Friday, February 5, 2016

My blog has MOVED!

To everyone who has been following my journey so far, I am so thankful! But I wanted to let you all know that I've decided to move my blog/website here:

I hope you will continue to follow me on my journey :)

Thanks again for the past four awesome years on this site!


Monday, February 1, 2016

Drafting, glasses, & my latest obsessions, oh my!

I'm back at drafting my next WIP and it feels awesome but scary at the same time! I haven't drafted since April when I wrote Diamond Queen so it always feels new and different when I get back at it again. Drafting is a different kind of animal compared to revising and editing, but the best way I go about it is to flash draft (which averages about 4-6 weeks depending on the idea). To keep myself accountable I aim for a daily word count of 2K. I can't always make the 2K, but if by the end of the week I can get to 15K, I'm happy.

And it just so happens that I met my goal for week 1!

Now, I just need to keep at this pace and I'll be golden (as long as I can keep my internal editor in check).

This past week was also strange because I was getting used to my new prescription glasses. This is my first time ever wearing glasses so it came with a learning curve. At first it made me really nauseous, and now my eye won't stop twitching. Oh well, you lose some you win some, I guess.

I've also tried to keep my distractions at a minimum so that I can focus on drafting, but who am I kidding. My latest obsessions? Orphan Black, Wolf by Wolf, and trying new things.

Have you ever had a multi-grain latte? According to my barista, it's pretty common in Japan and Korea, but it was totally new to me. It has no coffee in it whatsoever, but was marketed as a protein-filled-afternoon-productivity-boost (her words, not mine!). I managed to get 1K words in after drinking it, so I guess it worked?

Also, these donut holes with coconut cream. There's no significance to them, except that they were delicious!

Also had a date with this stud who introduced me to SOMM: Into the bottle, a neat documentary about what goes into wine. Spoiler: it's not just grapes!

How was your week? What's your current read or latest obsession? Comment below!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Big Magic & A Shiny New Idea

Good morning Mondaayyyyy!

Ok, really. I'm not that chipper, but I am trying to be more positive. Post-Pitch Wars writing has been tough. I had started on this neat idea, but then life got a little busy around December and January with vacation and wedding planning, making it so difficult to return to said idea. That's why I truly believe in flash drafts. For me, I need to blast through that first draft before I lose the spark. Once I get it down though, I'm able to keep the spark burning by reworking and molding it into my vision.

So speaking of sparks and ideas, it's really difficult to get one of those suckers that makes your whole heart swoon. After vacation, I kind of felt like a lost lamb. I had no motivation to write, because everything that came out of my fingertips seemed no good. In truth, I was becoming really critical with myself instead of allowing myself some creative freedom in the first draft.

My awesome CP Krystal (who has been with me throughout my whole writing angst the past year--bless her kind soul) recommended that I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.


And I'm so glad I did. I rate this a solid 4! Here's a quick blurb:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

At times it was a bit quirky, but Gilbert's idea of inspiration resonated within me and her words were comforting and encouraging. After reading, it changed my perspective on what it means to live a creative life. For instance, I had this deep desire to be validated for my writing (and that meant getting an agent), that I became so obsessed with wondering what an agent or the market would want to read instead of digging deep and figuring out what I wanted to write.

At the same time, I was really struggling with the possibility of failing. What if everything I wrote amounted to nothing. No matter how many manuscripts I wrote and revised, what if none of them were published? Would all of that time spent be a waste? Before reading the book, I would have answered yes. Now after, I would say no. Because I write for myself, and no amount of validation would bring me the same joy like getting a scene just right, or nailing down my last sentence and writing 'The End' after. And that's what creative living is all about, doing something you love and enjoy that enriches your days.

Another thing that hit home was Gilbert's advice to not expect financial reward for creativity, because nothing kills creativity more than depending on it to provide for your lifestyle. So yeah, I'd really love a career in writing, but I'm level-headed enough to know not to expect that, because if I do, I'll be taking all the joy out of something I love.

Once I finished the book on Friday, I felt more at peace with myself and free to create whatever I wanted. And a mere hour later, I was hit with this image in my mind that grew into a shiny new idea. So I went home and brainstormed and thought to myself, this is what I want to write.

Yesterday, I started the first draft and wrote 2300 words. It's kind of different from what I've written before and the main protagonist so adorkable and endearing that I'm excited to see her character arc and story blossom before me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hawaii & Beach Reads

Wow January, look at you go! You are seriously flashing before my eyes.

It's been awhile since I've blogged, but I am back from my Hawaii vacation and ready to catch up with you all. Vacation consisted of beaching, reading, eating, drinking, and wedding planning! I am happy to report that Michael and I have set the date for our destination wedding next year. Here's a glimpse of my time on the island:


During my time there, I read four books and just had to recommend to you YA lovers:

Overview: The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town. No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear. 

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive?

Review: This book was recommended by my friend Michella (who is a fabulous book blogger) and I'm so glad I checked it out. I'd rate this a solid 4 due to Summers execution of the story (it read like a mystery to me, but kept the contemporary feel, so I can appreciate the genre blend). This is the kind of book that really sinks its claws into you with its gritty realness, so not for the faint of heart. If you like Thirteen Reasons Why, you may like this one too. It's different in style from Asher's book, but it definitely packs a punch in the gut.

Overview: Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High... until vicious rumors about her—and her best friend's boyfriend—start going around.  Now Regina's been frozen out, and her ex-best friends are out for revenge.  If Regina were guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth, and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past whom she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn't come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend...if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don't break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens, as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.

Review: Solid 4.5 stars on this one. I could not put this down. I read it in one sitting and was completely riveted by it all. In my opinion, this is Summers at her best. I loved the complexity of the characters all involved, the plot line, and pacing. This is dark and edgy contemporary perfection and is now one of my favorite books.

Overview: Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

Review: This was hard to get into after reading Some Girls Are, but I felt like it was a solid read. 3 stars on this one because of the complex nature of the story and how it handled the subject. This one was definitely a character-driven story, so if you're into that you may enjoy it.

Overview: Jo Montfort is beautiful and rich, and soon—like all the girls in her class—she’ll graduate from finishing school and be married off to a wealthy bachelor. Which is the last thing she wants. Jo secretly dreams of becoming a writer—a newspaper reporter like the trailblazing Nellie Bly.

Wild aspirations aside, Jo’s life seems perfect until tragedy strikes: her father is found dead. Charles Montfort accidentally shot himself while cleaning his revolver. One of New York City’s wealthiest men, he owned a newspaper and was partner in a massive shipping firm, and Jo knows he was far too smart to clean a loaded gun.

The more Jo uncovers about her father’s death, the more her suspicions grow. There are too many secrets. And they all seem to be buried in plain sight. Then she meets Eddie—a young, brash, infuriatingly handsome reporter at her father’s newspaper—and it becomes all too clear how much she stands to lose if she keeps searching for the truth. Only now it might be too late to stop.

The past never stays buried forever. Life is dirtier than Jo Montfort could ever have imagined, and the truth is the dirtiest part of all.

Review: I'm 3/4ths done with this, but I will count this in my beach reads post since I started it at the beach. This is a solid four. A great thrilling mystery with feisty characters. The historical aspect is done nicely and I found the writing enjoyable. I'd consider this a 'fun' read if you want something light, but interesting.