Wednesday, 15 October 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

What I’m Reading:

I’m about two thirds of the way through Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas. I can’t even tell you how much I’d love to sit down and gobble up that last third. I love the new characters she’s added to the cast and the way she’s expanded the world in this awesome series.


What I’m Writing:

Since I last posted two weeks ago, I’ve added around 8k to my WIP. I also had the mother of all plot restructuring sessions. While I’ve known for ages what I want to happen in this WIP, I wasn’t happy with how some of those events were hinging together. There was much rearranging, trimming and adding of notes, and a few new ideas tossed into the mix. I also FINALLY worked out this story’s timeline, which was unbelievably hard for different reasons, and spent a chunk of time doing medical research.

What Works For Me:

Getting my husband to beta read for me. He’s an avid reader—in fact, he reads even more than I do—and I value his feedback. Plus, after spending all those hours locked away writing, I like to share what I’ve been working on with him.

He finished reading Engrave yesterday, and his overall comment was that "it rocked and was a killer second novel." I know, I know, he's my husband and he has to say that, BUT he did have more articulate comments about things like plot, pacing, and character development. Comments that made me very happy and boosted my confidence.

Aside from that, he also does encouraging things like drink Coke with one of my characters' names on it and then tweet about it while on his break at work. That made my day. :)

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

This past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada, and we filled it with fun and relaxing things. We finally saw If I Stay, and all of us enjoyed it. My son and I agreed that it was adapted well for the big screen.

We also spent time reading at Starbucks and went new and used book shopping. I was hoping to find a copy of Sir Walter Scott’s Lay of the Last Minstrel because part of it features in my current WIP. I wasn’t expecting to find a copy that was 113 years old though! This sweet little paperback was put out in 1901 by a Canadian publisher, and the cover is decorated with maple leaves. It’s a unique addition to my stack of dusty, old Romantic poetry books.

This year, we decided to have a picnic for Thanksgiving, so we took our turkey dinner to Blackstrap, a provincial park about half an hour away. The weather is still fairly warm for October, but it was really windy near the lake, and I froze my butt off. Still, we enjoyed our little turkey roast (perfect for a picnic for three seeing as it was small enough to cook in a meat loaf pan), sweet potato crisp with cranberry-apple-oatmeal topping, pumpkin cake, and other goodies. It was a gorgeous place for a picnic, but next time we’ll go when the weather is warmer and the boys can take me hiking. They did a trail run there before and were eager to show me how nice it was.


Well, that’s my week. How was yours?

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

Please note that one of our WUW headings has changed. You can find further details on that here.

Things are busy around here lately, so no post for me today. Hope all of you are having a lovely and productive week though! Keep those ideas and words flowing! :)



Wednesday, 1 October 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

Please note that one of our WUW headings has changed. You can find further details on that here.



What I’m Reading:

Let’s be honest here. Seeing as Heir of Fire is GINORMOUS, and I’m smack in the middle of drafting these days (which means less time for reading), I’m probably going to be saying the same thing here for a quite a while. That’s okay, because while I’d love to gobble it down in a couple days flat, it’s not a bad thing to stretch it out. I also just finished beta reading the cool, urban fantasy ms I mentioned last week and have to compile my feedback for that. I’m still reading Romeo and Juliet with my son for school as well.

What I’m Writing:

This was a real problem solving week.  I had to rearrange an entire group of scenes to try and fix a timeline/plot issue, which wasn’t exactly a barrel of laughs. There are some things that have to be timed just right in this WIP, and for whatever reason they’re conflicting with each other.  Getting that sorted is a goal for this coming week. Besides mixing around and patching together scenes, I wrote 6200 new words, so despite one setback it was still a productive week.

What Works for Me:

Like I mentioned above, if I notice a plot hole—big or small—I tackle it right away, even if that means rewriting scenes in the drafting stage. I know some people recommend leaving issues like that for revisions, but I prefer to work them out before moving on, regardless of whether or not it takes longer to get the story out. My philosophy is that plot holes can snowball, especially since one plot point hinges on another. Plus, they nag me until I fix them. I want to be able to keep writing knowing that I’m not building the rest of my story on a shaky foundation. Obviously, this doesn’t work for everyone’s process, but it helps me keep all those plot threads from getting tangled or unraveling (on the page and in my poor head).

