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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Hello!

Here is that massive book post I promised you ages ago. (It’s been a crazy few weeks. My ebook should be available soon and I’m busy writing a second YA novel. I just finished the first part – about 80K words – and will start on Part 2 tomorrow. I’m very much in love with this book and working on it is really fulfilling, albeit emotionally taxing.)

And now, here are the books I’ve read…

Very Far Away from Anywhere Else – by Ursula K. LeGuin – God, by now I read this book about 3 months ago. I remember that the cover did not accurately represent the main characters and that I really loved the book, though I cannot for the life of me specifically remember why. The two leads were friends (as I recall) and I think there was some pressure to be more, but that wasn’t important to them. What was important was moving forward and finding something to be passionate about in life. She had her music. He had… well, shit… I don’t remember. But it was a good book, I swear!

The Shape of Things to Come – by Maud Casey – I’ve been reading a lot of YA books (since I’m writing YA books) but decided to deviate and read something about a 30something (because I’m 30). Wrong move, Kate. I was hoping this book would help me on my path to figuring out what to do with my life, but instead it just made me feel more confused and sad and depressed. I liked how it was written, but content-wise, this wasn’t the best thing for me to be reading at this odd juncture in my life.

The Geography of You and Me – by Jennifer E. Smith – I love Jennifer E. Smith’s writing style. Her stories are really very simple, but her characters are so layered and relatable and you just really want to see their journey through because you can’t help but care. And you want to know what happens, even though it’s pretty easy to figure it out on your own. This book was about two teens who meet one night during an epic blackout in NYC, only to be separated soon thereafter because of families moving and other unforeseeable circumstances. They keep in touch via postcards until they don’t. These are characters you root for because you want good things for them. And I will gladly read anything by Jennifer E. Smith. Always.

Dreams of Significant Girls – by Cristina Garcia – I thought this was a really interesting book. I loved how it followed the same three characters for three summers and showed how so much can really change over that period of time, especially when said characters came from such different backgrounds. It’s always fascinating to read about people who are stuck living with people they would rather not, but seeing how their relationships grow and shift was very fulfilling. Plus, the book was just super well written.

#16thingsithoughtweretrue – by Janet Gurtler – I had it in my head that I wasn’t going to like this book because I wasn’t too impressed by the plot summary. But then I found myself really caring about the roadtrip and the characters who weren’t the protagonist. This book seriously plot-twisted at the end and I remember audibly yelling, “NOOOOOOO.”

Adorkable – by Sarra Manning – I do fancy a good British book every now and again and was glad I pulled this one off the shelf at the library. Quirky girl snogs popular boy even though they kind of hate each other. But then they don’t. And it becomes a big to-do about independence and self-respect and identity and relationships and vulnerability whatnot. It was an entertaining read.

Franny and Zooey – by J.D. Salinger – I tried, you guys. I tried and I failed. I get that reading Salinger is supposed to rock my world, but I was not into this book at all. Perhaps I’m so far removed from the way of life depicted in this book that I just didn’t care. Or perhaps it was because I was having an off day when I read it. Either way, I sped through this just to be done with it. Go ahead and judge.

Divergent – by Veronica Roth – I had to see what everyone was talking about. I’m a little over dystopian books/franchises at this point but powered through. It’s not that I didn’t like Tris, she just is not among my favorite literary heroines as of late. Four, despite his obvious (read: purposeful) character flaws is a little too perfect. Too chaste. And, I could not wrap my head around how people thought it was weird or wrong to identify with more than one group. I did like the book better than the movie, though. For what it’s worth.

Eleanor & Park – by Raindow Rowell – My heart is gone. This book ripped it out of my chest, tore it in two and threw it in the Hudson River. (I read a lot of this book while sitting at the pier in between work.) I had heard really good things about this book and found they were all true. This was wonderfully written, devastatingly gut-wrenching and altogether feelings mangling. Eleanor reminded me so much of someone I once knew well and I wanted to reach through the pages and tell her that she deserves so much more out of life than what she was being handed by her shitty stepfather and terrible kids at school. Reading the ever-growing friendship/relationship between Eleanor and Park made my heart hurt. They ways they showed they cared for each other were precious gifts to the reader. Reading this book was so intimate because of how guarded Eleanor kept herself. And rightly so – holy shit that poor girl was not having an easy time out of existing in her circumstances. I loved this book. I loved Eleanor and Park. I hated how this book made me feel when I was done reading it. If I had my heart, it would still be hurting.

Insurgent – by Veronica Roth – Here we go. Round 2. Tris and Four and those other people are doing stuff because of the government and whatnot. Honestly, I don’t really remember the plot that much. (I’m writing this about 2 months after I finished reading the book. You can tell it obviously didn’t leave that big of an impression on me.) I read this because I had just finished Divergent and the library had it. I still didn’t see what the big deal about being Divergent was… like, of course people are going to identify with more than one character trait. (I could not suspend the disbelief needed to enjoy this series.)

Better off Friends – by Elizabeth Eulberg – I very much enjoyed this book. Set in Wisconsin, it’s about a girl who befriends the new boy from California and is set from 7th grade through most of high school. They are best friends and everyone just assumes they are together or will get together. They date other people and ultimately come to terms with what kind of relationship works best between them. Friendships between teenage boys and girls are a tricky thing and I thought this book captured the ebb and flow of that time in a person’s life rather well. So many emotions. So much angst. So many changes. Sometimes just being friends is the best option. Sometimes it’s not.

