Friday Five: Writing Progress, Book Events, Good Reads, and More

I feel like I start too many of these Friday Five posts off by talking about the weather, so I won't tell you that as I write this, it's a temperature best described as "stupid-hot." But I'm inside, where it's air-conditioned, and here are this week's five good things: 

1) I finally managed to break 10,000 words on a new manuscript. This is an almost total rewrite of an old project, and I've been pretty scared of starting over after spending so much time with the existing version, but in the past two weeks, something clicked. I made myself sit down and write words, and in writing words, I figured out a few new plot details, and I keep having ideas for more, which is awesome. For me, 10K is usually where I feel committed to a project. If I can get that far, I can keep going. So yay! 

2) This past Sunday, I had a great time at Bookitcon: Chapter Two. This annual New Jersey book festival is run by a multitalented book blogger, Nori—who is an actual teenager. Seriously, she's amazing. And the event was too! I got to meet and chat with readers, bloggers, and other authors, participate in a panel discussion about surprises in publishing, and of course sell and sign books. Can't wait for next year. 

3) My husband and I have been watching Penny Dreadful on Netflix. I'd heard good things, but had been nervous that it would be too scary. And it is pretty scary—but it's also incredibly compelling. Gothic horror characters (Dr. Frankenstein and his Creature, vampire-hunter Van Helsing, Dorian Grey, and others) coming together to fight the forces of evil in Victorian London—more, please! We've just begun season two, so I may report back with further thoughts.... 

4) Continuing to love my new yoga studio. Wednesday's class kicked my butt—as it does each week. I love how that teacher, in particular, pushes us to safely go past where we think our edge is. Case in point: a tough set of one-legged poses (King Dancer to Half-Moon to Sugarcane and back up to King Dancer) that left me trembling...but still standing. Thumbs up. 

5) I've been reading some fantastic books lately! Here are four of them.  

Melissa Grey's THE SHADOW HOUR is the sequel to 2015's THE GIRL AT MIDNIGHT. If you love urban fantasy, don't miss this story about a human girl (or is she?) caught in the middle of a centuries-old war between a birdlike race, the Avicen, and a dragonlike people, the Drakharin.

SPIN THE SKY is Jill MacKenzie's debut (out this November). I was so excited to read it because it's about a dancer, Magnolia, who goes on a reality TV dance competition to escape her family's bad reputation at home. Spoiler: I adored it, and will be talking it up more in the fall.

Virginia Boecker's THE KING SLAYER is the follow-up to 2015's THE WITCH HUNTER. It's a lush alternate-history fantasy set in a world where magic has been outlawed by the crown...but may not be as dangerous as the power that threatens it. Book two is every bit as good as book one.

And finally, I bought Charlotte Huang's 2015 debut FOR THE RECORD after meeting Charlotte at Bookitcon on Sunday, and I've already raced through it. It's about a singer who's brought in by her record label to front an existing band—and these guys are not happy to have her there. The book follows the group, Melbourne, on tour for a crazy summer, and it's so much fun. 

What's going on in your world? Can you believe it's already mid-August? 


Friday Five: Finished Drafts, Yoga Milestones, Ghostbusters, and Stranger Things

So, here in NYC, it's been HOT. And HUMID. Definite stay-indoors-where-the-AC-is-blasting weather. Luckily, I've had a lot of awesome things going on to keep me from wilting in the heat! Here's this week's Friday Five: 

1) I'm so excited to have sent a revised draft of my latest YA manuscript to my agent! I don't want to talk too much about it online yet, but I don't mind sharing that it's a contemporary ghost story set in Venice—a bit of a departure from my first two YA books, but such fun to write. I can't wait to hear what she thinks of the changes I made! 

2) Last week, in yoga class, I did a forearm stand (like a handstand, but you're on your forearms instead of your hands). It only lasted a moment, and I was so surprised to be up there that I promptly forgot how to come down, but...suffice it to say, my new yoga studio is paying off. 

3) My husband and I went to see the new Ghostbusters movie last Friday, and I loved it. It's so cheesy to say, but seeing those ladies onscreen kicking ghost-butt without having to look sexy or wait for instructions from a dude was really exciting! And Kate McKinnon is *everything* in it. Seriously. Holtzmann for the win.  

