Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 in Bookish Awesomeness

In my 2012 wrap-up post, I wrote this about 2013: "This is going to be an awesome year. I just know it."

And I was right. OMG, was I right. Note that 13 is my favorite number (usually not by choice- it was my locker number because I was alphabetically number 13, and it just kept following me from there.)

There are still some 2013 things in the works that won't be out until 2014 (like new baby niece, who is happily growing away in my sister) and some writing things, but let's talk about the awesomeness that was 2013 that has already happened:


The SCBWI Winter Conference in NYC.
  • Where I finally met Jaime Morrow in person, and she's as sweet as she is online *tackle hugs Jaime*
  • Where I skipped out part of the way through on Saturday to go to a booksigning where I yarnily fangirled Jodi Meadows.
  • Where I met Julie Andrews and Emma Watson, which was awesome because, well, Julie Andrews!! (can I blame her for almost becoming a nun when I was a teen?)
Me and Margot from Epic Reads (ugh, my hair. February in NYC, you hate me)

Me and Jodi. And knit Anna, Sam, and the dragon


The SCBWI EPA Poconos Conference*

*So, uh... I forgot my phone (like, totally forgot it) and didn't bring a camera, so you'll have to trust me that this in the most gorgeous conference location you'll ever visit.**

**On a realistic note, remember that I love camp and we got to stay in cabins and went on a nature hike and OMG, it is so pretty.
  • Where I roomed with Deena in the cutest cabin on the planet
  • Where I got to hang out with the wonderful Kit Grindstaff again- And stalk her until she signed a copy of The Flame in the Mist for me.
  • Where I made so many new writerly friends: Blair Thornburgh (who was in my peer critique group and I fell in love with her manuscript so much from only a few words,) Kim Briggs (who was in my workshop group and made me fall for her manuscript, too,) and Alison Myers (who sat in on some of our workshop sessions-- reading aloud the best abs scene ever, and led our hike, which was good, because I likely would have fallen off one of the cliffs if I went on my own,) and saw so many friends from last year. And, thankfully, Kim made sure those of us on twitter knew each others' handles!
  • Nature hike! 24/7 access to ice cream! The fooooooood...
  • An awesome workshop with author Kathy Erskine.


Book Expo America Power Reader Day (someday, I'll go on a non-power reader day. Someday...)

  • Where the publishing industry opened its conference doors on its last day to (some) of the public
  • Where I was smart enough (this year) to bring my Zuca skating bag so I wouldn't have to actually *carry* all the books.
  • Where I got to see Traci again *tackle hugs Traci* because she came to visit me while I was on line-- because she's awesome.
  • Where I rushed straight to the SFWA booth to see when Jeri Smith-Ready, author of the Shade series, was going to talk. And later, made sure I was at her talk! And, while there, I ran into the awesome Frankie Diane Mallis!
  • And then I hurried straight to Harlequin to get in line for some of their HarlequinTeen titles!
  • Where I met Karen Rock because I was kind-of, sort-of hanging all over the Spencer Hill Press booth because of Camp Boyfriend...and overheard her saying she was one of the authors. So, I kind-of, sort-of fangirl tackled her. (I'd like to pretend I was all polished and stuff, but, nope. It was more along the lines of "OMG, I can't WAIT for you book! Camp, camp, camp, lalala, babble, babble, babble" (I am so proud of my incoherent fangirl babbling. Really.)
  • Where I stood on a looooooooong line to meet Cora Carmack, who is an absolute sweetie.
  • Where I met the his highness, King Snarkles, and team Epic Reads, and won a Book Shimmy t-shirt!
  • And then I came home and collapsed into a pile of frozen custard-eating goo.
Pic with Traci on line at BEA!



Write-on Con. Which happened right before my birthday. And had some great online live pitch sessions where I learned a LOT about honing my pitch and what works.

Guys, that conference is free. And awesome.


I made it into Pitch Madness (hosted by Brenda Drake) on team Fizzee, (Summer Heacock and Dee Romito. I met the most amazing people, had a roller-coaster of a day when the bids went up on Bookishly, and, well... maybe more news might come from that. Who knows, right?


