Happy Monday, friends! I hope you’re all having a nice start to your week and are doing your best to keep your spirits high.
I’ve been struggling a lot lately with all that’s going on in our world, as I’m sure many can agree with. Fortunately this weekend, my husband and I were able to go away for three days with our kiddos to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary, and the time away gave me a chance to emotionally reset and start researching the things I love again—like new book releases!
But first, I want to take you all back to the late ’90s with me for a moment.
Does anyone here remember this book??
A Night without Armor came out in 1998, but I didn’t discover it until a few years later, during middle school (I may be “giving my age away” a bit, but whatever—I’m only 32). By that time, I was steeped in creative writing classes, reading poetry and short stories, writing my own pieces, and doing daily sensory-poetic observations à la Henry David Thoreau’s The Journal.
It made TOTAL sense then to want to explore Jewel’s sensitive lyrics and the more lyrically imagistic lines of her poems.
And surely… it makes just as much sense, if for different reasons, for adolescents and adults to lean into Halsey’s collection this fall.
You heard that right: Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter “Halsey” (aka: Ashley Frangipane) is releasing her first poetry collection, I Would Leave Me If I Could from Simon & Schuster in September 2020.
Here’s the lovely cover of this upcoming work:
I came a little late to the party, as I just recently came across Halsey’s music, sometime in 2018. (What’s funny is that I found her through this excellent interview with Billboard from 2015, when I was doing some research on Bipolar Depression for my poetry collection. Talk about serendipity!)
Halsey’s opening hit single, “Ghost,” came out clear back in 2014, and since then, she’s grown an immense Twitter following and Grammy nominations. Halsey has also done a LOT of important work in the discussion of bisexuality, Bipolar disorder (and mental wellness in general), and female sexuality.
Halsey also explores these topics in her music, and she will not be shying away from these subjects in her poetry collection, either. I expect it’s going to be very interesting, lyrical (like her music), edgy, and important to a variety of literary communities.
Songwriters Hall of Fame President and CEO, Linda Moran, observed, “Halsey bares her soul with heart-wrenching, rebellious and complex lyrics that come from a place of creativity and strength where not many songwriters are comfortable going.” Moran clearly has no doubts that Halsey’s words could go mutually far in the literary community.
Stephanie Frerich, executive editor at Simon & Schuster, agrees. Frerich spoke of the 144-page collection: “Poetry infuses everything Halsey does – from music to painting and performing – so it’s hardly a surprise she’s so gifted with verse. We were immediately captivated by her poems the way millions are by her music.”
In the book description of I Would Leave Me If I Could available on the Simon & Schuster website, promises “more hand-grenades than confessions” that collectively “explore and dismantle conventional notions of what it means to be a feminist in search of power.”
I don’t know about you, but I’m really looking forward to seeing this collection hit the shelves, to read it, and see how Halsey approaches the page for the page’s sake, instead of for the sake of musical composition.
I’ll update this in September when the book rolls out!
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Happy Friday, friends! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week.
I know in the last couple weeks I’ve been a bit off my game as far as posting regularly. I’ve had good reasons—family stuff, birthdays, travel, illness—but that doesn’t mean I feel good about not writing to you all.
I’m hoping to be back in the rhythm this coming week, especially for all of us who may be in the final stretch of preparing for NaNoWriMo. My next Friday Round-Up is on the very first day of this year’s NaNo, so I’ll for sure be talking about that!
This weekend, I’m also putting the finishing touches on a bit of a trick-or-treat basket for writers—so please stay tuned for that!
In the meantime, it’s time for this week’s round-up! I have my usual trending pieces, but I’m also dabbling in writing about the final season of The Good Place, and I’ve just begun a series of #ThrowbackThursdays to celebrate the art of being published.
As always, I thank you for reading, supporting, and reaching out. It means the world to me, truly.
This Week’s Round-Up!
“The Good Place: Where Will Season 4 Leave Eleanor?,” Medium (October 2019): link
“The Underside of Trees (A Poem),” Medium (originally published by Sleet Magazine): link
In Trending News:
“Astros Fire Assistant GM After He Taunted Female Reporters With Comments About Domestic Abuser,” Comic Sands (October 2019): link
“Muslim Ohio Teen Left ‘Humiliated’ After Being Disqualified From Race For Wearing Hijab,” Comic Sands (October 2019): link
“Christian School Theatre Teacher Fired For Being Gay Has Powerful Message For Her Former Students,” Comic Sands (October 2019): link
“Kelly Ripa Called Out After Claiming Her Son Is Living In ‘Extreme Poverty’ In Brooklyn,” Comic Sands (October 2019): link
Happy Friday, everyone! Happy Fall, and a Happy early Halloween! I hope you stay warm and enjoy your favorite fall-ish things.
