WUW: My Character Bloghop!

What’s Up Wednesday is an easy and fun weekly blog hop that’s hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. All you do is answer the four main questions, then visit the other participants’ blogs to see what they’re up to this week. Join us! Jooooiiiin uussss!

whatsupyoWHAT I’M READING

So, the day after I said I was enjoying The Devil’s Highway I stopped reading it. On page 55. Why? Well, it was technically written very well and the topic was interesting and I know next to nothing about it (illegal immigration through the Sonoran Desert) but it was So. Stinking. Dry. I was reading while making rice pudding and had to put it down to finish the pudding, and when it came time to pick it back up, I just couldn’t. I literally cringed thinking about reading on. And then I had an epiphany about why I love YA so much–it’s all about the feels, and I am allll about the feels, man. So if something has no emotion in it, I’m done.

So now I’m reading Leigh Bardugo’s Shadow and Bone. I’m really excited about this one–it’s been on my TBR since it came out. High fantasy? Yes please. YA high fantasy? Mos def! YA high fantasy that’s not Medieval Western European based? Hells yes! I’m halfway through and loving the Russian-ness.

WHAT I’M WRITING

Jaime did the My Character Bloghop and tagged whoever wants to do it, so I considered myself tagged! Iwill now share 5 things about my main character.

1. She has had three names through the life of this story. Violet/Vi then Melia/Lia and now Elitsa/Elle. I’m so in love with Elitsa. It fits her beautifully. I needed something that sounded ancient but not too exotic. Bonus points for it lending well to a nickname because Elle is a nickname type of girl.

2. Elle has an eye on a career in public service and is active in model United Nations. In fact, during the book she’s in a prestigious model UN workshop at NYU.

3. She thinks she’s losing her mind at the beginning of the book when she starts having memories of the past, but not her past if you know what I mean. Think WWII, the French Revolution, and even ancient Egypt.

4. She’s modeled partly after Leslie Knope–I was very inspired by Leslie’s optimism and steam rolling. ^_^

5. She recently dated her brother’s best friend, unbeknownst to said brother. She also just might date him in the future … tsk tsk!

Here’s Elle (though her eyes are a brighter blue and not quite so big)! I love this girl, and good thing since I’ve been living with her for 5 years now.

WHAT INSPIRES ME

Reading YA! It’s become such a fuel to my fire for publication. Especially since I’ve had several moments of Maybe I should give up on this book since this draft will be another big one. But I know it has a good shot and reading other YA novels keeps me hungry.

WHAT ELSE I’M UP TO

On Thursday Turbo tripped at the park and chipped and cracked his tooth. So badly, in fact, they had to pull it. The top front left one, so it’s really noticeable. It was a sad day and his smile won’t be the same for several years, but I think I’m getting used to it. He got over it pretty fast–he’s such a trooper!

We’ve made more progress on the backyard! The Mister put in French doors onto our new patio while I was gone, and he finished up the last of the trim work last night. It looks awesome and I love all the light the doors let in (there was a window there before). I love being married to such a handy man.

Tomorrow we head up to the mountains–Breckenridge, CO–for the Fourth! I’m so excited for this little vacay with my little family and some of our closest friends. We’re going to swim, and hike, and play lots of games, and just enjoy ourselves. The Mister and his friend are doing a mountain bike race on the Fourth so we’ll cheer them on. And it will be much cooler up there–almost 20 degrees cooler. Yessssss.

For the Character Bloghop, I tag Kitty, Bridgid, and Angelica, but anyone feel free to participate.

Have a Happy Independence Day!! And if you’re Canadian or English, have a happy normal fourth of July anyway! :)

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WUW: Vacation killed my productivity

What’s Up Wednesday is an easy and fun weekly blog hop that’s hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk. All you do is answer the four main questions, then visit the other participants’ blogs to see what they’re up to this week. Join us! Jooooiiiin uussss!

wuw robotWHAT I’M READING

So I finished Dreams of Gods and Monsters several weeks ago and oh my goodness, so good. I loved it. Yes, there were some pacing issues, and a few other flaws, but I didn’t care. It was so beautifully written and so literary! I cried when I finished it because it was so beautiful and I was sad it was over and there were just so many emotions coursing through me. I want to read the whole series all over again, but that will have to wait. Then I critiqued an awesome book for one of my friends. I’m currently reading The Devil’s Highway by Luis Alberto Urrea for my book club. It’s a non-fiction book about illegal immigration over the Mexican border, so it’s a far cry from my normal reading habits. But the writing is fantastic and I’m enjoying it so far.

