Watch This Space for News!

Hi, friends. It’s been… well, according to the date of the entry below this one, I haven’t written a new blog post in over a year! Yikes.

As you might have guessed, writing and editing books, and doing lots of freelance writing, while also being an almost full-time mom…doesn’t leave a lot of time for blogging. That’s why I’ve decided to convert this page to a News space, instead. If there’s something exciting happening in my world, or if I’ve got something coming up that you should know about, you’ll find a post about it here!

Diane McCarthy dance concert.jpg

For example, I’m performing in a dance concert in a week and a half, for choreographer Diane McCarthy and alongside many wonderful friends from my NYC dance community. I was asked to join this project back in May, when another dancer had to step out of the cast, and it has been a blast rehearsing (and getting back into performing shape post-baby!). If you’re local to NYC, I’d love to see your smiling face in the audience! The show is November 9, 10, and 11, and tickets are available HERE.


In other news…today is Halloween! And although this will definitely be a more professional space going forward, I can’t resist sharing a photo of my adorable baby dressed up as Supergirl. I hope your Halloween is similarly super!


Greetings From Baby-Land!

*taps microphone* 

Hello? Is anyone out there? 

I know I haven't been around in a while (*cough* about four months *cough*), but I hope I still have a few people interested in reading along... 

Evie 10.16.17.jpg

Long story short: I have vanished, happily, into Baby-Land. My daughter is an absolute joy. (She doesn't really sleep that much—which isn't ideal, to say the least—but at least she's pretty happy most of the time she's awake!) It's been an adjustment, going from almost-full-time writer to almost-full-time mom trying to squeeze in writing time around naps and babysitting hours, but I'm slowly figuring things out. 

On the writing front, about a month ago I was able to complete the latest revision of the middle-grade novel rewrite I've been working on for about a year. Turning a polished draft in to my agent in September felt like such a milestone! While I wait to hear her thoughts, I've been percolating...*drum roll*...a new idea! I've mentioned before on here that new ideas—ones that could actually become a decent book, I mean—are rare for me. I often know what I want to work on right after the book I'm currently writing or revising, but can't see much farther into the future. So, every time I get excited about brainstorming something fresh, it's a big deal. Not going to share details about this new project yet, but rest assured: it has POTENTIAL. :D 

I also used to review books on this blog. Sad to say, I'm not reading as much as I once did. It's partly a matter of time, and it's partly a matter of sleep-deprivation making it hard to focus. BUT! I have to shout out a few recent reads: I adored Courtney Stevens' DRESS CODES FOR SMALL TOWNS, Mackenzi Lee's THE GENTLEMAN'S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE, and Adam Silvera's THEY BOTH DIE AT THE END. Currently, I'm working my way through a tome on baby sleep (HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS, HAPPY CHILD), but the next fiction work in my TBR stack is Brittany Cavallaro's A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE, which comes highly recommended by my sister and fellow avid-kidlit-reader, Mary-Owen. 

And...that's me these days! A lot of baby-time, a bit of writing, a bit of reading. And maybe, in the coming months, a bit of forward momentum in publishing-world? Cross your fingers for me! 

How's everyone's fall going? 


Motivation Vs. Vacation

A version of this post originally appeared on the YA Buccaneers group blog. 


I don't know about you, but I always find it difficult to feel motivated to work in mid-August. Maybe it's the heat. Maybe it's that perpetual almost-back-to-school feeling. Maybe it's everyone's beachy photos on social media. Maybe it's the fact that I'll soon be at the beach myself. 

[Note: this post is from 2016, but we will in fact be beaching again, little person in tow, in a few weeks! Just you wait for the baby swimsuit photos...sorry-not-sorry in advance. And for the record, while this summer has been a crash-course in new-parenthood, most summers I'm writing and promoting my work just as hard—if not harder!—than the rest of the year.] 

Whatever the case, there's no question that I could use a vacation. 

But here's the thing about being a writer, full-time or otherwise: it can be hard to let yourself take a vacation from the work. There's the sense of obligation—this book isn't going to write itself. There's how productive everyone else seems to be. There's the fear of missing out, of being left behind by writers who have more book deals and whose careers are progressing faster. And of course there's the guilt: if I'm not doing everything I can to help myself succeed, I'll have only myself to blame if I fail. 

Needing time off can feel like weakness. Taking a break can feel like quitting. 

So here's the reminder, for myself as much as for all of you who are in the trenches with me:

Rest is important. Vacations are important. Time spent not writing is important. 

But when should you indulge in time off? Deadlines permitting, I'd say...

1: When you finish a draft. 

After you type "The End," is your first instinct to scroll back to page one and start editing? What would happen if you saved and closed the document, instead? What if you spent the rest of the day lounging at the pool, or catching up on Netflix, or reading a book? 

Taking a few days or weeks away from a project when a draft is done isn't just good for your brain; it can also be good for the manuscript! Time off can give you the space and distance you need to assess your work more clearly. You might pick up on plot holes, character inconsistencies, and even typos that you'd miss if you dove back in without pausing to catch your breath.  

2: When you send out or turn in a draft. 

When you send a manuscript to your editor, your agent, or beta readers/critique partners, you probably aren't going to immediately start tinkering with it. But what about those other projects that have been waiting patiently for your attention? Should you shift gears right away? 

Your mileage may vary, but I've found that this is one of the best times to take a brief writing hiatus. When I sent a YA WIP off to my agent last July, I'd planned to jump right into the MG fantasy rewrite I'd been anxious about starting. But after two days of feeling paralyzed by the blank page, I realized I needed to give my brain an actual break. I told myself, You'll start the MG on Monday morning. Then I devoted some time to all of the things that can fall by the wayside during intense revision periods. I took on some additional freelance work. I cleaned the apartment. I cooked some delicious meals for myself and my husband. I took extra yoga and dance classes. 

I went a week without creative writing, and it didn't kill me. In fact, when I opened the MG document again, I felt refreshed and was able to hit the ground running. 

3: When you're hitting your head against the wall. 

