A much-needed break

Hi guys! How’s everybody doing?

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Are you done screaming yet?

Yeah, it’s been a rough few weeks. On top of the world news and he whose name I shall not speak, I’ve also had 4 weeks of my 2 year old in a body cast followed by almost 2 weeks where he couldn’t walk. Then my grandmother died, so the 2 year old and I had to solo road trip down to Florida for the funeral (thankfully that was actually a fairly painless trip … turns out my kiddo loves hotels!). Oh, and I’m way behind on a project that’s due … well … today. But I just can’t focus, and it’s partly the world out there, and it’s partly my own fault. I need to find a balance.

So in that spirit, I’ve decided to take a Twitter hiatus for the month of February. I’ve been heartened by seeing the activism present there, and it’s been great for mobilizing, but the fact of the matter is it’s too much for me right now. I’m 5 months pregnant, and I’m starting to feel the stress of the news cycle in a physical way. I’m also parenting a toddler, and I’ve caught myself way too many times helping to set up brio trains or lego towers with my phone in my hand, constantly scrolling and feeling the acid rising in my throat. So for the next 28 days, I’m going to take a break from it. I’m going to get my news by making a once daily visit to NPR.org and my weekly listen to the Slate Political Gabfest. I’ll be doing Dahlia Adler’s Author Life Month on Instagram (follow me at laurenmorrill) and probably taking silly videos of my dinner and my kid on Instagram stories. But otherwise, I’m tuning out for a bit.

No seriously, I am. I’m about to change my Twitter password to something random, which I will write down and hide in the back of my desk. Then I’m going to delete the app off my phone. No more Twitter first thing when I wake up. No more Twitter last thing before I go to bed. A real, actual hiatus.

And hopefully with some time off, I’ll be able to find my own version of good again. I know that sounds selfish, but the road is long, and I can’t burn out now. And I especially can’t burn out when I’ve got two little guys counting on me. I’m hoping to use my extra free time to get back to writing and read some books (seriously, all I’ve read lately is The Handmaid’s Tale, which is excellent, but not exactly heartwarming). I want to take more walks outside (February is basically the start of spring where I live, so it’s lovely to be out and about). I’ll share what’s making me happy on Instagram stories, and I may even pop in here from time to time. But otherwise I’ll be focusing a little more on the home front.

And if you’re looking for permission or encouragement to take a breather, let this be one. There is a hell of a lot of resistance to be done outside of Twitter, and sometimes it’s ok to find out about the news a few hours later (and actually it can mean skipping a lot of the alarmist insta-reactions and getting the actual, factual stuff). As the great Jerry Springer used to say at the end of his show, “Take care of yourselves, and each other.”

My 2016 Year in Reading

I don’t blog much anymore (that’s actually one of my 2017 resolutions, because with the year we’re about to have, I feel like I have more to say than what can be conveyed in a tweet), but my year in reading post is stalwart. I had a pretty good year, though I fell just shy of my 100 books goal (I actually thought I was about to meet it with the book I’m reading now, but then realized I’d miscounted … oops!). So without further adieu, here’s my faves:

The Great Harry Potter Reread
I’d read the first 4 books a couple times, but this year I decided to do a complete series reread for the first time ever. And holy wow did those books hold up. I actually enjoyed the 7th book more the second time around than I did the first (it seemed like they wandered in the woods less than I remembered?). My favorite is a tie between The Prisoner of Azkaban and Order of the Phoenix.

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys
It’s a hard book to read, but one I think we all need to as we move into 2017. Of course, I didn’t know what would be coming when I read it back in February (oh, you sweet summer child…).

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
This was such a Lauren book … snark, humor, and amazing chemistry in the romance. I looooved Jack, the book boyfriend. I’m really looking forward to what Jenn Bennett does next.

Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas
This is one that had sat on my shelf for a long time before I finally picked it up. And damn, is it good. I’d put this right up there with Perks of Being a Wallflower for instant classic, and yet so many YA fans I know haven’t read it. It has a really interesting format, and the voice is really fantastic. Highly recommend for YA readers looking for a deep cut.

Tonight the Streets Are Ours by Leila Sales
Another book that had been on my shelf for a while, and I’m so glad I finally picked it up. I’ve loved all Leila’s books, and this one is right up there (I also reread my favorite of hers, This Song Will Save Your Life this year). I was truly surprised by the plot, which is something that doesn’t happen to me a lot, what with all the YA I read. Leila Sales stays on my auto-buy list.

Once Was a Time by Leila Sales
Speaking of Leila Sales, this is her middle grade book that came out this year. Middle grade is not normally my thing, but like I said, Leila = auto-buy. And man, I was not disappointed. It’s a great twist on time travel that I devoured in one sitting (I stayed up late to finish!). I’m pretty sure this would have been 5th grade Lauren’s very favorite book.

Exit, Pursued by a Bear by Elana K. Johnston
This was a one-sitting read for me. It’s heavy, but it a way that you don’t see often, and I think it does a lot of good work to combat rape culture. There are some amazing characters in this one, and if you missed it, go back and pick it up.

