2012 in Review…

Last year I posted a 2011 Year in Review. Not only was it fun to share the highs and lows of my year with you all, it was also fun to look back on all that had happened over the previous twelve months.

So, of course I had to take some time to reflect on 2012. While I wasn’t successful in ALL of my goals, I did meet many. I had tons of fun with my family, I grew as a writer and reader, and I made some fantastic new friends along the way.  It’s been a busy year, full of changes, hard work, and lots of fun…

January

I blogged about goals, and decided on RESOLVE as my all-encompassing word for 2012. I also mused about the struggles of rewriting.

 I survived a winter storm that threatened my sanity.

A Million Suns (Across the Universe, #2) The Fault in Our Stars
I started the year off reading and reviewing a couple of awesome books: A Million Suns by Beth Revis and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

At the end of the month, my girlie and I welcomed my husband home from  Afghanistan (yay!).

The DisenchantmentsI raved about another favorite of 2012, The Disenchantments by Nina LaCour.

February

I blogged about my preference for character-driven YA, and shared my Two-Minute Tension Test.

            
I celebrated Valentine’s Day with BOTH of my loves!

I turned thirty-one. No comment.

021I attended my husband’s Welcome Home Ball and had a *little* too much fun. 🙂

March

Pandemonium (Delirium, #2)I read and reviewed another 2012 favorite: Lauren Oliver’s Pandemonium.

I worked on a substantial revision of Where Poppies Bloom and resubmitted it to the agent I was working with at the time. (In case you’re wondering, I eventually came to the very difficult realization that Poppies isn’t going to sell the way it’s currently written. As of now, the story is “retired” and waiting for a rewrite that will hopefully come in 2013… Tough stuff.)

          
I had the pleasure of spending a long weekend in Vancouver BC with my husband. Such a fun, beautiful city!

Saw The Hunger Games. Awesome!

I blogged about my on-again-off-again struggles with procrastination (and why it’s not always a bad thing).

April

successfully completed the A-Z  Blogging Challenge, which was so fun! Thank you again to all of the hosts and organizers!

I Rocked the Drop!


I met a few of my favorite authors (Gayle Forman, Nina LaCour, and Stephanie Perkins) during the Seattle stop of the YA or Bust Tour.


I was invited to become an Operative over at YA Confidential. Love my fantastic new blogging buddies!

May


I participated in Blog Me MAYbe, brainchild of writer/blogger/all-around-awesome-person Sara McClung.

blogged about The Page Sixty-Nine Test, a writer’s trick I learned from clever author Gayle Forman.

         
We moved from Washington to central California, and made a big ol’ road trip out of the ordeal.

After we settled in to our new house, I shared a little bit about how I plot stories and write first drafts.

My husband and I celebrated our ninth wedding anniversary!

Under the Never Sky (Under the Never Sky, #1)I read and recommended Veronica Rossi’s stunning debut, Under the Never Sky.


shared my miracle cures for writer’s block, and started tackling a major rewrite of my YA contemporary manuscript, Cross My Heart.

June

Amelia Anne is Dead and GoneOh, look! Another outstanding 2012 book: Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone by Kat Rosenfeld.

Around this time, I scored a few amazing new critique partners. I can’t even put into words how grateful I am for Temre, Taryn, and Alison!

          
My cutie pie got her very first library card, and had quite the Marilyn moment.

July

I posted about “gap books” and committed to reading a few of mine (including The Book Thief), and brought the “One Space or Two” debate to my blog.

I read and gushed about Kristin Cashore’s Bitterblue, my VERY FAVORITE book of 2012!

I completed my Cross My Heart rewrite! 

            
My girlie and I made the loooong trip to Phoenix to visit my parents, my brother, and my cutie pie nephew.

My husband and I saw Brad Paisley and The Band Perry… Incredible!

August

        
I helped my sweet girl celebrate her fifth birthday

and watched as she headed off to kindergarten. Very bittersweet!

September

I tackled a frustrating revision of Cross My Heart, one that came with some bad-but-unrelated writing news. I threw myself a pity party, but that pain in the ass revision eventually made Cross My Heart what it is today.

This Is Not a TestI posted about yet another phenomenal 2012 release: This is Not a Test by the infinitely brilliant Courtney Summers.

Took a trip to Washington to visit family and see Tim McGraw(!).

