So I have 27 days to move to another state…

This has been the most stressful week of my life so far, and it’s about to get much worse. Better, sure. But worse first.

I guess I should start with some background information. My boyfriend and I are both teachers, or at least have certifications. He finished up his first year in May, and I just graduated with my Masters in Teaching in May. We were both looking for jobs and having trouble finding them. His problem stems from the fact that he’s a Latin teacher, and Georgia doesn’t really need a lot of those. My problems stem from the fact that I have no experience and am horrible at interviews. School starts August 4-11 in Georgia (depending on the county), and teachers start going back around July 28. Clearly, we were running out of time.

And then everything changed.

My boyfriend suddenly got three job interviews, one in Georgia and two in Virginia. He ended up being offered the one in Georgia and one of the ones in Virginia. As if two job offers in the span of 36 hours wasn’t odd enough, he also started talking to the VA principal about how I also needed a teaching job, and the principal informed him that an English job had just opened up, and he asked if I wanted to come in an interview. Obviously, I did, and as you can probably tell by the blog post title (or Twitter, if you follow me there), I got the job. So now my boyfriend and I will both be teaching at the same school.

Oh, and the principal and one of the assistant principals have both attempted NaNoWriMo and think it’s cool that I’ve done it for so many years. I mean, how awesome is that?

We’re both really excited to get these jobs. Virginia has a nicer climate than Georgia (or at least we’re hoping it does), and we love the area. The only thing we don’t love is that we now have 27 days to find an apartment 9 hours away from where we currently live, apply, get approved, find furniture, pack, move, and deal with all the normal first days of school drama. It’s exciting, but it’s already super stressful. Plus I feel horrible because my little sister is getting married and is in the process of buying a house, so my parents already feel abandoned by her, and now I’m moving out of state. Leaving them is going to be really hard. It’ll also be really hard to leave behind our friends here. We’ll obviously stay friends since most of our interaction takes place online anyway, but it still sucks. Of course, my boyfriend has already started researching ways that we can have our biweekly D&D nights online, so it might not be that bad.

But yeah, that’s what I’m dealing with now. I probably won’t be blogging that much in the next month, though I’ll try.

Anyone have any advice for someone leaving home for the first time? Or for someone moving far away for the first time?

Favorite Books of the Summer

So you remember two months ago when I did a post about all the books I had read but hadn’t yet reviewed and promised I would never let myself get that far behind again?

Yeah, well, that was a lie. So sorry. I really meant to be better at this! I’ve read 12 books since then, and I’ve reviewed half of them on Goodreads. I’m still (mostly) planning to review the other half, but for now I’m going to focus on sharing the ones I’ve already done. Below are my three favorite novels that I’ve read so far this summer. For a longer review of each, click on the picture, and it will take you to my Goodreads review.

I’ve also included links below to the reviews of books I didn’t enjoy that much.

 

  I’ve always known that you shouldn’t throw around words like OCD if you don’t actually have OCD, but I didn’t really get why it was such a big deal until I read this book. It’s a hard story to read at times, as Bea does so many things that don’t make sense to me, but that’s the point. The characters in here were so realistically flawed that I had to keep reading, even when it was hard. If you’re looking for a light, quirky romance, this isn’t for you.

 

I don’t generally like football or stories that involve football players, but Cora Carmack changes that here. For those who still don’t know if New Adult is for them, I recommend this book. There’s romance without it being overpowering, and the characters are great.


This is a great fast-paced read with adorable yet flawed characters. I only meant to read the first page, but it was so hard to put down. The ending was a bit silly, but everything else was so entertaining that I didn’t really care. Great cast of characters!

 

Other Books I’ve Read and Reviewed:

Broken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn – 2/5

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira – 3/5

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott – 4/5

Camp NaNo Update: Novel Complete!

My main goal for Camp NaNo was to write the third draft of my YA novel DEGENERATION by July 15. As anyone who was on Twitter around 3 am EST may have noticed, I accomplished my goal.

DEGENERATION is complete at 62,752 words. It’s not the 70k-75k I originally thought it would be, but it’s over 50k, and that’s really all I care about. Besides, 63k is a good length for a young adult novel.