I'm a firm believer in "the only way out is through." Most of the time, when I'm stuck on a chapter or scene, I'll find a way to get something down on the page. I'll jump ahead a few scenes. I'll sketch an outline that has actions but no emotions, or vice versa. But what about those times when forward progress feels completely impossible? 

This is, I think, when it's hardest to step away from the computer. The stubbornness kicks in. You don't want to let the manuscript defeat you, even if writing is like squeezing blood from a stone. 

So...make yourself take a break. Walk around the neighborhood. Do dishes. Work out. And if your head doesn't feel clearer in an hour, give yourself the rest of the day. Or a couple of days. That stumbling block will still be there when you return—and with any luck, the time off will help it look less like a mountain you can't climb and more like a stepping stone you can use to reach the next level. 

What about you? When do you find it best to take a step back from your writing? How do you find the balance between staying motivated and giving yourself permission to let go? Chime in in the comments! 

Enjoy the rest of your summer!


Up For a Hometown Adventure?

A version of this post originally appeared on the YA Buccaneers group blog. 


When my husband and I first met in 2009, I was writing a manuscript set in New York City—primarily in and around the subway system. The first summer we were dating, I convinced him to go on several research trips with me. We visited the NYC Transit Museum. We rode the A train all the way out to Far Rockaway, across Jamaica Bay to a beachy strip of land you can hardly believe is still part of NYC. We even toured the Atlantic Avenue Tunnel, an abandoned underground railway tunnel that is unfortunately no longer open to the public. (We had to enter through a manhole in the middle of one of Brooklyn's busiest streets—best date ever, right?) 

Summer 2014 adventures, clockwise from top left: Coney Island, the Unisphere at the Queens World's Fair site, the U.S.S. Intrepid, and the top of the Empire State Building.

Summer 2014 adventures, clockwise from top left: Coney Island, the Unisphere at the Queens World's Fair site, the U.S.S. Intrepid, and the top of the Empire State Building.

On those trips, I got the information I was looking for to enhance my manuscript. I learned more about the city I'd fallen head over heels with since moving here in 2004. But best of all, my husband and I started a tradition that has only grown over the past eight years. At the start of each summer, we come up with a list of "adventures" we want to go on together. We choose tourist attractions and unusual spaces within the five boroughs that we've never visited: museums, parks, monuments, skyscrapers, oddball hole-in-the-wall shops and restaurants, and much more. We've gone to the top of the Empire State Building; walked around the botanic gardens in Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island; ridden the roller coasters and eaten hot dogs (and watched the Mermaid Parade) at Coney Island; admired medieval art and tapestries at The Cloisters; taken walking tours of Manhattan's Lower East Side and the Financial District; visited the historic Tenement Museum and the U.S.S Intrepid—the list goes on and on. 

This summer, things are a little different: there's a third person to take into account, and she's not quite ready to adventure alongside us just yet! But for the past few months, I've been rewriting the same magical NYC manuscript that started this whole thing, so there are definitely adventures on the horizon. I'm ready to strap on my baby-wrap and explore this fantastic city, with the two people I love most by my side.  

Here's my dare to you: Go on an adventure in your hometown or local region. Is there a museum or historical site in your area that you've been meaning to check out? Find the time. Have you heard about a beautiful nature trail in a nearby national park? Strap on your hiking boots. Don't let the day-to-day routine of living somewhere keep you from discovering everything that's unusual and fascinating and magical about your home. Go on an adventure. If you're a writer or other type of creator, you can't help but be inspired. And even if you're not, you're in for a fascinating experience.  

Tell me about the hometown adventure you want to take—or one you recently took—in the comments! While I'm home taking care of my newborn, I'll live vicariously through you!

Have fun...


Quieting Your Inner Editor

A version of this post originally appeared on the YA Buccaneers group blog. 


Have you ever started a first draft and gotten stuck revising (and revising…and revising…) 30 pages in? This post is for you—and it’s for me.

Hi, I’m Kathryn, and I sometimes have a problem with my Inner Editor.

A little background: When I started seriously trying to write a book, I was coming out of several years as a full-time magazine writer and editor. I still write articles in a freelance capacity. For short-form writing (and obviously for copyediting), my Inner Editor is a huge asset. It (she?) helps me quickly turn out polished, professional prose. But writing books is, well, another story. 

I worked on my first novel through most of grad school, and because I didn’t really know any other way to write, I approached the drafting process in small chunks. I’d polish and polish each chapter or section, and only when I was completely happy with it would I move on. (The writing workshop structure didn’t help in this regard, since I had to submit 20ish pages every few weeks.) It’s not that I wasn’t making forward progress. I was! I was actually writing a book! But wow, was I drafting slowly. Not to mention the fact that I got to the climactic scene near the end only to realize—whoops!—I didn’t have a bad guy. And this was the kind of book that required a bad guy.

I’d spent so much time on the individual trees that I’d lost track of the forest.

Fast forward a few years (and a few revisions and querying cycles with that manuscript). When I started my next book—which became THE DISTANCE BETWEEN LOST AND FOUND—I took a different approach from the get-go. I wanted to draft fast. I wanted a sense of urgency and momentum in the plot from Draft One, even knowing that I’d have holes and character inconsistencies and yeah, probably some terrible sentences and clunky dialogue. I started writing in May 2012 and had a finished draft by the end of July. It was a mess—but I was so proud. (And then the real work began…but that’s another conversation for another post!)

How did I pull it off? A big piece of the puzzle was quieting that Inner Editor that wanted everything to be perfect before I moved on. Here are some Inner Editor–quieting** tactics that worked for me. Maybe they'll work for you!

**Note: “Quiet,” not “kill”—I don’t advocate violence toward your Inner Editor! You need him/her!


When drafting, I try to start each writing session by reading over the last few pages I wrote. Reading—not editing. (Or trying not to…) That puts me in the right headspace to move forward. Not only does knowing where I am help me know what I need to write next, rereading what’s there also lets me jump into the voice and writing style more smoothly than if I just sat down and started hammering away at my keyboard. The more “in” the story I am, the less likely I am to get caught up tinkering on the sentence level.  


