On Sharing Your Work: The 7/7/7 Challenge

When Jean Thomas (aka @mizwriterlady) challenged me to the 7/7/7 challenge, I was a little hesitant. (So hesitant that I hardcore procrastinated on actually publishing this post.) I love talking about the creative process, but I actually tend to keep my actual rough draft under wraps. I’m not sure why I play it so close to the chest with my rough drafts — maybe because there’s no context and I’m worried that it will be completely terrible? So while I don’t think I’ll be posting whole chapters of my rough draft anytime soon (trust me, it’s for your own good), I do think it’ll be good to loosen up a bit and show a little more behind-the-scenes action.


Also, side note, I’ve been thinking about putting up a portfolio with some of my college essays and other writing, but I’m not really sure how to go about that. If I figure it out, I’ll let you know!


And without further ado, here are my 7 lines from page 7 of my (now finished) first draft:


Tarand walked beside me with his bow over his shoulders. “Don’t pay any attention to Aladar, m’lady. He knows you’re right… but you know how he feels about manticores.”

“I know, Tarand.” We stopped and waited for Aladar to catch up with us. “I hate hanging back because of the Oleficis as much as he does. But I don’t have much of a choice, do I?”

The walk back to the horses was silent, each of us dwelling on our own thoughts. Retracing our steps was bitter for all three of us — after all, we weren’t accustomed to having to turn away. But we’d been forced to do it more and more often lately.


How do you feel about posting your rough drafts online? I don’t mind it in a workshop or class, but for some reason posting it online makes me suuuper nervous! I’d love to hear what you think!

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Weekend Thoughts / 35

Treat Yo' Self Flowers

I’ve been waiting for dahlias to come to my local grocery store, so I snagged these when I saw them Thursday.


How was your week? It went by super quickly for me, and I have a feeling it’s because our office went to an Astros game Wednesday afternoon. And I really enjoyed it, even though I’m the least sporty person in the world. The odds of me watching a baseball or football game by myself are slim to none, but I really like going with friends and family — it’s the perfect excuse to eat snacks, drink beer, and cheer on your local team. I also loved that the Astros stadium has a roof that can open and close, so it was actually cool despite the 90’s temps that day. I like watching baseball much much more when I’m not all hot and sweaty. 🙂 My mom loves watching baseball, so I think we’ll have to take my family whenever they come to town.


Besides watching baseball, I read Sage Living: Decorate for the Life You Want by Anne Sage, and I really enjoyed it! I loved the stories about women using design to maneuver a transition, unwind from busy lives, or bring their families closer. I’m pretty interior-decorating-illiterate, but I’m really inspired to look at my apartment in a whole new way.


Here are some of my other favorite reads this week:

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Five Things I Learned Writing My First Draft

Five Things I Learned

Photo courtesy of Death to Stock


If you’ve ever read Chuck Wendig’s blog Terrible Minds, you’ve probably seen his “Five Things I Learned while Writing…” series, where different authors list five things they learned while writing/ publishing their latest book. (If you haven’t read any, this is one of my favorites.)


I love those posts, and while my novel is nowhere near publication, I did finish the first draft, which is a HUGE deal considering how many novel fragments I have scattered in old notebooks. So I thought I’d write about the five things I learned writing my first draft:

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2015 Fall To-Do List

Fall To-Do List


The first day of fall is TOMORROW, so I’m actually right on time with my Fall To-Do List this time! (I was a liiittle behind on my summer list in June). Speaking of, here’s a recap of my summer list:


  • Make a big Goodwill trip with old clothes and books
  • Set up a little herb garden on our new back porch
  • Make pesto to keep basil from taking over
  • Have friends over for drinks – maybe a weekly or monthly sangria night?
  • Go on a weekend road trip
  • Go swimming  (I actually went jet-skiing and tubing!)
  • Spend as much time as possible on our porch (bonus points for ice cream eating / rosé drinking)
  • Drink all the smoothies. All of them
  • Set up a little creative space in the new apartment
  • Bonus: make a pie!


I’m actually surprised with how many things I got done considering how crazy this summer was! I couldn’t find a time that worked for everyone for dinner and drinks, so I’m hoping to do that in October. We couldn’t fit in a weekend trip either, but I have my fingers crossed for a roadtrip to Austin soon.


The most surprising thing I did was jet-skiing and tubing for the first time at my brother-in law’s engagement party. I’ve always been too scared to do it, and honestly, just thinking about jet-skiing still stresses me out. But I did it, and I survived even though I flipped the jet ski. (Ooops!)