I can now say that my phase outline experiment was a success. I loved having everything already planned out when I went to write. I still ended up making changes – adding conversations I hadn’t thought of originally or skipping parts that no longer seemed like a good idea – but for the most part I stuck with my outline. I’m not sure if this would be my best option for a brand new novel, but it’s definitely how I’m going to do my rewrites from now on.

In case anyone’s curious, I made a chart so I could see just how many actual words each outline word gave me. The short answer is that I got 5 words per 1 word of my outline, which isn’t bad. I was hoping for more like 7, but like I said, I’m happy with the overall length of my novel, so it doesn’t really matter. Here’s the chart, if anyone wants to see it:

Chapter

Outline Words

Novel Words

Novel Words: Outline Words

1

458

2859

6.2

2

380

3753

9.9

3

209

2509

12.0

4

330

3389

10.3

5

426

3535

8.3

6

289

2443

8.5

7

451

3540

7.8

8

882

3618

4.1

9

556

3206

5.8

10

1153

3989

3.5

11

944

4128

4.4

12

628

3194

5.1

13

593

2504

4.2

14

946

3213

3.4

15

584

2623

4.5

16

769

3700

4.8

17

569

2477

4.4

18

1036

3505

3.4

19

879

3273

3.7

20

325

1174

3.6

Total

12494

62752

5.0

So now what am I going to do with the rest of the month, you ask? (Oh, you didn’t ask? That’s okay. I’ll just pretend.) I haven’t quite decided yet. I originally thought I might continue the editing I was doing before on TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE. I’m halfway through the most recent draft, and I’m starting to think I might need to redo the entire novel. I’m not sure yet. I have an idea for how to make the novel more interesting, but I’m not sure if that idea is really a good fix for this one or if I should just write it as a separate novel.

My other idea is a new adult romance – but without all the gratuitous sex scenes. I can picture three of the main characters, but there are two more (two different love interests) that I still need to work on. I’ve been saying I’m going to plot this one for the last two weeks, but that never really happens. I have a few scenes in mind, but I still need to understand the characters before I can even attempt to pants a novel. Although I did write a thousand words in this story already. It was just the opening scene, but I actually kind of like it so far.

I’m probably going to spend the rest of the day trying to get to know the characters for that novel better. I haven’t had a 0 words day yet this month, and I’d like to keep it that way.

Cover Reveal: ALL BROKE DOWN by Cora Carmack

I am so excited to get to share this cover with everyone! If you read my book reviews, you know how much I absolutely loved Cora Carmack’s first NA series, Losing It. (Seriously, if you still think you hate New Adult, go give her books a shot. They’re amazing!) I was even more excited when I learned that she had another series coming out. The first book’s already out, and the second one is coming out later this year! THE EXCITEMENT! You seriously have no idea.

But enough about me. You’re here to learn more about the book:

 

We are so excited to get to share the cover for Cora Carmack’s ALL BROKE DOWN today! A New Adult Contemporary Romance, and published by William Morrow-an imprint of HarperCollins, this is the second book in her Rusk University Series, and it is set to be released on October 28, 2014! But you can pre-order it NOW! Check out what it’s about and then fall in love with this gorgeous cover!

ABOUT ALL BROKE DOWN:

In this second book in New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Cora Carmack’s New Adult, Texas-set Rusk University series, which began with All Lined Up, a young woman discovers that you can’t only fight for what you believe in . . . sometimes you have to fight for what you love

Dylan fights for lost causes. Probably because she used to be one.

Environmental issues, civil rights, corrupt corporations, and politicians—you name it, she’s probably been involved in a protest. When her latest cause lands her in jail overnight, she meets Silas Moore. He’s in for a different kind of fighting. And though he’s arrogant and infuriating, she can’t help being fascinated with him. Yet another lost cause.