I posted about taking a break and why it’s important, jumped on the “Currently…” bandwagon, blogged about how running parallels revising, and shared my take on Banned Books Week.

October

I visited an apple orchard with my girlie, and blogged about method writing (which, for me, involves A LOT of baking and running).

I talked about Cross My Heart, my “Next Big Thing,” and scored some awesomely encouraging comments in the process!

I wrote six words of advice for Teen Katy, which Erin L. Schneider combined with the advice of many other YA bloggers/writers into this amazing video.

The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle, #1)The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. Perfectly creepy-weird. I couldn’t help but sing its praises!

I indulged my girlie and “dressed up” for Halloween. Little Miss Merida just LOVES this holiday!

November

I took a risk and signed up for National Novel Writing Month for the first time. The WiP I worked on is an upper YA contemporary romance. What else? 😉

        
I ran (and finished!) the Big Sur Half Marathon, meeting a goal I’d set for myself ages ago. I was exhausted at the end, yet so proud!

I blogged about all the things I’m thankful for

Saving June…and raved about another amazing book, Hannah Harrington’s Saving June (not released in 2012, but one of the best books I read this year).

In slightly less positive news, I parted ways with my former agent and began querying new agents. I didn’t blog about the ordeal until later, but this experience put a bit of a damper on an otherwise extraordinary month.

I WON National Novel Writing Month! (No matter that I haven’t touched the manuscript since November — I still love it! And, I plan on finishing the first draft and making in CP-worthy during the month of January.)

December

I accepted super-agent Victoria Marini’s offer of representation. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with Victoria, and I look forward to seeing what the New Year brings in the way of manuscript submissions!

I got to go to Disneyland! Seriously. The happiest place on Earth.

I read and recommended yet another amazing 2012 book: Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNarama. Love, love, love!

I celebrated my husband’s birthday WITH him for once. It was a fantastic day full of The Hobbit, Buffalo Wild Wings, and homemade birthday cake.


I co-hosted the Class of 2012: YA Superlatives Blogfest with  Jessica LoveTracey Neithercott, and Alison Miller. Such a great turn-out this year. My To-Read list grew about a mile!

And last but not least, I celebrated the holidays with my husband and this sweet girl, and took some time to reflect on the passing year.

Phew!

Tell Me: How was your 2012? What are your hopes for 2013?

The Girl with the Green Pen

I’m so excited to welcome my friend Taryn Albright to the blog today! In addition to recently taking a job as Editorial Assistant at Spencer Hill Contemp, she’s just launched an independent editing venture called The Girl with the Green Pen, and she’s graciously dropped by to answer a few questions about it…

Hello, my lovely friend! To start, can you tell us a little about yourself — your writing background, your critiquing/editing experience, etc…

Hi, I’m Taryn 😀 I’ve spent a year and a half interning with 3 superstar agencies including Andrea Brown Literary. I’ve also spent sixteen months as a freelance editor, and during that time, I’ve worked with over 60 authors. Nine of my clients have signed with agents and five have signed book deals, four with major houses. I’ve been writing since I was young, but I really got serious about publishing my freshman year of college. My sophomore year, I signed with an agent, so I have plenty of experience in both the querying trenches and the submission process.

I’ll pause here to vouch for your utter brilliance, Taryn. –> (I’ve been lucky enough to have both my query AND manuscript critiqued by Taryn, and she’s so incredibly savvy. Here suggestions and feedback are fantastic, and her enthusiasm for publishing and young adult literature is unmatched!) Now, can you tell us what your mission statement for The Girl with the Green Pen is?  

My mission is to guide writers through the daunting task of revision. From idea development to editorial feedback to general publishing advice, I love working with stories and those who create them. As a nationally ranked swimmer, I know the value of time, so I believe in quick responses from the first email to the last.

I am not just another freelance editor. Beyond providing an experienced and thorough critique, my secondary goal is to establish a relationship with my clients. I want to support you throughout the stressful submission process and celebrate with you upon any and all good news. Writers may put pen to paper alone, but it is through a community that the book gets finished, polished, and submitted.

I can’t agree with the community bit more. 🙂 Will you describe the services The Girl with Green Pen will provide?

One of my main goals with starting The Girl with the Green Pen was to expand my editing services. I’ll still offer Evaluation services (a critique for big picture things, a critique for the details, and a critique for both big and small), but I also now offer Development services. Development means that I’ll be with you a little longer, for more than one pass of the manuscript. I also have a fun set of Other services, like Submission Packages, that can help prepare your query and opening pages for submission.

