Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October #WriteFit & #OctoWriMo Challenges + Signed Book Giveaway!

It's October! A new month, time for a new challenge, or in this case, two. Read below for more info on the October #WriteFit Challenge, as well as #OctoWriMo, and enter a celebratory giveaway for a chance to win a signed hardcover of one of the hottest 2013 YA reads! Accept one challenge or both :) Game on.

#1: October #WriteFit Challenge! 

What is #WriteFit?

#WriteFit is something my BFF and fellow writer Jessi Esparza came up with a few months ago and a small group of writer friends participated in. Jess pledged to write every day and exercise at least five times a week. We each submitted our word counts and exercise for the day on Twitter using the #writefit hashtag. And after two months we got this awesome tweet:

How awesome is that?

I didn't really jump into #writefit until the end because I was all...I'm so busy, I'm in law school, etc. etc. So now, enough of the excuses, I'm taking over #writefit this month and accepting the challenge! I hope you'll join me!

How do I #WriteFit? 

It's EASY! All you have to do is:

1. Write something every day! 

  • Aim for at least 15-30 minutes if you can, but work with your schedule and be flexible. 
  • It doesn't have to be a novel! Write in your journal, write a letter to your mom or your BFF, write a poem, a blog post, a short story, just write something! 
  • It doesn't even really have to be "writing." Some of the people who've already signed on are in the revising stage and have committed to instead spend time revising every day. Revise or send out queries. Do whatever works for you!
2. Exercise at least 5 times a week!
  • Again, there's no time limit--do what fits in your schedule, but aim for maybe 30 minutes a day.
  • Do what you like! Yoga, running, biking, taking a walk, playing a sport, all free game! 

3. Tweet me your progress using the #WriteFit hashtag on Twitter!

  • The best part about #writefit was the community and the accountability that came with signing on to do something like this and making it known to other people. It made me wake up a little earlier to work out and take the time to write, even just a little bit each day. 
  • Help keep others accountable! A few times I noticed that Jess hadn't put up her word count for the day yet and I'd tweet her to remind her/nudge her to stick to the goal :) Soon enough we'd get a word count tweet back. Yay!
  • Measure your success! If you tweet me your word counts @KtOshea with the #writefit hashtag and how many minutes (or miles if you like) you work out, I'll keep track of them in a spreadsheet so we can see our collective progress at the end of the month!
It's 30 days. We're all busy. But let's do this anyway for a happier and healthier life :) 

#2 #OctoWriMo Challenge

What is OctoWriMo?

It's like NaNoWriMo, the official National Novel Writing Month, except one month earlier! Basically once I committed to do the October #WriteFit challenge, I was stumped about what I should write. I wanted to save my NaNoWriMo novel idea for November, so I decided to start a different new novel that I've had kicking around in my head for awhile now (yes, that means I'm going to try to write two new novels in two months. In law school. I know. I'm crazy). So I figured, why wait until NaNo to write a novel, when I can write one now and make my own NaNoWriMo like I blogged about here!

How do I participate in OctoWriMo? 

1. Start writing a novel and don't stop until you've hit at least 50K words!
  • The goal for NaNo is to write 50,000 words in one month (as a technical matter for NaNo you're supposed to start a brand NEW novel, not work on an existing one, and I'll be starting a new one, but hey, I won't tell if you just add 50K to an existing project ;) ). You may not have a finished novel, but you'll have something novel-length. And while it'll just be a messy first draft that will need to be revised, it'll be this awesome thing that didn't exist one MONTH beforehand :)

2. Tweet your progress using the #OctoWriMo hashtag on Twitter!
  • Share your progress and success! Tweet me your word counts @KtOshea with the #OctoWriMo hashtag, and I'll keep track of them in a spreadsheet so we can see our collective progress at the end of the month!
30 days. Accept one challenge or both. Join the fun. Spread the word. Write like crazy. :) 

#3 Celebratory October #WriteFit & #OctoWriMo Signed Book Giveaway!

Ya'll are hopefully going to be doing a LOT of writing this month, either through #WriteFit or #OctoWriMo, or maybe just on your own this time, and to celebrate you deserve a giveaway! Enter below for a chance to win a SIGNED HARDCOVER of THE FIFTH WAVE by Rick Yancey (which is an amazing book)!

The giveaway is U.S. only (sorry! expensive shipping!). The winner will be contacted by email after the deadline and announced on the blog! *You don't have to participate in #WriteFit or #OctoWriMo to enter the giveaway!

About the 5th Wave:
After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it's the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth's last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie's only hope for rescuing her brother--or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

I'm so excited to embark on these challenges with you all! Leave me a comment and let me know if you're joining in the fun! Now go get writing!! 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Decatur Book Festival 2013: YA Author Spotlight

The annual Decatur Book festival is THIS weekend! You do not want to miss the amazing lineup of authors, including the incomparable David Levithan, Michelle Hodkin, and Lauren Morrill + SO many more. There is something for everyone at this incredible book festival. For YA fans in particular there are incredible panels and book signings taking place on Saturday and Sunday, August 31st and September 1st, 2013 in the Decatur Square in Georgia. 

