Friday Fives

Friday, Veterans Day, NaNoWriMo, and Beginning to End...

Happy 11.11.11...honestly, it's not the catchy date that has me excited, but the fact that it's Friday!

But more importantly, let's not forget, it's also Veterans Day. So if you're out and about today, enjoying the traffic-less roads, the free parking downtown, or the fact you don't have school (lucky kids), please take a moment to remember the importance behind this day. And please show your support for the amazing men and women (both past and present) in the Armed Forces - it's because of what they do, that I can do what I love.

So a BIG THANK YOU to all of our Veterans!

November 11th also means, we're eleven days into NaNoWriMo - almost halfway into this mind-bending, "what was I thinking", insanity. If you aren't familiar with NaNo, to sum it up - November is National Novel Writing Month (Na-No-Wri-Mo). Which basically means, the wonderful folks over at NaNoWriMo host the amazing challenge every November to all us crazy writers: 50,000 words in 30 days.

Yep, crazy.'s also pure, literally abandon. Everything goes. No one's judging - well, unless you don't hit the 50k mark by 11:59pm on November 30th. Cause that's when those that didn't make it, hang their heads in shame, and promise themselves that next year will be different. 

My first attempt at NaNo was actually last year. I'd been dealing with the absolute worst bout of writer's block I'd ever had (you can read all about it here). In fact, I hadn't written a stitch the entire two months before.

But then NaNo came along. And with it, was the thrill of the hunt, the "I so can win this sucker". And it all boiled down to...the competition. Who would've thought? I mean, anyone that knows me, knows I'm super competitive. I love anything that's a challenge. And 50,000 words in 30 days? Yeah, I think that fits the bill. Why hadn't I done this before?

Anyhow. Last November was amazing. Not only did I hit 50,000 words, but I surpassed that goal by an extra 15,000, and completed my current manuscript, THE LUCKY FEW (TLF). Completed. It was pure insanity. And I loved every single day of it.

Well, wouldn't you know September rolled around again, and the EXACT same thing happened. Again. Couldn't write. Didn't want to. Nothing made sense.

October wasn't much better.

I now call it the Curse of SeptOber (that should be read aloud in a vampire voice, hands held up above your head, in that strange Transilvanian accent). 

Now some of you know I'm in the midst of major revisions to my above mentioned manuscipt, THE LUCKY FEW, with my dream agent, who shall remain simply "Dream Agent" for the time being. And yes, dream. Short of stalking him (come on, all you writers out there fess up, you do it too), he's been at the top of my agent wish list for the past five years. So when the opportunity came up to work on exclusive edits with him (well, after I picked myself up off the floor when he called), I of course, jumped all over it. But then SeptOber rolled around, the very same time I received my editorial letter from Dream Agent, and my fingers decided they didn't know how to type anymore. 

Enter: NaNo.

It's been almost two weeks now, and I've been unstoppable. Everything I'd been worried about for the past two months, flew right out the window. And suddenly, everything just clicked into place. Sure my ideas still have some holes that need to be filled - but these ideas are really great (yes, that could totally be subjective, I know) - and most importantly, I'm excited to be writing again! 

I may not hit the 50,000 word goal this year (although I think I'll be close!), but to be honest, that's only the motiviation behind the writing and not what's important. What's important will be to finish this first round of revisions, make my manuscript that much better, and keep all my hair while doing it.

Cause I'd look awfully funny bald. 

So, in honor of NaNo and everything wonderful about it, that leaves me with today's Paper Hangover Friday Fives topic:

What are the FIVE ways that get you from the beginning to the end of your WiP without losing all your hair? 

1. Competition. Nothing makes my fingers come alive more, than a healthy does of competition. Challenge me with a deadline, tell me to surpass a wordcount, and as is the case with NaNo, throw in a few hundred thousand other individuals doing the exact same thing, and I'm game. Now to figure out how to create that same sense of frenzy the other eleven months of the year.