WHAT I’M WRITING

I’m finally getting into revisions again! So, Turbo and I spent 3 weeks in Charleston, SC, visiting my family. The first week, I stayed with my productivity, using nap time for “writing” time (aka brainstorming) since my parents both work. But then my little sister flew in for the last two weeks and that ended all that, although we did have some helpful book chats. Then I flew home and read my friend’s book. Then I decided to take a last minute trip to Utah to see my family out there, and of course, no writing was done. But my sister was out there and we had more helpful chats. I’ve been in a real mental block with rearranging my plot. I returned home on Friday and all weekend have been reading and re-reading my betas’ feedback, as well as studying up on structure over at Helping Writers Become Authors. Yesterday I did some brainstorming via hand written notes, and felt very close to figuring it out. A quick chat with my sister last night, and Eureka! I finally know what needs to be done.

In case you’re wondering, I do not believe in writer’s block. :) You can figure anything out with enough time and efforts, and different methods of “attack.” I’m a big proponent of talking it out and handwritten brainstorming. They always come through for me.

WHAT INSPIRES ME

See above. ^_^

WHAT ELSE I’M UP TO

So yes, I went to South Carolina for 3 weeks and Utah for 5 days. It was so much fun! I ate out several times, went to the beach twice, rode on bikes downtown and around my old neighborhood, and just enjoyed life. I also went to the Alumni Weekend for my MFA program at Converse College. It was so wonderful to be physically in the writing world, and specifically the literary writing world. I attended multi-genre workshops (loved the feedback from the poets), lectures, and readings, and it all helped me remember how much I love literary writing and reaffirmed my resolve to be a literary YA fantasy writer.

In my last post, I promised I was working on something, but that something will have to wait until I finish this draft. Hopefully I’ll be done by the end of July, or not much after. We have lots of people coming to visit in the next month, but I’m not slipping back to my procrastinator ways again.

How’s your summer going? It’s good to be back!

WUW: Almost there!

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop that’s easy and fun. All you do is answer the four main questions, then visit the other participants’ blogs to see what they’re up to this week. Join us! Jooooiiiin uussss!

winter wuwWHAT I’M READING

I know I said I was going to read Throne of Glass next, but a friend let me borrow her copy of Tahereh Mafi’s Ignite Me and I couldn’t resist! (I requested a hold at the library, and I didn’t get too far down the list, but I’d rather not wait if I don’t have to.) I started it last night, but didn’t get very far. All I have to say is Warnerrrrr. :) I’ll let you know what I think when I finish! I’m very excited to read it. Anyone else read it yet? What did you think of it?

WHAT I’M WRITING

I’ve hit 65k and have 3 chapters left! So it will happen this weekend! Ahhhh! Also, when I hit the 10-chapters-left mark, I momentarily froze up. It seems I have some strange fear when it comes to endings. They are so hard! The end is what tripped me up on SPARKS (the first incarnation of FRACTURED RADIANCE). And I’m close to the end on my YA contemporary WIP, RED SKY, and every time I think about finishing it I get all panicky. It’s good to know this about myself! What part of the book do you get lead feet over?

WHAT INSPIRES ME

I met with my fab-u-lous writing group on Saturday, and they had very encouraging things to say about my submission (two big reveal chapters of FR). That made me feel so good! Especially since this came right after I arrived at the above-mentioned last 10 chapters and was feeling all inadequate and intimidated. Their kind words were just what I needed to help me push through. And they had some great critical feedback as well, which is always helpful and welcome. Despite the fact that I have 3 chapters left, the writing is going more slowly this week and it’s taking longer to get a chapter revised. It’s just some kind of crazy head game I have with myself, I suppose. But I’m forging on!

WHAT ELSE I’M UP TO

A whole lot of not much else. :) My house fell apart last week thanks to being sick + focusing on my revisions, so when I’m not writing or spending time with my two guys, I’ve been reclaiming my home from the chaos.

Hope your week is going fantastic!

WUW: Kpop Edition!

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop that’s easy and fun. All you do is answer the four main questions, then visit the other participants’ blogs to see what they’re up to this week. Join us! Jooooiiiin uussss!

winter wuwWHAT I’M READING

Almost done with my re-read of Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, and it’s just as lovely as I remember it. I picked it for book club, and my friends are reporting that they love it. Of course! Why wouldn’t they? I’ll see what the rest of book club says next week. :) At the suggestion of Bridgid Gallagher, I picked up Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas from the library. She sold me as soon as she said it’s about an assassin. I’m excited to start it when I finish Seraphina. Anyone else read it? What did you think?