Happy Thursday, friends! I hope you’re having a wonderful week.
I know I already shared some news in the Potterverse this week, but now I have some news about a writer whose inspiration is as old as time for some young writers—including myself—Stephen King!
It has just come to my attention that Stephen King and fellow writer and wife, Tabitha King, are considering converting their iconic home in Maine (you know—Bangor, Derry, Castle Rock) into something new.
What, you may ask?
This is the perfect opportunity for the King family to turn their home into a writer’s archive of all the King’s work (including Stephen, Tabitha, and their sons, Owen King and Joe Hill).
But it’s also a wonderful opportunity for their home to host—dun dun dun—a writer’s retreat!
I’m already swooning over the possibility of seeing a cumulative family archive of works. I’m imagining early handwritten works, rough drafts, and unfinished novels (undoubtedly from the “novel trunk” King mentioned possessing in his memoir and craft book, On Writing).
But I’m also already tempted to start my financial planning for a retreat at the Maine home now, because I can only imagine how much something like this will cost. (A visit to a home in one of the most beautiful, famous towns in Maine, owned by two iconic writers who bore two more, for a writer’sretreat? Yeah, tell me that’s not going to be expensive.)
Despite the potential financial woes of such a trip, the Kings have confirmed that this is something they’ve been thinking about doing for several years, and they aim for the transition to have as positive of an impact on their hometown as possible.
The couple is waiting on approval through city zoning laws for the changes they intend to make to the home. They do not intend for the outside of the home to look any different, which will make the zoning agreements a little more straight-forward. However, they want to host a cumulative archive of the family’s work, have offices for the Stephen and Tabitha King Foundation (their wonderful non-profit organization), and have the accommodations to host a group of writers at a time who are working on independent projects—all of which will require pretty significant changes to the interior, I’m guessing.
Whether or not the home goes through significant changes, the home will still be full of memories. The family lived in the home through the 1980’s and 1990’s, including their time together as a family and as writers. I can only imagine the family memories in the home—photos, letters, videos—if they choose to make those available to visiting writers.
The Kings continue to stress that they do not want to have a negative impact on their neighborhood, no matter the changes. Maine Supreme Court Justice Warren Silver said for the King family, “We want to make sure we minimize the impact on the neighborhood. We don’t want to turn it into Graceland. We don’t want to increase traffic on that street. It’s not going to be open to the public. We want to figure out what the future is going to look like for these houses, and this seems to be the best way forward.”
Residents around the neighborhood are largely enthusiastic about the transition and agree that the change in the home’s purpose could cause positive, minimal change to the neighborhood. Since the transition expects to take several slow, thoughtful years, the neighbors will not be impacted by a concentrated amount of construction sounds as the interior changes. And since the home won’t be open to the public, but only those who sign up for a retreat, there will only be a few extra cars on the street at a time. Plus, on much simpler terms, the neighbors are relieved that they’ll be seeing lights on in the home again, and are grateful that the home will remain associated with the King family.
I don’t know about you, but I’m excited about the King’s plans for their family home. I can only imagine the amount of invaluable content available inside the home that will be passed down to visiting writers who are earlier in their careers. I greatly hope this becomes a reality, that I’ll be able to go, and that any of you out there who also want to go will be able to do the same.
Interested in more King content?
Here’s my first take on IT: Chapter Two for Stream Queens: “There Are So Many Easter Eggs in IT: Chapter Two,” link
On my hunt for an IT: Frappuccino: “The Hunt for Red [Starbucks],” link
On reading Stephen King and writing horror poems: “A Quiet Return: Spending Time in the Horror Genre,” link
A little bit about why I love the horror genre so much: “A Night of Building a Manuscript and Reading Poetry,” link
Usually, I don’t post twice in one day, but for today, bear with me, because I already posted for motivation, and now I’m posting for fun.
So, fellow fans, I have a question for you:
Is Harry Potter coming to NYC?
Rumor has it, Warner Bros. Entertainment has leased a large space in New York’s Flatiron District as of Monday. According to a report released by Crain’s New York Business, Warner Bros. intends to convert the space into an exhibit for fans to “experience the enchanted world of the blockbuster film and book series” that is the magical world of Harry Potter.
