Monthly Archive: August 2015

August, briefly

It’s hard to believe summer’s coming to an end. (I say that every summer, but this time I really mean it!) August has been a pretty challenging month for me—challenging to balance everything and challenging to get the work done that I set out to do. But there have also been some amazing and surreal moments. My ARCs arrived, which was one of the greatest-ever author experiences for me, and it’s so cool to know that FIRSTS is being read by bloggers and reviewers already! I’m truly honored and grateful for everyone who wants to read it… thank you!

Some backyard revising.

Some backyard revising.

Working on: I’m in the process or ordering swag and prizes for various FIRSTS giveaways that will start happening soon, plus planning other secret FIRSTS stuff. This has been a lot of fun, and I’m excited to be able to share more with everyone soon! Other than FIRSTS-related things, I’m revising a WIP and working on first drafts of two other new projects. The time I have carved out to free write every day has made a huge difference in my mindset, and it’s great to experience that first draft excitement and sense of possibility again!

Reading: To say that August has been a good reading month would be an understatement. I started the month with ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers. Ever since I read SOME GIRLS ARE, Courtney Summers has been an insta-buy author for me. I had a feeling ALL THE RAGE was going to be an incredibly special read, and all of my expectations were blown away. It’s the story of Romy, a girl from the wrong side of town who has been branded a liar after exposing the truth about golden boy Kellan Turner. This wasn’t an easy read: Romy’s story is at times brutal and unflinching, but I think it’s important that parts of the story are hard to read, because Courtney Summers isn’t sugar-coating anything. She writes with honesty, integrity, and the authenticity that her characters deserve. There are so many teenage girls like Romy, girls hurting in so many ways. Girls who have been wounded physically or emotionally or both. Girls afraid to speak up, or girls afraid that nobody will believe them if they do. Romy wears lipstick and nail polish like armor to defend herself against a world that keeps beating her down, to arm herself against a world that calls her a liar and sticks her with labels to dehumanize her and make her less than a person. This book will make you think, and that’s good. We should all be thinking about girls like Romy. Because girls can be torn down so much easier than they can be built back up, and that’s not okay.

I also read MORE THAN FASHION, the latest in Elizabeth Briggs’s CHASING THE DREAM series. I love this series, and especially how each book features a different character and can be read on its own without having previously read the others. MORE THAN FASHION is Julie’s story, and the scene is Behind the Seams, a reality show much like Project Runway. Julie is my favorite character so far in the entire series: she’s bold and unapologetic and owns her sexuality, and I really like the evolution of her relationship with Gavin. If you’re looking to read more NA, I highly recommend this series. It’s the perfect mixture of funny and sexy, the right combination of drama and tears and humor.

I received an ARC of my critique partner Emily Martin’s debut, THE YEAR WE FELL APART, as part of the Sweet Sixteens book tour. I have known Emily since Pitch Wars in 2014, when we were both part of Team Evelyn. Emily and I became CPs after the contest, and I read an early draft of the book that would become THE YEAR WE FELL APART. After reading the final version, my heart felt wrecked and put back together at the same time. I’ll be posting a longer review of this one later, but for now, all I have to say is… PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY! Gorgeous writing, a swoony, intense, complicated romance, and the messy reality of making mistakes and learning forgiveness. It’s stunning.

Watching: The background noise for my writing this month has largely been Dragon’s Den reruns on Netflix. I love Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank or any show where entrepreneurs are showcased—I admire anyone who can put themselves out there, and I love seeing the different inventions that people conjure up!

While I’m a bit sad to see August go, I’m starting to get the teensiest bit antsy for fall– for boots and pumpkin pie-flavored everything and crisp air and the changing leaves in the woods. Enjoy the last days of summer, everyone!

#SixteensBlogAbout: Writing Spaces

This month, the Sweet Sixteens are blogging about writing spaces. This topic is near and dear to me, since my concept of what makes a writing space has changed a lot over the last couple of years.