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

It’s been busy but not with anything out of the ordinary. I made three pumpkin loaves, which we’ve been devouring, especially with tea during our afternoon homeschool lessons. Lately, that’s involved my son answering discussion questions from the back of If I Stay, which he really enjoyed.  I have to say it’s awesome and so incredibly helpful when publishers include a list of thought-provoking questions in their books. What a great way to get people talking about stories and a really handy homework assignment too.

The temperatures have dipped, half the yellow leaves blew off our trees in a span of a few days, and my family is in what I like to call “pre-hibernation” mode. While a lot of people do spring cleaning, we always scramble to get things done around the house before winter gets here. So we’ve been busy with some renovations and dejunking and whatnot, trying to beat the snow, which could show up any day (although hopefully not yet).

I also discovered music by The Boxer Rebellion this week, particularly the song “New York,” which has been a source of inspiration. Epic, primal drums make me want to write moving scenes.

So how are you this fine Wednesday?


Wednesday, 24 September 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

Please note that one of our WUW headings has changed. You can find further details on that here.

What I’m Reading:

I finished Phobic by Cortney Pearson and really enjoyed it. Phobic was a perfect spooky read for autumn. If you’d like to know more about it, you can check out this postNow I’m reading Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas and beta reading a fun, unique urban fantasy ms.

What I’m Writing:

This week I wrote 5700 words. My mc is facing some big challenges right now, and that means big challenges for me in the writing department. This may sound crazy, but I actually like that. When I plan a story, I sometimes purposely work elements into the plot that I know will stretch my writing abilities. It keeps writing fresh for me.  I’m getting to the point in this ms when the plot is really going to kick into high gear, and I’m looking forward to that.

What Works for Me:

Writers often stress the importance of psychological triggers that put you in the mood to write. One of those items for me is my writing mug. Actually, I have two like this, which is a good thing seeing as one of them is usually clean then when I sit down to work. Why do I swear by this particular mug? Because it’s dark with a romantic flare, much like my WIP.  I often have a favourite writing tea as well. Right now, it’s wild cherry.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

This past Saturday, the hubby and I made a traditional Scottish dinner for Outlander night. I whipped up some homemade shortbread, decorated with my thistle stamp. The thistle is the national flower of Scotland, in case you were wondering. We also made haggis, clapshot (a potato and turnip dish), and oat bannocks with honey, all of which were quite tasty. Yes, we love haggis, although we made the quick version that only uses liver. Feel free to be grossed out. It’s definitely not for everyone. The husband also put together quite the selection of awesome Scottish craft beers for the occasion (we had Dark Island and Skull Splitter from the Orkney Brewery). Plus, I tried Scotch for the first time. Holy moly does that burn going down! I enjoyed it.

Other than that, we’ve been taking nice fall walks and “squooshing.” That’s what my family used to call running and crunching through the leaves when I was a kid. As you can see in my pics, the leaves here are mostly yellow now. Even though we’ve had summer temperatures during the day lately, it’s cold enough at night to turn the trees.

So how was your week?


Monday, 22 September 2014

Introducing PHOBIC by Cortney Pearson!


Hey, everyone! Today I’m super excited to be a part of the book blitz for Phobic by Cortney Pearson. As soon as I read the description for Phobic, I was itching to read it. A story about a haunted house that’s alive? Bring it on! As soon as autumn hits, I start gearing up for Halloween and all things spooky, and Phobic is the perfect creepy, mysterious read for this time of year.

I loved the main character, Piper, and how she handled the challenges thrown at her throughout the book—some normal and others down right freaky. The moment I read chapter one I was hooked. I had to know the history of Piper’s house and the explanation for its weirdness. I’ll also admit to staying up until 4:00 a.m. to get those answers.

One of my favourite things about Phobic was Cortney’s knack for unique metaphors and word choices. Many times I found myself saying, “Ooo, I like how she put that!” I also loved that while Piper’s struggles concerning her house were on the bizarre side (eek!), her teenage struggles were very real.

So if you’re looking for a spooky YA read for autumn or any other time of the year, I recommend snuggling up with Phobic! And don't forget to enter the rafflecopter below for the chance to win a $15 Amazon gift card!

