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In honour of Firefly's 15th anniversary, I was planning on doing a special Firefly edition of the Friday5 last week, featuring five of my favourite moments from the show's all-too-brief run. But then I ran into two problems: 1) a bunch of freelance contracts came in and I had no time, and 2) it's basically impossible to choose only five favourite moments from Firefly. That show owns a piece of my heart, and choosing favourite moments is like choosing between children. My love belongs to all of it. That said, I wanted to do something to mark the occasion. So here are five of my favourite moments from Firefly, in no particular order, and not necessarily my top five (I was somewhat limited by what I could find online), because as much as I'd like to say I've done the impossible (and that makes us mighty), I have too much love for this show to make a favourite moments list that isn't hundreds of points long. I also left Serenity out of it because then the list would be even longer and I had a draw the line somewhere! 

So, without further ado, you can't take the sky from me...

1. Mal's alright, SHINDIG

So many good Mal moments. Far, far too many to have to choose from. This one makes me smile every time.

2. The Hero of Canton, JAYNESTOWN

Jayne is the perfect anti-hero. So bad, and yet, so damn good. This clip captures his essence pretty well.

3. Zoe chooses Wash, WAR STORIES

I love Zoe. I love Zoe and Wash. I love Zoe and Mal. I love the dynamic between the three of them. I had a really hard time finding a clip of this, one of my favourite Zoe scenes in the series, so here it is in the full episode of War Stories, marked to start at the scene in question.

4. Big damn heroes, SAFE

Not my favourite episode overall, but it featured some iconic scenes, including this one.

5. The crew and their ship, OUT OF GAS

My favourite episode of Firfely--also not an easy thing to say, but I think I'm confident enough to say it's true. There are so many awesome moments in this episode (the flashbacks!), but a lot of them are hard to find online, so I'll leave you with the warm and fuzzy reunion, and the first time Mal sees Serenity.

BONUS: Simon and Kaylee, SERENITY

Okay, I couldn't not include a clip from Serenity, so I'll keep it simple and leave you with this lovely moment of fanservice that finally happened on the big screen.


Tracey: When you can't run, you crawl, and when you can't crawl - when you can't do that...
Zoe: You find someone to carry you.

Thank you for everything, Firefly.

friday5 for November 11, 2016: 2016 nanowrimo edition

I just realized this is the first Friday5 I've done since the summer. That right there is a real measure of how busy I've been. But despite it being such a long time since I've done one, today's Friday5 is not going to be a return to the usual format because we're in the midst of National Novel Writing Month (when you write a 50k novel during the month of November), one of two reasons (the other being that December is crazypants) there's a good chance I may not do another Friday5 until January. Just kidding. Kind of. But probably not... Anyway, for this month at least, I'm making serious writing progress, and sorry, but that wins out over blog-writing. 

So in the spirit of NaNoWriMo, or NaNo as it's more briefly called, here are five things I've learned as a YA author writing her first adult romance for her NaNo project: 

1. I'm writing without thinking too hard about what I'm writing and it's actually working. 

This has always been my biggest challenge when it comes to NaNo, as I'm sure it is for many people. I tend to edit as I write, which means fussing over dialogue tags, finding just the right word, and worrying over whether there's enough stuff going on beyond the dialogue (setting, mood, tone, etc). It's very hard for me to not ruminate on these things as I write, but the first thing I've done every day that I've sat down to work on my NaNo project is to remind myself that when it comes to NaNo, quantity is more important than quality. And it's actually working. I'm not sure if you can call managing to keep up with the expected word count for NaNoWriMo "crushing it" but if you can, I'm totally crushing it. Which feels kind of amazing cause I haven't done that in a long time. I'm writing without worry because I've kept reminding myself that I can go back and fix things later. That's what editing is for and while I've always found it easier to edit as I go, I don't have to. I can crank out words without them being perfect. Things are rarely perfect in a first draft anyway. 

2. My small town somehow feels ready for the big leagues.  

I've been working in the romance industry for the past eight years. I know romance novels pretty well. But this is the first time I've ever attempted to write one and despite how much exposure I've had to the medium, I'm still learning things through this process. I've always known books that fall into a series, with continuity and connected characters, are very popular within the genre, but I always saw those series as something that were extended because they were popular and because they sold. And while that's definitely part of it, I don't think I ever truly appreciated the author's likely compulsion to tell more stories in the same world until now. I've written first books in a trilogy before. I've written books meant to be the first half of a duology. But this is different somehow. When I set out to write this book, I had an idea for a story set in a small lakeside town here in Ontario. It wasn't until I started writing that I realized there's definitely more than one story here. The secondary characters have taken on lives of their own. I almost feel like it's my duty to tell their stories one day too. And that makes me feel like I now get it in a way that I didn't before. Series romance authors aren't searching for stories to tell--the stories are begging to be told. And there's something kinda wonderful about that. 

3. Tone is so important, especially when your story has potentially dark elements.

Aspects of my plot are a bit dark. There's death. There's infidelity. There's family drama. But most importantly, there's love. A lot of love. I mean, it is a romance, right? And I'm finding a big part of my focus with regards to crafting the story is going toward maintaining that hopeful, romantic tone all good romance novels need. It would be very easy to take the plot I've mapped out and turn it into something darker. The same story could easily be a thriller if I tweaked a few things. But one thing I've learned about romance over the years is how important it is to pin down the tone of the genre. And writing my first adult romance has only reinforced that fact a dozen times over. 

4. My adult characters are adult versions of my teen characters.

I have to admit, I was a bit nervous about writing adult characters. Until now, all the novels I've written (short stories of the past aside) have been YA, with teen characters and teen issues. The adults in those books were parents, teachers, side characters. They were never the focus. And now I have this heroine who's 28 and at a serious crossroads in her life and I'm realizing, she's actually not that different from some of my YA characters. Sure, a lot of that has to do with my own voice while I'm writing, but I think it also has to do with the fact that both YA and adult romance have elements of self-discovery to them, of "figuring it out". And I love exploring those themes. One of the reasons I love writing YA is that I love the excitement of first loves and first experiences. Adult romance is less likely to dive into "first" territory, but it definitely explores experiencing something very other for the first time.  The first love to come along that changes you, that makes you see the world in a way you didn't before. I'm really enjoying the writing process so far, and while there are times that my adult characters feel like grown-up versions of my YA characters, I know the differences are what will make this book stand apart--the careers, the adult life problems, oh, and the sex. Not that my YA books don't go there, but this is the first time I'm writing a book that's going to go there. Good times :) 

5. I'm really enjoying writing something different.

It's been a rough road. I know I've written about this on the blog before, but publishing is a journey. For some authors, it's shorter than others, but mine, unfortunately, has been something of a long, winding path filled with very talented editors saying "thanks, but no thanks". It's definitely not easy, and as with all long journeys, you get tired after a while, you get discouraged, despite your best efforts not to. Sometimes it's nice to change things up a bit. YA is still my first novel-writing love, and I have a lot of great ideas for YA stories that I can't wait to explore, but for now, I'm really enjoying writing something different. I feel like it's giving me something of a recharge, one that I desperately needed. I still have high hopes that there's an editor out there who will love my YA novels enough to publish them, but now I have something else to focus on, to hope for. I'm doing the work. I'm always doing the work. And you've gotta do the work if you want to succeed. 