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes
I read 3 JoJo Moyes books this year, but this one was by far my favorite. The characters felt so vibrant and real, and I think it did a really good job exploring the realities of poverty. The romance was also very sweet.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld
A Pride & Prejudice retelling for anyone who ever wanted Elizabeth and Darcy to bone. ‘Nuff said.

The Girls in the Moon by Janet McNally
I’m pretty sure this was my favorite book I read this year. I read it as a galley, and when it came out I made sure to get a hard cover. You hear “If you love Sarah Dessen, you’ll love …” all the time, but this book really means it. It’s got a really interesting POV that you never see in YA, but here it absolutely works. I’m already looking forward to my reread.

The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix Sweeney
I read several adult books this year (gasp!), and enjoyed a lot of them. I’ve heard really mixed reviews on this one, but it really worked for me. Despite being a story about rich white people problems, it never felt cynical. It was funny and heartfelt, and I loved the characters.

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love by Savenaz Tash
Another 100% Lauren book. If you love John Hughes movies and classic rom coms, this book is absolutely for you, whether you’re into comics or fandom or not. It just made me so happy, which is really what I need from books these days.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Another one that sat on my shelf, and I’m glad I finally picked it up. Even more glad that I picked it up just as the sequel was coming out, because Crooked Kingdom was just as good, if not better. It’s like Ocean’s 11 meets Gangs of New York … but with magic. How’s that for a pitch? Seriously, believe the hype and just read this. I”m not even a fantasy person and I loved it.

The Hate U Give by Angela Thomas
Speaking of hype, this has got to be one of the most-hyped books of 2017. Which can be a dangerous position to be in, particularly for a debut. Well, I got an ARC of it, and I gotta say, it 100% lived up to the hype. In fact, I’d say it exceeded my sky-high expectations. The characters are so vivid and amazing (I seriously loved her father), and it’s the perfect example of why #ownvoices is important. I truly don’t think any tourist writer could write even one tenth of this level of realism and create such wonderful, full-realized characters.

Party of One by Dave Holmes (audio)
My favorite audiobook genre is “Celebrity Memoirs Read by the Celebrity,” and this was far and away my favorite of these. Maybe because it hit my nostalgia button, maybe because Dave Holmes is hilarious and a damn fantastic writer, maybe it was his own great reading. Whatever it was, I was all in. This one joins Amy Poehler’s Yes Please as an audio book I’ll listen to again.

And there you have it! My favorite reads of 2016. Twelve Days of Dash and Lily by David Levithan & Rachel Cohn will probably hop on this list, too, but I haven’t finished it yet.

So spill in the comments … what were your favorite reads of 2016?

A Merry Broken Christmas

If you’ve been following along on Twitter, you know that these past 2 weeks have been pretty, well, challenging. My sweet little full-of-energy two year old broke his leg at the trampoline park. And not just any break, but a spiral fracture of his femur. When the ER doctor put the x-ray up, I gasped, that’s how clear it was. And the only way to immobilize a broken femur in a toddler is to put him in a spica cast. If you, like me, had no idea what a spica cast is, behold

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Yup, that’s chest down, both legs, with a bar in the middle. And he had to go under anesthesia to have it put on. And stay the night in the hospital. It was a pretty insane weekend, and it only got a little easier once we got home.

For the past two weeks, my husband and I have basically been on parenting duty 24/7. He sleeps in the guest bed, and one of us has to sleep with him to make sure he doesn’t try to fling himself out. He also wakes frequently when he wants to turn over and needs to be soothed back to sleep. He also needs to be entertained from his toddler bed stationed in the living room, because of course a two year old isn’t meant to be immobilized on his back for 4 minutes, much less 4 weeks. It’s exhausting and frustrating and very, very sad.

Not to mention that it means Christmas is basically cancelled at our house. We were planning to go to my mom’s house to celebrate, but obviously we can’t make the 5 hour drive. We don’t have the energy to cook any kind of Christmas dinner (though I did manage to sneak in a batch of peanut blossoms last night, because dammit if I can go without my favorite Christmas cookie). Oh, and to cap off the Christmas is Cursed 2k16fest, while in the hospital with Freddie we forgot to water our tree. It died, of course, and now we have to take it down probably tomorrow before it engulfs us all in a happy holiday inferno.

I know it could all be worse*, but it still blows pretty hard. The good news is we found out on Wednesday that we’re getting the cast off a couple days early. January 4th is liberation day, and oh what a sweet day it’ll be! I can’t wait to see my sweet little guy running and dancing again. I can’t wait to get back to our normal lives.

I can’t wait to never EVER go to a trampoline park again.

*Pro tip: the only person who is allowed to say “it could be worse,” is the person going through the thing. You should never EVER say it to a person who is knee-deep in their own shit.

Gilmore Girls Reboot, or, It’s All Just A Little Bit of History Repeating

Despite visiting family for Thanksgiving, I managed to spend my Friday hiding away, huddled over my phone watching all six hours of the Gilmore Girls reboot. From the moment Winter started, with the ghostly callbacks to old episodes, I knew that as a fan, I was in for a treat. I started my Friday morning off sobbing, and I finished off the day gasping.

