birthday introductions

Yesterday was my birthday. It’s hard to believe how old I am, as well as how much and how little I have achieved in those years.

Since all I’ve posted, for the most part, is reading and writing related, I thought I’d switch it up today and share a few things about myself. If you make it through all of them, you’ll know how old I am (plus one day). Don’t cheat and just scroll to the end, though!

DSC_09651. My name is super important to me. I got married young, so I love presenting myself as a writer with my maiden and married name. After all, I wanted to be a writer before I met my husband.

2. The first book I tried to REALLY query was a YA Contemporary. I have since learned that my characters voices tend to be more historical and less contemporary.

3. When I was younger I changed my mind between writing, music, and acting. I pretty much wanted to do anything that involves being famous. Not much has changed. Just perspective.

4. I am married and have two young boys.

5. I live in Arizona, but the place I lived (and loved)the longest was North Carolina. Before that I moved around due to military brat status and PK (pastors kid) status.

6. I think about writing picture books from the things my four-year-old says, but I just don’t think I’m cut out for it.

7. I didn’t start reading current YA fiction until I was in college and took an Adoleacent Literature class. It changed my life.

8. I graduated from Appalachian State University with an English, Creative Writing degree.

9. I drink my coffee with just cream in it, and that cream usually has a flavor. I’m a sucker for trying the new flavors from coffee mate and international delight.

DSC_096210. When I don’t know what to do, I bake.

11. My favorite authors are Ann Rinaldi & Samuel Shellabarger.

12. My favorite book is Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

13. Never have I ever been to Disney World, but I went to Disney Land for the first time last year. It was for my son’s birthday, but I’m pretty sure it’s in the top 10 best times of my life.

14. I don’t have a favorite movie, at all. I love movies too much in general.

15. The last musical I saw was Jersey Boys at the Paris Hotel in Vegas (in 2014).

16. I’m currently reading, I’m Glad About You, and loving it.

17. My TBR list has at least 50 books on it right now. It makes me feel like I’m so far behind sometimes.

18. I love taking pictures almost as much as I love reading, but I’m no professional photographer.

19. My husband and I eloped when we were 18.

20. I have been to three countries and 33 states. My husband has me beat with the states.

21. I have currently given up my personal FB, but I’m a sucker for Instagram and Twitter. My author page is still up, too.

DSC_097422. My favorite bad habit is Cherry Coke Zero.

23. I am a sucker for all things cookies and cupcakes.

24. My favorite book that I’ve read this year has to be Passenger. I know it’s gotten mixed reviews, but I’m impatiently waiting for the sequel coming out next year.

25. Last year on my birthday I was 7 (almost 8) months pregnant and had to go to the ER. My hubby was traveling for work, so my (then) 3YO went with me and it turned out I had pneumonia.

26. It’s hard for me to realize I’m older than 25.

27. I have a special project I’m working on (and I’m not talking about my WIP) that I’ll be announcing soon. Stay tuned!

 

 

My birthday pin was a gift from my 4YO, who insisted I wear it all day. I have to admit, it was kind of nice having random strangers tell me happy birthday.

 

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working your way over, under, & around writer’s block

writers blockI’ve been suffering from writer’s block as of late. As in I don’t know what to write about. As in I’m stuck. As in my brain is glitching. As in I have nothing to write about.

As in I haven’t been writing.

Every writer in the history of, well, ever, has suffered from writer’s block. Although writing is a passion, a need, a calling, sometimes those words are blocked from the flowing circuits of your brain and you just don’t know what to do. You are left staring at a blank screen as the blinking cursor mocks you.

You can’t always push through, so to speak. You can’t always push and punch that block until it crumbles. So what other options do you have?

 

GO AROUND IT

Although that block may seem like the Great Wall of China, you do have the option to go around it. Step away and do something else. Get outside, play in the dirt, do something crafty, bake some cookies, dance to music—do something that is a good distraction but something that will keep the wheels turning. You’re not giving up. You’re giving your mind a much-needed break as you reassess, re-strategize, and attack again.

 

GO OVER IT

Stuck on a paper or a part of the plot? Skip ahead. Go over the tricky part and write something you know will happen later. Sure, once you go back to that tricky part it may change, but it keeps you writing and makes you feel like you still got something done during your writing time. Also, going ahead may help you figure out why that block was there in the first place.

 

DIG

This is more than going under. This is digging deep. Write like your life depends on it, and see what happens. You may not get the words you need out on paper, but you’ll get something there. It may be a new project is clouding your brain, or something in your personal life is in the way, or what you’re writing is too personal—but you have to dig in and follow that tunnel to find the light at the end.

Keep writing.

If you know nothing else is going to help, then Type. Scribble. Scratch. Delete. Type More. Soon enough, that block will fall through, and you’ll be on the other side waving at it as you keep going.