WHAT I’M WRITING

Still click-clacking away on my revisions! This weekend I got sick and while I continued to hack away at the manuscript, I was feeling pretty uninspired. But now I’m feeling better and the muse is back. I have NINE chapters left! Ahhhhh! Home stretch, y’all! Of course, these chapters are largely summarized or dialogue-only, so I have a lot of work still left to do. But still. I’m also done with this round of revisions! What!

WHAT INSPIRES ME

Are y’all ready for some Kpop overload? Hah! I’ll try to avoid that, but there’s just so much good stuff out there. I’ll keep it to my favorites.

T.O.P’s song “Doom Dada” is my go-to for getting into the creative mindset. The video’s kinda cracked out, but that’s the point. (Check this video out if you’d like an explanation, starting at the 5:23 mark. Pretty brilliant stuff.)

Next up is T.O.P’s AWESOME hip hop song with his BigBang band mate G-Dragon. This was the song that solidified my love for Kpop. And Turbo loves dancing to this song. As soon as he hears it, he starts doing the diaper bump. So freaking cute.

Third is the song that got me interested in Kpop in the first place! Junhyung, the rapper for the group Beast, is the star of the second Kdrama I watched, Monstar. This boy is a quadruple threat! He can act, dance, sing, and rap. I love love love this song, and the whole album is reminiscent of late 90s R&B. Good stuff, y’all.

Can’t forget the ladies! 2ne1 is kinda crazy and that’s why I love them. This video features guns, straight jackets, and fierce clothing, and it’s called “I Am the Best.” Nuff said!

EXO are new and taking the Asian music scene by storm! “Growl” is my second favorite by them (“Machine” usurped it as #1 last night. THE DANCING!!! Kai is a beast.) and their most famous. This video was filmed in one-shot and its simplicity combined with the choreography make it genius.

And last goes to my new favorites, the band Led apple. Rock bands are pretty rare in the Korean music industry, so this indie rock loving girl was delighted to stumble upon these guys. (Thanks to a member of my Kpop facebook group! Yes, I’m in a group devoted solely to discussing Kpop. ^_^) The lead singer, Hanbyul, has some serious pipes. They’re doing this Music Note series where they cover a famous pop song every week, and his version of Imagine Dragons’ “Demons” is simply incredible. This is their newest single and it infuses my entire body with joy. These guys also preform with a lot of heart which I love and appreciate.

(If you want to skip all the intro, start at 0:45.)

WHAT ELSE I’M UP TO

My giveaway ended last night! And the winner is …

winner

Lucky number 5, who is Stephanie Scott. Congrats Stephanie! I’ll mail you my copy as soon as it arrives. (Seriously, Amazon? Don’t you know what the point of pre-ordering is??)

I finally found the Girl Scouts on Monday, and have adopted two boxes of Thin Mints. I promise to give them a good home–in my freezer, and later in my belly. Om nom nom.

How is your week? I hope fabulous!

WUW: GIVEAWAY!!

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop that’s easy and fun. All you do is answer the four main questions, then visit the other participants’ blogs to see what they’re up to this week. Join us! Jooooiiiin uussss!

winter wuwWHAT I’M READING

I finished The Book Thief last week and FELT ALL THE FEELINGS!! So wonderful. So brilliant. If you haven’t yet read that book, fix that immediately! Now I’m re-reading Seraphina by Rachel Hartman and it is as beautiful the second time. Another book you need to read it you haven’t yet.

WHAT I’M WRITING

I’ve now revised 20 chapters, leaving 15 more. I’ve been hovering just below 60k the past few days since I’ve done a lot of cutting, but today I’ll add enough that I’ll finally hit that milestone. The first version of this story, SPARKS, was 57k when I finished the first draft. (I never revised, instead choosing to re-imagine and change the whole story–and that’s how FRACTURED RADIANCE was born.) So I’ve never written a book that was 60k and it feels really good. I’ve also hit that point where I want to do nothing but work on my book. I love that feeling!

WHAT INSPIRES ME

Kpop! I’ve been listening to it constantly and I love it. But I’m not going to share any this week, because I want to keep this post short. Next week, promise!