So those last four words … honestly, I wasn’t a fan who’d obsessed much over them. I never tried to figure out what they were, and even as I was watching, I wasn’t thinking much about what was coming. So when Rory outed with them? Yeah, I was pretty shocked. And for about five minutes, I was straight up livid. How could that be IT? That’s all we get? But after just a little bit of thinking, I realized that the ending wasn’t at all ambiguous. Amy Sherman Palladino laid it all out for us; all we had to do was put it together.

Ok, ready for spoilers? SPOILERS! AVERT YOUR EYES TO THE SPOILERS!

The theme of the entire reboot was “full circle.” In Winter, when Lorelai and Emily have their fight at the funeral and Emily throws her daughter out, Lorelai says to her, “Full freaking circle.” And that theme continues, with a mini Lorelai-Rory rift (mirroring the 6th season), a Luke and Lorelai rift (mirroring the 7th season). In Fall, when Lorelai approaches Emily about expanding the Dragonfly, Emily’s words are an exact echo of Richard’s in the pilot. “You need money.” A statement, not a question. Even a new arrangement is born, with Nantucket visits a condition of the money (thought Lorelai definitely came out in the plus column on this one).

So how does this relate back to the four words?

Going full on full circle, ASP has set up Logan as Rory’s Christopher, while Jess is her Luke. That longing look Jess shot Rory through the window? That was 100% Luke watching Lorelai from behind the diner counter. And Logan with his elaborate Life and Death Brigade stunts? Reminds me of Christopher opening that Paris restaurant or setting up the drive-in on the side of the barn. Sweet and thoughtful and fun, but things he can only give his love because he’s got mad cash. And Rory visiting her father to grill him about his parenting (which, can we talk about how odd that scene was? I swear, it was like Rory and Christopher weren’t actually in the same room when they filmed it …) was all about her trying to figure out if she can Lorelai it if Logan still marries that Odette woman (ugh with Rory being ok with being the side piece for so long).

So I think if we want to fill in the future for Rory, Logan’s going to pop in and out of her life. He’ll be charming, and he’ll throw money at problems. He and Rory may even have some on-again off-again fun. But he’ll never quite be what she needs him to be. Meanwhile, Jess will remain around, steadfast and waiting, until Rory’s finally ready to be with him. He’ll be to her (and her kid) was Luke was to Lorelai and Rory, and eventually they’ll get together and read beat poets and listen to punk together forever (though hopefully it won’t take them as long as Lorelai and Luke).

Am I happy about that? Yeah. We got the best of both worlds. We got to see Logan and Rory’s incredible chemistry (which no matter what team you are, you absolutely cannot deny), plus we got to see Logan climb out of bed wearing nothing but boxer shorts. And I’ve always been a Jess fan, even though I think teenage Jess was a rotten punk who treated Rory like dirt (what can I say? I love a bad boy with good hair). He definitely redeemed himself, and continues to show that he knows how to support Rory when she really needs it (getting her to realize she needs to go back to Yale, helping her see what story she really needs to write).

Did I think the reboot was perfect? No. The casual racism of the Berta storyline was one giant cringe, as was the “can’t we borrow some gays?” The body shaming at the pool was just plain gross, and completely beneath Rory and Lorelai. And Lane’s scenes were utterly weightless. ASP totally screwed Lane in the original series (literally), and she did nothing to cut her a break this time around. I wanted to see more of that vibrant, creative, fierce woman who stood by Rory’s side (even when she frankly didn’t deserve it). I loved Paris, but I hated that she had a meltdown over not-even-actual Chad Michael Murray. Where was “this great man was not brought down by my vagina?” Paris? Though I did love seeing her block the bathroom door with her spike heel. Oh, and the musical went on 5ever, and was clearly evidence of what happens when ASP doesn’t have to edit. Also, what in the ever loving my god was going on with Luke’s hair? And I could have lived without a Francie cameo.

But as a fan, I still loved it. I loved catching up with friends (I thought Dean got redeemed big time in the reboot, after being written into the personality of a dirty sweat sock by season 5). I’ve always been a sucker for the Life and Death Brigade, so again, while that scene went on for a little too long, I was still all in for it. I loved everything they did with Richard’s death. I straight up sobbed at his funeral, seeing that Chuck Berry record next to the casket. I loved Rory returning to his study to write, which I know would have made him endlessly happy. I also loved Emily giving no fucks and taking no bullshit (setting aside that awful Berta storyline). Her scene at the DAR interview (when she’s wearing that incredible blue suit? YAS!) was one of the best moments of the reboot.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go write Gilmore Girls: The Next Generation fanfic.

First Trimester Redux

If you’re some kind of Twitter Sherlock, it’s possible you’ve figured out what my big news is by now. At least 50% of my tweets (at least before the election, ugh) were about being tired, going to bed early, or eating candy and baked goods and Mexican food. If you’ve seen me in the last month or so, you might even have noticed that my clothes don’t fit and I have no fucks to give about that fact. But for every tweet you saw, there were about ten more I didn’t share because YOU DON’T TELL BEFORE THE END OF THE FIRST TRIMESTER WHAT ARE YOU A MONSTER WHO WANTS TO CURSE YOUR UNBORN CHILD?

