Ready. Set. WRITE! First week update

Ready. Set. WRITE! is a summer writing intensive that encourages goal-setting and RSW2015accountability, and provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at with our writing projects—planning, drafting, revising, or polishing.  This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerJaime MorrowErin FunkElodie Nowodazkij, and Katy Upperman. All the details are HERE.

It’s time for the first update of RSW!

1.  How I did on last week’s goals: Pretty well. My goals were to spend an hour a day on revisions (accomplished five of seven days!); visit the blogs of as many of the other RSWers as possible (umm, I visited a handful – not as many as I’d planned); spend minimal time watching TV (done!); spend minimal time on the internet (did really well on this – I finally downloaded the Freedom app.)

2.  My goals for this week.

  • Spend at least one hour, five days on reviewing and revisions in my WIP.
  • Visit the blogs of at least 10 other RSWers.
  • Spend one hour a day or less on TV.
  • Spend one hour a day or less on internet.

3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised: A good word that sums up my progress this week: Finished! At least for this round. Now I need to do another full read-through before sending it off to my beta reader.

4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write): My old friend procrastination. 🙂 Even though I did well on TV and internet time, there’s always other stuff to divert my attention!

5.  Something I love about my WiP: I was working on the last pages of the WiP this week and much of it has to do with letting go of the past and forgiving yourself. It’s an interesting topic to dig into. I’ve got a pretty boring past (at least, a lot more boring than my characters!) so it’s interesting to think about how you would go about forgiving yourself if you had done some truly horrendous things in your past.

How did your week of writing and/or revising go?

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Ready. Set. WRITE! 2015 – I mean it this time!

It’s time again for Ready. Set. WRITE! This couldn’t come at a better time to motivate me RSW2015to make some headway on my final revisions of THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS. The YA Buccaneers Spring Writing Boot Camp just finished and I really did not do well on that. Life has been crazy lately. Case in point: I actually wrote a “Currently…” blog post for last week and then completely forgot to post it! This probably is a good thing because I wouldn’t have had time to visit other blogs last week or interact with anyone leaving a comment on my blog. HOWEVER! This week, things have slowed down and I anticipate smooth sailing ahead. (Famous last words, right?)

So, here I go with Ready. Set. WRITE! It’s a summer writing intensive that provides great support and camaraderie and no small measure of accountability! 🙂 If you want to know more about it, how it’s run and where to sign up, visit this post on Jaime Morrow’s page. (She also did the awesome button above – and several others – because she’s cool like that.)

My Ready. Set. WRITE! goals for the summer:

  • Finish this round of revisions for TWoHF by the end of June (I have a beta reader patiently waiting!)
  • While waiting for notes back from my beta reader, write at least an hour a day on another WIP I started on a while ago and am anxious to get back to, tentatively titled FALLING.
  • Get back to blogging more and interacting with others on their blogs more often!
  • Spend ZERO time watching TV (okay, maybe at least cut back to a couple hours a week).
  • Spend ONLY one hour a day on the internet!

My goals for this week:

  • Spend an hour a day on revisions for TWoHF.
  • Visit the blogs of as many of the other RSWers as possible to say “howdy!” and “good luck!”
  • Spend minimal time watching TV (try to talk hubby into cancelling cable… a recurring discussion at my house).
  • Spend minimal time on the internet.

If you are joining Ready. Set. WRITE! (or even if you’re not) leave me a note and say hello!

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Currently…

Happy Tuesday! Today I’m giving something new a whirl. In the void left by What’s Up Wednesday, Katy Upperman has started an every-other-Tuesday entry called “Currently…” Thanks, Katy!

You should jump in on the fun, too! 🙂

Loving

Spring! There is a rabbit’s nest in my front yard and a bird’s nest in my back yard. Soon there will be babies everywhere! 🙂 I hope to have some photos soon.

Reading

I just finished The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. I really struggled through almost the whole first half because it just wasn’t moving fast enough for me. But in the end, it pulled me in and I gave it four stars. It was such a unique story and style of writing. I really liked it!

I just started on The Chaos of Stars by Kiersten White. I have read lots of mixed reviews on this one but so far, so good!

My book club this month picked out The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins and I can’t wait to get to it. I’ve been hearing great things about this book for a while.

Watching

Not a whole lot since hubby and I have been testing out getting rid of cable. But, I did binge-watch Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt on Netflix. 🙂 If you have a twisted sense of humor like me… this is the show for you. One of the creators is Tina Fey. I really hope there will be a second season!