Eastern PA SCBWI Fall Fest (Saturday Only)

  • Where I saw Kim and Blair again, and had a great 1-day conference (couldn't stay for the second day) in Malvern, PA
A really blurry pic of Blair mid-first pages

NJ Fall Craft Conference (Saturday only)
  • Where I was totally speechless the second I walked into the Princeton Theological Seminary
  • It helps that I was late because I got lost. Pro Tip: Don't be late if you're wearing a red jacket. It makes you impossible to miss, especially if the only door into the conference room is behind the speakers.
  • Where I did my usual fangirl tackle thing to Lizzie Foley, who wrote Remarkable (FYI, if you've never read Remarkable, you MUST, if just for her amazing voice alone.) I missed most of a workshop to speak with her (and for a bit, Jennifer Laughran, too) but I got some great advice. And she's a fencing mom! Wooo!
  • Where I took so many notes during Sean McCarthy's workshop that my hand hurt. But it was just an awesome talk!
  • Where I went home exhausted, but so writer-happy.

Sunset as I headed off to find coffee before dinner
(also, I don't have specific months for this, but I had great news from 2 of my amazing CPs: Veronica Bartles not only had a book offer for her YA, but also an agent for her MG, and Stephanie Pajonas published the first two books in her Nogiku series! Yay for awesome news!)

This has been an awesome year. My favorite part of being a writer is meeting so many wonderful, supportive people in this community. My life is fuller and happier because of all of you and my bank account is emptier because of all your books/recommendations.

My wish for all of you: endless amounts of joy and success in 2014 and beyond. May the words flow effortlessly from your fingers and may your coffee (or herbal tea or hot cocoa) mug be bottomless.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Sustaining and Enhancing

Saw this on Tumblr, but since my Tumblr is travel-focused, I thought I'd post it here. With attribution linked below, of course:
via Movie Club.
Hmmm... this is why I do both engineering and writing. It's nice to think that someday, maybe, someone's friend or sibling or parent or grandparent will be mid-surgery with an implant or instruments I worked on and they'll be waiting for the results while reading one of my books. Or that someone post-surgery will be recovering and taking their mind off their pain/discomfort by reading something I wrote.
That's a pretty incredible wish, no?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

No Kiss Blogfest Announcement

The most wonderful time of the year is rolling around again:

The 5th Annual No Kiss Blogfest, hosted by Frankie Diane Mallis and Amalia Dillin.

Click on the link above for the signups and rules.

For my previous blogfest posts, go here for 2012 and here for 2013.

Why should you join this blogfest?

1. Because almost-kisses are the best ever
2. I like to use this as a great writing prompt to play with my characters and practice kissy scenes. Well, almost kissy scenes
3. Because you meet some great bloggers and writers along the way!

I hope to see all of you posting on the 2nd!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

I Hope...

Today's post is really short, but I'm reposting a favorite quote (you might recognize it) and my wish for every one of you:
"I hope you come to find that which gives life a deep meaning for you. Something worth living for-- maybe even worth dying for-- Something that energizes you, enthuses you, enables you to keep moving ahead.

I can't tell you what it might be-- that's for you to find, to choose, to love. I can just encourage you to start looking, and support you in the search."

--written by Sister Ita Ford to her niece shortly before she was martyred in El Salvador, Dec 2, 1980.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


I love Yule. I love light festivals. I love how we celebrate light in the midst of darkness. From Diwali to Hanukkah to Yule and Christmas, I love how we're so different yet so alike at the same time. I love how pretty the world becomes these times of the year. (And for my southern hemisphere friends, have a wonderful Midsummer!)

Another year and a repeat quote from my paper journal December 21st, 2001 entry:

"Tonight is Yule-- the longest night of the year.

Tonight reminds us that even the darkest of nights are followed by light, and that even in the worst of times, we have hope. No night is so dark that day will never follow.

...so long as we have hope, it will never truly be dark."

You might not know it, but many of you have been my light in the past, either through your posts, books, comments, texts, or just by being you.

You are all incredible.

On this solstice, I wish you all lives full of light and hope, as bright as the brightest stars in the sky.

