Monday, January 30, 2012

Ditched Launch Party

Last Sunday I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for Ditched by the lovely Robin Mellom. If you recall, I absolutely loved this book, so I was so excited to celebrate it wit Robin and my southern California writing buddies. It was such a fantastic event...the bookstore in Santa Monica that hosted the signing was completely adorable, there was FOOD, and there were so many cute little touches all over.

Delicious Ditched cake

Ditched koozies

Tinkerbell tattoos, just like Justina's in the book
This sucker took forever to scrub off. Even after showers and washings, I still had it on for like three days.

There was a great crowd gathered for Robin, and everyone was so excited for her and for the book. 

It was such a fun event, and I'm so glad I made the trek up to Santa Monica to celebrate the launch of this book that I loved so much. You can see more pictures of the launch party over at Robin's blog...see if you can spot me lurking around in the background.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Five (29)

1. Last night John and Hank Green's Tour de Nerdfighting stopped in my neck of the woods, so of course Tameka and I had to go. I had a very frustrating drive out to Santa Monica, and my anxiety level was through the roof by the time I got there. I'll be blogging a full recap later, but just know that I DID get my John Green face time, despite a two hour wait, and I wasn't a total weirdo, so all is well in the world. I'm sporting my Keep Calm and DFTBA shirt today at school.
 
2. I also got to go to the launch party for Robin Mellom's Ditched. That's another one I will dedicate a blog to, but I have had so much fun at book events this week! I love seeing all of my writing friends and getting books signed.
 
3. Today is the last day of the first semester here at school. The school year is halfway over! I'm sort of shocked by this...the first semester went by so quickly! The second semester always goes by in the blink of an eye, so it's going to be June before I even know it. I remember when I was younger that time used to drag by, that I would literally stare at the clock or the calendar, waiting for time to pass. But now, I swear, months are over before I even know they started.
 
4. I've been doing some brainstorming with CPs and my writing group on my new project. I was trying to decide which of 3 partially started projects to pursue, but a few emails showed which one sounded the most promising, and it happened to be the one I was the most excited about. So I have been trying to plot it out as much as I can without sucking all of the spontaneity out of it, and I can't wait to really get into it. Hopefully now that the semester is wrapping up I can really focus on it and get going.
 
5. I'm going to leave you with a few awesome links. Earlier this week, Steph Sinkhorn blogged about Rookie, an online magazine for teen girls. I am so in love with it! The articles and the aesthetic sort of remind me of Sassy Magazine, which was my favorite back when I was a Teen Jess. I mean, check out these awesome features (and the thoughtful and articulate comments): How To Not Care What Other People Think About You, Me, On Drugs, and, of course, Literally The Best Thing Ever: Labyrinth. If any of you YA writers are looking to see what real teens are talking about, this would be an excellent place to start.
 
Also, the fabulous Erin Bowman posted a video tutorial for outlining using Scrivener. I have been using Scrivener for about a year now, and I'm only scratching the surface on what this program can do for me. This video tutorial was so helpful!
 
That's it, all. Have a fantastic weekend!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Bookanistas: The Fault In Our Stars

Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.
Insightful, bold, irreverent, and raw, The Fault in Our Stars is award-winning author John Green’s most ambitious and heartbreaking work yet, brilliantly exploring the funny, thrilling, and tragic business of being alive and in love.
It's no secret that I am an unapologetic John Green fangirl. I never miss an opportunity to tell anyone who will listen how much I love pretty much anything he does. Books, videos, existing...I love it all. My 4th period class has even taken to calling me Mrs. Green because I gush about him so often. 
I knew I would love his newest release, and I didn't even have that flash of worry that I usually have when a favorite author of mine releases a new book. You know that worry...what if I don't love it? What if it's not that good? What if it lets me down? I've had that worry before. But I didn't have it with this one. Not even for a second. THAT'S HOW MUCH I BELIEVE IN YOU, JOHN GREEN. 
The crazy thing is, this book was even better than I thought it would be. And I went in with sky-high expectations. It was everything I had hoped for from a John Green novel, and even more that I didn't expect. It was funny, it was honest, it was horribly sad, and it was achingly real. I was sad that I wasn't reading my own copy* because I wanted so badly to highlight the passages that made me laugh out loud and the parts that moved me to tears. There were a lot of both of these parts. 
There isn't much to say about this book that hasn't already been said. I just wanted to throw my love out there with the rest of the love and make a big love stew. This book will make you laugh and cry and love and hope. And it will make you love John Green even more than you already did. (Something I didn't even think was possible.)

