Monday, November 17, 2014

How To Write On Vacation

I've hijacked many vacations to write. Mostly because writing has become such a huge part of my daily routine, Like brushing my teeth, it just feels icky when I don't do it.

Get out of your comfort zone. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got after I signed with my agent and my writing became less hobby and more of a job was, "Learn to write anywhere."

A lot of writers say they can only write under certain circumstances: a certain room, noise level, lighting, when all your books are stacked just so or the M&Ms are sorted into bowls by color. And I get it. It's not easy to write just anywhere. But it's important that you try to block all that out and try.

Don't force it. The last thing anyone wants to do is work on vacation. And there are a ton of distractions. Be distracted. Good ideas for stories don't happen while you're staring at a blinking cursor and a blank page. Get out and enjoy yourself. You're way more observational when you're on vacation. Take in the scenery. People watch. Mentally collect all the details to take back with you so you can write them down.

=Look for down times. You do a lot of waiting while you're on vacation. While you're on the plane. Waiting to board. While everyone is getting ready to go out for the night. Before you go out for the day. Little five minute writing sessions add up over a week.

Set small goals. Don't go into vacation thinking you are going to get "a lot" done. Don't set a goal or make up a challenge. Non-numerical goals work best for me, like, "I just want to finish this scene" or "I only want to get this piece of dialogue out of my head."

Relax. If you don't write today, don't worry about it. If you don't manage to write the next day, that's okay too. You are on vacation. You didn't pay hundreds (or thousands--you baller, you!) to spend it stressed out over writing. Any progress is good and a plus in my book.

Happy writing! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

For Your TBR Pile - All The Bright Places

All The Bright Places
By Jennifer Niven
Published: January 6th, Knopf

From GoodReads: Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister's recent death.

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, it’s unclear who saves whom. And when they pair up on a project to discover the “natural wonders” of their state, both Finch and Violet make more important discoveries: It’s only with Violet that Finch can be himself—a weird, funny, live-out-loud guy who’s not such a freak after all. And it’s only with Finch that Violet can forget to count away the days and start living them. But as Violet’s world grows, Finch’s begins to shrink.

Thank you NetGalley and Random House for the eARC!

My Thoughts:

When I saw that this book was being compared to Eleanor & Park and The Fault In Our Stars, I was a bit wary. Those are lofty titles to live up to! Here's the thing, though: it was better.

Romances are commonplace in all teen stories, but it takes something really special for them to carry the entire story on its back. Finch is a compelling boy, full of life but obsessed with death, and a perfect match to help pull Violet out of her dark place after losing her sister. Together, they go on an assigned scavenger hunt around their home state, learning how to live in the present and enjoy what they have today.

I'm a huge fan of heart wrenching, soul shattering contemporaries, and easily related to Violet, who wanted nothing more than to leave her childhood behind and move on to her adult life. Finch was every bit swoony, but different and unique as a wildcard character could be. I couldn't wait to see what he would say or do next. I shattered at the end of this book. 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

What's Up Wednesday - 11.5.14

What'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.

You can participate by going to Jaime's blog here. Or Erin's blog there.

I can't believe it's November already! What happened to Fall?

What I'm Reading

It's been a slower reading week for me. I'm concentrating on writing and finishing my own book, so I've refused to plan out my monthly reading. My plan is to just pick things up when I feel like it. While I was on vacation, I read Cynthia Hand's Unearthly and really loved it. I have the second book on my Kindle and have been starting and stopping it periodically when I have time to read. It's such a fun series!

I've also been listening to The Selection series on audio book--which I am so late to the party, but love! I'm finishing up The One this week.

 Hallowed (Unearthly, #2)The One (The Selection, #3)

What I'm Writing / What Works For Me

I had to replot my entire story over the weekend. I've been using this Post-It method to help me juggle all of the pieces of my story. I used blue and pink Post-Its to mark my two external conflicts, and the purple is for any flash back scenes (which I use very sparingly).

I drew red boxes around any clashes with the antagonists and tabs for scenes where I have holes or still need to write from scratch. So, hopefully, I'll be flying through this in November.

What Else I'm Up To

Post-vacation, I'm easing back into working and trying to take care of Nelly, my thirteen-year-old cocker spaniel. We've had her since she was a puppy and she's been having a lot of health problems lately. We've been going back and forth to the vet and it looks like we may have to make "The Decision" soon (something Shannon and I are just not prepared to do just yet).

But the good thing is that we've been spending a lot of time with her and I'm trying to keep the focus on taking things day by day. This is a picture of a good day! :)

Have an awesome week--see you next Wednesday! <3

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Currently Reading - November 2014

Currently...I'm not reading. Well, wait. That's not true. I can't NOT read. But for the month of November, I'm not going to set a goal or pick out a specific pile of books. I'll still read, just not in any organized way. 
I hit my GoodReads Reading Goal of 60 books in July, and since it's all been a snowball effect. I'm lingering around 105 now, which is the most I've ever read in a year!

Some favorites have been Maggie Stiefvater's Blue Lily, Lily Blue, Cynthia Hand's The Last Time We Say Goodbye, and Kiera Cass's Selection Series. 

Valerie's bookshelf: read

Not a Drop to Drink
Shooting Stars: My Unexpected Life Photographing Hollywood's Most Famous
Blue Lily, Lily Blue
The Tyrant's Daughter
Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty and the Beast
When I Was the Greatest
Under a Painted Sky
A Stolen Life
The Last Time We Say Goodbye
The Elite
The Selection
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Valerie Cole's favorite books »
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