Monthly Archives: August 2014

Taking Stock 02

Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor in Doctor Who

City of Atlanta skyline

parakeets kissing

galaxy print leggings

So much for making this a weekly feature. Maybe I’ll aim for biweekly instead. We’ll see what happens. Is anybody reading these posts, anyway?

Here’s what’s going on in my life these days.

Writing : MUD EYES (revision – neverending revision)
Listening : To coffitivity
Drinking : Iced coffee with nondairy caramel macchiato creamer (mmmmm)
Reading: On Writing by Stephen King
Wanting: A plan for the future
Looking: For a place to throw this gum away
Playing: The Sims (I wish)
Deciding: Whether I should take a shower yet or not
Wishing: I could play The Sims
Enjoying: The revision process, although it’s difficult
Waiting: For my novel to turn out perfect (WHEN DOES THAT HAPPEN)
Liking: The fact that my cat likes to hang out in my bedroom while I draft blog posts
Wondering: Why Starbucks released its Pumpkin Spice Latte so early
Loving: The fact that Starbucks released its Pumpkin Spice Latte so early
Pondering: the future
Considering: Peter Capaldi
Watching: DOCTOR WHO
Hoping: To one day master a Scottish accent
Marvelling: At the richness of dark chocolate
Needing: Another homemade cookie
Smelling: Clean clothes
Wearing: A dress from Forever 21
Following: My own path
Noticing: The way my eyes crinkle at the corners when I smile
Knowing: I can do anything
Thinking: About Halloween
Feeling: Limitless
Admiring: Myself, inside and out
Sorting: Through my many options
Buying: Lots of books lately
Getting: Anxious and excited
Bookmarking: All the dairy-free recipes I can find
Disliking: The radio station that plays in Office Max (still)
Opening: My mind to unfamiliar ideas
Giggling: Do I need a reason?
Feeling: Hopeful

What do you think of this feature? Do you want to take stock, too?


Nicole McArdle: Pubslushin’ It Up

Pubslush is one of the best online resources for up-and-coming writers. I had never heard of it before I met Nicole, which is a tragedy. If you’re a writer, you definitely need to know what this website is about. Interested? Keep reading.

Nicole McArdle: Pubslushin' it up

How did you get involved with Pubslush?

I studied advertising and marketing at SUNY FIT, which of course is best know for their amazing fashion majors. I knew almost immediately that I wanted nothing to do with the fashion industry, but wanted to utilize all that I was learning in my major in an industry I loved- publishing. That being said, as a transfer student, I found myself almost at graduation with only one internship under my belt, so I began a frantic search for internships within the publishing industry, which is how I found Pubslush  Once hired, I was in charge of running social media accounts for a Pubslush author, and was given the freedom to execute a lot of my ideas (perks of interning at a startup). I instantly fell in love with what the company was doing and became good friends with my co-workers, so when they offered me a full time position a year later, I didn’t even think twice about accepting.

What makes your organization unique?

Pubslush is a pre-publication platform that allows authors and publishers to raise funds and/or collect pre-orders while implementing strategic marketing before publication. We are niche, allowing us to cater to authors and publishers while providing them with a hands on experience. We’re unique in that there really is no one else doing what we do for authors.

How do you decide if you want to follow someone on Twitter?

Love this question, and this can actually help authors, or any business owner for that matter when working on their own twitter accounts. The minute I see automated, generic tweets, I know not to follow someone. To me, Twitter is one of the best tools to connect with people, and while scheduling tweets is a great idea, having disingenuous tweets going out every hour a day screams spam. I like to follow people who have similar interests, specifically authors, writers, publishers etc. because I always like to build connections within the industry. For me, a twitter account that manages to find a balance between having personality and being professional, is one that I want to follow.

What’s your favorite candy?

On the sweet side, gummy bears. On the chocolate side Maltesers.

Talk to me about your Women on Wednesday feature. Where did it come from? How important do you think it is to have a feature like that? Why?