Oooh, look! My pretty lantern and a mirror picture at the same time. Wheee!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

A Skating Post

Last week, one of the other adult skaters at our rink jumped by herself for the first time, as we all clapped and cheered her on (this, ladies and gents, is why I love being an adult skater. The support and community are incredible.) Three weeks ago, she said she'd never jump because the thought scared her, so after her circle of waltz jumps, I asked her how she felt. Her answer "Fantastic."

I've written on here before about how I'm terrified every time I step on the ice: here and here. My coaches both know that the only reason why I'll even try a new jump, spin, or footwork is because I trust them to know if I'm physically ready to do it, even if I doubt myself.

Usually, I end up loving whatever scared me in the first place. Backward twizzles, jumping, spins with weird arm and leg positions... they're some of my favorite things to do.

I just had to swallow my fear and doubt first.

Now, don't laugh when you watch these videos. Remember, I'm a skater who started as an adult, not an Olympian. I'm not afraid to put myself out there because I'm proud that I challenge myself every day!

My last video lesson was this summer, when I was testing out a new dress (actually, Isabelle's TMI dress from Hot Topic. Hello, awesome skating dress.) The longer part of the skirt had a mind of its own and was like skating with an extra limb, throwing off my jumps and spins. But the work I had to put in to adjust was so worth it:

A scratch spin this past summer

Scratch spins take so much concentration. Arm position, leg position, shoulders. It's so easy to throw myself off, but it's such a rush when the spin perfectly centered and the blood starts rushing from my fingertips as I pick up speed.

From my video lesson in January, right before getting new boots and blades:

A scratch spin, January 2013

(To be fair to myself, these two spins were taken at the end of my lesson, when exhaustion slows me down. Still...)

I love the following video because it really captures a typical moment from my lessons. My jumps actually weren't bad at all, but they weren't perfect. Looking at the video now, I have to laugh over the look on my face as my coach sends me around for a second combo, or at the end of the video, when I gesture-complain about my arm position. Sometimes my perspective is off--I'll think I did something really wrong when, in reality, Coach is happy with my progress:

Waltz-loop jump, January 2013
(me to Coach2 after doing some pretty high and technically clean salchows today: "I've been doing this weird leg-bending thing on my jumps." Coach2: "You landed, right?" Me: "Yes." Coach2: "Then they were fine.")
Fear is healthy. Self-criticism is healthy. But it's easy to forget how much progress you've made when you wrap yourself up in that self-criticism, and it's way too easy to hold yourself back when fear is running through your veins.
It's still a constant learning experience. But if I didn't trust my coaches and myself, I'd still be paddling around the ice, never knowing what it feels like to fly.
My challenge to you: Trust yourself. You deserve to fly.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

"If Your Dreams Do Not Scare You...

...then they are not big enough." -Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Jet lag kicked my butt this year. I've been flying since I was a baby, but I've never had this bad a time readjusting, even when I came back from India. It took me an entire week to get over the worst of the jet lag and I still felt exhausted this week. Then, I came down with a bad head cold and it alllllll made sense.

I've been in a fog, barely reading, writing in bits in all those extra morning hours. Good bits, but nothing close to my usual wordcount.

Look! The view from on the castle walls of Montemor-O-Velho!
Don't look at my awful bloggy timeline *distraction*
Maybe coming back from vacation to a week filled with 12hr workdays didn't help. And the fact that my usual writing time during lunch at the office kept getting interrupted by work lunch-meetings or coworkers who needed my help.

Or, maybe, just maybe--jet lag and head cold and coworkers and random exhaustion excluded--I'm coming up with excuses. Because, like jet lag, Summer Story (aka working title Evenfall) is kicking my butt.

Maybe it's a little hard and a little scary. Maybe when I sit down to work on it, there are times when the scene comes so easy that the words just flow off my fingers, but other times I sit and stare and question why I'm putting myself through writing a story that is probably not-so-marketable because, well... I put the query into critique workshop, so you'll see what I mean soon enough.

Maybe it's putting my own life through the wringer as I dive in, research, and put myself in my main character's shoes. Maybe I'm scared that I have a concept that could be amazing if done right, but I'll never be good enough to write it. Bookishly scared me at times. Dramatically, too. But this? A million times more.