The Distance Between Us – by Kasie West – West’s covers are awful, but her books are easy to get through and somewhat enjoyable. This time around, the girl is kinda poor, the guy is super rich, and class-based struggles ensue. There’s more to it than that, obviously, but that’s the general gist of it. I’ve read another one of West’s books and do keep an eye out for her name on my library shelves. I know her books won’t challenge me, but they are entertaining.

One Man Guy – by Michael Barakiva – A teenage boy comes to terms with his sexuality amid a very religious and culturally-focused family. Set in NYC, he befriends another gay kid and they have adventures throughout the city. This was an easy read and though it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me I was glad I read it, if only to get another author’s perspective on the subject matter.

Boy Meets Boy – by David Levithan – The story of a gay boy who meets and falls for another gay boy with minimal drama. That’s really it – their town is accepting of LGBTQ people for the most part. Miscommunications are worked through. I mean, there are some characters who are not all for all-things LGBTQ, but on a whole this is pretty much a paint-by-numbers with regards to plot progression. It was still a good read. Not my favorite Levithan book, but I did like it.

Then Again, Maybe I Won’t – by Judy Blume – I thought I had read every Judy Blume book when I was younger, but I never read this one. Maybe because its protagonist was a young man and when I was younger I kind of flocked to female characters. (Or biographies of people from various wars.) This was about a kid whose family becomes a little more well off than they used to be and how the new money affects them. It was basically a morality tale saying how you shouldn’t be a dick even though you’ve come into some money. I love Judy Blume, though. Forever and always.

The Beginning of Everything – by Robyn Schneider – I fell a little bit in love with this book and then it kind of threw me for a nasty loop when all the pieces came together. That being said, I would still totally recommend this because sometimes getting emotionally destroyed by a book is entirely satisfying (albeit rough on the feels). The main character was a tennis star at his school until his leg got smashed in a car accident. He quickly falls from the very top of the social food chain and goes through school limping to the beat of a new drummer, if you will. Plus there’s a mysterious new girl in town. That never ends well, does it? I’m keeping an eye out for other titles by Schneider in hopes of getting my heart ripped out again.

Boys Like You – by Juliana Stone – This book is about an NYC girl named Monroe who spends the summer down in Louisiana with her grandma after an unfortunate accident back home. She unwillingly befriends a local boy with a bad reputation and a super guilty conscious. Their relationship gets closer as they deal with their shit together and individually. I didn’t feel like this book covered much new ground with regard to the genre, but I get the appeal for a teenage audience (angst and a hot guy who plays guitar).

Winger – by Andrew Smith – This is a book about a 14-year-old junior who is in love with his 16-year-old junior best friend. Winger plays rugby, dorms with delinquints and has a hella intense year at school that involves drinking, injuries, love, death, cartoons and all sorts of coming-of-age plot that kind of just hits you in the feels. I very much enjoyed this book even though parts of it really made me sad. Smith’s writing style, though… I want to be able to absorb it just by clutching onto his books.

Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist – by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan – I’ve seen this movie several times but never read the book even though this is one of my friend’s favorite books of all time. I saw it on the shelf at the library and grabbed it. I love David Levithan and will read anything with his name on it. I was glad I read this book and enjoyed it enough, but I think since I’m so in love with the movie and I saw that first, I’m going to favor the film adaptation. Sorry, but not really. Still read the book, though. For reals.

Bossypants – by Tina Fey – This was one of those books that made me laugh out loud when I was reading it in the park. To the point where I had to cover my mouth and try to disguise my laughter as a coughing fit lest I be judged. I love Tina Fey. She is one of my lady heroes and I will forever be indebted to her for her work on SNL, 30 Rock and Mean Girls. (And since I love her so much, I’m going to, from now on, pretend that I didn’t see Date Night or This is Where I Leave You.) Fey is a smart, strong woman who knows comedy well. She’s a great writer and she knows what works. I admire her candidness and appreciate her comedy and writing pointers. This was a great read. Between this and Mindy Kaling’s book, I feel like there are people out there who might just understand my weirdness.

Fangirl – by Rainbow Rowell – Okay. So this is all about fandom obsession. I’m on Tumblr. I’ve read stuff on fanfiction websites. (Hell, I even wrote a paper for my grad school internet ethics class about the legality of fanfiction.) But I’ve never been as far into fandom as Cath so I could not really sympathize with how far she dug herself into the fandom lifestyle. I get being a fan of someone/something to the point of decorating your room, wearing shirts, etc… But when you submit fanfiction for a college assignment – sorry, but that’s not acceptable. Fandom is great for fitting in with people online (or even in person), but that can’t be your only thing you have going for you. And I guess that’s what frustrated me most about this book. I wanted to reach through the pages and shake Cath a bit and tell her she needs to find a hobby. I’m a hermit who spends a bulk of her time reading and writing too, so there was definitely stuff I could relate to too. But on a whole, the book mostly frustrated me despite how much I liked how it was written.