So here’s where I’ve been, lo these last 8 weeks…

4 Weeks

Holy crap, I’m pregnant. And in Boston for the Boston Teen Author Festival. Where I’d planned to drink cocktails and sip wine with sassy writer folk. Thank you to Emery Lord and Zoraida Cordova for barely batting an eye when I ordered a cranberry and soda with lime at the bar. And Victoria Schwab, you cannot know how desperately I coveted your Moscow Mule.

5 Weeks

Trying to put it out of my mind. Mostly feeling nothing. After an early miscarriage last time around, I’m trying to focus on getting past this week. I become insanely superstitious, because when everything is out of your hands you try to grasp for the illusion of control. There are lots of wishes on eyelashes and stepping over sidewalk cracks. I am 90% useless when it comes to basically everything else.

6 Weeks

Oh, hi, I’m tired. This is about the time when I started getting into bed around 8:30pm every night (which quickly pushed back to 7:30). I’m also starting to get a little queasy, but am otherwise ok. But I totally spilled the beans to Jackson Pearce, because I’m not a good secret keeper, and I needed to tell someone!

7 Weeks

Nausea. All the nausea. All the time nausea. I do a lot of deep breathing, drinking of ginger ale, chewing of peppermint gum, and otherwise slamming food into my face because surprisingly, the thing that most quells the nausea is eating. I might have to name this child Taco, because that’s basically all I want to eat. I think my body is 70% queso at this point.

8 Weeks

Still nauseous, still eating everything all the time. Food is now serious business. When I get home from a run to a Wendy’s drive-thru and discover my cheeseburger is not plain (as I ordered it), but in fact has everything on it, I throw it across the living room. It is not my finest hour. (In my defense, it was still in the wrapper, so I didn’t make a giant mess). Also got to see the little bugger on an ultrasound and confirm everything is as it should be. I cry tears of joy. The family is told. Plans begin.

9 Weeks

Halloween. I bought 5 bags of candy. I had 4 trick or treaters. I consider this an epic win. While in Kentucky for the Kentucky Book Fair, I went to Whole Foods, filled up a bag from the cookie bar, went back to my hotel, got into my jammies, climbed into bed, and watched Grey’s Anatomy and ate cookies until I fell asleep. At 8:30pm.

10 Weeks

The election happened. I stayed up later than I have since I found out I was pregnant, only to discover the unthinkable happened. I cried myself to sleep (hard), and spent the rest of the week feeling like garbage, inside and out, wondering what kind of world my children (because now there would be two of them) would inherit.

11 Weeks

Nausea is starting to subside, but with that comes the maternity pants. MATERNITY. PANTS. Things happen a lot earlier with the second kid, that’s for sure. I’m pretty sure everyone who sees me suspects something, but I can’t be bothered to care. I’m still so salty about the election that I’ll fight anyone who dares say anything to me. Also, I cry at everything. EVERYTHING. Every story about the election, every sappy commercial, most stories on NPR. I cannot get through Kelly Clarkson’s rendition of It’s Quiet Uptown without full on weeping. I even cried over the showcase showdown on The Price is Right because it just seemed so nice for that lady that she might get to go to Sicily! (She hadn’t even won yet, they’d only just ANNOUNCED the showcase showdown when the tears sprang to my eyes).

12 Weeks

The end of the first trimester, which feels like a marathon (of course, the marathon is only just beginning, and with birth at the end, it’s more like one of those marathons where you finish and crap yourself while hobbling over the finish line wondering why you did this to yourself). I’m now able to stay up past 8pm. But, as I suspected over the last 8 weeks, nothing good is really happening after 8pm.

So there it is. Eight weeks worth of ridiculous moments that I wanted to share with you, but couldn’t, because like I mentioned, superstition took hold of me. The first trimester went a lot faster this time, but I was also a lot more nervous during it, thanks to the aforementioned miscarriage. This morning I was practically holding my breath while I waited for the midwife to locate the heartbeat, but there it was, pounding away. It made me think about John Green’s post-election video, and his meditation on hope. Because in times like these, it’s really all we have. Well, that and the fight. You bet your ass I’ll be doing the fight, no matter how tired or big I get, I won’t stop fighting. Because I’m now responsible for two people in this world, and I’ll try my damnedest to make it a good one for them and for everyone else.

This is definitely not the kind of sentiment I imagined myself sharing when it came to spilling the news. I, like most everyone else I know, thought I’d be talking about how my new kid would never know about this thing called the glass ceiling. I thought this new kid would show up to a world that wasn’t perfect, but was at least trying every day to be better. Instead we have this. And so I fight.

By the way, We Need Diverse Books is receiving matching donations up to $1000 today, thanks to Justina Ireland. I gave, because what else can I do at this point but try to make books better for kids who really need them. Go donate today, ok?

It’s here! It’s today! Let’s celebrate with a MAKEOVER!