And why the GREEN pen?

Most edits are made with a red pen. If someone critiques your manuscript, they’re most likely going to cover it with red ink, right? Not so much here. I make all my notes in green because I like to reflect the idea of moving forward. Green means go, it means spring, it means new life. These are all ways to think of your revisions, and they’re how I like to think of the editing process.

I love that! When will you begin taking on clients? And what is your turn-around time for different services The Girl with the Green Pen will provide?

Now! I never stopped taking on clients for Teen Eyes, and I’m working with a handful of authors right now. My editing hasn’t change–only the banner above it. Like Teen Eyes, turn around times for The Girl with the Green Pen will be fast, usually within 7 days depending on the critique.

Where can interested writers find you? 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tarynalbright

Blog: http://www.tarynalbright.com/

Website: http://www.thegirlwiththegreenpen.com/

You’ve been successful at Teen Eyes. Why have you decided to branch out now? 

Well, it’s 3 months until I turn 20, and then the “teen” part won’t work. When I started brainstorming what I wanted to do without the teen label, I got the idea for The Girl with the Green Pen and got really impatient. I wanted to expand my services and do something bigger, and I didn’t want to wait!

B&B

Thanks so much for giving us the lowdown on The Girl with the Green Pen, Taryn. I wish you great success! 

(Guys, if you have any editing needs whatsoever, please do consider contacting Taryn. She’s a superstar!)

Five on Friday

Aah, Friday… How I ♥ you!

1. I’ve been doing lots of fall-inspired baking lately. Last week I whipped up the best apple cobbler EVER using Fiji apples my girlie and I picked at a local orchard. And yesterday I made pumpkin fudge, my first attempt at legit candy using a candy thermometer. I think Jillian would be proud!

                   

2. I’m officially signed up for NaNo (my profile is HERE — let’s be writing buddies :)), and my story idea (read: PLOT — characters are easy!) is starting to take shape. Thank you, long morning runs! Next week I’m going to attend a meet-and-greet with locals who are also NaNo-ing. I’m very excited to meet some California-based writers, and to dive in to my new project. Yay for National Novel Writing Month!

3. We’ve been having a stretch of gorgeous weather here in Central California, and I am in heaven. I love sun and warmth and tan lines and afternoons at the beach. Last Sunday my family and I had one of those perfect Indian Summer days, one we spent kayaking and fishing and picnicking at a nearby lake. We capped it off with terrible-for-you pizza at a dive just off the highway. It was fantastic.

4. How to Plot a Novel in 27 Easy Steps… These videos by “Plot Whisperer” Martha Alderson are amazing. If you haven’t watched them, you should. Like, right now. Most are somewhere between five and ten minutes, and they’re like attending a free workshop on painless plotting right from the comfort of your couch. I took frantic notes and pondered my NaNo WiP while watching, and I learned SO MUCH. Thank you, Ghenet Merthil, for introducing me to the Plot Whisperer! (I’ve included the first video below, and the rest are on YouTube.)

5. Big things are happening here at the blog this Monday (as well as at the blogs of a few of my friends!). Be on the look-out for a post chock-full of information on something reading-related and awesome. (Don’t you love when people post enigmatic hints about wonderful things, then make you wait for the details? ;))

What are you up to this weekend, friends?

To NaNo, or Not to NaNo…

I *think* I might participate in NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

For the uninitiated, NaNo-ers spend the month of November writing an original novel. You “win” by writing at least 50,000 words by November 30th, which averages out to be less than 2,000 words a day — totally doable. I’ve gone back and forth about participating, but I figure, what’s the worst that can happen? Even if I don’t win, at least I’ll end up with some new words. And if I do win, I’ve got a pretty sizable chunk of a crappy first draft to complete and revise and polish into something not so crappy. Why not, right?

So, I’ve been reading up on NaNo, and I’ve found some pretty fantastic tips about how to “win” without losing your mind. I thought I might share them here because even if you’re not NaNo-ing, there’s still plenty of quality information on writing in general in the links below.

Happy perusing!

