Monthly Archives: April 2014

in which things come full circle

Late in the winter of my senior year of college, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. I was about to finish a history degree and knew I didn’t want to do what you are supposed to do with a history degree. I had a sort of inkling I maybe wanted to write things, or find some job that allowed me to read books for a living, but I wasn’t enjoying most of the adult books I was reading. I had had a similar experience when I was in high school—as soon as I hit an age where I felt I was supposed to start reading grown up books, I stopped reading. So I decided to check out the young adult section of my library to see what they had to offer. And I read enough really awesome young adult books to realize that the problem wasn’t that I didn’t like reading, the problem was that I wasn’t reading things I liked.

And that’s when I applied for my MFA in children’s literature.

One of the books that I picked up in the YA section was Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor. This book was so lovely. It helped me realize what is important to me in a book—beautiful writing, vivid setting, and an atmospheric and imaginative world. This was the last book I read before I sent in my application to Simmons.

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A year ago last November, I was sitting on a mattress on the floor under bare light bulb in my very first grown up apartment in Boston. I was feeling a little overwhelmed, both by the adultness of it and by the fact that I had no furniture or things to call my own. Just a suitcase of clothes, a box of books, and a city full of strangers. So I picked up Days of Blood and Starlight, the second book in Laini Taylor’s series that had just been released, and lost myself in the story. Because books are safer than people.

Last week, the third book in the series, Dreams of Gods and Monsters, came out. Through some strange voodoo magic, the third book in this series that was such a big part of me being where I am right now ended up coming out just a few weeks before I finished the MFA it inspired me to pursue. And by some stranger bout of luck, Laini did an event last week in Brookline, where I live in that once-bare apartment, and I got to meet her and tell her thank you, because she was a large part of me being where I am, and I love being here.Image

If you’ve hung around here at all, you know that I like things to be symmetrical. I like signs and symbols and when things come full circle, it feels like confirmation that I’m doing something right. The weird symmetry of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone series with my MFA life felt like a confirmation, a nice feeling to carry with me as I head out into the real world with my degree.

Maybe I read too far into things. But that’s what grad school taught me how to do.

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in which people who are not me run 26 miles

Happy Marathon Day!

As you may remember, some really terrible things happened in Boston around this time last year. But some really awesome things happened last year too. In fact, there were far more awesome things than bad things. Far more people being kind and heroic and brave than being cruel and cowardly.

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This time last year, after living in the city for almost eight months, this was the week I really fell in love with Boston, and I’ve been smitten ever since. In the wake of a tragedy, everything seemed really united and hopeful, and I felt very much a part of a coming together of different people inhabiting the same space, and through that coming together I fell in love with that space. I had a similar moment of intense Boston love while walking around my neighborhood this morning1. Everything was blue skies and sort of warm after being neither of those things for so long, and I thought, you couldn’t pry me out of this city with a crowbar.

I love Boston. It feels like home.

So let’s celebrate one year—hundreds of years really, but this one in particular—of being awesome and resilient and good and BOSTON STRONG2!

 

  1. On a quest for Diet Coke, because my regular place was closed and it is apparently really hard to find Diet Coke within walking distance of my apartment on marathon day.
  2. The phrase ‘Boston Strong’ has become so overused in the last year that it now can only be written or spoken in all caps. However, after a year of feeling it was worn out and cliché and laughing everytime someone used it, every time I’ve seen it this past week a small part of me has gone “Aw.” But that’s sentimentality for you.
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in which the Looking Glass is released

Today is an exciting day.

Today, The Looking Glass by the very lovely Jessica Arnold comes out!

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Isn’t it pretty?

Jessica is a good friend of mine, and one of my few writer friends/critique partners that I know in real life and not just on the internet. Jessica is great and her book is great and I want to wish her the happiest of book birthdays! Your debut day only comes once!

Summary from Goodreads: 

Find the diary, break the curse, step through The Looking Glass!

Fifteen-year-old Alice Montgomery wakes up in the lobby of the B&B where she has been vacationing with her family to a startling discovery: no one can see or hear her. The cheap desk lights have been replaced with gas lamps and the linoleum floor with hardwood and rich Oriental carpeting. Someone has replaced the artwork with eerie paintings of Elizabeth Blackwell, the insane actress and rumored witch who killed herself at the hotel in the 1880s. Alice watches from behind the looking glass where she is haunted by Elizabeth Blackwell. Trapped in the 19th-century version of the hotel, Alice must figure out a way to break Elizabeth’s curse—with the help of Elizabeth’s old diary and Tony, the son of a ghost hunter who is investigating the haunted B&B—before she becomes the inn’s next victim.