It’s here! Release day has finally arrived, and I’m so excited to say that my fourth YA novel, My Unscripted Life, is now on shelves. If you’ve been following along, you know that I’ve been celebrating the release all month with an ode to my favorite genre, the romantic comedy. And there’s nothing I love more in a rom com than a good old fashioned makeover montage. Clueless? The Princess Diaries? Pretty Woman? A million times yes, please thank you. So to celebrate the release of My Unscripted Life, my ode to rom coms, I asked style blogger Jessica Quirk of What I Wore to come by and dress my main character, Dee. And man did she nail it.

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This is pretty much Dee to a T. Classic and comfy (because a south Georgia summer is hot … and that’s before you throw in the movie star!). That awesome bag would absolutely hold her sketch pad, with a collection of pens and pencils rattling around in the bottom. And those lavender Converse? Yeah, add a little Sharpie art to the soles, and I can see Dee strutting down the cracked sidewalks of downtown Wilder while bopping along on her matching headphones.

Thanks, Jess, for the amazing makeover for Dee! And if you’re looking for your own fashion inspiration, I highly recommend checking out What I Wore’s archives. Jessica has been blogging since 2008 and has partnered with some incredible brands over her time. You’ll definitely find your next outfit in the gallery!

And if Dee seems like someone you might want to hang out with, go pick up your copy of My Unscripted Life TODAY!

MY UNSCRIPTE LIFE- MORRILLSometimes love stories go off script.

Another sultry Georgia summer is about to get a lot hotter. Dee Wilkie is still licking her wounds after getting rejected by the precollege fine arts program of her dreams. But if she’d gone away, she wouldn’t have been around to say yes to an unbelievable opportunity: working on the set of a movie filming in her small Southern town that just happens to be starring Milo Ritter, the famous pop star Dee (along with the rest of the world) has had a crush since eighth grade.

It’s not like Dee will be sharing any screen time with Milo—she’s just a lowly PA. And Milo is so disappointingly rude that Dee is eager to stay far away from him. Except after a few chance meetings, she begins to wonder if just maybe there’s a reason for his offensive attitude, and if there’s more to Milo than his good looks and above-it-all Hollywood pedigree. Can a relationship with a guy like Milo ever work out for a girl like Dee? Never say never. . .

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And while you’re here, don’t forget to scroll through and enter to win books from Emery Lord, Melissa Walker, Jessica Brody, Katie Cotugno and Amy Spalding! Giveaways all end Friday!

kerry-5Jessica Quirk is the creator of What I Wore, a style blog, and the author of What I Wore: Four Seasons, One Closet, Endless Recipes for Personal Style. She lives in Bloomington, IN with her family, where she specializes in sewing, knitting, millinery, and maintaining her website. You can find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

#30DaysofRomComs Presents: Emery Lord!

Just one day left until My Unscripted Life hits shelves! To celebrate, today I’ve got Emery Lord, one of my very favorite women on the blog. I’ve loved Emery’s books since her debut, Open Road Summer, came out in 2014, and her latest, When We Collided, has some of the best writing about people struggling with mental illness (both their own and others) that I’ve ever read. Emery also loves Gilmore Girls as much as I do, and we recently stood on a street corner in Cambridge having a very in-depth conversation on our theories for the Gilmore Girls reboot. We really should have a podcast. #JusticeforLaneKim

Be sure to check out the end of the interview for a giveaway!

kerry-4There are some people who are just good at Twitter. Tim Federle. Shannon Hale. Justina Ireland. And you. Your tweets are smart and sharp and pretty much always make me laugh out loud. Basically HOW DO YOU DO IT?! How did you get into Twitter and find your voice there?

 Well, thank you! (And I couldn’t agree more about Justina, Tim, and Shannon!!) I found Twitter exhausting at first because I was- without really meaning to- trying to be wholly inoffensive. That lasted about a minute because I am not willing to be apolitical for anything- there is too much at stake, and I have to take opportunities to be vocal and amplify other voices. These days, I really like if I can bring levity to someone’s day or if I can criticize something with a twist of humor. And, while I’m at it, I try to be publicly honest about difficult things and pump people up to embrace their innate power. That is my particular ministry, I think, but I also deeply care about using whatever platform I have to learn about and elevate other people- their voices and their work. That’s a big draw of Twitter for me. So, I offer pop culture quips and mental health confessionals and how magical I think you are and I hope I introduce you to the people I am learning from and listening to every day. 

I know I’ve definitely felt the struggle between being me and being the person who lives online. The noise, good and bad, can definitely stick in my brain in a way that pulls me out of real life sometimes. How do you separate @emerylord from Emery Lord?

Yeah, I definitely feel that too sometimes. But I actually don’t post a lot about my daily life on social media, so that helps! Almost all my relationships- and a lot of my interests- are completely off-line. (It wasn’t intentional, at first! Lots of things just don’t make for pithy or interesting tweets? And a lot of my friends just aren’t into social media anyway.) Also, I do step away a lot, when I need to point all my focus at my health or work or family! Sometimes for intentional spans of time, sometimes a day when I just need to get right with myself or whatever.

Your novels have dealt with a lot of themes, from friendship to family to mental health, but they always feature a romantic storyline. What is it about romance that draws you there as a writer?