*I'm getting my own copy tonight at his LA signing. Anyone else going to be there?

Check out what the other Bookanistas are up to today...

Christine Fonseca  brings you a special Guestanista review of SPRINKLES AND SECRETS
Shannon Messenger delights in DEAD TO YOU – with giveaway
Beth Revis interviews TEMPEST author Julie Cross – with giveaway
Jessi Kirby takes a shine to the SURRENDER and new POSSESSSION covers
Stasia Ward Kehoe adores IN HONOR
Jen Hayley gushes over THE GIRL WHO LOVED A CITY
Veronica Rossi  is crazy for INCARNATE
Nikki Katz marvels at A MILLION SUNS
Gennifer Albin   is on fire over CINDER
Tracy Banghart  is all about THE OTHER LIFE
Jessica Love wonders at THE FAULT IN OUR STARS
Hilary Wagner mourns over THE DEATH OF YORIK MORTWELL -- with giveaway

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tuesday Tunes: On The Radio

I mentioned last week that I was having a bit of a hard time.

I was moping around Miami when this song came on in some store, and it was a nice slap in the face for me to stop moping.

This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath


Regina...you are so right! I want to get these lyrics tattooed on my arm or something to snap me out of these funks that I get into. It's such a peppy little reminder to make the most of our time and do the best we can with what we have. And not, you know, mope around Miami feeling sorry for yourself when you are there for free with an awesome friend and it's 85 degrees and life is amazing.

If any of you are in a funky place like I've been (or even if you're not), take a few minutes and listen to this happy tune today. I hope it gives you a little pick-me-up. I know we can all use one. Sometimes we just need a reminder, and thats why music pops up and gives it to you. It does for me, anyway.


And, seriously...how adorable is this video? It's even happier than the song. I love it. And I wish I looked that cute at work.

On The Radio - Regina Spektor

This is how it works
It feels a little worse
Than when we drove our hearse
Right through that screaming crowd
While laughing up a storm
Until we were just bone
Until it got so warm
That none of us could sleep
And all the styrofoam
Began to melt away
We tried to find some worms
To aid in the decay
But none of them were home
Inside their catacomb
A million ancient bees
Began to sting our knees
While we were on our knees
Praying that disease
Would leave the ones we love
And never come again

On the radio
We heard November Rain
That solo's really long
But it's a pretty song
We listened to it twice
'Cause the DJ was asleep

This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath

No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don't get harmed
But even if it does
You'll just do it all again

And on the radio
You hear November Rain
That solo's awful long
But it's a good refrain
You listen to it twice
'Cause the DJ is asleep
On the radio
(oh oh oh)
On the radio

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jessica and Claire Take Miami

If you recall, I mentioned back in November that my friend Claire was a finalist in American Way magazine's Road Warrior contest, and I begged you guys to vote for her. Claire travels constantly for her job, and she's a kick-ass writer, so when she heard about this contest for American Airlines (her airline of choice) where she had to write about her frequent travels to win some fabulous prizes, she entered right away, and she made the top five out of thousands of entries. Plus, she was the only female finalist, which made it all the more awesome.

Anyway, part of being a finalist was flying to Miami for a photo shoot for the magazine. And because she is a fabulous friend, she brought me along. So, spending a cold January weekend in sunny Miami with one of my besties thanks to American Airlines? Yeah...I'm pretty lucky.

We started with drinks in the Admirals Club. This is not how I normally travel. I will note that I knocked this mimosa over shortly after this photo was taken. Not because I was drunk, just because I am ridiculously uncoordinated. This is why I don't hang out in fancy places like the Admirals Club.

We were on one of those fancy planes with the pods that recline. I reclined right away. I never get to recline like this! It was heavenly. We also got FOOD. And non-stop drinks. And a quilted blanket. First class is a magical place.

After checking in to the most AMAZING HOTEL ROOM EVER (it was bigger than my apartment, which isn't difficult, BUT STILL), we met up with my awesome friend Eli who took us out to a place that served bacon in a bucket. You know we totally ordered it. 

We had to check out of the MOST AMAZING HOTEL ROOM EVER (this was the view from the window...I don't know why I didn't take pictures of the actual gorgeous room), and we walked around Miami, had brunch, and did some shopping before heading down to the beach to check in to our new room with a gorgeous beach view. 

We were able to glam up pretty quickly, then we headed up to the penthouse to meet all of the other finalists, their guests, and the rad people from the magazine. Seriously, everyone involved in this whole weekend was pretty dang amazing.

