Cool Reads for Hots Days – a TGNA Post



It’s List of Five Friday over at The Great Noveling Adventure and I’m discussing great books to keep you cool on hot summer days.

Here’s a preview:

I have to say this one was inspired by my AC going out at 3 AM last night and my brain melting along with the rest of me. As I waited for the repairman to show “sometime this afternoon” which was obviously code for 6:45pm, all I could think about, all I wanted as I slowly turned into a human puddle of sweat and sadness, was to sit in a vat of frozen lemonade and read a fantastic story.

Here are some choice picks to get you through a scorching summer day:

1. SHIVER (The Wolves of Mercy Falls #1) by Maggie Stiefvater – I think the title says it all. I’m feeling cooler already, aren’t you? shiver cover

For years, Grace has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house. One yellow-eyed wolf—her wolf—is a chilling presence she can’t seem to live without.

Meanwhile, Sam has lived two lives: In winter, the frozen woods, the protection of the pack, and the silent company of a fearless girl. In summer, a few precious months of being human… until the cold makes him shift back again.

Now, Grace meets a yellow-eyed boy whose familiarity takes her breath away. It’s her wolf. It has to be. But as winter nears, Sam must fight to stay human—or risk losing himself, and Grace, forever.

To see the rest of the List of Five, click here.

While you’re visiting the site, you may notice we have some exciting news! We have put together an anthology of short stories that will be available to download for FREE on June 21st!

Here are the details:

TGNATGNA Summer Nights is the first anthology compiled by The Great Noveling Adventure and includes flash fiction stories by current and former contributors to TGNA, as well as some of your fellow readers! They’re short and sweet (or not so sweet, depending on the story), and they range from romance to horror, friendship to fêtes to love lost.

What binds them together? They all take place in the course of a single summer night.

We are leaking the first lines of one story every day until the release on Twitter and Facebook. It’s been such fun. I can’t wait for this to come out!


TweetFriendly Twitter reminder:  If you’d like some company as you write, please join us! I host AM #wordsprints @Novel_Adventure weekdays from 7-9am CST. (We’re starting an hour later during the summer months.)

The Return of #writemotivation – Thank God! (Someone Hold Me Accountable!)


After almost a year on hiatus, #WriteMotivation returns!

If you need help sticking to your goals or need some encouragement when all seems bleak, this is a fantastic group of people to help cheer you on and help you reach those goals.

The rules are simple:

1. Make a list of realistic goals for the month – and achieve them.
2. Make a Blog Post every week (preferably Wednesdays, but if you don’t post on Wednesdays just add it to the next day you would normally post ). This is to help us keep tabs on our own progress, and for others to cheer us on if it’s a difficult week. Please link to the post in the #writemotivation hashtag
3. Visit your #writemotivation team mates blogs, and participate in the #writemotivation hashtag to cheer people on.

Sign up for this month will go through the end of the week. You can fill out the form to join in here.

I have a major project to complete by the end of this month, so this is perfect timing for me. This one is going to take so much focus for me to stay the course. I need my #writemotivation gang to help me through this!

Here are my June goals:

1. Make word count goal of 2000 words five days each week. That’s the minimum. It wouldn’t hurt to go a bit higher.

2. Completed requested project by the end of the month. Very excited about this project! 

3. Plan blog posts for the month and post weekly. I have been less than consistent over the past couple of months, what with the youngling graduating high school and other major life changes coming into play. Time to regroup and refocus.

4. Read & review at least two books. Have one books already finished and ready to review. This may be the easiest goal to complete. :)

So how about you? What are your goals for the summer? For June? Want to join in #WriteMotivation?

Writing Getaways – a TGNA Post


It’s Travel Tuesday over at The Great Noveling Adventure and I’m discussing the ultimate getaway for a writer – a writing residency. Don’t know what that is? Want to find out more about it?

Here’s a preview:

Last week I made to mistake of taunting all of my northern friends on social media with pics of me in flip flops, basking in the sunny spring-like weather we were having, while they were shivering in their tea cups.

This week, a winter storm finally hit my little corner of the world with a nice little layer of ice on top to add to the misery.

Touché, weather gods.

Now, I pile on the layers trying to stay warm and long for those rays of sunshine.

And some time away. Far away.

