Whatims – March 19, 2018

Lord. And. Taylor, folks! Just got back home from seeing LOVE, SIMON, and it is the greatest coming out/gay love story I’ve ever seen! More on that later this week. It’s taking everything in me to dry my happy tears and focus on something else, but I’m going to give it a shot!

What I’m Writing: I’m heading into the last quarter of the second revision of my MG fantasy-adventure. These past few days I’ve actually been able to use a couple scenes from the first draft. Although about 80% of that first draft is getting cut, it feels good to know that some of what I wrote before can be used!

What I’m Reading: Holy smokes, y’all! I just finished Tomi Adeyemi‘s CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE this morning, and it is an absolute must-read. It is a YA African fantasy with epic battle scenes full of butt-kicking magic and forbidden romance that makes Romeo and Juliet look like they had it easy. Go. Out. And. Get. It.

What I’m Thankful For: This week I’ve got to give a big thanks to all my Picture Book II students in the online course I’m teaching through the Writing Barn. It is so easy for me to get caught up in middle grade when I’m in the midst of writing one, but these 12 writers have reminded me how exciting and enriching it is to be a picture book author as well. Thanks for reigniting that PB flame, you guys!

Whatims – March 12, 2018

Last week was an action-packed five days full of school visits, energetic kids and superhero librarians! I always get a little anxious leading into them, but have such a blast while reading and creating stories with the students. They keep me fired up to write more so I get to visit more!

What I’m Writing: We’re going strong with the revision of my fairytale-based fantasy MG (and by we I mean me and all the characters screaming inside my head). Still at that chapter a day pace, and feeling confident I can keep it up to have this draft done by the end of the month. I didn’t just jinx it, did I?

What I’m Reading: Sayantani DasGupta’s THE SERPENT’S SECRET. It’s the first in the new middle grade fantasy-adventure series, Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond. I totally recommend this for fans of the Percy Jackson series. There are so many fantastic magical hijinks, all centered around Indian folklore which I have never had the opportunity to dive into before. I’ll be looking for the sequel when it comes out!

What I’m Thankful For: I am so into all the book-to-movie adaptations we are getting this month, starting with A WRINKLE IN TIME through to READY PLAYER ONE at the end of March. The movie I’m most excited for is LOVE, SIMON, the movie adaptation of Becky Albertalli’s SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. Teenage Me can’t believe that there is going to be a major movie about a gay, high school love story. I’m going to see it this weekend when it releases so that movie studios know people will spend their skrilla on LGBTQIA+ movies at the theater! Let’s all go!

The Invasion (of My Perfectly Peaceful Week, Thank You Very Much)

So I read in this BuzzFeed listicle that journaling is supposed to really help you out when you’re stressed to the max, so I went and got myself one and here we are. The first entry in my diary of a Yeerk.

This has been a doozy of a week, let me tell you.

Everything started off perfectly fine. I had been assigned to my favorite human yet. Her name was Ethel, and her favorite pastime was watching reruns of Golden Girls. That Blanche gets me every time!

So there I was, forming some serious squad goals with those golden ladies when I get a call from Iniss 226 that I need to head back to the Yeerk pool ASAP to swap into a Taxxon and assist with Visser Three’s arrival.

can’t stand Taxxons. It’s all, “Let me eat this” and “Imma devour that.” Every time I’m made to Control one of them, I end up covered in blood, and Bethenny Frankel-ly, it really grosses me out. So Innis 226, I’ve only got one thing to say to you: Thank you for being a jerk!

Anyway, I get sent down as a Taxxon with a bunch of Human-Controllers (I don’t see why they couldn’t just let me help out as Ethel, but whatever) and a couple Hork-Bajir. When we get there Visser Three is facing off with that Andalite prince, Elfangor-Something-Something. Elfangor slashed the Visser and my first thought was, “Giiiirl, you are going to regret that.”

Boy, was I right. Visser Three turned into this epically huge Antarean Bogg, nabs Elfangor in a tentacle and devours him whole. Unfortunately, this is when my Taxxon instincts kicked in and downright begged me to gobble up some of the Andalite bits littering the ground. What can I say, I couldn’t resist. Those Taxxons are incorrigible.

So I sent a thank you up to Cher (I have got to do an entire diary entry on her, let me tell you) that the night was finally over and I could get back to Ethel and continue on my way all Golden Girls and chill.

But guess what? Some flipping kids were watching us and got away. Ooh child, did that ever spike Visser Three’s Kandronas. He went into a raaaage. He ordered us to do this whole city-wide search for the group of teenagers that were watching us. I was like, “Seriously? You want us to find five teenagers in a city swarming with teenagers?” That’s like finding an authentic Louis Vuitton zip-fold wallet on Ebay for under three hundred dollars. It doesn’t happen.

Anyway, the kids still hadn’t been found, but it was time for me to soak up some Kandrona rays. I was assigned to a new man, Gregory (never Greg, BTW), and contemplating why we could never do something like lavender-scented Kandrona rays circa my favorite bubble bath scent when I see these two weird kids standing off behind a storage shed of Dracon beams acting like they had just completed the Cinnamon Challenge. That is to say, weird.

