I’m obsessed with names.

Is that normal or weird?

I love to think about names, to generate names, to know their meanings and how they match up with a person’s personality.

My favorite names are rare but not necessarily unusual.  For example, the main characters in my novel are West, Silas, and Laurel.  No one can really argue that those names are “out there” (like Raven, Apple, Royale).  But at the same time, they’re not ultra-common.

I especially love short names.  One syllable, four letters = perfect.  The main character of my new story is Penn.





What are your favorite names?  Why?


Related posts:
Character Names I Love
Nine Names
Random Facts about Me

Dear Diary (November 2013)

ddnovI kicked off November in style by attending a Billy Collins poetry reading at the Pantages Theatre.  My darling friend Elyse and I went to hear our beloved poet share his dry wit and perfect imagery and fascinating thoughts.  I asked the man beside me, “Have you seen Billy Collins before?”

“Oh, no,” he said.  “My wife and I are from Oregon, and we timed our visit to our son and daughter-in-law with Billy Collins’s visit here so we could see him.  Have you?”

“This will be my third time,” I admitted.  I didn’t mention that one of those times I actually met him and had him sign my copy of Questions about Angels.  It reminded me once again just how grateful I am to live in the literary community of Minneapolis!

Some of my favorite friends and I went to an improv comedy show for my lovely friend Ashley’s birthday.  The show was funny, but the best part was spending the entire evening with such amazing women.

I was invited to be part of a panel about sadness, anxiety, and depression at a local church.  It was good to be able to share about OCD, ERP, and the stigma against mental illness that is so prevalent in the church (the church in general, not that church specifically, ha!).

My college writing instructor and author Judith Hougen has partnered with Ann Sorenson, a local filmmaker/instructor, and Luke Aleckson, an artist/instructor to pioneer the Emerging Artists Collective, a group of young Christian artists who will gather for sharing and discussions about issues related to faith and the artistic life.  We had our pilot gathering this month, and it. was. wonderful.  I really loved it, and I’ll be sharing about this in more depth soon on my blog.

And then, of course, the book deal.  I am absolutely thrilled that Harper Collins made me a two-book offer!  It’s still a bit surreal; I need to pinch myself.  My dreams are coming true.  I have been writing since I was in 2nd grade, though I don’t think I put my goal to “publish a book” in writing until high school.  Joy.  Elation.  Disbelief.  Wonder.  All of these have been taking up residency in my chest.

November 2013 has been delicious.


I’m thankful for

the gospel
my hilarious family
supportive friends
an amazing writing group
Exposure and Response Prevention therapy
the blogging community
admissions at the University of Northwestern
my book deal (!!!)
creativity of all stripes
Prozac, Effexor XR, and Risperdal
boldness to speak up
amazing literature that inspires me


all of my blog readers!

thanksgivingRelated post:
Thanksgiving 2012


Review: Neal Shusterman’s Unwind Dystology (Thus Far)

Neal Shusterman is a genius.

There are four books in the Unwind dystology– the fourth and final installment is scheduled to be released fall 2014.

My question: how in the world am I gonna wait that long???


These are books that make you think.  They take place in the future, years after the Heartland War (between the Pro-Life and Pro-Choice movements).  The agreement that everyone has come to is this: abortion is illegal, but when your child is a teenager, you can choose to have him/her “unwound”– that is, every part of their body will be used for organ donation.  This is not seen as the equivalent of killing a teen because all of their parts are still technically alive; instead, they are “living in the divided state.”

Dystopian novels are not really my thing.  High-octane action and adventure?  Not really my thing.  I like my contemporaries with great characters and lots of emotional processing.

But these books?  Yes.  So good.

There’s so much to think about– and so many wonderful characters, the three primary characters being Connor, a would-be Unwind on the run; Risa, a state ward being unwound due to budget cuts; and Lev, a “tithe,” the tenth child of his religious family, who has been raised his whole life to believe that his unwinding will be a gift back to God.

Book one: awesome.  (Bonus: includes the most disturbing scene I’ve ever read in YA ever.)
Book two: even better. (Bonus: Miracolina.)
Book three: love this series. (Bonus: frenemies/rivals/awkward love triangle!)
Book four: can. not. wait.

Split Up by MiaSteingraeber on deviantArt

Split Up by MiaSteingraeber on deviantArt

Other series I love:
The Lumatere Chronicles
Chaos Walking Trilogy
The Chronicles of Narnia

Related post:
My Mixed Feelings on Book Series

An Uncertain Framework

I used to get thrown by anything I couldn’t know FOR SURE.

Is real life real life, or am I just dreaming?

Am I going to heaven?

Are my friends really my friends?

What do people really think of me?

Are people even really people?

I mean, completely thrown.  I had no framework for dealing with uncertainty.  And the truth is that a person just cannot live that way.  It’s not how life works.

Now that ERP has re-wired my mind, I am finally able to say, “I’m just going to have to accept that I can’t know” and carry on with life.  I never thought I’d be able to approach such huge things with that kind of statement.  Never. If you’re reading this and think that that is an impossibility for you, please know that I once thought the same.


Related posts:
Narnia and Uncertainty
Uncertainty is the Key
Interview with a Former HOCD Sufferer
No Antidote
Life is Risky Business

Not Even the Rain

ahhhh, e.e. cummings at his finest!

ahhhh, e.e. cummings at his finest!


I can remember my second year of college.  OCD was digesting my brain matter.  I was depressed.  I was so stressed that I’d make my jaw hurt so bad I’d need to hold a warm washcloth to it just to relax it.

For a class assignment, I re-read this poem.

And I started to sob.  It was that beautiful.

(You can read the entire thing here.)

Related posts:
i ♥ e.e. cummings

Happy Birthday to my Favorite Sister!

My delightful sister Kristin turns 29 today!  (Whoa, how did that happen?!)

I have watched my sister grow from a shy little violet who refused to speak (no, really, she didn’t talk until she was about three– after lots of speech therapy) to a fun, amazing, Christ-loving, devoted, loyal woman who won’t stop talking.  Haha!

Kristin, I have a lifetime of great memories with you, but some of my favorites are singing “Princess Pat” while hanging upside down off our opposite beds, all our weird inside jokes like the Janet Jackson dance, how you think all my suggestions are stupid until you take them and then realize I was right (books, movies, etc.), your commitment to family traditions, how you would “ice skate” around the living room and how the family became so used to it that we hardly noticed it anymore, your ongoing story “Moving” that you worked on in some form or another for years and years, the Story Society, when you’d play “Molly and Ashley” with Amber, playing library with you, going to the actual library with you every day after school to use the internet and email you-know-who, praying every morning on the way into school, when you wanted to be a STATUE when you grew up and how I could not get through to you that that wasn’t a real job, the other job you always wanted– being a bus driver so that you could operate the lever that opened the doors (LOL), how faithful you are in reading your Bible, the way that you always lead our family into sessions of “what we like best about each other,” and so many more!

You’re my favorite deetie, Deetie!  Happy birthday!

deet5 deet2



Related posts:
Meet My Sister Kristin!
Hanson: Reliving my Youth
Childhood Creativity
Jackie’s Family