Wordy Wednesday

Summer vacation is ovah 'round these parts, which means I'm getting back to writing. Don't get me wrong, I "dabbled" over the last few months, working on this and that. I also came up against a heady and unexpected deadline and somehow managed to meet it without sacrificing too much sleep, but now I'm rubbing my hands together, warming them up for the keyboard...and away I go! 

Oh, but first, I have to reflect on how super fast this summer flew by. I think I say that every year. Yep. And still, I'm amazed. Where does the time go? Seriously, if you figure out that matrix, let me know. Aside from making memories, laughing, smiling, surfing...It seems to slip through my fingers. All good stuff to be sure, but still, yew. There it was and there it went. 

A big, huggy thank you to everyone who's left Sugar a review! 

But SUGAR, has been going strong! In case you've wondered what you missed, because in the whirlwind I'm afraid I may have skipped a reading a blog post or two, here I am to catch us all up on the Sugar buzz! 

Live today, find an interview & giveaway on Book Worms & Night Owls. Don't you love the name of Lauren's blog?! 

Ooh, prizes!

And, um, a few more interviews, reviews, and the like that might be of interest.

Interview & review on Hypable.

Sugar, eating disorders & teens in the Denver Post.

An interview about Sugar, the novel, with one of my favorite authors and friends: Cheyenne Young.

An interview and more over at Icey Books.

A conversation with me on Two Women & a Book Review 

The delights & plights of writing on Land of Books.

Sweety High's choice stars cast for Sugar & Even.

10 Sweet things about Sugar on the Authorteers.

On getting Sugar with Fangirlish.

An interview with Sugar on GrownupFanGal.

Author Q&A at Book Stop Corner. 

Read about why Claudia from My Soul Called Life called Sugar a top 10 of 2015

The *blogcritics review of Sugar.

Yara from Once Upon a Twilight says, "This book is definitely a treat." Find out more here.

An interview over at Fiktshun.

The 6 things Czai over at the Blacksheep Project loved about Sugar.

5 Questions & 5 Answers over at Sassy & Dangerous. 

A day with Sugar over at Papercuts Podcast.

You can also find all these big and little, morsels of book awesomeness on the tab above labeled: Buzz & News. Huh? Huh? Did I miss any? Oh, and yeah, I'm hanging out on Marie Forleo's street by connecting, sharing, promoting proudly


Sugar Bonus Material

In early April, I was fortunate enough to participate in the YA Scavenger Hunt. It was loads of fun; I found a bunch of new authors and books, and was able to promote Sugar. Good times. I also shared a bonus scene from Sugar, which you'll find below. 

Now, I suddenly want ice cream (or in my case, thanks to multiple allergies, banana soft-serve—a non-dairy, sugar-free alternative. Wink, wink.) What's your favorite frosty treat? And bonus points, would you have chocolate or rainbow sprinkles aka jimmies on top?


I wipe my brow with a damp rag. Sweat pools in the crevice between my chest, and I'm sure the white shirt I wear as part of my uniform at The Scoop and Sprinkle sports pit stains, along with a smear of chocolate from the fudge ripple that refused to stay put on the cone. It's on my belly, like a punctuation mark: look at me, I'm Sugar's belly, in case you didn't notice! I notice. Every. Single. Day. Like a good co-worker, Gina laughed while I had to squat down and clean the gooey mess off the floor. The stain probably won't come out of the shirt.

Then, before her fifteen-minute break even started, she and some guy she's been flirting all week disappeared to the woods past the outhouses just out of view of the lake. Good riddance. But I can't help wonder what it would be like to inhabit her body: tall, thin, not a blemish, anywhere. Though, I suppose it would be exhausting to try to keep up with that kind of perfection. I'm about ten miles south of flawless and it's exhausting enough being me.

I tug my hair off my neck, wind it into a bun, and pin it on top my head. I fan myself, not in any hurry to wait on any more demanding customers, teasing kids, and families on vacation.

A shadow crosses over the register. I feel a pair of eyes on me, glance to the order window, and the person suddenly looks away. I push up the rickety wooden frame. "Can I help you?" I ask. The glare of the sun blinds me from a clear view of who's out there. I'm used to people staring at me. I should charge them by the minute, at least then I'd get something out of the deal.