Thinking About

How to push myself harder to achieve my YA Buccaneers Spring Writing Bootcamp goals. My main goal is to finish this round of revisions on my WIP. It is slow going, though. Work is busy and the last couple weekends have been crazy. Excuses much? Yeah, I need to push myself harder.

Anticipating

So, I bought tickets for my daughter and myself to NerdCon: Stories in October in Minneapolis and the more time I have to let this sink in, the more I realize how completely amazing this is going to be! I have never been to a con of any kind. I’ve been to a few book signings. But this? Maggie Stiefvater, Maureen Johnson, Hank Green, John Green, Rainbow Rowell, John Scalzi, Patrick Rothfuss, all kinds of people associated with Welcome to Nightvale…. my head may just explode!

Wishing

There were more hours in the day? How do I make that happen? Does anyone have one of those Harry Potter time turners? 🙂

Making Me Happy

My girls. Last weekend was a local fundraiser for the music boosters in which my eldest sang a solo, a duet and a group song. She was pretty awesome (I’m biased). This past weekend was the spring show for my younger daughter’s dance class. So much energy all in one building! Woo!

How are you doing this week?

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Greetings, goals and good reads

Greetings!

Happy Wednesday! I hope you (like myself) had a great Easter (if you celebrate it) and (unlike myself) managed to restrain yourself from all the goodies around you  and didn’t end up with a stomach ache. 😦 I really thought I was being smart by buying non-chocolate goodies for my kids because if it doesn’t have chocolate, I’m less inclined to indulge. Somehow, chocolate found it’s way into my house anyhow.

But, hey, it’s in the past, right?! Hahaha… we can just ignore that extra five pounds and I’m sure they’ll just slide right off like they never even happened! La la la!!

Onward!

Goals

Onward to Spring Writing Bootcamp with YA Buccaneers! I joined the pirates last year in their Spring Writing Bootcamp and it was wonderfully motivating. I honestly don’t recall if I met all my goals at the time, but I do remember getting more done than I would have without them. And that’s worth something!

This year, my one main goal is to finish this round of revisions on my current project: THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS. This round of revisions includes technical stuff and incorporating suggestions from my CPs. The next (and – I hope – final) round of revisions would be just a final read through and any final tweaks. Reading out loud, looking for any words that I used a million times too many, etc.

Are you joining the YA Buccaneers Spring Writing Bootcamp? Or just doing your own kind of goal push this spring? What are your goals?

Good Reads

I have been on a lucky streak in the last couple weeks with my reading! I love it when that happens. 🙂 All the links below go to the book description on Goodreads.

ATLANTIA by Ally Condie

I think I actually liked this better than all three of her Matched books. And I liked that it is a standalone. Not everything has to be a series! I liked the premise and I’m always a sucker for a post-apocalyptic setting. I also appreciated the uniqueness of this setting. It was enjoyable and a nice, easy read. I gave it four stars.

A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU (Firebird #1) by Claudia Gray

I have to admit, when I read the description for this book, I was skeptical. Jumping into parallel universes? How, exactly, does one make that work and sound believable? But Claudia Gray did a great job. I liked the main character and the whole family. It reminded me a little of A WRINKLE IN TIME and that whole series – two brilliant scientist parents, and their daughter who hasn’t quite figured out her place in the world. The way the science and their work kind of seeps into the family life. Four stars for this one, too. I look forward to the next book in the series.

TELL THE WOLVES I’M HOME by Carol Rifka Brunt

This one was a Book Club pick this month and it was one of the better Book Club picks in the last few months. I really liked the style of writing and the way the characters are interwoven in such a complex way. It’s set in the 80s, so that was kind of fun, too. It was interesting to think back to that time and try to remember what it was like when AIDs was such a huge topic and all over the news constantly. It’s funny how you barely hear about it anymore. I’m looking forward to this discussion at Book Club next week. This one got four stars from me, too.

THE STRANGE AND BEAUTIFUL SORROWS OF AVA LAVENDER by Leslye Walton

Oh man, where do I start with this one. I gave it five stars and I wish I could give it more. How’s that? More details? Okay! The book description includes this: “Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.” I read somewhere that this was magical realism done right and I totally agree with that. It reminded me a lot of a Neil Gaiman story in that it’s just the right balance of magical realism. The language was so gorgeous I just wanted to wrap myself up in it. It’s humorous and dark and painful and beautiful. At first, it struck me as odd that the title character wasn’t even born until about 40 percent into the book. But the story and the characters sucked me in so quickly that I didn’t care. It really is a story about more than the title character anyhow. I checked it out of the library but I will end up buying it because I know I’ll read it again and again.