What do you do when what you are writing is hard enough that it scares the writing right out of you?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Everyday Fairytale Sighting

I've been in Portugal for the past two weeks and, since my little USB broadband modem can get very frustrating at times with getting a decent signal *cries* (next year, we're looking at a portable modem,) I've been tweeting and e-mailing but even my travel Tumblr has seen little update.

BUT, to make up for it, I'm posting this picture of an abandoned house we pass on our daily walks, which I think is awesome writing inspiration:

Picture by me, house by people, greenery and sky and mountains by nature

*hugs to all!*

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What Would Your Icon Look Like?

I'm alive!

Summer was busy and incredible, and I spent so much time skating, swimming, walking, writing, working (of course,) and just loving this world of ours that I just didn't have time to post.

One of my summer reads (LOVE) with my goggles on my beach mat.
I'd swim laps at our local lake on the weekends
The view from my beach mat of the lake. I love this lake.

There were renaissance faires and fireflies. Walks though forests. Enjoying the sunshine and smoothies and fresh fruit (and frozen custard, of course.) Fall might be my favorite season, but I completely embraced this season and loved it. I even got a tan.

Okay, a tan for me.

Stop laughing. (and yes, I did wear sunscreen. SPF one million)

There were bad days, but cupcakes and macarons always took care of that:

Oh, Sundae cupcake. You make me so happy.
I finished the first draft(s) of Dramatically and started on Summer Story, which was supposed to be light and fun and silly until it decided to become the hardest thing I've ever tried to write. And I love it, even though I'm still laboring over the outline.

So, blogging didn't happen. I don't know how all of you who post semi-regularly do it. You are all amazing and I bow before you. I wish some of your blogging awesomeness would rub off on me.

Now that I've groveled for a bit, onto the actual TOPIC of this blog post:

A few weeks ago, I stumbled onto "A Nun's Life" podcast, where two IHM Sisters answer people's questions about the Catholic faith and vocations. I quickly fell in love with this podcast and its wonderful hosts.

A) No, I'm not contemplating becoming a nun.
B) This isn't a religious post. Really. I promise.
C) Sisters Julie and Maxine had me at "the garden of Eden had to have a chocolate tree (and coffee) because it's the garden of all that is good."

Anyway, in one of their earlier podcasts, they asked their listeners "If you became a saint, what would your icon* have on it to represent you?" And what would these symbols represent about you and your calling in life? (Examples of symbols included bicycles and ice cream cones.)

*Icons are pictures of saints, and the saints are usually pictured with something to represent them and their lives. For example, Saint Patrick has the staff, snake, and shamrock.

If I became a saint (stop laughing, people!!!! I think you're laughing harder at this than at the tan comment *sniffle*) think I'd like:

Ballet slippers or skates: To represent the joy and feeling of freedom I get when I let go and enjoy the world around me
My laptop or Surface: To represent following your calling, even when you think something is impossible, because that's where you feel the most fulfilled.

Now that I've told you my symbols, what would be on your icon?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What's Up Wednesday, The 'Hot Shirtless Pirate' Edition

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It's hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, and if you want to join in, sign up on Jaime's blog!
First... I owe y'all comments! Things have been crazy and I haven't been able to hop over to everyone's blogs like I wanted to. I have a long weekend ahead of me and I plan on diving in!
What I'm Reading: 
I just finished Faking It by Cora Carmack, which I devoured in one night (just like her first book, Losing It.) Her books are just so wonderfully funny and hot and light and lovely, and this one was no exception. Plus, Max's retro-punky-burlesqueish sense of style is right up my alley and Cade is incredibly swoonworthy (confession: I like him better than Garrick from Losing It. To heck with British accents, I want sweet Texans like Cade!)

While I'm waiting for Camp Boyfriend to come in the mail (helllloooo summer contemporary goodness! I'm craving summer contemporaries so badly!) I may start Amanda Sun's Ink because I've heard so many good things about it. And, of course, I have some beta reading to do this weekend, as well!

What I'm Writing: 
20K into the WIP and I've joined:

Camp NaNoWriMo!!! Because it's CAMP and I love camp (do you see a theme here???) Seriously, all you have to do is mention tents and bonfires and s'mores and I'll be there. Even if it's all in my mind and in reality, I signed up to do this crazy 50K words in one month thing. Because, well, camp.

