Wednesday, July 31, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. 

What I'm Reading: I finished The Madman's Daughter and am hoping to put a review up this weekend. I haven't started my next book yet, but I think I'm going to read Shadow and Bone again and then read Siege and Storm.

What I'm Writing: Guys. This week has been rough for writing. Working on Saturday (I'm a M-F girl) really threw me off, and I haven't been able to recover. I've been binge watching shows on Netflix and reading for hours at a time. I didn't meet my goals for last week. I was working on the editing, and then I realized that there was a huge part of my timeline that just didn't work. Too much time was going by for my characters' decisions and my plot elements to make sense. While I figured out what I needed to do to fix it, I didn't get myself to do it. In fact, I sat around this afternoon hating myself for a while (as we all do from time-to-time), and I finally decided to do something. So I'm re-reading the scenes that happen just before this new scene has to take place and am taking notes so I can finally write the new one. Maybe tomorrow?

I think I'm going to try to be more disciplined and specific with my goals this coming week. I want to be very specific. Here's my plan:

  • Thursday: Write the new scene (chapter 11, scene 1)
  • Friday/Saturday: Start the second new scene (chapter 11, scene 2). I'll be spending a lot of time with my husband these days since we have hardly seen each other this week, so I want to be realistic here.
  • Sunday: Finish new scene. Read through the rest of part two (chapters 12-17) for timeline inconsistencies. Make slight edits as needed.
  • Monday: Read chapters 18 and 19 for timeline inconsistencies and correct.
  • Tuesday: Read chapters 20-22 for timeline inconsistencies and correct (finishing out part 3).
So I only have two real writing goals. The editing goals are less daunting then they look because the timeline shift is only 4 days, but when I'm weaving in actual historical events, it makes all the difference.

What else I've been up to: We finished the office move! Finally! Hopefully I can breathe soon. 

What's Inspiring Me Now: Not much other than the need to not feel like such a lump. Pushing through.

I'll try to read through everyone's posts tomorrow after my new scene is written! See you then :)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Badass Books: The Westing Game

I'm going to be honest--I wish I hadn't missed the poll for this month's YA Book Club. I've been craving a re-read of The Giver, and I'm always up for diving into A Wrinkle In Time (I read this one probably once every two years). I had never heard of The Westing Game, so when that was the selected story, I was surprised. But I guess it's always good to read something new--even if it is actually quite old.


When an eccentric millionaire dies mysteriously, sixteen very unlikely people are gathered together for the reading of the will...and what a will it is!

The mysterious death of an eccentric millionaire brings together an unlikely assortment of heirs who must uncover the circumstances of his death before they can claim their inheritance

Why I read it: YA Book Club (as previously mentioned), which is hosted by the fabulous Tracey Neithercott. For this month, she selected a host of summer reading specials (an idea that I love), and participants voted. The Westing Game won.

ZOMG Yes! I found myself pleasantly surprised by this book. It's been a while since I've read an MG story, and I forgot how fun they can be--voice, character development, plot. It's different from YA or adult, but it isn't any less lovely.

The Westing Game had quite the assortment of characters. It felt reminiscent of And Then There Were None, though not as dark. I enjoyed getting to see inside of each character's head, and I had fun trying to crack the mystery. I figured out everything except the final reveal.

Meh While I liked getting in every character's head, the narrative style was a little confusing/overwhelming at times. I wasn't sure who I was reading. I know part of that was tied to the whole mystery element, but it pulled me out of the story.

Kthxbai This was a fun read, and I wish it had been assigned to me for summer reading as a kid! Thanks for the fun, light read in midst of this crazy summer!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. 

What I'm Reading: I started The Madman's Daughter last night--a YA historical fiction inspired by H.G. Well's The Island of Dr. Moreau. I'm enjoying it so far. The language feels right for the time period, and I like the characters. I know a lot of people who read this took issue with what happens to the animals, and while I saw the very first evidence of this, I'm not deep enough in to the book to have experienced much of it. It does make me a little nervous.

What I'm Writing: I accomplished my goals for this week! I finished part four and am almost at 65,000 words. I am also about halfway through Everyday Life in the 1800s. There's some great stuff here. I really recommend it for anyone writing historical fiction during the 19th century.