Claire and I with Renee, the girlfriend of Neal, one of the other finalists. Claire and I laughed when we realized our dresses for the meet and greet party were almost identical, and we really lost it when Renee walked in the door in something that fit right in. We knew then that it would be an awesome group of people.

The next day all of the finalists started doing their photo shoot, and I stopped in for a little bit, but then I got to wander around South Beach for awhile. 
Claire was doing fancy things like this while I walked around and took quite a few naps.


I sat on the beach for a little bit, just to say I did. I love the beach, but it's down the street from me at home, so beach time wasn't the goal of my trip. Plus, I forgot a hat and didn't want to spend $20 on sunscreen, and I didn't want to bring skin cancer home as a souvenir. Anyway, I forgot that South Beach was a little more, um, liberal about their sunbathing policies, and as I went to take this photo I saw that the three girls on the side up there had no tops on. I decided to wait to snap this photo until they were properly dressed.

I decided that this sounded more appealing than the actual beach...lying in my hotel room where I could easily see the ocean, but where I wouldn't get a sunburn and I could take a very comfy nap.

After the shoot we shared a giant mojito and $9 water on Ocean Drive

We hung out up on the penthouse deck before we headed out to the Miami Heat basketball game at *ahem* American Airlines Arena. Claire had her makeup professionally done. I...did not. 

We had an amazing suite for the game. It had a balcony with views of the city, plus this view of the game. File this under Things That Don't Suck.

There were also some seats right behind the visitor bench, so we spent some time down there, too. I've had some good seats at basketball games before, but never THIS good. It was pretty awesome. 

And, since we were right behind the bench, that meant we showed up on the TV! My friend Jenny snapped this pic of her TV right when we were there lurking in the background. Of course, I had my phone over my face trying to take a picture. That's so me.


I was desperately sad to leave Miami...especially because everyone else was staying an extra day. (If you know me at all you know that the thought of people having fun without me is one of my big issues. And BOY did it sound like they had fun without me. *sob*) 

But, if any of you are going to be flying American in March, look for Claire on the cover of the March issue of American Way in your seat back pocket...and see how she placed in the Road Warrior contest. AND you can look for me, too! I'll (hopefully) be hanging out in a picture on the Editor's Note page with the unbelievably nice, wonderful, good-looking, and every other positive adjective editor of American Way magazine, Adam Pitluk. (It will be online, too, so you KNOW I will share it.)

And, if you can, please start up a collection to send me back to Miami, STAT.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Five (28)

1. Last weekend I was in Miami. There will be an update post to come, but for now I will just tell you that I had one of the most amazing times ever. And I was on national TV.

2. There is nothing in the world quite like the sheer joy your dog has when he sees you again after a long absence. Gunner was so happy to see me walk through the door that he almost jumped out of his skin. It warmed my cold, dead heart so much that I swear it grew three whole sizes.

3. I have been in a bit of a weird headspace as of late and I can't seem to shake out of it. I may blog about some of it next week, but I don't know if I want to do that much introspection right now when I am feeling so down. I feel like thinking about it all too much might make things worse, and, honestly, I don't want to be a big downer here on the blog. I put on a great show over here, like my life is all concerts and trips to Miami and book signings and agent celebrations and fun event after fun event. And it is, to a point. That's not lies...I make it a point to do as many awesome things as I can. The truth is, though, my life is about 35% made of effing awesome, 45% normal mundane whatever that's too boring to mention, and about 20% crushing, can't-deal-with-it shit that makes me cry in the middle of Starbucks like a freak*.

So, yeah...I may blog about some of it next week. (The writing-related stuff, anyway.) Or I may just stick to updates on my amazing trip and share some new music and book recommendations and call it a week. We'll see how that goes.

4. Completely related to the above, I ate an ENTIRE pizza yesterday. Yes, ONE WHOLE PIZZA. It was a medium pizza, and it was the super thin crust, but STILL. So gross. And I wonder why my pants don't fit.

5. This Friday Five has really taken a turn. It started out so fun and positive and then it all just fell apart. Um, quick...let's do something happy-making.


Ah, yes. So much better. 

Happy Friday, friends. xoxo


* Yes, this happened. This past weekend in Miami, actually. It was a low point, even for me.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Bookanistas: My First Bookanista Post

My time away from the blog was a little longer than I expected, but scheduling posts isn't really a priority when you are having an awesome (awesome, awesome) vacation. But I do want to pop in to share some fun news.

I'm thrilled to report that I have been invited to join the ranks of The Bookanistas!