Here's a better look at what Phobic is about:

Series: The Forbidden Doors #1
Release date: September 8th 2014
Purchase: Amazon

Fifteen-year-old Piper Crenshaw knows her house is strange. It’s never needed repairs since it was built in the 1800s, and the lights flicker in response to things she says. As if those things aren’t creepy enough, it’s also the place where her mother committed murder.

To prove she’s not afraid of where she lives, Piper opens a forbidden door, which hides a staircase that leads to the ceiling. That’s when the flashbacks of the original residents from 1875 start, including a love affair between two young servants. Each vision pulls Piper deeper into not only their story, but also her house. Piper confides in her best friend, Todd, whom she's gradually falling for, but even he doesn't believe her. At least, not until her house gets axed during a prank, and the act injures Piper instead, cutting a gash the size of Texas into her stomach.

Piper realizes her house isn’t haunted—it’s alive. To sever her link to it, she must unravel the clues in the flashbacks and uncover the truth about her mother’s crime, before she becomes part of her house for good.

And here's a bit about the author: 

Cortney Pearson is a book nerd who studied literature at BYU-Idaho, a music nerd who plays clarinet in her local community orchestra, and a writing nerd who creates books for young adults. She lives with her husband and three sons in a small Idaho farm town.

If you'd like to follow Cortney, you can find her here:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

What's Up Wednesday

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

If you missed last week’s post, please note that one of our WUW headings has changed. You can find further details on that here.

What I’m Reading:

I finished Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo and thought it was a satisfying end to a solid series. I’ve noticed some outraged and heartbroken reviews about this third book, but I have to say that I completely agree with the way the author chose to end her trilogy.

Now, I’m reading Phobic by Cortney Pearson and really enjoying it. Considering it’s more or less fall now, and I get Halloweenish this time of year, Phobic, in all its creepiness, is exactly what I’m in the mood for. A cup of Stormy Night tea from David’s and a book about a “haunted” house (yeah, it’s kind of alive and temperamental) makes for a perfectly spooky autumn evening!

What I’m Writing:

This past week, I wrote around 5000 words. I also drafted a scene that’s crucial to the overall plot of my series. It was tough to write because it was on the technical side, but it also needed to be suspenseful and emotional too. You know those scenes that need a bit of EVERYTHING in them? The kind where you feel like you’re juggling way too many elements at once? Yeah, this scene was like that. It was frustrating and draining to write, and I’m not entirely sure what I think of how it unfolded, but for now I got through it. Whew. 

What Works for Me:

Every once in a while I like to have a cleanup day. Creative clutter can eventually stop being creative and start to become a distraction. My work areas, writing tote box, and notebooks build up with stuff that snowballs and gets overwhelming: Cue writer’s block and frustration.

Sometimes it’s necessary to tackle all those Post-Its stuck everywhere, the notes that have piled up and need to be transferred to Scrivener, the fringe of tabs along the top of my notebooks that flag plot holes to deal with, the jumble of writing tools, the annoying crumbs on my keyboard, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. It’s funny how dealing with the clutter can uncork my brain, get the creative juices flowing again, and make me ready to move ahead in a story.

Usually, I end up decluttering when I’m not feeling motivated to put words on the page or I’m stuck on a plot issue and still want to do something productive and story related. Then the next time I actually write, it’s a fresh start.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

It’s been busy lately, so I haven’t been up to anything out of the ordinary. My husband was away for work last week, and being the thoughtful guy that he is, he brought back a bunch of lovely notebooks for me to scribble story ideas in. They’re so pretty I almost don’t want to write in them (almost). My son and I watched Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet the other night seeing as we’re reading the play for school. Even after eighteen years it’s still a cool interpretation, and my son loved it. Major bonus in the homeschool department. There was also much pumpkin-y messing around in our kitchen. The hubby brewed his annual batch of pumpkin beer, which will hopefully be ready for Halloween, and I whipped up some pumpkin cookies to kick off fall. Oh yes, and we started watching The Mindy Project. Loving it so far.

So what’s up with you these days? 


Wednesday, 10 September 2014

What's Up Wednesday Makeover!