Are you working on a NaNo book of your own this month? If so, I've love to hear about it in the comments and/or friend me on the NaNo site! My username on there is earthcrosser. Happy writing and

Happy Weekend!

friday5 special edition: interview with debut author Hayley Stone!!

I'm beyond thrilled to have a very special guest here on the blog today for a very special author interview edition of the Friday5. Please welcome my agentmate, and sci-fi writing superstar, rockstar extraordinaire (girl did a signing at this year's SD Comic-Con!), debut author and all-around awesome person, Hayley Stone! Hayley's stunning debut, MACHINATIONS is out now, and you guys, YOU GUYS, you seriously need to check out this whirlwind of thrilling sci-fi goodness! 

Before we get to today's special edition Friday5 Q&A, here's a little more about rockstar Hayley, and Machinations:

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest

Hayley Stone has lived her entire life in sunny California, where the weather is usually perfect and nothing as exciting as a robot apocalypse ever happens. When not reading or writing, she freelances as a graphic designer, falls in love with videogame characters, and analyzes buildings for velociraptor entry points. She holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a minor in German from California State University, Sacramento.

Machinations is her debut novel from Hydra/Random House. Its sequel, Counterpart, releases October 11th, 2016.

Admit it, you adore her already, don't you? :) Well, just wait until you hear about Machinations!

Perfect for fans of Robopocalypse, this action-packed science-fiction debut introduces a chilling future and an unforgettable heroine with a powerful role to play in the battle for humanity’s survival.

The machines have risen, but not out of malice. They were simply following a command: to stop the endless wars that have plagued the world throughout history. Their solution was perfectly logical. To end the fighting, they decided to end the human race.

A potent symbol of the resistance, Rhona Long has served on the front lines of the conflict since the first Machinations began—until she is killed during a rescue mission gone wrong. Now Rhona awakens to find herself transported to a new body, complete with her DNA, her personality, even her memories. She is a clone . . . of herself.

Trapped in the shadow of the life she once knew, the reincarnated Rhona must find her place among old friends and newfound enemies—and quickly. For the machines are inching closer to exterminating humans for good. And only Rhona, whoever she is now, can save them.

"A tension-filled story of loss, loyalty, and forgiveness, with abundant Terminator-style shoot-em-up scenes and a snarky, kickass female warrior. I inhaled it!”
Jennifer Foehner Wells, bestselling author of Fluency

Welcome to the blog, Hayley!

I'm delighted to have you here to answer five questions for my first ever Friday5 author interview! Let's get right down to it :)

Question1> I love hearing about authors’ journeys to get where they are today. When did you decide you wanted to be an author, and how did the idea for Machinations first come about?

Hayley> I’ve always wanted to be an author. Always. There was never a time before that goal, although I did toy with the idea of becoming a storm chaser (too dangerous) and/or a veterinarian. From a young age, I was telling stories, however I could. Over time that transformed from picture books to short novels to fanfiction to roleplaying and then, finally, to full-fledged novels. 

Machinations was born from a fusion of several different sci-fi stories that dealt with the idea of doppelgängers and/or resurrection of some kind: Doctor Who, Girl with the Third Eye, and Mass Effect 2. With those tales percolating in my brain, I had a dream about my own clone essentially stepping in and taking over my life—with my blessing. It made me wonder: what circumstances could lead to something like that happening? 

I’m not sure where the machines came from, but they showed up when I started writing,and I went with my gut. As it turned out, combining two possibilities for artificial life (robots and cloning) ended up working very well, allowing me to explore some interesting themes of personhood.

Question2> Machinations is a thrilling, futuristic adventure full of everything I personally love in a good sci-fi read. What do you love about the sci-fi genre as it exists today, and what would you love to see more of in the future?

Hayley> Thank you! I love the curiosity of the sci-fi genre, and it’s ability to be both challenging and political while also telling a damn good story. To me, the speculative genre is all about asking questions (about humanity, about our future and our past), without necessarily providing clear-cut answers. It leaves room for interpretation, and I think many SFF readers bring their own experiences into that space, thereby personalizing the story.

I’d love to see more female authors writing under their own names, breaking down that bias against feminine-sounding names. I’d like more diversity, and more portrayals of women as fully-realized characters: full of flaws and fears and passions, who don’t fall into easily quantifiable definitions of “likeable” or “unlikable.”

Of course, there are some fantastic authors already doing this: Kameron Hurley, N. K. Jemisin, Victoria Schwab, Jennifer Foehner Wells, to name a few. Hopefully I can follow in their footsteps.

Question3> You probably get lots of clone questions, but I have to ask—if you had a perfect clone of yourself at your disposal, which one task would you ask her to perform? (And yes, given the times we’re living in, getting her to play Pokemon Go on your behalf is a perfectly acceptable answer.)

Hayley>I have to confess, having her play Pokemon Go wouldn’t have even occurred to me, but that’s brilliant! Apart from that, I would probably have my clone work a normal 9-5 job, so that I could stay at home and write without worrying about money.

Question4> If you were to play matchmaker for your main character, Rhona Long, how would you describe her to the person you’re setting her up on a blind date with?

Hayley> A quick-witted redhead who wears her heart on her sleeve and isn’t afraid to sacrifice for the greater good. Enjoys debate, not being brutally murdered by sentient machines, and pop culture references.

Question5> Machinations is set in a world where the machines have risen up against the human race. When—I mean if—this (cough*inevitably*cough) happens on earth as we know it, what would your first course of action be?

Hayley>One of the reasons I set the book in Alaska was because I thought the remote location and treacherous winter climate would give the machines some trouble. So in the event of a robot apocalypse, I’d probably grab my loved ones and book it into the wilderness as fast as possible, getting away from any major technology.
 

Thank you so much, Hayley! It's been a pleasure having you on the blog today. And for anyone who now can't wait to get their hands on MACHINATIONS, either for your own reading pleasure or for the sci-fi lover in your life, you can order your copy today!

In Canada: Amazon | Chapters-Indigo 

In the US: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

And don’t forget to add it to your Goodreads!