4) Is everyone watching "Stranger Things" on Netflix? We binge-watched this eight-episode show over the weekend, and I can't wait for season two! It's a mildly scary sci-fi series set in the 1980s—a mix of vintage Steven Spielberg and Stephen King, with plenty of other references thrown in. A young boy goes missing, a mysterious girl shows up in the woods, there's a lab on the outskirts of town running dangerous experiments.... Watch it! 

5) I've been doing the YA Buccaneers' Summer Reading Challenge, and you should join in! Here's the list of reading prompts: 

Happy reading! I hope you're enjoying some sunshine while also staying cool. :) 


Friday Five: Book Events, Book Events, Book Events!

Two weeks ago, I was having a hard time coming up with a consistent Friday Five when there was so much ugliness and fear in the world. And today, I'm writing after a period of multiple new shootings, as well as a terrorist attack in Nice, France. It's really overwhelming. But that doesn't mean there haven't been good things happening, as well. So in the spirit of focusing on the positive, here's this week's Friday Five: 

1) I've had some really great book events for HOW IT FEELS TO FLY so far in July! On July 6, I paneled at the Jefferson Market Library in Manhattan, along with a bunch of other authors with new YA releases. And this past Tuesday, July 12, I had the privilege of participating in a panel that was all YA books featuring dancers—aka, right in my wheelhouse. Both events had wonderful discussions and attentive audiences, which is really all a writer can ask for. (I mean, that and selling some books...which I did. Yay!)

2) Tomorrow (July 16), I'm doing the first hometown event for HOW IT FEELS TO FLY! I'm so excited about this one. I've teamed up with fellow author Brooks Benjamin (MY SEVENTH-GRADE LIFE IN TIGHTS) and my hometown dance studio, Van Metre School of Dance in Maryville, TN, for a fun dance/book extravaganza. There will be book signings, dance performances, and more. I really hope some people—especially young dancers—show up!  

3) I did a forearm stand in yoga class on Wednesday. This is a pose I've only done successfully once or twice before—and that was several years ago. So I'm thrilled to think maybe I'm getting some of my old skills back! 

4) I've been rewatching the TV show Farscape (aired in the early 2000s, when I was in college), and I've reached season 3...which is all about the 'ship. I mean, other stuff happens, but...John/Aeryn truly happens, and it's amazing and swoony and heartbreaking. I can't wait to be emotionally compromised all over again. 

5) I'm currently reading (and loving) Victoria Schwab's newest YA novel, THIS SAVAGE SONG. What are you reading right now? Anything I should check out? 

Until next week! 


Friday Five: "Fiona" and Other Diversions

Another chilly spring afternoon, another late-in-the-day Friday Five! 

1) My sprained ankle is finally feeling *almost* back to 100%. I'm still babying it a little, because this is that delicate period when it's so easy to overdo things and prolong the recovery, but wow it feels good to not be limping around! 

2) On that note, I just got back from a new yoga class, and it's really nice to be moving at almost-full-out capacity. Plus, I haven't wheel-posed (that's a backbend) in a while, and I was still able to push up today without too much of a struggle. So, yay! 

3) Good news for a loved one. Can't talk about it yet, but I'm smiling. 

4) I had a lovely meeting with my agent yesterday where we chatted about my next couple projects. Hopefully you'll get to hear more about them soon, but for the moment: I am writing—a lot—and I am excited. 

5) This week's reading: another sophomore release for a Fearless Fifteener friend! Meredith Moore's FIONA is a modern-gothic thriller-romance set in Scotland. It's got castles and family secrets and bumps in the night and, of course, an eligible bachelor who's drawn to our heroine despite having many reasons not to succumb to her charms. Oh...the plot? Fiona takes a job as an au pair for the daughter of her mother's childhood best friend. Fiona's mom was mentally ill, and took her life several years ago, so Fiona is desperate to connect with any family or family friends she has left. But all is not as it seems—especially when Fiona starts hearing and seeing strange things in the castle and on the grounds. Is she following in her mother's footsteps—or is someone trying to make her think she's going crazy? Who would do that, and why? This is a lush page-turner, and it's out now. 

What's good in your world this week? 


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!


Looking Back at 2013...