Obviously, as you write forward and continue to solidify the plot/characters in your head, you’ll realize that changes need to be made to what you’ve already done. But do you have to make those changes now? Sometimes you do; writing out a new scene to reflect a change can be just what you need to move forward. But in other cases, you can give yourself and your Inner Editor peace of mind by simply going back and adding a note. My early drafts are peppered with comments to deal with later. “Why exactly is she mad at him in this scene?” (I know they have to fight; I’ve written the fight; I’ll figure out the motivation later.) “From this page on, she plays tennis, not soccer.” (I can change all prior mentions of my character being a soccer player in Draft 2.) “Does anyone still use this word?” (My Inner Editor has a friend, the Inner Researcher, who would rather spend hours looking up minutiae online than write the scene with a placeholder.)

What I keep telling myself in this phase is, it’s not that I’m ignoring the problems. I’m acknowledging them, jotting down a detailed reminder or question to myself, and then going back to today’s task: writing forward.


This is hard, because this is the mental part of the equation: realizing that it’s okay for your draft to be messy, or inconsistent, or to just plain suck. I don’t like rereading something I wrote, even in a first draft, and feeling like it’s not good. I doubt anyone does. Sometimes it's a struggle to trust that I'll be able to fix problems down the road. So I have to turn to other writers for inspiration: 







Are you a champion first-drafter? What do you do to keep your Inner Editor at bay? Share your suggestions in the comments! 


It's the Final Countdown...

Did your brain immediately add "Da-da-da-da...da-da-da-da-da!" to the title of this post? Mine did. (If that question made no sense to you, Google "Final Countdown" by Europe to hear what I'm talking about.) 

Anyway, I am officially just over three weeks away from this baby's due date! Seriously—my husband and I are about to be parents

I can't wait. :) 

Here's me and the Bump at 33 weeks. I'm now approaching 37 weeks, so add a couple inches to this photo! o_0

Here's me and the Bump at 33 weeks. I'm now approaching 37 weeks, so add a couple inches to this photo! o_0

But wait we must! So during this final, oh-so-long month, I've been busy catching up and getting ahead. I've got the rest of my pre-parenting to-do list: Pack my hospital bag! Cook and freeze meals for later! Send thank-you notes to all of the wonderful people who've bought our little girl gifts! Organize her clothes dresser, and figure out where to store all those bibs and burp cloths! (Fitting a baby into a Brooklyn one-bedroom is no joke...) 

Meanwhile, I've also been filing my last few freelance assignments before I take a newborn hiatus—as of today, I only have one article revision left on my plate. And then there's that middle-grade book manuscript I've been toiling away on for the past eight-or-so months. I sent the third(ish?) draft to my agent two weeks ago, and I'm waiting with bated breath to find out if she likes what I did to it, based on her prior notes. The hope is that her comments at this point will be minimal, and that I can tackle any further edits before June 18, a.k.a. Due-Date Day—or before the baby decides to show up, whichever comes first. Cross your fingers for me... 

Life is about to change, big-time. I've done my best to be prepared, but I know nothing will ever truly make me ready to hold my daughter for the first time—or to handle all of the firsts that will follow. It's going to be a crazy summer. Wish me and my husband luck! 

(Oh, and as far as the blog goes: there are more prescheduled YA Buccaneers–recycled posts coming your way, but otherwise I have no idea what else I'll have time or energy to post. If you really want updates, probably best to follow me on Twitter or Instagram!) 

See you on the other side of parenthood... :)


Don't Let Laziness Win!

A version of this post originally appeared on the YA Buccaneers group blog. 


Today, I wanted to share something a yoga teacher shared with me. He was talking about yoga practice, but as I was listening to him, I couldn’t help thinking about how applicable his words were to my writing practice, as well. His topic? Avoiding laziness.

Lazy. It’s not a very nice word. None of us wants to think of ourselves as lazy—especially not when it comes to our writing goals! But the way my teacher was talking about it, it was less of a pejorative and more of an obstacle we all have to overcome as we strive to improve. He brought up three types of laziness that can get in the way of a good yoga practice—or writing practice, since that’s what we’re all about here! 


This is the most obvious form of laziness—not mustering the energy or the motivation to get things done. Sitting on the couch watching Netflix instead of writing or revising. Taking a nap during scheduled work time. Is there anything inherently wrong with needing downtime? Of course not. But if sloth is keeping us from meeting our goals, we might need to reassess how hard we’re willing to push ourselves.  


Those of us who are crazy-busy all the time couldn’t possibly be lazy, right? The only reason we aren’t writing as much as we should be is because we simply don’t have enough time. But how much of each busy day is devoted to necessary tasks, and how much to activities that are frivolous? Could we write instead of watching mindless TV or going to yet another happy hour? Could writing be squeezed into a lunch break? Battling this form of laziness is all about setting priorities—if writing is important, we shouldn’t let it be overshadowed by activities that aren’t.


I think writers can relate to this one even more than aspiring yogis. After all, having a hard time achieving a certain yoga pose isn’t quite the same as putting yourself and your writing out there and getting crushing feedback, or dozens of rejections, or bad reviews on a published work. Being a writer can be discouraging, and we all have to learn to cope with the difficult times—and celebrate the successes. So where does laziness factor in? Every time we avoid writing because “No agent will ever want to work with me, anyway,” or because “I’ll never figure out this tough scene, so why bother?” When we let discouragement keep us from trying, that’s a problem.

I left that yoga class truly inspired to work harder. To push the things that should be priorities in my life (including writing, but not only writing!) to their rightful place in my busy schedule. To write even when I’m feeling frustrated or discouraged about my progress. And the more I thought about my teacher’s words, the more I wanted to share them with my fellow writers! I hope thinking about laziness in a new way is as helpful to you as it was to me. 

After all, what's the first rule of writing? Butt in chair.

Now I'm going to take my own advice and get to work. :)


Do You Read Like a Writer?

A version of this post originally appeared on the YA Buccaneers group blog. 


Has being a writer changed how you read? Do you look at words and sentences and plotlines and character arcs differently than you did when you simply read for pleasure?