Happy Weekend!

friday5 for July 15, 2016

1. LIFE & STUFF

It's been a busy couple weeks, and I've been working hard amidst a new routine, shuffling the kids around more than ever, now that Little E's daily routine doesn't involve a bus. It's nice in some ways, getting to spend more time in the car with her, just talking, sometimes singing, or playing car games. Baby H gets in on the fun too--or tries to, but most of the time he doesn't know what we're doing. He's turning 2 next week, which seems crazy to me. Wasn't he just a tiny little baby in my arms? How has it been two whole years already? 

As I noted above, I've been working hard, both editing and writing. There's been a lot of writing, actually, which is good, because I'd been struggling to fit it in and honestly, I think the overall discouragement I've been feeling was creating mental blocks I had to overcome. I also came to really recognize over the past few weeks how much what point I'm at in a book can affect my mood. Part of that can be attributed to the type of music I listen to while I'm writing certain scenes--fun, flirty, sexy, or heartbreaking. I went through a real high when my main characters were falling in love, but the drama has hit the fan, kids. In a big way, and it's had me feeling in a funk the past two days. I think I'll have to put together a playlist for the book because it really has a solid soundtrack. Here's a hint about where I was today--My Invitation by Sarah Slean

She has such an awful lot of soldiers
Quite a lovely army all her own
Night and day they stand before the fortress
Very safe but very all alone

2. BOOKS & PUBLISHING NEWS

There are a lot of lists of Summer Beach Reads circulating at this time of year--and why not? We're all looking for something to help us escape reality as we bask in the sun while it's still here. Basically, you can take your pick when it comes to these lists, but if you're into YA like I am, might I suggest this list put out by The New York Public Library? Basically, all you need to know about it is that E. Lockhart's We Were Liars is on it, and you need to read that book like yesterday.

3. POP CULTURE NEWS

I feel like I can't even try to talk about anything else here this week--Pokemon Go and HarmonQuest. Two very different things. Both not available in Canada yet. Come on, seriously? WAIT! Harmon Quest episode one appears to be on YouTube! Rejoice!!

4. JUST PRESS PLAY: Samuel L. Jackson Recaps Game of Thrones and it's the best

 

5. NOTEWORTHY NEW YA: THE KILLER IN ME by Margot Harrison

Seventeen-year-old Nina Barrows knows all about the Thief. She’s intimately familiar with his hunting methods: how he stalks and kills at random, how he disposes of his victims’ bodies in an abandoned mine in the deepest, most desolate part of a desert.

Now, for the first time, Nina has the chance to do something about the serial killer that no one else knows exists. With the help of her former best friend, Warren, she tracks the Thief two thousand miles, to his home turf—the deserts of New Mexico.

But the man she meets there seems nothing like the brutal sociopath with whom she’s had a disturbing connection her whole life. To anyone else, Dylan Shadwell is exactly what he appears to be: a young veteran committed to his girlfriend and her young daughter. As Nina spends more time with him, she begins to doubt the truth she once held as certain: Dylan Shadwell is the Thief. She even starts to wonder . . . what if there is no Thief?

-Courtesy of Indiebound

 

Happy Weekend!

friday5 for July 1, 2016

friday5.png

1. LIFE & STUFF

Another busy couple of weeks. My little girl is officially finished her first year of school--and her first round of swimming lessons to boot. I can't believe how quickly that went. It makes me kind of terrified for how quickly the next several years will go. Having kids has definitely taught me a lot, but one thing that stands out more now than ever, is how fast time flies, and how important it is that we pursue the things we love, and enjoy them for as long as we possibly can. 

In other news, Happy Canada Day! 

I'm so proud to be Canadian, always, but especially today as I see the world around us struggling. Of course, we're not perfect either, but things here in Canada are vastly improved these days with our kind and compassionate new PM. His love for this country and its people is palpable, and I truly believe it's spreading, bringing this country back to life after many years in the dark. 

2. BOOKS & PUBLISHING NEWS

Have you been sorted into your Ilverymorny house over on Pottermore yet? I have, and apparently I can add Thunderbird to my house resume (along with my Hogwarts house, Hufflepuff--I'm sure at one point I'll share the story of how I discovered I'm a puff, hated it, then came to absolutely love it). Pottermore also features a really cool intro video for those who want to learn a bit more about the NA school of wizardry. I've seen some interesting theories as to how the new houses might relate back to the ones at Hogwarts too, though JKR herself denies there's any connection. Really, Jo? Really? If you've been sorted, I'd love to hear what you are--and what you think of these new houses to obsess over!

3. POP CULTURE NEWS

Ready for more Gilmore Girls? Not yet? Blasphemy! But okay, I feel you. Netflix has released a cute little video starting chief Gilmore Girl, Lorelei (Emily would have you believe it's her, but it's not; it's totally Lor), explaining that GG is now global for all your binging needs. I don't think I'll have time to rewatch the entire series again before the movies hit Netflix in the fall, but that's okay. I've probably already watched it six or seven times already and I know I'll get around to another rewatch before long :)

4. JUST PRESS PLAY: 5 Things That Are Harder Than Registering To Vote, Featuring President Obama (warning: Game of Thrones spoilers)

5. NOTEWORTHY NEW YA: MAGIC BITTER, MAGIC SWEET by Charlie N. Holmberg

Maire is a baker with an extraordinary gift: she can infuse her treats with emotions and abilities, which are then passed on to those who eat them. She doesn t know why she can do this and remembers nothing of who she is or where she came from.

When marauders raid her town, Maire is captured and sold to the eccentric Allemas, who enslaves her and demands that she produce sinister confections, including a witch's gingerbread cottage, a living cookie boy, and size-altering cakes.

During her captivity, Maire is visited by Fyel, a ghostly being who is reluctant to reveal his connection to her. The more often they meet, the more her memories return, and she begins to piece together who and what she really is as well as past mistakes that yield cosmic consequences.

From the author of The Paper Magician series comes a haunting and otherworldly tale of folly and consequence, forgiveness and redemption.

-Courtesy of Indiebound

 

Happy Weekend!

friday5 for June 17, 2016

1. LIFE & STUFF

Well, the summer is filling up quickly, and I can already say, the Friday5 is not going to be able to be a weekly feature over the next few months. There's just too much going on! But it's all good. And we all need a little vacation sometimes. I wish I could say the reason there hasn't been a June Friday5 yet is because I've been relaxing, but it's actually quite the opposite. I've been working like a mad woman on everything from freelance edits, to back cover copy, to my own writing, to attending end of the school year events with Little E, to building a vegetable garden in the backyard, to, well, the list goes on. But I think you get the idea. It's been a busy few weeks, and it doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon.

