What’s Up Wednesday: It’s MOO. Mostly.

wuwPLANEBORDER2What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime or Erin’s blog.

Which FRIEND said, “It’s a moo point. It’s like a cows opinion.” Which I still think makes all kinds of sense.*

What I’m Reading

Well. Still UnSouled by Neal Shusterman. I have made little progress since last week thanks to the fact that I have ALL THE CRITIQUING to do. I did get to see Neal Shusterman this weekend at YAK (Young Adult Keller) Book Festival, where he gave a brilliant key note (more on that below!) and can’t wait to have more time to finish UnSouled. It’s not exactly light reading, so falling asleep with it swirling around my head isn’t the best idea, which means I need to find another time to read it. I also bought Sapphire Blue by Kerstin Gier, and have been sneaking peaks in my spare time. So pretty.

What I’m Writing

I’ve written about 3,000 words on my WiP since last week. I finally got to a scene I’d been wanting to write, which means I didn’t want to stop until I finished, and so I wore myself out. (But it was worth it!) I also did character sketches for a TV Pilot, and plotted the episode. I’m working on the script with no idea what kind of future it might have. It’s interesting switching between mediums, and voices, and styles. I feel like a sword being sharpened for battle. It’s uncomfortable.

What Inspires Me

YAK Fest took place over the weekend. Unsuprisingly, being surrounded by well-known, debut, and soon-to-debut authors was the very best kind of kick in the pants. I consider myself a motivated person. I take my pursuit of publication seriously, I try to maintain forward motion as much as possible, but still it can be hard to keep it up. Life is distracting — sometimes necessarily so — but a day dedicated to books, to readers, to writing, is a great way to refocus.

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What Else I’m Up To

I did an interview with my friend Susan Bishop Crispell for the release of her Adult Magic Realism novel Love & Cupcakes. Check it out here if you’re interested. We talk fangirling, writing tips, and, of course, cupcakes!

I shared last week about our new puppy, James and the positive effect his presence has had on my son. Sam is also three weeks into his first Karate class and last night he really began to show more focus and less frustration. To quote him, “That was totally awesome!”

sam

Jaime Morrow got the FRIENDS quote last week. It was Chandler Bing. She wins all things.

Whenever+i+win+an+argument+with+my+Girl..+One+of_3e681f_4815626

However, the episode was still undeclared. Ifyourecurious it’s The One with Ross’s Teeth”which, BTW, is a fave.

*Get the FRIENDS quote this week and I’ll send a t-shirt from my short film, Cassie’s Cause, which is  this close to being done!(No cheating!)

Interview with Susan Bishop Crispell, author of LOVE & CUPCAKES

CoverFinalSM-LoveAndCupcakesFrom Goodreads:

For Jaclyn “Jack” Pace, sensing what sweets people crave is as easy as breathing. But it’s not enough to keep her cupcake bakery in the black.

So, when her estranged sister Harper comes back to town with an affinity for making art out of icing—and a past full of secrets—she reluctantly gives Harper a job and a place to crash. As their sisterly relationship begins to thaw, the one with her business partner Graham starts to heat up. Given the legend that says Hollingsworth men will recognize their soul mates at first touch, Jack’s always been resigned to the fact that she’s not his.

But when she starts sensing desires that are decidedly not dessert-related, it’ll take all of her magic to set things right with customers and make her own desires come true.

Buy it here:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

(At only $0.99 – a crazy low price for such a fabulous book— you cannot lose!)

Interview:

Me: Jack can sense what food —and in some cases, drinks— people desire. How did you come up with this specific magical ability? Was it before or after you decided she owned a cupcakery?

Susan:

The cupcakes definitely came first. From there it was a matter of finding something magical that fit with the cupcakes but also fit with a girl who couldn’t seem to get her relationships (with Graham or her family) to be what she wanted.

Me: Love & Cupcakes is set in a small Southern town, what is it that specifically drew you to that setting? I know you are from the south, is Sugar a reflection (or idealism) of your own town?

Susan:

I am from the south and just love the sense of hospitality here. I worked in a coffee shop in college and for a few years after. It was one of those places where I knew most customers by name, where they hugged me on a regular basis, where I still go every Saturday to drink coffee with some of them. I wanted that feeling on a whole-town scale.

