May 25, 2015

Get Ready For Ready. Set. WRITE!

It’s that time of year again! Time for Ready. Set. WRITE! So, what is Ready. Set. WRITE! thing exactly? Well, it’s a summer writing intensive that provides an opportunity for us to cheer each other on wherever we’re at in our writing—planning, drafting, or revising. This year, your RSW hosts are Alison MillerKaty UppermanErin Funk, Elodie Nowodazkij, and yours truly. And before I forget, make sure to grab a button from the bottom of this post! (Under the RSW tab above as well.)

The plan is to kick everything off with an initial goal setting post on June 8th and going forward, our RSW check-in posts will be on MONDAYS. The start of the week feels appropriate for goal-setting, don’t you think? Like laying the groundwork for an awesome week of writing. To streamline our weekly check-in posts, we will be using the headings below again, which allows for a quick and concise rundown and will give other participants specific ways to offer up encouragement. 

Here are the headings we’re using:

1.  How I did on last week’s goals
2.  My goal(s) for this week
3.  A favorite line from my story OR one word/phrase that sums up what I wrote/revised
4.  The biggest challenge I faced this week (ex. finding time to write)
5.  Something I love about my WiP

**NB: As mentioned, Week #1 will only be goal setting.**

Something we had noticed in past years, was that we spent a lot of time blogging about writing, instead of actually writing. Accountability and goal setting are both important, but we don’t want RSW to detract from writing which is, of course, the whole point of this summer intensive. So with respect to our weekly check-in posts: THE BRIEFER THE BETTERWith this in mind, we'll be limiting our responses to 2-3 lines and encourage you to do the same. If we all try to be concise, we can visit other blogs quickly and spend the bulk of our time writing. (Save the words for the WiPs! :D)

Each Monday there will be a signup posted on the host blogs. Just leave the link to your check-in post, hop around to other participants’ blogs, and spread encouragement around like sunscreen. (This is  a summer writing intensive, after all. )

Stay tuned for further info about giveaways and be sure to watch Twitter for #RSW2015 writing parties. Ready. Set. WRITE! will kick off on Monday, June 8th with our goals followed by updates every Monday 'til August 31st. In the meantime, decide what you want to write/revise. Set goals! Write a little. Or a lot. Spread the word! And be prepared to Ready. Set. WRITE! 

Choose a Ready. Set. WRITE! button:
(They can all be resized to your preference.)










May 19, 2015

Currently...

{Thanks goes to Katy Upperman for starting this up again so we all have a way to touch base now that WUW is no longer.}



My Silhouette Cameo. I haven't tried it out yet, but it's set up and almost ready to go. (Stay tuned for an Etsy shop geared toward writers!) I'm finally getting the hang of macarons. They're baking more consistently, and better yet, they taste wonderful. Love Friday Night Lights references in the books I'm reading. Clear eyes, full hearts...* Sunshiney gerbera daisies (they last SO long) and pound cake with berries and whip. #yum And, of course, the cutest company while I'm reading. ♥

It is taking me forrrrrrever to finish books these days. I guess I've been busy doing other stuff. Since I last posted, I have only read two published books: UNDER A PAINTED SKY by Stacey Lee (really enjoyed this one!) and BOOMERANG by Noelle August (a pen name for Veronica Rossi and another author → this one is NA and was only okay). I've also had the privilege of beta-reading a really great story this week. ♥ Currently, I'm reading ALL THE RAGE by Courtney Summers, which feels especially important and timely after a weekend of truly atrocious TV programming. (WAY too much sexual violence.)

Avengers: Age of Ultron and Mad Max: Fury Road. I thoroughly enjoyed both movies, though I didn't expect to like MM:FR as much as I did. The whole grubby dystopian thing kind of leaves me with a dirty feeling, but this was surprisingly good! The hype is merited. Loved Nicholas Hoult so much as Nux, I watched Warm Bodies again. Such a cute, totally clever movie!
I have odd taste in movie men: bald with weird markings, apparently.

One of my favourite things ever is when I'm sitting in a theatre watching a movie and all of a sudden I'm struck by just how incredible the score is. This happened to me while watching Mad Max: Fury Road. I've been listening to "Brothers In Arms" off the soundtrack repeatedly since watching the movie. There's just something totally epic about this piece.


Stressful regular life things mixed in with some good things. Such is life, I guess.

Also thinking about this great article by Chuck Wendig → We Are Not Things: Mad Max Versus Game of Thrones
(A discussion of sexual assault and female agency in both story worlds. WARNING: Spoilers for both GoT and MM:FR.)