 

 

 

This post was originally written for & posted on Stark Contrast Editing‘s blog. Make sure to check out Katelyn’s amazing new site and the services she and others offer. Plus, more posts by yours truly!

the importance of reading

the importance of readingI have been challenging myself lately to watch less and less, and read more and more. At the beginning of this year I came to the somewhat shocking observation that I was watching more shows than I was reading books. And that just didn’t seem right.

There is something in our world that seems to push books farther and farther down the totem pole of entertainment. After all, why read the words and have to imagine it when, odds are, some director is going to do that for you in the future?

That is TOTALLY me being sarcastic.

I’m not down-playing everyone. There are so many beautiful, dedicated readers out there that sometimes it’s hard for me to imagine there are those who don’t like to read.

But they do exist.

What I have come to learn through this challenge, is that reading is a commitment. Even if you like to read, love to read, can’t live without reading– it’s a commitment. We are constantly distracted by screens, as I mentioned in writing through the distractions, and it’s so easy to use a hard day as an excuse to turn on the TV instead of picking up a book to “work” some more.

Don’t kid yourself. Even if you like to read, [I think] reading is work.

You have to use your mind to recognize the words, to reform the sentences the author already penned (typed) for you, to imagine everything the story is painting before you.

Your mind is not resting when you’re reading. It’s moving, understanding, contemplating–living.

Someone could argue that it’s the same when watching TV. You’re “taking it all in,” after all. But… you aren’t working. You’re staring. The TV doesn’t always have your full attention. In fact, more and more people can barely sit through a full-length movie because our minds are wired for the short term, the quick blips of information, just one picture.

See what I mean?

Reading is not for the faint of heart, or mind, or soul. It’s for those who want to continue living– to walk in someone else’s shoes. Regardless of how times and technology continue to progress, the written word is one of the, or arguably THE, strongest tools we will ever have.

That’s why it’s so important to keep reading.

If we lose the desire to use our imagination, to create, to learn, to thrive, to live– then we lose everything.

 

 

Want to read more about reading? Check out a reader lives a thousand lives, or these book reviews I’ve posted.

my name is emily, and I’m a procrastibaker

procrastibaker_ehdI spent most of my weekend baking instead of writing.

Waffles. Pancakes. Bread. Muffins. Cookies.

You name it, I was baking it.

This is my process.

The other day I made a casserole, some muffins, and a new bread recipe before sitting down and writing 5,000 words. The first in a very long time (so it felt like).

Every writer has a process.

One of my favorite scenes from “Under the Tuscan Sun” is when she talks about how she procrastinates, makes brownies, and then becomes a writing machine.

I so relate.

I mean, sometimes I just like to bake, but truthfully it happens the most when I’m searching for something.

A scene. A character. An answer. A dilemma.

I’m searching for what will happen next, or how a character should feel, in the sugar and flour and eggs.

Much like writing through the distractions, I bake my way through my novel.

I am a procrastibaker.

Procrastibaker:

DefinitionSomeone who bakes to put off what they really should be doing, or bakes in order to help find what they are truly searching for.

See also: writers, Emily Herring Dunn, stress-eaters

If I get stuck, or I’m not quite in the “mood”, or I can’t sit down for three hours and push through because of, well, life– I bake. I procrastinate and delay writing by making a new recipe.

What’s sweeter than that?

Not sure.

I’m also not sure how this will work out for my waistline.

But whoever said writing was a glamorous life clearly wasn’t a writer.

Maybe it’s glamorous once you’ve had a best seller, but the writing process…definitely not GATSBY-like.

 

 

If you’re looking for some of my personal recipes, you can check out my other site: The Newfangled Housewife.

“Under a Painted Sky” review

under a painted skyI realize I’m late to the party with this book. I saw tweets and posts alike last year about it, but I was a bit busy with my unrelated-to-books-life and missed out.

And, oh, did I miss out.

As you may know by now, I’m a sucker when it comes to historical fiction. Since it’s what I write myself, lately I’ve been soaking more and more in as motivation and push to work on my current WIP. I would say it’s definitely working, but this book made me ache for my own story that’s on submission. And I don’t mean that on any self-involved level.

Stacy Lee does such a beautiful job painting disaster, loss, struggles, and love in 1837 on the trail west I could hardly put the book down. I finished it way too quickly, and missed it all the more for it. When Sammy and Andy have to masquerade as boys, get “adopted” by Cowboys, and continue to face challenge after challenge, inward and out…I could barely stand it.

The style of Lee’s writing reminds me a lot of Ann Rinaldi, who has written a countless number of Historical Fiction that I was addicted to as a YA. Now, as an adult, Lee made me feel 15 again with her novel, and I love her for it.

If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading this book.

 

 

Just to to say something, I try to keep my reviews positive because I have yet to finish a book u don’t like. This space is to encourage reading, and support authors. I hope you see that and aim to do the same when you buy and read books!