Hello friends,

Exciting news! My first YA novel – Out at Home – is now available on Amazon as an ebook!

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The book’s description is thus:
“This young adult novel combines gay themes with sports and high school relationships.

Caleb Hanson and his newly single mom pack up their car and drive from the only home he’s ever known in New York City to his uncle’s house in middle-of-nowhere Kentucky. In NYC, Caleb was the star pitcher of his high school’s baseball team and openly fooled around with his best friend, Jackson.

In Kentucky, Caleb opts to stay in the closet, but is forced to sit the bench because the Bullfrogs’ roster is already full. When Caleb is paired up with Danny Thompson, the team’s distractingly attractive catcher, to throw batting practice, Caleb realizes that being stuck in small-town America might have some perks after all.

Something clicks between the boys, though their newfound friendship is soon challenged when signs are misread and accusations are made. Caleb and Danny rely on each other to work through their insecurities and find themselves growing closer on and off the field. But will small-minded teammates and the pressures of being someone other people expect you to be be enough to break Caleb and Danny’s burgeoning relationship, or can their love of the game take them and the Bullfrogs to another State Championship?”

(I LOVE BASEBALL, OKAY?)

Here is the link to Amazon, should you want to give it a gander 🙂

Feel free to share the link with your friends, family, neighbors, bank tellers, etc!

And if you happen to read the book, I would be beyond appreciative if you could leave a comment/review on the Amazon page! Reviews and Word of Mouth are going to be the best way for the book to gain any sort of exposure. A huge Thank You to my family and friends who have already ordered the book. Even though I’m bonkers nervous for people I know to read it, I am wholly humbled by the love and support I have received so far. This is legitimately a dream come true for me.

I really loved writing this and have outlined a sequel should anyone ever be interested in it 🙂 In the meantime, I’m presently working on another YA book and am about 1/2 way done with that.

If you have any questions/comments/concerns, please let me know!

And if you are interested, here’s a link to the Facebook page I started for me and the book 🙂

Have a fantastic day!

-Katie

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Wow, so I didn’t realize that I’ve read 15 YA books in the last month and a half… Some of them were really great and some of them were just plain awful. As I look ahead to the next book I’m planning on writing, I’m actively trying to read more books with a female protagonist. There are also some authors who I’ve grown attached too over the past few months, so I’ve been trying to read more of their work too.

Here’s my thoughts on what I’ve been reading:

Shine – Lauren Myracle – This book is about a hate crime in rural America. A young gay man is attacked at a gas station and his former BFF tries to piece together who did it because she feels the cops aren’t doing enough. It’s one of several books I’ve read recently where the female protagonist is a survivor of physical assault. I’m always interested to read how other girls (even fictional ones) deal with that. The book spans only a couple weeks. I like condensed time lines like that – I feel it offers a sense of urgency to solve the crime. This was a good book and I’m glad I finally read it. (I had checked it out of the library once before but had returned it before even cracking it open.)

Out of the Pocket – Bill Konigsberg – I wanted to read this book for months and I finally tracked down a copy! I’ve read one of Konigsberg’s other books (Openly Straight) and liked it a lot, but was desperate to read this one because it dealt with a gay high school football player. While I’m not a fan of football, I was eager to read this since my book is also about a gay high school sports player (baseball, though) and I thought this book would be educational to read. I like Konigsberg’s writing style and thought the story was engaging.

The Boy on the Bridge – Natalie Standiford – I was so disappointed while I was reading this book. I read Standiford’s How to Say Goodbye in Robot and LOVED it, but this book was the complete opposite of that… I hated it. And wished I could unread it or at least get those couple hours of my life back. The most disappointing aspect of the story was how the female protagonist was basically throwing away her education and her time in Russia for some boy she really didn’t know that well. What they had did not come across as love and it was frustrating as a reader to read page after page of this girl making a string of stupid and irresponsible decisions. I would put this female protagonist right up there with Bella Swan as terrible literary characters that little girls should never aspire to be.