A friend of mine just returned from a two-week writing retreat and that got me thinking about doing something similar. I searched online and then I found this wonderful site about writing residences. Places where you can go and write undisturbed for a big chunk of time in beautiful places all around the world – sometimes at no charge or for a very small cost. What kind of heaven was this? There is some paperwork involved – applications to fill out – but why not take the chance? There are many to choose from and it sounds like a delightful way to spend some focused alone time. Think of it as summer camp for writers.

To read the full post, click here.

TweetIf you’re an early morning writer and you’d like a little company, I host AM #wordsprints every weekday morning on Twitter @Novel_Adventure. Join me if you need some motivation to get your writing day started.

And don’t forget to check out our new forum section. You can look for a critique partner, get your first five pages workshopped, or have your query critiqued.


May #writemotivation check in


Doing my first check in with a little over a week to go in the month. That should say something right there. This month didn’t start out so hot. I do feel that I am finally getting back on track after having way too much too handle. I don’t like to bore you with details, but let’s just say it seemed as if everyone in my household was having an existential crisis that required hours of me talking them down off proverbial (and sometimes not-so proverbial) ledges. Chaos was the order of the day, coffee was the beverage, nay, the meal of choice, and sleep was nary to be found.

Thankfully, that is all behind me. Everyone has once again found their inner zen and their raison d’être.

The balance is back.


Image Courtesy of Robin Benad via Unsplash cc
Image Courtesy of Robin Benad via Unsplash cc

Breathe in. Breathe out.


We now return to our scheduled programming. So…where were we?

The Goals:

  1. Continue work on suggested revisions for Museum Crashers. I am close to halfway through with this round of revisions. I had a lovely critique group session, yesterday, that was very productive. My critique group loved the resolution at the end and how my character faced his fear. I just have some tightening up to do to get that ending the way I need it to be. I am really enjoying working on this book.
  2. Work on suggested revisions for Institutionalized. This will have to wait until next month. Although I have been thinking about it a lot and have been coming up with new ideas for it while working on the Museum book. I think I’ve solved a lot of the problems I’ve been struggling with and I can’t wait to get to work on this one. Next month, definitely.
  3. If complete revisions, submit to interested parties/begin submission process. Not ready, yet. Will have to wait for next month.
  4. Read 6 books. I’m doing a terrible job on this goal. I’ve only finished two books so far this month. Although I am blazing through Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles right now. I finished cinder-117x162Scarlet_final_USA-Today-117x162CINDER rather quickly and am already well into SCARLET. (Aren’t those book covers gorgeous?) I know I’ll have this one read before the end of the month. And then this peculiarly wonderful thing happened. I was invited to participate in Colleen Houck’s book club on Goodreads. I have to read the current book, THE SHADOW PRINCE by Bree Despain, by the end of the week so I can participate in the next discussion. I’m really looking forward to it. I thought being part of a book club might help me expand my reading tastes a bit by exposing me to books I wouldn’t normally hear about. It’s going to be a fun experiment. And it should force me to read more timely. Nothing like a deadline, right?
  5. The dreaded and yet necessary exercise – whip cracks! 4 times a week. I have been walking regularly, and for longer stints, which is good, but that doesn’t seem to be enough. It’s time to get back on the elliptical. BLECH! On another note, our neighborhood pool opens this weekend, so I’ll be taking the boy to the pool at least once a day until September. Time to get a new suit. Woohoo.

I hope you’ve had a lovely May and if you are up for some goal challenges for June, it’s a great time to sign up for next month at the #writemotivation website.



My Writing Process Blog Hop

This is a delightful blog hop that’s making the rounds right now, and I was tagged a few times by some lovely people.

Jenny Perinovic, part of my TGNA family, first tagged me in this blog hop and I accepted her challenge,

then my fellow SCBWI Oklahoma friend, Sonia Gensler tagged me and finally,

Jadyn Knight one of my #writemotivation peeps added me to her chosen few.

Thank you all for including me in this fun challenge.

Pic From Unsplash by Sonja Langford
Pic From Unsplash by Sonja Langford

So here we go:

1. What am I working on? I am revising two completed manuscripts at the moment. One is INSTITUTIONALIZED, a YA contemporary novel about a teen who gets admitted to Whispering Sands under false pretenses and must navigate the unfamiliar world of deviants and sociopaths by pretending to be crazy so she can get out in time to save her sister from the real psycho in the family. The other is NIGHT OF THE MUSEUM CRASHERS, a Middle Grade Mystery about a boy who stumbles upon a crime in process – thieves swapping out paintings with fakes. But when the police arrive, there’s no trace of foul play; no one believes him. He decides to solve the crime himself and prove he was right.    