This question has really made me think, Lauren!! Romance is “the excitement associated with love”- and so sometimes I think I write friendship romances- writing about the wonder and power of loving the people in your life. I think who you’re drawn to or bonded to is so often a reflection of where you are, emotionally, and what you are seeking. But romance with physical attraction is, in particular, is a rich soil for pining, banter, awkwardness, and heat. And I like all those things. 

You’ve been very candid about how your own mental health struggles have informed your writing, and I think that really came through in When We Collided. Vivi’s narrative felt very real and immersive. What was it like writing that perspective?

Writing Vivi’s POV was completely second-nature- the easiest I’ve ever found a voice. But she’s also the result of years of experience, conversations, study, and edits from a bunch of betas/experts. So, it was catharsis and research, hand in hand. Both were good for me. 

Can you tell us anything about what you’re working on now?

I’m finishing up my fourth book, THE NAMES THEY GAVE US, which is out next May. It’s about finding your work family, and camp, and daughterhood.  

Thanks, Emery! Now, to win a copy of Emery’s When We Collided, comment below with your favorite author to follow on Twitter! Contest ends October 16, US only.

when-we-collidedSeventeen year-old Jonah Daniels has lived in Verona Cove, California, his whole life, and only one thing has ever changed: his father used to be alive, and now he is not. With a mother lost in a deep bout of depression, Jonah and his five siblings struggle to keep up their home and the restaurant their dad left behind. But at the start of summer, a second change rolls in: Vivi Alexander, the new girl in town.

Vivi is in love with life. Charming and unfiltered, she refuses to be held down by the medicine she’s told should make her feel better. After meeting Jonah, she slides into the Daniels’ household seamlessly, winning over each sibling with her imagination and gameness. But it’s not long before Vivi’s zest for life begins to falter. Soon her adventurousness becomes all-out danger-seeking.

Through each high and low, Vivi and Jonah’s love is put to the test . . . but what happens when love simply isn’t enough?

My Unscripted Life
Out October 11!
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#30DaysofRomComs Presents: Jessica Brody!

We’re getting closer and closer to My Unscripted Life‘s release (less than a week!), which means we’re getting closer and closer to the end of #30DaysofRomComs! But we’ve still got some great giveaways, including the one at the end of today’s interview with one of my very favorite authors, Jessica Brody!

kerry-3You’ve written across genres and categories in your career, from sci fi to rom coms, middle grade to young adult to adult, and even a nonfiction writing book! What is it about comedy that you keep coming back to?

I think it’s my personality. It just fits comedies best. I tend to keep things light in my life, always trying to find the joke in everything and always trying to make people laugh. I think making people laugh gives me more satisfaction than anything else (including even making people swoon!) So after writing three books in a very serious sci-fi trilogy, writing A WEEK OF MONDAYS (a comedy) kind of felt like coming home. Not that I didn’t love writing sci-fi, but it’s like going on a long vacation somewhere foreign. It’s amazing, the food is great, you love the sights and meeting the people, but after a while, it’s so great to be home. J

Speaking of your nonfiction book, Save the Cat Writes a Novel is something you’ve working on for a long time. I even plotted using Save the Cat thanks to your evangelism of the script writing book! Why did you want to write this book?

I think it started with teaching the workshops. Once I started teaching SAVE THE CAT! WRITES A NOVEL as a workshop, I realized how much this method can help people…specifically novelists. I also realized, in speaking to novelists in my workshops, that adapting it to novels wasn’t as straight forward and obvious as I’d thought. So I basically spent 5 years teaching the method and gathering knowledge and tweaking my approach to it, before I started writing the book. Now I really feel like I have a handle on how to adapt this amazing plotting methodology to novels and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

I was watching your YouTube channel and realizing that you’re basically becoming an across-the-board media maven. What made you want to take your writing tips to YouTube, and what can we expect coming up on your channel?

Oh, thanks! I’m glad someone’s watching! I don’t know, I think I just have so much to say about writing! I’ve been doing it professionally now for more than 10 years, I guess, after that long, you start picking up a few things. J I started releasing a series of online, self-paced workshops about writing (you can learn more about them here) and I was getting such a great response to them, I decided to also post some YouTube videos about writing too. So far, they’ve been really fun! I think I just love working with other writers and talking about craft and process.

You write contemporary with a magical twist. What draws you to those magical elements?

Oh, I just LOVE those wish fulfillment stories. There’s something about them that really speaks to me. Girl makes a wish, wish comes true, girl realizes wish isn’t all that’s cracked up to be. It’s so fun to explore different stories within this theme. Because who hasn’t wished for something magical? To do over a day? To make a different choice in your past? To fast forward through the dreaded middle school? Obviously in real life, we never get to experience those “what ifs” but in fiction we can. So I’m kind of obsessed with doing that!

Your next YA was just announced. What can you tell us about it?

Yes! Huzzah! It’s another wish fulfillment story. And another comedy! It’s called IN SOME OTHER LIFE and it’s about an 18-year-old girl who, four years ago, made a very fateful life-altering decision that she now completely regrets. She always wonders how her life would be different if she’d made the other choice. Then she falls, hits her head, and wakes up in a parallel version of her life where, four years ago, she made the other choice. I was inspired by movies like Sliding Doors, Mr. Destiny and The Family Man, all of which I grew up loving. So this was really fun for me to write.

