If You Cannot Be Unafraid

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This week I learned:

If you cannot be unafraid, be afraid and happy.

Quote taken from this beautiful book.

It’s so simple, and goes along with what I want for my life, which is to worry less, be in the moment more, and yet it’s something I’ve never seen articulated so well until now.

I’m afraid all the time. Of disease, of growing old, of losing someone I love, of terrorism, of screwing up, of never becoming successful, of what other people think of me or say about me, of missing opportunities, of choosing the wrong thing, of choosing the right thing and then somehow squandering it. Of writing the wrong thing, of choosing the wrong life, of being the wrong person.

I worry too much. I know this. I try and stop. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t.

But if I can’t not worry–and I can’t, not at all the time–I can worry and at the same time be happy about other things. Like a new blue chair in the corner of my living room, and the basil plant I just bought. How when watering it last night on my deck, I finally made friends with my neighbor, who is a delightfully sweet Russian girl who wants to become friends. How much I am really liking my work in progress at the moment. That there are bagels in the office today. Little things.

This week I am:

Reading This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. I’ve read her other two books, and they were both super sweet, well-written YA romances, and this is proving to be much of the same. The only complaint I would have is that these books aren’t really ones that stay with you; I end up forgetting the characters’ names and a lot of the plot the moment I finish the book.

Writing The Play Story. 55K words in and somewhere between the first and second turning points. It’s going to be too long, but then my first drafts always are.

Watching I am hooked on this ridiculous, implausible, unrealistic television show. It is the perfect thing to have on when you want to be distracted or entertained, which is all I’m really looking for from TV these days.

Listening to The Spotify top 100 Punk Songs playlist is top-notch.

Cooking We figured out how to use our communal grills in our apartment’s courtyard and have been grilling chicken (him) and polenta (me) with asparagus, onions, peppers, and tomatoes, and it is the perfect simple nutritious delicious summer dinner.

Have a great weekend and I hope you can be afraid and happy too.

Image found here

To the Salad Naysayers

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Adding a little lifestyle content to my writing and wandering blog…

Someone told me the other day that they “don’t like salads.” My response to that is: that’s because you’re doing it wrong.

So, how to do it right?

Start with an interesting green as a base (arugula, kale, swiss chard) and not one of those mixed-bag grocery store mixes. Add something sweet (strawberries, peaches), something crunchy (nuts, sunflower seeds), something in the onion family (like shallots!), a cheese of some sort (I like goat or feta), some random veggies you have (red peppers, asparagus) and as a bonus, a grain (quinoa or faro). Adjust to your personal tastes.

Then the most important part: the dressing. Skip the store-bought bottles—I’ve yet to discover a good one—and make it yourself. My favorite dressing on earth is the one my French host mother used to make, which was just good mustard mixed with good olive oil with a little salt, pepper, and water to thin it out.

Oh, and add some French (or Italian) bread. Voilà, an amazing meal.

So that was my big PSA for the week. Here are a few more things:

Reading: Still on The Rest of Us Just Live Here and still really liking it. My shorter commute has made me a slow reader this year. Someone else I know please read this so we can discuss.

Writing: Sloooowly working on the Play Story. Life is getting in the way.

Listening to: The Band. Really great pre-summer music.

Watching: Hodor 😦

Cooking: The aforementioned amazing salads.

Image found on this lovely Instagram

Things Making Me Think

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Happy Friday!

This week was not great for me, but it’s over now (the work-week part, anyways). I have very little in the way of plans this weekend, which makes me quite happy.

Taking a slightly different approach to this post this week. Let’s see if people (including me) like it.

Something I’ve learned (about writing).

Something I’ve learned (about travel).

Something making me think.

Something I’m thankful for: The smell in Jersey right before it’s about to rain is the same in the city as it is in the suburbs.

Something that made me laugh. Hard.

Something that was clearly written just for me. (Fun fact: I have that jewelry holder.)

Something I’ve learned: When you’re frustrated about something, don’t stew silently. Tell the person. (Politely.) For people who abhor confrontation, such as me, this can be daunting, but for the most part it’s a preemptive strike against an inevitably larger confrontation down the road.

And could this be my new favorite social media platform?!? If you sign up, be my friend! (I’m wanderlustywriter. Obviously.)

Reading: This is finally picking up! As I suspected it would, it’s sucked me in, and I’m on board for the rest of the series.

Writing: Play story forges on and my only problem at the moment is finding time to work on it.