Allegiant – by Veronica Roth – Finally. The last one. I breezed through the first two books and this one as well. I kind of felt obligated to finish out the trilogy even though I wasn’t entirely on board with it. But, I’m glad I read them all so now I get what the hype is about with regard to the movies. (I don’t agree with it, but I get it… there’s a difference.) I wasn’t that surprised by the ending, though I can see why so many people flipped out over it. Props to Roth for not shying away from doing something hard as opposed to appeasing the fans.

Happy Accidents – by Jane Lynch – I love memoirs that don’t just paint a rosy picture of what it’s like to be rich and famous these days. It turns out Lynch wasn’t the nicest person ever, nor did she ever have it super easy as she tried to launch her acting career. I liked reading about her struggles with coming out, trying to get featured more in her early days in comedy, and how hard work and a lot of luck played a major part in getting her where she is today. I did find it awkward to read all about how she met her wife because they are now divorced and that’s sad. I’ve seen a lot of her films. A Mighty Wind will always be my favorite. Those New Main Street Singers are awesome.

100 Sideways Miles – by Andrew Smith – I will read anything Andrew Smith writes. So when I saw this title on the shelf, I grabbed it and debated between flying through it or taking my time to savor Smith’s writing style (which I envy like whoa). Smith is such a great storyteller and I love the relationships he forms between his characters. He writes teenage male friendships so well. And I loved how this book measured passing time using distance the Earth travels around the son. (The title refers to five seconds – or the amount of time it took for a dead horse to fall off a truck on a bridge and onto him and his mom below.) Even the most far-fetched aspects of this book are still believable because the narrator is just so damn convincing and likable. Thank you, Andrew Smith.

If You Find Me – by Emily Murdoch – Wow. I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did, but then again you’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover, are you? (BUT I DO! I TOTALLY DO! ALL THE TIME!) This book was about two girls (15 and 8, I believe) who live in the woods with their mother ever since they were little. Their mom leaves them and the older girl’s biological father and a social worker come find them. The girls have to acclimate back into society in their new living situation (which includes a stepmom and stepsister) and going to school. Of course some serious shit went down in the woods, but the girls persevered because survival was all they’d ever known. Good book. And now I’m on the lookout for other titles by Murdoch.

The Book Thief – by Markus Zusak – I not so secretly am fascinated by stories (fictional or not) set during the World Wars, especially WWII. I was unaware that this book was written from Death’s perspective (that’s not a spoiler – it’s easy to get that right off the bat when Death speaks about taking people’s souls…), but found that to be a really intriguing POV. I knew the title character was a little girl (I saw the movie trailer, though have yet to see the movie) and figured this book would break my heart. That’s a bit of an understatement. Death gives you some of the bigger, more gut-wrenching plot points ahead of time but the blows are still just as big and painful. This was a long book (500+ pages) with very, very tiny font. I was still able to get through it in a few days because it was such a good read even though it made me sad. I very much recommend this book.

Hope Was Here – by Joan Bauer – This was a super quick read about a girl named Hope (nee Tulip) who lived with her aunt. They moved around working at various diners in various states. This book was about their latest move to middle of nowhere Wisconsin (which I could relate to, as I used to live in Minnesota). Though I never worked at a diner, I caught on quick to the lingo and could empathize with the customer service woes (I worked at Macy’s. I get it.) Hope was a straight-laced girl with a crush on a good guy and the gumption to fight for what was right even though she got the short end of the stick in big ways throughout her life. I liked this enough that if I come across any more of Bauer’s books at the library, I’d give them a whirl.

King Dork – by Frank Portman – This book had a bunch of blurbs on the covers and inside boasting how hilarious it was. I realized halfway through the book that almost all of said blurbs were written by dudes. The book had its charming moments and I did laugh out loud a couple times, but I’m sure it would have had a bigger impact on me if I were a 15-year-old boy. Thomas (aka Chi-Mo, aka Moe) was likable enough and I did feel bad that he was at the bottom of the social food chain. There was a lot of plot (a LOT of plot) and at times I felt like there was too much going on, but it wasn’t impossible to keep straight and if you thought about it, you could see how most of the plot twists came to be/kind of made sense.

So, yeah! If you’ve got any book recommendations, please let me know!

Hello Internet friends,

I know I owe you a ginormous post about all the books I’ve been reading. That’s on my to-do list, I swear.

However, I wanted to share some exciting news with you. My first book is being published as an ebook!

I’ve been sending query letters out to literary agents over the past few months and so far they’ve all passed with very gracious rejection letters. However, an online publishing company expressed interest in my query letter and then asked to see a completed manuscript… AND THEN SAID THEY WANTED TO PUBLISH MY BOOK AS AN EBOOK!

So, I’m finishing up some edits, working on a cover design and setting up various author pages. If all goes well, the ebook will be released in about two months, maybe less. And of course I will post out to everything once it is available.

I’ve been pretty hush hush about the actual subject of the book as I’ve been working on it (because people can steal ideas … that’s a terrible thing, but it happens). But, I can say that it’s a YA book and it’s about high school baseball.

I’m looking forward to sharing the rest of this process with everyone. In the meantime, I’m going to finish editing this book and write some more of the other book I’m working on… (Yes, I’m still writing! I’m 30 chapters into a completely different YA book, which is presently titled “College Book” because I have no idea what it should be called. Alas. But I’m in love with this book and I can’t wait to finish writing it!)