I also made a black n’ blue pie for Labor Day from The Four & Twenty Blackbirds Pie Book. I was a little intimidated because they have suuuper high standards for everything. But the pie turned out really well! The filling was killer, but honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of the crust. (Please don’t hate me, Brooklyn!) The recipe was kind of fussy and it wasn’t noticeably better than my favorite pie dough recipe. Despite my mixed feelings about the crust, I’m really excited to try more fall and winter pie recipes from Four & Twenty Blackbirds.


Phew! I didn’t know I had so many feelings about my summer to-do list! Here’s my Fall To-Do List:


  • Go to the Texas State Fair
  • Finish my first draft x
  • Start a new knitting project/ try weaving
  • Make my favorite apple pie
  • Drink lots of hot chocolate and hot apple cider
  • Write/ read on the porch on a weekend morning
  • Make doughnuts for the first time
  • Go to a bonfire


I’ve already crossed one thing off my list (still can’t believe my first draft is done!), and now I’m really excited about all the fun fall activities. Fall is hands-down my favorite season, so I can’t wait to check off all the things on my list. I wish I had written down “drink your annual Pumpkin Spice Latte.” I always get really excited for them, and then remember why I only get one every year — they’re so sweet, even with 2 pumps of syrup! You’d think I’d have learned by now, right?


Do you have any fun plans for fall? I’d love to hear!

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Weekend Thoughts / 34

Teddy and I tried to eat vegetarian for a week... with mixed results.
Teddy and I tried to eat vegetarian for a week… with mixed results.


How is your Saturday going? I somehow managed to make pumpkin cinnamon rolls before my morning coffee, so that’s my biggest accomplishment of the day. (Let’s not talk about whether all the cinnamon rolls are the same size…)


If you’re looking for an excuse to procrastinate on chores, here are some of my favorite internet reads of the week:

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A Quick Life Update

Making friends with our new neighbors.
Making friends with a super cute new neighbor.


How has your week been? I hope it’s been a good one! My week’s felt like an old Friends episode — remember the episode where Monica’s mom says she “pulled a Monica” because she baked a fake nail into her lasagna? That’s pretty much been my life this week.


But besides my “pulling a Monica” moments, I managed to finish my rough draft on Tuesday! I had originally planned on finishing it by November, and then I decided I could finish by October 15… and then I finished a month early. I still can’t believe it! I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about it, which I’m planning on talking more about next week. So far this week I’ve been celebrating with ice cream, and I’m planning on visiting a bookstore and getting some tacos this weekend!


Teddy and I decided to eat vegetarian for a week, and so far it’s been going pretty well! So far we’ve stuck to old favorites like Joy’s spicy vegetarian tortilla soup and Jeanine’s spring green lemon & basil pasta. Tonight we made some quick pickled veggies which weren’t as quick as we expected… so we went to Chick-fil-A. But that means our pickled veggies will be ready for dinner tomorrow. I’m excited! We’re not planning on becoming full-time vegetarians, but we’re hoping to incorporate more vegetarian meals during the week, so it’ll be nice to have some favorite recipes in our back pocket. I have my eye on this jalapeño and cauliflower mac n’ cheese for next week!  


I’ve been craving a non-writing project for a while, but ever since I finished my rough draft I’ve been pinning so many DIY projects — and I’m the girl who avoids DIY projects at all costs! (I usually agree with Victoria: DDIY — Don’t Do It Yourself.) Right now I’m leaning toward this weaving tutorial: now all I need is a loom and some yarn.
That’s pretty much all I can think of that’s new around here. Hope you guys had a great Thursday, and that your Friday is super short!

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Weekend Thoughts / 33

Last Week


Man, this has been a week! I loved having a long weekend, but it definitely messed with my inner schedule. I didn’t know what day it was half the time!


What have you guys been up to this weekend? I think I spent most of my Saturday at the grocery store or chasing this dumb butt away from the toilet. We tried out a new toilet bowl cleaner that’s turned the water Lysol-blue for over a week now. So now I have to make extra sure the toilet seat’s down so someone doesn’t drink any toilet water (Yum!). Tonks of course denies everything…


Who, me?
Who, me?



To make up for having to hear about my cat’s toilet-drinking habit, here are my favorite reads of the week:

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Fake It Till You Make It: Fall Edition

This black n' blue pie from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds book was my goodbye to summer.
This black n’ blue pie from the Four & Twenty Blackbirds book was my goodbye to summer.


Disclaimer: if you’re in denial that summer is over and fall is on its way, you might want to stop reading now. Just look at the black n’ blue pie I made for Labor Day! So summery!