Watching: Still on the same thing as last week and still can’t look away despite the insanity.

Listening to: This guy. He’s good.

Cooking: Messy but delicious.

How was your week? Better than mine, I hope!

Image found here

Friday Things

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Hey, I managed to do a blog post today!

Some things that made me happy this week:

The breakthrough moment.

Do you do this?

An awesome post for when you’re ready to query.

I need to start a series like this.

I want to go here.

And when the master makes a list like this, you better take notice.

Reading: After finishing this and getting angry that the sequel hadn’t arrived in the mail, I started reading this, which is just as good as this. But the sequel just came today and I can’t decide what I want to read more. #goodproblemstohave

Writing: The YA fantasy is a bit stuck. I’m trying not to edit as I go but I made a major change to the beginning and am having trouble simply making the note “this happens instead” and moving the plot from there. I think I’m someone who needs to edit as she goes. And I think that’s okay.

Watching: I know I’m about 25 years late, but I started watching this. From the beginning. I like it. And the ’90s hair makes it that much better.

Listening to: Have you heard of this? I had not, but now I’m managing our branded account, so am quickly getting myself acquainted with it. If you’re a regular user, let me know if you have any tips.

Cooking: Quick and easy dinners. Like this one: 1. poach two eggs 2. sauté shallots and shiitake mushrooms 3. put everything over a bowl of arugula and top with salt, pepper, and fresh ricotta 4. eat with a warm baguette. (and some sauvignon blanc, if you feel so inclined).

Have a lovely weekend!

Image that makes me long for elsewhere found here

Friday Things

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Happy Friday!

Today is my second to last day at the company I’ve worked at for the past eight years. It’s surreal. But an odd thing has happened in the past two weeks’ since I’ve given my notice: I’ve gotten less nervous about my impending new job, and more just plain excited.

Which helps immensely, since I’m the kind of person who’s terrible at making decisions and is constantly second-guessing herself. If you prescribe to astrology, you could say it’s the Libra in me. If you don’t, you could say it’s just how I am.

Anyway, here are some things I hope you find interesting:

1. The unintentional last words of 13 writers

2. Something that has always bugged the hell out of me

3. I love this advice, especially this line:

Love isn’t enough. Marry the person who brings out your best and will stand beside you at your worst.

4. Some advice on navigating this newish social platform–immensely helpful to those of us who work on social for a living/are writing for teenagers for a living.

Reading: This (after DNFing this). It’s really different. I’m not sure I like it. The prose is beautiful though, so I’ll probably finish it.

Writing: The YA fantasy. At the same time, in a fit of excitement, I submitted my YA contemporary to an agent via a #PitMatch on Twitter–my first time submitting this manuscript to an agent–and received this very nice rejection email:

We felt the writing was quite lovely and from the synopsis the plot looks intriguing. However, our guidelines require that our books not include drug/alcohol use or progressing beyond kissing, among other things. We do encourage you to keep submitting to other publishers because we feel the manuscript has promise for another house.

Yeah. My book includes drinking, smoking, and “progressing beyond kissing” (most of it in the first few chapters). I feel kinda dumb for submitting to them (though I don’t see anything about these guidelines on their site), and at the same time, it’s one of the nicest rejections I’ve ever gotten. It gives me hope that this manuscript will be more well-received than my first.

Watching: I stopped watching this after the first few episodes, because I did not like it. I find the writing and acting to be sub-par. However, I was encouraged via Twitter to give it another shot. I still don’t think it’s all that great, but it does hold my attention and it’s something to have on while cooking, so there’s that. And I like Bellamy. (Though not really anyone else.)

Listening to: Maybe I should take this category away because I tend to listen to the same stuff over and over. Though I am starting work at a music-related company next week so that may change.

Cooking: I made this soup this week and it was simple and delicious.

Have a lovely weekend 🙂

Image found on this amazing Tumblr

Friday Things

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Happy Friday!

I am happy today because after cancelling our trip to Grenada, we ended up booking a last-minute flight to Florida to visit my lifelong best friend and her family. She just gave birth to her fifth child, so it’s going to be a long weekend spent catching up and playing with lots of small people. And strangely enough, her kids are some of the few I know that actually make me look forward to having my own (but not anytime soon). They’re just really cool small people.