Coming off such a high with Ava Lavender, I decided to jump into another highly recommended magical realism story. I just started THE NIGHT CIRCUS by Erin Morgenstern.

What are you reading? Have you read any of my recs? Thoughts?

I hope you’re having a great week!

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What’s Up Wednesday: Back on Track!

What’s Up Wednesday is the brain child of Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. Join the fun WUWSnowy Houseson your own blog and then go to Jaime’s or Erin’s to add your link – it’s a great way to share what’s going on in your life and get to know other bloggers!

What I’m Reading

I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump (not that I haven’t read anything good but that I haven’t read much of anything). I recently finished UNCLAIMED by Laurie Wetzel, who I met in person at a signing and seemed like a top-notch kind of person. The book was great, too. 🙂
I am working my way through TRANS SISTER RADIO by Chris Bohjalian for Book Club. In a nutshell, it’s about transgender people and relationships, etc. I am struggling because I think the book would be more interesting if there was less anatomy and more psychology, or if the book revolved more around the human emotional investment in this kind of decision. I mean, that’s in there, too. But some of it feels too “clinical” to me. In any case, it’s an interesting read.
What I’m Writing (plus one writing goal)

Still moving along with revisions on THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS. As you’ll see below in “What Else is New” I’ve been all off-kilter in the last few weeks. Everyone’s been sick, blah, blah, blah. This winter is really starting to bring me down. But I’m getting back on track this week and have done several nights of revisions in a row. The goal this week is to keep working on revisions at least an hour each night.

What Works for Me

Good notes! I wasn’t really sure how to handle the pages and pages of revisions from my fabulous CPs when I first got their notes back. I ended up writing pages of notes with the page numbers so that I could combine all four of their comments together into one handwritten document. Then I can have the satisfaction of slashing happily through those notes when I have taken care of them! 🙂 I’m curious to know what works for other people when they have notes back from multiple CPs? Anyone?

What Else is New

I haven’t posted in a few weeks, which is a good thing for anyone who happens to read this blog because it would’ve been all: “My husband’s sick… I’m sick… the kids are sick… the dog ate my daughter’s valentine’s candy… I hate the cold… wah, wah, wah.”

And if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll have seen whiny tweets like these:

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So. That’s what’s been going on but this week I’m BACK ON TRACK. For real. And you know what else? Temps in my area next week are supposed to get into the 50s! Woo-hoo!

What’s up with you?

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What’s Up Wednesday: Keep on Keepin’ On

What’s Up Wednesday is the brain child of Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. Join the fun WUWSnowy Houseson your own blog and then go to Jaime’s or Erin’s to add your link – it’s a great way to share what’s going on in your life and get to know other bloggers!

What I’m Reading

I finished PRODIGY by Marie Lu and started on the last in the trilogy: CHAMPION. Excellent series all the way through! It really felt a lot different than many other dystopian series.

I also ready AMERICAN SNIPER… but only because it was a Book Club pick. I would’ve given up on it after about the first chapter if it hadn’t been a Book Club selection. I won’t go into a whole lot about it because people (including myself) have pretty strong opinions about this book and the movie and I don’t want to start a rumble here on the blog! 🙂 But, I will say that the subject matter wasn’t the only thing that I didn’t like about the book. The style in which it was written is annoying and I would really like to know why he has two co-authors listed but yet his wife gets no co-author credit when she clearly contributed much to the story.

Anyhoodle… next up will be a book I picked up at a book signing at my local library: UNCLAIMED by Laurie Wetzel. Looks like a great book and it’s getting lots of love on Goodreads. And it’s a local author so… yay!

What I’m Writing (plus one writing goal)

Revisions on THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS continue to move ahead. I’ve felt more productive in the last couple weeks than I have in a long time. Unfortunately, that also means that I’ve really tallied up all the revisions that need to be made in order for this MS to feel complete. It is not a short list, y’all! But at the same time, I am excited because, looking back through all the notes from various CPs, I just know that if I take the time to follow their brilliant advice, the story will be that much better. Thanks, awesome CPs!! 🙂

My goal for the next two weeks is to keep on keepin’ on. In other words, same goal as last time: at least an hour of revision time each evening on TWoHF.