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? With the contemporary YA story, the twist is that the main character isn’t mentally ill, or at least she doesn’t think she has any reason to be locked up. In my Middle Grade story, my character is afraid of everything in the beginning – not exactly the dashing adventurous type that relishes the idea of solving mysteries. He’s thought of as mentally unbalanced – fragile, even, by the adults. That’s kind of an anti-hero for mystery stories. I do seem to be fascinated with the inner workings of my characters’ lives and I do like them damaged; they all seem to need therapy. Read into that what you will.

3. Why do I write what I do? Books meant everything to me as a kid. While some let my imagination soar, some helped me navigate the awkward world of puberty without always having to ask my single dad embarrassing questions. (I know I’m not the only one who owes a heap of gratitude to the amazing Judy Blume.) Writing stories that shed light on difficult issues and let someone else not feel so weird about themselves, like they could be the hero of their own story or even help someone else understand what a different way of life may be like – I don’t know, I just like exploring ideas that spark conversation. 

4. How does my writing process work? I’ve discovered this fabulous new word recently – “planster”. I’m not quite and pantser or a planner, but a planster. And a binge planster at that. I don’t write every day, but even on the days I’m not writing, I do spend a good chunk of time mulling over my stories or thinking about my characters. I spend a lot of time in my own head. Once I do sit down to write, everything else falls away. Distractions like food, people, time all get filtered out. Before I know it, I’ve been writing for hours on end, the sun has disappeared, and my family has written me off as lost for the day. I find myself surrounded by discarded drinks and food items scattered about as offerings to the enthralled author-who-could-not-be-disturbed. This is one of the many ways they love me and my crazy writerly self.

As far as the actual writing of the story process, for me, the situation and the character always come first. An idea pops into my head while having a discussion with a friend or while reading an article or listening to an interview on the radio. I may jot it down so I don’t forget it, or I may just mull it over in my head for a few days. If it sticks in my brain and I can’t stop thinking about it, I begin to play around with it, with the character, and see if this could be something worth pursuing. I start writing some pages. And more pages. Once I get into the story and realize it has teeth, I may sketch out a bell curve outline of major plot points or scenes I want to include. That’s probably as much outlining as I’ll do, with the exception of the mystery story. I did have to outline more to keep track of clues and red herrings, there. For that story, I did a chapter by chapter outline after I knew the story would work and where the story was going.

I try not to revise while writing the first draft, but I do start a page or two back from where I started the day before and I may tinker a bit with things before moving forward. I’m trying to allow myself to write those messy first drafts and wait for revising until I get to the end of the first draft. I do love revising. I know my work only gets better the more I do it. Sometimes it’s hard to know when to stop revising. Probably when the next exciting idea calls to me.

I haven’t tagged anybody for this blog hop as most of the people I would tag have already been tagged, so if you’d like to share your writing process feel free to join in the fun. I have enjoyed reading about everyone’s process. One thing I have gleaned from all of the different stories is that there is no right or wrong way to write, only that you do it.

So here’s to all of you, trudging through your revisions and first drafts, battling your demons of self-doubt. Remember that perseverance is key.

Keep writing!


April #writemotivation check in


Many of the people I follow are participating in the A to Z challenge this month, so I expect they are plenty busy with this insanity right about now. (I say this with the utmost respect of one who could never in a million years be organized enough to post daily for an entire month, let alone have a theme involved tying all said fictional posts together – I am not that person.) I think they are all rock stars or mentally imbalanced, like people who purposely run marathons. Seriously, how do you do it?

Goals for this month:

1. Work on suggested revisions for Museum Crashers. I am deep into this goal at the moment and really enjoying it. The suggestions made during my conference critique have me on the right track. YAY!! I also meet with my critique group this week and they will add to the helpfulness, as they always do.

I may have neglected to mention this before, but two other members of my critique group, Barbara Lowell (who has her first book coming out this June!) and Sharon Martin (writer of the most kick-ass novel in verse I’ve read since Ellen Hopkins), both were chosen as top picks by the speakers. Man, do I have a fantastic critique group or what!