Some other cool things from around the internets this week:

1. People who procrastinate are more creative. As are people who sleep late. My “bad habits”, justified 🙂

2. I found a really great new blog to follow (though it’s been around a while, which always makes me wonder what other great things are out there on the internets that I’m missing). This post about the daily habits of writers and other creatives really hit home for me, as making enough time to write is something I’ve been struggling with lately.

3. I love this idea, and will be shopping here exclusively from now on. (In theory.)

4. Finally, what to do when you’re having a bad day 🙂

Reading: On the final installment of this trilogy, which began with this book. Still liking it, but I’m hoping that in this book, the heroine attends far fewer meetings than in the second book. Meetings are the worst things in the world. I deal with them daily at work and really don’t need them cropping up in my YA fantasy.

Writing: My YA fantasy. I finally got to the exciting parts, so the writing’s coming much more easily 🙂

Watching: I need something new. Any recommendations?

Listening to: Recently discovered these guys–they’re different and kind of awesome.

Cooking: New category! I actually love to cook. Pouring a glass of wine, putting on Netflix, and making a giant mess in the kitchen for my boyfriend to clean up later is one of my favorite things to do. It’s the one time when my brain’s not mentally responding to an email or trying to figure out some plot problems or worrying that I still haven’t found the perfect armchair for my apartment. This week I made this and it was amazing, though next time I think I’ll try just baking the cauliflower and cheese alone then dipping it in the tomato sauce so it doesn’t get soggy.

How was your week??

Seasonally-appropriate image found somewhere on Tumblr

 

Friday Things

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TGIF!! (How I wish that lineup of sitcoms was still on…)

Here are the things that made my week:

1. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating: print out your manuscript to edit it. It’s the secret to seeing the forest for the trees and it’s changed my life.

2. To continue the theme of my Tana French obsession, I found this interview, and I love love love this quote:

I’ve realized that I write a lot less about romance and parent/child relationships than I do about friendships. I think I keep coming back to this idea because in some ways, friendships are even more essential to a human being. You can be a perfectly healthy person without having kids or having a romantic relationship — you can live a full, happy, healthy life. I’m not sure you can do that without friends.

My FAVORITE thing to explore in my own writing is unconventional relationships between people (more on that below).

3. A life-changing (or at least money-saving) thing I’ve been doing: making my own vegetable broth. I just put all my veggies scraps (think potato peels, carrot peels, garlic skin) in a bag in the freezer, then when there’s enough (about 1/2 a large ziploc) I put them in a big pot of water with some salt and pepper and once it reaches a boil, simmer for an hour. Then I strain and discard the vegetables. Voilà free broth!

Reading: The Girl on the Train It’s good in that it’s really well-written and suspenseful, really drops you right into the action. But I have the same problem with it that I had with Gone Girl, and also with The Secret History–I do not like a single character in it. So while I’m definitely reading voraciously to find out what happens, I don’t particularly care if any one of the main characters or supporting characters ends up getting arrested (or killed). It’s a legitimate technique, sure, but in general I prefer stories where there’s at least one character to root for (maybe Evie, the baby? I have no issues with her.)

Watching: Mad Men. Season 7 Part 1 finally came to Netflix. I love that show. Why can’t everything on TV be so well-written? The penultimate episode “The Strategy” was my favorite, entirely because of the Don/Peggy scene near the end. This is the kind of unconventional relationship I’m talking about–not romantic, not family, not even quite friends, really, but something else, and I absolutely love them together.

Listening to: The Les Miserables Pandora station. Sometimes I like to pretend I’m Eponine while in the shower.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Image found here

Friday Things

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Happy Halloween! It’s been awhile since I’ve gone out on this sacred holiday, but tonight I’m dressing up, going out with friends, and partying like it’s 2008. I am predicting I will start out excited, and then as the night wears on I will start to feel old, come to face the inevitable truth that my glory days have come and gone, drink too much vodka to make myself feel better, and end up with a hangover tomorrow morning. But let’s see, shall we?

Here are three things I’ve learned this week:

1. This book is incredible. How had I not heard of it until last week? Go read it. Now.

2. These tacos are SO DELICIOUS. Go make them. Now.

3. You know that taboo about how straight men and women can’t be friends after a certain age? Did you know that’s not true for gay people? I was having this conversation with a new (gay) coworker who told me she has some very close gay female friends and her partner doesn’t mind at all. “Heterosexual people are so weird about that,” she told me. She’s right! More on this another day.

I found the above image on Pinterest but it links to a dead end; if anyone recognizes it please let me know so I can give credit!