Me: You have some pretty amazing (read: mouthwatering) cupcake flavor combinations in Love & Cupcakes. What kind of research did you have to do to come up with them?

Susan:

So, there’s a scene in Love and Cupcakes where Graham and Jack are fighting about making new cupcake flavors and Jack says that she reads blogs, and Graham kinda laughs at her. That’s basically me and my husband. I read a ton of blogs and looked at menus on cupcakery websites, and honestly I just made some up that I thought sounded cool. I desperately wish Pinterest had been around when I was writing this book. It would’ve been so much fun!

Me: You write both Adult and Young Adult, is one easier or more interesting for you?

Susan:

About 90% of the books I read in 2013 were YA. (I’m almost 33, so anyone who says YA is just for teens has no clue what they’re talking about!) My last two manuscripts have been YA because that’s the mindset I’ve been in. There’s just something about writing (and reading) about teens that appeals to me. All the heightened emotions, the intense friendships, the almost desperate need to figure out who the hell you are apart from what everyone wants you to be. It just gets in my head and refuses to leave.

But my adult books allow me to explore the person who’s lived through all of that and come out on the other side—and not always for the better.

Me: You have won NaNoWriMo five times, which is an impressive number! What words of advice do you have for writers struggling to finish their manuscript or revise a NaNo project?

Susan:

Put your ass in the chair and your fingers on the keys. No, seriously, do it. That’s the only way you’re going to get it done. Books don’t write themselves, not matter how much we might want them to some days. (Cats don’t either, by the way. I’ve asked.) Set goals for yourself and force yourself to follow them. The goals can be as small as “I’m going to write one page every day,” or “I want to have a first draft by X date.” Just make it something you can stick to.

Chaucer

The non-writing cat, Chaucer, standing on top of a book outline.

I also highly recommend finding some writing friends who write in a similar genre and style to critique with. The support system of others who are going through the same struggles (and highs) as you does wonders for your productivity. I don’t know where I’d be without my CPs. (That’s not true. I’d probably glaring at my cats for not writing my books for me and finding any excuse I could to not do it own damn self.)

(Me Aside: As one of Susan’s CPs, I don’t know where I’d be without her. I love knowing when I get stuck or freaked — and believe me you will inevitably get stuck or freaked — I can email, Tweet, or text — sometimes all three!— Susan and she will help me unstuck and de-freak.)

Me: You make some very clever pop-culture references in Love & Cupcakes. My favorite is when Harper, Jack’s younger sister, appears wearing a t-shirt with the words Grr Argh written on it. Which is a reference to Joss Whedon’s production company, Mutant Enemy. As a fellow fangirl, these little nods made me smile. If you could share a cupcake with three of your fangirl inspirations, who would they be and what flavor cupcake do you think Jack would give them?

Susan:

Oh, my. Of course you would ask me to choose between my favorite fangirl inspirations! (Me: Muahahahahaha!) Okay, since you’re forcing me, here goes:

1) Bryan Fuller (creator of Pushing Daisies, Wonderfalls, and Dead Like Me) is a no-brainer. I feel like Graham would have to make a special gruyere-topped, apple pie-filled cup for him. Or maybe it would be a simple white chocolate and honey. But it would definitely relate to The Piemaker since he was the inspiration for Graham.

2) Logan Echolls from Veronica Mars (yes, I’m going fictional inspiration here! I mean, have you seen that boy?). His cup would most definitely be a dark chocolate with whipped marshmallow filling and icing because he is the ultimate Marshmallow.

3) Zoe and Wash from Firefly (yes, I’m picking two because they come as a packaged deal and I refuse to separate them, leaves on the wind be damned!). They would split a milk and white chocolate marbled cupcake with a spicy cinnamon icing. Then they’d hightail it back to their bunk on Serenity to eat it in private.

Me: If you walked into Crumbs, and Jack was behind the counter, what flavor cupcake or scent would she smell for you?

Susan:

Ooh, if we’re talking strictly cupcakes, Jack would probably sense chocolate caramel from me. Chocolate and caramel, in almost any form, is my weakness. But if we’re talking desires in general, it would be more like salty air and suntan lotion and a hint of peaches because I’m a beach girl and my husband grows peach trees.