Nine Reasons to Consider Joining the NaNo Silliness  – Anne R. Allen

Tips for NaNo First-Timers – YA Yeah Yeah

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo – Storyist

NaNoWriMo Tips from Veterans – FictionWriting.About.com

The Carpool Lane: Inspiration for NaNoWriMo – YA Highway

How to get Quantity *and* Quality Out of NaNo – Taryn Albright

25 Things You Should Know About NaNoWriMo – Terrible Minds

**ETA: My official NaNo name is katyupperman. You should totally add me as a writing buddy!

Tell me: Have you even participated in National Novel Writing Month? Will you this year? Do you have any tips to share with me, the newbie? 😉

Method Writing

You’ve probably heard of “method acting.”

From WikipediaMethod acting is any of a family of techniques used by actors to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters, so as to develop lifelike performances.

I can’t act my way out of a paper bag, but I am a fan of method writing. I find it incredibly helpful and inspiring to immerse myself in my characters’ lives. Their hobbies and their passions and their cultures. Let me give you an example…

I recently shared a bit about my WiP, Cross My Heart, in a post called The Next Big Thing. I mentioned that the story’s main character, Jillian, aspires to be a pastry chef. It probably goes without saying, but this aspect of the story was a lot of fun to research. I found two food blogs in particular that were incredibly helpful: Brown Eyed Baker and Eat, Live, Run. I learned a lot about basic food preparation, the science of baking, and the art of presentation.

Of course, all of this food-themed reading and research lit a fire of inspiration under me, and I found myself wanting to bake. Often.

So I did.

And every time I stepped into my kitchen and the world of yeast and coconut flakes and dark chocolate chips, I found myself connecting on a deeper level with Jillian. I felt the same contentment I imagine she feels when she’s among her rolling pins and pie pans and spatulas. I fell in love with the process of measuring and mixing and tasting, just like Jillian. I felt a sense of pride when presenting my treats to family and friends, just as Jillian does in the story.

I attribute the five pounds I gained while rewriting Cross My Heart to Jillian and her love of pastries, and you know what? They were totally worth it. Diving into my main character’s passion not only made my manuscript more authentic, but I also discovered a new hobby, one I’ll continue to foster long after my revision is complete.

     #Homemade wine-and-cheese #bread. #Near #Baking #Food #Yum #FMSPhotoADay   #Chocolate Chip #Scones ... #Yum! #Baking #Treats #Food

Tell Me: Do you METHOD WRITE?

RTW: I’m so old school…

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway‘s contributors post a weekly writing – or reading-related question that begs to be answered. In the comments, you can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic. To participate, just answer the prompt on your blog and leave a link over at YA Highway.This week’s question: What word processing program do you use to write you manuscript, and can you share one handy trick you’ve learned in that program that has helped you while you write?

typewriter

Guys, I’m so old school. I use Microsoft Office Word 2007. I’m envious of all you Scrivner people, but alas, I use a PC and I’m technologically stunted and resistant to change. So, Word it is. Are you judging me?

As far as simplicity and ease, Microsoft Word is where it’s at. I type my stories in an open document and jump around as needed. Not so great for organization and pre-planning, but it’s the way I’ve always done things, and it’ll be my way until it stops working. My favorite writing-related functions are the highlighter (I’m an obsessive color-coder) and FIND, which is great for editing, searching out specific words, and making document-wide corrections.

While I appreciate the straightforwardness of Word, perhaps someday I’ll own a Mac and give Scrivner a go. 🙂

What word processing program do you use? (And don’t forget to visit YA Highway to see how others answered today’s question!)

One Space or Two?

Lately, my husband and I (as well as some of our friends) have been involved in a rousing debate…

One space after a full stop (period, question mark, exclamation point) or two spaces?

I (being the brighter spouse) argue that ONE space is correct. Mr. Old School, on the other hand, swears fervently that TWO spaces are proper. I’ve shown him the online arguments for one space (specifically this article, which states: Typing two spaces after a period is totally, completely, utterly, and inarguably wrong.), as well as informed him of the history of typography and the typewriter and fonts, blah, blah, blah. Still, the man insists he’s correct. He’s even gone so far as to ask a (published) teaching professional who (astoundingly) sided (wrongly) with him!