I wrote FIRSTS on my trusty Windows Surface tablet, which was perched on a lap desk while I reclined on the couch. (I feel like this is one of the many reasons why I have terrible posture.) Before my husband and I moved into our house, I didn’t have an official “writing space” in our apartment, so I wrote wherever I could. Sometimes in front of Breaking Bad marathons, sometimes at the kitchen table, sometimes on my bed, always with my furry little BFF on my lap. I fantasized about having an office of my own.

One of my many writing spaces.

One of my many writing spaces.

The week I got an offer of representation from my amazing agent was the same week we moved into our first house. My office was the first thing I unpacked, and I couldn’t wait to start writing there. The timing was perfect. I felt so official! So grown up! So much like an author! Over the year, my office evolved a lot. My husband got me a super-comfortable desk chair and I put up photos and started a bookshelf entirely dedicated to books by my awesome author friends. My office is where I would be spending hours and hours of my time, so it had to have the right vibe. And I love it there, especially when it’s warm enough to open the windows and let fresh air in.

But… I still write while sitting on the couch sometimes. Because as much as I adore my office, I need a change of scenery every so often. (Plus, my dog prefers when I’m on the couch, because that means she gets to stretch out on my legs.) And this summer, my “office” has more often than not been my backyard deck in the evening, with a glass of wine and a view of our garden.

The truth is, I don’t think of a writing space in static terms anymore. A writing space is anywhere, and mine changes all the time. A writing space happens in the cafeteria on my lunch break at work. A writing space happens in the Notes app on my phone while I’m walking. A writing space happens when I scribble in a notebook (and hope I can decipher my writing later). Sometimes a writing space even happens solely in my head, when I don’t have anything to write with but get struck by a thought I want to remember later.

The main thing I want to feel as a writer is that I can write anywhere. The circumstances don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to be in my super-comfortable desk chair with the American Beauty soundtrack playing and a full mug of coffee beside me (although I certainly won’t complain if that happens!). I don’t need to be “inspired” by my surroundings to get words on the page. I can be anywhere, doing anything. Because I’m a writer, and my ultimate writing space is my imagination.

The Day The ARCs Arrived

It was a moment I had been dreaming about ever since I got a book deal. (Okay, if I’m being honest… way before that.) I had imagined what FIRSTS would possibly look like in book form at least a thousand times. I pictured the cover, the pages, how it would feel in my hands. I imagined how it would smell. (Side note: I smell everything.) And last week, I got an email from my editor letting me know that the ARCs had landed. I’m not going to lie… I flailed.

Group hug with my book babies!

Group hug with my book babies!

Then on Thursday, I opened the door to take my dog for a walk, and… well, let’s just say the walk never happened, because there at my doorstep was the glorious package I had been waiting for! (That sounds kind of dirty, doesn’t it? Not meant that way, folks.)

I’d like to say I was refined and didn’t rip it open like a spoiled little kid at Christmastime, but… I was totally that spoiled little kid. As my dog sat and stared at me, wondering why I wasn’t paying attention to her anymore, I lined up my beautiful ARCs and set up their first photo shoot on my kitchen table. (Since my husband is on vacation, getting myself in the picture with the books was a challenge!) Then I drove to my parents’ house because they wanted to see their ARC grandbabies in person. I had a glass of champagne to celebrate and my sister and her fiancé showed up and everyone oohed and aahed over the new book babies (and my parents might have cried when they read the acknowledgements).

This whole process—from the very first (pun always intended) time I thought of the idea for my book, to getting chosen for Pitch Wars, to signing with my amazing agent and going on submission and getting a book deal—has been awesome and crazy and fun and exciting and at times, also stressful. Every milestone along the way has been more amazing than the one before it. So many epic things have happened this year. Edits happened. FIRSTS got a stunning, perfect cover. Copyedits happened. Foreign rights were sold. I found out what first pass pages were and they happened, too. But seeing my words, my characters, my name between the pages of a book? That was basically the coolest feeling ever. I’m so beyond excited to share my book baby with the world.

You could say that on the day the ARCs arrived, I was a proud book mom indeed.

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing more about the exciting FIRSTS stuff I have lined up… so stay tuned!

xo Laurie

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