(Two caveats up front: 1) Obviously, writers can and do and should read for pleasure! 2) I’m not necessarily talking about reading the way your English teachers made you read in high school, mining for symbolism and dissecting a book’s themes from a purely academic standpoint. Unless that’s your thing, in which case, have at it!)

I know that I tend to read differently now than I did before I got serious about my own writing. Reading is a form of inspiration. I look at authors who do such incredible things with words and I want to be like them. It’s also a form of continuing education. I’m constantly on the lookout for that “master class” moment, where an author shows me exactly how something should be done.

How does that play out in my writing life? Here’s an example. With my current manuscript [note: this book became HOW IT FEELS TO FLY], I’ve been struggling with my protagonist’s emotional stakes. The highs haven’t felt high enough and the lows haven’t felt low enough. In layman’s terms, there weren’t enough feels. So I decided to reread Lovely, Dark and Deep by Amy McNamara. This book killed me—in a good way—when I first read it. I felt a deep ache in my chest for the main character, Wren, and her emotional struggles. I cried.

The plot of Lovely, Dark and Deep is nothing like the plot of my current manuscript, but it has those deep emotional moments I felt like my project was missing. So I read it again, looking at how the emotions built to the climactic scenes. I saw how McNamara was often able to show more by withholding speech and action than if she’d filled the page with Wren’s anguish. I felt gutted all over again. And when I went back to my revision, I tried to apply what I’d learned.

The cool thing about this way of reading is that you don’t have to seek out “literature” to pick up writerly skills. If a book makes you laugh or cry, if you cheer for the heroine or swoon over the hero or want to cut off the villain’s head yourself—in short, if you had an honest emotional response to what was happening on the page—you can learn from it.

So here are my challenges to you: The next time you’re reading something—anything—and you think to yourself, Wow, I wish I could do X like this author, or I really admire how this author does Y, jot it down. Keep reading. Keep looking for clues. When you’ve finished enjoying the book, put on your critical thinking cap and start asking why whatever it was that you loved worked so well. Then, file that information away until you need it. I promise, you’ll be so happy when you’re dealing with an issue in your own writing and you realize exactly which of your favorite authors to turn to for advice.

Here’s the part where you jump in. What authors inspire you in specific, writerly ways? Do you read like this, looking for tricks of the trade and skills you can utilize in your own work? Do you have any advice to share that we can all put into practice? Let’s get a discussion going in the comments.

Meanwhile…happy reading! 


Welcome to the Spring 2017 YA Scavenger Hunt!


It's time, once again, for the YA Scavenger Hunt! Are you ready to enter to win lots and lots of books? I thought so! Here's what you need to know: 

Somewhere in this blog post, I've hidden an important number. Collect all of the secret numbers of the authors on TEAM PINK and add them up. (Don't worry—you can use a calculator!) Then, fill out the entry form HEREPeople who have the correct number will be entered to win a copy of every book from TEAM PINK! 

The contest is open internationally. Anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by SUNDAY, APRIL 9, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Find out more about the entire hunt—including what other authors/teams are participating—by visiting the YASH home page

Meet the Author!

This time around, I'm hosting Kim Briggs, author of the STARR FALL series. Kim once smashed into a tree while skiing. The accident led to a concussion, a cracked sternum, temporary notoriety as a sixth grader returned from the dead, and the realization that fictionalized accounts are way more interesting than just slipping on the ice.

An unhealthy obsession with conspiracy theories combined with a love of travel and happily ever afters led Kim to write her YA novel, Starr Fall, which released in November 2016. The second book in the series, Starr Lost, came out in January 2017, and Starr Gone is coming in June 2017—all with Inkspell Publishing. Kim's novella, Avalanche, is part of the Valentine Kisses Anthology and released February 14, 2017.

About Starr Fall: 

On the run from the Organization, Starr never planned on falling in love.

Starr Bishop's the complete package. A perfect smile, brains to match, and a winning attitude. Boys want to date her and girls want to be her. She's the type of girl you want to hate, if only she wasn't so damn likable. But don't worry, she's not interested in your boyfriend. Boys are one complication she can live without.

When the Organization decides she's not only the model student but also the ideal assassin, Starr'll need a lot more than high test scores and extracurricular involvement to get herself out of that commitment. Dark, moody, and dead sexy Christian Evergood is the last person she'd expect—or even want-to come to her rescue. From opposite ends of Webster High's social hierarchy, their lives collide in one electrifying moment. Christian isn't the Goth loner he pretends to be, he's a part Cherokee, All-American boy who wants to be a hero, Starr's hero. Christian makes Starr forget that the Organization is after her, but nothing will stop the Organization from collecting their top recruit.

By the way, the spot for junior class president just became available.

Bonus content: 

Kim's excited to share an excerpt from Book Two, Starr Lost! Enjoy... 




I tried to catch Frank by himself coming into school this morning but that was an epic fail. Between his harem of ex-girlfriends vying for another chance and Little Red attached to his arm, I’ll never catch him alone. Why did Christian ask for him anyway? Mr. Joe Cool Jock is the last person Christian would want to be friends with. Starr’s got to be with him.

I wonder how that’s going. Christian’s always acted as if Starr’s mission in life was to make his existence miserable. A vendetta of sorts. Then I told him what happened to her and he went all Superman.

Oh. My. God. There’s another one of those Jesus Freak grief counselors from that crazy new church in town. Between them and the pigs showing up at school and Beans, I can’t get a moment’s peace.

How the hell do I talk to Mr. Hollywood by himself? Someone like me can’t just go up to Webster’s royal court without violating at least a dozen archaic codes of social interaction, and today is one day I don’t want to draw unwanted attention. Whatever Christian and Starr got themselves into is freakishly colossal, and I won’t be the one to fuck it up.

I follow two basketball knuckle draggers down the hall. I’m almost to homeroom when they split ranks. One lumbers down the stairs to the dungeon—appropriate I know. The other cuts off toward the cafeteria—probably wants to eat a few freshmen in between classes.

Wait a second.

I stop in the middle of the hallway. One person makes the mistake of knocking into me. A claw swipe and a hiss sends the clumsy thumb sucker and the rest of Webster’s peons running for their lives.

I watch the knuckle dragger cut the breakfast line, and it gives me an idea. I rip a flyer off the wall and scribble a message on it. Just as I finish, Mr. Hollywood and Little Red stroll down the hall.

I shove the flyer in his free hand. “Hey, check out this band.”

He winks as he flashes his cheesy smile. I roll my eyes and walk away. We may be on opposite ends of Webster’s social hierarchy, but he never changes.

The morning drags on period after brutal period. Contemporary Issues used to be my favorite class—that is until Starr and Christian disappeared. Now New Lifer Tammy dominates every discussion, including weather updates, with her conservative agenda. I’ve taken to sharpening my fingernails into points. And don’t even get me started about Chemistry with Morris. That should be self-explanatory. Of course, English Lit’s all right. I miss Starr, but One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest sorta reads like my personal memoir.

When the bell finally releases us, we scamper like Pavlov’s dogs to the cafeteria. A few underclassmen fall victim to a well-placed shove as I barrel down the stairs, but no one dares complain. No one wants an up-your-junk meeting with my Docs.

Your next steps...

Still on the YA Scavenger Hunt? There are two things you'll need to move forward. One: My secret number—42. And two: Your next stop on the Hunt. Head to Claire LaZebnik's website for more great book content and goodies! 

And don't forget that somewhere on the TEAM PINK hunt, you'll find bonus content related to my second book, HOW IT FEELS TO FLY, which came out last year.

Oh, and one more thing: ***GIVEAWAYS!***

First, Kim is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card, plus a signed copy of STARR FALL, to one lucky winner! Here's the Rafflecopter: 

Second, I'm excited to give away signed hardcovers of *both* of my books, plus swag, to one winner! Use this Rafflecopter to enter:

Happy Hunting! 


It's the NYC Teen Author Festival!

Welcome to one of my favorite weeks of the year: the NYC Teen Author Festival! Every March, a ton of YA authors from all over the country come together to celebrate our books and talk about things that are important to our readers—and this year, it's the festival's 10th anniversary, which makes it extra special. I've been going to these events since I was in graduate school, aka several years before I was published. The fact that what was once inspiration and aspiration is now part of my professional life makes NYCTAF all the more sweet. 

I will admit, I haven't been as active this week as I have in years past. Pregnancy and a busy schedule have slowed me down a bit. But! Yesterday, I had my first formal event, as part of the annual Big Read. Groups of authors go to schools and libraries all over the city to read from their work and talk to students. My team was sent to Murry Bergtraum High School, which is in lower Manhattan. We spent an hour presenting our books and answering questions from a few different high school English classes—and the kids were fantastic! They listened attentively and had great questions. A few came up to talk to us afterward, and I ended up giving away my author copy of HOW IT FEELS TO FLY to a sophomore who said she'd enjoyed the excerpt I read. Fingers crossed she enjoys the whole book! 

Our Big Read team went out to lunch after leaving the high school. From l-r: Michael Northrop, me, J.J. Howard, Stephanie Kate Strohm, and Tara Crowl. (Not pictured, but also on our team: Sara Mlynowski.)

Our Big Read team went out to lunch after leaving the high school. From l-r: Michael Northrop, me, J.J. Howard, Stephanie Kate Strohm, and Tara Crowl. (Not pictured, but also on our team: Sara Mlynowski.)

Tomorrow, I'll be paneling at the New York Public Library on 42nd Street in Manhattan—yes, that's the one with the stone lions. The entire afternoon is filled with author panels; come from 1-5pm to catch them all! I'm on at 4:10, and my group will be sharing snippets from our childhood/teen writings as well as our newest publications, to show how far we've come. 

Then, on Sunday, I'll be at the festival's mega-signing at Books of Wonder! You can catch me from 1-1:30pm, but authors will be at the bookstore until 4pm. 

Check out the full NYCTAF schedule HERE! And if you end up coming to one of the events, please say hello! 


Welcome to 2017! (Yes, a Bit Late...)

If you're a regular reader of my blog, you may have noticed that I've been on a bit of a hiatus. This wasn't really planned. Life just spiraled away from me a little bit! For several reasons: 

In case you missed it, I'm pregnant! Baby Girl is due in June. So, the past couple months have been chock full of baby prep (picking out items for our registry, apartment-hunting and then deciding to stay where we are after all, rearranging and redecorating our current place...). Not to mention the brain space I'm already losing to baby worries. It's amazing how time-consuming it can be to think and fret and dream about the tiny human growing inside you! 

Also, I have been writing like a madwoman. I have some friends who have had a hard time doing creative work while pregnant; luckily, I have not been in that boat. I've been both inspired and determined to finish a rewrite of an old project before the baby arrives. Last week, I accomplished Goal One on that front: I sent a complete draft to my agent, to get her feedback. If all goes well, I'll do a revision based on her notes and send it back in May. Keep your fingers crossed for me. :)

Those two things together, plus the occasional freelance assignment, have meant I've had very little time for anything else—this blog included. But that doesn't mean I plan to let this space wither away. In the coming months, keep an eye out for sporadic updates from me. I've also got some pre-scheduled posts planned:

  • I'll be participating in the YA Scavenger Hunt in a few weeks. I love this bi-annual event, which showcases tons of Young Adult writers' newest releases and includes So Many Giveaways. Watch this space for a chance to win a ton of books! 
  • At the end of 2016, the YA Buccaneers (the group blog I'd been a part of since 2014) shuttered for good. We had a fantastic run, but we'd all reached the point where we were being pulled in too many different directions to keep the blog running smoothly. The site is still up, for now, so visit to take a trip down memory lane. Meanwhile, I've rescued some of my old posts, and I'll be re-sharing them here in the months ahead. 