Football and trouble are the only things that have ever come naturally to Silas. And it’s trouble that lands him in a cell next to do-gooder Dylan. He’s met girls like her before—fixers, he calls them, desperate to heal the damage and make him into their ideal boyfriend. But he doesn’t think he’s broken, and he definitely doesn’t need a girlfriend trying to change him. Until, that is, his anger issues and rash decisions threaten the only thing he really cares about, his spot on the Rusk University football team. Dylan might just be the perfect girl to help.

Because Silas Moore needs some fixing after all.

Image Map

Pre-Order Your Copy Today!

Amazon ** Barnes and Noble ** iTunes

cora-carmacks-all-lined-up

And don’t forget to grab your copy of ALL LINED UP Today!

Amazon ** Barnes & Noble ** iTunes

HeadshotAbout Cora Carmack:

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), Fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). She enjoys placing her characters in the most awkward situations possible, and then trying to help them get a boyfriend out of it. Awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

Website ** Twitter ** Facebook

Author Goodreads ** ALL BROKE DOWN Goodreads

Image Map

Testing New Outlining Techniques

As I’ve already mentioned (and as most of you probably already know), this month I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. My official goal is 75k, though my real goal was however many words it takes for me to finish my novel. If that’s more, I’ll write more. If it’s less, I’ll write less. I just want to finish this draft.

It’s now 8:30 pm, which means I still have plenty of writing time left before the day is over. I’ve written 36,994 words so far, and I’ve just finished chapter 11 out of 20. I had set another goal to have this novel finished by July 15, and it looks like I’m going to manage that just fine. I haven’t read back over anything that I’ve written yet, but I already know that this is my best draft so far. I’m taking more time with this draft than I have with others, and I’ve planned it a lot more than I had before.

Which brings me to the main thing I wanted to talk about today: my new way of outlining.

I mentioned already in my last post, my outline for this novel was really long – 12,494 words to be precise. My outlines are usually shorter than that, but I was attempting to write a phase outline for the first time. For those of you who don’t know what that is (and are too lazy/don’t want to click the link), that’s basically where you outline everything that happens in your novel, including bits of dialogue. So far, I’ve been averaging 6.1 words for every 1 word in the original outline, with chapters ranging from 3.5 to 12.0 novel-words per outline-word. If it keeps going at this rate, I’m looking at 75k for this novel, which is the number I was aiming for. So that works out nicely.

So far, I’m really liking this way of outline. I’ve actually sort of combined the phase outline method with the snowflake method. I start with a random list of scenes, which I then try to get in order (see my post on outlining with note cards for more details). After I’ve split them into scenes, I group them by chapter and then write a summary for each chapter, going into more detail. Then I take that outline and turn it into a phase outline.

Like I said, I’m enjoying this method. Most of the time I love planning novels but have a harder time writing the novel because it never turns out like the novel I pictured in my head. This way lets me plan the whole thing, which I find so much easier than actually writing it, so that when I go to write the actual novel, it’s just a matter of fleshing out the phases. I can still change things as I write – in fact, I’ve added lots of conversations and descriptions and mini-scenes that I never thought of while outlining – but I still have that outline that keeps me from getting stuck.

Obviously this way of writing and outlining isn’t for everyone. A lot of people find that outlining sucks the joy out of writing for them, so those types of people would probably find the method described here as crazy. Obviously, such people should not attempt it. :) But if you’re like me, and you like planning things, you might want to consider giving this a shot if you don’t already have a method that works for you.

Like always, I’d love to hear more about your writing/outlining process (if you have one)! Are you participating in Camp? If so, how are you doing?

Camp NaNo: July 2014 Edition

I’ve been putting off writing this post for a few days. I hoped it I waited long enough I would miraculously think of something more interesting to say than my usual pre-NaNo posts. Then I realized that Camp NaNo starts in less than three hours and that if I was going to write this post at all, I’d better hurry up and do it now.

So, yeah, here I am, posting.

For those of you who don’t know, Camp NaNo is a spin-off of National Novel Writing Month, only in the summer. People can sign up for cabins, and you can choose your own writing goal. The lowest is 10,000 (I believe), and I’m not sure what the highest is. If you’ve ever wanted to do NaNo but wanted to do a separate goal, you should definitely consider Camp! (Or, you know, do NaNo and just not care that you don’t hit 50k.)