Everyday life stuff aside, I've also been finding myself feeling a bit overwhelmed by life stuff lately as well. A lot of heavy stuff in the news, pushing down, settling deep. If you happen to be reading this at a time other than the week of June 17, 2016, maybe google what was going on and you'll see what I mean. I don't really want to get into it here because I know I can't do it justice, so I'll just say this: the world is full of love and goodness, but it's not enough. We need more of it. We're at like, 80% love, and we need closer to 95%, maybe even 100%. Okay, I can already feel myself wanting to launch into a long rant, so I'll leave it at that. Love. LOVE <3

I also want to add a quick note about the ups and downs of being on submission, because I'm in a bit of a down trend right now, feeling the hopelessness (which is probably only compounded by badness in the world right now). I've posted in the past about rejection, and how it's all part of the journey, and how you can't take it personally, and need a thick skin, and can usually learn so much from the experience, and YES, all of that is so, so true. But even when you know that logically, you can still find yourself in a funk sometimes. It's rough ride. And if I somehow knew it would work out in the end, I wouldn't mind the bumps so much, but not knowing makes it hard sometimes. Of course, that doesn't stop me from writing, and it doesn't stop me from trying. Even when I'm feeling really down about the whole thing, the seeds of hope are still there, asking me to water them, because they want to grow big again. They don't want me to give up, and thank goodness, that's usually enough--enough to keep going. Keep working hard and keep hoping. Maybe you can relate, in some way or another, with regards something that you want, but can only do so much to achieve. If you don't want to give up, you have to learn to live with hoping, but not knowing. You just have to. Because when you want something, there's no other option than to keep going.

But enough about that. Let's get to some news, shall we?

2. BOOKS & PUBLISHING NEWS

Photo credit: @HPPlayLDN via Twitter

Photo credit: @HPPlayLDN via Twitter

I feel I must address the fact that Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has now been seen. I won't post any spoilers here but I will note that I have read them, and everything I've heard has me hoping more than ever that a much wider audience will get to see the play, as opposed to just reading it when it hits the shelves on July 31st. Screen it in theatres, show it on TV, I don't care, but let us see it. Because it sounds like something that needs to be seen. And while I'm certain I'll still buy the play when it comes out, I can't help but feel I'll be missing something vital if I don't get to see it with my own two eyes. 

3. POP CULTURE NEWS

Photo credit: EW

Photo credit: EW

Are you excited for Bryan Fuller's adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods? You really should be. The cast is shaping up to be fantastic (Gillian Anderson!), and you can't go wrong with the source material. EW has just released a few teaser images to whet our appetites too. Will you be watching when American Gods debuts?

4. JUST PRESS PLAY: MOANA

Note: This section of the Friday5 was formerly called, "Trailer Worth Watching"--I've decided to rename it to open it up to other share-worthy videos, though this week, it is a trailer for what looks like Disney's next hit:

 

5. NOTEWORTHY NEW YA: LOCAL GIRL SWEPT AWAY by Ellen Wittlinger

They are four best friends who've shared joy and secrets, love and memories, and since the beginning, Lorna was the one who held them all together. Then, the unthinkable happens. During a storm, Lorna is swept out to sea, leaving the three survivors with nothing to cling to except grief and questions. How did this happen? Why was Lorna in such danger, and was she alone? When her body is never found, the mystery deepens. Did Lorna really die? Or has she made a crazy bid for freedom? Inevitably, the dynamic of the four friends' everyday life is changed forever. But the pain and confusion go deepest for Jackie, who must face her feelings of unrequited love for Lorna's boyfriend as well as try to put to rest her own questions about Lorna's presumed death. Does one of the boys in their inner circle know more than he's letting on? Will Lorna's fate ever be discovered? And how will Jackie become her own person in the wake of a wound that may never close? In this beautifully written, intense novel, one girl has to travel through loss and disillusionment to make sense of her own future.

-Courtesy of Indiebound

 

Happy Weekend!

friday5 for May 27, 2016

What happens when you mix the Friday5 with The Writer's Arsenal? Why, an all writing-related edition of the Friday5, of course! And since this is primarily an author blog, I'm assuming you won't mind the diversion.

When people find out I'm a writer, not all, but many mention that they'd love to read something I've written. My usual response is, "well, hopefully one day you'll be able to!" But lately, I've been thinking a lot about ways I can share snippets of my writing with curious friends and family, without sending full manuscripts out all willy-nilly. And that brings me to today's special edition of the Friday5, which is about writing sites. Specifically, sites where writers can share their work. Now, obviously, writers can always share their stuff right on their own personal websites, but it won't have the same exposure or reach as it might on a platform specifically designed for sharing creative works. So today, I'm going to take a look at five such shared writing platforms, and maybe, whether you write as a hobby or in pursuit of publication, you'll find a good place to share a taste of your own work. 

1. WATTPAD

Admittedly, I haven't researched the numbers, but Wattpad claims to be the biggest writing community out there, and as far as web presence goes, I'd have to agree. If you know any of the sites on this list, you probably know Wattpad. From fiction to fanfiction to just about anything else your imagination can conjure, Wattpad is ready and waiting for your creativity. I don't have any personal experience using Wattpad, but it's the go-to for a lot of collaborations with publishers when it comes to contests, and sometimes even book deals. I will probably give it more of a look one day, but for now, I have a few other sites I find myself more drawn too (see below).

2. FIGMENT

Figment is the first website of this type I've ever personally used. It's targeted at YA, which is a natural match for my writing, and it also has a heavy emphasis on Fantasy and Sci-Fi (again, a good match). It's YA slant is obvious right from the homepage, with a fun, youthful design, and links to create, read, and participate in polls, quizzes, and contests. A contest is actually what first drew me to Figment, and the short sci-fi story I wrote for it, while not chosen for an anthology they were putting together, did earn me a personal email from the author judging the contest, noting that she loved my story, but it was too similar to another story in the anthology. So, Figment will always hold a special place in my heart because of that.  

3. FICTIONPRESS

If you're not one for flashy graphics and other distractions, FictionPress is probably the site for you. We're talking bare bones, with an emphasis on category fiction and poetry. Not a lot else to say about this one, but I did want to include a site that gets to the point, and is reminiscent of what fanfiction sites used to be back in the day before website design got all super fancy on us. 

4. SCRIBOPHILE

What sets Scribophile apart from the other sites is its emphasis on reading and critiquing the works of other writers. In their own words, "Scribophile is a respectful online writing workshop and writer’s community. Writers of all skill levels join to improve each other’s work with thoughtful critiques and by sharing their writing experience."  In fact, you can't even post your own writing to Scribophile until you've earned "karma points" by reading others' works. If you're looking for a site where your writing won't just sit there unread, Scribophile might be a good option, but you do have to give a little to get a little, which, let's face it, should always be the case, right? 