Bio:

susanSusan Bishop Crispell is not one of those writers who’s been scribbling down stories since she could hold a pencil. She didn’t read constantly growing up (blasphemy!), and she can still be found in public without a book tucked into her purse (again with the blasphemy!).

She is, however, the kind of writer who lives for the imaginative spark that introduces her to a new character or story idea that pushes her to turn everyday life into something magical.

She lives and writes near Wilmington, NC.

Handy Social Media Links:

Twitter :: Facebook :: Tumblr :: Pinterest :: Website :: Publisher

What’s Up Wednesday: I’m Proud of All My Friends Edition*

WUWKiteWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s blog.

*If you can tell me which FRIEND said this, and give me the episode, I will give you a full social media shout out. And we will also need to become best friends. 

What I’m Reading

I am still reading UnSouled by Neal Shusterman, but I have a good reason. I spent a few days reading my friend and CP, Susan Crispell’s debut Adult Magic Realism novel, Love & Cupcakes this week. I definitely, heartily recommend this book if you like sweet romance and swoony guys, but even more if you have a sweet tooth. I’ll talk about it more in my interview with her next week, so stay tuned!

What I’m Writing 

I wrote about 6,000 words last week. NEW words. My WIP found it’s way back into my good graces. My characters took on new levels of honesty. I began to feel like I could actually do this thing I set out to do. This feeling gave me confidence to make some changes to my other novel, and even if they end up being thrown out, it felt good to be back in that world. I guess my Muse and I are firmly back together.

What Inspires Me

I have some very talented friends. Some are actors. Some are writers. Some are dancers. Some are computer nerds who speak in code. Conversations with gifted people get my gears spinning.

With his cousin Jubilee.

With his cousin Jubilee.

My son. I shared last week that we got a new puppy. Sam is a cautious child. His confidence and his belief in himself stammers when faced with new, and seemingly, impossible situations. In the weeks since we got him a puppy, his willingness to branch out, away from his comfort zone and into new areas, has noticeably shifted. I am the opposite of shy, timid, but that can be misconstrued sometimes as being infallibly certain. Everyone needs to be reminded they can do whatever they are doing. No one is immune to fear.

What Else I’m Up To

I have a lot of reading and critiquing to do to get ready for the Djerassi workshop in just a little over two weeks. This was pointed out to me yesterday, at which point I started requesting whiskey and silence.

My husband’s birthday is today. I’m making him manicotti for dinner this evening. The fact that I am cooking something that requires a recipe and multiple steps shows how much I care. Friday we’re having a birthday party at our house with local pizza, kraft beers, and professionally made cupcakes. My husband is the best of guys. I am thankful everyday that he’s mine.

jennifer-lawrence-oscars-gif-4-yay

Eternal respects in the form of Jennifer Lawrence’s pretty face go to Samantha Hager and Melanie Stanford for knowing that Ross is the FRIEND that bruises like a peach!

What’s Up Wednesday: the Getting my Sh*t Together Edition

WUWAutumnWhat’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme geared toward readers and writers, allowing us to touch base with blog friends and let them know what’s up. Should you wish to join us, you will find the link widget at the bottom of Jaime’s blog.

(It’s been a while for me, I suck and please don’t throw tomatoes at my face. My fair skin thanks you. I bruise like a peach.*)

What I’m Reading

I binge read over the holidays. It was an avoidance tactic I employed, with great success, for everything from gift buying to food preparing to my emotional state. It was a fun time. I won’t list ALL THE BOOKS, but I did just finish These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman and Megan Spooner. I can’t decide what I think about that book yet. It was compelling, and the voices were pretty distinct, and the romance was pretty hot, but…there’s something I just can’t put my finger on. Although! The world building was pretty fantastic.

I am now reading UnSouled, book three in the UnWind dystology by Neal Shusterman. I mean, these books are pretty heavy.

marty

You don’t necessarily enjoy them. You more survive them.

What I’m Writing

Well. My Muse and I took a break from each other. Then I had to revise my pages for the Djerassi Workshop in February (in Northern California, in the mountains. Yes.) so I had to get in touch with her, and she was grumpy and maybe hung over from too much New Years celebrating, and wanted none of it. But, hot coffee and a firm hand seemed to do the trick. Then she went off again after I finished my pages, and I considered ditching her ass. She’s back now, because apparently all she needed was to know she was replaceable. I’m making progress with multiple projects (something I’ve never attempted that seems to be a stressor as well as a motivator). It’s going to be an interesting year.