WRITING! IT’S THE BEST!

Have a fantastic weekend 🙂

Wow. It’s been a while since I last posted about the books I’ve read and I’ve read a bunch more since then. Even though I want to be getting back to the book I’m writing (I’m in the middle of re-writing/editing a second book and just started writing a brand spanking new book that I really wasn’t planning on writing but the words just started flowing… so, lots of writing the past few weeks!), here’s what I’ve been reading:

Dairy Queen – by Catherine Gilbert Murdock – A high school girl who grew up in a football-loving family and works on her family’s cow farm is coerced into training a rival team’s player. He’s a jerk at first, but of course they start to like each other. She then decides to try out for her own high school’s football team without telling him. I’m all for girl power when it comes to hard work and overcoming obstacles, but this book was predictable and a bit cheesetastic.

Debutante Hill – by Lois Duncan – Written in the 1950s, this “aw shucks” and “gee” filled book is about a rich high school girl who is upset that her dad forbids her from partaking in all the debutante events that one of her peer’s mom’s starts up. There is a definite rich kids vs. poor kids aspect to the story, as the protagonist agrees to go out with Dirk, a boy from the other side of the tracks (even though she’s totally seeing a rich guy who just went off to college). I liked Dirk a lot and really felt for his character throughout. He wasn’t a bad guy, just misunderstood and overlooked. I enjoyed this book for what it was worth and always appreciate it when a rich kid gets a reality check.

Unbreak My Heart – by Melissa Walker – This book is about a high school girl on a summer-long boat trip with her family and how she deals with a fallout with her BFF and befriends/crushes on a boy who is taking a boat-trip with his dad. The cover for this book is awful (as I’ve found most YA covers are) and I was embarrassed to be seen holding this book even though the story itself actually wasn’t half bad. I thought the protagonist was selfish, but most high school girls are. (I would know… I was one once.)

Catalyst – by Laurie Halse Anderson – Talk about a dramatic turn for the worst. Geez. I did like this book, as I like LHA’s writing style for the most part. Another selfish high school girl, but this time it’s one who was determined to get into the one and only college she applied to and be an overachieving perfect person. Her odd friendship (that’s too strong of a word, but I can’t think of anything better) with the troubled girl from school whose house burned down was really interesting and I thought this book went to a lot of dark places. I would recommend this, for sure.

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period – by Gennifer Choldenko – Um, so I was the completely wrong demographic for this book. (I mean, I am for all YA books, lets be real, but this book should have been labeled Middle Grade, as it was for younger middle schoolers at best.) If you are at a 5th grade reading level and want to read about a chubby white girl befriending a black boy and then them finding out they have more in common than they think, than go right ahead and read this. It was sadly an epic waste of my time even though it was well written.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight – by Jennifer Smith – I love stories that are mostly set over 24 hours because it gives you a crash course in who these people are and whether they are compatible with each other as they are forced to be by each other’s side practically the whole time. (I’m writing a script about something similar, so this helped a lot in that regard.) I’m a huge fan of Smith and will gladly read any of her books. This was cute, funny, sad and just overall very enjoyable (albeit so far-fetched… I mean, stuff like this doesn’t really happen to m/any people). This was a quick, lovely read and I very much recommend it.

Subway Love – by Nora Raleigh Baskin – Nope. Just no. I was not a huge fan of the writing style or the plot once I got going. (A girl from the 70s and a boy from the present meet/interact/fall in love on a subway car that somehow lets them transcend time.) Each chapter had the same grainy picture at the beginning of it, which was credited to being from a Wikipedia page. Really? I sped through the second half of it so I could return it to the library as soon as humanly possible. While I respect the author for getting her work published, this book was unfortunately not for me. At all.

Pieces – by Chris Lynch – A boy’s brother dies and some of his organs are donated to other people. The boy then meets up with some of the recipients and questions what his relationship is/should be with these people who now house a piece of his brother. I thought the book was headed a different direction than it ended up going. I didn’t not like it, but I wanted more.

The Darlings in Love – by Melissa Kantor – I had a problem with the protagonists being 14 because their problems seemed more fitting to 16-18 year olds. The BFF-ness of it all was fine, but I don’t think that 14-year-olds can properly grasp the concept of being in love with someone. Like, crushes and whatnot, sure. But end-all-be-all relationships and love does not happen when you’re 14. (Did you see what happened to Romeo and Juliet? Wait till you’re older and actually understand, kids.)

The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin – by Josh Berk – I liked that this book had a deaf protagonist who was friends with a nerdy polite kid, and that they solved a crime together. But I thought some of the word choices were silly. I’m not really a fan of silly. But, I get that this book is aimed at younger boys and younger boys seem to eat silly up. So, there you have it.

Everybody Sees the Ants – by A.S. King – This book has been staring me in the face for months and I finally checked it out. I regret not reading it sooner because it was just such a satisfying read. I think I’ve read 3 or 4 of King’s books so far and this was certainly my favorite. It’s about a boy who gets picked on a lot and his parents are worried he’s going to harm himself, so his mom takes him on a three-week vacation to visit his relatives. He keeps having dreams about rescuing his POW grandfather and then wakes up holding weird items from said dreams. He befriends a girl while on vacation and learns a lot about himself and his family. It’s just a really good book and I’m definitely not doing it justice.