As you're reading this (if all goes well with the scheduled autoposting on Wordpress…), my husband and I are touring around Israel! This amazing trip, which I'm sure you'll hear all about on the blog in a few weeks, was my parents' wedding gift to us, and we're finally able to go (we just had our two-year anniversary in November). An adventure like this feels like a fitting way to end what turned out to be a pretty great year! 2013 had its ups and downs, for sure, but the ups were, well, very up. :)

  • I started this blog! I'd been wanting to blog for years, and hadn't gotten around to it. Now, with almost a full year of blogging under my belt, I'm so glad I took the plunge.
  • My newest nephew was born! He's almost a year old now, and he is a delight. You can see some pictures of him HERE and HERE.
  • I signed with a fabulous literary agent! This was the culmination of several years of blood, sweat, and tears, and when it finally happened, I was over the moon. Of course, that was only the first step along a journey that included...
  • Selling my debut novel to HarperCollins! And I thought signing with an agent felt good. 2015, when my book is slated to be released, can't get here soon enough.
  • I attended my first writer's conference, SCBWI LA! It was fabulous to meet more kidlit writers, as well as to hear some true legends in our field speak. Also, my husband and I took a fun vacation in California when the conference was done.
  • I revised my book. And revised it. And revised it again. That might sound frustrating, and at times it was! But my editor pushed me to make the book the best it can be, and it has become something I'm so proud to send out into the world.
  • I had a dance performance that was fun and challenging and really well received by our audience—all you can ask for, really!
  • I joined the Fearless Fifteeners and the YA Buccaneers!

My word for 2013 was PATIENCE, and I couldn't have chosen a better one—because even as I'm working to be more patient with myself, I've seen my patience pay off in some big ways. And I'm not just talking about the book deal, though that's the obvious one. I've also, in the past few weeks, finally hit some of those yoga milestones I've been chasing. Remember when I posted about trying to be patient as I worked toward arm balances? I now have Crow Pose and Headstand in my bag of tricks! Am I perfectly stable in those poses every single time I attempt them? No. But after spending a year building toward being able to do them consistently, I know that with patience, I'll get there. Oh, and here's the photo evidence of a year's work:

I have titled this photo: "Headstand in the Hallway." :)

A few other random blog-related stats from 2013:

  • My most popular post ever is, to the surprise of probably no one, the post in which I announced my book deal (see link above)!
  • My second most popular post, to my great surprise, is… *drumroll* THIS ONE: my thoughts on Lauren Oliver's Delirium series. This is the Energizer Bunny of blog posts! Just in the past week, it surpassed my agent announcement post, my "About Me" page, and a few other key pages in number of views. So, Lauren Oliver fans who keep finding their way to me: Welcome! Look around. Stay awhile.
  • I reviewed about 50 books on the blog this year, and you can scroll through those posts using the Friday Reads tag. You can see my top 10 out of all of the books I read this year HERE. I'm going to continue reviewing books on the blog in 2014, though I probably won't be as formal with my Friday Reads posts… so keep an eye out!
  • I have 83 blog followers—not too shabby for my first year! I'm happy so many of you are interested in what I have to say.

So I guess all that's left to say is, thanks for a great 2013, and here's hoping that 2014 brings even more good times and good news! Happy New Year, everyone!!


Life Lessons From My Yoga Mat — Part 3

Bet you thought I forgot about this mini-series! I did not. Books and writing stuff just took precedence for a few weeks. But I still very much want to write about the concept of BEING PRESENT, so here I am. Present. On the blog.  If you're new-ish to my blog, you can check out Part 1 (PATIENCE) and Part 2 (STILLNESS) before reading on. Or live in the moment and forge ahead!

I've had a lot of excitement over the past few weeks. Signing with a literary agent and starting to see this publishing dream get closer and closer to being a reality results, I've found, in being really excited. And eager to see what's next. And then anxious about what may or may not happen. And nervous about starting to write something new. And then excited again. Over and over. I've been trying to remind myself to enjoy the moment while it's here, and to channel my nerves about the future into working hard now. The only thing that will keep me moving forward is to...move forward, in the now. But sometimes it's hard to be present, when there are so many questions and possibilities and dreams about what's ahead.

Remember last week's barely-green tree? Here it is four days later.

