Three Good Things

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  1. Lots of good reading time this week! I reviewed The Art of Being Normalby Lisa Williamson yesterday and also really enjoyed Love & Gelato, by Jenna Evans Welch. Two very, very different books. I was especially excited to read Love & Gelato because it’s represented by an agent I got to know at my summer internship last year.
  2. I started listening to a new podcast 88 Cups of Tea, which features interviews with lots of writers of YA and children’s book. I’d start with the recent interview with Jenny Han. I was obsessed and am listening through old episodes like crazy.
  3. Everything seems better when you aren’t dripping in sweat. The weather finally cooled down in NYC this week. On Sunday, my roommate and I went for a long walk in the rain to celebrate the lower temperatures.

*Sometimes I blog about writing in my weekly wrap up post … but, frankly, it hasn’t been going that good this week. I’m working on feeling okay about that. Just like everything, I’ve learned that a certain zone of writing never lasts forever. I had a really long block of time feeling really productive and really positive about my story – now it’s a little harder, but I will get back into that positive zone again. And until then, I’ll keep trying.*

The Art of Being Normal, by Lisa Williamson

51bqqbNjxRL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_There are not very many books about transgender teenagers. More than there used to be, but still not enough. Which is one of the reasons I was eager to read The Art of Being Normal, by Lisa Williams. I read with great hope but also a pinch of trepidation because negative representation can be just as harmful, or more harmful, than no representation. As a cisgendered person, I’m not the best person to comment on this, but I do want to link this review (which, be warned, does contain spoilers) by a transgender blogger which points strengths and weakness within the story.

This British novel, alternates perspectives between David and Leo. David wants to be a girl. Leo, who also has secrets, wants to fly under the radar at his new school. This becomes harder when he stands up for David in a fight and the two become friends. But when secrets become unsecret, as the back cover will tell you, things are about to get messy.  Plenty of drama ensues to propel the story forward.  Continue reading “The Art of Being Normal, by Lisa Williamson”

Ten Reasons I Love Stephanie Perkins

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Guys, at first it was really hard for me to come up with this Tuesday’s topic. I LOVE so many bookish  things. There were so many options. But Stephanie Perkins is on my mind because one of my best friends finally read the Anna/Lola/Isla books and I finished Summer Days and Summer Nights (which Perkins edited) recently. Also I have like a thousand, or at least a hundred, reasons I love her so coming up with the top ten isn’t that hard. Here we go!

  1. So much romance! I loved Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, and Isla and the Happily Ever After for so many reasons. But the biggest reason is that they are SO ROMANTIC. Serious swooning. I love how Perkins writes scenes where just sleeping together is more romantic than anything else that could happen … I also don’t mind the scene where more than just sleeping happens (winky face emoji).
  2. Female characters with strong passions. Anna loves movies. Isla loves fashion and costumes. A lot of the Isla story is about her not knowing herself and not knowing what she wants to do, but she loves reading and comics and adventure stories.
  3. Amazing settings. Paris. New York City. San Francisco. Barcelona. These novels take place in such magical cities and Perkins writes about them so perfectly!
  4. I love all three books, but Isla and the Happily Ever After is my favorite. It came out my first week in New York. I read it three times lying on a mattress on the floor, trying not to freak out about the fact that I lived here and it was so so scary.
  5. Even though Isla is my favorite book, Cricket Bell is my favorite boy in the series. He. Is. So. Dreamy. The rubber bands. The way is pants fit. Everything.
  6. I’ve really loved the two YA short story compilations Stephanie Perkins has edited. My True Love Gave to Me and Summer Days and Summer Nights are full of romantic stories by some of my favorite YA authors. I highly recommend reading both of them.
  7. She’s been very open about being a writer and having depression in blog posts here and here and here. I read all three posts during my time in Big Sur trying to decide if I wanted to “be a writer” and they were incredibly helpful to me as a writer and a human. So brave.
  8. Her idea about creating love lists for story ideas is something I’ve used and relied on during revision. It’s some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received.
  9. She also gave some great NaNoWriMo advice.
  10. I met her the night I turned in my critical thesis first semester. I totally cried I was so excited to meet her. I’ve never reacted to any other author that way. And she was THE KINDEST, most gracious person about it. She gave me a hug. We took a picture. She asked me about my writing and chatted with me. I saw her at another event later in the week and she remembered me. Magic.

Thanks to The Broke and the Bookish for hosting this weekly book meme. Also, if you’ve read Stephanie Perkins I would love to know what your favorite book is. If you haven’t, do you have an author you feel this way about?

Four Good Things

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  1. I’ve been back in New York for a week now and things are settling down from the post graduation, post beach frenzy that’s dominated the last month. I really want to be back in the 100% productive mode I was during thesis. But instead I’m gently easing back into productivity. But I’ve really liked the rhythm and routine of this week. A few runs (a new habit I’m trying to pick up), lots of time reading and writing outside, dinners with friends. It’s kind of nice to have had a week without one major exciting thing to dominate it.
  2. In particular, having dinner with my thesis and writing partner last night really made me feel so grateful for my time in the program and really focused on the work ahead for my revision. I love that we end up talking about our characters like they are real people we know.
  3. I’ve finished Tiny Beautiful Things, by Cheryl Strayed, and almost finished Unexpected Everything, by Morgan Matson. The first was a recommendation. It’s been interesting to see what advice connects with me. One thing that resonating is the idea that people don’t live careers or relationships they live lives. And Morgan Matson’s new book is everything a fan could want: well-written, romantic, and long.
  4. I’ve had many long phone chats with my little sister (pictured above right with me re: 1998) this week. It’s hard living on separate coasts, so this time together is so important and meaningful.

Writing and Returning to Places from Childhood

Last week, I spent three nights in Bethany, Delaware. It’s a small beach town with a small boardwalk, delicious french fries, and way too many ice cream shops to even make sense. I started going to Bethany when I was eleven. My family went for a few nights most summers until I graduated from college and even a few times since then. Being back in a place I’ve known over such a long time helped me tap into feelings and details from so many different ages. Like the excitement of being independent enough to go places by myself in a way that wasn’t possible at home where you needed to drive everywhere. Or like wondering if a life guard was ever going to fall in love with me, because that’s what happened in 97% of the books about teens at the beach I’d read (spoiler alert: this never happened). Last week, a lot of new story ideas and details about teenage life I want to include in my current MS came to me.

It reminded me of the incredibly generative time I had substitute teaching at my old high school a few years back. Setting and sense memory are powerful things.

I’m wondering if other writers have had this experience or you have special places that help with your writing or bring back memories?