On the plus side, my YA WIPs always finish around 70-75K (it's creepy. I could delete or add entire scenes and they still land at 70K,) so since I'm already at 20K on Dramatically, I'll be done at the end of July.

Which means I can then play with the summer idea that's been flitting around my brain these past few weeks as the magic of summer twilights seeps into my body.

What Inspires Me Right Now: 

Summer. My favorite season is Autumn, but I love these twilight walks and first-fireflies-of-the-season sightings. I love going skating when it's 90F outside. I love wearing dresses without sweaters and tights. I love all the flowers and fresh fruit.

My brain is ready to explode with all the wonderful summer things. Characters wander through gardens and backyard bonfires, and watch fireflies with me. I want to capture all that in words.


What Else I've Been Up To: 

The humidity is so bad that my hair ends up in a bun by ten every morning. Since I don't have a big hand mirror at work to check my handiwork, I've been checking every day with the camera on my cell phone (c'mon, you probably do the same thing:)

I forgot to mention last week that I went to the local Medieval Fantasy Faire. In costume, of course:

Bought bodice and skirt, homemade chemise
This wasn't as big as the Pennsylvania or NY renaissance faires, but it was a nice start to the season. Plus, the entertainment was fun.

Oh, yeah, did I mention? Hot shirtless Pirate acrobats? No? Hmmm....

Mid-backflip. Sorry for my phone picture quality!
*sigh* and *droooool*

On a quick note, happy Canada Day to my Canadian friends, happy US Independence Day to my US friends, and happy random day to everyone else!!!

That was my week. What have you been up to lately?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's Up Wednesday- the "Oh Lordy, Jury Duty" Edition

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It's hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, and if you want to join in, sign up on Jaime's blog!

What I'm Reading: 
I'm finishing up "With All My Soul," the last Soul Screamers book that I kind-of, sort-of started about a month ago, but then put it aside for a bit as I went on a contemporary binge. The book is awesome-- I just think I was overloaded just a tiny bit with heavier reads and I needed to move to something lighter at the time!

Now that I'm ready for the tears I'm sure Rachel Vincent has planned for me, I'm all in. She is an author who is not afraid to take her characters and story where it needs to go--and loved characters are sacrificed or changed along the way. I recommend the series for anyone who a) loves fictional dead boys, b) wants to learn how to torture their characters c) loves a great paranormal story about bean-sidhes, reapers, and hellions. With kissing. And hot fictional boys (dead and alive.) d) TOD (whatever, that's a reason)

What I'm Writing: 
16K into the WIP. I've already skipped ahead to play with select future scenes and figure out the interactions between my MC and her love interest. I keep a little "slush" file where these scenes sit to either never see the light of day or to get popped in later (that's where deleted scenes go, too.)

Em is fun... and definitely not Phoebe. Feebs would probably spend half this story blushing, which is why it's so much fun to write after Bookishly. I think I'm going to crave a slightly more serious MC after finishing this WIP!

What Inspires Me Right Now: 

News. Passion--whether during the protests in Brazil or the filibuster in Texas or the discussion around the Supreme Court rulings. Whatever you believe or support, if you're passionate about something, get involved and raise your voice.

What Else I've Been Up To: 

Jury duty last Thursday, where I spent my day in the hall of Justice in Camden, waiting for my number to be called. The adventure, though, was picking up lunch from a restaurant with bars and bulletproof glass, watching people in line for plates of donated food, and being asked if I was going to the meth clinic while walking to the train station.

I am so freaking lucky and spoiled. I'm lucky that I grew up in a nice house in the suburbs, went through a fantastic public school system, and was able to go to university. I'm lucky that I can spend my money on Chinese food and cute shoes and figure skating lessons. I'm lucky that I never felt the need to drink or do drugs.

I'm lucky that I can complain when I don't have enough time to write or blog--because, on the flip side, at least I have that luxury available.
I've been busy being thankful after that day. Next up: asking myself how I can make a difference and put that passion where it's needed the most.

That was my week. What have you been up to lately?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bonfires and Visions (Repost!)