It's almost time for Ready. Set. WRITE! again, and I'm so eager to get going! For those of you who don't know what RSW is, it's a summer writing intensive co-hosted by Alison Miller, Katy Upperman, Erin Funk, Elodie Nowodazkij, and me. This is the third year (fourth?) we've hosted this, and it's always tons of fun. More details will be forthcoming, but if you're curious, just check out the RSW tab at the top of this blog for details about last year's intensive. (RSW runs June through August.)


For a summer full of productivity, particularly on the writing front.
I'd LOVE to finish revising one project and continue drafting another.

Puttering around with photo editing software, making an Etsy shop banner I love and a plethora of RSW buttons.
It's fun learning how to do new things, and I'm always especially proud when I'm able to figure something out myself.
Oh, and I keep smiling (and craving ice cream) every time I see this sticker in my planner this week. #lifegoals




So tell me, what are you currently up to?

* Can't lose.
** Source: Mary Oliver

May 5, 2015

Currently...

{Fun fact: What's Up Wednesday was based at least in part off of the Currently... post that had been circulating at the time. Thanks goes to Katy Upperman for starting this up again so we all have a way to touch base now that WUW is no longer.}


Making stickers for my planner. The things I do when I should be writing... Those of you who have fallen down the Erin Condren planner rabbit hole with me know just how pricey it can get buying stickers and other things to pretty it up. So I have been making my own! They're meant for writers who also like to plan, and I'm thinking of selling them on Etsy.

(They're not perfect, but I'm still piddling around with them.
And there will be many others in all different colours too.)

I haven't read very many books since I last posted. I finished OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord and thought it was a pretty fun read overall. Next, I read Courtney Summers' FALL FOR ANYTHING, which was good though I guessed things very early on. I've read a few books featuring suicide recently, and I think it's just a bit too much for me right now. I'm currently reading STOLEN SONGBIRD by Danielle L. Jensen. I'm enjoying it, but I've been having a bit of a hard time focusing lately.


I'm binge-watching Gilmore Girls for about the zillionth time since it aired FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. Let that sink in for a sec, folks. (#old) I love revisiting Stars Hollow and its wacky cast of characters, though I forgot how obnoxious Taylor Doose is. I'm also barreling my way through Grey's Anatomy because I'm sick of dodging spoilers. I'm partway into Season 10 now.

Kirk, however, never stops being amusing.

Well, I can tell you what I'm not listening to: the latest Mumford & Sons album (released yesterday). Guys, I am sooooooo disappointed in this latest offering. I loved the "banjo-plucking, stomp-and-clap neo-folk"* Mumford & Sons. I mean, why the heck would you completely change your sound? All of my former favourite bands are dropping like flies. Florence + the Machine better not let me down come June, because I have had zero luck finding new music to add to my playlist lately.

Oh, about a million things at any given moment: What I have to do to find a job, what macaron flavour to bake next, which WiP to work on (my WiP ADD is out of control→I've worked on four separate WiPs in the past couple of weeks), the new baby Princess of Cambridge (Charlotte was my #1 pick if we eventually have a girl but not sure now**), how I've fallen a few books behind on my GR reading challenge, whether I should buy a print & cut machine to make and sell stickers...

My next macarons: Mexican Spice
with dulche de leche in the centre.
(The recipe can be found HERE.)

The flowering trees in our yard have buds on them! I'm so looking forward to when they're completely in bloom.
Oh, and the release of Sarah J. Maas' A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES today. I've been waiting on this one forever!

Last year's Nanking cherry blossoms.

For good things to start coming our way.
Todd and I are both pretty ready for that.

Sticker making and macaron baking.
Prettifying my EC planner each week.
Writing + revising, even if it is on four WiPs.
Sunnier, milder weather and spring in general.


So tell me, what are you currently up to?



* How iTunes classified Mumford & Son's sound...before this recent train wreck of an album was released.
** I have a friend who named her daughter Charlotte recently (it was already on my list ... oof), and now with the new princess being named Charlotte, I suspect the name is going to be VERY popular again. Like Emma, all thanks to Friends.

April 21, 2015

In Lieu of WUW

{Fun fact: What's Up Wednesday was based at least in part off of the Currently... post that had been circulating at the time. Thanks goes to Katy Upperman for reviving this and giving us a place to dish now that What's Up Wednesday is no longer.}

The spring sunshine. This was a fairly mild winter, but even so, it's always nice when spring rolls in. I love, love, love TOMS and Chucks weather.  I'm also in love with my Erin Condren planner and all the fun washi-ing and sticker-ing that has been going on with other writer/planner friends. It's a great way to start my week and is yet another fun creative outlet.


This has been a pretty decent reading month for me, with some new faves added to my list. I've recently read (and loved) SOMETHING REAL by Heather Demetrios, A THOUSAND PIECES OF YOU by Claudia Gray, THE BOOK OF BROKEN HEARTS by Sarah Ockler, and BONE GAP by Laura Ruby. I also read I WAS HERE by Gayle Forman, which was good, but I didn't love love it. I'm currently reading OPEN ROAD SUMMER by Emery Lord, and no big surprise, I'm loving it already.