If you aren't familiar with The Bookanistas, they are a fabulous group of talented writers who share positive reviews of books they have loved every Thursday. I love their Nothing But Love philosophy, and I've been posting my positive reviews every Thursday in my Book Love feature anyway, so this is a  perfect match. Plus, this is such a fantastic group of writers, and I am so excited to join up with them. 

I'll be coming at you guys with some brand new rave reviews starting next week (I've read so many good books lately), but for now I just wanted to share the good news. 

Check out what the other Bookanistas (including some of the other new members) have going on this week:

LiLa Roecker adores AUSTENTATIOUS
Christine Fonseca is wild about WOLFSBANE
Stasia Ward Kehoe gives cover love to GETTING SOMEWHERE
Nikki Katz takes a shine to UNDER THE NEVER SKY
Katy Upperman is dazzled by A MILLION SUNS
Shannon Messenger welcomes four wonderful new Bookanistas
Gennifer Albin joins the Bookanistas with a great giveaway

Tracy Banghart is wowed by ON FORTUNE’S WHEEL

Friday, January 13, 2012

Friday Five (27)

1. This first week back at school was ridiculous. I was so unbelievably tired and frantic...and to add to that I got a student teacher. She seems awesome so far, but trying to get someone new settled in while you're trying to get settled back in yourself is mega stressful. I've just been a ball of anxiety all week, and I've spent so much time getting her going that I haven't been able to accomplish any of the things I was planning to accomplish this week. So frustrating.

I really hate this time of year. From January through Spring Break I am a hot mess at school...for real.


2. This week has been so stressful that I've managed to go and get sick. Dang! Last school year was the year of epic, month-long sicknesses, but I have managed to stay pretty healthy this year. Until now, of course, because it just couldn't last forever.

I'm bummed because I was in a good groove with going to the gym, but this week between getting sick and just being so tired, I have hardly moved off the couch. BOO. Get healthy, Jess!


3. Okay, so here's what a zombie I have been. On Tuesday I stopped by 7-11 on the way to school like I do every day. I poured coffee into my travel mug and then...I just walked out of the store and back to my car. Without even paying for my coffee. I only realized because my crumpled dollar bill was still in my hand when I went to open my car door and drive away.

Luckily the dudes at 7-11 are my buddies, since I am literally there every day. When I went back in to pay, the guy was laughing at me.

Then as I was driving to work I took a sip of my coffee...and I didn't even put sugar in it. What was I doing? I just zombied in there, poured coffee, and then left. No sugar, no paying.

That's not the only nonsense from Tuesday. I also had an envelope I needed to drop in the mail that morning. When I got to work, I couldn't find it. Not in my purse, not in my car, not at my desk. After two days of not being able to find it I was about to give up and print another one to mail. Then yesterday I got an email confirming that they received it in the mail.

What the...when did I mail it? I have no recollection of mailing this AT ALL.

Yeah...it's been a rough week.


4. Thanks everyone for your feedback on my threaded comments post from yesterday. I'm still not sure if I'm going to keep replying via email or just reply via the comment thread. Yesterday I did BOTH...I replied via email and then pasted the reply in the comment thread. That...well, it sort of took a long time. So I don't know how this is going to go just yet. We'll see. If you guys come up with any good solutions, please let me know.


5. And, just to end on a super fun note...I'm off to somewhere fun for the long weekend. I'm going with my friend Claire, I'll be meeting up with my friend Eli, it will be warm (just like here), and I will be having a lot of fun.

Don't worry, though...I'll just be gone for the weekend. You won't miss me too much.

Have a fab weekend, everyone. xoxo

Thursday, January 12, 2012

YAY BLOGGER!

Did you see? Did you notice? Blogger FINALLY added threaded comments! See?

HOORAY BLOGGER! I have been waiting for this for so long.

But...now I'm torn. I have always replied to my comments via email as long as you had an email address associated with your profile. (If you never get a comment reply from me via email it's because you don't have your email in your Blogger profile...or because I talk to you outside of the blog.) Now I can reply right here, but...will you guys actually get/see the replies? Do people actually subscribe via email to get their reply emailed to them? Will the replies I leave on comment thread actually get to you?

Am I thinking about this too much? Do you even care?

I've been so anxious for Blogger to get threaded comments, and now that it's here I'm wringing my hands over it.

What are your thoughts on threaded comments and comment replies?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday: Nom de Plume


It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.
This week's question:

What would your pseudonym be?

I guess if we want to be technical about it, Jessica Love IS a pseudonym. It's my real name, but it's my maiden name, and in "real life" I go by my married name. So my students don't call me Mrs. Love, because I think that would just be weird. (I'm so glad I started teaching the week after I got married.)