Project Sweet Life – by Brent Hartinger – A super quick read about three friends and a summer of shenanigans as they tried to avoid getting summer jobs (but still trying to make money). I like Hartinger’s writing style, having read one of his books before. This book was good, but I won’t need to read it again.

Grand & Humble – by Brent Hartinger – Oh my god, I’m only just now getting the second meaning of the title as I’m writing this out and I read this book two weeks ago. DAMN, SON. This was the first book in a long while where I was actually super caught off guard by the plot twist. I thought I knew what was going on, but I totally did not. It’s about two high school boys and how their lives are eerily similar even though they have nothing and everything to do with each other. I’m describing it poorly, but it was a good read. Man, I feel so stupid for not getting the title sooner. (An accident happens at the junction of Grand & Humble, but there is totally another meaning behind it… oh my god.)

The Burn Journals – by Brent Runyon – This is a first person account told years after the fact about a 14-yr-old boy who set himself on fire in a suicide attempt (that he immediately regretted) and the physical, emotional and mental recovery he went through. Runyon is a phenomenal storyteller and I am so grateful that he shared his story like this. What a horrible, horrible thing to go through… but he did get through it. And it took a lot of work, and seemed very painful on a lot of levels. This book will stay with me, that’s for sure.

The Miracle Stealer – by Neil Connelly – A girl’s younger brother is seen as miracle worker in their small community and she thinks that they are using him. She tries to protect him, but some bad stuff goes down. I’m not a super religious person and I don’t really buy into the belief that some people are tools of God, so I could see where this girl was coming from. The book was okay, but I had a hard time believing that the kind of mom this book depicts would name her daughter “Anderson.” I know that’s a petty complaint, but it took me out of the story several times.

New Kid – by Tim Green – I yanked this book off the shelf at the library because it was about a boy playing baseball. While on vacation, I leant it to a friend and she read it before I did, saying I was going to hate the ending. And she was right – what a terrible ending. Geez. This was another book in the YA section that should have been labeled Middle Grade. Basically, this kid and his dad move around a lot because the dad’s job has kind of forced them into hiding. And his dad has a habit of making them move when the kid is literally in the middle of a baseball game. Sigh. It’s not great. And then the terrible ending happens.

Wintergirls – by Laurie Halse Anderson – This book is about a high school girl with anorexia. Her bulimic friend dies alone in a motel room and then the anorexic girl must deal with that death on top of her own body image issues. This is one of the few books I’ve ever read about eating disorders. I know I will never be able to fully understand the struggle of people who suffer from anorexia and bulimia, but I’m thankful for books like this to give me a glimpse into that world. This was a good read, albeit a sad and frustrating one.

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – by Jesse Andrews – A Jewish high school boy and his black BFF who like to make shitty home movies befriend a Jewish girl from their school who is dying of cancer. No one falls in love and no huge lessons are learned, but it was fascinating to see how the characters all coped with what was going on. There were a lot of cultural stereotypes, but I guess I shouldn’t have been too surprised about that.

Somebody Up There Hates You – by Hollis Seamon – More teens with cancer, but these kids are in Hospice. And there is love and sex and other shenanigans. This was a mostly enjoyable read despite the subject matter. I think I’m going to lay off the “kids with cancer” books for awhile, though.

Boys Wanted – by Flynn Meaney – There is a sudden shortage of desirable boys at the Wisconsin high school featured in the book. Told from Hunter and Kelly’s points of view, we follow them through their school year and how Hunter’s stock rises even though he was kind of a slacker. Even though this book was totally predictable, it wasn’t half bad. Hunter and Kelly were both likable.

On the Fence – by Kasie West – Another shitty cover that wasn’t even remotely close to depicting what actually happens in the book. (SOMEONE MAKE BETTER YA COVERS, PLEASE) The book is about a tomboy who has feelings for her next door neighbor and sometimes late at night they talk to each other through the fence. The girl ends up working at some clothes shop and along the way allows herself to be a bit more girly (clothes, makeup, whatnot). She thinks that’ll help in the guy department, though she is repeatedly told by her brothers and the boy next door to be herself (even though that has landed her zero dates thus far). This book wasn’t terrible, but it was also very predictable.

My Heartbeat – by Garret Freymann-Weyt – Fourteen year old Emily (I think?) looks up to her 17-year-old brother, Link, and his best friend, James (who she is madly in love with). Link and James love each other, but Link is afraid to define himself as gay and James doesn’t like that Link is not open with how they feel about each other. They fight and part ways, but then James starts hanging out and then seeing Emily (which is basically a dream come true for her since she’s loved James since she was little, but also confusing because she knows James and her brother loved each other, though that love was never consummated for reasons). I had no idea what this book was about when I grabbed it off the shelf, but I’m glad I read it. Self-acceptance and acceptance from society are always hot-button issues and I thought this book was written really beautifully.

So, yeah… that’s what I’ve been reading. I’m in the middle of two books right now, but will wait until I’m done reading those (and several others) before I post about books again.