5. STORYBIRD

Finally we arrive at what's probably my favourite shared writing site, Storybird. What sets Storybird apart from the others? Well, for one, it's just so damn pretty. And there's something about that little blue bird that just makes me want to create adorable stories. Storybird has a whole visual element to it that the other shared writing sites don't quite capture. It's where authors and illustrators can come together to create beautiful stories and share them with a young, vibrant community of readers and fellow artists. I heart it.

So, to bring this whole thing full circle, I'm going to go back to what I said above about people asking to read my work. Well, now you can sample a taste, both here on the website, and on Figment. To read samples of my works here on the website, please click on the BOOKS link at the top (or, if you're too lazy for that, I'll include links below too). There you'll find the same story synopses I've always had here on the site, but you'll also find new links to samples from each of my completed works. The selections featured here on the site have been taken from varying points in each book, but if you'd like to read the first chapter of each book, you'll also find a link to those on Figment. As always, I'm happy to hear feedback from anyone who takes a look. Happy reading, and if you plan on checking out any of the above sites, happy writing! I'd love to hear about any experiences, good or bad, in the comments, along with any links anyone would like to share to their work!

Read a selection from Shimmer and Shade
Shimmer and Shade, first chapter on Figment

Read a selection from Skin Deep
Skin Deep, first chapter on Figment

Read a selection from The Broken Season
The Broken Season, first chapter on Figment

Read a selection from This Hideous Heart
This Hideous Heart, first chapter on Figment


HAPPY WEEKEND!

friday5 for May 6, 2016

1. LIFE & STUFF

I don't know what it is about this spring (wait, yes I do; fluctuating temperatures!), but we are on a cycle of nonstop illnesses. First it's heads colds, then stomach bugs, then terrible, no good, very bad coughs with fever and runny noses and ugh. It's too much. And it's been getting in the way of my writing time. If I'm not sick, one of the kids is. But this week ended up being not nearly as bad as it could've been, because only one child was sick, and it didn't seem to last. So while I did lose a whole day of writing during my first week in a while that I didn't also have freelance work, I also had some very productive days too. I'm at that point in my WIP where I'm really hitting my stride. The characters are coming to life, the plot is basically writing itself, and I managed to get 5k words on the page today without batting an eye. I love days like this. I wish I had more days like this, but ideally without the guilt that I assume all mothers experience when they have a good, productive day that has nothing to do with their children. Though, that's not really true either. 95% of the reason I write is because I love it. Because I couldn't not write. Because it's in my bones, and the story ideas keep coming. But the other 5% is because I want the arguably flexible career of a writer, so I can be available to my kids as they grow up. Okay, that summary of my week sort of went off the rails a bit at the end there, but it's all still worth noting. 

I suppose I should add here that there won't be a Friday5 next week because we're taking a little family vacation to the east coast. That's the other thing that's been consuming my time this week. Packing for three, and doing everything I can to make sure our first flight with the kids goes as smoothly as possible. Please pray for my sanity. 

CC0 Public Domain

CC0 Public Domain

2. BOOKS & PUBLISHING NEWS

You may have already seen this, but the cover is so fab it's worth repeating. Veronica Roth's next book, Carve the Mark,  her follow-up to the Divergent series, has been announced, and while the plot summary is a little "been there, done that" for my taste, the cover is, as I said, quite lovely. Sure, the Divergent film franchise has failed to deliver in a lot of ways, but I can't pretend I didn't enjoy Divergent when I read it the first time around. Roth may not be the most experienced writer, but she has a wonderful imagination, and her characterization is strong. I don't doubt I'll be picking this one up when it comes out next year. 

3. POP CULTURE NEWS

My week in pop culture has primarily been dominated by good TV (okay, most weeks are...) and the fact that I finally got around to watching The Force Awakens, just in time for May the 4th. Yes, I know. I know. And no, I didn't manage to remain unspoiled. That was a losing battle right from the start. But anyway, back to delicious, delightful finale season (plus, the return of spring/summer favs)--is anybody else totally digging the final season arc on Agents of Shield? (Is anyone else watching Agents of Shield?) Right now it's neck and neck with the brilliant final episodes of iZombie for my fav 2016 season ender (PLL aside, cause, come on!). Of course, the finale is yet to air, and depending on what happens, it may or may not end up anywhere near the top spot, but right now, I'm digging it. I really do love Brett Dalton, and not just cause he's super hot. He's been fantastic as Hive, and seeing him with Daisy/Skye again is just fantastic. Regardless of your thoughts on the pairing, they have a boatload of chemistry. Any other shows out there ending on a particularly strong note worth noting? Share 'em in the comments!

Photo Credit: ABC

Photo Credit: ABC

4. TRAILER WORTH WATCHING: BAD MOMS

There's a part of me that wants to hate this because the movie's title makes me CRINGE. Actually, the whole concept makes me cringe. But there's a lot of good going on here (KRISTEN BELL, obviously, and poking holes in oversensitive parenting methods) and Mila Kunis is always enjoyable too.  

5. NOTEWORTHY NEW YA: WANDERING WILD byJessica Taylor

"I believe in possibility. Of magic, of omens, of compasses, of love. Some of it's a little bit true."
Sixteen-year-old Tal is a Wanderer, a grifter whose life is built around the sound of wheels on the road, the customs of her camp, and the artful scams that keep her fed. With her brother, Wen, by her side, it's the only life she's ever known. It's the only one she's ever needed. 
Then in a sleepy Southern town, the queen of cons picks the wrong mark when she meets Spencer Swaythe clean-cut Socially Secured boy who ends up hustling her instead of the other way around. For the first time, she sees a reason to stay. As her obligations to the camp begin to feel like a prison sentence, the pull to leave tradition behind has never been so strong. 
But the Wanderers live by signs, and all the signs all say that Tal and Spencer will end only in heartache and disaster. Is a chance at freedom worth almost certain destruction?

-Courtesy of Indiebound

 

Happy Weekend!

friday5 for April 1, 2016

Happy April Fool's Day! I promise I won't attempt to pull any fast ones on you today, dear blog readers. The truth is, I'm just not that good at pranks. Maybe one day, but for now, it's enough for me to use today's Friday5 to share a selection of the internet's best gags with you, in case you don't have time to go looking yourself (feel free to share some of your favs in the comments)--and of course, we're also long overdue for a Noteworthy New YA recommendation, so let's get to it!

1. Google has a history of being all over April Fool's Day, and today was no exception. Here's just one of their awesome offerings:

2. WestJet's new inflight helper takes on a lightly HAL-esque personality in this gag ad:

3. Too busy gaming to eat? Razer has you covered:

4. Okay this is actually from yesterday, so not technically an April Fool's thing, but I didn't see it until this morning, and I can't not share:

5. Noteworthy New YA: WALK THE EDGE by Katie McGarry (Thunder Road #2)

One moment of recklessness will change their worlds.