Women on Wednesday is one of my favorite segments on the blog because it aims to highlight female authors while inspiring the authors reading the interview, who may be struggling to get published. Every writer has a story, and the journey to getting published always tends to be an interesting one, and a great reminder to first time authors to not give up!

Nicole McArdle

You recently interviewed me for Project Blogger (which I LOVED). What’s that all about? How can other bloggers get involved?

Project Blogger is a fairly new segment, that allows me to feature people who are outside of the publishing industry. I started this segment because so many of my favorite bloggers began to write books about their blogging experiences, so I wanted to have the opportunity to not only feature them but to let them know Pubslush was there to help when the time came to publish.

What do you write? What types of stories are you drawn toward?

I love creative writing, I minored in it college and found that while most of my classmates were complaining about the length of their senior thesis, I was complaining that I couldn’t write more. For me, creative writing has always been therapeutic it’s amazing how much better you can feel after getting your thoughts on paper. That being said, I tend to love memoir more than any other genre. Knowing that events I’m reading about actually occurred, just brings a whole new level of depth to a book.

Who are your favorite authors? What about favorite books? 

I always feel like picking a favorite author is like picking a favorite child! If I had to choose I would probably say Wally Lamb because his stories are so beautifully crafted, David Sedaris because he always gets me to laugh out loud with his hilarious essays and Jaimie McGuire, not only because her books are the perfect light and steamy read but because I’ve been following her journey since she was an essentially unknown author selling her books for 99 cents on Nook. Since then she has gained a cult following and was picked up by Simon and Schuster. She is the perfect example of a self-published author persevering.

As far as favorite books, I’d have to say White Oleander, Catcher In The Rye, Middle Sex and Beautiful Disaster. I’ve read all of these multiple times and always manage to get something new out of them each time.

I just discovered the Writer’s Corner section of Pubslush. What is it? How does it work?

Writers Corner is the newest addition to the blog. It’s basically a way for writers to share and promote their work for free. We’re always accepting submissions so if anyone’s interested let me know! 

How important is social media marketing to writers’ success? How can writers use this strategy without annoying people?

Social media marketing is vital to authors and when done correctly, can significantly impact the success of their book. My advice to authors is always this, pick one social media platform that you feel the most comfortable with and run with that. Don’t try to be a pro on every platform that’s out there because you’ll spread yourself thin. Second piece of advice, think of this process like dating. You have to take it slow and steady, and be genuine. Tweeting PLEASE BUY MY BOOK five times a day, is the best way to get people not to buy it!

Nicole McArdle is the Marketing Director at Pubslush, a pre-publication platform for authors and publishers. When she isn’t helping authors strategize their campaigns, or tweeting away, you can find her in a Starbucks reading, or on a plane traveling the world. She likes to make new friends and share publishing tips, so shoot her a quick hello at @nicolemmcardle or

What do you think of Pubslush? What are your thoughts on social media for writers?

The Art of Writability (Interview with Ava Jae)

I’ve been following Ava Jae’s blog for less than a year, but it’s helped me as a writer more than I can say. What she lacks in age she makes up for in wisdom and experience. This woman is amazing. Want me to prove it? Read on for the interview.

The Art of Writability (Interview with Ava Jae)

 When and how did you start writing?

While I dabbled with some writing before this, I really got serious about writing a novel when I was 13. Finished it at 14, queried at 15 (it was terrible, but it’s what got me started). As for the how…I basically daydreamed an idea for a book and decided to write it. Then I realized just how much I love writing and didn’t stop.

Your blog Writability is one of my favorites. What are some things you wish you’d known when you first started blogging?

Awww, thank you! ^_^

So this may sound a bit like a cop-out, but I did crazy amounts of research before I started blogging, so I’m not sure I can think of anything that I wish I’d known before I started. That being said! Something that I think is important is to set out your goals before you start blogging. What do you want to achieve with your blog? What would you consider a success? That way, when you inevitably achieve that goal (and if you don’t quit, it is inevitable), you can celebrate and know that you achieved that goal.

