My Word for 2015 Is...

Happy New Year, everyone! Can you believe it's 2015?! How crazy is that? I feel like I've been waiting for it to be 2015 for so long, and now… well, my book comes out in six weeks. So if I seem overwhelmed and flustered and exhilarated and stressed all at once in the next couple months, you know the reason why. 

My fellow YA Buccaneer Bridgid Gallagher painted me this watercolor postcard, and it's been hanging above my desk for a year!

My fellow YA Buccaneer Bridgid Gallagher painted me this watercolor postcard, and it's been hanging above my desk for a year!

For the past two years, instead of making a list of resolutions, I've chosen a single word to represent my goals for the year. In 2013, I selected PATIENCE. My aim was to help myself be okay with my publishing path taking longer than I'd wanted and to remind myself that what mattered was writing the best possible book I could write, the book only I could write. In 2014, I chose MOMENTUM. With my debut novel on its way to publication, I wanted to keep working hard and pushing forward, not resting on my laurels or taking a second book deal for granted.

In both cases, having a single word to focus on helped keep me grounded and on track throughout the year. So obviously, I was going to try for a third successful Word of the Year in 2015. After much deliberation, I've picked...

I've been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. Frankly, I have so much to be grateful for at this point in my life. 

I'm grateful that my debut novel is releasing in February. I'm grateful to be surrounded by friends and family who are almost as excited about my book coming out as I am. I'm grateful for my talented, supportive editor, who pushes me to be better, and for my enthusiastic agent, who helps me dream big. I'm grateful for the rest of the folks at HarperTeen, who have turned my Microsoft Word document into a real, live book that I will get to hold in just a few weeks. I'm grateful for the people who taught me to write, who fostered my passion for reading and writing, who critique and comment on my works-in-progress, who bounce ideas back and forth with me endlessly. To all of you who've helped me get to the here and now, I'm so, so grateful. 

I'll stop there, because as you can probably tell, I could go on and on. And the paragraph above is just the book stuff! (Did I mention my husband specifically? Justin, I am beyond grateful for you. Every single day.) So why did I pick this as my word for the entire year? In short, because no matter how grateful I feel as I'm writing this, I know I will still constantly need the reminder. 

When I'm freaking out about my revisions for my next book, I want to remember to be grateful that I get to write another book for publication. I'm lucky to be doing a job I love. I'm lucky that people seem to want to read the stories I create. When I'm fretting about less-than-stellar reviews or lists that my book isn't on, I want to take a step back and think about the people who have told me my book touched them. When I'm getting too caught up in the big scary craziness of What Happens Next—Will people actually buy this thing I wrote? Will I sell another book? Am I running out of ideas? Do I actually have what it takes to be an author?—I want to try to think about the things that make me happy and hopeful and grateful. As cheesy as it sounds, in 2015 I want to live in the moment and enjoy every bit of what I've accomplished.

(And yes, I'm still trying to be patient with myself and my work and to keep up my momentum moving forward…) 

Did you choose a word for 2015? Share it in the comments! 

And once more, happiest of new years to you all! 


More Momentum (And What to Do When You Crash Into a Wall…)

So here's the thing about picking a word and setting an intention for the year: As soon as you do, the universe usually finds a way to test it! For me, that test came within mere hours of posting last week's blog post on MOMENTUM—and I've been dealing with the fallout all week. Last Friday, while making lunch at home, I did something dumb: I managed to cut myself while attempting to take the pit out of an avocado. (Usually my husband's job—and probably now his job for the foreseeable future!) The cut wasn't huge, and I was able to avoid going to the ER and getting stitches. Nonetheless, it was in an inconvenient spot on my palm for doing just about anything. And, well, it hurt like the dickens. Here's what I looked like last Friday night:

bandaged handWhat does this have to do with testing my resolve to maintain my momentum? Let's just say that it took a few days for me to be able to type even close to my normal speed. I had to literally slow down my workflow. In addition to that, I had to bail on yoga this week, as well as on dance classes that tend to include floorwork with weight on the hands. Not quite what I had in mind after my lofty post a week ago!

But I'm healing. Every day my hand hurts a little less, and I have a little more mobility in it. Looking on the bright side, skipping dance/yoga gave me more time for my writing; I'm on a roll with this first draft of my new book, even typing a little slowly. And who knows—maybe I needed this slightly less fast-paced week, especially given the snow and sub-freezing temperatures. Maybe I'll take the bit of frustration I've felt at hurting myself and not being able to do things and put it into forward momentum next week, or the week after that. Maybe, in short, momentum doesn't have to be all go, go, go. Maybe I can use this lull to my advantage.