I never liked my name when I was growing up. It was too different, too weird, and everyone always had a comment about it. "I LOVE your name!" they would say, as if they were the first ones to think of that oh-so-original play on words. I hated that I became one of those people who was always known by her first and last name together....JessicaLoooooove (always said like that...every time). I couldn't wait to get married and change my name to something normal.

But then I married my husband who has one of the most common last names on the planet, and I am one of a zillion. I miss my unique last name! I miss being Jessica Love! So even though I think Jessica Love sounds vaguely adult fim star-ish, I'm so glad to be able to reclaim it for my writing identity. And at least it's memorable, right? Plus, WHEN I'm published it will put me right there on the shelf next to the god of YA, David Levithan.

What about you...what would your pseudonym be?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday Tunes: The Honest Truth

It's a new year, so it's time for some new music! One of my former students recently brought me back a lot of great stuff she had discovered at college in Portland, and one of the songs was from this Portland band, Typhoon. I immediately bought everything of theirs I could get my hands on, and I have hardly listened to anything else since.

Are any of you guys like that with music? When I find something I like, an album, a song, a playlist, I listen to it obsessively on repeat. Just that and nothing else. (Oh man, I was listening to Typhoon a lot on Spotify before I remembered that my Spotify posts to  my facebook, and everyone would know how obsessively I listen to the same two albums. I know I can just turn this feature off, but...whatever.) One album on repeat for two straight weeks got me through my final pre-query revisions. And all of Typhoon's stuff is in the background as I am banging out this new draft.

It's difficult to pick a favorite song, because I am just loving all of it. But this song in particular is one I find invading my thoughts. And every now and then I get the desire to just tweet the song lyrics because I love them so much.



Here they are live on Letterman...the song sounds so awesome! (Despite the censoring of the word "piss"...oh well)


(I love how there are a zillion people in this band. I'm so moving to Portland and joining. I bet they wouldn't even notice.)

The Honest Truth - Typhoon

I never said I was honest
but I am true

We all see something different
we all recall something different
when we watch the parade
go marching through

So be kind to all of your neighbors
because they’re just like you
and you’re nothing special
unless they are too

All my time I’ve walked a filed line
I’ve held a vacant sign upon my eyelids
all my time o lord I’ve been so blind
but now I see the light peek through my door-jamb
but there’s no Hallelujah it will be gone soon
yeah it will be gone soon it’s just an empty room
this is the darkest cave we never see the day
but slowly make our way up to the mouth

You gonna piss and moan
you let the devil your home

Monday, January 9, 2012

Pondering Process

I'm still learning a lot about my writing process.

I didn't like the process I went through with the book I just finished. I drafted during NaNoWriMo. I didn't have much of a plan, but these scenes between these characters just poured out of me. But at the end I didn't actually have a story, I just had 50,000+ words of scenes between these characters. I spent about a year and a half (off and on) after that completely re-writing the scenes and adding a plot to their story. Then I revised, revised, revised, adding more plot.

This was a headache. I didn't want to do this again. It took too long.

I decided this must mean I'm a plotter. I need to outline before hand so I don't spend so much time going back into my ms and adding in the plot after the fact. So much time will be saved! So many words would be saved!

So I tried that with this NaNoWriMo. I outlined. I plotted and when it came time to start the story...I froze. Nothing I outlined was really working. I tried and tried to stay on the outline, but the words just wouldn't come. Finishing NaNo was painful. I wanted to finish that draft after November, but I didn't think I would be able to make it into what I wanted it to be just yet (I have some ambitious goals for my MC, and I'm not sure I'm good enough to pull them off at this point), so I decided to let it simmer for awhile.

I decided to start a new ms. I outlined. I plotted. I started writing it and...eh. It was okay, but getting words out was difficult.

Then something popped in my head the other day and I opened a doc just to get it down, so I could go back to it when I was done with this thing I was working on. But things kept popping in my head, so I kept opening the doc and adding things. Then I was like, "Aw, hell, let me just type up this scene I thought of really quick." And before I knew what happened, I had a new Scrivener binder saved with notes and a scene. And now, only a few days later, I have close to 10K words written on this thing that came out of the blue and that I most definitely did not outline or plan.

So...is this how I do things? Because out of this 10K words there is only a shred of a plot, and nothing that could carry an entire book. Am I going to write 50K words of these characters having a conversation before I go back and add in something actually happening, like I did the first time? Is this going to take me eons to write because I have to keep going back and adding/figuring out plot?