WHAT ELSE I’M UP TO

I’m hosting a giveaway of Kate Scott’s new book Counting to D! I actually started it last week and it was supposed to end last night at midnight but for some reason hardly anyone entered. I’m guessing I didn’t do a good job of promoting it. I’ve extended it for another week. So go enter!

How is your week? Wait, don’t answer that. JUST ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!! ;)

Guest Post and a Giveaway!

**THIS GIVEAWAY HAS BEEN EXTENDED A WEEK!**

I’ve gabbed quite a bit about Kate Scott and her forthcoming debut novel, Counting to D, and with just cause! It’s a fabulous book and she’s a fabulous person. Today I have two exciting things going on: first, I’m going to give away a copy of her book. To enter, just comment on this post. Easy peasy lemon squeezy. Giveaway closes next Tuesday 2/18  at 11:59 pm and I’ll announce the winner on my 2/19 WUW post. Good luck!

The second exciting thing is today’s post, a guest post by Kate herself! I asked her to blog about what it’s like to write about such a personal topic. She nailed it.

———-

Please Write by Kate Scott

There are a lot of reasons why I write—why I wrote Counting to D, and why I’ve kept on writing since I finished it. There are a lot of reasons why every writer writes: the joy of creation, the pull of the muse. Sometimes, writing feels like a game. Other times, it feels like a chore. And sometimes, it’s personal.

Counting to D is a contemporary young adult novel about a dyslexic teenager. For me, that story is personal. Once upon a time, I was a dyslexic teenager. Now I’m a dyslexic adult. There are a lot of reasons why I wrote this book, but the biggest reason is also the simplest: nobody else was writing it.

I remember seeing Rainman as a kid. I didn’t know anything about autism before that movie came out. Then I watched Dustin Hoffman’s performance, and suddenly, I felt like I understood. Not everything, but at least a little bit. When I heard about other people with autism, I could think, “Like the guy in Rainman.”

I was diagnosed with dyslexia a little over a year before Rainman made it to the big screen. At the time, I remember wondering, who’s going to star in the big dyslexia movie? Who was going to give a face to the condition I had to live with every day? But it never happened. Nobody ever made a big block-busting dyslexia movie.

Percy Jackson, the title character of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians, is dyslexic. So I haven’t been completely forgotten by mass media. But I’m not Percy Jackson. Unlike him, I’m not the child of a Greek god; I’m just a regular person. A regular, dyslexic person who sometimes doesn’t feel very regular at all.

Every child, every person, deserves to see themselves in a book. Teachers, librarians, and kid lit advocates all over the world keep saying that. There needs to be more diversity in children’s literature because every child needs to be able to pick up a book and say, “This character is just like me.” But a lot of people’s stories aren’t being told.

I’ve always loved stories. Learning to read was VERY HARD for me, but thankfully, I discovered audiobooks early. My behavior as a young child often resembled that of Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby. As an added bonus, I grew up a few miles away from the real Klickitat Street in Portland, Oregon. I remember listening to Ramona’s stories as a little kid and thinking she was just like me.

Then I got older, and the similarities between Ramona and me became less apparent. For decades, I waited for somebody to write an honest and accurate dyslexia story. My story. But nobody did. I knew the story. I’d lived it. Eventually, I got tired of waiting, and I realized I had no choice but to write it myself.

The phrase “write what you know” is overused in the writing world. A lot goes into writing, and a four-word catch phrase oversimplifies things. But there is still value in writing what you know because you know your story. If nobody else is telling your story, please write. Write because you aren’t alone, and other people who have similar experiences might be desperately waiting for your words. Write for the people who are different than you, too. If you don’t share your story with the rest of us, how will we ever know? How can we learn?

I write for a lot of reasons. I write fiction, and not everything I say is personal. But a lot of it is. I think that is important. There are things that I know, and if I don’t write them down, who will? You know things, too. So please, write.

———-

I love this post. It applies to all of us, too. Thanks, Kate!

WUW: 100 Words is Saving My Life Edition

What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop that’s easy and fun. All you do is answer the four main questions, then visit the other participants’ blogs to see what they’re up to this week. Join us! Jooooiiiin uussss!

winter wuwWHAT I’M READING

So, I took last week off because I was bad blogger and I was behind on my commenting. Y’all saw comments from me because I visited your blogs, but yeah, no blogging. It’s a new enforcement technique to help me be a good community citizen. I do like reading y’all’s blogs, but sometimes I look at the sheer number and feel very overwhelmed. There are too many good writers to befriend out there! :)

And speaking of writer friends, I read my CP Kate Scott‘s book Counting to D this weekend! I loved it! I received an arc from her publicist, and here’s what I wrote about it on Goodreads:

counting

Click the picture to pre-order it from Amazon!