What Works for Me

A good writing space! Part of the reason I’ve been so productive in the last week or so is that I have been working on putting together a writing space – a space all my own. What a concept! It’s still a work in progress and my daughter is working on a painting with an inspirational quote for my space so I hope to post pics next time.

What Else is New

It’s time to re-charge! Writer Recharge is your chance for a four-week jump start in the middle of a cold, dreary winter. This is a great mid-winter boost is hosted by Katy Upperman, Alison Miller, Liz Parker, Elodie Nowodazkij, and Sara BirenSet goals for yourself, check in once a week, and connect with other recharging writers.  Go to any of their blogs to find out more and to sign up. (I haven’t gotten that far yet but I AM going to sign up!)

Other than that, not a whole lot going on. Just a lot of running in a hunched-up, try-to-not-freeze mode from my house to my car… car to my job… job to my car… car to the grocery store… you get the idea. 🙂

What’s up with you?

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What’s Up Wednesday: Finding a new groove

What’s Up Wednesday is the brain child of Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. Join the fun WUWSnowy Houseson your own blog and then go to Jaime’s or Erin’s to add your link – it’s a great way to share what’s going on in your life and get to know other bloggers!

What I’m Reading

I cruised through LEGEND by Marie Lu and loved it. I moved directly on to the next one in the series: PRODIGY.

I also read a couple easy, on-the-side kind of books: HELP, THANKS, WOW: The Three Essential Prayers) by Anne Lamott and THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo (the title is almost longer than the book!). Both were okay – I gave them each three stars. This was the first book that I’ve read by Anne Lamott read and I’ve always meant to read BIRD BY BIRD. I enjoyed her style and I’ll definitely read something by her again. I just felt that there was a lot of repetition and the whole book could’ve been shorter. As for the tidying up book… I will not post any pictures of my dresser drawers but let’s just say that this book had a positive effect! 🙂

What I’m Writing (plus one writing goal)

I’m moving along on revisions on THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS. My goal two weeks ago was to spend two hours on revisions at least four days over the next week. That goal changed (and the new goal met) because I found a new something that really works for me! Wait for it…

What Works for Me

I think I may have actually, finally found my “golden hour” for writing! As a parent, I’ve always felt like I had to find time to write when I wouldn’t be taking away time from the kids, ie: early in the morning or late at night. This has been a colossal struggle for me. I am so NOT a morning person! And by the time late evening rolls around, I’m fried. It occurred to me in the last week that I don’t really have any reason to not sit down to write immediately after dinner is done. My kiddos are teen and pre-teen aged. After supper, they are working on homework, surfing the internet or (in the case of my youngest) pursuing her own passion for art. In fact, the time when they really want to talk with me is usually right at bedtime.

I tried writing after supper in the last week and it turned out to be really fruitful! Of course, there were a few times where one of the girls would wander into the living room and start yacking my ear off. I just put the laptop down and went back to it later. And there will be times this doesn’t always work because of school activities. But by and large, I really think this is going to be a great plan.

So, the goal for the next couple weeks is to spend at least an hour each weekday evening working on revisions for TWOHF.

What Else is New

Sadly, really not much. The day job has been crazy busy lately! My husband and I are looking forward to a weekend away soon. We are just going to the Twin Cities – about an hour away – but it will be a change of scenery and a weekend without kids or the dog. It’s a much-needed break and time for us to just hang out together, go see a couple movies, do a little shopping. And most importantly, eat out without me having to cook the food or do the dishes! 🙂

What’s up with you, friends?

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Photo Friday – Day by Day

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“You know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change but pretty soon… everything is different.” – Bill Watterson

Bill Watterson is so brilliant. This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. I think about it a lot, especially lately. It is so difficult to find the time to do the things that I want to do (reading, writing, photography) because when I get home from the day job, it’s time to be a mom. I want my kids to look back some day and remember me always being around and running them to places and being at all their activities and events. At the same time, I don’t want to have them “leave the nest” and realize I have no interests of my own. I’m sure this is the case for lots of moms. So we trudge on, day by day. Procrastination of my own interests and hobbies becomes pretty easy to do when I have such excellent excuses.

The other night, as I was making dinner, I caught a glimpse out the kitchen window and gasped. They sky was a brilliant pink. It was that kind of pink that you only get to see once in a while when conditions are just right. For a minute, I felt sorry for myself. “If I didn’t have people relying on me for dinner, I’d grab the camera and jump in the car and head for the edge of town to snap a few pictures.” I’ve always felt like there are too many trees in my backyard and we are too far down in the river valley to get a decent sunset picture.