My official goal for this session of Camp is 75,000 words – or however many words I need to finish my novel. I’m writing draft 3 of DEGENERATION, my YA contemporary novel featuring Madison Carter, a high school senior trying to survive a family get-together with people she hasn’t seen in more than five years. I finished my outline a few days ago. It’s 14 pages and about 12,500 words long. I’ve never written an outline this long, but I’m hoping it will help me write a decent draft this time.

Normally the goal is to write the novel in a month. I’m aiming for two weeks. There are several reasons for this, which all sort of work together. Since this is my third time writing this novel (fifth if you count the two screenplays I wrote for Script Frenzy), I pretty much know what’s happening. There aren’t a lot of surprises, even though I am adding several scenes. The main reason I’m rewriting this one instead of just editing it is because it’s the writing that I don’t really like. Most of the plot was okay the first several times. Plus, I wrote a phase outline this time, which is basically just a condensed novel, so I shouldn’t have to wait and think of what to write next. It should all flow together.

Then there’s the fact that my boyfriend will be out of state for the first two weeks of Camp, and I’d figure I’d use that time to my advantage. We usually end up spending hours watching Netflix (I’ve finally started watching Dr. Who!), and I don’t get that much accomplished. Now I’m not going to turn on the TV at all. Just me and my computer. And, okay, sure, I’ll still have plenty of distractions online (2048, Twitter, NaNo forums, cabins, and chat…), but I’ll have at least two fewer distractions, and that’s what I’m choosing to focus on.

Since he’ll be gone for two weeks, I’ve decided that my goal is to have my novel finished by the time he gets back. I have another novel I’ve been planning for the past few days. The idea came to me while watching Sports Night, and it hasn’t left me alone since then. I’m still working on getting to know the characters, and I only have a few vague scenes in my head, but I’m still excited about it. I’m hoping to have enough figured out by mid-July to start writing something.

I’ve also just learned about a website called MyWriteClub, where you can track your progress in writing/editing and have others follow along and cheer on your accomplishments and stuff like that. I’m quixotic_hope over there, as well, so if you’d like to add me, you can do so here after you sign up!

Here on the east coast, there’s now just over two hours until Camp starts. Are you joining in? What are you working on if you are?

Adventures in Note Carding

As some of you may know, I’ve been planning my Camp NaNo project. I’ve written this story four times before, twice as a screenplay and twice as a novel, and I think I’ve finally learned what I’m doing. I’m taking the planning process more seriously this time, and I’ve decided to try a new way of planning. I’ve always heard other people talk about note cards, but I’ve never really used them myself. I didn’t think I was a note card person. I didn’t want to waste all those note cards when I could just write the same information on a piece of paper. I’m happy to say, though, that I’ve finally figured out what the thrill is.

1. Create Note Cards.
This was easy if time-consuming. As I was reading through the original drafts, I created a note card for every scene or part of a scene that I wanted to keep. If I wasn’t sure I was going to keep the scene exactly as it was, I broke it into smaller parts. I also created note cards for scenes I wanted to include, even if I didn’t know where I wanted to put them yet.

2. General Sorting.
I divided all my note cards into three piles: beginning, middle, and end. This was particularly easy for this novel, as it’s basically split into three parts: before they go to New York, while they’re at New York, and after they leave.

3. Outline Main Events and Sort Cards.
The middle part of this novel takes place over six days. I jotted down a quick list of what was happening each day, what the main event was. Then I created a second, slightly longer outline, where I wrote down all the main scenes I knew I had to include. Then I took the note cards that corresponded to each of those scenes, and I spread them out on the table, keeping each day separate. I also sorted the before trip/after trip cards, which was the easiest part, as I already know what will happen there.

4. Sort the Rest of the Cards.
Once I had the major events down, I went back and put the rest of the cards in order. This took a bit more work, as a lot of these events were smaller, and they could theoretically have gone several places. I had to really stop and think about what was happening each day and try to find the most logical place for them. I took frequent breaks to discuss the plot with my boyfriend, and he offered suggestions. Eventually, I found a place for each card, and I created new cards for the scenes I came up with while I was moving things around.