“We’re different people, and that’s okay. Different doesn’t have to mean worse. But it also doesn’t have to mean better. Different only means different.”
That is, I think, the crux of this story. The characters all find different ways to feel superior to each other–whether it’s through brains, brawn, or beauty–when they’re all aching to be “normal” and accepted. But, as dyslexic Sam discovers, there’s really no such thing as normal–and that’s a blessing.
You won’t find lyrical writing or lush imagery, but that’s not Kate Scott’s style. You will find snappy dialogue and three-dimensional characters that are interesting and familiar. Not because you’ve read about them in a dozen books, but because you could’ve gone to high school with any of them. I love how the author showed that everyone can be nice and mean. Nerds can be jerks and popular kids can be sweet and sincere, and vice versa. Sam’s struggle is about dyslexia, but anyone who’s felt “weird” and “abnormal” will recognize themselves in her story–and that’s everyone because we all have something that we feel sets us apart, and not in the good way. This is a story with heart and soul, and I found myself thinking about the characters and missing them only a half hour after closing the back cover.

Next Wednesday Kate will be guest posting on here, and then the Tuesday after that (the 11th), her book will go on sale. Yay!

WHAT I’M WRITING

My first order of revisions-business was to add a whole sequence. I finished that last week and it turned out to be so awesome. Things happened and characters stepped into roles that I didn’t anticipate. Don’t you just love when that happens in your writing? The next order of business was to do a chapter-by-chapter outline of my book, taking note of certain types of events, and just really getting a good feel for how everything flows. I finished that yesterday, then had a nice chat with my SIL about the pacing, flow, and character arc. Today, I will start my chapter-by-chapter revisions. This is where the real work begins! Time to smooth it all out, plump what needs plumping, and help my characters really come to life.  Last night I had a little panic–some of that silly fear of how much work this is going to be. Then I thought of this quote:

That’s my new go-to for shooting down that silly writerly-fear I’m prone to.

WHAT INSPIRES ME

Well, the quote above, obviously. Also, the alumni from my MFA have a private group on Facebook where we chat about whatever we like. Someone read a book (or a story/article? something like that) about an author who vowed to write 100 words every day, and ended up writing much, much more than that. My friend started another FB group for those of us who were interested in participating in the 100 Words a Day Challenge. We all post on there every day that we get at least 100 words down. This has changed my whole life. Okay, maybe not, but it has helped me tremendously. So, I’ve devoted nap times to writing, yes? Well, there have still been days when I don’t feel like writing, for whatever reason. On those days, I said to myself, “Just get 100 words. That’s it.” So I start writing with just that goal in mind, and every. single. time. I’ve ended up getting at least several hundred words written, sometimes even over a thousand. It really is a mental block and nothing more, but 100 words is so easily attained, that even on days with the worst mental block, I can talk myself into getting my butt in the chair.

Give it a try. You won’t regret it.

WHAT ELSE I’M UP TO

Not a whole lot. Life’s pretty quiet–which is nice. Things were too crazy last fall and during the holidays. Time for a break!

Oh! I did finally get a synopsis up for my MFA thesis and literary YA contemporary novel, RED SKY:

Two years after being raped, 17-year-old Audrey Winters feels like her life is finally stabilizing. Then her best friend Graham declares his supposed love, her mother announces her engagement, and her new lifeguarding job becomes almost too much to handle. Somehow she finds the courage to keep it all together, but when she runs into her attacker at work—as a fellow employee—Audrey must decide just how brave she is.

*Edit: Oh, I forgot that I now have to wear glasses all the time! (But I’m not a good candidate for contacts.) I’ve been glasses wearer for years, starting in 4th grade, and when I got to like 8th grade I refused to wear them except for studying, etc. Then in college I got a new prescription and was admonished to wear them only when reading, on the computer, driving, etc. Well, I went in a few weeks ago for the first time in five years and I’ve been upgraded to a certified Four-Eyed Geek. I don’t mind though. I really like my frames, and I’ve kinda always wanted to be someone who wore their glasses all the time anyway. :)

Here’s my new look!

me

How’s your week going? I hope fabulously.