So while I wrapped up part four, the words themselves need a lot of help--a lot. I'm in that part of the story where everything is different than what I originally wrote, so it's like writing a first draft all over again. My goal for this week is to cull through parts three and four. While I don't need them at any sort of point of perfection, I do want to make sure everything is working before I go into parts five and six, as the climax is coming up.

What Else I've Been Up To: I reached the halfway point on my 30-day hot yoga (both bikram and heated flow) challenge this week. Today is day 17. I think it's been really good for me, but I'm starting to get to the point where my body is getting more tired and achey. My office is also moving locations this week, so I won't be around on Saturday until much later in the day for writing :) I'm crazy-excited about the new space and will be sure to post some photos!

What's Inspiring Me Now: I'm 2/3 of the way through my story, and that's huge. I'm getting into some completely uncharted territory with my WIP, and I'm excited about it. I'm also really inspired by my husband right now. He loves this story I'm working on. He's not a huge YA person, and he hasn't been sold by my other WIPs. So we've been talking through a lot of the pieces and parts of this story, and I love it. :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Badass Books: Nobody But Us

Nobody But Us has been on my list for a long time, since Katy Upperman (I think?) read the ARC last year and wrote about it. I preordered it, and I'm surprised I didn't get to it sooner. This has been a crazy year.

Check out Kristin's website.
Summary (from Goodreads):


Maybe I'm too late. Maybe Zoe's dad stole all her fifteen years and taught her to be scared. I'll undo it. Help her learn to be strong again, and brave. Not that I'm any kind of example, but we can learn together.

When the whole world is after you, sometimes it seems like you can't run fast enough.


Maybe it'll take Will years to come to terms with being abandoned. Maybe it'll take forever. I'll stay with him no matter how long it takes to prove that people don't always leave, don't always give up on you

As always, spoilers in white.

Why I Read It: For a lot of reasons. I don't read much contemporary, but the premise of this one intrigued me, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It was an easy fit for my Debut Author Challenge list. I'm glad I added it.

Still working on this list.

ZOMG Yes! From a writing perspective, so much of this story was ZOMG Yes! The characters felt so real, which is always a big thing for me. It alternates between Will and Zoe's points of view. Kristin really puts you in these characters heads.

When it came out earlier this year, I read a handful of reviews who felt the situations or characters were unbelievable, and I couldn't disagree more. Sure, the situations sucked, I mean really, everything that happened to these characters was awful, but their reactions? The way the responded to each other? The way they actually acted like teenagers, which can be beyond frustrating? Spot on.

The aspect of this book that I loved (hated?) the most was the ending. SPOILERS: There are very few tragedies among the YA books I've read over the past few years, but Nobody But Us was absolutely tragic. Will the epitome of a a tragic hero with his anger ultimately resulting in the beyond tragic ending. And honestly? I wouldn't have been satisfied with the ending any other way. I didn't want it to happen, but I didn't want most anything that happened in this story to happen. Still, it had to, and Kristin made it happen. I imagine she must've cried a lot writing this.

kthxbai If you're looking for a contemporary that doesn't fit into the typical YA mold, this is the story for you. It's worth the read.

Five chiweenies to Kristin Halbrook!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. 

What I'm Reading: I picked up The Westing Game at the library on Saturday for July's YA Book Club read. I'm actually really enjoying it--it reminds me a lot of the mysteries I read in middle school. It feels a little more MG than YA to me, but that's not a problem. My opinion on the narrative style (switching between characters often to add a mysterious effect) is still out, but I'm liking the story. I also picked up Everyday Life in the 1800s to help as I'm finishing up my rewrite. Not sure how I didn't find it sooner! Also, I'm planning to write my review of Nobody But Us tonight.

What I'm Writing: I did not meet my goals this week. While I wrote a little over 5,000 words, I'm only about half way through part four. It has expanded from what I originally thought it would be. Sunday through Tuesday I was in a hard place with the story. There were things I couldn't get right, plot elements that weren't working, etc. I'm still working through those. This part of the story diverges completely from the original draft, with elements diverging from the outline for this draft, so it's new ground. I like it, but it's harder. My goal for the coming week is to wrap up part 4 and get some reading done on Everyday Life in the 1800s. I'd like to do some revisions to this section as well if I can.