Break – Hannah Moskowitz – I’ve read a few other books by Moskowitz, but I think this was her debut novel. It was about a boy who was determined to break every bone in his body so that they would grow back stronger. He had a really troubled home life (in that his younger brother was pretty much allergic to everything, and there was a crying baby around all the time, and his parents weren’t all that with it all the time) and his friend was an enabler with him wanting to break himself. It was really disturbing to read the thought process of this kid, because you just wanted to reach through the page and demand that he stop hurting himself.

Ask the Passengers – A.S. King – This book was about a high school girl coming to terms with her sexuality. (She was in a relationship with a girl she worked with at a catering company.) There was definitely more to the story than just that, but what I took away from this was how I really enjoy King’s writing. I’ve read a few of her books by now and they are good reads.

Boyfriends with Girlfriends – Alex Sanchez – This was another book I wish I could unread. I don’t get how people praise Sanchez’s writing because I feel he writes down to his intended audience and the end result is immature, silly and insulting. I get that this book was trying to open up people’s eyes about bisexuality and gender fluidity, but I could not get over how awful the dialogue was and how immature the descriptions of sex were. Also, his characters giggled a lot. Like, “tee hee” was written across more than several pages. The thing is, Sanchez is very well published within the LGBTQ YA genre. This was the second book of his that I’ve read. And while I thought The God Box was okay, I thought this was just plain bad. And I hate to write that because I fear someone will someday say that about my book… but I honestly was wondering how he justified writing the book the way he did. High school kids don’t talk like that. They just don’t.

Marly’s Ghost – David Levithan – This was my palette cleanser after the Sanchez fiasco. A modern retelling of A Christmas Carol, Marly’s Ghost is about a young man mourning the death of his girlfriend. Her ghost comes to visit him around Valentine’s Day and says that he’ll be visited by three ghosts. The boy overcomes his Bah Humbug feelings about the holiday that’s meant to celebrate love and finds that he can and will love again. It wasn’t a real head-scratcher, nor was it on par with some of his other books, but I enjoyed it. This was a very quick read.

The Sky is Everywhere – Jandy Nelson – A high school girl’s older sister died and she and her extended family that she lives with are in mourning. During this time, she gets closer to her dead sister’s boyfriend, as well as the new boy in town who just started up at her school. It’s easy to see why both guys are attractive – one helps her remember her sister, while the other is a new distraction from it all. There was a lot of poetry in this book (as the protagonist was prone to writing prose on anything she could get her hands on), but I thought it added rather than detracted from the main focus of the book.

Please Ignore Vera Dietz – A.S. King – A high school girl’s former BFF died and she’s the only person who knows the truth about his death, though she doesn’t tell anyone for a long while. She lives with her dad (as her young mother ditched them when Vera turned 12) and they don’t relate super well with each other (although they do love each other). Vera gets a bit self-destructive at times, but she eventually comes clean about everything. Again, I just really dig King’s writing style.

You are Here – Jennifer E. Smith – I LOVED THIS BOOK. I just really wish the cover reflected the characters better. (The cover has two obscenely attractive high school students sitting on/leaning on a car, whereas the kids in the book are much more normal/dorky than that. I’m sorry, but if the book describes the boy as bespectacled and with a bad haircut, don’t put some glasses-less Abercrombie looking dude on the front cover. I almost didn’t pick this book up because I thought it was about attractive teen runaways.) I forget the characters’ names, but the main girl finds out that she had a twin brother who died days after they were born, so she decides she’s going to steal her older brother’s car and drive from NY to NC to see her dead brother’s grave. When the car breaks down, she calls the quiet neighbor boy (Patrick! I think…) and he runs away from home to go with her on her journey. His stipulation for going is that they stop at some historical landmarks along the way. The two teens were friendly with each other, but were never really friends. During their trip, they find out a lot about each other and themselves. I thought this book was really well written and I cared dearly for these characters (especially the boy) as they made their way to NC. I would gladly read this again someday.