Smart. Responsible. That's seventeen-year-old Breanna's role in her large family, and heaven forbid she put a toe out of line. Until one night of shockingly un-Breanna-like behavior puts her into a vicious cyber-bully's line of fire—and brings fellow senior Thomas "Razor" Turner into her life. 

Razor lives for the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, and good girls like Breanna just don't belong. But when he learns she's being blackmailed over a compromising picture of the two of them—a picture that turns one unexpected and beautiful moment into ugliness—he knows it's time to step outside the rules. 

And so they make a pact: he'll help her track down her blackmailer, and in return she'll help him seek answers to the mystery that's haunted him—one that not even his club brothers have been willing to discuss. But the more time they spend together, the more their feelings grow. And suddenly they're both walking the edge of discovering who they really are, what they want, and where they're going from here.

-Courtesy of Indiebound

Happy Weekend!

friday5 for March 11, 2016

I don't know about you, but I'm bracing myself for March Break next week. If I'm being perfectly honest, I'm looking forward to a few days where it'll be just me and my girl E (with Baby H in daycare), but I know E is going to miss the routine of school, and will probably get quite squirrely by the end of the week. That I'm not looking forward to... Needless to say, there won't be a Friday5 next week, but with the PLL finale airing, there will be at least something of a Pretty Little Reaction post. Housekeeping note over. Let's get to the Friday5!

1. Have you seen the official promo for the new season of Game of Thrones? No? Then you need to. Yes? Then you need to watch it again. There are a lot of goodies in here to discuss. Where to start? Oh, I dunno, how about BRAN AND THE FREAKIN' NIGHT'S KING? Okay, clearly this isn't really happening cause Bran is standing tall, but what's that all about? Is it possible Bran's story won't bore me as much as it has up to this point? We will soon find out!

2. Speaking of GoT, does anybody believe Kit Harrington's claims? Anybody? I'm seriously asking. I go back and forth about this several times a week. It's not like the guy has to worry about credibility. Not really. 

Photo credit: HBO

Photo credit: HBO

3. Queen Rowling herself is releasing a whole lot of new information about the North American Wizarding World, to mixed reviews (but let's not get into that here). Feelings about the specifics aside, does anybody else find this feels kind of surreal? Harry Potter fans have been immersed in the UK Wizarding world for so long that it feels really, really strange to now hear these kinds of details about magic's existence outside that. Don't get me wrong, I love the expansion of the wizarding world. I want it to live and grow forever, but it all feels so...disconnected for me right now. Like, everything in HP 1-7 is real, and this somehow isn't. Maybe Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will change that. I hope so.  

4. Get ready for more Kimmel. ABC has announced that Jimmy Kimmel has been tapped to host the 168th Primetime Emmy awards. I think this is a good choice. He did a plenty good job the last time he hosted, and when it comes to these awards shows, I always find the best hosts are the people who are used to hosting as a regular gig. Should be good. Let's just hope the nominations reflect the actual best talent out there, and not just the same old tired choices year over year. 

Photo credit: ABC

Photo credit: ABC

5. Noteworthy New YA: BURN BABY BURN by Meg Medina

While violence runs rampant throughout New York, a teenage girl faces danger within her own home in Meg Medina's riveting coming-of-age novel. 
Nora Lopez is seventeen during the infamous New York summer of 1977, when the city is besieged by arson, a massive blackout, and a serial killer named Son of Sam who shoots young women on the streets. Nora's family life isn t going so well either: her bullying brother, Hector, is growing more threatening by the day, her mother is helpless and falling behind on the rent, and her father calls only on holidays. All Nora wants is to turn eighteen and be on her own. And while there "is "a cute new guy who started working with her at the deli, is dating even worth the risk when the killer likes picking off couples who stay out too late? Award-winning author Meg Medina transports us to a time when New York seemed balanced on a knife-edge, with tempers and temperatures running high, to share the story of a young woman who discovers that the greatest dangers are often closer than we like to admit and the hardest to accept.

-Courtesy of Indiebound

friday5 for February 12, 2016

With Valentine's Day right around the corner, love is in the air. Well, kinda. We have Deadpool coming out this weekend, and the return of The Walking Dead... but there's some love to be found there, right? Okay, maybe not so romantic, but definitely fun. Here's a mostly relationship-centric Friday5 to balance the scales:

1. The boys are back in town. As in ALL the boys. David Sutcliffe, Danny Strong, Jared Padalecki, and Milo Ventimiglia are set to join the Gilmore Girls revival alongside already announced Gilmore Guys, Scott Patterson and Matt Czuchry (whose name I still have no idea how to pronounce). And they're not the only ones. You can find an updated list of everyone returning to Stars Hollow here. Looks like all of Rory's boyfriends of Christmas past are going to be back in town, but how amazing would it be if the first instalment of the Netflix revival opens with Rory dating Jensen Ackles?

Photo credit:&nbsp; MEGAN SCHAEFER/ IBTIMES

Photo credit: MEGAN SCHAEFER/ IBTIMES

2. Looks like we'll be finding out the fate of Ron and Hermione's marriage (see last week's Friday5 for Rupert Grint's blasphemous prediction) regardless of the ability to attend performances of The Cursed Child in London--as many predicted, the stage play is being published for all to read on July 31 of this year. Are you excited to get your hands on the 8th Harry Potter story, even if J.K. Rowling's pen wasn't the main one behind the tale?

3. The trailer for Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates was released this past week, and with a wedding, a bromance, and a...female bromance? (Femance? Is there a word for that? ), it looks like it could be a lot of fun. I just hope the film utilizes Anna Kendrick more than the trailer does, because girl is funny. 

4. Looking to whip up something sweet this weekend? The Kitchn has collected a slew of inspired recipes that combine sugary sweets with roses--could there be anything more romantic? The only trouble is, these dishes might be too beautiful to eat...

Photo Credit:&nbsp;http://www.abeautifulmess.com/

Photo Credit: http://www.abeautifulmess.com/

5. Noteworthy New YA: BLEEDING EARTH by Kaitlin Ward

9780986448485.jpg
Between Mother Nature and human nature, disasters are inevitable.
Lea was in a cemetery when the earth started bleeding. Within twenty-four hours, the blood made international news. All over the world, blood oozed out of the ground, even through the concrete, even in the water. Then the earth started growing hair and bones.
Lea wishes she could ignore the blood. She wishes she could spend time with her new girlfriend, Aracely, in public, if only Aracely wasn't so afraid of her father. Lea wants to be a regular teen again, but the blood has made her a prisoner in her own home. Fear for her social life turns into fear for her sanity, and Lea must save herself and her girlfriend however she can.