I’ve been super busy with the books I’m writing too. I’m presently querying agents/agencies regarding the book I finished writing in May. I’ve heard back from three places (all No) so far, but I’m going to just keep on querying. In the meantime, I’m re-writing/editing a book I wrote last summer (YA book about two high school teens and how they meet on vacation) in addition to writing a book about two high school freshmen navigating the challenges of self-perception/the public’s perception. I think I might put the vacation book on the backburner for a bit because I’m really finding some momentum with this college book. I got 15 pages written so far and hope to write a few more tonight before I head to bed.

As always, if you have any suggestions on books I should read, please let me know!

Have a good one

Hey y’all.

So, reading. It’s the bee’s knees.

(You know what is not the bee’s knees? Robin Thicke. I’m watching New Year’s Rockin’ Eve right now and he’s singing “Blurred Lines” and as catchy as this song is, it is terrible. And he’s a creep.)

But I digress.

I finished reading four books in the past couple weeks and just started another book today. READING!

Here’s what I finished:

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy (by Helen Fielding) – Oh, boy. I really wanted to like this book because I loved the first two Bridget Jones books. But this… this was not v.g. Fielding spent so much of the book having Bridget obsess over her Twitter follower numbers and talking about farting with her toy boy that she missed an opportunity to tell a really heartfelt story. There were a few moments where her words tugged on my emotions, but they were few and a far between. I was really upset as I read the book because I found myself wanting to smack Bridget and being frustrated about her screenwriting when I didn’t think that character had that kind of clout. It’s not a spoiler that Bridget is no longer married to Mark Darcy (that is mentioned within pages of the book). They didn’t divorce; he died. Fielding killed off Mark Darcy. Whhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhy? I sincerely hope they don’t adapt this into a film because it was so depressing to read, I don’t think I could handle seeing Squints McGee Zellweger reprise her role.

The Death Cure (by James Dashner) – a big HUZZAH that my library had the last book in the Maze Runner trilogy without me having to put it on hold. While this was my least favorite of the three books, I devoured it because I needed to know what happened to Thomas and his friends from the Glade. This is totally on me, but I never had a clear picture of Brenda in my head as I was reading and that bothered me because she was such an important character. I’m actually a lot surprised that Dashner had so much about Thomas’s feelings toward the two girls in his life. It didn’t distract from the overarching story and it definitely added a layer to Thomas that his male Glade friends weren’t entirely privy to… but these books are definitely aimed toward young men (though the two people who recommended the books to me are female). I told my brother he should read this trilogy. The books are all well written and Dashner really created very vivid pictures of the Glade and the Scorch. I’m really looking forward to The Maze Runner movie. These books were a quick, fun read. They aren’t too long and they are very much page-turners. You just want to know what happens next 🙂

Every You, Every Me (by David Levithan; pictures by Jonathan Farmer) – David Levithan, let me love you down. I very much admire his writing and this book was no exception. The story was really fascinating (a high school boy’s best friend is sent away because of her self-destructive ways because of her mental health issues… he receives photos of her and tries to figure out who they are from with the help of his bff’s boyfriend). There are words/phrases/passages that are crossed out (but still readable) so you know what the narrator was thinking. His thought process is very relatable and it’s interesting to read how he interacts with other characters juxtaposed against what he’s actually thinking. Throughout the book, there are photos that the narrator receives and they allow you to better follow along the story. I read this book in about 2 hours because I couldn’t put it down. (I was also on a plane and it was a good distraction from flying because I hate flying.)

someday this pain will be useful to you (by Peter Cameron) – I’m so glad I grabbed this book off the shelf at the library. I honestly had no idea what it was about, but it turned out to be perfect for me because it fit within the genre I’m writing. The title is what grabbed me, but the writing is what kept me reading. (This was another book I finished in less than a day.) I really loved Cameron’s writing style and will definitely be on the lookout for anything else he’s written. His protagonist, James, was relatable and likable (albeit a bit of a troublemaker… though I found myself siding with him). James liked being alone and didn’t like talking. As I read, I thought to myself that this was the kind of boy I would have wanted to be friends with and probably would have had a crush on. James, though, was gay, but it wasn’t really a huge part of the story. (Sure, both his parents asked him point blank if he was gay and he did admit to liking a colleague… but he also said that he never acted on his homosexuality, nor did he ever think that he would be intimate with anyone.) The bulk of James’s story had to do with not wanting to go to college and how he had run away for a couple days during school function in Washington, D.C. (James lived in NYC). I really, really liked this book. It was adapted into a film, so I’m going to try and track that down.

Stick (by Andrew Smith) – I’m not done reading this, as I just started it this afternoon, but I am 88 pages in and I’m enjoying this as well. This was another book I kind of just grabbed off the shelf, but I’m glad I did. It’s about a 13-year-old boy named Stark (his nickname is “Stick” because he’s really tall and thin) and his older brother, Bosten (16). Their parents are terrible people who beat them, have odd house rules, and only let them shower on weekends. Both Stark and Bosten have best friends (Stark/Emily, Bosten/Paul) and they are basically in love with said best friends. Stark just found out that his brother is gay and I’m already scared for Bosten and hope that their parents won’t find out. (Though, I’m fairly sure they do at some point – because that would be the predictable plot line.) Oh, and Stark only has one ear. He was only born with one ear. So, some of the book is written how he hears… with large gaps/spaces between some of the words/phrases. Stark is a likable protagonist and I’m eager to read the rest of his story.