In yoga class, one of your goals is to be present. As one of my teachers reminds us every class, yoga isn't the time to be thinking over your plans for the day, making a mental list of everything you have to do, or worrying about something that happened at home or at work. Focusing on the movement of your body through space is its own kind of meditation. You breathe, and you move mindfully, and you clear your mind of the clutter, if only for an hour. Some days, this is easier than others, but when it works, it works.

But being in the moment and leaving everything else at the door isn't the only way to be present in yoga. Beyond that, you have to be present and attuned to where your body is TODAY. Not where it was last week. Not where you hope it will be in six months. Where you are now, in each pose. You have to be aware of your present abilities and circumstances, to avoid injury and maximize the benefits of the practice. In my case, I'm fairly flexible, thanks to my years as a dancer, but there are still days when my muscles are tight. Pushing to where I was a week ago in the same pose could be painful and dangerous. On the opposite end of the spectrum, injuries can also arise if I try to force my body into a position it isn't ready to do. (That's where patience comes in, as well!) Being present is about paying attention to your needs in the moment and respecting them.

How does all of this translate off the yoga mat?

As I mentioned up top, there's the idea of enjoying life as it comes, rather than fretting about what's next. But also, there's the fact that in our technology-glutted society, we always have multiple things vying for our attention. For instance, if I'm bouncing between email and Twitter and Facebook, am I getting my best writing done? The majority of the time, probably not. Maybe, by trying to focus my attention on the activity I'm doing, in the moment, I'll improve the quality of my work and the experience I'm having. Maybe I'll feel and be more productive by giving one thing at a time my best attention, instead of giving multiple things a fragment of my focus.

Beyond that, it's been vital for me to remind myself to think about how I'm feeling in the now — not how I was yesterday, or how I wish I was today. On those days when writing is like pulling teeth, for instance, instead of beating myself up about not being where I was or should be, I can be patient and present. I can work with what I am bringing to the table today, and enjoy the process more without yesterday or tomorrow looming over my shoulder.

This is hard. It's hard in yoga, it's hard in dance, and it's hard in writing. But it's so worth it.

Patience, stillness, and presence. Fellow yogis, did I miss any benefits that you get from yoga? (Aside from the physical perks, of course!)


Life Lessons From My Yoga Mat - Part 2 (aka: The Best Laid Plans...)

What's this, you ask? It's Friday! That's when she blogs about books! The world is topsy-turvy and upside-down! So here's the deal. I'd actually planned out exactly what books to write about this week, and then... I didn't finish them. It's been quite a busy week here in Brooklyn, and I just didn't get the reading done that I usually do, or that I'd planned to do. That means that on TUESDAY, when I would have posted this post, you will instead get today's Friday Reads. (Here's a teaser: I reread Lauren Oliver's Delirium and Pandemonium and am about to start the trilogy's closer, Requiem—so you'll get thoughts on the whole batch!) "Tuesday Friday Reads" has a nice ring to it, right?

*   *   *

This past Tuesday, I posted about how steady yoga practice was helping me work on being patient. (Check that out here.) And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that patience wasn't the only benefit. I also wanted to talk about the idea of taking time to be still.

I live in NYC. It's a fast-paced, busy city. I'm a freelance writer and editor, which means I'm juggling several different jobs at any given time. I'm a dancer. I love movement. But all of those things together can mean that I spend my days running around in (metaphorical) circles, frantically trying to keep up with everything on the to-do list. I'm moving, moving, moving, while everyone else in this city is doing the same, swirling around me. Honestly, I thrive on being busy. I often do my best work when I have deadlines and goals and am balancing several different projects. But even being constantly busy with good things can have its downsides.

I'm not always good at being still. There are times when I've had a busy week, and I get to the end of it and it's hard just to sit on the couch and watch a movie—I feel like I should be doing something. So I clean the kitchen. (Which probably needed cleaning, but you see the point.) Or I'll lie awake in bed, mind churning, unable to stop thinking about everything that has to be done. Even when I've accomplished my goals, and I'm home with my wonderful husband, in my comfy clothes, it's hard to turn off the "go go go" mentality and just be still.

Yoga helps.