Thanks so much for hosting me Lauren! And congrats on your new release! I can’t WAIT to read it! XO

Thanks for stopping by, Jess! And now, if you want a chance to win a copy of Jessica’s newest release, A WEEK OF MONDAYS, comment below with what romantic wish you’d like to have granted! Contest ends October 16, US only.

week-of-mondaysWhen I made the wish, I just wanted a do-over. Another chance to make things right. I never, in a million years, thought it might actually come true…

Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having a serious case of the Mondays. She gets a ticket for running a red light, she manages to take the world’s worst school picture, she bombs softball try-outs and her class election speech (note to self: never trust a cheerleader when she swears there are no nuts in her bake-sale banana bread), and to top it all off, Tristan, her gorgeous rocker boyfriend suddenly dumps her. For no good reason!

As far as Mondays go, it doesn’t get much worse than this. And Ellie is positive that if she could just do it all over again, she would get it right. So when she wakes up the next morning to find she’s reliving the exact same day, she knows what she has to do: stop her boyfriend from breaking up with her. But it seems no matter how many do-overs she gets or how hard Ellie tries to repair her relationship, Tristan always seems bent set on ending it. Will Ellie ever figure out how to fix this broken day? Or will she be stuck in this nightmare of a Monday forever?

From the author 52 Reasons to Hate My Father and The Unremembered trilogy comes a hilarious and heartwarming story about second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out what you really want.

My Unscripted Life
Out October 11!
AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound

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This Rom Com Is The Best, Fight Me: Melissa Walker

Today in the rom com showdown, we’ve got YA author Melissa Walker here! Melissa is the author of some of my favorite books, including Unbreak My Heart and Lovestruck Summer (which I love for being one of the only books I’ve ever read that gets roller derby right!). So let’s hear what Melissa’s favorite rom com is.

kerry-2I’m going to go ahead and say that I identify as a late Gen-Xer and like my love stories with a bit of drama in them, so my pick may not be a rom-com in the strict traditional sense, but I maintain that with Janeane Garofalo’s one-liners and Ben Stiller’s mere presence, it qualifies. Reality Bites was released in the winter of my 16th year, when I had a job at… my local movie theater. I saw the film roughly 47 times. Well, maybe not the entire thing, but I did plan my clean-up shift perfectly so that I could walk into the darkened cinema just as the strains of U2’s “All I Want Is You” filled the speakers and Winona’s Lelaina slowly smoked in bed as Ethan’s Troy smoked in the hospital and couldn’t bring himself to speak when he called her on the landline (She wasn’t sure it was him! That was a Thing!). Watch this and just TRY not to feel something. Then watch any scene with Ben Stiller in it and try not to laugh. See? Rom-Com.

Great pick, Melissa! Reality Bites-era Winona was my fashion and hair idol for ages (I could never get that artfully mussed shaggy pixie down like she could, which is one of my life’s great tragedies). And to celebrate #30DaysofRomComs and my favorite Melissa Walker books, I’m giving away an e-book of Lovestruck Summer, which trust me, you definitely want.

Comment below with which rom com star you’d trade places with and be entered to win! Contest ends October 16, US Only. 

lovestruck-summer-coverThis is the story of Quinn, an indie rock girl who came out to Austin, Texas for a music internship. She also plans to spend long, lazy days in the sun at outdoor concerts–and to meet a hot musician or two. Instead, she’s stuck rooming with her sorority brainwashed cousin, who now willingly goes by the name ‘Party Penny.’ Their personalities clash, big time. But Sebastian, a gorgeous DJ, definitely makes up for it. Sebastian has it all: looks, charm, and great taste in music. So why can’t Quinn keep her mind off Penny’s friend — cute, All-American Russ with the Texas twang? One thing’s certain: Quinn’s in for a summer she’ll never forget!

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My Unscripted Life
Out October 11!
AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound

#30DaysofRomComs Interview: Amy Spalding

Hey guys! Sorry about the hiatus. #30DaysofRomComs took a little break while I was in Boston for Boston Teen Author Festival this weekend! I promise to do a recap soon. The festival was fantastic, and I highly recommend it to any readers or author friends who are looking for great festivals!

But now we’re back, and kicking it back off with a bang. I have one of my favorite YA rom com writers, Amy Spalding, stopping by for an interview and a giveaway! Amy is the author of a mountain of hilarious novels, including The Reece Malcolm List and Kissing Ted Callahan (And Other Guys). Aside from writing amazing books, she’s also known for being hilarious on Twitter and displaying her awesomely eclectic fashion (sometimes known as Toddler Grandma style) on Instagram. So let’s get started!

kerry-1Anyone who follows you on Twitter knows you’re a fan of badass lady bands. You also write some seriously feminist characters and sex-positive books. Is that connected? Is it intentional? 