DEAR GOD, IS THIS MY PROCESS?!

On one hand, I am sad to think that this is how I do things, because it's frustrating. On the other hand, I am loving the hell out of these characters, and, just like with the first one, the words are just pouring out. I'm thinking about the story non-stop, and I have that fluttery first love feeling in my stomach. I love both my NaNo idea and the other idea I outlined, but NOT LIKE THIS.

So I guess I'll just work on this like crazy and see where it takes me. Shoot...maybe I am a pantser after all.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Friday Five (26)

1. WAAAH! Today is the last day of my luxurious three week winter break. Three weeks is a long time, you guys. Long enough to get really, really used to being off. It's an entire week with no holidays and nothing to do. It's long enough to forget the names of all of your students (Wait...what?) I really, really do not want to go back to work. I'm way too used to lounging around with the dog all day. I really like it that way. Can I just be a stay at home dog mom? Gunner needs me.

Seriously, the thought of going back on Monday is giving me major anxiety. Like, curl into the fetal position and try not to cry anxiety.

I swear, I'm worse than the students.


2. On Monday it was so nice here in southern California (it's been nice all week, like 80+ degrees nice, and some of my friends have the audacity to complain that it's too hot for January. Can you believe that nonsense? I certainly can NOT) that the husband and I took little Gunner to the beach to run around. Gunner absolutely loves playing in the sand.

Anyway, I took a few cute pictures of the boy, and I figured everyone needed to see them. (I posted these on Twitter on Monday, but, you know, I'm a proud mom.)

If cuteness could kill...

You better not need saving, he hates the water

I've been having the best time with my little guy over break...taking him to the beach, taking him to the park, buying him lots of rawhide chews. I know he's going to be just as sad as I am on Monday.


3. Another thing I've been doing great with over the break is getting back into the groove of going to the gym. My schamncy new gym has awesome classes that are super small (Wed. night's class had five people in it) and I am just loving all of the different types of classes that are offered.

By far, my favorite is this class called Hustle. It's just hip-hop dancing. Not even cardio-style dancing like Zumba...actual hip-hop dancing. IT IS SO MUCH FUN. I used to dance back in the stone ages and I loved it and I still miss it every now and then. I've lost every bit of coordination I ever had, but this class is still so much freaking fun. The hour goes by in the blink of an eye,

I just wasted like 45 minutes searching videos of Hustle classes on YouTube to link here so you can see what it's all about. I was going to link to videos my my actual instructor, but I don't need any of you showing up in my class (heh), so I found this bad-ass chick instead.



So. Much. Fun. Makes me actually NOT hate going to the gym, which is something I never thought I would say.


4. Last night a shiny new idea popped into my head, complete with so many details that it actually shocked the hell out of me. I'm not the kind of person to just come up with new ideas out of the blue. Ideas rarely visit me. But BAM. There it was...a different version of something I have been trying to make work in the back of my head for about six months now.

I opened up a Google doc to just write down all the details, drop in a few helpful links, and expand on a few ideas. You know, so I don't forget about it for later. Then, before I even knew what happened, I had a new Scrivener doc open and 1300 words written. Just to see what happened.

Ugh.

Dang sexy idea. You need to go away. Although...I'm not all that far into my other thing. Hm...

NO JESS. FOCUS.

(Yes, this is what five minutes inside my head is like. Doesn't it sound like fun?)


5. I know I'm not supposed to care about these things, but I couldn't help but be super excited when I realized I passed 1,000 Twitter followers. I have no idea how that happened, but it thrills me to no end. Especially when it came up at the NYE party I went to and everyone was in awe of my follower count. I  have to admit, I felt a little cool. Yes, I have over 1,000 people paying vague attention to the random things I say online, and half of them are probably porn bots, but who cares. Everyone at this party is jealous. Haha.

Yeah, it's the little things. I'm telling you, it takes so little to get me excited. This is why I am always having so much fun.

Okay, everyone...enjoy your weekend. I know I'll be enjoying my last weekend of freedom before heading back to work on Monday. WAAH.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Book Love: Ditched


High school senior Justina Griffith was never the girl who dreamed of going to prom. Designer dresses and strappy heels? Not her thing. So she never expected her best friend, Ian Clark, to ask her.

Ian, who always passed her the baseball bat handle first.

Ian, who knew exactly when she needed red licorice.

Ian, who promised her the most amazing night at prom.

And then ditched her.