At the studio where I take class, the instructor often talks for a few minutes before we begin, while we sit, cross-legged, on our mats. Sometimes he talks for more than a few minutes, and it becomes hard to sit still. My body is itching to move. But beyond the physical, it's often a challenge to focus on what he's saying and not use the sitting-still time as an opportunity to let my mind recap my day—what I've done so far, what's ahead on the list. On a good day, I can be still and focused and listen. But it's a challenge.

Sometimes we do a guided meditation or a breath exercise, and it's the same scenario: It's hard to sit still when my body wants to move. It's hard to focus my mind on the task at hand, when there's so much else to think about. Even in savasana at the end of class, when my body is tired from the work we just did and is happy to rest, my mind sometimes doesn't cooperate. I have to think, actively, about not thinking too much. But I've found that when I can really clear out the things that are competing for my attention and just be still, I feel better after class. I've had an actual break from my ever-growing to-do list. I can get back to writing or working with a fresh mind.

How does this manifest off the mat? I've been trying to give myself permission, when the to-do list is done, to actually relax. To sit on the couch and finish that awesome book I'm reading. To watch TV for hours and hours on a Saturday. To not feel guilty or anxious about things that I could be doing, but that honestly can wait. The dishes aren't going anywhere; that email can be sent tomorrow. Everything will get done, and it will get done better and faster if I let myself take real breaks and enjoy the stillness and quiet and calm.

Next up in my yoga blog mini-series: being present. Stay tuned!


Life Lessons From My Yoga Mat (Part 1)

I've been really busy with work and writing lately, and it's in these busy times that I most appreciate having outlets to take a break from my stress. Outlets like sitting and reading a really good book. Taking a killer dance class and rocking out in the studio. And, the one activity that combines the need to move with the need for quiet and peace: yoga class. My current yoga studio is within walking distance of my apartment, something I'd always wanted (ah, to be able to go to class, come home and shower, and then continue on with my day!). The teachers are thoughtful and encouraging, and the atmosphere is intimate—you can actually get to know the people who usually attend the same classes as you do. On a good week, I'm there at least twice. And I love it.

The point of this post? I've been thinking a lot lately about how regular yoga at a warm, friendly studio has been a huge benefit to my life overall, from my writing career to my dancing to my general well-being. So, without further ado, over the next few (non-book-related) posts I want to share the biggest lessons I've learned (and am still, constantly, always learning) from yoga practice.

Number One: Patience

If you've been reading my blog since January, you know that patience is my theme for 2013. (Read more on that here.) You'd think that writing and revising and pitching a novel would be the most obvious evidence in my life of the need for patience, but for me, yoga has been a constant, hit-over-the-head reminder that progress often only comes with months and months (and months) of hard work and patience.

Case in point: in that post on patience from January, I mentioned that in 2012, one of my New Year's resolutions was to be able to do an unassisted handstand by the end of the year. At the time, I thought that was a more-than-attainable goal. I am only now getting close to accomplishing it. What happened? In early 2012, I took a painful fall practicing handstands at home. Falling didn't just hurt; it also messed with my head. Without the confidence to kick up properly, no way was I going to get up. Then I had a foot injury—on my handstand kick-off and landing foot. Once that healed, I'd lost the coordination. I could hold a handstand, but I couldn't get up on my own. I was incredibly frustrated about it for a while. But I kept trying, kept pushing, and in tiny increments, I got better. Stronger. More consistent. I'm almost there. And I wouldn't have made it if I hadn't eventually let go of my frustration and my arbitrary year-end goal as unproductive and just kept practicing. 

Arm balances still test my patience. I'm close to getting into Crow Pose consistently, after what seems like such a long time, but I'm nowhere near being able to do Side Crow or anything more complicated. But my experience with handstand, and with Crow, reminds me that while they might take patience, and they might take months and months and months, those harder poses are not impossible. They're not out of reach long-term, just because I can't do them now.

So it goes with writing. (And with just about everything else worth doing...) I have to be patient with myself and with my progress, no matter how incremental it seems at the time. I have to trust that with work, improvement will come. Every yoga class, when I do something I couldn't do a year ago, or when I struggle with something new and challenging, I think about being patient. And I hope that even as I grow stronger and can do more advanced poses, that mindfulness never goes away.

Next week: some thoughts on the benefits of being still.

Happy Downward Dogs to everyone!


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!