5. Sort Cards by Chapters.
After I put the cards in order by place in the book (before, days 1-6, after), I split each section into chapters. This might change later, but for now I’m happy with what I have. As of right now, I have 23 chapter, 4 before they see their family, 16 while they’re in New York, and 3 after they leave.

I’m excited about my note card collection. Normally I just have a brief outline, and I generally end up forgetting scenes that I wanted to add until after I write the novel, and then it’s hard for me to go back and add it in later. This way, I can actually make sure everything has a place, so when I create the outline, I’ll have a better reminder of everything. It’s still too early to say for sure, but I’m fairly confident that I’ve found a new way to plan.

Next step – creating an outline! (Which I was supposed to do yesterday.)

What about you? Do you use note cards to plan? If not, what do you use?

Book Buying Hiatus

Those who follow me on Twitter might have noticed that I made a promise not to buy any new books or get any more books from the library until I had finished the ones I already had. The reason for this is because I recently bought 13 new books (each of them between $2 and $4), and I had 6 books out from the library, and that seemed a bit ridiculous.

Here’s a really poor quality photo of the books in case anyone’s curious (the punctuation guide at the bottom of the left stack isn’t new):

 

new books

 

Yesterday, I returned the six library books (having read four of them), and I was only supposed to pick up the book that was already on hold. Except I was already there, and there was one other book I really wanted to read, but I couldn’t remember the name of the author, so I decided to walk around and try to find it on my own. I never did, but I did find four other books that I wanted to read. So I already broke my promise, and then I broke it further by coming home and putting two more books on hold at the library.

BUT! This is actually the last time I will do that this summer. The next two months are for reading those library books and the 13 books I recently bought. I actually have so many more books to read beside just those 13, but I’m starting with those.

I’m running out of room on my bookshelves. Actually, that’s a lie. I’m already out of room. I have books stacked on top of and in front of other books. The tops of my bookshelves are covered with books. I have no room for more books, and my mother refuses to let me turn the guest room next door into a library. She’s saying I should start packing books into boxes to save for when I’m able to move out. At first I thought she was crazy, but I’m actually starting to think that might not be such a bad idea.

These are just two of my bookshelves. I have one more white one that's full but doesn't have multiple layers of books.

These are just two of my bookshelves. I have one more white one that’s full but doesn’t have multiple layers of books.

I’ve become one of those people who never throws anything out. My closet doesn’t have any room for more clothes, but I refuse to throw out shirts that I no longer wear, even shirts I’ve never worn. I keep holding onto things because I’ve paid money for them and am hoping I might one day find a way to use them. This might not be a problem if I had my own place and could spread out, but I don’t. I still live with my parents, which means I have to fit all of my stuff in one bedroom, a bedroom I also share with my boyfriend, so he has stuff there, as well. We definitely need to find a way to organize better, and I need to learn how to get rid of stuff I don’t need anymore.

And I need to stop getting more books. There was one time in high school where I finished a book and had nothing else in the house to read, so I had to make an emergency trip to Borders (R.I.P.) to find something to read. While I don’t anticipate getting back to that state anytime soon, I would at least like to have my TBR pile fit on a bookshelf. Which is why I’m actually enforcing my book buying hiatus – or I guess I should call it a book obtaining hiatus.

Who knows? Once I read through all the physical books I might actually get around to reading some of the hundreds that I have on my Nook.

What about you? Are you taking a hiatus from buying anything? Do you have any tips on how to keep your room more organized or de-cluttering your life? If so, please share!

Mid-Year Resolution Check-In

It’s only been a week and a half since my last blog post, so I guess that counts as progress. I wanted to write a post talking about what I’m working on and what my plans are for the summer, but I haven’t quite figured that out yet, at least not to the point where I have anything of interest to mention. That’s why I’ve decided to do a post looking at my goals for this year. I figured this might keep me on track and motivate me to keep going.