You can see the full list of YA authors here and the panel schedule here.

You can find a handy Twitter list I created with all of the YA DBF 2013 authors in one place here!

Pro Tip: there is an amazing iPhone app for the festival with all of the authors, schedules, locations, etc. You can even mark the events you want to attend and create your schedule for the weekend. 

Some of the authors I am looking forward to in particular are as follows (but honestly, they are all so incredible it's hard to list just a few):

Rick Yancey, author of 2013 Must-Read, The 5th Wave:

Leigh Bardugo, author of the incredible fantasy Grisha Trilogy beginning with Shadow and Bone:

Michelle Hodkin, author of the hauntingly amazing Mara Dyer series:

David Levithan, author of too many incredible books to name:

Lauren Morrill, author of the incredibly swoony Meant to Be:

And, as I said, this is by no means an exhaustive list! There are so many other great authors so be sure to check out the full list above!

Finally, last year DBF was incredible. I meant to blog about it but...law school...so here are some picture highlights now, hopefully better late than never.

David Levithan reading from his new book, Every Day. Incredible.

Meeting David Levithan with fellow writer and BFF Jessi!

Finally meeting the amazing Susan Dennard (Something Strange & Deadly) and hanging out + cookies (obviously).

Catching up with Pinterest buddy Jessica Khoury, author of Origin!

Laughing at pretty much everything Dan Krokos (False Memory) said--seriously hilarious on Twitter and in person. :)

And meeting the incredibly sweet and awesome Sarah Maas, author of the kick-butt series, Throne of Glass!

Be on the lookout for some exciting book giveaways soon as well!

Leave me a comment and let me know if you'll be at DBF this year and what authors you're most looking forward to seeing!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer Reading List 2013: The Great Gatsby

Hello again, Internet, friends, fellow writers and readers! So sorry for the absurdly long break in blogging--the second year of law school does that to you, as it turns out. So much has happened since I last blogged--I finished my second year of law school and am now officially a rising-3L (how?!), I...attended the GRAMMY awards (yeah that was amazing--a separate post on that to come), I started writing my third book, and a million other things. But for now, to keep it short(er) and sweet, I'm sharing with you the first book on my 2013 Summer Reading List

Throughout the summer, I'll be updating you on what I'm currently reading, and I'd love for you to share what you're reading in the comments below! One can never have too many great book recommendations, right? 

You can also check out my to-read list, my current reads, and the books I've read and my ratings of them on my GoodReads profile. I'm hoping you've all heard of GoodReads (basically it's a social media site for book lovers where you can organize books you've read and want to read into shelves, check out what your friends are reading, and read reviews from book lovers v. Amazon.com randos who are probably related to the author or tend to either vaguely love a book or hate every book ever written--right?). If you love to read, it will complete your life. Seriously, I can't say enough good things about GoodReads, go sign up and add me as a friend! 

Without further adieu, the first book in my Summer Reading List is none other than: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. 

Top Ten Reasons The Great Gatsby Should be on Your 2013 Summer Reading List

1. The Movie Just Came Out

2. This quote: "And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer."

There are so many gems in Fitzgerald's lyrical writing. Each sentence demands to be savored slowly, each word appears to have been carefully selected to evoke an emotion. But this sentence in particular in Chapter One could easily be passed over, but it rings so true, particularly during this time of year. 

Summer is so often written about because it is a time of re-birth, of new beginnings, of freedom. Fitzgerald captures the entire season so effortlessly with this one sentence that many readers likely skim over. 

This particular sentence also caught my eye because my current work-in-progress, my third book, is all about summer functioning as this time of life beginning over again and freedom. More on that another time ;).

3. You (probably) didn't appreciate it in high school

"But I took AP Lit and AP Language and I was so literary in high school!"...I'm just saying, you probably didn't appreciate it enough. (If you're in high school now--read it anyway, enjoy it, appreciate it as much as you can, then read it again in four years and see the difference). This has been my experience, anyway, and the experience of many of my friends. I was horrified to find that I rated Gatsby 2/5 stars on Goodreads from my first read of it, when it is now absolutely one of my favorites and hands down 5/5 stars for me.

4. You've read The Beautiful and Damned 

Fans of other Fitzgerald works, such as The Beautiful and Damned, will love Gatsby even more and appreciate Fitzgerald's writing evolution. 

5. This video from John Green

A separate post will need to be reserved for John Green's general brilliance, but this YouTube analysis of The Great Gatsby will make you appreciate the book so much more (and make your brain explode with knowledge and wit):

6. A Classic is classic for a reason

Only a select few books achieve "classic" status, and this is one of them because of the truly amazing writing and the portrait of the 1920s that Fitzgerald was able to craft in such a concise book.

