Monday, January 11, 2016

The Life-Changing and Life-Procrastinating Magic of Everything But Writing

I started 2016 off with reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, a bestselling lifestyle book by Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo. The book focuses more on our relationship with stuff than finding cool new ways to organize it. 

Photo: Stephanie Scott 

This is a book best read and thought on for a few days--I actually read it in the remaining days of 2015, but it wasn't until after the first of the year I really started to sort through things. I'd just helped my husband shed half the clothes in his closet (seriously, half--it'd been years) and I'd combed through my clothes earlier in the season. I took an entire trunk of things to the donation center. I figured I was good.

Still, I've got a lot of stuff. Drawers jammed with junk, little baskets of things.

One of the concepts in the book is to change your mindset from what should you get rid of, a what can I purge?mentality, to what do you own that sparks joy? She prompts you to consider why you hang onto items you don't use. There's nothing wrong with it or I paid good money for this, are likely responses. Only those items become buried in a drawer or the back of a closet. Why do you keep it?

So this whole "life-changing magic." I think it's real. There's something about this book that squeezes through the folds in your brain so it's ever-present. Does this candle spark joy? It's not quite the scent I like, and I never burn it more than ten minutes because it smells like roses doused in White Diamonds perfume, but it's a perfectly functioning candle! This sweater is ten years old and still fits so it would be wasteful to get rid of it.

Marie Kondo is all about taking care of what you have by finding a place for it. If an item has no place, it sits around and becomes clutter. 

Basically, all of this assessing of one's stuff leads to this:

Photo: Stephanie Scott

I folded my socks. I took out every pair of socks and knee-high nylon stockings, chucked a bunch, donated a few, and folded them the way God--I mean Marie Kondo--intended. Marie says socks need to rest. They're stomped on all day doing hard work for your feet, so balling them up and stretching them out only causes further torment. If you don't believe your socks having feelings, sure go ahead. Either way, the folding makes it easier to see what I have. It also helped that half of my regular rotation socks were fresh from the laundry and needed to be put away anyway.

But still. I sorted my sock drawer.

Which means my holiday is over and it's back to writing.  Once a writer willingly sorts her sock drawer, she is officially avoiding writing.

Here, I'll go ahead and put that in a quote so we all remember:

At least I'll have a tidy drawer. 

Read my full review of this book here on Goodreads

Have you read this magic tidying book? Have you ever folded socks or are you still a sane human being? I'd love to hear from you in the comments!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Insecure Writers Support Group: January

Welcome to another year of monthly posts with Insecure Writer's Support Group! If you're new to writing or blogging, this is a great community to network with which spans across writing genres. Check out the IWSG Facebook group and IWSG website. Today the site is announcing the winners of their anthology contest.

I posted about last year's and this year's writing goals on Monday. Today, another new development I'll be a part of is the Writing With Mentors group blog started by writers involved with Pitch Wars. The blog debuts today and will feature twice weekly posts on writing and the publishing business. I hope you stop by and take a look!

Which brings me to this quote:

Any success I've had so far in my writing career, I owe in part to those who've offered help and support. I somewhat blindly navigated my way through query writing and pitch contests and found an agent fairly quickly. But what to do then? Each step forward in publishing leads to more questions and uncertainty. Sometimes I wonder, how did I get here? People are asking ME for writing advice? When does it feel real, like I actually know what I'm doing?

Maybe never?

I'm so thankful for the many blogs and twitter chats and Facebook groups I've read through and joined where writers shared whatever scrap of knowledge they knew. Even linking to a website of writing articles for me was a huge deal when I knew nothing. Now I look back and think, well I might know a *few* things. :)

What's a step you've taken with your writing that you're proud of?

Make sure to visit the blog hop list and check out a selection of participating blogs to meet new writers!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Thief of Lies: Library Jumpers Release Day!

Thief of Lies_BannerFinal_RGB

I'm pumped to be taking part in Brenda Drake's Release Day Launch (hosted by Jen Halligan PR) for THIEF OF LIES (Library Jumpers #1)! 

Brenda Drake is the person behind writer pitch events Pitch Madness, Pitch Wars and the twitter pitch party #PitMad. She's helped dozens of aspiring authors connect with literary agents and publishers. Let's show her some love today with her long-awaited Library Jumpers series.

Check out the book and excerpt below, and be sure to enter the giveaways!

Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake
Thief of Lies: Library Jumpers #1
by Brenda Drake 
Publisher: Entangled Teen 
Pub Date: January 5, 2016
Gia Kearns would rather fight with boys than kiss them. That is, until Arik, a leather-clad hottie in the Boston Athenaeum suddenly disappears. While examining the book of world libraries he abandoned, Gia unwittingly speaks the key that sucks her and her friends into a photograph and transports them into a Paris library, where Arik and his Sentinels—magical knights charged with protecting humans from the creatures traveling across the gateway books—rescue them from a demonic hound. Jumping into some of the world’s most beautiful libraries would be a dream come true for Gia, if she weren’t busy resisting her heart or dodging an exiled wizard seeking revenge on both the Mystik and human worlds. Add a French flirt obsessed with Arik and a fling with a young wizard, and Gia must choose between her heart and her head, between Arik’s world and her own, before both are destroyed. Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Excerpt from THIEF OF LIES

We stepped into the Children’s Library and stopped in the center of the room. A massive light fixture designed to resemble the solar system dominated the ceiling. The hushed rumble of two male voices came from one of the reading nooks. I crossed the room, paused at the built-in aquarium, and inspected the fish. Afton halted beside me.
“This is great,” I whispered, not wanting to disturb whoever was in there with us. “Fish and books. What’s not to love?” Spotting a sign referencing classic books, I searched the shelves for my all-time favorite novel.
The male voices stopped and there was movement on the other side of the bookcase. I paused to listen, and when the voices started up again, I continued my hunt.
Warmth rushed over me when I found The Secret Garden. With its aged green cover, it was the same edition I remembered reading as a young girl. The illustrations inside were beautiful, and I just had to show them to Afton. Coming around the corner of the case, a little too fast for being in a library, I bumped into a guy dressed in leather biker gear. My book and notebook fell and slapped against the floor.
“Oh, I’m so sorry—” I lost all train of thought at the sight of him. He was gorgeous with tousled brown hair and dark eyes. Tall. He flashed me a crooked smile, a hint of dimples forming in his cheeks, before bending over and picking up my forgotten book.
He held the book out to me. “Mistress Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” He’d quoted a verse from The Secret Garden with a sexy accent that tickled my ears.
I stood there like an idiot, my heart pounding hard against my chest, unable to think of a response. The fact that he had read the book and could recite a line from it stunned me. And impressed me.
Say something. Anything.
“Good read there,” he said when it was obvious I wasn’t going to speak. He winked and nodded to a guy behind him before ambling off. When he reached the end of the row, he paused and glanced back at me, flashing me another killer smile, and then he disappeared around the bookcase.
Tingles rose in my stomach. He looked back at me. The guy following his Royal Hotness gave me a final appraisal before departing. His stringy blond hair hung over his large forehead. It looked like he hadn’t washed it in weeks, and there was probably an acne breeding ground under it. He grinned, and I broke eye contact with him, making for the nearest window.
Oh God, you’re so lame, Gia. You could have finished the quote or anything less tragic than not speaking at all. The response I would have said played in my head. With silver bells, and cockleshells, and marigolds all in a row. Why? Why hadn’t I said that?

About the Author

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram
Brenda DrakeBrenda Drake grew up the youngest of three children, an Air Force brat, and the continual new kid at school. Her fondest memories growing up are of her eccentric, Irish grandmother’s animated tales, which gave her a strong love for storytelling. So it was only fitting that she would choose to write stories with a bend toward the fantastical. When she’s not writing or hanging out with her family, she haunts libraries, bookstores, and coffee shops, or reads someplace quiet and not at all exotic (much to her disappointment).

Thief of Lies by Brenda Drake


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Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 Goals Wrap-up, 2016 Goals

Welcome to 2016! No flying cars yet, and hoverboards only sort of made it. Meanwhile, I'm planning my writing and reading goals for the year.

First, here's a peek at a fun thing I tried out this year. A jar where I wrote and collected accomplishments or promising moments. I first heard of this through writer Jaime Morrow. Sometimes we get so impatient with where we want to be, we blur past all the points that brought us where we are. It was fun to look through my collected moments, which I kept all related to writing. I added a few moments at the end, and I'm looking forward to adding more!