The report also details that 935 Broadway is a former 35,000 sqft warehouse that will be revamped into a three-level, London-esque exhibit, tentatively entitled, “The Making of Harry Potter.” The exhibit is said to be an immersive experience, much like the London attraction every American Potterhead wishes they could visit, including life-size displays of The Great Hall, the Forbidden Forest, and the locomotive platform—AKA, Platform 9 3/4.
Crain’s New York Business noted that they were not yet able to confirm this information with the spokesperson for Warner Bros. Entertainment, but the information included with the leasing agreement seems more than promising.
I’m trying to stifle my excitement a little bit, but—that sounds like a resounding yes to me.
What all do you think they might include—or should include?
I think Platform 9 3/4 will be beautiful.
I can only imagine how large, dark, and beautifully dreadful the Forbidden Forest must be.
What about an owlery? Or a Quidditch pit?
And I, of course, want to visit the Potions class, and turn to page 394. I have to do Alan Rickman proud somehow.
Happy Friday, friends! I hope you’ve had a wonderful week and have amazing plans for your weekend.
Me, I don’t have particular plans, but my friends do! On Saturday, one of my friends is celebrating their birthday (shoutout: Happy Birthday, Jenn!), and one of my other friends is trying out for American Idol. I’m obviously very excited for both of them!
On Sunday, I want to spend time with my family, and hopefully check out an orchard or farm in the area to take my kiddos apple-picking, and maybe pumpkin-carving or choosing gifts for the Great Pumpkin. Something! Fall is officially here on Jenn’s birthday, and I am ready for it.
—which brings me to the real purpose of this post!
Any friends or family who read my blog, and hopefully anyone who has stuck around listening to me go on and on about books and writing, knows my origin-story love for Stephen King.
And of course, anyone with access to some entertainment-based news knows that IT: Chapter Two is currently in theaters (and Doctor Sleep is dropping in November, but that’s a whole other post!).
I already went to see the movie and will say that I enjoyed it, but there’s a whole other post coming about that, once I’m able to officially share some writing that I’ve been doing this September about IT and Stephen King in general.
But the fun continues, with the unreal amount of merchandise that I’ve seen floating around at various stores lately. One thing I really, really, really want is a desk lamp that resembles the red balloon. My husband says it’s ugly (which I think is his way of saying, it’s creepy), but I haven’t given up on sneaking it into my house and sharing updated pictures of my spooky work station. There’s also a particularly lovely notebook (yes, even with Pennywise on it, it’s lovely) that I want to add to my short stack of future creative writing notebooks. Hopefully, I’ll have photos of these two red additions to my home sooner rather than later!
But then Starbucks decided to contribute to the madness, as well! There is currently an IT: Frappuccino out in the world, floating around and fairly hard to find like the red balloon (you have to go to just the right gutter to find it, after all).
But, the great news is that the ingredients for this particularly murderous Frap are available year-round. If you ask for a Vanilla Bean Frappucino, swirled with strawberry puree, and topped with whipped cream and strawberries, you’ll have the IT: Frappuccino at your disposal.
But me being nerdy me, I’m going to walk in there, asking specifically for IT—and if they can’t give IT to me, then I’ll start rattling off the ingredients list, and everyone wins!
That’s about it from me for now! I’m crossing my fingers for a fall-tastic Sunday, and I’ll be sure to share some seasonal pictures. Not to mention if I find Pennywise’s favorite Starbucks drink, or an electrically red balloon, or a specialty notebook.
In the meantime, I’m getting back to my weekly round-ups, for anyone looking for some quick weekend reads, or for those who may be interested in what I’m working on.
This week, it was all trending news work, and some of it was pretty heavy and more difficult for me to work through writing than usual. Fortunately, I was able to work on some entertainment pieces that should be going live sometime next week, and I’ll be able to include them in the next round-up!
Enjoy! And thank you, as always, for the support and for the read.
This Week’s Round-Up!
“9-Year-Old Genius Fills Old Lip Balm Tube With Cheese So She Can Snack On It During Class,” Comic Sands (September 2019): link
“North Carolina Sheriff Charged In Alleged Murder Plot To Keep Deputy From Releasing Racist Recording,” Comic Sands (September 2019): link
“Police Arrest Suspected Florida Serial Killer After DNA Links Him To Four Unsolved Murders,” Comic Sands (September 2019): link
“Ohio Daycare Workers Charged After Teacher Sits By As Aide And Students Abuse 5-Year-Old Girl,” Comic Sands (September 2019): link
Last Week’s Round-Up!