What Else I've Been Up To: Remember how I mentioned that my husband is cooking now that we have a bigger kitchen? Well he made this wonderful Indian feast on Sunday. I knew he could cook, but sakes alive (sorry...Civil War era slang)! It was fabulous. I'm also on day 12 of my 30 day hot yoga challenge. I can't believe how fast time has gone. Still going strong :)

What's Inspiring Me Now: Twitter. All of you guys Tweeting on Twitter. I get notifications on my phone, and it reminds me that there are people who are doing this with me, despite the struggles I'm having with the story right now. So please keep tagging me in Tweets!

What's up with you?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What's Up Wednesday

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis.

What I'm Reading: I finished Nobody But Us. I'm so glad I read this story. It felt so real and so raw, and the characters were so on target for teens dealing with the issues they were dealing with. (that's a lot of so's...guess I'm pretty passionate about this) I hope to have a review up on Friday or Saturday. I'm trying to decide what to read next. I have several things on my Kindle, and there's always Siege and Storm, but I don't know what I'm in the mood for. Sort of tempted to buy and read Gone Girl. Or maybe something closer to what I'm writing this time. Anyone have any historical fiction or alternate history recommendations? Historical fantasy?

What I'm Writing: I set my goals for this past week a little too high. It took a lot more words than I expected to finish part three of Stars and Stripes, so I didn't get those extra 1,000 words in. Though technically I'm writing this Tuesday night, and I still have a shot at them once I finish. I did, however, finish and revise part three enough to send it off to one of my CP's.
I really want to share an excerpt from this part, but I just can't. So many things happen. Phew. So instead, here's an excerpt from the third and final POV for what I'm working on. This comes from Captain Greybar, the head of the Union company that Danny is now a part of. Greybar only makes a handful of POV appearances. This first one is from part two and will probably be the last excerpt I share.

The room was dark, but Greybar didn’t need daylight to see in the night. A heavy wooden bed was situated in the far corner, only a few feet away from the fireplace. Across from the foot of the bed sat a matching desk, flush with the window. A small gas lamp rested on its corner along with a box of Greybar’s personal effects.

His James Clark telegraph had been set up while he was gone—its wire running through the now-closed window. Each Seer Captain had one in order to report progress back to General Clay. The president had provided them. His own father had suggested it.

General Greybar—hero of the Mexican-American war. Greybar scoffed. His father was just like the rest of them. He played soldiers like pawns in his quest for the highest rank, the greatest recognition. He wasn’t any better than Grant or Buell or any of the others. To them, the Seers were merely a means to glory.

The Captain had thought more than once of what would have happened had he joined Eli Shackleford and the rebel Seers in their quest for a new order. But he couldn’t waste time on wondering. As enticing as the idea of freedom was, he didn’t want it at the cost Eli demanded.

Greybar sat in the wooden chair and rested his hand on the telegraph. He needed to let Clay know about Danny, but his mind was moving too fast to think of the right words. Instead, he reached into the box on the table and pulled out his leather-bound journal. He opened it to the middle, where a thin photograph lay pressed between the pages.

His seventeen-year-old self stared up at him, his eyes bright with the fire of reform and the hope of a better future for all those born with the Sight, a future of choice. Milo stood on his left, her hands on her hips, grinning. On his right, a young woman in military dress pressed her lips to Greybar’s cheek. Her short blond hair fell into her eyes, hiding half her face from the photo. He brushed his fingertips across her face and resisted the urge to crumple the photograph in his fist. He dropped it on the table then buried his head in his hands.

“Eli,” he whispered her name. But it didn’t matter. She couldn’t hear him. She’d never hear him again. If he saw her, he’d have to kill her. She’d never let him take her prisoner.

For this coming week, I'd like to knock out part four. It's only four chapters, so I think it might be an attainable goal. However, some of what I had originally plotted has changed, which might complicate things. I'd at least like to complete the next two chapters.