-Courtesy of Indiebound

Happy weekend!

friday5 for February 5, 2016

As I mentioned in a post on my Facebook author page yesterday, it's been a busy week. More than busy. Plus, I'm recovering from this cold that doesn't seem to want to go away. I guess recovering isn't actually the right word then. Enduring? Kinda. Anyway, I had to do a bit of condensing with regards to bloggie things this week. Sorry about that. Hopefully, we'll be back to normal as of Monday, but for now, here's the Friday5, including a mini version of this week's Pretty Little Reaction!

1. Let's talk Gilmore Girls revival, because I don't think we've touched on that yet and the four episode (more like four movies given their length) series began filming this week. There's a lot of information swirling out there right now (like this great rundown). For once, I'm actually somewhat trying to limit my exposure to too many details, because I want to be surprised. But oh man, this interview with Lauren Graham has got me so excited: 

Photo credit: NBC

Photo credit: NBC

2. Another favourite comic book universe is coming to prime time--X-Men, and FX, the network behind the adaptation, subtitled Legion, has announced that Aubrey Plaza, Dan Stevens, and Jean Smart will be joining the cast. Any thoughts on these choices? Personally, I see a lot of potential, but the scripts will have to be just right. Will you watch when Legion premieres? Or are you getting prime time comic book adaptation fatigue?

Photo credit: FX via THR

Photo credit: FX via THR

3. So, Rupert Grint upset many a Harry Potter fan this week when he predicted that Ron and Hermione probably eventually got divorced. I mean, he had to have been kidding, right? Joking around in a self-deprecating, of-course-Ron-would-fail-at-marriage kind of way? Yeah, that must be it. Cause in reality, I don't see Ron and Hermione, my favs over even HP himself, ever letting go of each other... 

Photo credit: Warner BRos.

Photo credit: Warner BRos.

Look, I know Ron and Hermione had their ups and downs--they were still children when they first fell in love! They had a lot of growing up to do!--but they'd both come a long way by the end of Deathly Hallows. Did they probably argue a lot? Of course. That's part of their spark! But you can't convince me these two wouldn't continue to love each other enough to work through any problems they might have as a married couple.  

4. As promised, here are my top impressions from this week's episode of Pretty Little Liars--again, sorry about the abbreviated edition! If you want to avoid spoilers, please go right ahead and skip to the Noteworthy New YA.

  1. As I feared/suspected, Spencer and Hot Caleb didn't just kiss. They went for it. Like, went for it. Under the category of small mercies, I'm glad Hot Caleb was asleep during that morning after scene. I really didn't want to see AM canoodles between these two.
  2. In other news, PLL has finally found a way to make me feel for Toby. I might even be starting to like the guy. Or maybe I just want him to dump the new chick, and conveniently step in to soften Spencer's fall when Hot Caleb inevitably gets back with Hanna. Either way, he's miles from where he used to be back in the Creeper Toby days. And yet, I miss him being creepy too... this is clearly my head-cold speaking now. I'll leave it at that. 
  3. What is wrong with me that I actually like Aria's yellow zebra sweater? Is she... growing on me? First Toby and now Aria's wardrobe? Hmmm. I don't feel like I have a fever, but maybe I do!
  4. Hanna's fiance is definitely likable. That doesn't mean I want her to be with him, but calling a lawyer when your girl confesses to evidence tampering? He's clearly the smartest person in the liars' lives right now. If--scratch that--when Hanna gets back with Hot Caleb, I hope they keep Jordan around just for his logical coping methods. 
  5. Is Aria's dad the killer? I don't think so. But of the suspects they've hinted at so far, I think he's the one I'd most like to see actually responsible. He's definitely not the creeper in the old man mask though... was that supposed to look real? Cause it definitely looked like a mask. New A doesn't appear to have the big budget that old A did. 
6.14 New Guys, New Lies | Photo credit: Freeform

6.14 New Guys, New Lies | Photo credit: Freeform

5. Noteworthy New YA: ASSASSIN'S HEART by Sarah Ahiers

With shades of Game of Thrones and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a tale of love, lies, and vengeance. Fans of Kristin Cashore and Rae Carson will devour the flawlessly crafted action and inventive world building.
Seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana is a trained assassin. She was born into one of the nine clipper Families in the kingdom of Lovero who lawfully take lives for a price. As a member of the highest-ranking clan, loyalty to Family is valued above all, but that doesn't stop Lea from getting into a secret relationship with Val Da Via, a boy from a rival clan. Despite her better judgment, Lea has fallen in love with him; but she's confident she can anticipate any threat a mile away.
Then she awakens one night to a house full of smoke. Although she narrowly escapes, she isn't able to save her Family as their home is consumed by flames. With horror, she realizes that Val and his Family are the only ones who could be responsible. Devastated over his betrayal and the loss of her clan, there's just one thing on her mind: making the Da Vias pay. The heart of this assassin craves revenge.

-Courtesy of Indiebound

Happy weekend!

friday5 for January 29, 2016

Well, I'm not exactly sure how we've reached the end of January already, but here we are. Time flying so quickly is always a bit concerning, but it's winter, and we're steadily moving toward warmer, sunnier days. I see no bad there. But if that shiny glimmer of hope isn't enough to get you through to the weekend, here are a few items that just might! 

1. What is happening here? This is absolutely delightful, and yet another reason Kristen Bell is my spirit animal. You don't need to know anything going into this beyond the fact that KB and her hubs, Dax Shepard, filmed this before the birth of their kids, while they were on safari in Africa. If these two ever break up, I'm going to need therapy. Enjoy!

2. Did you miss Mockingjay Pt. 2 in theatres like I did? No? You saw it because you didn't have trouble working out a babysitting scenario that would work for your still nursing baby? Well, I wasn't so lucky. After seeing the previous three films (the first and third with newborn babies in tow) shortly after their initial release, I just didn't make it out to see MJ Pt. 2. Not a great situation for a big HG fan to be in. But alas, that's life, and now the film is almost out on DVD/Blu-ray and I'll get to finally see it! I might even have to pre-order the 4-film collection, details for which have just been released. Will you be marathoning all four films when Mockingjay Pt.2 becomes available?

3. Were you angry when Pottermore decided to do away with sorting and all the interactive stuff that was actually worth your time? Well, some of those features are back, and whether you liked the house you were originally sorted into or not, now's a great time to find out where you might fit in at Hogwarts, according to the master of sorting, J.K. Rowling herself! 

4. Would you like a splash of Saturday morning nostalgia with your comic books? Cause DC is rolling out some new versions of old Hanna-Barbera favourites. The art is definitely intriguing, but I'm not sure I'll be checking out any of these books beyond a passing glimpse. There's something about Scooby with a cyborg eye that just seems irresponsible ;) Anybody on board with this reimagining?