“Disabled Writer Goes Viral After Combating Online Trolls’ Mean Comments With Cheerful Selfies,” Comic Sands (September 2019): link
“Dad Overwhelmed With Messages From Strangers After His Sentimental Instagram Tribute To His Sons Goes Viral,” Comic Sands (September 2019): link
“Map Showing The Average Cost Of Going On A Date In Each U.S. State Has People Doing A Double-Take,” Comic Sands (September 2019): link
Hi everyone, and Happy Friday! It’s been a long week, hasn’t it? But we made it! And just around the corner is a very important, family-centered holiday: Mother’s Day!
If you’re still shopping around or struggling to find a perfect gift for your mom, your best friend, or another family member who’s a mom—take it from one mama (me!): books are always a great gift!
Books can understandably be a gamble, though, and a probable reason why some people steer clear of purchasing them for other people. Some common concerns, I think, are: Maybe they already have this one… Does she like this genre? Wasn’t there a prequel to this?
So, to ease some of your concerns, I’ve compiled a list of 12 guaranteed-lovely reads to give your mom or fellow mom this May. And to make your search even easier, I’ve offered a few categories: books for motivation and inspiration, conversation-starting non-fiction, and emotionally-immersive fiction (and links, of course!).
Enjoy! I hope this helps you find something for the mom in your life (and maybe yourself, too!). And comment below if you think I’ve missed a particularly important title (there are so many, after all!).
When the volume of family life clashes with your personality, frustration, guilt, and overwhelm naturally result. In Introverted Mom, author Jamie C. Martin lifts these burdens from your shoulders, reminding you that your steady strength is exactly what your family needs in this chaotic world.
Jamie shares vulnerable stories from her own life as well as thoughts from other introverted mothers, letting you know you’re not alone. Her practical suggestions and creative inspiration are enhanced with quotes and insights from four beloved writers—Louisa May Alcott, Jane Austen, L. M. Montgomery, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Together, Jamie and this band of fellow introverts gently point you toward hope, laughter, and joy.
Whether you’ve just realized you’re an introvert, or if you’ve known it all along, this book is for you. It’s time to honor who you are and savor life as an introverted mom.
Be a different kind of mom. Break through the distractions and create lasting memories.
What’s the solution to gaining the balanced, meaningful life you desire with your family? Create traditions that bring joy and significance. Popular “Smartter Each Day” blogger and mom of three, Jessica Smartt explains why memory-making is the puzzle piece that today’s families are longing for. She highlights the tradition-gifts kids need most with 300+ unique traditions including Food, Holidays, Spontaneity, and Faith. She also offers practical encouragement to modern parents to keep on adventuring—even when they are fighting distractions, are on a budget, and exhausted.
You can apply the same techniques of efficiency, intention, and purpose that you’ve used in other careers to your most important position in life—motherhood. Steady Days takes you through the process of becoming a professional mother: one who is organized and excited to spend time with your young children. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by a lack of direction in your parenting, this book can help. You already have the skills you need to be an incredible mother. Empower yourself by reading Steady Days and implementing the ideas to benefit those important little people who call you “Mom.” To learn more about the author, Jamie C. Martin, visit her blog at www.SteadyMom.com.
In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.
For readers of The Bright Hour and When Breath Becomes Air, a moving, transcendent memoir of loss and a stunning exploration of marriage in the wake of unimaginable grief.
As the book opens: two-year-old Greta Greene is sitting with her grandmother on a park bench on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. A brick crumbles from a windowsill overhead, striking her unconscious, and she is immediately rushed to the hospital. But although it begins with this event and with the anguish Jayson and his wife, Stacy, confront in the wake of their daughter’s trauma and the hours leading up to her death, Once More We Saw Stars quickly becomes a narrative that is as much about hope and healing as it is about grief and loss. Jayson recognizes, even in the midst of his ordeal, that there will be a life for him beyond it—that if only he can continue moving forward, from one moment to the next, he will survive what seems unsurvivable. With raw honesty, deep emotion, and exquisite tenderness, he captures both the fragility of life and absoluteness of death, and most important of all, the unconquerable power of love. This is an unforgettable memoir of courage and transformation–and a book that will change the way you look at the world.