As for goals, I'm going through last year's goals to see how I did:

2015 Goals:

  1. Finish rewrite of contemporary YA from Nano 2013.
  2. Edit and develop Nano 2014 manuscript.
  3. Potentially revisit historical YA MS, and/or develop new idea
  4. On the freelance front: starting tomorrow, I'll be posting a joint chat-review of Downton Abbey season 5 over at pop culture site The Stake. Please go visit their site and follow on twitter!
  1. I did finish that rewrite! The story, SUNSET SUMMER, took first place in Toronto Romance Writers Catherine contest in the YA category and netted an editor request!
  2. I did not do anything with my Nano 2014 project and instead wrote a new MS which I'm editing now (and SUPER excited about), and I did Nano 2015 with another new contemporary YA story.
  3. Speaking of the Downton Abbey recaps, I will be joining my writer friend Catherine for the final season of Downton and our recaps will go up on The Stake once again! We also recapped Outlander last year and are planning to do so again when the series starts up.
  1. Keep an active blog.
  2. Continue to host book tours and cover reveals.
  3. Feature a guest post.
  4. Potentially find a group blog to contribute to.

For the most part, I kept an active blog. I plan to keep this blog running when I upgrade to my new website, though I may be blogging less frequently. You can find more consistent posting on twitter and Instagram, both places I'm @StephScottYA I love the visual aspect of Instagram and the very fun book community there. 

As for a group blog, I joined The Sweet Sixteens group of 2016 debut YA and Middle Grade authors! They have a lot of great content, so please check them out! I'll make sure to share any posts related to my own 2016 release! 

Plus, another group blog I'll be contributing to will launch this week. Details coming on Wednesday!

Professional (writing):
  1. Expand YARWA's online presence through my VP Communications role.
  2. Attend local RWA chapter retreat craft workshop feat. agent and author Donald Maass (March)
  3. Plan & attend Day of YA at RWA Nationals in New York City (July)
  4. Attend and network at Lady Jane Reading Salon (Naperville, every other month). Also network and attend author signings at Anderson's Bookshop.
  5. Attend a Chicago North RWA meeting.
  6. Submit to contests with editor final judges, including the Golden Heart.

I was voted in for a second term on the YARWA board! We started hosting twitter chats and we'll see where those go in the coming year. The Donald Maass workshop was awesome, and I had such a great time at RWA Nationals in NYC including Day of YA. I attended probably half or more of the Lady Jane Salons in my area featuring local romance writers, went to a few signings, and also met a totally different cadre of writers at Chicago Writers Conference. I did not go to Chicago North's chapter at all, but a number of their members joined our chapter and I know more of the group. 

I subbed to the Golden Heart and a couple other RWA chapter contests, including the one where I placed first :)


2015 Reading Challenge

2015 Reading Challenge
Stephanie has read 1 book toward her goal of 50 books.

2016 Goals:


  1. Revise current YA manuscript and get it to agent and editors this spring!
  2. Revise a NaNoWriMo project (2 to choose from)
  3. Write a short story for a secret project!
  4. Possibly craft an older Nano novel for a serial release on Wattpad (novella length)
  5. Nano 2016 because I can't help but draft something new! 


  1. Goodreads standard goal: 50 books
  2. Read 5 classics
  3. I'm joining a book club! It's with in-person friends of mine including a spouses & significant others. All of our choices will be authors who are women or persons of color. We're starting with my choice, Mindy Kaling's new memoir!
Professional (Writing-related):
  1. A goal I thought I'd written was to be on a panel at a conference. I'm slated for two this year: RWA Spring Fling in Chicago suburbs in May, and RT Booklover's Con in April in Las Vegas (!!). The first is YA Publishing panel with 3 other authors, and the RT is Pitch Wars Road Show to help writers prep for an RT pitch event. Related goal is to book more panels based on networking from these events.
  2. Go to Book Expo America which will be in Chicago this spring!
  3. Continue to finish manuscripts to send out for editor submission.
  4. Support other 2016 debut authors by reading and reviewing their books, and promoting them online and personally.
  5. Possibly mentor again in 2016 Pitch Wars.
  6. Develop quality programs for my home RWA chapter (program committee) and promote the chapter and YARWA on social media.
  7. MY OWN BOOK DEBUT! A million related items fall under this, but my main goal is to plan ahead where I can and enjoy the ride. Many updates to come!
What are your goals for 2016?