Reposting my midsummer post from last year, though this time I'm actually posting it on the solstice (the actual date of Midsummer, though in Portugal it's celebrated on St. John's eve/day... two days from now.) Still, this is one of my favorite times of the year for all the old Celtic and Ibero-celtic traditions my grandmother used to tell me about:

There's magic in the simple fountain* in my family's village. According to legend, if a girl drinks its water in the middle of the night on Midsummer's eve, she will dream of the man she is meant to marry.

If you believe in the old traditions, that is.

And if you believe in these traditions, you probably would have already jumped the midsummer bonfires, maybe while holding hands with the boy in town who had stolen your heart. Because, you know, jumping the bonfire means that you will stay together.  And, of course, you would also have devoted a few minutes to setting out a glass filled with water and an egg for another 'bout of pre-sunrise fortune telling.

Anything is possible on Midsummer.

A lot of this folklore is amazingly similar to Midsummer traditions throughout Europe. Generation upon generation of girls dreamed of the boys they would love. Will o' the wisps were chased through forests. Magic and wonder wove into the everyday for just one night a year.

These customs are dying out with my grandparents' generation as young people move overseas or to the city, or push away "silly old superstitions." Sadly, because they stretch back centuries, back to before Christianity replaced "Midsummer" with the feast of St. John. I still think the magic is there, waiting. All you need to do is take a sip and believe.

*These aren't the jumping water kind-of fountains, but usually just spigots of continuously running spring water from the mountains or faucets connected to a communal well. Before modern water towers and plumbing, families who didn't have their own wells were dependent on the town fountain for their drinking/cleaning/bathing water. Many towns still test the water to make sure it's drinkable, and many fountains still run to this day.

Friday, June 14, 2013

I'm Afraid

I'm an optimist, a Pollyanna, Anne of Green Gables-loving (well, Emily of New Moon is my favorite but she's not as positive, so let's just roll with the Anne thing, okay?,) twirl-y skirt-wearing glitter addict who sees the glass not only half full, but that it's full of teal glitter.

I'm not saying I don't have bad days or lose my energy sometimes. But, in general, I see life as this short journey and we can't waste it looking for the dirt and shadows when there's so much joy and sunshine around us. This past week, though, I had a few 3 a.m. moments that so many of you pulled me through, like little text and twitter rays of sunshine (cue quote I've put on this blog before:)

"...she knew that there would be days when she would feel desparingly that she could not write and that it was of no use to try; days when the editorial phrase 'not necessarily a reflection on its merits,' would get on her nerves to such an extent that she would feel like imitating Marie Bashkirtseff and hurling the taunting, ticking, remorseless sitting room clock out the window; days when everything she'd done or would try to do would slump-- become mediocre and despicable; days when she would be tempted to bitter disbelief in her fundamental conviction that there was as much truth in the poetry of life as in the prose; days when the echo of that 'random word' of the gods, for which she so avidly listened, would only seem to taunt her with its suggestions of unattainable perfection and loveliness beyond the reach of mortal ear or pen." -L. M. Montgomery, Emily's Quest

I wanted to post this in the beginning of the query stage before waves of rejections start rolling in, because I still believe very firmly in what I wrote in my product development post. I'm not afraid of rejection, but I'm so, so, so afraid that I'm deluding myself into thinking I can write well enough to even try. I'm afraid of being like those dancers in the audition episodes of So You Think You Can Dance who are not awful, but nowhere near good enough to compete with the good dancers. The ones who probably are in the Intermediate-Advanced classes in their little dance schools, but would only qualify for Advanced Beginner in the NYC schools (This, I know from my years of taking class in suburbia and Broadway Dance Center.) They're unable to see that they'll never be as good as the people who do make it on the show.

Worse, I'm afraid that I might be equivalent of one of the delusional awful dancers.

I'm afraid of dreaming about yet one more thing and having that hope crushed--I have enough of that in my non-writing life as it is. (note: here was where I wrote stuff about family, being single, career... but it became rather depressing, so *delete*)

In a little bit, I'll be back to sunshine and rainbows, but I needed to write out this fear. Because, honestly, I'm terrified.

What are you afraid of?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Makeup, Skating, and What's Up?

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It's hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, and if you want to join in, sign up on Jaime's blog!

