Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Currently: Hamilton Edition

It's time to link up with Katy Upperman once again for a "Currently" post. Here's what I'm currently...
 
 
Loving
Hamilton! I knew the entire world was obsessed with this Broadway show, but I put off listening to it for the longest time. I don’t know anything about rap or hip-hop, so part of me was scared I wouldn’t like the show. OF COURSE I was wrong. The soundtrack is amazing, and I listen to it every day! The storytelling and writing are top notch, and the creator/star, Lin-Manuel Miranda, is beyond talented (and seems SO genuine and kind).  
 
Reading
Trying to be more engaged with politics has led me to LIVING HISTORY, Hillary Clinton’s autobiography from 2004. I’m only sixty pages in, but her life has been super interesting to read about so far. She was the first student graduation speaker at her university (allowed, with much reservation, by the university president), and her speech was pretty polarizing. Afterward, she went for a swim in the lake by her dorm, and the university president ordered campus security to confiscate the clothes Hillary had left behind. Thankfully she was wearing a bathing suit, but she still had to go to the campus security office, dripping wet, to reclaim her clothes! The president said she regretted letting Hillary speak, but Hillary got much attention for her speech, and it helped open doors for her. I was stunned reading that part – what a petty university president!
 
Watching
 

The Hamilton cast performance from last Sunday’s Tony Awards. This is what finally convinced me to learn more about the show. This song has been stuck in my head ever since!
 
Listening To
One guess. Although, in addition to the Hamilton soundtrack, I’m listening to HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS on audiobook. Now that I’m older, different parts are striking a chord with me. Particularly the Muggle-born Registration Commission, where the (corrupted) Ministry of Magic requires all Muggle-borns to present themselves for registration and investigation. They are thought to have stolen magic if no magical relative can be traced in their bloodline. So relevant in today’s society.   
 
Thinking About
My mini-trip to Philly this Thursday with friends. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is being shown with live orchestra accompaniment, which sounds beyond cool! Does any movie have a score like Harry Potter? The music is THE BEST!
 
Anticipating
My copy of HAMILTON: THE REVOLUTION is arriving in the mail today! Pictures and lyrics from the show, paired with footnotes from Lin-Manuel Miranda. I love peeking behind-the-scenes of Broadway!
 
Wishing
I hope you’ll check out my short story, “Holes to Fill.” The Passed Note published it in its first-ever issue last week!
 
 
Making Me Happy
Memories from last weekend’s NYC trip with two of my best friends! We explored Central Park (and rented a rowboat!), ate New York pizza/bagels/brunch, and saw The Lion King. The show was fantastic, of course! I saw it four years ago with my mom and brother, and there were things I’d forgotten about. It was fun to be surprised all over again.
 
 
 


That's what I've been up to! How about you?

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Currently: Writer Podcasts and all of the books!

It's time to link up with Katy Upperman once again for a "Currently" post. Here's what I'm currently...
 
 
Loving
Writing at Starbucks! I’ve never been much of a Starbucks gal, but a new one just opened three minutes from my work/gym. It’s huge, with a drive-thru and tons of seating, so I’ve started going there to write on weekends and once a week during my lunch break.
 
Reading
After meeting Morgan Matson and hearing her talk about road trips, I started craving a reread of AMY & ROGER’S EPIC DETOUR. I also read Rainbow Rowell’s CARRY ON. Not going to lie, I STRUGGLED through the first 75 pages (the Harry Potter references were everywhere and I’m kind of crazy overprotective of HP), but a switch flipped all of a sudden and I needed to keep going. The plot suddenly became its own, separate from HP, and I got pretty hooked!

 
I just finished SUMMER OF SLOANE by Erin L. Schneider, and oh man, am I craving a trip to the beach! This book is full of fantastic setting details, friendships, and the struggles of forgiveness. Put it in your beach bag for this summer!  


Watching
My brother and I are reinstating our Supernatural marathon, seasons 6-10 (and 11, if it’s on Netflix by the time we get there). It’s been difficult finding time to hang out since he and I are on opposite work schedules, but we squeezed in a few episodes over the weekend. 
 
Listening To
I’m back on my writer podcast kick, especially since Sarah Enni interviewed Morgan Matson for First Draft. I’ve also discovered 88 Cups of Tea, thanks to the Jenny Han episode. Next up is the episode with Leigh Bardugo!
 
Thinking About
Writing! I'm 23K into a new project, and it was a FAST 23K (words I thought I'd never say, EVER). I wrote a short story version, so a lot of the words have come from that, but still. I never thought I'd be here two weeks after starting the draft. I'm definitely going to come up on the short end of the word count, so I'm going to be shopping for some extra plotlines (more words I never thought I'd say!) in a few weeks, but I'm having tons of fun!