In case you’re new to WUW, it’s a blog hop created by my sister Jaime and me, intended to help writers keep in touch with one another. If you’d like to participate, please sign up on the linky below, and be sure to spread some writerly encouragement around to at least a few other people taking part. Also, please remember to link back to our host blogs and/or use one of the WUW buttons. Thanks!

Last week I mentioned that Jaime and I had a little makeover in store for WUW. You’ve probably already noticed the pretty new autumn buttons Jaime designed. Feel free to snag those if you like! We’ve also decided to change one of the headings just to freshen things up a bit. We’re scrapping What Inspires Me Right Now, and we’ll be including the new heading What Works for Me instead. This new section is for sharing different aspects of our writing habits and processes with one another, whether they’re ways to stay organized, inspired, or make your writing time fun. Something that works for you might work for someone else too, and you never know what tips might come in handy!

Here’s a list of ideas for what to post about under this heading:

details about your writing process: how you stay organized, what writing program you use and why, how you go about revising, etc.
 your writing habits: when or where you write, specifics of your routine, what you do to get in the mood for writing, what your writing space looks like, etc.
how you reward yourself
writing tips, helpful quotes, or links to articles
music on your playlist
how you balance writing with family, work, and other activities
what motivates or inspires you lately (see how that old heading still fits in?)
how you keep yourself disciplined and focused
how you brainstorm or organize new story ideas
how you deal with writer’s block, plot issues, etc.
tips for writing a query, synopsis, pitch line, or self-publishing
writing snacks or other fun essentials


You get the idea. There are tons of fun and useful things we can share in this new section! Basically What Works for Me is broader while putting the focus more on writing. Don’t feel like you have to stick to this list either—these are just some suggestions to get everyone started—but please remember to keep what you share writing-centred. Hopefully we’ll pick up some helpful tips from one another!

Now on to my post... 

What I’m Reading:

I’m about halfway through Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo. Anyone else notice how many good trilogies are ending this year?

I’m also reading Romeo and Juliet with my son, which is how we’re kicking off language arts for homeschooling this year. We’re using the Oxford Next Shakespeare Project, an awesome (and very inexpensive) online resource from Oxford University Press. Seriously, if you’re a teacher, a parent with a kid reading Shakespeare for school, or you want to dig into The Bard’s works yourself, I highly recommend it. Also check out shmoop.com for hilarious, teen friendly, thorough breakdowns of all aspects of Shakespeare’s plays.

What I’m Writing:

After a busy summer of writing non-stop and finishing Act 1 of Enlighten, I took a bit of a break. Instead of churning out words, I reread what I’ve written so far and boosted my inspiration by creating mood boards for my trilogy, which I’ve wanted to get around to for ages. I also did some research to prep for diving into my next big scene. I have now written part of said scene, and a particular snippet of dialogue from it might be one of my favourite bits ever.

What Works for Me:

Colour coding! Since I’m writing a trilogy, ideas for three books have been popping into my head for the last two years, and I always jot those down in a notebook right away (actually it’s a whole series of notebooks now). To keep that mishmash of ideas organized, I mark each with a different coloured dot in the margin: green for Envision, red for Engrave, and purple for Enlighten. Then, when I transfer a whole schwack of notes to Scrivener or go looking for something I scribbled down, it’s easy to sort out which notes are for which book. After that, I put an X through the coloured dot to indicate that idea has been transferred. If I hadn’t started this colour coding system back when I first began writing this trilogy I would’ve been overwhelmed and a lot of ideas would’ve been lost in the shuffle. I also tend to colour code when I draw plot arc diagrams and for any number of other tasks. It works really well if you’re visual like I am.

What Else I’ve Been Up To:

The hubby and I have been watching Outlander, which is pretty much spoiling me for all
other TV shows. I wasn’t so sure about the casting at first, but I’m now convinced. And addicted.

I finally tackled sorting through our library to get rid of books that won’t get read again (or will never even get cracked open). I hate doing it, but it’s high time to whittle down our shelves. We donate our used books to our local symphony for their yearly book sale, so they go toward a good cause at least. 

And, as usual, I’ve been working my butt off on curriculum. I like to be organized about our school year (Okay, I admit it. We’re keeners) so that’s been a ton of work lately. It’s well worth it though, and I’m excited about the topics and resources we’ll be covering.

So what’s up with you?