I find it helpful to read books with young male protagonists because I’m writing a book with a young male protagonist. And since I’m a female and don’t have firsthand experience to write from, it’s really educational and insightful to be reading books written by men about male characters. Yay for fun research 🙂

If you have any book recommendations, let me know!

Okay, so I know I’m for reals behind on posting on here about books I’ve read and life in general. I’m now going to hit you with a few paragraphs about what I’ve been reading and how it’s impacted me and my quest to write the next great American (YA) novel.

The last book I wrote about here was “The Spectacular Now”, which was a bunch of books ago… so here’s what I’ve read in the past few weeks:

“Two Boys Kissing” by David Levithan – I flew through this book because I seriously could not put it down. (I posted a summary/recommendation of it on the Fandom For Equality blog – I urge you to check it out here.) There were no chapter breaks, yet the story bounced around between several storylines that mostly revolved around two boys (high school ex-boyfriends) trying to set a world record for longest kiss. The story was beautifully told via omniscient narrators (gay men who lived/died during the AIDS epidemic) who punctuated the plot with wisdom and a constant reminder that there is so much potential for positive change. This was the second thing I read from Levithan (he wrote the half of “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” that John Green did not…) and I fell more in love with his writing style. This book was heartbreaking and hopeful in the best ways possible and definitely made a lasting impact on me.

“Love is the Higher Law” – by David Levithan – See, I told you I was in love with Levithan’s writing style. So much so that I immediately sought out anything else he wrote. The library only had this book, so I grabbed it as fast as I could and plowed through this in a couple days. This book takes place during and after 9/11 and is told from the points of view of three teenagers whose lives all intersect because of school or mutual friends. It was an interesting read because the characters were about the age I was when 9/11 happened and the story took place in the neighborhood in NYC where I presently work. (I lived in Ohio in 2001. After moving around the Midwest a bunch, I ended up in NYC in 2012.) The book had a lot to do with relationships forged in the time of tragedy. That’s not to say that those relationships don’t mean anything, but people bonding over a shared experience of pure terror is definitely a unique way to meet, for better or worse.

“The Order of the Poison Oak” – by Brent Hartinger – I was unaware that this was a sequel to “The Geography Club” (which I haven’t read), but I was able to glean all the relevant information I needed from the exposition. I would like to go back and read the first book to get a more in-depth feel for the protagonist’s experience about coming out at his high school (as that’s something I’m writing in my own book), but I liked this book just fine. The main character decided to go work at a summer camp with his friends so that they could get out of town and he wouldn’t have to deal with being a novelty in his own community. Though he planned to stay in the closet at camp, he developed a crush on another camp counselor (who may/may not be bi). Despite the predictable story line (I guessed the plot twist well before it happened), I thought this was a decent read. Hartinger’s writing style, like Levithan’s, hooked me right away. Even if I wasn’t completely blown away by plot, I definitely wanted to keep reading because of the phrases he used and his ability to write awesome description. I’ll be on the lookout for other books by this guy.

“David Inside Out” – by Lee Bantle – This book was a great example of how not to write. While its subject matter was relevant to what I’m writing (gay/questioning high school boys on a sports team), I thought this book was pretty awful. And it pains me to write that because I would be heartbroken if someone told me what I wrote was pretty awful, but I was not a fan of a majority of the characters (including the protagonist) and I thought the writing itself was not engaging. I didn’t care about what was going to happen and I didn’t think the book really went anywhere. Instead of feeling any sort of merit having finished the book, I just felt disappointed. I post what I read on Instagram, so I clicked on the hashtag of the book’s title and one other person posted about it. He (baritoneblogger) wrote, “Worst YA book I’ve read in a while. Definitely not gay literature.” The book’s jacket was praising it as something special, but it was mostly just cringe-inducing. The one thing I did find interesting was that it was set near where I used to live in Minnesota. So, every time the author name dropped some lake or landmark, I knew what he was referring to.

“How to Say Goodbye in Robot” – by Natalie Standiford – This book just about broke my heart. It’s the story of a girl named Beatrice (Bea) whose family moves to a new city for her senior year in high school. She befriends the boy she sits next to at morning assembly (Jonah) and they form a friendship that everyone around them seems determined to define for them. Bea and Jonah love each other, but it’s purely platonic. (Other people question if they are dating or if Jonah is gay, etc…) Their love for each other is strong and substantial – they are outsiders, but since they have each other, they aren’t really alone. Both are going through some serious shit with their immediate families, so their friendship is really a lifeline. As much as they love each other, though, that’s not enough. They fight, among other conflicts that arise, and it’s painful to read about them drifting apart and finding each other again only to have your heart hurt as the book drew to its conclusion. I picked up the book because of the title and didn’t really realize what kind of nostalgic horror I was getting myself into. But, I’m so glad I read this book. It was great to read about a strong relationship between a girl and a boy who have complete (unromantic) love for each other. I found it refreshing, even though it was ultimately quite heartbreaking.