 
Anticipating
My short story “Holes To Fill” is being published in the first ever issue of the YA lit mag THE PASSED NOTE on June 15th. Not only am I over the moon about that, the magazine is hosting a Twitter chat at 6pm EST that day, and the contributors get to be part of it! If you’re interested in things like where I write and who would star in an adaptation of my story, check out @kaitlinbartlett, @ThePassedNote and #PassingNotes on June 15th!
 
Wishing
That next weekend would hurry up. I’m going to NYC with some friends from college! It’s been four years since I last visited New York…far too long!
 
Making Me Happy
I just posted my write-up from the Morgan Matson event I went to, and it was so fun reliving it in my mind!
 
 
That's all for me...what have you been up to lately?

Monday, June 6, 2016

Meeting Morgan Matson!


Morgan Matson is one of my all-time favorite contemporary authors. I never thought I’d get to meet her because she lives in California, so when I found out she was coming to Princeton for a signing, I flipped! She’s one of the most genuine writers I’ve ever met, and her event was the best author signing I’ve been to so far. Want to know why? Read on…
 
1.       She loves Twitter like the rest of us! Before the signing, I tweeted her this picture:
And she immediately tweeted back, prompting a discussion about soy milk in lattes (more on that later). During her talk about THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING, she said she came up with the idea for the book when Twitter went down for two hours and she was forced to go outside and walk around (“I kept trying to go on Twitter to complain about Twitter being down…”).

2.      She’s obsessed with Starbucks. The reason I drank the latte was because Morgan Instagrammed her usual Starbucks order, and I wanted to try it. It was delicious, of course, and Morgan talked me through the particulars (how many espresso shots for each beverage size, how the soy milk makes it sweeter...girl knows her Starbucks! I told her she’s now my Starbucks guru, and she said she was happy to take on that role) when we talked at the signing.

3.      She brought presents and prizes and Polaroids. She raffled off t-shirts and mix CDs and posters, gave everyone an UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING pouch, and took Polaroids with anyone who wanted one. You can tell she had SO MUCH FUN every second of her book tour.
 
4.      She took TONS of questions. “Guys, it’s my last stop! You guys probably have places to be, and I’m like ‘no!’” I asked her which item on the SYBG list would be the most difficult for her (“Kiss a stranger is a really bad idea! Like, I put that in the book so blithely, and I’m like, I really hope people aren’t going around doing this. You could get yourself in trouble! Or stealing something. I probably should’ve said that first.”) and the easiest (“Riding a horse would be easy for me, I used to ride horses.), and her top road trip tips (A solid playlist, the right kind of snacks—nothing that makes you sleepy-full, like donuts—and the right route. The drive needs to be nice to look at, or you’ll be miserable).  
 
5.      She was super honest about how tough it was to write children’s/YA in an MFA program. The New School, where she did her Master’s (and met Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian), has a great reputation for launching successful YA authors, but Morgan said the children’s writing program was not well-respected—or even acknowledged—by the fiction students.  I ran into the whole issue of genre snobbery during my MFA as well, and even though I’m a year out from the program, it still makes me doubt myself sometimes.
6.      She treated me like a real author. When I told her about my MFA, she kept saying, “That’s amazing! Congrats!” and asking what I’m writing now. We had a moment of appreciation for writing that “palate-cleanser” book, where you write it for yourself and then realize it might not be publishable. Morgan actually talks more about this in her episode of First Draft with Sarah Enni (an AMAZING YA writer podcast). She also told me to enjoy the writing process for my first book, because after you publish, you can’t get that back. Readers and editors and reviewers will always expect something from you after that. With your first book, she said, you can take your time and write it just for yourself. I respect Morgan so much as an author, and for her to treat me like a writing peer felt incredible. <3  
 

 
Other fun things I learned during the Q&A:

The girls on the cover of SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE are wearing Morgan’s actual clothes! She sent the cover designer a box of her stuff to show the vibe she was hoping for, and then they wound up wearing them for the shoot! The heart sunglasses, friendship bracelets, the shirt she “borrowed” from her grad school bestie and still hasn’t returned…guess the secret’s out! “When you’ve stolen something and it’s on a book cover, you really can’t pretend you lost it, like I’ve been pretending for the last two years…”

During her AMY & ROGER research road trip, she went to Graceland (by herself), and she said it’s like Disneyland—they make you pose for a picture on your way in. “But it was just me, so I’m standing by myself in front of this picture of the Graceland gates.” But she bought the deluxe pack and now has her solo Graceland picture on magnets, a postcard, and a ton of different sizes.
 
Morgan asked if she could take pictures of my annotated SYBG!
 