So here's to being forced to take a step back and slow down. Here's to being able to laugh at myself and my bandaged claw-hand this week. And here's to taking revenge on the inanimate objects that attack us—I was able to eat most of that avocado, and it was good.

I hope those of you in the path of the bitterly cold weather (Polar Vortex 2: Electric Boogaloo!) are staying warm and dry! Until next time...



My Word for 2014 Is...

I really enjoyed having a word to represent my goals for 2013 (PATIENCE). Unlike a resolution, it wasn't stressful—something I had to check off the to-do list. Instead, thinking about being patient in all of the various facets of my life—fiction writing, work writing, dance, yoga, personal life, and on and on—really set a tone for the year. Am I now a more patient person than I was a year ago? I think I might be, but if you want an honest answer, you'd probably have to ask my husband. :D Regardless, the idea of having a word for the year meant enough to me that I want to do it again in 2014. I've been thinking a lot this week about what I want that word to be, and I keep coming back to the same one:

momentumWhy this word, when I just spent a year trying to sit back and be patient? A lot of amazing things happened in my life in 2013. In particular, I achieved a dream I've had for a long time: getting a book deal. But one of the biggest things I've realized over the last few months is that the work is just beginning. I sold one book; I'd like to sell more. I want writing fiction to eventually be my full-time job. And those things aren't a given. I can't sit around and wait for what's next to land in my lap. As much as I'm enjoying everything that's going on with the book I sold, I need to ride the momentum of 2013 into a year that (hopefully) holds just as much promise.

I've started working again on the first draft of the book I hope to sell next. I want to take the momentum of finishing revisions on THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND—the high I felt when I was making the final few edits in December and reading over everything and being so proud of it—and put it into this new book. I want to use the momentum of my excitement and anticipation as I start doing all of the author-y things I need to do: making an author page on Facebook, networking with people who might be interested in learning more about my book, etc. But the momentum of 2013 isn't just about writing. I had a great dance year last year, and I want to keep that momentum going by going to class even when it's cold outside and I don't necessarily feel like it. I accomplished some yoga goals last year, and I want to keep up the momentum by continuing to push toward the next goals (side crow, perhaps?).

I want to do all of this while, of course, being patient with myself. Trusting my process and trying to avoid comparing myself with other people who might seem to be making progress faster. Knowing that I'm working hard and doing my best.

Easier said than done? Maybe. But that's why I'm giving myself a whole year to get there.

Did you choose a word to represent your goals in 2014? Share it in the comments!


My Word for 2013 Is...

In the spirit of starting off a new year and a new blog, I've been thinking a lot about what I want to accomplish in 2013. Aside from launching this blog, my main goals are to query my current book-in-progress for literary representation and to write a first draft of something new. I managed both of those things in 2012 (querying my first novel, which I've currently put aside to rethink in the future, and writing and revising a second novel), so I'm pretty confident that I can do both again. Go me! The problem is, as much as I love writing itself, I'm a very end goal-oriented person. In 2012, my ultimate goal was to get a literary agent. I... didn't accomplish that. And despite everything I have accomplished with my writing, I sometimes fall into the rut of beating myself up over not having "gotten there" yet.

That's why my word of 2013 is:


I do think of myself as a patient person... when it comes to other people. Not so much when I'm looking at myself, my work, my own progress. I work hard, and I get discouraged when I don't see results as quickly as I'd like to. Especially by the end of 2012, more than two years and three full novel revisions post-grad school, I was struggling to stay patient with myself and with the fact that sometimes, getting published just takes time. More time than you want it to. It's just how it is.

(For the record, this doesn't just pertain to writing. Another of last year's resolutions was to master a handstand. A full year of solid yoga practice later, I'm significantly stronger, but still can't consistently kick up to handstand. This bugs me, but it isn't going to stop me from working at it.)

So, this year I really want to strive to be patient with myself and with the fact that my publishing journey will take exactly how long it is meant to take, and not a second less. I will try not to compare myself to other people who've gotten agents and book deals more quickly, who are "ahead" of me in what really isn't a race, even though it sometimes feels like it. I will try to stay present in the moment, to love what I'm doing right now, and to celebrate small milestones.

Do you have a word that's driving you in 2013? (I know at least some of you do; I got the idea from my friend Ghenet Myrthil's excellent blog, which you should all read.) Share it in the comments—I look forward to the inspiration!