The Liebster Award

liebsterblogawardThanks very much to Jane at Survive, Live, Thrive for nominating me for the Liebster Award!

In German, the word “Liebster” means kindest, beloved, valued and welcome. And this award is to celebrate great blogs with less than 200 followers that are worthy of a bigger following.

The current rules for accepting this award are:
1.    List 11 random facts about myself.
2.    Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated me.
3.    Nominate 11 more blogs who have less than 200 followers and let them know they’ve been nominated.
4.    Post 11 new questions for those bloggers to answer (if they wish to accept the award—it’s completely optional).

Random Facts About Me
1. I really hate the texture of coconut.
2. I have one year left until I submit my PhD thesis.
3. My favorite thing in the world is Harry Potter.
4. I lived in NYC for 5 and a half years until I moved to the UK for postgraduate school.
5. I’m not afraid of spiders.
6. When I’m on break, vacation, holiday, I normally read a book a day.
7. I’ve written six books. Every single one is YA.
8. I took up running 7 months ago, and it’s the best feeling in the world.
9. I squeeze my toothpaste tube from the top.
10. I’m a walking zombie until I have coffee in the morning.
11. My most prized possession is my passport.

My answer’s to Jane’s questions

1.  Who is your favorite character in a book or a movie? Yikes. This one is hard, but I have to go with Hermione Granger.

2.  Why did you launch your blog? I launched my blog to keep track of my writing journey and to connect with the online writing community. Writing is such a solitary pursuit that it’s great to have that connection with others who are doing the same thing you’re doing.

3.  If you could wave a magic wand and change something about your life, what would it be? I would be a published author.

4.  If you could change one decision in the past, what would it be and why? This may sound like a cop-out answer, but I wouldn’t change anything. I’ve made mistakes, but all those mistakes have taught me something important. Plus, every decision I’ve made has brought me to where I am now, in the UK studying for my PhD.

5.  Who do you admire and respect the most in the world? My late grandmother. Feisty, headstrong, intelligent, hard working, and she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. She lived well into her 90s and kept tutoring students almost the entire time.

6.  What is your biggest dream? Same thing the wand would magic into existence. My biggest dream is to be a published author.

7.  If you were stuck on an island and could only bring three things with you–what would they be? I would bring a Kindle with a library of books on it, a solar charger in order to charge said Kindle when the battery died, and a massive tank full of water.

8.  What is your ideal vacation? My ideal vacation at the moment is somewhere nice and warm in some sort of picturesque European town where I can wander the streets and take in the beauty without the hustle and bustle of having to do anything at all but explore. And read a bunch of books.

9.  What do you want to be when you “grow up”? I’m going to sound like a broken record soon. I want to be a professor of library studies and a published author of fiction.

10.  What advice would you give your teenage self? Stop worrying about boys so much! Focus on your writing. You’ll thank me for it later, promise.

11.  You’ve just been arrested for protesting, what was it for? Protesting against the death penalty.

My Nominees for the Liebster Aware are…

Shana Silver

Chandler Baker

Marianne Lehnis

I realize I’m supposed to nominate 11, but this is all I have for now!

Questions for the nominees

1.  Who is your favorite character in a book or a movie?
2.  Why did you launch your blog?
3.  If you could wave a magic wand and change something about your life, what would it be?
4.  If you could change one decision in the past, what would it be and why?
5.  Who do you admire and respect the most in the world?
6.  What is your biggest dream?
7.  If you were stuck on an island and could only bring three things with you–what would they be?
8.  What is your ideal vacation?
9.  What do you want to be when you “grow up”?
10.  What advice would you give your teenage self?
11.  You’ve just been arrested for protesting, what was it for?


Wildcat Inspiration

As I’m working on the first draft of my newest WIP, WILDCAT, I’m collecting photos for inspirational purposes. It’s a random assortment as the book goes from one extreme to the next, and I thought it’d be fun to share a few on the blog.








Blank page, here I come!

Well, technically, the page isn’t blank anymore because I’ve written 161 words of my shiny new WIP. Not a lot, I know! But I no longer have a blank page, and that makes all the difference in the world. This idea came to me during my (extensive) revisions for THE MADMEN’S CITY, and I’ve been chomping at the bit to get started.

I won’t say much because I like to keep my ideas close to the chest in these very early stages, but I will say it involves outlaws, thieves and a certain, Spanish-speaking city I love.

London Book Fair

Next week, my two loves converge! I’ll be attending the London Book Fair April 8-10th. My biggest priority is to nail down some more PhD interviews with children’s and YA authors for my thesis data collection. But while I’m there, I’m going to enjoy it in a writerly capacity, too. There are so many great exhibitors and seminars, and I just can’t wait.

Pitch Madness

At the beginning of the month, I entered a contest called Pitch Madness, organized by the lovely Brenda Drake. Writers sent in a 35-word pitch, and the first 250 lines of their manuscript. This year, there were something like 520+ entries, and slush readers went through to choose the top 60 as finalists. Tomorrow, these finalists will have their entries posted on host blogs where participating agents will stop by and “bid” against each other to see pages.