I had the best time at the signing. If you ever have the opportunity to see Morgan, go! You’ll leave with the biggest smile on your face and an overwhelming desire to take a road trip!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Currently: Morgan Matson Edition!

Linking up with Katy Upperman for another "Currently" post! This one is Morgan Matson-themed, thanks to her Princeton event I attended last Thursday.
Here's what I'm currently...
 
Loving
The vanilla soy latte I got from Starbucks on Thursday (a la Morgan Matson). First time trying soy milk in my latte…it made everything oh so much sweeter. DELISH!
 
Reading
THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING by Morgan Matson. LOVING it so far!
 
Watching

The teaser trailer for Beauty and the Beast. It was released yesterday, and I can’t stop watching! It’s short but did its job making me beyond excited for March! Can’t wait to see more of Emma Watson as Belle – anyone else think she’ll be perfect?
 
Listening To

“Odd Are” by Barenaked Ladies. Morgan Matson calls it the theme of THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING. It's so catchy and fun!
 
Thinking About
Morgan Matson’s book signing from Thursday night. I’m going to do a full recap later, but for now let me just say it was the BEST book event I’ve been to so far! Morgan took questions for 30-40 minutes (“It’s my last stop on tour, guys…ask me all the questions!”) and spent time talking to everyone. I talked to her for probably 5 minutes, the longest I’ve ever spent with an author in their signing line. I’d tweeted her earlier that day about trying soy milk in my Starbucks iced latte (per her Instagram recommendation), so we discussed that for a while.
Then I asked her about writing YA in an MFA program and the genre snobbery that goes along with it (something I experienced in my program), and she immediately was like, “Oh yeah. Nobody respected us at all.” That “us?” Morgan, Jenny Han, Siobhan Vivian and other super well-known YA authors today. Even though it’s not fair, it was nice to hear a successful author talk about proving people wrong.
 
Anticipating
Memorial Day weekend. I’m off work on Monday and can’t wait to have a full extra day of reading/writing and (hopefully) some sunshine!
 
Wishing
For more time to write during the week. I had the house to myself a lot this weekend, so I did a TON of writing. This is one of those times I’m so jealous of the full-time author life. The dream, right?
 
Making Me Happy
The coolest thing about my chat with Morgan? When she asked me what I’m writing, she treated me like a real author. She told me to enjoy writing my first book because it’s the only one you’ll write just for yourself. No pressure from readers or editors, no fear of GoodReads reviews…she said AMY & ROGER holds a special place in her heart for that reason. The fact that she talked to me like publication is going to happen for me made me love her even more. She was genuinely excited about my MFA and writing projects. Morgan is one of the great ones, guys. <3
 
Hope you’re all having a great week so far!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

April Reading Wrap-Up

Super belated (as usual) but here are the books I read in April. Some great ones in this bunch!
 
THE WINNER’S CRIME by Marie Rutkoski
A reread to prepare for book three. I enjoyed this even more the second time around. The first time I was itching for Kestrel and Arin to be on the page together, but this time I appreciated their individual journeys/dangers/strategies even more. Kestrel is one of my all-time favorite YA heroines, and this second book dives even deeper into her brilliant mind.

 
UP TO THIS POINTE by Jennifer Longo
Ballet + Antarctica = I am sold! This was a plot I’d never heard of before. When Harper’s life plan to become a professional ballerina goes down in flames, she finagles her way onto an Antarctic expedition. One of her ancestors was a South Pole explorer, so she figures, why not? Her panic and hopelessness about her lack of direction rings so true. The story is told in two timelines, jumping back and forth between Harper’s life in Antarctica and the year before as a ballerina. The ballet parts were my favorite—I’m really into ballet books lately! I recommend this one for sure, especially if you’re looking for an MC trying to rediscover herself.

 
THE WINNER’S KISS by Marie Rutkoski

One of my most anticipated books of the year, and I was SO pleased with it! No spoilers, but I was very happy with how things played out. There’s not a lot I can say without giving something away, but we finally saw Kestrel and Arin together in more than just a handful of scenes. Very satisfying!
 
HARRY POTTER AND THE HALF-BLOOD PRINCE by J.K. Rowling (audiobook)

Jim Dale’s narrations are my all-time audiobook favorites. I borrowed this one through the OverDrive app and listened to it night and day (practically). SO enjoyable!
 
THE WAY I USED TO BE by Amber Smith

THIS BOOK. Wow wow wow. The story follows Eden through all four years of high school after she is raped by her older brother’s best friend. It’s a completely character driven story, showing how the assault shapes Eden’s sense of self and decision-making. We see her cope, we see her spiral downward, we see her make and lose friends. Even when she’s not thinking about what happened to her, we can see how it has saturated her every action and decision. This quote sums up Eden’s journey well:
“And me, well, before it was like you had the girl and then you had the rumors about the girl, but now there’s only the girl, because the rumors aren’t just rumors anymore, they’re the reality—they are the girl.”
 