2. Read. Take the time to read. For me, it's reading books that fall within my genre, YA. While that's not the only genre I read, YA definitely contributes to around 90% of my TBR stack, since after all, it's what I write. Not only does reading YA allow for me to escape the mundane of day to day life, but it also helps me as a writer, to write better. 

3. Take a break. Don't forget to eat. Maybe take in a movie or watch a favorite show (hey, no shame in my game, I'm addicted to The Vampire Diaries. So every Thursday from 8-9pm, I'm parked in front of my TV - and it's kinda nice knowing I have that to look forward to every week).

4. Work or focus on something else. Strangely enough, when I was having issues working on TLF, I'd started writing something new - completely out of my comfort zone, falling in the category of contemporary YA. And it was just what I'd needed. Maybe it's the freedom and newness a brand new story brings, allowing my creativity to run rampant. Whatever it is, it works for me.

5. Fall in love with your story and your characters. Seriously. Writing is kinda like trying to grow something in your garden. I know this analogy has been used a million times before, the whole plant the seed and nurture and water it, till it grows into something beautiful...but I suck at gardening. I kill everything. Money tree? Yeah, I've had nine of them. They've all died. Rosemary - the herb that never dies? Yep, killed it in less than a month. Plastic plants? Cats got those, so technically it's not my fault. Anyhow, you get the point. Either way, like growing something in your garden, take the time and invest in your story and your characters. If you love them (even the antagonists, which happen to be my favorites!), it will show in your writing, and ultimately, your readers will connect. 

So, how do you make it through from beginning to end of your manuscripts? What inspires you to keep going? I'd love to hear your suggestions...after all, next SeptOber is only 9.5 months away.

Happy Friday / Veterans Day everyone!

Friday Fives: Five Book or Movie Worlds I'd Love To Live In

Wow, it's been quite awhile since I've done a Friday Fives posting (um, August? Yikes) - but I had a little free time to write and thought this one looked like fun!

Today's topic: What are the FIVE (book or movie) worlds you would love to live in?

1. From the amazing imagination of the woman who started it all: J.K. Rowling and the world of Harry Potter.

Who didn't read those books or watch the movies and dream about what it would be like to fly on a broom and chase the golden snitch or wave a wand and change into an entirely different person? 

2. The creative genius of my all-time most favorite author: Roald Dahl.

For years when I was little, I imagined what it would be like to cross through the old wraught iron gates and into everything that was so amazing about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.


3. Avatar and the world of Pandora.

I loved how everything was so luminescent - and to fly on one of those winged creatures would be so cool (I must have a thing about being able to fly...)!


4. Star Wars.

Oh, I wore my hair in side buns like the best of them (but was never in love with my own brother). And show me one person that can't swing an imaginary light saber without making that "wohhhhhhh" noise. You know you have the app on your phone, admit it.


5. The Matrix.

Who doesn't look bad-ass in all black leather (okay, that's a rhetorical question)? And to be able to bend like that? Yup, sold.



So - what worlds would love to live in if you could?

Happy Friday everyone!

Friday Fives: Five Best Back To School Books

Alas, another week has come and gone...and I can't believe it's the last Friday of August. I mean, summer literally JUST started here in Seattle. As in yesterday. Come on!

What's worse? I feel so bad for the kids that started back to school this week. Seriously. I think we've had a whopping 8 days above 75 degrees this entire year. And those unlucky kids get to go back to school, when the weather is finally beautiful? Totally sucks for them.

But, as the sky grows darker sooner, the school buses are back out and about, and the leaves begin to change, it's perfect timing for today's Paper Hangover's Friday Fives - because today's topic:

What are your five favorite back to school reads?