I'll leave you with my Word of the Year for 2017. This is something I've done since 2013, instead of writing down a list of New Year's Resolutions. This single word represents my goal for myself for a given year—physically, emotionally, mentally, etc. In 2013, I chose Patience. In 2014: Momentum. In 2015: Gratitude. And in looking back at 2016, it appears that I meant to share a word, and never actually did. Whoops! 

But for 2017, I've had one word at the top of my brain for a while now: 


Why? It's not only thanks to the phrase "Nevertheless, she persisted," which exploded following recent political events. It's also that the past twelve months have brought me a number of near-misses in terms of selling new books. It's easy to feel discouraged without another contract on the horizon. Are the two books that I have on shelves the only two I will ever publish? NO. I will continue to write and write and write. I will create manuscripts that I love, in the hope that someone else will love them just as much as I do. I will PERSIST. Even when the going gets tough. Even when everything in my life is about to change, with a baby on the way. Especially under those conditions. 

Do you have a word that encapsulates this year for you and your creative endeavors? I'd love to hear it! 


2016 Reading Wrap-Up

The end of the year is here, and I promised you one more blog post. Before Christmas, I shared my Top Ten Reads of 2016—check them out if you're looking to lose yourself in a wonderful book! This post's a little more nuts and bolts: I've tallied the final stats from my year-in-reading, and I've made pie charts! Yay, pie charts. 

First things first: my grand total for 2016 is... 93 books! I think that makes this my third most productive reading year ever, after last year (117 books, which will probably never happen again) and 2014 (94 books). Even better than the number: I enjoyed just about everything I read, which means all those hours were completely worth it. 

Here's the breakdown by age level: 

2016 books age breakdown.png

In last year's wrap-up post, I shared that I wanted to read more adult books in 2016. I beat last year's percentage by just a tiny bit, but I don't think I can really count that goal as met. So I'm setting it again for 2017! More adult books. Also, I plan to read a lot more middle-grade, as I dig into revising (and hopefully submitting) a middle-grade manuscript of my own. Expect the chart to be not quite so YA-heavy a year from now. 

Meanwhile, here's the genre breakdown from 2016: 

Last year, I lumped a lot of those smaller categories together, but this year it just didn't seem fair. Obviously, I still read a lot of straight contemporary, but look at what happens if you merge fantasy, historical fantasy, magical realism, and sci-fi! Probably close to a third of what I read this year was "genre" fiction. Maybe I can do even better next year. (That middle-grade manuscript I mentioned above is magical, so I'll need some inspiration...) 

Finally, in an effort to curb my book-buying habits, I returned to my shelves for a lot of rereads this year—16.1%, up from only 6% in 2015: 

Also tallied, but not with a chart: of the 93 books I completed this year, only seven had male authors. Sorry, dudes. It was the ladies' year. 

Do you keep a running list of what you read and how it adds up? Do you use it to help you set goals for the following year? Share in the comments! Meanwhile, I'll be back in January with an update on my blogging plans, and more. 

Happy New Year! 


Top Ten Reads of 2016

The end is near! The end of 2016, that is. 

This has been a year filled with ups and downs (and downs, and downs, and downs...)—but one area that was absolutely overflowing with ups was my reading life. As of writing this post, I've read 88 books since January 1. It's no match for last year's total, but still a pretty respectable sum. The best part: a lot of those books were truly amazing. 

Out of the 88, I picked my top ten for the year for this post. (I will, of course, issue an update if I read another stunner in the next week and a half!) My only eligibility criteria: regardless of year of publication, I had to read this book for the first time in 2016. Rereads of beloved favorites don't count. (Curious about my reread versus new-read ratio, and other 2016 reading stats? I'll be back with one more blog post before the end of the year with all the reading data you love!) 

So without further ado: My Top Ten Reads of 2016! 

This list really does encompass the entire year. ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE was the first book I read in 2016—a strong start!—and I finished THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR in early December. As for demographic, there are two adult books and eight YAs, which is honestly pretty representative of my reading patterns as a whole. And then there's genre: one historical, two (very different) fantasies, one magical realism, and six realistic stories, ranging from happy-ending romance to epic emotional journeys. Not bad! 

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE: A blind French girl and a German boy try to survive the devastation of World War II. Gorgeous prose, and filled with short vignettes that interconnect in surprising ways. 

THE SACRED LIES OF MINNOW BLY: After escaping from the cult that took her childhood and her hands, seventeen-year-old Minnow is in juvenile detention, debating whether to open up to a detective about the circumstances that put her behind bars. 

A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC: There are multiple Londons—grey, red, white, and black—and Kell is one of the only people who can travel between them. In Grey London, Kell meets Delilah Bard, a thief and unlikely ally who convinces him to take her home to Red London with him. Meanwhile, a dark magic is brewing that will threaten each world...

UP TO THIS POINTE: An unexpected letdown sends ballet dancer Harper fleeing to Antarctica's McMurdo Station, where she comes to terms with her past and begins embracing her future during a cold, dark winter. 

THE SERPENT KING: Three outcasts in rural Tennessee—the son of a disgraced snake-handling preacher, an ambitious teen fashion blogger, and an epic fantasy nerd—face senior year together. Warning: this one's a tear-jerker. 

CHALLENGER DEEP: A before-and-after-and-during story about a high-schooler's descent into mental illness, where nothing is really as it seems. This is a compelling and harrowing portrayal of schizophrenia through the eyes of a person experiencing it in real time. 

ROCKS FALL, EVERYONE DIES: Aspen Quick is part of a magical family that prevents the cliff that overhangs his small town from falling. Aspen also has the ability to steal things from people: memories, emotions, scars. In one summer, he'll learn the uncomfortable truths about his family and his gift. 

GEORGIA PEACHES & OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT: When Joanna's radio evangelist father remarries and moves the family from Atlanta to a small north Georgia town, Joanna agrees to keep her sexuality a secret in exchange for her own radio show about teens and faith. Then, she meets a girl...

WHEN THE MOON WAS OURS: Miel grows roses from her wrists. Sam paints moons to hang in the trees. Together, they hide secrets about their respective pasts. Over the course of this lushly written, magical book, they each make peace with who they really are—and who they love. 