What I'm Reading: 

Beta and CPing, still. I haven't had much free time this week, so reading has fallen by the wayside.
But I'm so lucky to be able to read these-- my friends are so incredibly talented, I'm blown away by their awesomeness.

What I'm Writing: 
10K! Yay! *collapses*
translation: I'm at 10K words on my WIP and it's starting to look like a book-shaped thing with an actual plot. Weird how that happens right after I outline.


What Inspires Me Right Now: 

Let's talk about skating. As we got to the end of my lesson this past weekend, my coach asked me to go into a scratch spin. I'd been skating for over an hour at that point, including so many jumps that my leg muscles were jelly. Even though I hadn't had a decent spin day in three lessons, I'd been improving overall in making micro adjustments with my ankle, leg, or arms to save spins that I wouldn't have been able to save a few months ago. You'd be surprised how much a tiny detail, like a shoulder, can throw off an entire spin (or jump.)

Right before I could start my spin entry, Coach stopped me and reminded me that, even though I was at the end of my lesson, I needed to stay mindful of those details. "Never relax. Professionals focus 100% of the time, even on the tiniest movement of their little finger. It's hard work to make something look easy..."
A good spin might look effortless, but there are so many tiny details that need to come together to make it fast and centered and amazing. But coming out of a perfectly centered spin or landing a high jump is worth all the focus and hard work in the world. I'm inspired by hard work made to look effortless and by sweat that turns into magic.

What Else I've Been Up To: 

Going to work with my mini-moons holding my hair in the cutest mini-buns ever:

Bought and played with the NYX Mortal Instruments Parallel Worlds makeup collection. A makeup collection inspired by a YA series I love? Yes, please. While I understand that the NYX price point is better for the target demographic (listen to that marketing speak,) the makeup junkie part of me wished that Urban Decay had created the collection. Still, this is a pretty decent smokey eye kit:

Following the kit lookbook, I tried a Clary "day" look (since the eyeshadow didn't show up decently in any of my pics thanks to my apartment lighting, you'll have to take my word for it,) and an "Isabelle" night look:

Commentary: The shadows are nice with okay color payoff. The shadow pencil is great, and the liquid liner is fine. Since I'm pale, the blush is a bit bright for me and the pink lipstick clashes slightly with my faux red hair. The consistency of the blush and lipstick are both nice, though. Overall, nothing unique or special about this kit, but it's nice for a smokey eye if you don't have similar shadows already. I also wish that NYC had carried the TMI theme throughout the packaging-- I would have loved runes on the lipstick tube, for example.

Enough babbling about makeup, though. That was my week. What have you been up to lately? 

Sunday, June 9, 2013


About a year ago, I wrote this post "about two wonderful, magical moments I glimpsed while on the ice this weekend for my skating lesson. Both involving teens. And "liking"/"crushing"/"love." They were adorable and wonderful and reminded me why I love writing for and about these amazing not-kids but not-yet-adults." (Hey, why reinvent the wheel with a new description when the old one worked so well?)

I'm in the mood to share more captured moments. Some are just snapshots, others mini videos. Maybe they'll be great story prompts, or get filed away mentally for imagery. All of them made me smile:

1) A group of boys in prep school uniforms lounging on a grassy slope on the first decently warm and sunny day of the year.

2) Two girls in a convertible, rocking out to a song only they could hear. Their hair was loose and whipping around in the wind. (Voice of experience: when you ride in a convertible or similar vehicle, the 40's starlets totally had it right with wrapping your hair in a scarf. It only takes one night of trying to untangle a mess of waist-length hair to learn to tie it back securely!)

Since I'm a rink rat and public session is a great place for a date when you're a teen (and when you're an adult, though I think I'm in the minority thinking that,) half of these happened out of the corner of my eye while my coach was working on turning me into a puddle of exhausted skater goo:

3) Hockey boy showing off to a girl he likes: when she was on the ice, he held her up gently and, except for the usual skating backwards while holding her hands so that she squeals so loudly the whole rink is like, 'not again',* was sweet and patient while trying to teach her to skate. When she decided to sit behind the boards for a few minutes, he then stayed on that side of the rink, doing a ton of fancy hockey footwork and zipping around the rink at top speed, ending with hockey stops that kicked ice "snow" up against the boards.

