the draft is finished, it’s going to need TONS of work (I’ve discovered a lot about these characters through the drafting process and have a long To-Do list in terms of revisions), but more often than not, I think this story has potential. Yay!

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Over the last few days, my husband, daughter, and I have played tourists in the area surrounding our town — a little “stay-cation” if you will. Now that our time in California is winding down, we’re trying to pack in all the fun things we’ve yet to do. Since Sunday, we’ve visited…

 
California’s Great America, a sweeping and surprisingly clean amusement park in Santa Clara, with lots of kickass roller coasters, and Snoopy!

 
The Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz, a “gravitational anomaly” amongst the redwoods which was, in a word, weird.

 
Also, we toured Alcatraz and checked out the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco — both very cool. It’s been an incredible few days, but I’m exhausted! This old lady is ready for a few days of relaxation at home.

 In other news… I baked my first pumpkin-y dessert of fall, Pumpkin Pecan Bars, which tasted warm and homey and sweet and amazing. My husband is a big pumpkin fan and he devoured these treats, as did my daughter and I. Yum!


Also, my parents visited over the weekend. My girlie is the only granddaughter on my side of the family, so I’m sure you can imagine the abundance of spoiling that occurs when Nana and Poppy are in town. We had a great time!

What’s Inspiring Me Now: A fantastic post from my friend Jaime Morrow (What’s Up Wednesday co-creator) about taking a break from writing to appreciate everything else about life (without guilt!). This one hits close to home because I always feel like I should be putting writing before everything else. Jaime made me feel better, and much more normal! Also, this cheeky post from Bethany Myers: Top Nine Signs You’re Living in a YA Novel. Totally made me laugh. 🙂 And, as always, gorgeous California scenery…

   

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.

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First—can you believe Ready. Set. Write! is ending in ONE WEEK?! Not that I’m going to stop goal-setting and writing when summer is all said and done, but still… Our fantastic writing intensive is almost over!

On that note, my fabulous co-hosts and I would like to thank you for participating and celebrate your success by offering critiques. Of course, we don’t presume to be experts, but we do know how helpful it can be to get a fresh perspective on our writing. So… Erin, Jaime, Elodie, Alison, and I are offering feedback on the first ten pages of five Ready. Set. Write! participants’ stories. That’s FIVE critique giveaways! All you have to do is pop in next Wednesday (August 28th) and enter via Rafflecopter. (This giveaway is international and is open only to those who have participated in Ready. Set. Write!)

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

What I’m Reading: For starters, I’m about halfway through a captivating beta read. It’s been awhile since I’ve read any manuscripts but my own, and I’m having a blast spending time with this romantic contemporary YA. I feel so fortunate to be able to read work by such talented writers! On the published book front, I read Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway last week and fell head over heels for Audrey and Victoria and James and all their crazy misadventures. This was a truly funny book with exceptional voice (I’ll talk more about it in tomorrow’s Bookanista post). I also read Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments, an enviably clever and amusing adult novel. I adored Lincoln, and I thought the dynamic between Jennifer and Beth was fantastic. Recommend! Now, I’m reading Morgan Matson’s Second Chance Summer, this month’s YA Book Club selection. It’s lovely so far, though it’s making my heart sad.

What I’m Writing: I have to say, I kind of rocked my WiP this week. My goal was a conservative 3,000 words, though I mentioned I was really hoping for 4K or 5K. I ended up with 6,512 words for the week, which I’m excited about, and I also cleared 50K words. Seeing as how I started Ready. Set. Write! with about 9K words, I’m feeling pretty great about my first draft progress. My goal for this week is to write 3,000 words on my WiP, and to begin working on a light revision of another project, which I hope to complete in the next three weeks.
#GluttonForPunishment

Me and Daisy, my writing buddy.

What Else I’ve Been Up To: Oh, you know… melting down about things I can’t control — what I do best. I had a heart-to-heart with my husband the other day and told him all about how I feel like a failure in several aspects of my life, and he (sweetly) told me that there’s something to be said for personal growth. To which I replied, “But I’m growing into a crazy person!”
So, yeah. Living with me can be really fun.


In more cheerful news, on Saturday morning I supervised while my girlie made breakfast. She wanted Blueberry Muffins, so we chose this healthy recipe and they turned out really tasty. I love when blueberry muffins are packed with blueberries, and these definitely were. Yum!


Mostly, I’ve just been spending time with these three, my favorites, and lamenting the end of summer.

What’s Inspiring Me Now: Attachments inspired me, and made me think about writing dialogue in a new way — I posted about it on Monday.

Also, I Hate Strong Female Characters, a must-read article from Sophia McDougall, who shares brilliance like this: I want a wealth of complex female protagonists who can be either strong or weak or both or neither, because they are more than strength or weakness. Badass gunslingers and martial artists sure, but also interesting women who are shy and quiet and do, sometimes, put up with others’ shit because in real life there’s often no practical alternative.

And then there’s this fantastic post, In Which I Go Into Cheerleader Mode by Shannon Messenger, which is honest and true and timely, something I totally needed to read this week. It’s almost like Shannon was in my head when she wrote: Like there’s some ticking clock determining how long they’re allowed to be “aspiring” before they must cross over to “published”, and any second someone is going to realize they still don’t have a book deal and show them to the door. If your journey to publication has ever made you feel like a fraud, please drop by Shannon’s blog and read the full post — you’ll feel better!

And finally, I’m finding serious writing inspiration in this quote:

Tell me… What’s up with you today?
{Don’t forget to link your WUW posts to the list on Jaime’s blog this week!}