1. Learn Dvorak.
I’ve made no progress with this goal so far. Although now that I’ve thought about it, I am going to write the rest of this post using Dvorak. The good news is that I remember where all the letters are. The bad news is that it is taking me forever to type this. Of course, had I practiced this more, I would probably be faster by now.

2. Read 50 books, including the following: 10 classics, 10 New Adult, 10 nonfiction.
So far I have read 26 books. I am well on my way to hitting my overall goal. I’ve read half of the nonfiction, which is also good. I’ve only read 2 New Adult books and 2 classics. Definitely need to work on that.

3. Write 500 for WriYe.
Yeah, this is one goal I wasn’t even sure I would achieve when I made it. So far I’ve written about 22k, and while it’s possible that I might be able to hit 500k, I’m not really sure it’s going to happen.

4. Edit/rewrite Degeneration, For Real This Time, Alone, and Choices.
I’m a little over halfway through another edit of TILT YOUR HEAD AND SMILE, which is oddly not on this list. I have also started making notes in preparation for another edit of DEGENERATION. So…I’m slowly making progress.

5. Rewrite Trail Magic and The Story of Em.
These are more NaNo projects, so I haven’t even started to work on them.

6. Find a critique partner (or more).
This is a hard one. Technically I found two CPs, but I haven’t heard from either in a while. I should probably keep looking. (Along that line – if you write mostly contemporary and are looking for a CP, let me know!)

7. Win NaNo.
It’s not November yet, so this doesn’t really apply.

8. Lose 50 pounds.
I wish. I have lost a couple of pounds, but we’re not even in double digits yet. Still, this goal isn’t completely unrealistic if I actually focus the rest of the year.

9. Graduate and get my teaching certification.
As I’ve already mentioned on this blog (I think), I have graduated. Got my diploma in the mail a few days ago. I don’t have my teaching certificate yet, but they’re working on it.

10. Find a job.
Also has not happened yet, though I do have an interview Wednesday. Hopefully that’ll lead to something good.

So, looking over my goals, it’s clear that I haven’t really made that much progress with most of them. I wish I could say I were more surprised, but I knew that I wasn’t being as productive as I had hoped I would be. I still have six months, though. I can still turn this around.

What about you? Did you set any goals for yourself for this year? If so, how are you doing with them?

Book Review Catch Up – NA and Adult

I recently posted the links to all the young adult books I’ve read so far this year. Today’s post will feature the new adult and adult books I’ve read, which include classics and nonfiction books. I actually meant to post this, like, a week ago, but I forgot. Apparently I’m still not used to updating this blog regularly. I’ll try to get better at that.  Again, all links take you to my GoodReads reviews.

 

Contemporary (New Adult)

1. Easy by Tammara Webber
Jacqueline’s saved from a sexual assault by a stranger – a stranger who seems to be popping up all over campus. Can she find the strength to move on and fight back?

2. Unteachable by Leah Raeder
Maise is 18 when she starts dating her teacher. Can they keep their relationship a secret? Is Evan hiding something from her? Who can she really trust?

Classic (Adult)

3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Hopefully everyone knows what this is about. Young girl grows up in the South during the 1930s and learns about race and gender relationships as her father tries to show that a black man can receive a fair trial in the South.

4. Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare
Another story most people probably know – guy and girl fall in love in a single night, get married the next morning, and cause four other deaths before finally killing themselves about four days after they meet.

Nonfiction (Adult)

5. He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut by Jessica Valenti
A look at 50 double standards that women have to live with, along with suggestions for how to change them.

6. Pink Brain, Blue Brain by Lise Eliot
Everyone says boys and girls are different, but most of those differences are very, very small and only get bigger because of the different ways we treat boys and girls.

7. Ace Your Teacher Interview by Anthony D. Fredericks
A list of 149 questions you’re likely to be asked in a teacher interview, along with suggested answers and general tips.

8. 50 Ways to Improve Student Behavior by Annette Breaux
A short book with tips on how to treat students with respect and how to be that teacher with very few behavior problems.

9. The Reading Zone by Nancie Atwell
This book explains why having kids read for fun is the best way we can help them become critical thinkers.

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