“Paper Covers Rock” – by Jenny Hubbard – This was about boys at a boarding school who had to deal with the unexpected death of one of their classmates. The protagonist, Alex, and one of his friends was there for the other boy’s death and Alex spends the bulk of the book writing/talking about what happened and his part in the whole thing. Alex has a huge crush on his young English teacher, who also happened to be there during the aftermath of the accident that caused Thomas’s death. As the book progresses, she tries to get Alex to expand on his knowledge of the situation through his writing and by talking to her. I wasn’t expecting to get much out of this book, but it turned out to be a great learning experience because the book itself was filled with passages about how to write better. That is what I will take away from reading this story – that I can be a better writer if I make the best choices I can with the words/phrases that I choose to use.

“Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns)” – by Mindy Kaling – I took a break from reading YA for awhile to cleanse my palette, but it turned out that this was just another great, inspiring read. I really look up to Mindy Kaling and reading about her path from childhood to college to where she is now was really educational. I found myself relating to her a lot (she didn’t have a crazy childhood or college experience either, among other similarities) and enjoyed reading her stories about the people she knows and how stuff relating to the entertainment industry is definitely not as glamorous as we perceive it to be. She’s a great writer and I’ve been a fan of her work for awhile (I used to like The Office and I definitely love The Mindy Project) and she’s just all sorts of inspiring. She points out on numerous occasions that she is not stick-thin and that she maybe gets one hour of productive writing done in an eight-hour window. See – those are things that I can relate to! What it really boiled down to, for me, was that I just need to keep at it. I don’t want to have my own television show like she does, but I do want to finish my book and I do want other people to love it as much as I am thus far.

And that’s all the books I’ve finished in the last 3 weeks. I just started reading the latest Bridget Jones book, but I’m only about five pages in, so I can’t tell if it’s v.g. or not (see what I did there?).

I’ve been working on my own book when I can (though I will admit to being a little lazy with writing this past week – I’ve been so exhausted from work). I did get a few more pages done (I’m up to 55 thus far), and I plan on writing some more tonight and tomorrow in between other stuff I have to do (a blog post for FFE, trying to sign up for healthcare, cleaning my room a bit, etc…). During a phone call with one of my most favorite people in the whole wide world the other night, she said she wanted to read what I wrote. She was one of the few people who read the script I wrote last year, so of course I’ll let her read this and I said she could read the start of the second script I’m working on (I have 80 pages of that completed, but it still has a ways to go). Last night I texted her, though, and explained that I’m afraid to show her what I wrote because I’m afraid she’s going to think it’s bad.

I’ve read and reread what I wrote so far. I know it needs help (my ability to write description and add colorful phrases and whatnot is nowhere near on par with Levithan or John Green, or any of the writes who I wholly admire), and I know it’s nowhere near being done… but what if she thinks it’s bad? What if I just spent months writing something that is just awful?

I’m probably my own worst critic, and to be honest, I don’t think what I wrote is terrible. I’m proud of my outline and I think what I’m writing has potential to be something. (Note that I didn’t say “something great” or “something earth-shattering”… just “something.”) And I have read some less than stellar books over the years in the genre I’m writing, so my theory is that if those people can get published, then there is a chance I could too… but there is always that legitimate worry of showing someone your literary baby and them just scrunching their nose and handing it back to you like said baby just soiled itself.

So, yeah. I’m going to keep writing. And I’m going to finish my book.

But I’m also going to keep reading. I’m so, so grateful that I actually have time to read. (Yes, I’m crazy busy with work, but ten free minutes here and there can turn into chapters read, you know?)

After the holidays, I’m definitely tracking down “The Death Cure” (I loooooved “The Maze Runner” and “The Scorch Trials” and need to finish that series!) and then try and get a hold of more stuff written by Levithan and Hartinger.

If you have any book recommendations, please send them my way!

I have been reading a lot of YA books as of late (a loooooot), as I’m writing a YA book and am trying to read a wide variety of books within the genre. In the last 24 hours, I read The Spectacular Now (which was recently made into a major motion picture). It was definitely a good read. Tim Tharp’s writing style is, in a word, spectacular. His dialogue was great, his descriptions were interesting and unique to other books I’ve read, and I was intrigued by his protagonist (Sutter). I say that I have mixed feels because as much as I loved reading the book, I saw the ambivalent ending coming a mile away and I sincerely wished he would have gone a slightly different direction.

One thing I found interesting about this book was the lack of adult supervision. Yes, there were adult characters and they did pop up every now and again to say (or not say) parent-y things. A majority of this book is Sutter interacting with his friends and ex/girlfriends. They are seniors in high school, which to young people is about as adult as you can get without legally being able to buy alcohol. But that’s the thing, though… Sutter is basically an alcoholic and has zero troubles acquiring alcoholic beverages throughout the whole of the book. He usually seems to have a buzz going, but strangely enough you (the reader) still kind of like him. He seems charming, and when you read the dialogue with Miles Teller’s voice in mind (as he played Sutter in the movie), you kind of get why he does what he does. His life isn’t perfect and he’s been through some shit – but haven’t we all? Sutter just deals with his through drinking and falling for someone he never thought he would actually fall for. It’s kinda sweet, in a backwards “life sucks” way.

I didn’t see the movie, but based on the cover of the book I got from the library with the movie characters on it, they glammed up Amiee pretty good. (Ain’t that always the case?)

I’m super glad I read this book while I’m in the middle of writing my book. It’s definitely inspiration to make the description in my book more colorful. 

And with that, I’m gonna get back to my book. I’m on Chapter 11 🙂