4) The most adorable teen couple in the world out on a date during public session today. They looked about fifteen years old, and while the girl seemed semi-comfortable in her rental skates, the boy couldn't skate at all. *cue the cutest falls on the planet* They spent the entire session skating close to the boards (so he could periodically clutch them!**) and this time, it was the girl's turn to patiently try to teach him to skate while he found excuses to hold her hand or clutch at her waist. She kept stealing his hoodie, he took a moment when she stretched her arms and let a little bit of skin show at her waist to show her how cold his hand was (cue screech we heard across the rink.) And then, in one of those moments where she coyly skated closer and away from him a few times before he could wrap his arms around her, they kissed. And my little Grinch "I hate writing kissy scenes" heart grew ten times its size.
I saw them after I got off the ice-- the boy was getting them food from the rink café, the girl was watching him with a goofy smile, like they were the only two people in the rink. And it was awesome.

Do you have any captured moments that made your little Grinch hearts grow?

*seriously, guys, everybody does this. Is it bandied about the hockey locker rooms or something? "Hey, you know, I got Ashley to hold on to me really tight after I did that." ???? Because I see this every other week. Just sayin'. Oh, and if you do decide to drag your crush around the rink, make sure you look over your shoulder when you skate backwards, okay? I know you want to look in her eyes, but there are toddlers on the ice on the sleds of death who just zip underfoot. You definitely won't impress the girl when you're on your butt and a four year old is crying to his mommy that you squished him.

**He did fall on his knees, which made my coach cringe and looked extra painful, but pretended he was okay. I promise you, that's going to bruise...

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What's Up Wednesday and post-BEA Breather

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what's up. It's hosted by Jaime Morrow and Erin L. Funk, and if you want to join in, sign up on Jaime's blog!

What I'm Reading: 

I'm currently beta-ing and CPing, so published books will have to wait. I did break my focus for a little novella break- Camp Kiss by JK Rock. It's the prequel(kind-of) for Camp Boyfriend. Since I've been on a contemporary kick lately and love, love, love camp, this just sounds like a perfect read.

Plus, uhm, cute but slightly geeky boy (at least in the novella.) These boys might be giving my fictional dead boys a bit of work to stay closest to my heart.

What I'm Writing: 

WIP is happily churning along at around 7K. I had a massive planning-outlining session the weekend before last because my outline was just a little too nebulous and I was starting to wander. I'm definitely a planner!

I'm having fun being in Em's head. She's so dramatic and very different from Phoebe (Bookishly's MC.)

What Inspires Me Right Now: 
I've been on a pinterest kick lately. Dramatically Ever After has its own board where I get to be all OCD and plan some more.

What Else I've Been Up To:

BEA. This was my second year as a Power Reader, and while I stood in a LOT of lines, I also took the time to cover the whole floor (except the remnant bookseller section.) As a reader, it was great to pic up a few ARCs and books and meet fave authors and TWEEPS (translation: twitter friends)!!! As a writer, I made sure to pay attention to the industry part of the conference-- meaning, I absorbed the displays, paying attention to what was being promoted and how. I listened to bloggers and other readers in line complain about their pet peeves and gush over what they loved in recent books. I don't know when or how that information might be useful, but I filed it all in the back of my brain.

First stop! Standing on line for Harlequin's signing. Of course, I was there for the HarlequinTeen titles!

HarperTeen and their Epic Reads ladies had a WHEEL where you could win books or an epic t-shirt. Thanks to the luck of King Snarkles (if you don't know who Snarkles is, I'm very disappointed in you,) I actually won a *book shimmy* t-shirt!!!

SFWA Panel with Jeri Smith-Ready!

 BEA kitty followed me around and is now an occasional plaything for baby nephew.

I met (and fangirled) Karen Rock, one of the authors of Camp Boyfriend!!! And now I have a signed bookmark *squeee*

Minus the books that have already been handed to coworkers or family, here's what I brought back:

Finally, I came home and ate a custard mint-chocolate chip custard blizzard from Masso's. Because life is awesome.

That was my insane week. What have you been up to lately?