2. Work on suggested revisions for Institutionalized. This will be next after I’m done with Museum Crashers.

3. Read 6 books. I’ve just finished one book of poetry that I’m going to write a review on later this week and I’m in the middle of another, a sequel I’ve been really looking forward to reading – THE DREAM THIEVES by Maggie Stiefvater. I’m going a little slow on this one right now. It’s not clipping along with the same fantastic pace as the first one. Part of it may be that it’s been so long since I read the first book that I have trouble remembering everything that happened in the last book and I get a little lost.

4. If complete both 1 and 2, work on first draft of Pretty Vacant. Not ready for this, yet.

5. Yes, you still have to exercise. 4 times a week. Goal accomplished and my body hates it. Every day I wake up wondering why there is pain already. “Oh yeah. The exercise.” We’re not even up to pre-deathly ill month of February levels of exercise yet and my body is already whining. Too bad, chica, cause we’re not stopping. Slap on the icy hot and walk (limp) on.


Besides this, I’ve also been busy preparing for a talk I’m doing next month for our local SCBWI schmooze entitled “Intro to Twitter”. As part of this prep, I’ve been creating some lists on my Twitter account to share. Wow, was that time-consuming! I’m glad I’ve finally finished! One is called “Writers of fabulous blogs” and includes all the people I follow who also write really good blogs. Feel free hop on over and subscribe to it.

And how are you all doing with your goals?

I hope to get around to reading at least a sampling of the thousands of A to Z challenge posts out there; they are daunting in their numbers. I am interested in reading through all of Rebekah’s world-building series for sure. Talk about detail. Get on with your bad self!  Are there any A to Z challenges you’ve found fascinating?

Progress forward is progress – #writemotivation and NaNo update

2013-Participant-Facebook-ProfileI did something crazy this year for NaNo and started with a completely blank page. I had the barest inklings of a premise to start with and that was it. Usually when I start a project I have a little more to go on. Some basic research, maybe a character sketch, even a vague outline. Not this time. I started with a word count of zero.


I did find my mind working on the premise a few days before the start of NaNo. Anytime I was driving or showering or doing some mundane chore, my brain was coming up with ideas. Yet, I didn’t write anything down.

I waited.

I let everything percolate. Simmer on the back burner.

When midnight struck on November 1st at the kick-off party, I let my fingers take off and words actually filled up the blank pages, much to my relief. It really helped to be surrounded by other writers just as eager and excited to get started on their new projects. I’d never been to a kick-off party before. It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed meeting some new writer friends and hearing about their projects and how anxious they were to get started. Many of them were first-timers. The energy was contagious. After an hour, I had my first thousand words.

And I got to take home my very own box of doom. So cool.

At the second write-in on Saturday, I took part in a couple of timed word count challenges. And one dare. Oh, yeah. It was on. What surprised me most was how much I could write in those thirty minute spurts – unedited spurts at that.

This has really helped me overcome my biggest problem as a writer – too much editing during the first draft. I think a few more days of this and I’ll stop flinching when the strong impulse to edit rears its ugly head.

writemotivation_header1Here are my #writemotivation /NaNo goals for this month:

1. Survive, nay, WIN NaNoWriMo. (I will finish a first draft this year. I WILL!) I’m right on track so far. As of today, I’ve written over 6,000 words out of the 50,000 needed to win NaNo.
2. Attend at least three NaNo Write-Ins and take some dares. I should have made this goal harder. I’ve already attended two write-ins and taken one dare – which I accomplished, with bonus points, no less.
3. Before Nano starts and maybe even into the first week, prep some posts for the month. Although I did prep some posts, I didn’t flesh out as many as I’d hoped. Still time to make this goal before next week! I do have a couple finished, so how about partial credit?
4. Try to look up every once in awhile and acknowledge family’s presence. I have a family? Just kidding. My husband has made me promise that I will take the day off from writing every day that he takes off from work. A healthy compromise. That just means I have to do more writing on the other days. So far it’s working okay. Although we’ll see how well this goes near the end of the month if I’m behind on my word count.

So how is your NaNo going? Surviving the first week okay?

Not doing the NaNo? What other writing goals are you working towards?