State of the Blogger: idk.

Back at the end of 2016, I posted my creative goals for 2017:

  1. Finish Salt Novel.
  2. Find the soul of Yes Novel.

So. Yeah. Life.

Salt Novel is getting closer, but it won’t be done before the end of the year. The exciting news is that my agent, my editor, and I all want another pair of eyes on the manuscript, so I’m getting to work with an editor I really admire who has worked on NYT Bestsellers in the YA world. I’ll get notes from her in mid-January, which means a 2.5 month break from my novel! It’s quite needed. I’ve been working on this since I finished Truest back in 2013– well, along with a time where I wrote out a draft of Yes Novel. Speaking of …

Yes Novel. For those of you who didn’t know what it was about, it’s about a boy named Asa with OCD. If you’re active in the YA community, you’ll know that John Green’s latest novel just came out last month. About a girl named Aza with OCD.


Yup. So Yes Novel is headed to the backburner for now.

But all this means that I have 2.5 months to brainstorm new ideas. Or, as my therapist put it, to “be playful.” I am truly, deeply excited to just explore ideas and characters and names without any stressful deadlines I have to meet. I have a handful of ideas (Fox Novel, Ivy Novel, Glass Novel, Gold Novel, Egg Novel) and a handful of characters that have been … percolating. It’ll be fun to mix and match and dream.



2017 Creative Goals

goals17titleFor this upcoming year, I’m keeping things (relatively) simple:

  1. Finish Salt Novel.
  2. Find the soul of Yes Novel.
  3. Read a book a week.
  4. Blog once a week.
  5. Learn something new every day.

We’ll see how this goes. I’m not sure that I’ll be able to keep up with #3 and #4, but I won’t beat myself up if I can’t do it. It’s a standard to shoot for, that’s all.

quick-and-curiousSalt Novel is well underway. Yes Novel has a first draft. I have a mountain of books I want to read. The blog needs some TLC. And I bought this super-cute, extremely relevant journal to keep track of my daily curiosities.

I have a lot of other goals for 2017, but I’ve decided (for now) just to share my creative ones. I will be writing soon about my one word I want to focus on this year.

Five little (ha!) goals. Salt. Yes. Read. Blog. Learn.

How about you? Do you set goals, creative or otherwise, for the new year? I wanna hear!






This Week Has Been Whoa

So, I’m sitting here debating how much I want to say, and instead, I think I just need to start.

This week has been wild.



On Sunday, depression surged up and wrapped its ugly hands around my throat. But I don’t mess around anymore. I called in all the reserves: meds, essential oils, tons of water, vitamins, meeting with my therapist, a chiropractic adjustment. By Wednesday, my world wasn’t ending anymore.

Which is interesting because on Tuesday I talked to my editor about Yes Novel, and she said, “Start over.”

Yeah, you read that right. Start over.

But guess what? That conversation made me so happy. I’m serious. Because I wasn’t feeling good about Yes Novel (haven’t been for a while!) and so to hear my editor say that she wasn’t either meant we were on the same page. That’s such a good feeling. I can’t tell you what a relief it is (and how lucky I feel) to have an editor who is more committed to putting out a good book than to staying on schedule.

Because I’m not afraid of working hard. But I’m terrified of mediocrity.

(More thoughts coming soon about my battle against perfectionism.)

So, I started to re-think Yes Novel and what changes I wanted to make if I started to rebuild it from the foundation up. It needs a lot of work, guys. It made me think of the novel I set aside in November 2014 in order to start writing Yes Novel. It’s a manuscript that I’ve re-visited over the last year more than once. I’ve missed the characters. I’ve missed the island where it takes place. It has more things in the right places than Yes Novel does.

In one fifteen-minute drive home, I’d all but convinced myself I wanted to switch projects again. Again. (Remember this?)

I emailed my editor and asked her to take a look at my old manuscript (let’s call it Ardor Novel), and she agreed.

This morning she emailed that she was excited about the manuscript!!

Does that mean I’ve officially switched from Yes Novel to Ardor Novel?

No. But probably.

And I couldn’t be more excited. Stay tuned to learn more about what has happened in the past year behind the scenes to prepare me for returning to this story.