I had just told a Hork-Bajir and a Taxxon to nab the kids when a fracking monster with wrinkly gray skin, huge ears, a thick worm-like nose and monstrous teeth comes barreling behind them. Gregory kindly let me know the thing is called an elephant. But then that Cher-forsaken elephant wraps its worm nose around me and chucks me through the air.

Lord and Taylor.

I came to and there was Visser Three literally spitting fireballs at a ragtag group of Earth animals. Gregory says they were a tiger, a gorilla, a horse, and that capital R Rude elephant. Turns out they were Andalites in morph, and it was those guys who were at the construction site, not a bunch of kids. But they got away again, and the Visser is in a tizzy.

But wasn’t the one who let them get away, so for now I’ve found a good caftan and I’m just going to enjoy another GG marathon. As the brilliant Sophia once said, “People waste their time pondering whether a glass is half empty or half full. Me, I just drink whatever’s in the glass.”


Whatims – March 5, 2018

I am SO into a book right now (you’ll see which one at the end of this post) that it took everything in me to turn away from it to write this entry!

What I’m Writing: I’m deep into the second draft of my MG fantasy-adventure and I’m loving it! I’m feeling that excitement that comes from knowing what direction your story needs to take, and I’ve been able to up my daily goal to a new chapter a day, whereas in the first draft I was writing 500 words a day. I’m hoping to have this draft done by the end of the month, and have it submission ready by the summer so I can relax and look like this:

What I’m Thankful For: This week I have so much love for author Carrie Jones. She is an amazing writer, and a SO-FANTASTIC-THERE-SHOULD-BE-A-PARADE-IN-HER-HONOR writing mentor. Carrie is leading the Write. Submit. Support online program for novelists through the Writing Barn this spring (and you can sign up for the summer session with her here) that I’m currently taking. Every note she has given me has been outrageously helpful. Carrie, thank you for your enthusiasm, encouragement and thoughtful feedback.

What I’m Reading: Dhonielle Clayton’s THE BELLES. You guuuuuuys. I’M ROBSESSED! This young adult book is set in a world where six young women control the power of beauty and can alter anyone’s appearance. In THE BELLES, we follow Camellia “Camille” Beauregard’s journey as she becomes an official Belle and navigates the political maze of a world obsessed with beauty. AND THINGS ARE NOT AS GORGEOUS AS THEY SEEM. I’m so freaking into this that I have to get back to reading it right n—



Gym Buddies Premiere!!

At the end of 2016, I was feeling a little creatively frustrated. I was writing away, but I can only write for so long each day before I need to let things simmer in my mind so that I can come back to the page the next morning ready to rock.

But I would still be creatively anxious (what an obnoxious term—I’m rolling my eyes at myself) in the afternoon, wanting to let out some more steam. I decided I would take acting classes, and I was instantly hooked. I got immediate feedback from an expert, and found that my ability to get deeper into characters in my writing was getting better and better thanks to acting exercises all about getting into the minds of other people.

Then I thought I would try my hand at auditioning for local projects, and the first thing I was cast in was a web series called Gym Buddies. It’s written and created by the brilliant Shruti Saran, following the story of Aparna and Quinn when Aparna hoodwinks her BFF into joining a gym with her after a nasty breakup.

I got to play the part of the extremely awkward and sweaty gym manager, Rob, who really has no business running a studio dedicated to physical fitness. It was so fun getting to ham it up and play this guy who really feels so out of place next to body builders, but whose can-do attitude, despite his overactive nerves, won’t let him back down from the challenge.

The first episode (of five) premiered today! Here it is:

Hopefully this gets me closer to one day getting to work with Anjelica Huston. Fingers crossed!


Whatims – February 26, 2018

This week is giving me LIFE! I’ve got a fire under me on this MG fantasy project I’m working on, plus I’ve made a deep dive into the TV show “Don’t Be Tardy,” and it may go down as one of the Top Ten Best Decisions I’ve Ever Made.

What I’m Writing: I finished the first draft of my MG fantasy-adventure this past week! I’ve been taking this first draft way slower than I usually do (more on that later this week), which allowed me to have all kinds of ideas for the revision. I’m going to jump back in TODAY!

What I’m Reading: Jacob Sager Weinstein’s HYACINTH AND THE SECRETS BENEATH! HYACINTH follows the titular character as she discovers that the rivers that flow under London are actually magic, and just what happens when the mischief in that magic is accidentally unleashed. I am flying through this, and I’m robsessed with the dry sass of Lady Roslyn, Hyacinth’s elderly companion on this adventure who I’m picturing a lot like Mrs. Doubtfire.

What I’m Thankful For: This week I have got to give a ginormous thank you to Debbi Michiko Florence. Not only is she an amazing writer (if you haven’t started her JASMINE TOGUCHI series, you have got to stop what you’re doing and get the first two books in the series RIGHT NOW), but she is an amazing friend. This past year Debbi and I started emailing each other on a regular basis, cheering each other on in our writing and filling each other in on our current adventures. I look forward to our emails, and it feels so great to have somebody who gets the author life by my side—even virtually—on this crazy writing rollercoaster.

Debbi, you complete me!