The customer clears his throat. All I can see is how he scuffs his boots in the dusty parking lot. "Uh, yeah, I'd like, a uh, a scoop of strawberry and a scoop of chocolate."

"Size?" I ask, so ready for my shift to be over.

"Uh, um, medium."

"Sugar cone, waffle, cake cone, or in a bowl?" It irritates me that can't people be prepared with this information. The sign hung outside clearly says, 1. Pick your size, 2. Pick a container or cone, 3. Choose from 25 delicious flavors, Sprinkles are on us! All with the detailed options and prices below. Duh.

"A cone. Um, sugar, please," he says.

Even though Sugar isn't my given name, it's the one I answer to. When he says it, I squint through the undersized window, but still can't see him clearly. He stands near the napkin dispenser. The way he pronounced my name, like it's something sweet, but not to eat choruses in my ears. Before I can lose myself in the honey of his voice, Gina comes in laughing and rosy-cheeked. She pushes me out of the way, extends her arm out the window, and waves to the guy who she was just fooling around with in the woods. I doubt she even knows his name.

"I get off at eight. Don't be late," she calls, loudly, in my ear.

He mumbles something about getting off and just as loudly, I call out the window to my waiting customer. "Did you want complimentary sprinkles?" I ask, dunking the metal scoop in the water bath so the ice cream is easier to dig out of the vat in the cooler.

"Rainbow, please," he answers.

I'm not quick enough to figure out a way to get him to say sugar again and don't have a chance to get a good look at him as Gina barges through, poking her head out the window, ready to flirt with anyone with a Y-chromosome. She rattles on about her fifteen-minute break and the wonders of the woods. I pass the cone out the window, self-conscious of my flabby arm, and feeling hopeless about the big fat nothing that I'll be doing at eight tonight.


Over to you... What are some of your favorite bonuses or surprise followups to a YA book? I'm totally stoked for Heather Demetrios' the Lexie Project, a Something Real spin-off! 

Also, if you haven't already, please add Sugar to your Goodreads TBR! Thanksies!


Writing Road Map

Last summer I took an epic road trip around the US: 21 states and 2 countries. It was amazing, exhausting, enlightening, and epic. Did I mention epic? 

While cruising through cities, along the countryside—roads that I don't think had seen another automobile in at least six months— through daring mountain passes, valleys, and rural outposts, I thought a lot. Did I mention a lot?

There's nothing like traveling, driving in particular, to get lost in winding ribbons of gray matter. And when I go there, I often don't try to parse out a number riddle my junior year math teacher gave me (still can't figure it out!) or home decor, or what I want to do when I grow up. I usually arrive in my imagination which consists of words and lands and dragons that can talk. In other words, story-telling, which for me, is almost, but not quite synonymous with writing. 

Over the many miles, I considered characters and plots, fantasy and contemporary, pacing and voice. I created worlds and left them in little, forgotten towns. I sketched characters and waved goodbye to them by bus stops. In other words, I thought about what works for me as a writer in terms of craft, the nuts and bolts of development, and technique. 

Here's the road-tripper's guide to writing a novel, in XXX parts. 

1. Anticipate. "Vorfreude" (n.) the joyful, intense anticipation that comes from imagining future pleasures. 

I love gearing up for a big event, trip, party—you get the idea. I find the anticipation can sometimes be as exciting as the thing itself. 

But you also don't psyche yourself out. Last year, for the first time, I participated in NaNoWriMo and had some belly butterflies when I thought too much about how the heck I was going to pull off 50,000+ coherent words in a month. 

To really soak up the anticipation, talk about your writing endeavor with friends and family or other writers, join a beta or critique group. No worries that you don't have anything on paper yet. Observe how the others involved work dynamically and sensitively. 

Get stoked!

2. Points of Interest.

Similar to above, but this one involves a notebook, a pen, and possibly the internet or some guidebooks. If you're a first time writer it can be helpful to learn some of the finer points of the category/genre you're writing in. You don't have to hold fast to the "rules" but it can be helpful to have guidelines. It also doesn't hurt to brush up on grammar and such. (You don't want to end up watching the sun set over the Pacific, when you meant to watch it rise over the Atlantic.)