If you’re as excited as I am for fall, you can keep reading…




Sorry for yelling at you, but I really am that excited about Fall. June was fun, July was busy and stressful, and August was miserably hot, so I’m totally ready for fall. There’s just one problem — I live in Houston. And fall doesn’t start here until October (at best).


So I’m going to fake it. While some people are holding onto summer and making every summery dish they can, I’m already thinking about the two fruits (and a vegetable) that scream fall to me: apples, pumpkins, and pears.


Unfortunately pears aren’t quite in season yet (at least here) and Teddy gets pumpkin-ed out really fast. But we’re both apple fanatics, so I’ve been looking up all the apple recipes. Here are 5 6 7 that have made it to my to-bake list:


1. These apple and cheddar scones from the Smitten Kitchen are definitely happening this weekend. Who could resist scones that are “October on a parchment-lined baking sheet?” Not me!


2. Kristin’s boiled cider is addictive — it’s great in an apple pie, it’s great on ice cream, it’s great on a spoon… Trust me, you need to make this.  


3. Lately I’ve become the weirdo person who only has whole grains and coconut sugar in their pantry (who am I?!?), so these whole wheat apple muffins are right up my alley.


4. This apple almond tart looks delicious. (Also Sarah’s apple tartlets look so fancy with the melty whipped cream and caramel sauce. Yum!)


5. Emma’s baked cheesy apple sandwiches sound kooky and delicious. I think it’d be perfect with a cup of soup!


6. This cinnamon-sugar apple skillet cake sounds like the perfect cake for having friends over. Or the perfect thanks-for-having-us-over cake if you’re the guest. Both are good ideas.


7. I’ve always been intimidated by homemade doughnuts, but these apple cider doughnuts remind me of the maple doughnuts that people go crazy for in Virginia in February.


8. I couldn’t resist adding these pumpkin cinnamon rolls because guys — they’re pumpkin cinnamon rolls. Who can resist that? I’ll just have to sneak them past Teddy.


Do you have any end-of-summer or beginning of fall baking plans? I’d love to hear!

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Weekend Thoughts / 32

Last Friday Night
My Novel Planner from Kristen of She’s Novel came yesterday, so that quickly became my Friday night plans.


How are you lovely folks doing this week? Right now I’m contemplating getting a second cup of coffee before the day really starts. Lazy Saturday mornings are my favorite, especially if they kind of turn into a lazy Saturday afternoon. Later I have some around-the-house stuff to do and lots of writing, but for now I’m really enjoying looking out the window at my thriving basil plant and dead mini rose plant. (RIP!)


Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? I’m (very nervously!) trying it for the first time ever. I’m hoping to finish up the last 4 chapters of my current project by October 15, which will give me a short breather before the craziness of NaNoWriMo starts. If you’re thinking about joining in too, you should read Nicole’s post about why she decided to plot out her NaNoWriMo project instead of jumping in head first. She has some super good novel-planning ideas!


Here are some of my other favorite reads from around the web:


1. Jen made a reading nook for her daughter, Parker, and it’s so cute. One of the things I’m most excited about for my future kids is teaching them to read.


2. I’ve been baking with whole grains lately, and I was super excited when Emma posted a recipe for whole wheat flatbread! I’ll definitely have to try these out soon!


3. I feel like I’ve posted something from Joy every week lately, but I can’t help it, because she is KILLING IT. She turned Ina Garten’s “Engagement Chicken” to “Slight Fear of Commitment Chicken” and the results are both hilarious and tasty-looking. I could definitely use some “I Folded my Laundry like an Adult” chicken in my life.


4. This looks like the perfect Fall outfit — at least if you live in Texas. Does it mean I’m finally getting used to Texas weather if I’m picking out “Texas fall” outfits?


5. September 1st always makes me think of Harry Potter’s rides on the Hogwarts Express and the Sorting Feast. If you want to try Harry’s favorite treacle tart for yourself, you should check out Emma’s recipe from Poires au Chocolat — it’s awesome!


6. Indie bookstore owners/ employees talking about why indie bookstores are thriving is the BEST.


7. Don’t mind me, I’m just going to watch this video of puppies playing with the new BB-8 toy 57 times.


What are you guys up to on this long weekend? I have big plans to make a pie for Labor Day, inspired by this black and blue pie I saw on Deb Perelman’s Instagram. Sorry in advance if I post 20 photos of it!


I know lots of people are sad about the end of summer, but I honestly couldn’t be more excited. Sweaters, hot chocolate, cozy blankets, and no more 100+ degree temps are making me SOOOOO excited for fall. Whether you’re psyched or bummed about the end of summer, I hope you guys have a great Labor Day weekend!

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