I’m a feminist, so anything I create or consumed is through a feminist lens, absolutely. However, it’s not really a conscious choice; it’s just who I am and how I think of the world. I feel very fortunate that even as our culture is still appallingly sexist, my life is filled with awesome women and men who believe in and advocate for nothing but equality while proudly calling themselves feminists. I know this isn’t how the whole world operates, but here’s the thing about writing romcoms: they already are within this beautiful amazing heightened reality where amazing meet-cutes happen and misunderstandings get resolved after an uplifting montage set to your favorite song. So if I get to play in a heightened world…I want to play in one that believes in women and girls, takes their needs seriously, and gives them romantic interests who do too. (Also, it’s all way swoonier when your crush respects you AND wants to make out with you!)

Your next book, The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in LA) sounds amazing, and is also a little different from the books you’ve written thus far. Can you tell us about the moment when Jordi became a character you knew you had to write about?

Honestly, the only real difference about this book is that my main character, Abby, doesn’t fall for a beautiful boy (like the main characters in my other books), but with a beautiful bad-ass girl, Jordi Perez. Otherwise I think Abby and Jordi and the rest of their world fit in well to The Amy Spalding Universe (TM). There’s art, music, Los Angeles sunshine, awkward flirting, a lot of detailed description of food. I really really wanted to write about a girl who fell for a girl because I’ve written a lot about super cute boys, and I wanted to have a fluffy swoony book out there for girls who like girls too.

Abby is also super into fatshion – she is plus size, loves clothes, cares deeply about style, and yet her journey has nothing to do with her weight. (Spoiler alert: she eats a lot of burgers in this book and is the same size on the last page as she is on the first one.) It mattered a lot to me that a girl who didn’t fit conventional beauty sizes — and yet reflected not just me but so many actual teens out there — could be in the center of a love story where she was desired by someone, just as she was.

The moment I knew I had to write Abby and Jordi’s story was actually when I saw someone on Twitter post that they’d love to see the sassy best friend character be the main character of their own story. It hit me that in Abby’s mind, that’s who she was. Suddenly the story I’d been trying to write for awhile finally flowed.

I also was inspired by a small moment in the opening of Fun Home the Musical (subconsciously, actually — when I saw it again the other week I realized it and was so thrilled that art that inspired me also inspired my work). In the midst of a fairly heavy show, there’s this tiny flash of hopeful sweet romance. I can’t say more…spoilers! Wait for 2018!

Speaking of Jordi Perez, this makes the third book with an awesomely parenthetical title. Are your titles all of your own invention? Where do they come from?

My first parenthetical title, Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) was a three-part effort between me and two other friends. One thought of “Kissing Ted Callahan” which I loved but seemed a little…too sweet for the actual story, somehow? So another friend thought of “(and Other Boys)” but since Riley says “guys” in the book and not “boys”, I switched it! My publisher loved it and so it stuck. When it was time to think of a title for The New Guy (and Other Senior Year Distractions), my publisher definitely was interested in continuing this. So then when I wrote my next book, I definitely had that title structure in mind, and managed to come up with The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in L.A.) all on my own!

When can we expect a Toddler Grandma (TM) line to premier at fashion week?

NOT SOON ENOUGH FOR MY TASTE! 

If you could see one of your books turned into a Hollywood rom com (movie or tv!), which would you pick?

If you’d asked me just a month or so ago, I would have said Kissing Ted Callahan. I’ve thought about this before and love the idea of it, especially the (spoiler alert!) concert scene at the end. That said, I’ve read in a few places lately that in TV and film, so rarely lesbians get to have a truly happily-ever-after. So knowing that, I would love love love to see a movie of The Summer of Jordi Perez. Also if they made it, they would have to come up with soooo many cute fat outfits that I (hopefully) could then steal from the set.

Thanks, Amy! And if you want to win a copy of Amy’s latest book, The New Guy (And Other Senior Year Distractions), comment below with which YA rom com you’d like to see as a movie! Contest ends October 14, US Only.

newguyA ridiculously cute, formerly-famous new guy dropping into your life? It’s practically every girl’s dream.

But not Jules McCallister-Morgan’s.

I realize that on paper I look like your standard type-A, neurotic, overachiever. And maybe I am. But I didn’t get to be the editor of my school’s long-revered newspaper by just showing up*. I have one main goal for my senior year-early acceptance into my first choice Ivy League college-and I will not be deterred by best friends, moms who think I could stand to “live a little,” or boys.

At least, that was the plan before I knew about Alex Powell**.

And before Alex Powell betrayed me***.

I know what you’re thinking: Calm down, Jules. But you don’t understand. This stuff matters. This is my life. And I’m not going down without a fight.

—-

* Okay, I sort of did. But it’s a sore subject.

** I mean, I guess everyone knows about Alex Powell? Two years ago, you couldn’t go anywhere without hearing about viral video boy band sensation Chaos 4 All. Two years ago, Alex Powell was famous.

***Some people think I’m overreacting. But this. Means. War.

Filled with romance, rivalry, and passive-aggressive dog walking, Amy Spalding delivers a hilariously relatable high school story that’s sure to have you falling for The New Guy.

My Unscripted Life
Out October 11!
AmazonBarnes & NobleIndiebound

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