Photo Credit: DC Comics, courtesy of Entertainment weekly

Photo Credit: DC Comics, courtesy of Entertainment weekly

5. Noteworthy YA of the week: SHALLOW GRAVES by Kali Wallace

For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters human and otherwise lurk at the fringes.

When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she's somehow conscious and not only that, she's able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs where killers hide in plain sight, and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

Tense, complex, and wholly engaging, Shallow Graves is a stunning first novel from Kali Wallace.

-Courtesy of Indiebound

Happy weekend!

welcome to the new www.katepawsonstuder.com

Welcome and hello! I'm so happy to have you here at the new www.katepawsonstuder.com! As promised earlier this month, the fresh, new look of this site is only the beginning; I have lots of fun stuff in store for the coming weeks and months. But today, I wanted to use this post as an introduction to the new site, where you can find info on my books, and a few other goodies, including the archive of all my old blog posts (which, disclaimer, successfully migrated over, BUT the formatting is super wonky in some, so if you do happen to go back and read anything prior to 2016, please forgive the formatting oddities).

The blog is also where I'll be continuing to keep you guys updated on any news, and of course, in addition to some tba new features, it'll also be home to some returning favourites...

Coming soon:

New editions of The Writer's Arsenal!

New editions of The Friday5!

And of course, new reviews of Pretty Little Liars, in the form of the revamped Pretty Little Reaction (formerly the Pretty Little Recap).

The new season just kicked off with a major 5 year time jump, and it definitely feels like the perfect time to dive back in with an all new recap format. Watch for the first PLR post soon, as I catch up on the season 6B premiere in anticipation of this week's all new episode!

Photo credit: Freeform

Photo credit: Freeform

I hope you guys love the look and feel of the new site as much as I do. I'm excited to use this space to share pieces of myself and my writing with you, as I forge ahead with my ambition to become a published author. I'd love to hear what you think of the new site–please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments!

the dog's breakfast

Where did all these cookies come from? Photo credit: Zorik07
This post has gone through several incarnations--actually, I shouldn't even say it was a single post because at one point it was going to be three different posts, but as the title suggests, I've decided to throw up my hands and cobble them together into some sort of Frankenpost.

It's been about three months since my last update, and though most of the people reading this will probably have some idea of what's been going on with me because of Facebook, I figured I might as well post a rundown here for posterity's sake. And it being Friday and all, let's do this Friday5 style, shall we?

But only kinda.
1. I'm moving to the country (gonna eat a lot of peaches...does anybody even remember that song?) Yep. Let's get the biggie out of the way first. We all know how stressful and time consuming moving can be. Throw on top of that the fact that we weren't exactly planning on moving (until we suddenly fell in love with a house) and, well, let's just say everything is a bit chaotic at the moment. If I'm not chasing my children around (my actual full time job), I'm making lists and checking them twice--wait, that's not right--it's more like making spreadsheets and cross-referencing everything eight thousand times. And packing, and scheduling, and packing, and painting, and packing. I won't bore you with all the details, but on top of the usual moving stuff (and our family has doubled in size since we last moved), there's also all the getting our current house ready to sell in a timely manner stuff, because again, we weren't exactly planning on this happening...

2. Which brings me to update #2: because of the sudden decision to move out of the city, I've also made the extremely difficult decision to not return to my position as an assistant editor at Harlequin. I have A LOT of thoughts and feeling about this decision, but rather than wade too far into the deep end, I'll sum them up as best I can by saying this whole moving/not returning to work thing has been very bittersweet. I'm definitely excited about our new home and the opportunities it presents (see #3 below), but Harlequin (specifically MIRA, and then HQN) has been my home away from home for seven years and there aren't enough positive words in the dictionary to describe the amazing, talented people I'll no longer be working alongside. I'm going to miss them tremendously. So yeah, BITTERSWEET. 

3. The decision to make the above life changes has left me with the occasional sinking feeling this might end up being a huge mistake, but for the most part, something about it just feels right. Call it a gut feeling. Part of that has to do with us settling in a nice little community just as my daughter is about to start kindergarten, but it also has to do with the opportunity it presents regarding my ambition to build a career as an author. Writing has always been something I've dreamed I'd one day get to devote my primary (work) focus on, and now I have the chance to explore that. Is it a huge gamble? Definitely. But sometimes you have to take a chance, and bet on yourself. This next phase of our lives feels like the right time for me to do that and if it doesn't work out, it certainly won't be for lack of effort or drive. Please keep your fingers crossed for me :)

4. Speaking of writing, that brings me to my next update: my WIP, THIS HIDEOUS HEART is finished, and while I don't usually like to talk about the submission process on this blog, I'll just say that it's out in the world, looking for a home. I'm really happy with how this one turned out (not that I'm not happy with how all of them turned out) and I really, really hope I'll get the opportunity to share it with you some day soon! My next project is the one I'd been working on before the lightbulb that was THH went off, stealing all my attention away. It's a summer camp story--I was a HUGE fan of summer camp style stories as a kid (Baby-Sitters Club Super Specials anyone?) and I can't wait until the bulk of this moving stuff is out of the way so that I can dive in. It's a contemporary YA romance, with hints of mystery, humour and a lot of heart. The working title is, SUMMER CAMP SUCKS WHEN YOU'RE FAT, and it fits the tone of the story so well I don't plan on changing it anytime soon :) More updates on that to come. And in fact, more everything to come. Once this move is over, I'll be in the position to actually, truly, once and for all, get back to a regular blog schedule--another benefit of all these life changes.

5. Okay, this has nothing to do with me specifically beyond the fact that I'm totally hooked. Can we please talk about iZombie? Because I'm in love. I knew I would totally dig this show because, hello, Rob Thomas is a supercrazyawesome genius, but he has somehow surpassed my expectations, meshing the best elements of Veronica Mars with Warm Bodies. In true Rob Thomas style, season one ended with a bang, and I can not wait for season two. So good, you guys. SO GOOD.

Bonus TV-related bullet point: Yes, I'm loving PLL's #summerofanswers. The drama is at an all time high, and my Haleb shipper heart is giving Hot Caleb all the awards for best boyfriend ever. If I can manage it, I'll try to do a Pretty Little Recap or two in the coming weeks, especially if something truly explosive happens. But no guarantees. Seriously, you guys should see all the boxes and moving crap surrounding my desk right now....

So, that's all for now. I'll be back with more in the coming weeks/months/etc, hopefully with an update about SUMMER CAMP SUCKS's progress, and maybe a taste of THIS HIDEOUS HEART since I'm proud and want to share. Until then, I'll just shamelessly sign your yearbook with, "Have a great summer!" ;)