Now, as the sun rises over her small town, and with only the help of some opinionated ladies at the 7-Eleven, Justina must piece together — stain by stain on her thrift-store dress — exactly how she ended up dateless. A three-legged Chihuahua was involved. Along with a demolition derby-ready Cadillac. And there was that incident at the tattoo parlor. Plus the flying leap from Brian Sontag's moving car...

But to get the whole story, Justina will have to face the boy who ditched her. And discover if losing out at prom can ultimately lead to true love.

LOVE doesn't even begin to cover my feelings for this wonderful book. I adored it so much. I want to take it to prom, get it alone in my back seat, and I promise I would never leave it alone. Not even for a second. I got it on NetGalley a long time ago, read it in a single hilarious sitting, and now I am so excited to actually be able to get my own hard copy to read and love over and over again. (And share with everyone!)

And the thing is, I read and loved this book before I signed with Jill, who is also Robin's agent. And this book was a major reason that I knew Jill was going to be an awesome agent for me. I mean, if she loved THIS book and she loved MY book, well, then that is just a huge sign that it's a good match. Because this book was exactly my humor and exactly my type of book. 

I just found myself reading all of these dark books. And while I like the dark and the edgy and the issues, I also love to laugh. A lot. And I wanted to read something fun and funny that would make me laugh and swoon. Enter Ditched, the answer to my prayers. This book kept me laughing from the first word to the last page. I loved everything about it. Justina. Ian. Serenity and Bliss. The three-legged Chihuahua (who has a name that made me laugh out loud louder than I ever have before). Justina's dress. The 7-11 ladies. (If you know me, you know I'm obsessed with my local 7-11, so that setting is another perfect thing about this book.

Following Justina's story and trying to figure out how and why she got ditched by Ian was just so much fun. I don't know if I can really express to you how much I enjoyed every single second of reading this. I just want everyone to read this and love it as much as I did! (Isn't it hard to write reviews for books you just loved? I just want to write <3 <3 <3 and leave it at that.)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday: Dream Retreat


It's time for another Road Trip Wednesday, a blog carnival hosted by the lovely ladies of YA Highway.
 
This week's question:


Describe your dream writing retreat. Where would you go? Who and what would you bring?


After spending a week there this summer, I know that my dream writing retreat would be in Costa Rica.
I just want an excuse to go back to this beach-front condo, please.


My family and I rented this awesome condo on the beach, and it was pretty affordable, so for my dream writing retreat we would get a house or a condo right on the beach, where we could wake up and have a gorgeous view of the ocean.
Doesn't this just SCREAM inspiration?
I mean...seriously?


I would love to have a getaway with the girls in my writing group. (<-- see my side bar) We send so many emails back and forth to each other, it would be so much fun to be able to do all of that talking in person. I've met most of them here and there, but it would really be awesome to get together all in one big group, laptops out on the balcony, icy cold cans of Imperial on the table, and ideas bouncing off walls. 
Terrible for the soul. Just terrible.


I wouldn't need to bring the Imperial, because it's everywhere over there. I wouldn't bring much, actually...I realized this when I WAY overpacked for our trip this summer. All I really needed was a bathing suit, a few light dresses, flip flops, and a hat. Add to that my laptop, my iPod dock, and a few books and I was good to go. We could hit up the market and get tons of yummy food and snacks and we would be all set. That's all we would need. 
Nom


I like to think that we would get tons of work done at our Costa Rican writing retreat, me and my writing group girlies, but, seriously, I doubt it. Too much fun would be had to make any real progress. Wait, I take that back. When Shana, Heather, and I were roommates at SCBWI LA over the summer, we had some awesome brainstorming sessions. So maybe we could get a lot done. We would just have to put special time aside for silly stories and laughter so that writing progress would be made. 
Look at me...the only one on the beach, getting SO MUCH DONE


Okay, girls...can someone please make this happen? I'm dying to go back to Costa Rica, but, I swear, we can do this in Laguna Beach or something if it would be easier. Anywhere with a gorgeous ocean view will be acceptable. 
But Costa Rica has SLOTHS!


What about your writing retreat? Where would you go and who would you bring? (And would it have SLOTHS?)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year! Happy New Goals! Part 2

Yesterday I reviewed the goals I set for myself in 2011 and how I did with them. Today I want to set some goals for 2012.

This is tough for me this year, because a lot of the things I really want are things that are out of my control. (Like SELL A BOOK...yeah, that one is out of my hands.) But there are plenty of things that are well within my control, so I want to focus on those.

