2016 Poetry Campaign: Siphon, Harbor by Brooklyn Copeland

I have 8 creative goals this year, and behind door 7 is reading a book of poetry every month. Want to join me? You can see what book I’ll be reading each month here. March’s book was Siphon, Harbor by Brooklyn Copeland. Join me in April reading Aimless Love by Billy Collins.

siphon harbor

How amazing is this cover?!!

So. Siphon, Harbor. It was a little too post-modern for me to really connect with, though there were some sweet moments.

The title of the novel comes from a line from a very sexy poem called “Seall,” which I think is the last name of her boyfriend.

There was an interesting poem about subjective/objective-ness, which this grammar nerd found intriguing:

In any pair
one does as if doing’s gracious– 

                the other
as if sacrifice– 

Another line I really liked was this:

To this day, to me all
silver smells red.

Will you like Siphon, Harbor? Maybe! Give it a try. It’s such a fast read– no joke, it will take you fewer than thirty minutes. Let me know what you think!

And join me next month in reading Billy Collins!

Resurrection Joy

Feeling this all over again. Ahhh, the resurrection!


I love Easter.  This is– hands down– my favorite holiday.  This weekend, I have taken some time to reflect on the cross of Christ, the darkness of the Saturday in between, and the power and rejoicing of the resurrection Sunday.

As someone who often finds it hard to ground myself in the present time– one who is always anxiously anticipating that which lies ahead for me– I stand in awe of my savior, who knew for all eternity that the cross would be the climax of his story.  How could he bear it?  Death must have been such a relief.

Perhaps it was that he not only knew what was ahead in the cross– but even further ahead, in the resurrection.  I am unspeakably proud of my rescuer.

Blessings on your Easter, friends.  May you find deep joy in this mighty rescue, peace in knowing that God understands our…

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Review: Noggin by John Corey Whaley

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a book cover misrepresent the story inside so much as this one. Let’s take a look at it.noggin

What do you expect from this title and cover?

I pictured a Grasshopper Jungle type of story– weird and wild and fast and sort of hard-to-believe-but-I’ll-go-along-for-the-ride, you know?

Not at all. This story was the most emotionally exhausting book I’ve read so far this year. And maybe for ALL of last year too. In fact, I can’t remember a book putting my heart through the meat-grinder quite like this one did since I read The Fault in Our Stars. My gosh. I’m still reeling.

First of all, what’s this book about? Travis Coates is the second person to have a successful head-transplant surgery. When he died, his head was cryogenically preserved while they figured out the procedure– the medical organization he was with suspected they would have a solution within twenty years, though, secretly, neither Travis nor his friends or family thought it would ever work. So, when only five years later, it does work … well, everything is different. Most notably, Travis is still sixteen and in love with his girlfriend Cate … who is now 21 and engaged to someone else.

This book was intense. All the feels. Multiplied exponentially. While I often love to just binge-read through a great story, I couldn’t with this one. I could only handle small doses– an hour of reading here, a half-hour there. And when I finished it today, I just sobbed and sobbed and then took a nap to deaden the feelings.

Noggin was incredible. Layered characters. Meaningful story. Made my head spin and my heart break. This book was so much more than I ever anticipated.



Odds & Ends

this hair i can't evenAbout two weeks ago, I felt pretty confident that my life was in shambles, so I did what I do: I made a list. It was 22 items long. Today I crossed item #22 off the list. I am still a hot mess. Go figure.

Thankfully, item #22 was getting my tax refund, which came today. Now instead of being dirt-poor, I’m just regular-poor. 🙂

One of the things on my list was to ask my editor for a few extra weeks to work on my first draft (she agreed) and then to revise my word count strategy to get the draft done by the end of the month. So far I’m on track. In fact, all week I’ve been staying one day ahead of schedule, always allowing myself that extra space to skip writing for a night. Instead, I’ve kept plowing ahead. This weekend I need to tackle some of the harder parts of the novel, a couple scenes that need to be written for the very first time, and a storyline that I have very little clue what to do with. Oh man.