Right up there with the end of the school year, this is my absolute favorite time of year. Fall. September. Back to school. Homecoming. Football games. Love, love, LOVE. Not to mention cozying up on the couch with a good book to read, when the weather starts to turn. There are so many books that remind me of this time of year - but I'll leave you with my "five" favorite (and most recent) back to school reads:

1. WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by John Green & David Levithan




2. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins








4. IF I STAY and WHERE SHE WENT by Gayle Forman




5. THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger



All of the above were books I THOROUGLY enjoyed. But of course, I'm always looking for more! What are your favorite back to school titles? 

Friday Fives: Five Favorite Apps

It's Friday, Friday...

Awesome. Of course, I now have that absolutely a-mazing song, running through my head. For those of you that have no idea what I'm talking about, please feel free to watch the below video - not only because I love to share, but well, I can't be the only one stuck with this in my head:


The awesome folks over at Paper Hangover have a new topic for today's Friday Fives: What are your five favorite apps - be them writing related or not! Considering what I do for my day job, this is actually something near and dear to my heart (and all of the below are FREE and available on Android - so it's not just the iPhone peeps that get to have all the fun!). Without further adieu, here are my top 5 favorite apps:

1. Color Note: Super cool app that allows you a quick and simple notepad editing experience when you write notes, email, message, shopping lists and to-do lists. AND, you can color coordinate the notes by subject - for instance, all of my writing ideas for one WIP is one color, and so on and so forth. Love. This. App.

Friday Fives: Five (er...10) Favorite First Lines

My recipe for what I'm sure is going to be a great weekend:
- Gorgeous, sunny day here in Seattle - check!
- No rain in sight for d.a.y.s. (oh, God, I may have just jinxed it...oh please no!) - fingers crossed check!
- No work for 48 hours straight. Huh. When you put it that way, it just doesn't seem right. None-the-less, check!
- I bought me some PowerBall tickets - it's $133 meeel-e-un dollaaars (muwahaha!) - that's almost $70 cool mil, if you take the cash lump sum. I believe an offshore account somewhere in the Grand Caymans or Switzerland, is standing at the ready with my name on it. (Someone's gotta win it and I've been practicing REALLY hard!) - that's a seriously BIG CHECK!!! 
- And today's PaperHanger Friday Five topic? Five Favorite First Lines! Total check!

Friday Fives: Five Best Writing or Book Contests


Another Friday is upon us! 

And on top of that, it's finally sunny here in Seattle! I think we've had a total of 72 hours of sun, since the year started...and I know, I know, many of you are suffering with 100+ degree heat and enough humidity that would make my hair bring better reception to my cell phone - but it's been so. gross. here. As in yesterday, it was raining, gray, and a whopping 62 degrees. That was the high temperature for the day folks, not the low. And it's July freakin' 22nd for cryin' out loud (well past July 5th, the official start of summer for Seattle!).

But today is beautiful - waaaaaay too pretty to be sitting in an office, that's for sure! And today's Paper Hanger Friday Fives question is a fun one, although, most of the contests I know of, ended this week - but, here goes!

The Five Best Book / Writing Contests

1. WriteOnCon and A first 500 MG/YA words contest. Grand Prize is $1000 AND an author profile page on In addition, your work will be considered for possible representation by literary agent, Catherine Drayton

2. Writer's Digest: Young Adult Fiction Contest. There is an entry fee of $20, but the prizes?


  • First Prize: The First Place-Winner receives $1,000 cash, promotion in Writer’s Digest, $100 worth of Writer’s Digest Books and the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market.
  • Second Prize: The Second Place-Winner receives $500 cash, promotion in Writer’s Digest, $100 worth of Writer’s Digest Books and the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market.
  • Honorable Mention: Honorable Mentions will receive promotion in Writer’s Digest and the 2012 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market.

Check out their website for all the details! 

3. Goodreads book giveaway for POSSESSION, by Elana Johnson

4. GoodReads book giveaway for SHUT OUT, by Kody Keplinger

5. LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, by Stephanie Perkins - plus 2 other books, on Carolina Valdez Miller's blog!