Buy The Looking Glass on Amazon!

Add it on Goodreads!  

And be sure to stop by Jessie’s website and wish her a happy debut day!

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in which a friend visits

When you move around a lot, there are lots of people who come into your life, and then when you leave, they sort of drift out of your life without much consequence. Being apart is too hard, or too far, or you change and become too different to like each other as much in the present moment as you did in the past.

And then there are the people that stick with you. That no matter how far apart you are, it never gets too hard.

For me, this person is 14.

14 and I met in seventh grade health class1. The random seating chart set off a chain of events that shaped a good portion of my life. We were friends all through middle school. Took the same classes in high school2. We did theater things together. We went to our first school dance in the same group. We were roommates in college, tested out papers and outfits and flirty texts before we sent them to our crushes on each other.

And then I went to Chicago. Then Boston. And then 14 went to Norway. Then back to Salt Lake. And after spending almost every day together for years and years and years, suddenly we were far apart.

But with 14, the distance didn’t matter so much like it did with other friends. Sure, it sucked to have to synch our time zones for a phone call or to not be able to invite her to do crazy stuff with me. And yes, I missed her, but I never felt like we lost anything because we were far apart.

Last week, 14 came to visit me in Boston. As my mom pointed out, it was the first time the two of us have been around each other for an extended period of time since we graduated from college. There was lots of potential for things to go wrong. What if in our time apart we had both grown into different people that weren’t compatible anymore and we didn’t realize that until she was off the plane?

But it just felt like picking up right where we left off. Like nothing had changed3.

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14 and I are really different, but that’s never really mattered. Being friends with her has always been so easy. And that’s how friendship should be.

Here’s wishing you all a friend like 14.

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  1. 14 is the only good thing I got out of seventh grade health class.
  2. And often sat by each other often because we both have end of the alphabet last names
  3. Except we were exploring Boston instead of Salt Lake, and Boston is awesome. Though we could have done without the freezing rain that plagued the city all week. However, we still did some really awesome things. Like getting enlisted in the War of 1812 Navy. Here we are on board in our bunks:

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in which I win something cool

You may remember that, for me, January was the month from hell.

The climax of this month occurred on January 30, when I found myself at Simmons College at 11 pm, trying to print off an application for an award due two days later that I was certain I wouldn’t win, only to find that the printer I was printing on had no ink in it. I sat down in a chair with the intention of sending the document to a different printer, at which point the chair tipped over backwards. And suddenly I was flat on my back, feet straight up in the air, all the breath knocked out of me by my three tote bags landing on my stomach, half strangled by the strap of my book bag, and my laptop’s fall broken by my face.

And after a few choice four-letter words, I started to laugh/cry. It was so ridiculous I wasn’t sure which. And alone at Simmons at 11 pm on a Thursday night, I said to the empty room1, “Why am I even entering? I’m not going to win this award.”

Then last week, I was waiting for the T when I got a phone call.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hello,” said the voice on the other end. “I’m calling from the Pen New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award committee. Do you have a minute to talk?”

Yes. Yes I did have a minute to talk.

And that is the story of how I won the 2014 Pen New England Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award for my YA post-modern revisionist steampunk Frankenstein novel2.

You may not know what this award is, but it is awesome and I am wildly excited about it. Ecstatic, actually, might be the better word. Past winners have gone on to publish a variety of excellent children’s novels, many of which I have read and loved. Also Lois Lowry was a judge3. Lois Lowry. Like The Giver. That Lois Lowry.

So I guess I am now an emerging voice in children’s and young adult literature? Or something? Whatever the case, I’m so pleased. Thank you to the committee who chose me! And thanks to everyone who has listened to me vent about this book or brainstormed with me or sat there while I brainstormed at them or gave me chocolate when I was unhappy about it or gave me chocolate when I was happy about it or who nodded when I spouted random Frankenstein facts at them or looked at my Pinterest board for the novel4.

Guys. I am SO excited.

 

  1. Like a crazy person.
  2. The name of which is now out in the world, as is my actual last name.
  3. LOIS FREAKING LOWRY read something I wrote! And apparently liked it!
  4. The Pinterest board may be better than the actual novel.
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