Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, everyone! This weekend is Valentine’s Day, and I am a big Valentine’s Day fan–red, hearts, chocolate, bring it on. So for today’s Friday Fifteen, I’m going to change it up a little and make some book recommendations.

When I was a teen, I never dated anyone. I had a ton of guy friends, but there was never anyone I was interested in dating, so my closest relationships were with my friends and family. And I’m guessing I wasn’t the first nor the last teen to feel this way. When people get down on Valentine’s Day for being all about couples, I want to remind them that love exists in all kinds of relationships, and that love is just as real as romantic love. Today, I want to share fifteen favorite YA/children’s lit book recommendations that put the focus on friend and family love.

  1. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery: the ultimate book about kindred spirits and sometimes you have to find your family.
  2. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: in case you didn’t cry enough at Anne of Green Gables.
  3. A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle: four generations of women come together to help one move on in this beautiful portrayal of family.
  4. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell: about being sisters, being friends, and learning how to grow apart and together.
  5. The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock: DJ Schwenk is my favorite, and this is the Dairy Queen book that focuses most on her family; so genuine and so touching.
  6. This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki: a touching, beautiful story about growing up and realizing your family is more complicated than you thought.
  7. Feeling Sorry for Celia by Jaclyn Moriarty: forever my go-to book about how friendships form and grow and change.
  8. How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr: love Zarr’s look at grief and loss and hope and how families can evolve.
  9. Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma: the complicated and dangerous devotion of two sisters who can only rely on each other.
  10. Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: a devastating story of bravery and friendship and all my feels.
  11. Just Visiting by Dahlia Adler: even when their paths may be diverging, Reagan and Victoria’s supportive friendship rings so true to me.
  12. Tell the Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt: this story about the messiness of grief and love and illness sticks with me.
  13. Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta: this layered story of generations of friends wrecked me in the best way.
  14. The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth: I got to the end of this book and thought, “Oh my gosh, this is a family love letter.”
  15. Beware the Wild by Natalie C. Parker: fighting for your family with a creepy Southern gothic style.

Other favorite non-romantic love stories? Share them in the comments. Happy Valentine’s day, everyone!

Links Galore

Lots of links I’ve been saving:

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! Yesterday I was drinking an iced coffee and today it’s snowing, which I guess means it’s February in New England. Let’s all spend the rest of the winter indoors in blanket forts, okay? Until the blanket forts are complete, here’s a look at what I’ve been reading and writing this week in fifteen words or fewer:

ReadingBone Gap by Laura Ruby
Beautiful writing, and another good recommendation for fans of Jessica Jones.

Writing: “…when I enter the building it smells the same—ice, sweat, and microwaved pizza.”
Oh first draft, it’s been a while.

Miles, Pages, and Imposter Syndrome: Owning What You Do

This year, I’m training for my first marathon. I’ve talked here about what running means to me, and what the marathon and the Boston Marathon in particular means to me, but running an actual marathon always felt more like a bucket list item than an actual achievable goal. But I figured that if I was ever going to do it, I needed to try sooner rather than later, so over the last several weeks, I’ve been fitting weekday runs into my schedule and adding long runs to my weekends.

IMG_9985The other day, a coworker asked about my weekend, and I mentioned going for a long run and my training. She said, “No way! I didn’t know you were a runner.”

“Eeehh…” I said, and mentioned that I was really slow and still training and made all kinds of excuses for why I wasn’t like a ‘real runner.’

This weekend, I hit my longest ever distance of over 14.5 miles. What distance will it take for me to call myself a runner?

I get the same way about writing. If someone asks what I do, a lot of times I mention my day job first. Most of the time I follow up with, “…and I write YA novels,” but not always. Inside, I make a lot of excuses for why I can’t tell people I’m a writer: I don’t support myself entirely from writing, I only have one book out so far, I don’t always write every day, I don’t have a magical unicorn who helps me through the revision process, etc. etc. etc.

It can be hard to claim your identity as a writer. It means that you’re dedicating your time and energy to something–something that might not pan out the way you hope it will. And unlike a lot of other careers, there’s no way to know when you’ve ‘made it’ as a writer. Writers don’t have a test to pass or a certification to get in order to be a writer–which is great, because it means that stories can come from anyone and anywhere, but it can also be hard, because how do you know when you’ve really made it? And what if someone catches you calling yourself a writer? What if they find out that you’re really just trying to hold it all together?

The thing is: there is no point at which you know for sure you’re a writer. So many of us feel imposter syndrome, like someone is going to ‘catch us’ calling ourselves artists and call us frauds instead. Hell, even Meryl Streep has said: “You think ‘why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?'” Meryl Streep, guys.

There’s no number of miles you can log, no amount of words you can write, that will tell you if you’re a runner or a writer. You’re a runner because you run and you’re a writer because you write.

You can spend your whole life making excuses for why you’re not a ‘real’ writer or runner or whatever you’re putting your time and energy into, but when it comes down to it, you’ve got to claim your identity for yourself. No one can tell you how many hours you have to put in or how many books you have to write or how many awards you have to win to really ‘make it’ as whatever it is you want to be.

So I’m going to put the time and effort in, as a writer and as a runner. And when people ask what I do, I’ll tell them.

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, guys! I’ve had a good dose of creative connectivity this week, and I’m looking forward to even more creative time with my lovely crit group members over the weekend. In the meantime, here’s a look at what I’ve been reading and writing in fifteen words or fewer:

ReadingBig Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert
Encouraging, open, and conversational book about living as an artist. Definitely what I needed.

Writing: “You can’t sleep through my cross-country playlist,” TJ said. “It’s rhythmically impossible.”
Hoping to finish up with this pass of revision over the weekend; psyched to dive into something new, but I’m going to miss these characters (for the time being, at least).

Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, everyone! The east coast is getting some major snow this weekend (stay safe, Southern and Mid-Atlantic friends!), which means it’s a good time to stay inside and cozy up with a book. Here’s a look at what I’ve been reading and writing this week, in fifteen words or fewer:

Reading: Out of Darkness by Ashley Hope Pérez
This book wrecked me in the best way possible. Devastating story, brilliant writing.

Writing: “And in the stage wings, I saw Colby Finch, smiling like he felt it, too.”
Revision rolls along!

Links Galore

A few of good links for today: