Nov 23, 2014

Where I've Been, Mental Health-wise

I don't know, really. I just know I wanted to blog about this. It feels—not important, really, just like I should. I've always been open and honest about my mental illness, and I don't plan on making an exception for this. If you're here for the funnies or the writing advice, turn away.

So I haven't been to school in two weeks.

Well, that's not necessarily true. I went to school two Fridays ago for around two hours before I got my guidance counselor to call my mom to get me permission to leave. And you're wondering why, and, well: anxiety. It's been bad in pretty much every way—I haven't left the house willingly in a few weeks; I don't have any desire to interact with other people; I spend all my time hunched over my phone. (This sounds more like depression. I don't know how to words.)

Friday, my mom took me to a juvenile outpatient psychiatric facility, which is a long and cumbersome name for a place you go for a long and cumbersome time for some long and cumbersome therapy (seven hours a day, counting the three straight uninterrupted hours of "school," where we just do our homework). I start there tomorrow, on Monday. To be honest, I'm too tired to be nervous.

I haven't talked to my friends in weeks. I wish I cared more about this. It's not like I dislike my friends—in fact, they are my favorite people on the planet most days. But I just can't bring myself to get the energy to think about caring about this. I have talked to some online friends, but for fleeting periods of time. I actually have a text from a critique partner on my phone right now, and I should probably answer it, but the thought of having a conversation—though I love this critique partner dearly—makes me want to take a nap.

I haven't done homework in God knows how long. I've been neglecting self-care. The music I've been playing has been mostly Taylor Swift, but more "All Too Well" and "Sad Beautiful Tragic" than "Blank Space" or "Shake It Off," if you catch my drift.

I don't know exactly why I'm writing this. It isn't going to really help anyone, which is usually the reason I tweet/blog about depression and anxiety—to try to scratch the surface of helping other people. To be honest, I think I'm free-writing. I certainly haven't stopped to think about this stuff.

Maybe it's just because I want to tell stories. I've always told stories one way or another, and though this is a significantly less whimsical and more personal one, it's still a story. And I love those things so much.

Surprisingly, I have been reading—I read about a hundred pages of Hilary T. Smith's Wild Awake (which rocks, by the way) yesterday and thought I was the coolest person alive for that. Not much writing getting done, but what do you expect?

My heart hasn't really been in my tweets, though I don't know if that shows—I'm an exceptional actor. When I need to, I can turn on the smiles and the laughter and the fake. But yeah, tweeting usually gives me this weird joy because it's something I know I'm good at, but...lately, not so much? I tweet something and instead of rereading it and laughing at my own expense or my own ingenuity like usual, I just kind of shrug and say, "Meh." Though, all of your well-wishes and concern and the messages? They help. They really, really do. I love having this support system, and to be honest the fact that it's on the internet doesn't matter except that I wish I could hug you all but I can't which makes me sad. Anyway:

I hope I bounce back; I really do. I don't enjoy feeling like this blob of TIREDNESS and ANXPRESSION (DEPXIETY?). Also, I trust that I will bounce back. It's just one of those Bad Days (a few in succession, actually), and I figured I'd tell you all about it because I'm weird. We've established that. Come on.

I love you guys embarrassing amounts; take care of yourselves; let me nap another five minutes, 'kay?

Nov 4, 2014


Hiiii everyone! So. It's been a while since my last WIP Update. This is mainly because I was knee-deep in FOR THOSE WHO LISTEN-land, but since I've been querying for a while, I needed a distraction. This is not to say querying is going well or that querying is going poorly; this is to say that querying is querying and therefore it's soul-sucking no matter what.



It hit me like a ton of bricks, quite frankly: one minute I was working on something else (an MG, actually!), and the next minute I had this IDEA. And I loved this idea, and I started writing it, and now here we are, over 20k in!

So here's the breakdown of everything you need to know:

Title: Sweetest Downfall
Explanation for title:

From "Samson" by Regina Spektor. Graphic by me.

Genre: gay YA contemporary romance
Current word count: 23,149
Projected word count: 60,000
(Very very bad) pitch I just came up with: Seventeen-year-old Zeke Lye has a dead best friend, a childhood friend, Nick, who bullied her to suicide, an overwhelming desire to get the hell out of his sleepy South Jersey town, and generalized anxiety disorder. So when Nick's house is foreclosed, he and his mom move into Zeke's basement, and Zeke is...overwhelmed. And when they begin falling for each other—against their will—Zeke is forced to choose between the past he's always clung to and the uncertain future.
Twitter pitch I've been working on for like #PitMad and stuff when that comes around again if I'm ready I dunno:
Worse things than your old BFF bullying your current BFF to suicide:

  • Him renting your basement
  • Him telling you he loves you
  • You might love him, too.
First line: "He pulled in front of my house in his fast car in his good mood in his Sunday best despite it being Tuesday with a steady stream of pop rock music emanating from his radio."
(Very short) excerpt:
He thumbed his lower lip again.
"Why are you playing with your lips?" I asked.
"Oral fixation. Why are you looking at my lips?"
Oral fixation.
"Theme song" (song that reminds me of this manuscript / that I keep playing as I write it): Poison & Wine by The Civil Wars ("I don't have a choice but I'd still choose you..." I MEAN REALLY.)

So. Yeah. I never know how to end a blog post anymore. To be honest, I never know how to start a blog post anymore, so whatever. Hope this project sounds kind of okay to at least like one of you! I have lofty goals, I know. Also, I'm going to have some blogging news this week, so stay tuned!

Oct 2, 2014

Beautiful Stories for Ugly People

All right, so here's a secret: I'm not very good-looking. I do not say this in a self-pitying way—I'm just not, like I'm not blonde or seven feet tall. Believe me when I say I don't actually care at this point in my life about my attractiveness or lack thereof. There are so many more interesting things to be besides "pretty," and I'd rather focus on being those things than on being physically desirable.

Where is my YA story?

Where are the stories for the millions of other teens who aren't all that much to look at?

Eleanor & Park, you say. Okay, fine—but there are a few problems with this. For one thing, neither Eleanor nor Park is unattractive. (And if you mean to tell me "fat" or "Korean-American" is equivalent to unattractive, the best thing now is probably for you to exit.) For another, even if they were, why do we get one story? Why is there one story that is supposed to represent what millions and millions of teens—in fact, billions of people—experience? And we all know YA lit is dominated by romance, whether realistic or speculative or anything in between, so: why are you saying that people like me can't fall in love?

I want a story. No, I want hundreds of stories, of the love variety and of other kinds. I want them to feature people who aren't much to look at. I want them to feature heroes and heroines and [gender-neutral term for those with exceedingly noble qualities] who are, at best, plain, and at worst straight-up ugly.

But that wouldn't sell. But that's too big a risk.

What I think about this is essentially that you're saying: no one has ever done this before, so it couldn't possibly work. And the worst defense of them all is "We can't change because we've always done it this way."

If it fails completely, okay. That's fine. (It's not really fine, but:) At least you had the gall to try something different. Not just something different for funsies—something different that matters. Because if you don't think there are teens and others whose sense of self-worth ties directly with their physical appearance, I've got some bad news for you. (The news is that you're completely silly.)

And, for the record, I don't think this would fail. I know we all want to fall in love with the superduperhot person, but there is like one of those out of every ten random people. Maybe even fewer than that. What are the odds everyone is going to end up in a relationship with a strikingly objectively beautiful human being? Not high. (Unless polygamy is their thing.)

To borrow some John Green parlance, the straight do not have a monopoly on love. Neither do the white. Neither do the able-bodied. Neither do the pretty. I've seen a million calls to action for those things I mentioned first, and I'm not even going to pretend stories for ugly people are anywhere near as important as stories for people of color and disabled people and LGBTQ+ people. But there is room for stories for everyone, and those of us who do not look like we are Photoshopped qualify as people, last I checked. And there are plenty of us. And we'd really like to show up as more than the best friend or the villain—or the protagonist who's beautiful but doesn't know she's beautiful and that's what makes her beautiful.

Just something to consider as you're writing that love interest. Some of us aren't pretty. Doesn't make us any less beautiful.

Aug 15, 2014

Anxiety and Me (But Mostly Me)

I'm going to a family party tomorrow. It's all people I know and have known for years, though I haven't seen some of them in a while. Preparations that have been made include dinner plans, time of arrival, and escape routes.

Wait, what?

Yeah. I have anxiety. Social anxiety, to be specific, though I'm also concerned about a million unlikely occurrences at all times, e.g. my house burning down if I leave a phone charger plugged in or a robbery if I don't lock the front door at all times. I've been diagnosed, and I'm on psychiatric medication for it.

So yes, I do have multiple escape plans, if need be. I will most likely walk into the restaurant weak at the knees, just a tad lightheaded, sweaty palmed, and really, really concerned about whether my family is being too loud for the other diners.

This is my normal. This is how I wake up and go to bed and how I do everything in between.

When I went to Target today with my mom, we were looking for Japanese candy—it's called Pocky. We couldn't find it anywhere, so she asked a worker roaming the aisles.

"POCKY?" she said—not rudely, but loudly. People turned their heads. "I'M NOT SURE. SHERYL, DO WE HAVE—WHAT IS IT—POCKY?"

I was sweating by the time we found the Pocky. When I reached for it, my hand trembled, and my palm was slicked with a thin sheen of perspiration. I don't blame the employee; how could she have known she was about to send me into minor hysterics?

Later, also at Target, I asked my mom if she could please be a little less noisy as we were walking down the aisles. I waited until we were alone in an aisle. She was angry for a moment because she didn't realize what I meant. Then, when she recognized she was causing me anxiety by talking a smidgen too loudly for my tastes, she nodded and put a finger to her lips.

We went to look at the YA books, and my mom stood at the end of the aisle. Someone my age came over and began browsing a few minutes after I'd arrived. I finished looking through the (admittedly not very good) selection as quickly as I could and, seeing I couldn't walk past her without saying "Excuse me," I walked all the way around another aisle to get back to my mom.

This is my life. There are many little inconveniences in it. It's imperfect—very much so. It sucks, sometimes. I still love it. I still manage to get by. I love people as a whole; I just can't be around too many at one time. I had my first panic attack when I was about eight because a girl at an all-you-can-eat buffet was maybe looking at me.

She was definitely looking at me then, after I started crying.

So when I say I have social media anxiety, I don't mean it as a joke. I really do have it. It's not diagnosable to my knowledge (nor does it really warrant a diagnosis), but it's still real, and it still affects me.

One time someone online called something I tweeted offensive, and I cried. I am not trying to become a victim—if I recall correctly, it was, in fact, offensive and poorly worded. I believe that person was 100% correct; moreover, I believe he handled it in a classy way.

I still cried.

When I tweet something, unless it's super late at night or an emergency is happening or I'm replying to a dear friend I know won't judge me, I proofread it at least twice. At the very bare minimum. Sometimes I have a hilarious joke I want to share and I try to fit it in one tweet, but it just doesn't work. Do I tweet twice? Nope—I instead try to find some magical way to sacrifice long words or clauses. Never grammar, though; what if someone with a lot of followers retweets it and then everyone laughs at my stupidity? I will go through ten proofreads, changing and tweaking wherever I can. This will take me probably seven to ten minutes. For one tweet, one small joke.

It won't get retweeted or favorited. By anyone. I'll delete it.

Now, I'm not trying to shame you guys into RTing/favoriting my stuff if you don't want to. By no means am I trying to do that. What I am trying to do is show you the inner workings of a mind touched by anxiety.

When someone I used to talk with on Twitter frequently hasn't initiated a conversation with me, I assume they don't like me. I will scroll through weeks of my own tweets to find our last interaction, and I will analyze everything about it. Did this person not use a period at the end of their sentence? That means they're being disingenuous. Two exclamation points? They're being sarcastic. Three question marks? They don't actually care about the question they're asking me.

It doesn't matter that I haven't initiated any interaction with said person either. If they wanted to talk to me, they'd have already. I'm actually going through this particular pocket of anxiety at the moment with an old friend, so if you're reading this and it could apply to you—hi. I'm concerned.

I don't follow a lot of people on Twitter, in part because I'm worried I'll miss some important news of theirs and not know to congratulate them and they'll notice and hate me. So the solution is just not to follow many people at all. Even if they interact with me frequently; sometimes especially if. Because what if I follow them now, after we've been talking for a while, and they notice I hadn't been following them before? Would they not like me anymore?

I don't follow anyone who states their political affiliation in their bio. I'm liberal (and also, you know, gay), but what if other liberal people are so very liberal that they don't think I'm liberal enough? What if conservative people hate me because I'm gay?

(For the record, I know many conservative people are LGBTQ+-friendly. I just don't know very many conservative LGBTQ+-friendly people personally, so I sort of automatically go into a conversation with a conservative person with my guard up.)

I try not to use trending hashtags, because what if someone I don't know ironically retweets it to make fun of me? Almost every time I use a hashtag like #noooooo or #pleasestop or whatever, check to make sure it's not popular or trending at the moment. Today I clicked through to a hashtag, accidentally favorited some stranger's tweet, and had to take a few moments to catch my breath and slow my heart rate.

I still love Twitter. I love blogging. I love you guys, my readers and my followers, and I love that you give me all this love in return. It's just hard. And sometimes there's no "but" to add to the end of that statement, no lesson to be learned.

And sometimes that's okay.

Aug 6, 2014


So! I finished a book!

A while ago, actually, and it's my fifth completed novel, in fact. I totally forgot to blog about this. It's called FOR THOSE WHO LISTEN. It's a YA kissing book—er, contemporary. It's got lots of drama and intrigue and cheese. And I love it, and I'm going to interview myself about it.

Interview yourself? you ask.

Yes. Well. Some of us are not famous enough to have someone else interview us and are also mildly solipsistic, so. Get over it. This is a fun new thing I'm gonna be doing every time I complete a manuscript instead of blogging about said manuscript when I get the idea for it. Which, if you know anything about me or read my blog archives, know doesn't work. (Hi, REVERIE.)

So, without further ado:


I did! Well, I've written five. But you're probably referring to my new one, right? FOR THOSE WHO LISTEN?

I dunno, dude. They just pay me to look pretty.

Um, is that a...profitable line of business?

YES SHUT UP. Anyway, what's it about?!

FOR THOSE WHO LISTEN is about kissing. And also I guess about trust, trust falls, the trusty ol' irresistible force paradox, sad indie rock music, change, cityscapes, bridges (and other things to burn), and the definition of love. More specifically, it's a YA contemporary with a side of romance about three teens trying to throw themselves off the same bridge on Christmas Eve who find themselves stuck in a supermarket. Also: hijinks! Goat cheese debates! Bread product fights! Lobsters! All this and more, and I'm pitching it as Ned Vizzini's IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY meets The Breakfast Club.


Do you actually think so or are you just saying this because you wrote that?

The latter.


Who are the main characters and why should I care about them?

Aidan: straight-edge guy with a slight anger issue and a big heart. Has depression and a pretty extensive arsenal of non-curse words ("Tonka-truckin'" for "mother****ing," anyone?). Ally. Friend. Awesome dude. Prickly edged.

Chris: fifteen-year-old transgender dude with a thing for video games and awkward pauses in conversations and similarly has some amazing curse words if I do say so myself ("Twinkle, twinkle, little sh*t." "For he's a jolly good little motherf**k." If that doesn't make you want to read this book, I don't want to know you).

Mara: feminist LGBTQ+ ally non-Catholic-but-still-kind-of-Catholic. Irrational, illogical, bold. Both a lover and a fighter. Impulsive. Strong. Enduring. Good with words. Convincing. Probably among my favorite of my characters.

Oh, and one of them still wants to die after they get inside the supermarket. Did I forget to mention that?

What's on the playlist?

The obligatory Taylor Swift ("All Too Well"), not to mention Ed Sheeran ("Photograph"; "Kiss Me"), The Fray ("Hold My Hand"), Daughter ("Youth"), Hunter Hayes ("Invisible"), P!nk ("Who Knew"), Sara Bareilles ("Bright Lights and Cityscapes"; "Gravity"), and then a smattering of indie rock bands.

I'm confused: is this a happy book or a sad book?

Well, I'm a writer, so I'm not going to answer this one way or the other. (This is what we do.) I will, however, say that FOR THOSE WHO LISTEN has both lighthearted elements and darker themes. There are hijinks and fun and laughter, but there's also, you know, the theme of adolescent suicide.

Why did you write this book?

So I don't really make it a secret that I was suicidal two years ago. That's a big reason why I write a lot about suicide—I don't know what it's like for every suicidal teen, but I do know the foundation of that experience firsthand. Also, I kind of wanted to show how suicide could touch three very different adolescents struggling with different demons. Also also, I wanted to explore the dark mind of a person who doesn't like goat cheese.

What does the title mean?

Well, if I just up and told you, it'd ruin the eventual reading experience, wouldn't it? But I will say that FOR THOSE WHO LISTEN is not a product of my mind; it's exactly half of a quote. You can actually Google "for those who listen" and the first result is the quote, but hey. Shhh. No one has to know.

Thank me for having me, me!

Thank me!

Jul 6, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour

Check out this video if you want to hear me reading some of FOR THOSE WHO LISTEN, the manuscript I'm about to talk about in this blog post! I start reading at the 1:55 mark, but I make some terrible jokes before that and generally am awkward in every way, so I recommend watching the whole thing.

Oh hi guys. Katherine Locke, a good Twitter buddy, tagged me in the My Writing Process blog tour! Here we go:

What am I working on?

My next YA contemporary, FOR THOSE WHO LISTEN. FTWL is about three strangers who, after trying (and failing) to die by jumping off the Ben Franklin Bridge, find themselves stuck in a supermarket overnight with only one another for company. Hijinks, kissing, personal revelations, food fights, makeshift therapy, and lobsters in baby clothes ensue, but all is not well, and one of them secretly isn't convinced about wanting to live.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

FOR THOSE WHO LISTEN could be considered a "dark contemporary" based on its premise, but most of those are...well, darker than this one. There's nothing wrong with that, and my manuscript is not inherently better because it's different in that way. That said, my book, unlike most other dark contemporaries, includes a fair bit of humor, which is admittedly a first for me as a writer as is thusly nerve-wracking. FOR THOSE WHO LISTEN is different because it's not strictly dark and sad, but it's also not strictly happy and light.

Why do I write what I do?

I tried to die in early 2012, so I know, in broad terms, what it's like. Of course, I don't know what it's like to want to commit suicide from the perspective of everyone who does. But I know the foundation of that experience, and I know some of the thoughts and feelings people might have. But I don't believe in "Write what you know," and I don't write about this because I know about it. I write about suicide, mental illness, sexual orientation, gender identity, and everything else I write about for a million reasons, but the main one is because I have something to say about them. I want to contribute to a culture in which having something to say about suicide, mental illness, sexual orientation, gender identity is not taboo, because then maybe being suicidal, mentally ill, LGBQIA, or trans*/gender nonconforming won't be taboo.

How does my writing process work?

I write almost exclusively on my iPhone. I used to write almost exclusively on an (even smaller!) iPod. But I don't really require anything special; just a quiet room and kinda loud music and blaring thoughts. Preferably I'll be emotional and riding a caffeine high, but I'm a high school student. I write when I can, where I can, and almost always when I'm supposed to be doing homework.

After the first draft is done, I'll revise on my crappy free word processor, which I've recently ditched in favor of Scrivener. While I'm writing, I keep a file entitled "THINGS TO CHANGE IN REVISIONS," and I use this to iron out everything I see that's wrong with it. I'll do one major edit, anywhere from two to four passes after that, and then it's off to my critique partners.

Next week on the blog tour:

Allison Mulder can often be found stealing taller bookshelves from family members, scouring Iowa’s wilderness for fellow writerly types, or pursuing an English degree at college. With all this stealing, scouring, and pursuing to do, she sometimes forgets to blog. But she is steadily filling her laptop with YA fantasy novels and also tweets a lot. Check out her blog at or yell at @silent_pages for not remembering to blog.

Jun 10, 2014

How to Twitter Good

•Don't be in it for the followers.
Look, everyone wants a big number in the "followers" rectangle—but it doesn't mean anything. I currently have 530 followers, but that doesn't tell you anything. I could be following two million people. I could have gotten them all from being the first to reply to John Green that one time. What matters is not how many followers you have; what matters is how engaging and personable you are with them.

•Put a picture of yourself as your profile picture.
I used to have a really weird picture I found online as mine, and I had maybe -1 followers. When I changed it to a crappy headshot I took on my Mac with no filter and my dog looking potentially dead in the background, I gained a buuunch, and people started interacting with me much more. Of course, this could be due to reasons unrelated to my profile picture, but it's still pretty universally true that people like to see pictures of other people. (Also, everyone hates the eggs that are the default pictures. Everyone.) Trust me when I tell you no one cares if you have pimples or big teeth or whatever. We're book people. Let's be real.

•Be interesting.
Don't tweet "I just found a penny" or whatever. If it doesn't make for a good story, or if it isn't funny, engaging, or smart, I generally don't tweet it. There are, of course, exceptions, and also I don't claim every one of my tweets falls into these categories. But try to make it worthwhile for your followers.

Not that hard. No one likes the people who abbreviate every word.

•Strike up conversations.
If you want someone to follow you, the best way is not to follow them for two years without ever speaking to them. It's to see where your common interests lie and to discuss them with that person. Of course, don't go overboard. There's actually a pretty bold line between replying to everything someone tweets and engaging with them in a mutually enjoyable conversation.

•Be relatable.
People will retweet things that apply to them, or otherwise things that make them laugh, think, or cry. (Also, if you can make someone cry in 140 characters or less, you are a wizard.)

•Be different—from others, and from yourself.
No one likes people who steal other people's jokes. Similarly, no one likes people who repeat the same jokes (or general joke format) over and over ad nauseam. If people wanted to read someone else's joke, they'd follow that person.

•Try to make friends.
If you go into Twitter thinking "I'm not here to make friends," you will almost certainly fail at Twitter. The whole point is to establish relationships with people! There's a reason it's called social networking.

•Realize that no one really knows what they're doing.
Social media is new. So new, in fact, that this is a pretty universal truth: there are no rules. There are guidelines, sure, but you can absolutely break them. Generally you won't do so well if you do break them, but who knows? (No one.) You could well become famous and secure an agent and a book deal and a million dollars through Twitter. Just because it hasn't happened doesn't mean it won't, and I think it's important to remember that.

May 13, 2014

Dear Me

Dear Me,

Someday we will title this post what we originally intended it to be called: "Dear Gay Kid." Someday we won't care what the people following us on Twitter who might disagree with this post's content—or, in fact, its premise—think.

Because someday we will be happy. We won't be happy always, but we will be happy more, and that's all we can ask for.

Because we won't care that we're gay. Well, we will care—it's a part of us. But we won't wake up in the morning and go, "Shit, I'm still gay?" We'll wake up in the morning and go, "Shit, it's 7:30? I'm going to be late for my job as an editor at a Big Fancy Publishing House." Then we'll kiss our boyfriend—husband?—and the fact that you were scared to come out will not matter. You will swim in his eyes, and do you really think you'll be worrying about instilled hate in the presence of unfiltered, raw love?

You won't—we won't. Here's a secret: love always wins against hate. Always. Sometimes in a roundabout, almost confusing way, but it wins in the end. Like that Dr. Seuss quote: "Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end."

Someday it won't matter what even your family thinks about your sexual orientation. Your brother won't like it. He'll change his mind. The world is changing rapidly; we change with it or we get left behind. Your mom will cry—tears of relief that you finally told her; tears of trust and unity.

But that hasn't happened yet. Guess what, though? You told your sister. You said, "I hope you don't hate me," and then a thousand other things, and then "I'm gay." She said, "You think I'd hate you for that? I'm a little offended." You remember the exact words. They were through a Facebook message. You remember the sheer, almost crushing terror beforehand. Afterwards everything is a tear-stained blur.

Remember how you were growing up and "f—ot" was the only word you knew to describe yourself? Remember when you'd rock back and forth in the bottom of your shower, crying your eyes out because only the positively torrential streams of water would drown out your wailing? You don't know this yet, but you'll want to die—twice. You'll be within days of doing it before you tell someone.

But people's minds are changing, even now, as you sit there crying. Soon more people will support marriage equality than not. Soon it won't even matter who supports you or not because you will be able to support yourself.

Someday—May 13th, 2014—a presumably straight girl in your Physics class will get all her nearby classmates nodding along when she declares, "Love is fucking beautiful." That day, you will come home, and you will cry. You will cry and you won't know exactly why but you'll deduce later that it's because people with no horse in this race support you. People will be fucking beautiful.

You will be fucking beautiful.

Just stay around to see it.

May 10, 2014

50 Excuses Better Than "I Don't Have Time To Read"

1. I can't; I was harpooned in the eye.

2. Sorry, I'm busy reorganizing the dust particles in my attic.

3. No, I'm recording my debut ska studio album.

4. I would love to, but I'm planning on being abducted tonight. Aliens or kidnappers. Whatever.

5. Nope—too busy reinventing a television set with two copper wires and a cantaloupe.

6. Ugh, sorry, I really can't—I'm starring in a reboot of Seinfeld. I play Jerry Seinfeld. It's a show about nothing! (That was good, right?)

7. I was thinking about reading, but I decided I'd prefer trying to develop several superpowers.

8. Nah, I'm busy willing SpongeBob SquarePants into existence.

9. I would, but I just found a Slinky, so I'm booked for three weeks at least.

10., well, I was actually going to reenact the entirety of Britney's "Oops! I Did It Again" tonight.