THE SUN IS ALSO A STAR: It's Natasha's last day in the United States: she's being deported to Jamaica. It's the day that's supposed to launch Daniel's future: he's interviewing for a college program his Korean parents want more than he does. Natasha doesn't believe in love. Daniel's a romantic and a poet. In one New York City day, they find and fall for each other. 

What were your favorite reads of 2016? Share in the comments! 


Friday Five: Mid-October Fun Times's been quite some time since I did a Friday Five. But I have good reason for my delinquency! I have been busy, busy, busy. Here are just a few of the things that have kept me from blogging...

1) I sent my latest manuscript revision to my agent on Monday! I've been hard at work on this draft since getting her notes in August, making a lot of changes that I think have made the book significantly stronger. I've got my fingers crossed that my agent agrees... :) 

2) One of the reasons I wasn't around in September was that I had an overwhelming amount of freelance work, on top of the manuscript revision I mentioned above. But! On September 30, I concluded my contract with one of my freelance jobs. Since October 1, I have had twice as much time to devote to my fiction, and that has been a genuine pleasure. 

3) Speaking of October 1... I had a birthday! Hello, 34. 

4) I shared on Twitter the other day that I hadn't been reading much while I was deep in revision-land. That said, I did read a few spectacular books over the past couple weeks! Here are three realistic YAs I have to recommend: 

Two sweet love stories (GEORGIA PEACHES and MY UNSCRIPTED LIFE) and one bittersweet love story (SUFFER LOVE). So you can tell what kinds of stories I've been in the mood for lately!  

5) I don't think I've mentioned on here that I've fallen hard for "Jane the Virgin." In particular, I want Rogelio de la Vega to hang out in my vicinity, hashtagging things. (#RogelioMyBrogelio) If you're looking for a charming, funny, sometimes-ridiculous telenovela with plenty of heart and depth, the first two seasons are on Netflix. 

That's all for now...what's up with you? 


Welcome to the Fall 2016 YA Scavenger Hunt!

Who's ready to enter to win a TON of books? 

That's right—it's YA Scavenger Hunt time yet again. Interested in participating? Here's what you need to know: 

Somewhere in this blog post, I've hidden an important number. Collect all of the secret numbers of the authors on TEAM ORANGE and add them up. (Don't worry—you can use a calculator!) Then, fill out the entry form HEREPeople who have the correct number will be entered to win a copy of every book from TEAM ORANGE! 

The contest is open internationally. Anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Find out more about the entire hunt—including what other authors/teams are participating—by visiting the YASH home page

So without further ado...

For this hunt, I'm hosting author Gina Damico, whose new book WAX just released in August. 

Gina Damico grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. She has since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker and breadmonger. She is the author of the grim-reapers-gone-wild books of the Croak trilogy (CROAK, SCORCH, and ROGUE), HELLHOLE, WAX and the upcoming WASTE OF SPACE (2017), all published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers. She lives in California with her husband, two cats, one dog, and and obscene amount of weird things purchased at yard sales. 

About WAX: 

Paraffin, Vermont, is known the world over as home to the Grosholtz Candle Factory. But behind the sunny retail space bursting with overwhelming scents and homemade fudge, seventeen-year-old Poppy Palladino discovers something dark and unsettling: a back room filled with dozens of startlingly life-like wax sculptures, crafted by one very strange old lady. Poppy hightails it home, only to be shocked when one of the figures—a teenage boy who doesn’t seem to know what he is—jumps naked and screaming out of the trunk of her car. She tries to return him to the candle factory, but before she can, a fire destroys the mysterious workshop—and the old woman is nowhere to be seen.

With the help of the wax boy, who answers to the name Dud, Poppy resolves to find out who was behind the fire. But in the course of her investigation, she discovers that things in Paraffin aren’t always as they seem, that the Grosholtz Candle Factory isn’t as pure as its reputation—and that some of the townspeople she’s known her entire life may not be as human as they once were. In fact, they’re starting to look a little . . . waxy. Can Poppy and Dud extinguish the evil that’s taking hold of their town before it’s too late?

Oooh...sounds super creepy!

Here's Gina's bonus content:

A note from Gina: This is a deleted scene from somewhere around the beginning of WAX. Poppy has just left a party where she was the victim of a humiliating prank – that part is still in the book, but this part was cut because the character was later cut. Enjoy!

And that wasn’t even the end of it. It was only the end of the humiliation portion of the evening; the weird-ass, what-in-the-hell portion had just begun. The one she would never tell another soul about.
For as she flailed down the suburban, poorly-lit street, wet and half-naked and wanting nothing more than to burrow under her covers and never come out again, a voice called out to her.
Poppy was an intelligent girl. Even in her state of extreme distress, she knew better than to stop and converse with a dark, creepy stranger emerging from the shadows. But something in that voice made her involuntarily pause, literally stopped her in her tracks.
In that one simply syllable: a world of fear. Embedded deep within the man’s baritone, a gritty, scratching rasp. An alien, unknown element that she’d never heard before. Something that had no business being in a human voice. Feedback on a hot microphone. A scientifically impossible sound wave. The screech of an ancient sea monster bubbling up to the surface.
Poppy stayed absolutely still.
The man stepped into the light of a streetlamp. He was ragged and mangy, like a feral dog. Long, greasy hair hung in front of his face. His clothes sagged from his bones. He walked with an odd gait, as if limping on a bad foot. When he got close enough to Poppy—and she let him get close, against her will, as if she’d lost the power to move—she could smell his stale, putrid breath puffing onto her tear-stained face.
She looked up into his eyes—again, not because she chose to—and cringed at the cold, unfeeling orbs looking back at her. The one on the left had a scar next to it, a pale, crescent-shaped gash framing the corner. Later she would remember that they were all black, no whites in them at all, though that could have just been a trick of the light. But what happened next was no trick. She was sure it happened, sure as she’d ever been about anything.
He asked her about the weather.
“Is it going to rain tonight?” he rasped. The aberration was still there in his voice, that staticky undercurrent.
“I don’t think so,” Poppy answered, surprised at how calm she sounded. She did not feel calm.
“Still hot tomorrow? More sun?”
“Yeah. The heat wave is supposed to break next week, I think.”
He gave his head a violent shake, upset by her answer. “That won’t work,” he growled to himself.
And even though Poppy was the one who looked like a drowned lemur, she found herself blurting, “Are you all right?”
The man didn’t answer. He stared at her, curious, cocking his head, as if deciding whether he should unhinge his jaw and devour her whole. Something flashed on his chest—a silver chain around his neck, glinting in the moonlight.
With that, he turned and retreated into the woods, shadows shuddering as he walked through the brush.
That should have been the end of it, but Poppy was still under his spell. Maybe it was the insanity that had come before. Maybe he looked like she felt. Maybe it was the whole To Kill A Mockingbird theme running through the evening and the bizarre thought that this man was her Boo Radley. Whatever it was, Poppy would never be able to figure out what compelled her to shout after him, “What’s your name?”
The shadows trembled.
The woods went silent.
She never saw him again.