For example, when I first set out blogging, I said if my blog helped one person, it would be worth it to continue. Now, three years later, I frequently remind myself of that goal when I start to lose sight of it—it’s easy to get caught up with oh, if I just get x many hits or x many comments… and sometimes I have to step back and remind myself of my original goal, which I’ve now achieved several times over. It definitely helps to keep it in perspective. 🙂

I know you’re pretty active on Twitter and you’ve even written posts about social media being a great tool for writers. How has Twitter helped you and your writing?

How hasn’t Twitter helped me and my writing? I’ve learned so much from the writing community there—from excellent writing tips and resources, to book recommendations that I’ve learned from, to finding several critique partners and beta readers. As a bonus, I also nabbed two internships just from Twitter.

What are your top five favorite books and why?

Ughhh you are not asking me to choose five favorites. Seriously an impossible question. I guess if I HAVE to…these are in no particular order:

The Harry Potter series (duh)—especially The Order of the Phoenix. To this day, I have never re-read a book as much as I re-read the first four books of the Harry Potter series (four times each! Which is probably not as much as some people, but still). (Also, I am aware of the irony that I re-read the first four books four times but not my favorite of the series, but I can only handle Sirius dying so many times, okay?). But I mean, what is there not to love about the Harry Potter series? Nothing will quench my love for the world of Harry Potter.

The Grisha trilogy by Leigh Bardugo. A sexy, badass antagonist, incredible secondary characters, amazing worldbuilding, awesome magic system, a quick pace that has you flipping through the pages…what’s not to love? This is one of my all-time favorite YA Fantasy series and I recommend it basically to anyone considering YA ever. As long as they like fantasy, that is.

Saint by Ted Dekker. Assassins + supernatural abilities + fabulous, dark voice = Saint. I love Ted Dekker (he’s one of my favorite authors of all time) and this is the second book of his I read (he’s written close to fifty now), and it still stands out to me as one of my favorites of his. Probably because I’m obsessed with assassins. And dark characters. And internal struggle. And all of that.

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi. Tahereh Mafi has one of the most incredible, distinctive, poetic voices I’ve ever read. I love her style, and even better, the Shatter Me series is an incredible example of amazing character development. My favorite of the series is tied between Unravel Me and Ignite Me but it’s an excellent YA series.

Half Bad by Sally Green. I just finished this one and it’s an insta-favorite. The voice is absolutely incredible (seriously can’t recommend it enough to YA writers), the plot is exciting, the characters are complicated and interesting and GAH. It’s amazing. I could not adore it more (and I raved about it here).

Tell me about your agent. How did you get her to represent you?

I’m represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency and she’s amazing (hell, the whole team she works with is amazing). I’ve had an absolutely wonderful experience working with her and Team Fury and I really couldn’t ask for anything else. I’m delighted to be part of the team.

As for the how, the short version is this: I wrote a lot of books, I received more rejections than I want to think about, I wrote more books, kept querying, entered contests, didn’t win and eventually got picked as a runner-up in Miss Snark’s October 2013 Mystery Agent blog contest. Louise was one of the mystery agents. She loved my book and many months later I was screaming on Twitter about my happy news.

Long version is here.

Author Ava Jae

What’s your favorite quote about writing?
“If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” —Toni Morrison


“This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.” —Gary Provost

You’ve defended YA along with several others on Twitter. What are some things you wish people understood about young adult literature?

SO MANY THINGS. That YA is a legitimate category. That YA novels aren’t any less powerful, emotional, exciting, beautiful and haunting than adult books. That YA is here to stay and while it’s not for everyone (no category or genre is), if you don’t at least give it a chance, you’re seriously missing out on some incredible stories. Also that YA isn’t written for teens, it’s written about teens—anyone can read them and there’s no shame in it.

What’s your writing routine like? Tips for being productive?

I get up around 5:30 AM, exercise (on weekdays), then write. I find that the later in the day it is, the harder it is for me to write (I guess my brain gets tired?), so I try to get it done nice and early in the day.

As for being productive, the key is to figure out what schedule works best for you. I’m most productive in the mornings, but some people work their best writing magic at 2 or 3 AM. Experiment to see what works for you, then stick with it the best you can.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and who did it come from?

I like how you saved this question for last. I saved it for last while answering, too, because this is not an easy question. Hmm.

I’d say my two favorite (that I can think of that moment) bits of writing advice are to finish the book and write what you want to read (which came from the first quote I shared above). I’m pretty sure I saw the first bit of advice in one of the many writing craft books I’ve read. The second came from the good ol’ internet.

I told you, she’s fantastic. For more Ava Jae, check out her blog Writability or follow her on (@Ava_Jae), tumblrFacebook, or Youtube (bookishpixie). 

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Harry Potter and the Name Game (Guest Post for The Brazen Bibliophile)

I was lucky enough to have the chance to participate in the Brazen Bibliophile’s Potter Week! My post is all about the symbolism and inspiration behind some of the names in Harry Potter. Want to hear more? Check out the post here, and while you’re at it, subscribe to Marissa’s blog because she is THE BEST.

Love Harry Potter? Read this post to learn more about your favorite characters,

I enjoy guest posting so if you’d like to feature my writing on your blog, let’s get in touch and work something out! 🙂 I’d love to return the favor in any way I can. Maybe we could do a swap. It’s a win-win situation.

You can contact me using the form on my blog or by shooting me a message on Facebook or Twitter.

Are you a Potterhead? Who are your favorite characters?

Carly Heitlinger: Polished Prepster

Carly Heitlinger has been a part of my life for the past several years, since I discovered her blog during my freshman year of college. Although I’m no longer an undergraduate, I still love reading The College Prepster. When Carly agreed to answer some questions for me, I could hardly contain my excitement. Read on to hear what she had to say.

Are you a fan of The College Prepster? If not, you certainly will be after this interview with blogger Carly Heitlinger.

What’s surprised you the most about blogging thus far?

The community! I never really expected to find my best friends from this little thing I started in college. It’s interesting too because now the community isn’t just limited to bloggers; it’s bloggers, readers, social media and community managers… It’s amazing!

What’s going to keep you up tonight after this interview?

My friend has a non-profit that’s launching a new campaign so I’m going to stop by the event!

What’s the best part of the next thing you’re doing?

Learning about new industries. I know a lot about blogging and digital media, but this is a whole new ball game.

How do you take your coffee?

A splash of skim and half a Sweet’n Low

You blog a lot about living in New York. What are your favorite things about the city?

Central Park! I really do like living in the city because of all the opportunities and things going on… but it can be a lot! Having a huge space in the middle of the city with grass and trees is the best!

Carly Heitlinger, The College Prepster

What inspires you?

I love being inspired by everything around me… You never know what might spark something for you!

I loved your post on time management and getting everything done. What are some of your favorite tips for productivity and avoiding distractions?

Prioritization is really key. Distractions are everywhere, but when you let something distract you, you’re really just saying that it takes priority.

How has writing The College Prepster affected you in the “real world”?

It has in that it’s become my career and it’s hard to imagine what my life would be like without it.

You’ve mentioned before that you really struggle with anxiety sometimes. What are your tips for dealing with stress?

Going for a walk or just finding a way to decompress like taking a couple of hours to watch a movie.

What are some things on your dream list right now?

Anything Valentino… ah!

Need more Carly in your life? I don’t blame you. Make sure to follow her blog, The College Prepster, and look her up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

How do you feel about lifestyle bloggers? Where are some unexpected places you find inspiration?


Cherie Bond: Crossfit Queen

I met Cherie in one of my college classes and totally loved her style. She’s bubbly, friendly, and one of the coolest people I know. I got to know her a little better through my involvement with the Wesley Foundation and grew to love her even more. Her passion for God and fitness shines through everything she does. Don’t believe me? Keep reading. 

Check out this interview with a blogger who loves Jesus, fitness, and shopping at TJ Maxx - among other things!

Fitness means a lot to you. How did you get involved with it?