11. I'm going to be perfecting the one-handed clap today, so I really can't in good conscience.

12. I've actually contracted smallpox. Sorry!

13. I was planning on crying over missing the Mean Girls tenth anniversary tonight.

14. Actually I was going to build a life-sized diorama of the sun.

15. I would, but I'm going hot air-ballooning.

16. Maybe tomorrow? I wanted to try becoming a tree.

17. Sorry, man—I'm actually going to be in outer space.

18. Rain check? Blink-182 released a studio album ten years ago.

19. No, I've had these plans to be cryogenically frozen for, like, a month.

20. But I wanted to snort coupons today.

21. The universe is unfathomable, so I'm taking the day off.

22. Dude, you know I'm trying to train that peregrine falcon.

23. Nah, I have to think of a solution to the riddle "What gets wetter as it dries?"

24. I would, but I DVRed Lion King like five years ago and still haven't gotten around to watching it.

25. No. Learning Mandarin Chinese.

26. But I was gonna brainstorm names for my new chair!

27. These petunias aren't going to water themselves! So what if they're not my petunias?

28. Switch with me? I have to star in a home shopping commercial today, and ughhh.

29. Totally! Riiiight after I singlehandedly construct this man-made ocean.

30. Um, no...sorry, it's just that watermelons seem particularly fascinating right now.

31. I was considering being hit by a winged bicycle.

32. Sorry, dude—I'm on the brink of discovering the mythical pegasus. I knew you'd understand.

33. Do you really think I'll have time to read after marathoning every episode of Jersey Shore?

34. No, I was gonna time travel back to before the printing press was invented.

35. Sure! Wait, you said "breed?"

36. I was actually going to exterminate cockroaches once and for all.

37. But...this documentary on the splendors of paint is just so interesting...

38. I was actually just going to tell you; I was planning on aging five years in the next two days, so can it wait?

39. Well...I was actually gonna consider the physics of doorjambs...

40. Ugh, don't hate me, but I totally wanted to try the vampire thing today.

41. No. I have to find out who exactly that person on the other side of the mirror is. They seem sinister.

42. Lemons sound more fun, though!

43. Nah, don't you just wanna go nightclubbing in Uzbekistan?

44. I was going to trace the history of the Venetian blind, though!

45. Sometimes you just have to construct a thousand paper airplanes. This is one of those times.

46. Lame. Wouldn't you rather try to shrink our body sizes to four times smaller than they are currently?

47. Naaaah. Going tubing in the Arctic.

48. I would love to, but I've had these cardboard-eating plans for quite a while.

49. No. It's not that I don't have time to—I actually don't want to. I don't like stories. I don't like having the power to control how people look, smell, act. I don't have the imagination required to build worlds, to destroy them. I stopped dreaming long ago.

50. Nope—Game of Thrones is on in twenty minutes, dude.

May 4, 2014


This post will probably get very pretentious very quickly, but I really hope you'll stick it out. It's worth it.

This isn't a review blog. I have a review blog already (, and I'm not a double-dipper.

But. My critique partner wrote this book. My first critique partner, actually, not to mention a close friend of mine.

So: I'm going to review her book now, in three parts. This is a weird, unique experience, and I'm 1000% sure I'm going to start crying at some point, but hey.


FALLING INTO PLACE used to be called something else that I'm not sure I'm allowed to disclose, so I won't. Amy sent me the first page (literally a picture of one handwritten page) in an email that looked CONSPICUOUSLY LIKE THIS:

Then I gave her notes, the majority of which were "I'm going to cry during this book, aren't I?"

She wrote it in 2012. I got it in installments—a chapter here, fifty pages there, and eventually I had a book in my inbox. Amy sent me an email titled "For Your Aerial Perusal" with the full manuscript attached because I was going to read it on a plane (I was going to Texas), but I actually didn't read it until after I got off the plane. Relatedly: I'm stupid.

I gave her notes on the book. Honestly, this was the second complete book I'd critiqued ever—the first was also by Amy—and so I basically did line edits for her instead of big picture ones. I cried four times; I remember that for some reason I can't articulate.

I don't want to say "I knew this was special" or whatever because it's so cliche you wouldn't believe me if I said it. As Amy puts it, "We erode words," and I don't want to erode them further. But this book...I don't know. It was different. It had some quality to it I couldn't identify, but one I knew made it unique.

I loved it. And it made me fall in further (wonderfully platonic) love with Amy.


Amy edited her book like holy hell—although honestly, it was the best first draft I'd ever read. She sent it to her agent (tangentially: her agent is amazing), who put it on submission, yadda yadda yadda, stuff I'm not sure I could say if I wanted to—

Greenwillow wanted to buy it. Greenwillow/HarperCollins. The publisher, in fact, of Greenwillow/HarperCollins wanted to buy it.

Amy sent me a text I no longer have—boo, stupid phone—that basically said "YOU NEED TO CALL ME IMMEDIATELY." I was at school with my phone turned off, though, so I didn't see it until mid-afternoon.

When I got out, I turned my phone on, read her text, and walked home shaking. Physically shaking because I was so excited, and I didn't know what was going on but it didn't matter because Amy was excited and therefore so was I.

I got home. She'd emailed our critique group forty-five minutes earlier, saying that Greenwillow had offered on her book.


FALLING INTO PLACE is about Liz Emerson. It is about her actions and her reactions, and the actions and reactions of those around her. It is about physics, and it is about math and science and empirical things.

It is about disastrous love. It is about hate, shame, humiliation, lies. It is about pretending the world is younger, about imagination and friends and mothers and perfection. It is about crying and silly things and how sometimes the world fails you.

It is about love that binds you, love that fills you up until you've forgotten you were empty; love that tries to kill you.

It is about yes.

And I can't wait for you to read it.