NO BAGGAGE: A MINIMALIST TALE OF LOVE AND WANDERING by Clara Bensen

I wanted a travel memoir, and this one caught my eye. Traveling with just the clothes on your back and money/passport/iPhone in your purse? And your companion is a guy you met on OKCupid a few weeks ago? Sounds like the opportunity for panic, hilarity, and some great lessons. But what I got from the book? Minimalist traveling is actually no big deal. Nothing went seriously wrong—Clara didn’t even seem to struggle—so it made for kind of a dull read. Also, the dialogue between Clara and her boyfriend/travel companion, Jeff, read as very philosophical/academic/pretentious. Her thoughts and narration sounded normal, but I wondered if they really only talked about super abstract concepts instead of more normal exchanges like: “Oh my god, these sandals are MURDERING my feet right now.”
 
MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN by Ransom Riggs

I put off reading this for YEARS because the pictures scared me. I thought the book was going to be a horror story, but I was so wrong. In case you haven’t read it I won’t spoil anything; it’s one of those (I think) where it’s best to go in blind and discover the story as you go. Basic plot: After a family tragedy, Jacob journeys to an island off the coast of Wales with his father and finds the remains of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Who were these children? Why did they live on this island? Jacob unravels the mystery, and discovers he might play a part in it.
 
IN THE AFTERLIGHT by Alexandra Bracken

Finishing The Darkest Minds series has been my goal for almost two years. Finally, FINALLY accomplished it in April. A solid finale—slower-paced, but once we hit the big takedown part, I was hooked. Also, I almost started crying when our gang was reunited with a character we haven’t seen for a while. And books DON’T make me cry unless they’re HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, so when I come close, it’s a big deal.
 
 
I read some solid books in April. My favorite is a tie between THE WAY I USED TO BE and THE WINNER’S KISS—though you can’t really compare the two, so I’m making it a tie! Favorite contemp, favorite fantasy.
Happy reading!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Currently: Book signings & signed books edition!

Linking up with Katy Upperman for another "Currently" post! Here's what I'm currently...
 
Loving
Books of Wonder! I cannot sing their praises enough. This indie bookstore in NYC has amazing signed/personalized preorder opportunities for YA novels as well as a huge selection of already-signed books they’ll ship to you. Cassandra Clare, Sarah J. Maas, Maggie Stiefvater…so many authors go through Books of Wonder on their tours. I got my personalized Emery Lord books from there, and I finally ordered my own copy of I’LL MEET YOU THERE, one of my favorite books of 2015, as well as SOMETHING REAL (both signed by Heather Demetrios). Thanks to the library I’ve cut back on book-buying. Now when I do buy books, I go on treasure hunts to find signed copies. It’s like a mini-adventure!


Reading

Rereading SINCE YOU’VE BEEN GONE, my favorite Morgan Matson book. I’m going to her Princeton tour stop for her new release, THE UNEXPECTED EVERYTHING, and can’t wait!
*Also, MAJOR cover love for SYBG. The entire book jacket design is one of my faves!
 
Watching
Still (slowly) marathoning Parenthood. I’m loving the Season 2 plotline with Michael B. Jordan!
 
Listening To

THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE audiobook. I have the physical book and have been meaning to finish it forever (but always wind up putting it down), so I thought I’d give the audiobook a try. The narrator isn’t anything special, unfortunately—although after Jim Dale, any narrator is bound to fall short.
 
Thinking About
How much my mom loves her Mother’s Day Keurig! We make a ridiculous number of trips to Dunkin Donuts, so she decided to get a Keurig to cut back a little. She loves it so far!


Anticipating
The Morgan Matson book signing in Princeton next Thursday! She’s one of my favorite contemporary authors, and judging from her Instagram, looks like she’s got lots of fun stuff planned for her events.
 
Wishing
For this week to fly by! It’s only Tuesday but I’m already ready for the weekend.
 
Making Me Happy
Buying my FIRST serious big girl planner! Yes, I’m still on the academic year schedule (20+ years of school is hard to shake in 1 year of the real world) but I like to re-evaluate my life midway through the year anyway. Of course, I was a space cadet and accidentally put my work office’s zip code instead of my home zip (this is what happens when you do all your department’s credit card orders and the numbers are engrained in your brain), so I had to email customer service to get it switched. Can I just sing the praises of Inkwell’s customer communications department? They got back to me in two minutes, saying they’d made the change. STELLAR!
 
Check out the planner I chose – I’m so excited!

 
That's all for now...have a great week!

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