3 of my favorite books on writing are: 

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Writing Great Books for Young Adults by Regina L. Brooks

Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg

I jot down my first thoughts of the story as they come to me in a "good spiral notebook" that I make sure to keep next to my bed in case ideas keep me up at night. There are few things worse for a writer than striking gold at one a.m., telling yourself you'll remember, and then when you wake up in the morning, you're staring at a blank page. 

3. Mix-Tapes. 

I realized, the other day, that some people might not know what this means. AKA playlists. I grew up compiling mix-tapes for every mood and event, and gave them away as gifts. I was also a happy recipient of mix tapes and still have the one my husband made me long before we were a we...except I have no way to play it. Good thing if called upon, I could karaoke, each song from the mix.

For our purposes here, I find creating a mix helpful to get me vibing on my story. I usually add a range of music for the various moods and scenes. Here's a playlist I made a while back for On the Mountain

I usually write in silence so I have full access to all the words in my brain. This works for me. Others like a backing track. Different strokes and all that. I'll listen to the playlist before I start or whenever I want to brainstorm/daydream about the project. I'll occasionally listen to a music while I write. In this case, I have to know the songs so well they're like background noise, which makes them kind of like a soundtrack, otherwise I'm distracted.

Some tunes that work well for me are:

Vampire Weekend

Fiona Apple

The Strokes

4. Get Behind the Wheel. 

I'll leave this one to the prolific, Neil Gaiman:

 "This is how you do it: you sit down at the keyboard and you put one word after another until it's done. It's that easy and it's that hard."

So get your butt in the chair and write. Don't stop until you're done. I mean, stop for the regular functions of life, but don't let six months pass with a paragraph or two. Unless of course writing that book isn't your spirit's calling right now. If so, that's okay, when the time is right, you'll do it, but also realize, there is never a "right time." Oh sweet paradox.

5. Refuel. 

So you did it. You're bleary eyed, road weary, ready to turn off the ignition and rest a while. Or walk, that's always helpful after sitting for ages whether at a desk or in a car. When you've reached what you think is the end of the road, so to speak, and the first draft is complete, it's time to step away and shift gears, do something fun, reconnect with friends and family. This is when we writers let the manuscript settle.

When you return for revisions you'll be recharged and better able to have perspective on what works in the story, what moves it forward, what stalls it, and how to polish the chrome to gleaming. 

When you're ready, you'll set out on revisions and editing, but that is another road trip all together, for now, enjoy the ride!

P.S. As an alternative to any amount of planning, be spontaneous: grab a backpack, stuff it with a few changes of clothes, a book, some granola bars and bottles of water, a book, or two, and a mix tape. Leave the map behind and set forth on your writing journey!

Would You Rather...The Writer Edition

In my world, summer is for lazy, let's get bored and be silly days. One of my favorite games is Would you rather. Have you played it? When with kids it quickly devolves into farts and boogers territory, but I thought it would be fun to sophisticate-it-up with a writer edition. Yes, this speaks to my infinite dorkiness. I never said I wasn't a total nerd. In fact, I wear the badge proudly. 

Okay, so back to the game. I did a reader would you rather not too long ago. You'll find it here. The agony of this game is in you can only pick one or, well or nothing, but the fun is in playing along. 

1. Would you rather write when the mood strikes or binge write, NaNoWriMo style?

2. Would you rather have written the collective works of J.R.R. Tolkien or J.K. Rowling?

3. Would you rather type or write long hand? (Or on a typewriter?)

4. Would you rather write in first person or third?

5. Would you rather write for pleasure or for money for the rest of your life?

6. Would you rather only write fiction or non-fiction?

7. Would you rather write a series or stand-alone?

8. Would you rather plot or pants?

9. Would you rather write a blockbuster that gets opted for film, branding your writing with the franchise or publish numerous, quietly received consistently over time?

10. Would you rather read or write?

So? Was that like biting into a piece of bittersweet chocolate? (Uh, yeah.) 

Tell me your answers in the comments below and if you have any good writerly would you rathers, please share them!

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