That Julie Yip-Williams survived infancy was a miracle. Born blind in Vietnam, she narrowly escaped euthanasia at the hands of her grandmother, only to flee with her family the political upheaval of her country in the late 1970s. Loaded into a rickety boat with three hundred other refugees, Julie made it to Hong Kong and, ultimately, America, where a surgeon at UCLA gave her partial sight. She would go on to become a Harvard-educated lawyer, with a husband, a family, and a life she had once assumed would be impossible. Then, at age thirty-seven, with two little girls at home, Julie was diagnosed with terminal metastatic colon cancer, and a different journey began.
The Unwinding of the Miracle is the story of a vigorous life refracted through the prism of imminent death. When she was first diagnosed, Julie Yip-Williams sought clarity and guidance through the experience and, finding none, began to write her way through it—a chronicle that grew beyond her imagining. Motherhood, marriage, the immigrant experience, ambition, love, wanderlust, tennis, fortune-tellers, grief, reincarnation, jealousy, comfort, pain, the marvel of the body in full rebellion—this book is as sprawling and majestic as the life it records. It is inspiring and instructive, delightful and shattering. It is a book of indelible moments, seared deep—an incomparable guide to living vividly by facing hard truths consciously.
With humor, bracing honesty, and the cleansing power of well-deployed anger, Julie Yip-Williams set the stage for her lasting legacy and one final miracle: the story of her life.
For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.
Countless others have rendered their verdict. Now it is your turn.
Russia, July 17, 1918: Under direct orders from Vladimir Lenin, Bolshevik secret police force Anastasia Romanov, along with the entire imperial family, into a damp basement in Siberia where they face a merciless firing squad. None survive. At least that is what the executioners have always claimed. Germany, February 17, 1920: A young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Anastasia Romanov is pulled shivering and senseless from a canal in Berlin. Refusing to explain her presence in the freezing water, she is taken to the hospital where an examination reveals that her body is riddled with countless, horrific scars. When she finally does speak, this frightened, mysterious woman claims to be the Russian Grand Duchess Anastasia.
Her detractors, convinced that the young woman is only after the immense Romanov fortune, insist on calling her by a different name: Anna Anderson.
As rumors begin to circulate through European society that the youngest Romanov daughter has survived the massacre, old enemies and new threats are awakened. With a brilliantly crafted dual narrative structure, Lawhon wades into the most psychologically complex and emotionally compelling territory yet: the nature of identity itself.
The question of who Anna Anderson is and what actually happened to Anastasia Romanov creates a saga that spans fifty years and touches three continents. This thrilling story is every bit as moving and momentous as it is harrowing and twisted.
Five-time winner of the Pacific Northwest Bookseller Award Pete Fromm returns with his big-hearted new novel, a love story about family and resiliency and second chances. For young couple Taz and Marnie, their fixer-upper is the symbol of their new life together: a work in progress, the beginning of something grand, all the more so when they learn a baby is on her way. But the blueprint for the perfect life eludes Taz when Marnie dies in childbirth, plummeting the taciturn carpenter headfirst into the new, strange world of fatherhood alone, a landscape of contradictions, of great joy and sorrow. With a supporting cast as rich and compelling as the wild Montana landscape, the novel follows Taz’s first two years as a father―a job no one can be fully prepared for.
With more than eleven books in over twenty years, Pete Fromm has become one of the West’s best literary legends. A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How To Do beautifully captures people who end up building a life that is both unexpected and brave.
Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future.
Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing.
Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope.
Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?
Nothing’s been the same for Beth Teller since the day she died.
Her dad is drowning in grief. He’s also the only one who has been able to see and hear her since the accident. But now she’s got a mystery to solve, a mystery that will hopefully remind her detective father that he needs to reconnect with the living.
The case takes them to a remote Australian town, where there’s been a suspicious fire. All that remains are an unidentifiable body and an unreliable witness found wandering nearby. This witness speaks in riddles. Isobel Catching has a story to tell, and it’s a tale to haunt your dreams–but does it even connect to the case at hand?
As Beth and her father unravel the mystery, they find a shocking and heartbreaking story lurking beneath the surface of a small town.
Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.
But Xiomara has plenty she wants to say, and she pours all her frustration and passion onto the pages of a leather notebook, reciting the words to herself like prayers—especially after she catches feelings for a boy in her bio class named Aman, who her family can never know about.
With Mami’s determination to force her daughter to obey the laws of the church, Xiomara understands that her thoughts are best kept to herself. So when she is invited to join her school’s slam poetry club, she doesn’t know how she could ever attend without her mami finding out. But she still can’t stop thinking about performing her poems.
Because in the face of a world that may not want to hear her, Xiomara refuses to be silent.
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