What Else I've Been Up To: We had a wonderful long weekend filled with lots and lots of rain, making for a much cooler July than we typically get. I loved it. Things are ramping up again at work, so I'm having to be really particular with my free time to make sure I can do everything I want to do. And I finally got back to hot yoga after my fall. I spent about 30 minutes of my first 90 minute class on the floor, but it's been getting easier. I really missed it.

What's Inspiring Me Now: This quote from Brian Andreas: "Everything changed the day she figured out there was exactly enough time for the important things in her life."

What's up with you?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

What's Up Wednesday: Ready. Set. Write! Week 4

“What’s Up Wednesday” is a weekly blog hop by Jaime Morrow and Erin Funk. From Jaime: It’s similar in some respects to the Currently… post, but it’s been whittled down to only four headings to make it quicker and more manageable on a weekly basis. 

What I'm Reading: Still working on Nobody But Us. I'm really enjoying it. I also really enjoy that Will reminds me of some of my sister's friends in Elko, Nevada (where we were born and where she still leaves). Come to find out Will is from Elko! Not that it's necessarily the thing to boast about, but I did like seeing how an author described the town.

What I'm Writing: Well I met my goals for this week--finishing two chapters. I'm still working on the third. So while I didn't quite meet my stretch goal, I got really close and ended up clocking in at a little over 7,000 words. I worked on some game-changing scenes, and I'm so excited about them (albeit nervous). I need to get them out to crit partners to see what they think.

For this week, I want to wrap up chapter 19 then revise part three (18, 19, 20). Beyond that, I'd like to get another 1,000 words done on the rest if that's possible. I'm thinking I'll exceed the goal since I'm off work Thursday and Friday--but so is my husband, so there's a chance I won't get as much done as I'm hoping.

Last week I gave you an excerpt from Mason's perspective. Here's one from Danny's:

The other boys were quiet. Danny’s legs started to shake, but she ignored them. She pushed her fear down into the bottom of her stomach and tried to imagine it was a just a spec, and then nothing. She squared her shoulders, crossed the room to Tim, and looked up at him. “Men like me? Weren’t you listening? I said I was a Federal.”
Tim rolled his eyes and took another drink.
“Your etiquette could use a little work,” Danny said. She considered him for a second, heart pounding. Then, “With manners like yours, I’m guessing you must send your full salary home to your family. They probably can’t spare you keeping any of it for yourself.”
Tim stepped closer to Danny and tucked his flask into his jacket. He towered over her. His body was tense, his shirt tight across his shoulders. Danny steadied herself. She couldn’t let him see she was afraid. She couldn’t let any of them see it. Fear and submission would have been Danielle’s response, but she wasn’t Danielle. She wouldn’t be until long after the war ended. There was no room for fear anymore, not as Danny Clemmons.
Tim looked down at her. He brought his arm back.
“Tim,” Mason warned from across the room.
“I’m going to teach this runt a lesson,” Tim said.
The fear in Danny shifted to a raw energy. It bubbled up inside of her, sending tingles along her arms and down her spine. She laughed; she felt stronger and more alive than she ever had. “Let me save you the embarrassment,” she said.
Tim’s face went red. Rage burned behind his glassy eyes and a halo of light appeared around him. Something in Danny felt bad for pushing him so far. He had to be tired—it had only been a week since Donelson fell, but she wasn’t just going to roll over for this Yankee boy.
Tim grabbed Danny by the forearms, his grip tight enough to bruise. She didn’t flinch. “Choose your next words carefully,” he said.
Danny grinned. “It wouldn’t be proper to hit a lady.”
Tim’s mouth dropped open, his eyes wide. His hands fell from her arms.

What Else I've Been Up To: I got a promotion at work last week--woo hoo! I now have "Social Media Specialist" in my title. So, in true Liz fashion, as soon as I received the new title, I started working on several social media process documents, and I'm beyond excited about them.

What's Inspiring Me Now: You mean other than all of the Twitter accountability and writing sessions? This song by Mumford. Whenever I hear it, my whole ending plays out before my eyes and I have all of the feels. ALL OF THEM. The first time it happened I actually started sobbing. So there's that.

What about you?