Top 10 books I read in 2016: mini-reviews


I’ll be honest. I read a lot less this year than I usually do. It’s been a rough year all the way around, and I’ll probably talk about that later. Meanwhile, I’m writing this annual mini-review post because it brings me joy and also, there’s little I love more than telling people what to read and how to live their lives.


10. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

ravenboysAlso known as the book I was supposed to read four years ago when it debuted and didn’t and now I regret my choices.

In The Raven Boys, Blue (our heroine) is the only non-seer in her psychic family. But when she has a vision on St. Mark’s Eve of a boy who will soon die, her clairvoyant mother tells her that the only reason Blue would see him is either that she is his true love, or she killed him herself. The boy – Gansley – goes to Aglionby Academy (infamous for its privileged “Raven Boys”) and when he and Blue accidentally cross paths, she gets swept up in a mystery that she knows will lead to a tragic end for both of them.

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Turn the page

Yesterday morning, at around 7:45am, I finished the second draft of hail the pumpkin king –a novel whose first draft I finished almost a year ago today (I wasn’t writing Draft 2 that whole time, I swear, just for about 4 months on and off).

This is the first book I’ve written multiple drafts of while also working full-time. It’s also the first book whose first draft I’ve underwritten. And just when I feel like I’m learning things, I look up the D2 wordcount and there it is: 11,000 words that were not there before.

Still, it’s not all bad. If you recall, this summer I decided I needed a break from blogging and social media to take a f***ing vacation, phrasing brought to you by My Depleted Vocab, you’re welcome. I took about a week and a half off from social (well, social for pleasure; my job is social media management), and then came back… slowly. I haven’t really posted much of anything in the past few months. I’ve stayed off-blog.

I’m here to report that the hiatus really did help my tired, burnt-out heart. But not for the reason I thought it would.

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Letters to my dead novels

Inspired by “How Writers Mourn Their Dead Novels.”


Dear Dead Novel #1,

You were the one.

The one that made me realize I could do it. Really do it. Write a book. A whole book.

You were a few hundred handwritten pages of pure, magical dream-fever. Sure, you were about talking horses running wild in Wyoming. Sure, half of you now lies smudged, faded, and illegible in a drawer because I was too naive to write with a pen and not a pencil. But Novel, I remember the long summer nights we spent together.

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More confessions of a yes-woman: take a f***ing vacation

Hi, guys. This will be short, I promise.

This past week, a post I wrote for The Yellow Conference went live, and I reread it for the first time since I wrote it back in May. It’s about saying no and having the courage to set boundaries for ourselves.

A quick excerpt from “Confessions of a Yes-Woman”:


(click to read the full post)

I know I’ve been writing a lot about self-care in the past few weeks, partly because of all the horrible things that have been happening in the world. I’m so happy to see beautiful friends like Christina Im and Topaz Winters championing self-care with gentle words and soaring voices, and the comments and messages you all have written me have flooded me with a peace I haven’t felt in a while. So thank you. Thank you so much.

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Let’s have breakfast: a post on self-care

It kind of feels like 2016 is on fire.

At least, to me. I know that most of my friends have felt the same sort of heaviness of this year – and it’s a bizarre thing to think that seven months ago we were all looking forward to a year in which maybe everything would be better. Was it naive of us to think that things could get better?

I don’t know.

I don’t know.

I do know that right now, working in communications really sucks. Every time there’s another shooting, another attack, another mass murder, every communications professional in the world is trained to react to it not with heartsickness, but with calculation. We write the condolences and statements. We pen the thoughts and prayers sent out by public figures and companies. We organize the speeches and rallies led by social justice organizations. While the world is mourning, we are working.

But in 2016, aren’t we all communications professionals?

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Why we shovel sand

Here’s a fun party story: Over the course of my life, I’ve written five novels.

Despite this, it took me a long time until I found the nerve to start calling myself “a writer.” This was largely because for the majority of my writing life, I was unrepresented and unpublished and yaddayaddayadda I overvalued the validation of other people.

Now? I’m not unpublished anymore. But I am still unrepresented.

So when strangers ask me what I do and I say, “I’m a writer,” I know I’m about to face the inevitable follow-up question, which has nothing to do with The Craft or my artistic sentiments re: the state of humanity (I know, right???). Nah bro, strangers just want to know whether they can find any of my books on a shelf in a Barnes & Noble.

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