Throughout high school, athletics and my personal health were the last things on my mind – McDonalds $1 sweet tea, that was always on my mind. At the beginning of my freshman year of college I felt like it was time to take control of my health. It all started with a classic start-up of power walking with a close friend. Before long, walking turned to running and running turned into weightlifting. While it sounds oh so simple in writing, it was possibly the hardest thing I ever took on. Now, it’s strange to look back and think about the days when fitness and honoring my body wasn’t apart of my life. (Read more about Cherie’s fitness journey here.)

When’s the last time you did something for the first time?

Mundane but mandatory: I finally learned how to use a scanner. Yikes.

You’re open about your religious beliefs on your blog. What are some misconceptions about Christians that drive you up the wall?

This will catch a lot of buzz, but I’m going to flip that question. I think there are more misconceptions about non-believers that Christians tend to believe #1 they don’t have the capability of kindness – false, Jesus is in them and more often than not their kindness is more genuine than that of a Christian, it’s our job to accept them and love them and pray that they too see Jesus in them #2 all non-Christians hate Christians – definitely false. I think Christians often give off the feeling that they aren’t liked and we like to be all secluded like it’s some big club. Ugh, hate that. Frankly, I think the misconceptions about Christians will stop when Christians stop believing misconceptions about others – now that, that drives me up the wall. (Read more about Cherie’s faith here.)

How do you stay motivated?

Jesus. Always Jesus. A lot of coffee, Pinterest, and constant encouragement by my family, friends, and coaches.

What would you say to people who are intimidated by cross fit?

“Your dreams aren’t big enough unless they scare you”. Use that feeling of intimidation to walk into a CrossFit box and believe that no matter who you are – weak or strong, you are capable and equipped. (Read Cherie’s post on conquering fear here.)

"[The blog] has changed because I have changed. That's something to be thankful for." - Cherie Bond

What are three of your guilty pleasures?

Dark chocolate perfectly paired with a glass of pinot noir, Keeping Up with the Kardashians (yeah, I went there), weekly visits to TJMaxx – I’m a maxinista through and through.

How has your blog evolved over time? Why do you think it’s changed?

Whoa, so recently I went through a rebranding phase. I realized that after a year of blogging (happy 1 year WoW!) I no longer wanted my blog to just be about fitness. There’s so many more components to life that make up healthy living. I realized that I had more to say than just another paleo pancake recipe, but rather a multitude of topics that could inspire and uplift in more practical ways.To add to that I realized that the graphics were also a little low-key and it was important to me to include more professional graphics and even my own hand lettering! It’s changed because I have changed – that’s something to be thankful for. (Read more about Cherie’s hand lettering here.)

What’s your writing/blogging routine like?

On Sundays I sit down and jot down about 3-5 ideas that are potential topics for the week. Then, I’ll settle down at a local Starbucks with an americano (2 stevia, light soy please) and write my little heart out. If I hit a wall, I’ll explore pinterest or change up my music and then I keep going. Some weeks include inviting guest bloggers and even taking days off.

How do you come up with post ideas?

I’m inspired by so many things: readers of WoW, small talk with friends, the news, music. Gosh, you name it it’s probably inspired me in some way.

How far into the future do you see yourself still blogging?

I was literally contemplating this the other day. Waiting on Wildflowers has just now really taken on a whole new meaning to me. To see it making an impact and ultimately glorifying God encourages me to keep going and finally be brave about my writing. God willing and computer able, I hope to blog for quite some time. Not to mention, before long I’m sure I will have plenty of newlywed stories and topics to chat about!

Want to keep up with Cherie? Check out her blog, Waiting on Wildflowers, and follow her on Pinterest.

Have you ever tried crossfit? How is your relationship with health and fitness?

Shelby Bouck: Not Perfect, But Okay

Shelby Bouck is sincere. That’s what I like about her. We’ve been Twitter friends for a while now so I took the plunge and asked to interview her. The sweet and beautiful blogger had a lot to say. Check out how cool she is below.

If you love husky puppies, sweetness, and sincerity, read this interview with blogger Shelby Bouck.

 Tell me about your blog. What inspired you to start it?

