Monthly Archive: November 2015

November, briefly

I’ll be honest: November has been a bit of a roller-coaster month, with pretty sharp ups and downs. I started the month feeling super-positive, but when a lot of things on my to-do list piled up, I started getting anxious and stressed. A particularly frantic moment inspired me to write this post and led to a mini-break from writing to focus on things not on my to-do list… Namely, shopping, wine, and long walks. I came out of my writing break feeling refreshed and eager to write new words. If you’re a writer struggling with burnout, my advice is to not feel guilty about taking some time away. I’m not going to lie, I struggled with guilt at first, but now I can see that it was the absolute best thing for my mental state. And November turned into a pretty awesome month.

This month, I have been…

One of the highlights of my November– a hike at Fanshawe Conservation Area.

Working on: I’m a huge fan of NaNoWriMo. I love fast-drafting and the excitement radiating off the whole writing community, and there was a new idea percolating in my head, so I went for it. I didn’t tell many people I was NaNo-ing. I didn’t do word sprints on Twitter and I wasn’t public about it like I normally am. I guess you could say I was a ninja NaNo-er? Either way, after my writing break, I was way behind on my word count, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to “win.” But I love nothing more than a challenge, and I’m proud to say I passed the 50K mark and have a shiny first draft of a book I’ve been describing in my head as “trouble.” Well, it’s not all that shiny. It’s kind of tarnished and rough around the edges, but it’s words on pages and those words make up a book-shaped thing that I’m excited to start revising.

Reading: November has been another stellar reading month. I started out by reading my Sixteen to Read sister Shannon Parker’s THE GIRL WHO FELL, a book I had been deliriously craving since what felt like forever. And… wow. Shannon’s writing is electric, her characters vividly real. THE GIRL WHO FELL is the story of Zephyr Doyle, a senior who has life mapped out– until cute new boy Alec shows up at school and turns her world upside down. She thinks she’s in love– but love isn’t supposed to make her feel bad, and it’s not supposed to hurt. Zephyr’s story is both heartbreaking and hopeful and I know this book will leave a huge indent in the YA world.

Next, I read Kerry Kletter’s THE FIRST TIME SHE DROWNED, another debut I had been (very impatiently) waiting for. I went in with high expectations, all of which were shattered to pieces. This story is about a lot of things– losing yourself, finding yourself, first love, second chances– but centers around a very tenuous and toxic mother-daughter relationship wherein secrets are buried so deep they can’t be seen from the surface– so deep that the main character, Cassie, can’t bring herself to remember them. Kerry’s writing is lyrical, poetic, and strikingly original. This is a book I’ll read more than once and pick out new details every time.

I finished the month with Kathryn Purdie’s BURNING GLASS. I tend to read less fantasy than contemporary, but the premise for this book hooked me right away. (Plus, the cover is so stunning!) The main character, Sonya, is an Auraseer– she is gifted with being able to feel the emotions of those around her. But when she’s tasked with serving the emperor and sensing the intentions of would-be assassins, Sonya is thrown into a world where she has to figure out who she can trust and how to harness her powers. I was immediately swept up in the magic, the lush setting, and the romance of this gorgeous book.

Watching: My husband and I finished Scandal and were in a bit of a Netflix funk until we started Wentworth, an Australian drama set in a women’s prison. I started out comparing it to Orange is the New Black (and missing my favorite character, Crazy Eyes), but after a couple episodes, I definitely like it as much, if not more. There are obvious similarities– including glimpses into the lives of the women prior to prison– but lots of differences too. Wentworth feels grittier and darker to me, which I love. I’m looking forward to watching more (aka binge-watching the rest of the episodes, since I have no self-control when it comes to Netflix).

Well, that’s my November in a nutshell. Now that the colder weather and snow have arrived (sob), I’m getting excited for the upcoming Christmas rituals– decorating our tree, watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Scrooged, baking this delicious and addictive treat, and scrambling to get my shopping done. It’s really hard to believe that FIRSTS comes out in just over a month (!!!), and that 2016 is almost here. But in the meantime, I’m going to squeeze all the fun I can out of what’s left of 2015!

Oh, and stay tuned… there’s some really fun stuff related to FIRSTS that I’ll be sharing very soon!

Teaser Tuesday #2

Welcome to Teaser Tuesday! Today, I’m sharing another one of my favorite quotes from FIRSTS. I still remember the night I sat down to write the first chapter. It was late and I was tired, but my brain was fired up. The words tumbled out and the scene unfolded exactly how it was in my head, and I had this feeling, like this book is different. I have to write the rest. This quote was always the end of the first chapter– it didn’t change at all from the first draft to the final book.

Enjoy! And come back next Tuesday for another fun quote!