I've been all over the map with binge-watching Netflix shows lately. I'm finally finishing up The Killing, which earns the prize for giving me nightmares twice in the past few weeks. I'm countering this with yet another Gilmore Girls re-watch. I'm also watching Game of Thrones, Outlander, iZombie, among others. Basically I'm watching too much TV in general.

Like always, my musical tastes tend toward playlists of a variety of artists rather than solely listening to entire albums by a single artist/group. Lately, there's been a fair amount of Ed Sheeran mixed with random songs I've picked up while watching Hart of Dixie, Grey's Anatomy, and a plethora of CW shows. (See what I mean about watching too much TV?)

About to get real here, folks. I could tell you all kinds of things I've been thinking about lately, but these days my brain is plagued by doubts and worry. A few weeks back, my husband lost his job and since the few substitute teaching shifts I'm able to get don't add up to much, we're both on the hunt for new jobs. Ugh. Not fun. So my mind is constantly occupied by job hunt-related stress swirled together with the self-doubt that comes with trying to write and hoping it doesn't suck.
#wompwomp

The flip side to starting over career-wise is all of the opportunity that comes with that change. It's tough to stay positive, BUT there's always that anticipation that things could end up so much better than you're hoping for. There are so many things open to us that we might not have had the guts or the motivation to seek out had this whole unemployment crapola not been forced on us. The possibilities are kind of exciting and I'm choosing to focus as much as possible on that.

I'm wishing that a few entrepreneurial ideas I've come up with will maybe kinda sorta work out. You never know, right? Also wishing and hoping I can get the hang of baking macarons. We took the leap and attempted chocolate macarons over the weekend, and while they tasted yummy, they looked...not great. We've done some troubleshooting, so we know exactly what we need to do differently next time, so my wish is that Macaron-Baking Round Two will be much more successful.


The many ways I'm connecting with writer friends is one of the things making me happy these days → Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, email, etc... You ladies are seriously the best, and you make me smile every single day! ☺ The hubs and I have been rearranging things around here—the couch faces a different wall! no glare on the TV! the kitchen island is free of clutter!—and it's amazing how that little bit of change makes me feel lighter, happier to live in this place awhile longer. The pipe band I'm part of has decided on our next trip: Scotland + Ireland. Can't wait to visit Ireland in particular!

Our last trip (NW Europe) was incredible, so Scotland + Ireland should be wonderful too! (I've been to Scotland but not Ireland.)


So tell me, what are you currently up to?



April 1, 2015

SOMETHING REAL Is Something Special

My last review was more rant than rave, so I wanted to talk a bit about a book I just finished and totally loved. If you haven't checked out SOMETHING REAL by Heather Demetrios, I strongly suggest you do. She's quickly becoming a fave. Here's the story:

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before. (from Goodreads)




#

There was so much to love about this book. I had heard great things about it, and after reading (and really, really liking) I'LL MEET YOU THERE, I had high hopes for this one as well. It definitely delivered. SOMETHING REAL had me laughing one minute (the voice and humour were fantastic), raging the next, and choked up after that. I love books that do that to me.

Perhaps my favourite aspect of this book was the relationships. I'm all about the romance in books, and this one was particularly swoonworthy (I adored Patrick), but surprisingly the relationship I loved the most was actually Chloe* and her brother Benton™'s. It was so, so good, you guys. This book was all about family dynamics--good, bad, and really, really ugly--and these moments with Chloe and Benton™ were especially funny and heartwarming. Close contenders were Tessa and Mer who were the best kind of besties. 

SOMETHING REAL called to mind "reality" TV shows like Jon & Kate Plus 8 (then the less popular, trimmed down version sans Jon, Kate Plus 8) and 42 Million Kids and Counting...or whatever that hot mess is called. Obviously there are questions about the rightness or wrongness of forcing kids to live like zoo animals in front of a camera for millions of viewers. This book explores that controversy through Bonnie™'s eyes and experience and consequently made me so ragey at times that I wanted to scream at certain characters in the book. (Specifically at her RealMom™, Kirk, and that mulleted f@$k named Chuck.) I thought the author did a fantastic job of portraying it like it probably is: There's very little real about reality TV.

There was one storyline that I wish we had been given more of at the book's conclusion (The One With the Legal Stuff), but this absolutely did not take away from my enjoyment of this book. And I suppose it's realistic to not have every single plot point tied up in a neat bow, right? All in all, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read that was especially tough to put down. I highly recommend it!



* Chloe = Bonnie™ (Just to clear up any confusion.)