Naturally, I took the issue to Twitter and, predictably, the writing community sided with me. Here are a few of the brilliant responses I received when I asked for opinions on The Great One Space/Two Spaces Debate:

Melissa Blanco – I’d say that teacher is old school. Although I do have to admit two spaces is how I was taught. I’m a one spacer now though.
Sarah Goldberg – Absolutely not correct! I think it was preferred on typewriters (one space can be hard to distinguish), but no longer… I teach college, too, if that helps. 🙂
Bailey Kelsey – It depends on the style being used. It’s not part of MLA and I’m pretty sure neither APA or Chicago either… One is definitely the norm. In my methodology course for English we were told two spaces was really, REALLY wrong now.
Tracey Neithercott – I say incorrect. Though I do remember being taught that in school. Maybe it’s preferred for academics?
Ashton E. Silver – It’s one space! Maybe the teaching professional has a stutter.
Kari Bradley – I’ve never heard a definitive rule. I know many editors change it to 1. I changed to 1 after being taught 2 back in the day.
Zanne – I say incorrect, at least for advertising and journalism. Maybe it’s different in school?
Erin Bowman – It’s correct if you’re using a typewriter. Otherwise, NO. Period, one space, uppercase. The end. The two space rule came from the monospacing of typewriters… how letters all had equal spacing (like the Courier font) and distinguishing between spaces was difficult because it all looked the same. But fancy computer fonts fix this!
Kris Asselin – I’ve made the switch. I now believe one space is correct. But it was within the last couple years. Was taught two spaces.

What do you think, trusted blog reader?
One space after a full stop, or two? 

No, we don’t sit around debating grammar and formatting ALL the time! We went to see The Band Perry and Brad Paisley last weekend and had a blast!

MAY I tell you something about writing?

Because it’s Memorial Day and my parents are visiting and my creative energy is pretty consumed with a rewrite, I’d love to share a previous post (originally HERE), an oldie but a goodie, about how I overcome the dreaded writer’s block.

Writers Block

My Miracle Cures…

1. I eat. Sometimes healthfully. Sometimes not. Often Bottle Caps, my drug candy of choice. 

2. I read. Books on craft. Young adult fiction. Entertainment Weekly. Whatever.

3. I exercise. Run, walk, bike, yoga–anything weather appropriate.

4. I hang with my daughter. We color. We play Princesses. We make beaded necklaces. Anything creative and fun.

5. I brainstorm with my husband. His ideas are sometimes random and unusable, but he thinks outside the box and he’s an amazing sounding board. Also very supportive.

6. I write drivel. I type out sweeping descriptions of the setting. I fill in backstory. I let my characters have meaningless conversations. Sometimes they just make-out. This stuff almost always gets the cut, but it often helps to get good words flowing.

7. And, perhaps most helpfully, I plot. Or replot. Because when I’m blocked, it’s usually because I’ve taken a wrong turn. I’ve written something wrong earlier on, and that something needs to be identified and corrected.

Tell me: What are your cures for writer’s block?

{Oh! Don’t forget to enter my Reading is Sexy Giveaway if you haven’t already! It ends tomorrow at midnight!}

MAY I tell you something about (my) writing (process)?

I’ve read some recent posts by a few Blog Me MAYbe-ers about their processes for plotting and first-drafting. I love learning about how other writers do what they do, and I find the differences in our individual methods so fascinating. I thought I’d share a bit about how I go about getting words on the page.

I’m a plotter, both in writing and in life. I like to have a plan for everything: day-to-day activities, traveling, tackling the grocery store, and, most definitely writing.  That’s not to say I’m completely rigid. I CAN be flexible. Things change – of course they do – but anytime there’s a change, especially where my WiP is concerned, I prefer to make a note of it on my outline. :)

oh hello

Here’s my basic process for plotting and first-drafting:

1) Once I’ve stewed over an idea for a good, long while (like, months) I write a one sentence pitch. This forces me to boil that often vague idea down to its true essence. Later, I use this initial pitch to write a three-line pitch, then a full query-type blurb to eventually pass on to my agent.

2) Next I make a list of any scenes I already have in my head, which is pretty much an enormous brainstorming session. This often takes awhile, and I add to the list as inspiration strikes and new scenes take shape.

3) I tackle a beat sheet, plugging scenes into appropriate places, and coming up with new ones to fill in the gaps. The beat sheet I use is a melding of the one in Blake Snyder’s Save the Catthe phases in The Hero’s Journey, and the layout detailed by Susan Dennard in this fantastic Pub(lishing) Crawl post titled How to Write a 1-Page Synopsis. My personal beat sheet has evolved to look something like this:

Ordinary World 

Inciting Incident – What event/decision/change prompts the main character to take initial action? 