Your next steps:  

Still on the YA Scavenger Hunt? There are two things you'll need to move forward. One: My secret number—34. And two: Your next stop on the Hunt. Head to Jeff Garvin's website for more great book content and goodies! 

And don't forget that somewhere on the TEAM ORANGE hunt, you'll find a deleted scene from my new book, HOW IT FEELS TO FLY, which came out June 14. Interested in an additional chance to win a copy, as well as some book swag? Check out the Rafflecopter below!  

Happy Hunting! 


Friday Five: The Returned-From-Awesome-Travels Edition

I'm back at my desk today after nine days away, and it's so nice to be sitting here with my coffee and my manuscript and my usual to-do list. Don't get me wrong—the time away was fantastic! But nine days on the road is a lot. For today's Friday Five, I thought I'd give a little recap of my travels, because as I said, it's been a blast. 

1) Last Wednesday, my husband and I flew to North Carolina to meet his family at the Outer Banks. It's our third year renting a beach house there, and this year was by far the most relaxing. I sat on the beach and jumped around in the waves and got some reading done and tanned a tiny, tiny bit...and even got in a couple hours of revision, with a nice view. When I was younger, beach vacations weren't my favorite. Now, I love the sand between my toes and the sound of the waves. (I've also learned how to sunscreen for optimal protection, making it less likely I'll end up as a lobster...) Plus, spending time with family is always a good thing! 

2) Duck Donuts, y'all. One of my favorite things about heading to the Outer Banks is this (now not-so-local) donut chain. They make them fresh on demand, literally churning out warm cakes and topping them with your choice of glazes and extras. While I am normally a chocolate person, at Duck Donuts I am addicted to their maple-bacon option. Seriously. To die for. 

3) After leaving the beach, my husband and I drove to Raleigh, where we enjoyed a relaxing day and a half before he had to head back to NYC. We ate some amazing food (if you're in the area, don't miss Angus Barn and Relish Cafe & Bar) and—hope he's not mad at me for sharing this—even got side-by-side pedicures. 

4) I continued solo to Asheville, where I had my first of two book events! I was lucky to get to panel with Jaye Robin Brown, Lauren Gibaldi, Ashley Herring Blake, and Amy Reed at Malaprop's, a beloved independent bookstore downtown, and the event went great. We were celebrating the release of Jaye's second book, GEORGIA PEACHES & OTHER FORBIDDEN FRUIT, which I can't wait to read! 

5) Our second panel was in Greenville, South Carolina, at Fiction Addiction—and it was extra fun because the audience included several fellow YA authors. Afterward, a bunch of us went out for Mexican food—and plenty of publishing gossip. Get a bunch of writers together and we'll book-talk for ages... Oh, and I have to give a shout-out to Lauren Gibaldi, for being an excellent travel buddy. We had so much fun exploring Asheville and Greenville together. :) 

What's been going on in your world? Can you believe it's already September?!?!


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: What a Long, Strange Week (Couple of Weeks...) It's Been

It can feel strange to celebrate anything personal when there's bad or scary news all over the world. But maybe when things feel uncertain or crazy, that's actually a good time to celebrate small victories and joys. So here's my Friday Five, encompassing the past two weeks! 

1) Yeah, book came out! HOW IT FEELS TO FLY is officially on shelves, and I couldn't be happier. It seems to be finding readers and getting a generally positive response—and hopefully the momentum will only build from here. Also, this past Tuesday I had my launch party at Books of Wonder, alongside authors Caela Carter (Tumbling) and Jennifer Castle (What Happens Now), and it went so well. We had a great panel conversation—here we are chatting about our books and our writing process. Can't wait to do more of these events and meet more readers. 

2) My wonderful sister was here to celebrate the book launch with me! It's always a pleasure to have her visit and catch up on sister-bonding time. Love you, Mary-Owen! :) 

3) I love seeing friends I don't see that often, and I love meeting their adorable babies, and in the past week I got to do both: first at a Prospect Park meetup with my grad school crew (two of whom now have baby girls) and then at my Books of Wonder party. (Not to mention all the book-world friends I've gotten to hang with at the other panels and events I've attended recently—June has been such a packed book month!) 

4) On Saturday night, my husband, sister, and I went to the Broadway musical Waitress, which is based on the 2007 movie of the same name. The show was so lovely, and I can't stop singing/humming the songs. Two thumbs way up! 

5) Last week I read my grad school friend Mia Garcia's debut YA novel, EVEN IF THE SKY FALLS, and I just loved it. It's a 24-hour whirlwind romance set in New Orleans during midsummer Mardi Gras, with a hurricane on the horizon. But it's not all about the swoons (of which there are many!). Protagonist Julie is in New Orleans on a Habitat for Humanity–style youth group trip, hoping to take a break from the mess of her life back home. When she ditches her group and heads off into the city by herself, she meets Miles, a charismatic musician with family/home life problems of his own. They agree not to share real names or baggage and embark on one of the most charming not-really-a-date first dates I've read in a while. This book made me smile, but it also had moments that were really wrenching and real. More Mia books, please! 

What are you happy about this week?