Being Friends With Boys – Terra Elan McVoy – I was intrigued because this book was about a high school girl who managed her guy friends’ band, but then it turned into a drama-fest about, well, being friends with boys. I liked that the protagonist was depicted as an average girl (like, she wasn’t super skinny or flawlessly beautiful), but I did not like how the book went on and on about her feelings for a couple guys, but then in the last couple chapters it’s all “hold the phone, I’m madly in love with this guy who I haven’t really talked about since the first third of the book.” It was an okay read, but I’m not racing out to read anything else by this author.

Dying to Know You – Aidan Chambers – Another book that I loved, but the cover (and title) was completely misleading. The cover had two goldfish on it… which really had not much to do with the book being about an 18-year-old plumber befriending an elderly writer and how their friendship grew while the writer was trying to help the plumber write about himself to appease his girlfriend. The book was charming and the main character was the writer – which was a little odd for a YA book, but I dug it nonetheless.

Lauren Yanofsky Hates the Holocaust – Leanne Liberman – This book had been staring me in the face every time I go to the library and peruse the Ls for more David Levithan books. I am fascinated by the Holocaust, so I bit. It wasn’t a bad book. It was about a Jewish girl who basically was sick of hearing about the Holocaust and decided to renounce her Jewish-ness. However, she found she was unable to do that when a group of guys from her school (including her crush) were joking around and pretending they were Nazis. The overarching themes of cultural respect and self-acceptance were good.

Speak – Laurie Halse Anderson – Taking place over the course of a school year, the protagonist continues to close in on herself as her peers continue to blame her for calling the cops at a party. The truth is something terrible happened to her at said party, but no one else knows. She finally finds her voice (through words and art) and gets the confidence to stand up for herself. This book was really powerful on a personal level because of the subject matter. While i did not experience the same kind of assault as the protagonist, we were the same age when it happened. I wanted her to speak up so badly, but at the same time I understand why she didn’t. This was a good read and I’m looking forward to reading more books from the same author.

This is What Happiness Looks Like – Jennifer E. Smith – I liked the premise of this book. A teenage movie star accidentally emails a teenage girl about his pet pig (because he misspelled the email address he was actually trying to reach). They befriend each other online and email back and forth for awhile when he decides to shoot his next movie in her town and meet her in person. Drama and teenage feels ensue, but it wasn’t cheesy (even though it easily could have been). I liked Smith’s other book better, but I’m definitely keeping my eye out for more of her stuff. She’s really great at writing description and it makes me jealous.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been reading. Most of it was good. Some of it was not.

I’m still working on my book! I finished a major round of edits yesterday. I will be looking into literary agents in the coming weeks to try and get that process rolling. Some days I’m really confident in what I wrote. Others I am not. Of the friends who I sent the first draft, four of them gave me some really useful notes, which I did take into consideration as I edited. I know the book still needs some help, but it is coming along.

(I also went to a few theater shows in the past few weeks, but I’ll write that up in another post a little later.)

If you have any book recommendations, let me know!! I’m always reading 🙂

I am so behind on updates here. I’ve seen several Broadway/theater shows and have read a bunch of books. This will be a books post and I’ll work on a theater post next week (since I’m seeing two more shows this weekend… WHAT?! Yep. I love me some theater.).

So, without further ado… here’s what I’ve been reading since my last book post.

I am J – by Cris Beam – This is the first book I’ve ever read about a transgendered teen and it was a good read. The protagonist J was born in the body of a girl but identified as male and was eager to start on testosterone. It was very interesting to read how he dealt with internal and external conflicts. Though I cannot wholly identify with J, I was grateful to have a little glimpse into his world.

Every Day – by David Levithan – This book almost broke me. It’s about A, a person who spends every day of his/her life in the body of someone else. A does not identify as male or female, but during the few weeks this book covers in A’s life, A falls for the girlfriend of a boy whose body he inhabits one day. It was cool to read about how A dealt with the similarities and differences of the day to day lives of others and how s/he has had to experience other people’s lives without any prior knowledge of their pasts. (A can access memories/habits/allergies, but it’s not an instant thing all the time.) I am a fan of Levithan’s work and this book in particular was both a pleasure and a pain to read. I was craving some closure at the end but it never came. I’d like to read this again some day.