Honestly? I was in my public speaking class and we had a little downtime, and I said, “Hey, would you guys read a blog called How Not to Suck?” And all of them said yes. That was the moment I decided to write the blog, but the philosophy behind it came from a long time before that.

Philosophy? Please explain.

Well, it’s all in the title of the blog: How Not to Suck. In high school (and really a long time before that) my friends and I got caught up in this idea that nothing less than perfect performance was acceptable–at school, in extracurricular activities, at home. We never said it out loud, but it was understood, and it didn’t really work out in the long run, at least for me. The stress from feeling like I needed to be perfect all the time affected my relationships and my health. I got mono, I had back issues (not like Vogue in a doctor’s office, like a curved spine), I was constantly freaking out. Then, after going to college, I realized “perfect in every way” was a terrible goal, and that if I wanted to do really well at a few things, I’d have to let a few other things go. I wanted to let other people know it was okay to just be okay at stuff–and I’m still learning that myself.

What do you wish you’d known before you started blogging?

Twitter. Literally everything about Twitter. I actually didn’t think it was possible to say anything of value in 140 characters or fewer, at the time. I didn’t realize it wasn’t about making grand statements–it was about making friends and contacts. Becky Blades taught me a lot about that.


Becky Blades. She’s one of my mentors.. she wrote and published a book and directs the social media marketing for it. She taught me basically everything I know about Twitter, which is all about making sure strangers care about what you have to say.

Do you have any tips for succeeding and having a good time on Twitter?

As far as Twitter goes, MAKE FRIENDS. Follow people who follow people you follow. They’ll be interested in the same stuff as you. Be witty and observant, not mean.

"Come up with solutions, don't just point out problems." - Shelby Bouck

Your blog covers a wide range of topics. How do you decide what to write about when?

Most of that happens because of what’s going on in my life at the time. All the cooking posts are in real time as I slowly stop being scared of my oven. This last post was looking back on another summer of employment at a big-box bookstore. Some topics I sit on for a while before I write them, because I think they’re extra important. I’ve been trying to write “How Not to Suck at Feminism” for six months and I still don’t think it’s ready.

With classes, assignments, blogging, work and personal obligations, how do you manage your time?

Poorly. I am the world’s biggest procrastinator. I do things like think, “You can have some M&Ms when you’re done with your blog post” or “You can watch Orange is the New Black when you’ve done some studying”, but I usually end up doing the thing and the incentive at the same time, which totally defeats the purpose of the incentive. I do pay my bills way ahead of time, though. I’m aware that some things have horrible and immediate consequences like $75 late fees and ruined credit. I buy a planner every year and use it for a few months, and then think “I’m so good at planning things! I don’t need this, clearly!” #logic

Who are some of your favorite bloggers? What do you like about them?

Hyperbole and a Half is my blogspiration. Allie Brosh is the person who made me want to start a blog, any blog, in the first place. I still laugh-cry when I read her post about the Alot. Old Single Mom, who posts through the ChicagoNow website, is another one of my favorites… she’s a friend of mine, and we share a sense of humor and a tendency to wax poetic about things that are not poetic at all. Ashley from BigTopFamily has been great as well; she’s another one who’s adopted the “competence, not excellence” philosophy, and I love the way she talks about it.

Do you have any tips or advice for new bloggers?

Find your niche. Write about what only YOU can write about–or write about something everybody’s writing about from the unique perspective only you can bring to it. (You have something like that. It just might take a little bit to find it.) And have so much fun. If you’re not having fun, there’s no point. Also, try and write positive stuff–ADD to conversations, don’t just talk about what not to do or what’s wrong with things. Talk about what should happen instead. Come up with solutions, don’t just point out problems.

What are three things on your bucket list?

1) Write and publish a novel. 2) Travel. So much travel. Traveling everywhere. 3) Get a dog. A big shaggy husky. #3 was almost “shop at Macy’s for something other than makeup without going into debt”, but the dog won.

Down-to-earth, charming, and ambitious. Shelby is the whole package. If you can’t get enough, you can check out her blog How Not to Suck and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.