For some reason, at that moment, a switch flipped in my brain and I decided to just take five minutes and see what I could capture out in the backyard. Dinner was simmering and cooking and I could spare five minutes. I was pretty happy (and surprised) with the result.

I’m going to try to flip that switch more often and take five minutes here and there to do the things I love – even if I only have those few minutes. Because, if I’m not paying attention, all those chances will slip past me and before I know it, everything with be different.

Have a fantastic weekend!

 

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What’s Up Wednesday: Let’s kick off 2015!

What’s Up Wednesday is the brain child of Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. Join the fun WUWSnowy Houseson your own blog and then go to Jaime’s or Erin’s to add your link – it’s a great way to share what’s going on in your life and get to know other bloggers!

What I’m Reading

My Book Club met last night and I struggled through JANE EYRE this month. Actually, I read through about half of it and then watched the movie on Netflix. 🙂 Is that really how people spoke back in the day? Just get to the point, already!! I just couldn’t stick with it. But I’m glad I tried. One of the best things about belonging to a book club is that it pushes me to read stuff that I would never pick up on my own. The next book club choice is AMERICAN SNIPER. Hm… that’s definitely one I would never pick up on my own!

I also read BRIGHT COIN MOON by Kirsten Lopresti last week. It was really a great read. There is some gorgeous language, complex relationships, scams a-plenty, a house fire, a crazy mother and a horribly conflicted MC. Here is the synopsis from Goodreads: Set against the colorful backdrop of immoral psychics and dishonest scam artists, Bright Coin Moon tells a story of longing and loyalty and the emotional burden of sacrifice. 

I’m starting next on LEGEND by Marie Lu. It’s been on my TBR list forever.

What I’m Writing (plus one writing goal)

Still plodding along through revisions on THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS although, to be completely honest, I haven’t written or revised much of anything through the holidays. The goal this week is to spend two hours on revisions at least four days over the next week.

What Works for Me

Turning off EVERYTHING except Pandora. Through all the hubbub of the holidays and the kids being home from school, I have really lost my groove (well, if I ever really had a “groove”) and I have forgotten that this is a key component for me: turn it ALL OFF. I am also planning to trial the Freedom app sometime in the near future. I’ve heard lots of great things about it. Are you a Freedom user? Any thoughts?

What Else is New

Not a whole lot. We’ve been dealing with bone-chilling cold in Minnesota for the last few days (although, I think that’s the case for a lot of the country). So we spend our days just trying to stay warm! The wind chill is so cold out there this morning that school is two hours late. The high temp today is supposed to be around -4 with a wind chill of about -30. I’m also working on getting back into “the groove” at work after holiday time off.

What’s up with you, friends?

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Hap-hap-happy New Year!

This is one of those posts where I put it all out there – my New Year’s Resolutions – and HNYthen look back a year from now and hopefully say to myself: “Way to go, you! You met goals this year. You didn’t let the whole year slide by in a whirlwind of Netflix and social media binges! You are one spectacular lady.” Since I’m publishing this out to the public, I have no choice but to meet all these resolutions, right? Well, that’s the idea anyhow. I like this idea of setting goals for a whole year, but I’m also going to go easy on myself. I’ve got a day job that I don’t intend to give up any time soon, and a family I don’t intend to give up any time soon, either. So, here goes: This year, I resolve to:

  • Complete revisions on THE WITCH OF HIGHLAND FALLS by March.
  • Finish writing/revising FALLING (temporary title) by the end of the year.
  • Write or revise at least four days a week – for at least two hours of each of those days (or an equivalent thereof).
  • Read at least four books each month.
  • Post here at least four times a month: twice for What’s Up Wednesday and two other posts of my choosing.
  • Walk at least 10k steps each day.
  • Continue to improve my diet (this might mean lots of different things so I’m purposely being non-specific here. Any vegetarians and/or vegans out there who would like to show me the light?).
  • And last, but certainly not least: Teach my 15-year-old how to drive so that she can get her license when she is eligible in May. (Lord help me.) I really, really need that child to be able to drive herself to stuff!

That’s it. Totally do-able, right? Okay, the next step is to put into place some sort of process or system that will help me meet these goals. I haven’t exactly worked that part out yet other than to print them out and put them in a few different places where I’ll be reminded of them daily.

Do you make resolutions? Will you share one or two with me? Or, better yet, share with me how you intend to actually follow through with them?

I hope your coming New Year is fantastic!

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