One in Every Crowd – by Ivan E. Coyote – This was a collection of Coyote’s autobiographical short stories. Coyote is a queer author and her stories covered her childhood into adulthood. Her being queer was not the main focus, but that aspect of her life definitely colored all of the entries in the book. I liked her writing style, but her stories seemed repetitious to me and I found myself skimming through some of them. Though I was not a huge fan of this book, it was inspiring to read because it reminded me of the book of autobiographical short stories I wanted to write.

The Lover’s Dictionary – by David Levithan – This wasn’t really a novel, per se, but an actual dictionary of words (A-Z) that dealt with relationships and for each word, there were some sentences or a couple paragraphs that gave a story example of the word in relation to the author’s own relationship. This was a super quick read, but a very powerful one at that. This will eventually end up on my massive book shelf once I get my own place. A must-read. Trust me.

Invisibility – by Andrea Cremer and David Levithan – Um, no. Just… no. This book was a story about an invisible boy (his mom was cursed by her father) and the one girl who can see him. Their 16-yr-old selves start getting all swoony on each other, her little brother is gay, and there’s spell-seekers and spell-casters. I wanted to not finish reading this because I kept stopping to belittle myself for starting it to begin with. But, David Levithan’s name was attached to it, so I read. I will never compromise myself like this again if I can help it. It was a silly book and did not offer me any sort of inspiration or joy as I read it.

An Abundance of Katherines – by John Green – WHY do I keep reading John Green books? I wholly disliked the protagonist and thought the whole thing was rather pretentious. I am not on the John Green bandwagon (sorry, not sorry). I do like his writing style, but I rarely like the characters, which leads to a usually frustrating reading experience (see also: Paper Towns). Plus, you can only read the words “Jew-fro” and “man boobs” so many times before you want to throw the book across the room. Why did he date so many people named Katherine? Or, rather, why would so many girls named Katherine date this boy? He seemed like a jerk.

Leave Myself Behind – by Bart Yates – I LOVED this book. I had zero expectations and no prior knowledge of what this book was about, but it was on some list I had and it was at the library, so I snatched it up and then read it in a couple days because I could not put it down. I liked this protagonist – he wasn’t a perfect kid, but he was so well written. I felt bad about why his mom was a little off (family drama… yikes), but liked their relationship. And thought it’s cliché, I like it when the main character falls for the neighbor boy.

Love, Football, and Other Contact Sports – by Alden R. Carter – Ugh. I did not like this book of short stories. Not only was it all about football (ew), but I just didn’t care about any of the characters. I skimmed the back half of the book. No me gusta.

Reality Boy – by A.S. King – This was an interesting read. It was about a boy whose family was on a reality nanny show when he was five years old. The book takes place when he’s 16, so it’s very much the aftermath of his 15 minutes of fame and how being on that reality show basically ruined his family life and left him as an outlier among his peers. Though I could have done without all the poop references (the kid would crap on tables, in shoes, etc… when he was on the reality show and was then nicknamed “Crapper”), I liked the book on a whole and was very glad I picked it up.

The F-It List – by Julie Halpern – The premise of this book was good – a girl’s best friend gets cancer and she agrees to help her cancer friend complete items on her Bucket List (which they rename the “fuck-it list”). But, that bucket list was not the main focus of the book… no, instead the female protagonist gets all moody and thinks about hooking up with some mysterious/weirdo kid at her school. The best friend with cancer plot line is omnipresent, but only because the protagonist keeps bringing it up as an after thought to her passive-aggressive bit she keeps doing with the guy she obviously wants to date but instead keeps pushing him away because she’s a bitch. (Yep, I said it. I’m a girl, so I can say things like that.) The protagonist was selfish. For pretty much the whole book. Selfish. And that really bothered me.

Nothing Pink – by Mark Hardy – This was a quick read, but a good one. It was about a gay boy whose parents/family were heavily involved in the church (and they think homosexuality is a sin). It was interesting to read about his relationship with God/the church juxtaposed against his parents’ opinions about his sexuality. I probably don’t ever need to read this again, but I was glad I picked it up from the library.