What Inspires Me

Monday I was impersonating Oscar the Grouch all over the internet and Sara Biren discovered it and gave me a good talking to. (Apparently, all I need is a firm hand, too. And maybe she was actually the one who made my Muse return.) It’s not that anything prompted my grumpiness, which made my attitude all the more pathetic.

This article from Publishing Crawl by Susan Dennard (with input from Sarah J. Mass) on Maintaining Passion for your story. Not only does Susan Dennard give accessible, applicable writing advice, but the relationship she and Sarah have is truly adorable. I emailed this article to a friend, who is also one of my CPs, and we had a good laugh. (We want to grow up and be just like them.)

What Else I’m Up To

My son has wanted a dog of his own (he’s 4-years-old, so “of his own” is used loosely) since we moved back to Texas. When a friend came to us with a six month old Yorkie-Maltese mix in want of a more active home life, we couldn’t say no. And I’m glad we didn’t. My son —for the foreseeable future — is an only child. That can be lonely, even when you are surrounded by family and have two devoted parents. This puppy, whom he named James (I know, James!), has already provided him with such joy and companionship, given him confidence and responsibility, and created a new kind of joy in our home.

samandjames

*You’ll have my eternal respect, and a shout out on the next What’s Up Wednesday, if you can tell me which FRIENDS character also bruises like a peach!

Almost Inspirational in the New Year

by toothpastefordinner

by toothpastefordinner

I am ready to admit that I’ve become a lazy blogger. I’ve sat down numerous times over the past month to write a blog post only to get on Twitter instead. I’ve written one (1) blog post in the last three weeks. Zero (0) since 2014 actually began. Wednesday came and went and blog friends told each other What’s Up*, while I couldn’t even muster the energy to comment on Facebook status updates.

I’d been blaming the holidays, which was working for me until they came and went and now it’s mid-January and I still just don’t feel like it. In fact, I’m only writing you now to avoid working on my current multiple projects and many pages of reading I need to get to.

And as I write this post, I’m deciding it’s all OK. It’s not ideal for a writer who blogs to be unwilling or disinterested in blogging. It’s not normal for me to feel quiet and introspective, but not want to seek camaraderie and validation from the internet.

It’s not acceptable for me to feel spent after 140 characters unless fueled by utter nonsense.

twitter

Last night I live Tweeted the Golden Globes. (I know, I seek to bring you the truly important stories.) I simultaneously had an in-depth conversation with fellow Downton Abbey fans about Tom Branson and a set of frowsy pajamas he wore in Season 2, which segued into stunned horror over the events of last nights episode. (Anna. I can’t.)

While others shared their 2014 Word-of-the-Year, I’ve remained relatively quiet. My goals, hopes, prospects, plans were not verbalized nor itemized. My to do list has not been written. My expectations for the year ahead has not been boiled down into a single word that will haunt me all year and remind me come December 31 how very wrong I was at it’s onset. How every unpredictable life is. How absolutely odd and weirdly wonderful things become while you’re working for something else. Oxford-word-of-the-year-is-selfie

This is not me bragging, or being snotty. I’m not melancholy. I’m not disinterested. I am at the threshold of a darkened room and I’m being told not to turn on the light. So I don’t try to describe the room. I don’t try to see in the dark.

So, my first blog of this new year is about how I haven’t wanted to blog much in the new year. How I can’t seem to talk about my goals or my hopes because somehow, and superstitiously you might say, I also don’t want to look straight at them just yet. How I spend far too much time on Twitter and expend inordinate amounts of energy worrying about fictional characters on British television shows. How this is me processing, and it is productive, if slightly insane, but anyone who’s with me, raise your glass.

cheers

And maybe now I’m talking about my goals by not talking about them. Maybe I’ve defined my word without naming it. And maybe you can do the same thing and we can not talk about it here, together, finally giving us the courage to turn on that light, and blinking, describe what we see inside.

Maybe now we (points to self) can all just get to it.

*What’s Up Wednesday is a weekly meme to keep in touch with blog friends, share books recommendations and writing goals, and generally socialize on the internet.