7. Check off one of the Top 100 best novels

If you're into reading "the best" books from a list of top 100, like this one from the Modern Library, this will be on it. 

8. Mix up your beach reading and take a break from the trashy novel

Summer can be a great time to read fluffy beach reads, and who doesn't love those at times? But it's also great to mix it up and read something with great writing and substance. 

9. The writing is incredible

I just can't even say this enough so I'll throw in another one of my favorite quotes:
“In his blue gardens men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars.” 
10. It's short and sweet

At only 180 pages in paperback, this book is a quick and satisfying read, perfect for summer. 

*Bonus 11th: The original cover is gorgeous*

Thanks for reading this post and for reading with me this summer! Please share your summer reading list below! Let me know if you re-read Gatsby before the movie came out or if you're planning to now. Leave me your thoughts on the movie too!

P.S. I'm going to be doing an exciting signed book giveaway soon by an awesome author, so stay tuned for that and subscribe below so you don't miss out!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Making your own NaNoWriMo!


Hello blog world! I've missed you so! The second year of law school has been pretty intense. But I come to you now from the other side--of fall semester at least, which is the hardest (allegedly). And that means I'm officially HALFWAY done with law school! Definite hooray.

So as you may have guessed, that whole law school thing did not leave me terribly much time to write last semester. And it definitely did not allow me the time to do NaNoWriMo. I'm guessing most of you bookish types already know what NaNo is, but for those who don't, it's National Novel Writing Month, where people from all over the world commit to writing at least 50K words in a month for a new novel.


Which is awesome. 

But you know what's not awesome? Finals. Law school finals. And as it happens, they just happen to fall in that wonderful November/December time-frame, making NaNo all but impossible. Possible perhaps, but inadvisable for sure.

So that brings me to this post. Because realistically, not all of us can do NaNo. There are other things going on that just get in the way sometimes or make November an inconvenient month. But that doesn't mean we can't make our own NaNo!

Because the truth is you don't need to wait until November to start writing that book! NaNo is awesome for the support and community, but you can easily find great support out there during the other 11 months of the year.

So here are My Steps to Making Your Own NaNoWriMo!:

1. Plan your NaNo Timeline
For some, this may be as simple as saying "March is going to be my NaNo and I'm going to write every single day and end up with an awesome 50K new novel! What what!" But for others, the law school people, the working and traveling, etc. etc. the schedule may be more of a challenge. But sit down and try to put 30 days on your calendar that you're going to commit to writing--it could be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, you just need to get your butt in a chair (and log off of Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook...etc.) and WRITE.

2. Now that you know WHEN you're going to write, think about WHAT you're going to write
Plan out your idea in your head, in an outline, on post-it notes or iPhone notes--anything. I usually don't put much down, and I definitely don't outline out the whole story in advance (but I know some people do and that really helps them!), but I usually capture little snippets and ideas, sentences, character names, sometimes even full chapters that come to me and I jot them down. It'll help to at least have some idea of where you're going even if you don't know all the details yet.

3. WRITE! And Track Your Progress!
There's really no way around it, you're going to have to sit down and write (which will eventually require getting off of allllll those social media sites and unplugging all the distractions). But that's the fun part! And while you're writing, track your progress so you can see just how well you're doing in reaching your NaNo goal. This could be as simple as keeping a note or excel spreadsheet with your word count each day or you could publish it on your blog or Tumblr to let everyone know how your progress is going. One of my best friends posted her daily writing updates on her Tumblr and it was great to see how she was progressing with her WIP and it also made ME want to write more as I saw her success!

4. Find that Support Group
Go on a writing retreat, meet critique partners online, join a local book club, find writerly friends. Do whatever it takes! Part of the allure of NaNo is having that community of people all over the world that are pursuing the same goal as you. They're there to bounce ideas off of, answer questions, and provide support. But you can also find these people who will support you and your writing in months other than November. It's always great to have people you can run a draft by and bounce ideas off of, so take time to form those relationships and find those people who will help you (and that you can help in return).

Keep going, keep going! Finish the draft and then CELEBRATE. You just wrote a NOVEL. That's kind of insane. :)

Once you're finished with your NaNo you will have a NOVEL. But it will probably be a really rough first draft version of a novel that will need lots of polishing over the coming months. This will be a long process, but in the end, your novel will be so much better than you ever knew when you started it. And it will be really freaking cool to say, yeah, I wrote a novel (or a second, or third) :). Trust.

If all else fails, try to clear your November schedule for the next year to jump in with the Official NaNoWriMo crew (but until then, keep writing...really)!

Hopefully I'll be able to join in the fun that is NaNo another year (post-law school finals)--I know so many people enjoy it and lots of published authors' books started out as NaNo Novels! How cool!

Have you done NaNoWriMo? Have you made your own NaNo? Share your NaNo and writing advice below!

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