Happy Families – by Tanita S. Davis – Another book about a transgendered person, but this time it was the father of 16-yr-old twins. The twins were not very open to the thought of their father wanting to live as a woman. I don’t know if I was supposed to feel bad for the kids, because I did not. I thought they were brats. This was a decent read, but I was mostly disappointed in the main characters.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – by Mark Haddon – Oh my goodness, read this book! I knew this was adapted into a play and will open on Broadway later this year, so I wanted to read it before I saw the play and I’m so glad I did. What a great book! It’s about a 15-yr-old autistic boy (he’s a math savant) who finds his neighbor’s dog dead and he decides to figure out who murdered it. Along the way, there are some huge revelations about his parents and the neighbors and it’s an awful lot for him to take in. I found myself identifying a lot with Christopher and really felt for him when he was having trouble reading people, when his routines were disrupted and how he coped with trying to calm himself down.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been reading the past few weeks. I just got an email from the library saying a book I’ve wanted to read for awhile now is ready for me to pick up, so I’m super excited to start that tomorrow.

With all the reading I’ve been doing, I’ve still been writing my own book. I’m in the middle of writing Chapter 28 and have a few more chapters left to go. The past couple chapters have been really draining to write because of the subject matter (spoiler alert – one of my characters is the survivor of a hate crime). But, it’s onwards and upwards from now on. I’m giving these guys a happy ending, dammit.

Have you read any good books lately? I’m always looking for suggestions!

So, I haven’t posted on here in forever. But I have finished reading a few books over the past few weeks and have a few recommendations among them.

 

I think the last time I made a post about books I was reading Stick, so I’ll start with that…

 

Stick – by Andrew Smith – This book about Stick (real name “Stark”) and his older, gay brother Bosten was an enjoyable read. It wasn’t a super happy read (their home life was terrible), but it was enjoyable nonetheless. I wanted to give most of the characters hugs. I liked that it was mostly about a sibling relationship, and brothers at that. I am drawn to stories about boys/men dealing with emotional stuff and having to talk about it with other boys/men. Man feelings. Can you dig it?

 

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares – by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn – I very much enjoyed the premise of this book. Lily and Dash communicate via a shared notebook and they make each other go on little adventures. It was a friendship story where people were friends through the written word before meeting in person. (Of course it develops into a story about teens liking each other, because that’s how these things take shape…) I loved this book until I really didn’t. It took a really strange (re: wholly silly/unbelievable) plot turn toward the end and took me out of the magical cuteness that the story had been up until that point. I don’t like when things get silly. I don’t feel it advances the plot and it actually is quite insulting. As a reader, I don’t like it when the author (or authors, in this case) takes the story on a route that pulls you completely out of the book. I honestly stopped reading at one point, shut the book and heaved a heavy sigh of disgust. I still liked this book (for the most part), I just wish it would have taken a better route to get to the ending.

 

Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List – by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn – This is the first thing (co-)written by David Levithan that I hated. I couldn’t wait to finish the book because I needed to return it to the library as soon as humanly possible. I could not stand the female protagonist and her immaturity. Naomi (straight high school girl) was basically madly in love with her gay guy BFF Ely and she kept getting mad at him for not returning the feelings (and for kissing her boyfriend, who turned out to be gay). It’s frustrating to read about characters who are best friends even though one of them is a kind of terrible/selfish/ignorant person. I liked Ely for the most part, but even he got on my nerves. I do not recommend this book. I just… ugh.

 

Maurice – by E.M. Forster – I’ve seen just about every E.M. Forster film adaptation except for Maurice, so I was very keen to track down this book and read that before I ultimately track down the film. It was interesting to read about the relationship between two guys set in the early 1900s, but heartbreaking at the same time. I admit that I skimmed the last half of the book (it was due at the library the following day and couldn’t be renewed), but I got the general gist of it. It was a good read and I really do want to see the movie.