But for now, please leave a kind comment for this pummeled, anxiety-ridden writer who is currently jacked up on bookish adrenaline. I’m exhausted. But I’m almost shaking with excitement. I could use some cheerleaders!

Truest vs. Yes Novel (untitled book #2)

unsplash36Someone asked how writing book #2 (as yet untitled but henceforth referred to as Yes Novel) is different from writing Truest. It’s a great question. I also want to pause and just say that several people (including friend and mentor Judy Hougen as well as author Ally Carter) have said to let the writing of each novel be its own thing and to not compare them. Ally said at the YA conference I was at, “Learn how to write the novel you’re writing NOW.”

Easier said than done, in some ways. In others, it’s already sort of hard for me to remember writing the initial drafts of Truest. It was nearly four years ago now!

That said, I can offer a few insights.

My first book (or anyone’s first book, for that matter) is typically not written under contract, so there’s generally no pressure, no deadline. It’s fine if it takes you two years or four or ten. You just have to get it as perfect as you can before you query. Then, when it sells, your editor sees the manuscript at a fairly well-done stage. By the time Jill saw my manuscript for Truest, I had worked on it for over a year and a half, including self-edits, multiple rounds of edits with Ben Barnhart, revision suggestions from the Big Sur Writing Workshop, and a round of revisions from my agent.

On the other hand, Jill saw a first draft of Yes Novel. That was scary but liberating to show her the messiest work of mine she’d ever seen at that point. Yes Novel is also under contract. I am working toward a deadline. There is added pressure due to both of those things.

With both Truest and Yes Novel, I didn’t know the ending when I started. I didn’t land on Truest’s ending until many, many drafts into it. I am veering toward an ending for Yes Novel now in draft two, but it still feels sort of unsatisfactory. I try to remind myself that Truest, at this stage, still lacked an ending. So, in that sense, I’m ahead of the game. Maybe.

Truest is written in first person (that is, “I thought”) from West’s point of view. Yes Novel is (currently) written in dual third (that is, some chapters are “Asa thought” and some are “Rowen thought”). I keep battling with myself if I should write it in dual first, but I just don’t think that the two voices are distinct enough to weather it. Yes Novel seems to be narrated by ME, not by Asa or Rowen. Can’t decide what I think of that yet … except that maybe I’m finally finding MY authorial voice, and there’s something exciting about that.

I can tell that I understand more about novel writing and the narrative arc as I write Yes Novel. I can tell that I’ve grown as a writer. So that’s a good thing.

Another thing is that, while Truest has some subtle religious themes, the characters in Yes Novel are not religious, so the content is different. (I mean, of course the content is different, but … you know what I mean, right?). Sometimes I worry about this a little bit … wondering if people who liked Truest will not like Yes Novel because they are so different, but then I remind myself:

  1. I’m writing a new story, not re-writing Truest.
  2. I’ve started with characters once again. People who liked Silas and West and Laurel will probably like Asa and Rowen too.
  3. I’m still writing about themes that are tremendously important to me (mental illness, uncertainty, freedom, family, friendship, art, mythology, thought experiments, love and romance).

In some ways, I seem to remember Truest just unrolling before me like a carpet. But that’s probably a tainted memory. I’ve been working on Yes Novel now for nearly one year, and it’s further along than where Truest was at that time. It felt like there was better flow to Truest and I *think* I wrote it in chronological order, though, to be honest, I really can’t recall. Yes Novel was written all out of order and thus still has a very episodic feel to the chapters, which I’m trying to erase through revisions and better transitions and more foreshadowing.

Yes Novel still is essentially a series of conversations that could be taking place almost anywhere. But I do remember that Truest was much the same until later drafts when I made special effort to correct it. I’m still not naturally good at description … but I am getting better. That feels obvious to me.

So. There you have it. Not sure if this is helpful or interesting or not. It was a great question (thank you!), and I’m so excited to share Yes Novel with you a year and a half from now (gosh, that feels so far away … until I look at my draft and realize that I need that time). Asa and Rowen have completely captured my heart, and I hope they’ll capture yours too.