Meeting with Mentor 

Plot Point 1 – What action does the MC take that changes the book’s direction?

Conflicts & Character Encounters – MC meets new people, experiences a new life, meets the antagonist. 

Midpoint – Another no-going-back turning point for the MC.

Rosy Glow – What happens that makes the MC think all’s well?

Plot Point 2 – Winning seems imminent, but the antagonist somehow defeats the MC and ends up more powerful.

Crisis/Black Moment – MC must fight through her emotions to find strength for the final battle. 

Lightbulb Moment

Climax – Final blowout between MC and the antagonist.

Resolution 

4) Once I have a complete beat sheet, I make an outline, scene by scene and color-coded according to plot lines and character interactions, one I follow pretty closely once I begin to write. Detailed as my scene outline is, it isn’t set in stone. I add and delete as I go, because once I start writing, the story comes to life and certain aspects inevitably become more or less important.

5) I begin the first draft. I usually write scenes in order, but if one gets me stuck, I just type in a quick place holder (AWESOME CONVERSATION ABOUT KISSING HERE) and move along. In the past, it’s taken me anywhere from one month to three months to complete a first draft. I like to write at least 2K a day when I’m drafting. I’ve found that if I don’t, I lose my momentum. I think we all know how difficult that is to reclaim!

So, that’s pretty much how I do it… It goes without saying that once that first draft is complete, it undergoes major revisions. Like, years worth, sometimes, for me anyway. Occasionally I wish my process could be less formulaic. It seems much more romantic to sit down with an idea and just start writing, but in the past that’s only earned me 133K words of crap. Plotting works for me, so for now I’m sticking with it!

What are your thoughts on plotting and first drafts?

MAY I tell you something about the Page 69 Test?

A week or two ago, I blogged raved about attending Seattle’s YA or Bust tour stop. In case you’ve forgotten or are unaware, YA or Bust featured contemporary YA authors Nina LaCour, Stephanie Perkins, and Gayle Forman, who discussed writing and their books. One question they were asked during the panel portion of the event had to do with character development. This question got the authors extra excited. “Let’s do the Page 69 Test!” Gayle suggested.

You can find out more about the original Page 69 Test HERE (it’s a cool and unique book blog). The YA or Bust authors have modified the initial idea to demonstrate how they develop character. Nina, Stephanie, and Gayle each read an excerpt from one of their novels (from page sixty-nine, obviously), and then discussed how the excerpt revealed something about the passage’s character(s). Nina used her MC’s reaction to his setting to reveal more about the kind of person he his. Stephanie showed what one of her characters carried in his pocket, which spoke volumes about his personality. And Gayle read lyrics written by her MC, which illustrated the pain he was going through when he penned them.

I learned so much from the YA or Bust Page 69 Test, I thought it would be fun to do my own. Below is an excerpt from page sixty-nine of my manuscript Where Poppies Bloom, and below that, I’ve shared a bit about the story’s MC, Callie, and her friend Tucker…

Kittens. Several, wriggling around, making sad little mewing sounds. Their eyes are open, but they’re tiny. They look like Daisy Cat, gray and white, and they’re very cute. I’m unexpectedly grateful to Tucker for dragging me out here.

“I think this is where my aunt found her cat,” I tell him.

“You’d think their mother would’ve come running to the noise they’re making. She must have abandoned them.”

I stare at the kittens, thinking of the photograph in my pocket. I can’t help but wonder if whatever may have scared off their mother is the same entity that’s been scaring me in Stewart House.

“Cal? What should we do?” Tucker asks.

I pull my eyes from the kittens and look at him. “I don’t know… nothing?”

“We have to do something. We can’t leave them out here.”

“Why not?”

“Because they’ll freeze. Or starve.” He gives me a teasing smile. “You don’t want dead kittens on your conscience, do you?”

Something about my expression must change—darken—because his smile vanishes.

Hopefully this excerpt shows how profoundly Callie is impacted by the mere mention of death, and a bit of the push-and-pull she’s going through as far as normalcy — she resisted Tucker’s initial invitation to go outside, yet she’s surprisingly happy that he managed to convince her. The mention of Tucker’s “teasing smile” speaks to his good-natured personality, as well as his comfort level with Callie, despite the fact that she tends to hold him at a distance.

Tell me: What’s one way you’ve revealed character in your own writing? (Oh, and if you give the Page 69 Test a try on your blog, let me know… I’d love to check it out!)