I’m going to be honest. I thought I didn’t have a chance. I love my little book, but it’s a little weird. I have two POVs, and the one who opens the book isn’t the cheeriest person on the planet. And 520 entries is a lot. That meant only about 11% of the entries would final.

Still, when they announced the finalists one by one last night on Twitter, I was on the edge of my seat. And then my title popped up: The Madmen’s City. Much excitement commenced.

So, tomorrow my excerpt and pitch will go up on Team Library’s blog, and I’m both nervous and excited that tons of random people on the internet as well as some wonderful agents are going to be reading my work. Eep. But no matter what happens in the agent round, I’m so incredibly happy that my pitch got chosen to final. Fingers crossed.


Last month, I finally finished my newest manuscript. We’ll call it TMC. Woo hoo! This makes it the sixth book I’ve written. Almost hard to believe. And TMC has been in my head for years. YEARS. I’m not exaggerating. The first nugget of an idea for this book came in October 2011. About two and a half years ago. It simmered for a long time while I worked on revisions for another book, and the premise & plot underwent a lot of changes.

But here it is. I’ve written the thing. I’m pretty excited about it. It’s by far the most ambitious and complicated thing I’ve ever written, and if it never sees the light of day, I’m just happy and proud that I got to The End. I wrote it for me more than anything else. It’s a heart book.

2014 Goals

Yeah, I realize I’m a few weeks behind on this, but better late than never, right? And at least I’m not doing this in March. My overall goal/resolution/whatever-you-want-to-call-it is to try my hardest to make this year the best year it can be. 2013 was a nice, solid year. Good things happened. I started data collection for my thesis, I visited my family and went to NYC. But I also felt a little bit in limbo. My fiction writing struggled, and I didn’t complete a new project. I took up running and promptly injured myself the day before my very first 10k race.

Writing Goals

Things I can control:

1. Write regularly. I say this all the time, but writing is just like exercise. If I do it regularly, every day (even if I only manage 100 words), it’s so easy to keep at it the next day and the next and the next. But if I step away from it for a few days, it’s so hard to get my head back into it.

2. Finish, revise and submit the manuscript I’m currently working on.

3. Focus on craft. Even though I struggled this past year, I learned a lot more about craft. I see the flaws in my past work, and I’m working hard to improve. Keep at this and don’t let it slide.

4. Finish writing and revising the manuscript mentioned above as the absolute best book that I can write, something I can be proud of and something I totally love, even if it doesn’t sell. Write with the door closed, so to speak.

Things I can’t control:

1. Sell a book.

Other Life goals

1. Stick to my running training plan.

2. Run a 10k race and don’t walk a step of it.

3. Finish the first draft of my thesis.

4. Present my research at a conference.

5. Travel somewhere new.

My Writing Manifesto!

Writing is part of who I am.
Writing is not easy.
I write stories I love to read.
I write for young adults.
I write because I love the feeling of getting words on the page.
I write when I’ve had too many cups of coffee and when I’ve had too few.
I write with Paramore, Fall Out Boy or Incubus playing in the background.

I have never written a novel for adults. Yet.
I have always written with the hope of getting published one day.
I write in spite of the rejections I’ve gotten over the years.
I don’t write a story if I don’t believe in it.
I should write more often than I do.
I might write this very second because I’m feeling inspired.
I will write for the rest of my life.

First Organized Run

Because I don’t have enough on my plate (*cue crazy laughter*), I’ve gone and signed up for my very first organized run, the Aberystwyth Charity 10k. I have never done something like this before, and I’m not sure if it’s a brilliant idea or an insane one (maybe both?). Now, I know people do stuff like this all the time, and marathon runners are doing more than 4 times the distance, so 10k (a little over 6 miles) isn’t that massive of an undertaking…in theory.

But, you know, you’ve got to start somewhere.

Since this is a charity race, I’ve decided to do this in hopes of raising some money for the British Heart Foundation, a wonderful organization that undertakes important research into heart conditions, in memory of my grandmother.

It’s a big goal (for me), and I’ve got about 6 weeks to go. Bring on December!


This past week, I took a trip to London for my PhD. As a social scientist, I have to do fieldwork aka data collection. My chosen method is interviews, so I’ve been meeting people out in the field at festivals, conferences and other events.

While I was there, I got to do a bit of sightseeing and visit Big Ben, which is even more gorgeous in person than in photos.

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I also got to visit Platform 9 3/4 (again). And I’m glad I went again because this time it was different! They’d moved it inside by the Waterstones bookstore and had a whole thing set up where a guy handed you the House scarf of your choice and held it out behind you to make it appear as if you were running.



So. Much. Fun.

I also went to a Neil Gaiman reading in Westminster Hall. He read the entirety of his new book, Fortunately the Milk, for an audience of 2.5 thousand, with the artist drawing sketches behind him and several actors and comedians and musicians joining in. It was funny and inspiring, and I loved every minute of it.



And then to top it all off, on the long train journey to Aberystwyth, I pulled out my Macbook and wrote the entire way back. There’s just something about trains that both relaxes me and gets my creativity going.

All in all, it was a great trip. I hit a few snags with the fieldwork, but still managed to get some great interviews, saw a literary hero, saw some sights, ate some great food and made progress on my WIP.