 

#SixteensBlogAbout: Gratitude

This month, the Sweet Sixteens are blogging about gratitude. Any time is a great time to think of all the things you appreciate, but for me, no time is better than right now. With FIRSTS coming out in less than two months, gratitude is something that has taken on a greater meaning than ever to me. The truth is, it can be hard to get off the roller coaster, to stop and put things in perspective. But it’s also extremely important.

I’m not grateful that winter is coming, but I do love mornings like this.

I’m grateful for so much this year. I’m grateful to be in this position, one I dreamed about for years. I’m about to be a published author. My book will be on actual bookshelves in actual stores and actual people will read it who aren’t just my mom (love you, Mom)! I’m grateful to be working with such a dedicated team of rock-star people who believe in me and this book.

I’m grateful for my fellow debut authors, with whom I’ve grown close. They’re confidantes and friends and some of the most wonderful people I know. I’m grateful for their brilliant minds and generous spirits and listening ears and creative brains and most of all, their huge hearts.

I’m grateful for the whole kidlit community. The authors I admire who have said such wonderful things about FIRSTS. The bloggers who have shown so much love for FIRSTS, who have shared their support with insurmountable enthusiasm and kindness. I’m beyond grateful for this letter, which moved me to tears. (Thank you, Jamie Victoria!)

I’m grateful to my friends and family for putting up with me. For my parents, for always being proud of me and doing so much to make my life easier (thank you for all the leftovers… I swear, I’ll learn to cook one of these years). I’m grateful to have a sister who’s also my best friend and loves wine as much as I do, and a soon-to-be brother-in-law whose positive attitude is infectious. I’m grateful for a certain sister-in-law who may be more excited for FIRSTS to be out than I am (hi, Suzanne!) I’m eternally grateful for my husband, who gives me the space I need to create and loves me no matter how grumpy I am before my morning coffee. (And that’s a high level of grump, folks.) I’m grateful to my dog for sharing her lap space with my computer and making me laugh with her crazy antics.

Yes, I have a lot for which to be grateful. I’m grateful for creating new words and revising old ones. Most of all, I’m grateful for this journey—what has already happened and what’s to come. Because I honestly wouldn’t trade a single misstep, a single bump in the road, for anything.

Introducing: Teaser Tuesdays!

Happy Tuesday, everyone! Well, to be honest, I always thought the concept of a Happy Tuesday was an oxymoron. For me, Tuesday is the one day during which the week feels interminable– sure, Monday’s over with, but it’s still way too far from Friday. I thought Tuesdays could use a bit of spicing up… and there just so happen to be seven Tuesdays left until FIRSTS releases, so it feels like serendipity. Every Tuesday from now until January 5, I’ll be sharing one of my favorite lines from the book. Without further ado, here’s the first (haha) teaser!

And to kick off the series, there’s a prize! Enter below to win this pair of custom-made “Sodium Chloride” earrings that have a very special meaning to the story. (Giveaway is international!)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There’s no crying over spilled words

So, I have a confession to make: On Friday, I cried over a grocery list.

It wasn’t the thought of all the meals I would inevitably burn that brought on the waterworks. It wasn’t the prospect of vegetables going bad in my fridge because I know I’ll reach for the chips instead every single time. It wasn’t even the vision of the crowded grocery store and excessively long checkout line. No, it was just a really random breaking point in a stressful day—one more thing to do on top of my already massive to-do list. I broke down and cried and my husband hugged me and refrained from making a joke about my cooking.

Confidence: The most essential ingredient of all.

Confidence: The most essential ingredient of all.

I’m sure I’m not the only debut author who has been there. As our release dates near, we’re sensitive and emotional, excited and anxious, sometimes moody (ahem, me before my coffee), and busy, busy, busy. Our attention is scattered across social media platforms, we’re writing blog posts, and working on new writing projects in our free moments. We’re reading ARCs like fiends and trying desperately to juggle book stuff with jobs, families, and social lives. We’re doing the best we can.

After the tears dried up, I had a realization: I’m sucking the fun out of it. I’m the one putting pressure on myself. I’m the one telling myself to get things done the second they come in, to immediately tackle every new item that comes up. I’m the one making my to-do list a do-it-now list.

So in the end, that cry was a great thing for me. It was cathartic. My to-do list isn’t pressing against my skull like a bad headache anymore. It’s there, and I’ll get to it when I get to it. In the meantime, I’ll make time for what takes my stress away. Things that aren’t on the list. Fast-drafting new projects. Drinks with friends. Long walks in the woods. Doing the morning crossword. Binging on Netflix with pizza and my own family-sized box of fries from Dominos (seriously, whose family does that feed)?

So yes, sometimes there is crying in writing. And that’s okay. As long as you wipe away those tears after, take a deep breath, and remind yourself that what you’re doing is enough. That you’re enough. That, in fact, you’re pretty freaking awesome.

Now, go get those groceries and make that crockpot meal you’ve been meaning to try. You have time.

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