 

Gone, Gone, Gone – by Hannah Moskowitz – This book is about a gay teen named Craig who is living near DC post-9/11 (when all the sniper stuff was going on). Someone broke into his house and all his pets ran away. Also, his ex-boyfriend’s father died in 9/11 and was now at some mental institution. Craig falls hard for a new kid, Lio (he was a cancer kid and his twin brother died when they were younger). So, basically a lot of drama on top of even more drama. Oh, and these boys love each other after a few weeks/months. Do 15-year-olds really fall in love like this? Every time I read a YA book and the 13-16 year old characters go on and on and on about falling in love, I’m like, “Really?” I think back to when I was in middle school and early high school. I wasn’t in love with anyone. I had massive crushes on people, yes, but even then I knew I wasn’t mature enough to be in love. So when I read all these books about kids falling in love, I wonder if I just missed out on something early on, or if I’m supposed to suspend disbelief because everyone just loves reading about people being in love. (For the record, the book I’m writing is about high school juniors and though they like each other an awful lot, they are not going to profess their love for each other because they’ve known each other for, like, two months.) I thought this book was a little too heavy on the drama, but I liked Moskowitz’s writing style and decided if I came across any more of her books, I’d give them a whirl.

 

When Love Comes to Town – by Tom Lennon – I pulled this book off the shelf at the library because the spine was the hands of two guys clasped. I was pleased to see that once I got the book off the shelf, the book front and back had the two guys – just two dudes wearing plaid shirts and jeans holding hands. Adorable. The book itself was a little less adorable, but really interesting. It was about this gay high school senior named Neil who knew he was gay since he was about 10 or 11, but was scared to come out because it was Ireland in the early 90s. Throughout the book he told some people and tried to embrace his identity. He went to a gay bar, he chatted up and befriended some other gay guys, and he finally told his parents he was gay. His story had obvious ups and downs and I just kept asking “But what about Ian?” as Neil found himself falling for a guy named Shane even though Ian from school was the better choice of who he should be with. I liked this book a lot and it was really cool to read an Irish book about LGBT youth.

 

Marco Impossible – by Hannah Moskowitz – See, told you I’d read more of her books if I found them. The premise of this book was kind of cheeseball – 13-year-old Marco and his sidekick/BFF Stephen were going to break into the high school prom so Marco could confess his love to Benji, who was on his way back to England for the summer. (Again – 13-year-olds in love?)  Though I balked at the premise, I actually enjoyed the book. It was cool to read about Marco and Stephen’s friendship and how Marco being gay was not a big deal but a very big deal at the same time. Straight Stephen was mad that Marco was going to a different high school than him come the fall, but during their night of shenanigans in order to get Marco into that prom, Stephen finally pieces together that Marco has a target on his back at all times because he’s gay and he’s not safe because some of the other kids are out to get him. Reading about hate crimes makes me sad. I mean, I got picked on in school for being a bit of a nerd, but little Marco gets his locker bashed in and death threats because he likes boys. You legitimately worry that Marco’s plan to publicly proclaim his love for Benji is a fatal trainwreck just waiting to happen, but you still want to watch it happen because maybe, just maybe, it won’t turn out as bad as you think it probably will. I liked this better than Gone, Gone, Gone because there was a healthy dose of comedy surrounding the more serious moments.

 

The Death Cure – by James Dashner – This is the prequel to the Maze Runner trilogy and I haven’t finished reading it yet. I actually started reading this after Gone, Gone, Gone but I find it so boring that I put it down and read the other books instead. It’s due at the library this week and I don’t feel like renewing it, but I will try to finish reading it even though I am really not liking it. I thought it was going to be about Thomas and Theresa pre-Maze, but it’s not. It’s about characters I don’t really care about thirteen years before The Maze Runner takes place. I’m maybe 11 or 12 chapters in so far and I’m very underwhelmed by the writing and the plot. I honestly wish I hadn’t started reading this, but I feel obligated to finish it. Once I finish it, I have two newer David Levithan books waiting for me.

 

So, yeah… this is what I’ve been reading the past few weeks.

 

If you have any good recommendations, let me know!