2012

1. Finish my new project
I need to work on being a more efficient writer. I just don't have the time to trash two drafts to come up with one that works. I need to figure out the problems I'm having as I go along and fix them then, rather than at the end. I think this will help me be more efficient and productive when it comes to actually putting a book together. This will be fiddling with my process a bit, but I'm willing to try out new things to find something that works well for me. So I'm aiming to have something shiny and new complete and polished by the end of the year, hopefully sooner.

1.5 Finish 1st Draft by March 31st
Going along with my goal to be more efficient, I am setting a goal to have my 1st draft done by the end of the 1st quarter. But this is going to be a usable first draft that makes sense, not just a collection of terrible scenes and mumbo jumbo that I still need to take months to piece together. I wasn't going to set a date for myself, because I always underestimate and take twice as long as I think I need, but my former writing instructor was challenging us to pledge a goal with a solid date that he is going to hold us to, so I decided to give it a go. I built in more time than I think I actually need, so hopefully this is do-able.

2. FOCUS during writing time
I need to work on focusing during my writing time and not getting distracted. This goes along with being more efficient, too...I need to make sure my writing time is for writing. I need to schedule my time effectively and use my Freedom or whatever it takes to keep me on task. I get so distracted by blogging and email and Twitter that I only write for half of my allotted writing time...sometimes less than that. No wonder I always need twice as long as I think I do to finish anything, huh?! So I need to work on my focus. I need to be serious and get things done. There is a time for dicking around on the internet, and that time is when the writing goals have been met for the day.

3. Read 52 books
The more I focus on writing, the less I focus on reading. But staying up on my reading is important, and it helps me be a better writer. It's easy to put reading on the back burner, and you can tell I did that in 2011 when you compare my reading with past years. I finished 2011 with 52 books read, which is an average of one book per week. I ended up pretty happy with that, and I think it's totally do-able for this year. And if I do more, great.

So, there are my goals for 2012, down in writing to help me stay accountable. I think the main challenge for me will be streamlining my writing process and finding balance between writing, reading, blogging, working, grading, and having a life. (That's a constant challenge for everyone, isn't it?) I will be setting small goals along the way, and hopefully I can be as successful with getting everything checked off at the end of the year as I was in 2011. I have some pretty lofty personal goals this year, too...like I said, I am expecting some awesome things to happen in 2012. I can't wait to see how it all shakes out.

What goals do you have for 2012?

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy New Year! Happy New Goals! Part 1

Yay! It's 2012! 2011 was great to me, but it was also a pain in my ass, so I'm pretty glad to let it go. And I'm welcoming 2012 with open arms. This is going to be my year, y'all! (I don't know why I just said y'all...I was born and raised in southern California. Apparently 2012 is the year I pick up a new dialect.)

And, you? It's going to be YOUR year, too. I think there are some major things in store for us in 2012, friends, and I can't wait to see it all go down.

I'm all about goal setting over here (not resolutions...goals), so I thought I would look back at the goals I set for 2011 and see how I did with those before I set some goals for 2012.

2011 Goals

1. Query my current WIP - CHECK
I had hoped to do this a lot sooner than I actually did it, but a year ago I guess I had no concept of how much more work the project still needed. I'm so glad I took my time on this and polished my book to perfection, because it landed me an amazing agent. Had I sent it out before it was ready just to cross this off the list, I can tell you it wouldn't have been too successful.

So, this goal was accomplished, and it had the best possible result. YAY!

2. Apply to MFA program - CHECK
Well, I did apply, I just didn't get in. I just went back and read the post I wrote about my rejection...it's so funny how things work out, isn't it? I talked about how it just wasn't meant to be, and then I end the post talking about how I won a query critique. Well, that query critique ended up being the springboard to me signing with Jill, but I obviously had no idea at the time. I mean, who knows, maybe if I had been in that MFA program, maybe I would have put my WIP on the back burner and never finished it so I could focus on school. Maybe that's the reason I didn't get in.

I don't know. It's weird to think about these things.

Anyway, I am still considering applying to a different program. I found one I am very interested in, and I have about a month until the application deadline. I keep going back and forth...mainly about the cost. I don't really want to take out more student loans, but getting a master's degree would mean a big raise at work. And what if I get rejected again? Ooof, what a blow to the ego. Le sigh. I just want someone to make the decision for me.

3. Start something new - CHECK
I started a new project for NaNoWriMo, but I'm going to let that one stew for awhile. In December I started brainstorming / outlining something totally new that has been a lot of fun so far. I can't wait to see where it goes!

This is why I love small, achievable goals. It's so much fun to be able to cross them ALL off. What a sense of accomplishment.

Tomorrow I'm going to look at my goals for 2012.

So, did you have any big goals for 2011? Did you accomplish them?