I was invited to a young adult book club in St. Cloud last weekend, and it was wonderful, and everyone there was so lovely and asked such thoughtful questions. I was there to talk about Truest and about writing, but I ended up talking a fair amount about OCD, which is, of course, all wrapped up in my story too. Ashleigh, one of the book club members, was kind enough to tag me in this beautiful blog post.

I’ve been searching for most of my adult life for the perfect lip color. If I showed you my lipstick/lip gloss accumulation, you’d think I’m so lame. Especially because what I learned was that I never keep my lips colored unless it’s something I can put on without a mirror. So– between finding the perfect color(s) and something that could be applied mirror-less– I struck out a lot over the years. But not anymore. I’ve found the most perfect solution (at least for me): Burt’s Bees Tinted Lip Balm. I use both Red Dahlia and Forest Flower (which … appears to be no longer available. WHAT IS THIS LIFE??? Are you kidding me? In my ANNOUNCEMENT of my perfect lip product, I find out it’s discontinued? The universe is cruel.).

I’m reading a book. It’s incredible. It’s so emotionally overwhelming that I can’t consume too much of it at a time or else I’d just binge-read it. Noggin by John Corey Whaley. I was fooled by its cover into assuming it was something else. But no. It is … so much. Maybe my favorite book I’ve read so far this year. I’m desperate for a happy ending and terrified I won’t get it. NO ONE SPOIL ME. Review will come soon … as soon as I can continue pressing my heart through this meat-grinder. Gosh, I love books.

What about you, folks? What are you reading these days? What are you buying? What are you doing for fun? Are you having to force yourself to be an adult the way I’ve been having to? What’s on your radar? Did your tax return save your life? I wanna hear from you.


Advice for Aspiring Young Writers [from an Aspiring Young Writer]

TL;DR: Show up to work.



Show up.

I’m convinced that’s about 80% of writing a book right there. Show up to write, day after day, and put in the work. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Inspiration will be abundantly there when you show up. Inspiration will learn your routine and meet you there.

Don’t let yourself be paralyzed by fear of failure; I am telling you right now: you will fail.  But keep showing up. Write a bad first draft, the worst one in the world. But then show up and write a better second draft. Show up again and write a better third draft. Repeat until you’re satisfied with your work. Meanwhile, the people who never showed up might not have a first draft at all. They’re still on the starting line, scared to put down a wrong word.

Think about Story more than grammar. Read great books and then take the…

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Night Driving Synchroblog: Stories of Faith in the Dark


So here is my truth.

It was 2003, and I could not differentiate between the darkness outside of me and darkness inside.

It was 2004, and the line between the light of reality and the darkness of paranoia was so blurry that I lived in the fearful purgatory between them.

It was 2006, and the medication that was meant to alleviate the darkness backfired and forced me into a civil war against my own body that persists to this day.

The pain and loneliness and shame were whittling my desires into something sharp and precise: Christ is all that I want.

And in 2008, when the lights came back on after 20 long years, I was able to look around and see: I was in the palm of his hand the entire time. I just didn’t know.

To learn more about God’s victory over my OCD, go to jackieleasommers.com/OCD.

Linking up with Addie Zierman today to celebrate the release of her new book, Night Driving.

Review: Night Driving by Addie Zierman

Addie Zierman, author of When We Were On Fire (review), has done it again: written a book so packed with beautiful writing and lovely and/or heartbreaking truths that she continues to be a thought leader in the evangelical world.

night drivingNight Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark tells the story of Addie’s Epic Winter Road Trip, trying to escape the darkness of Minnesota winter and find God in the light. The narrative is fascinating and thought-provoking, full of depth as she struggles through some of the same ideas that I deal with every time Minnesota gets dark, prompting darkness in me. This book, though technically a “roadtrip story,” felt more like having total access to Addie’s uninhibited thoughts with the trip as a narrative structure, which I found really refreshing.

If I were to begin quoting my favorite lines, I would never stop. Addie is the queen of lyrical prose– yet her writing is so accessible. I found myself climbing into bed early night after night just to carve out time to spend with Addie and her boys on this road trip. There were moments of this book that felt so holy– and moments where she made me laugh outloud. A tremendously enjoyable read from a memoirist and thought leader you don’t want to miss.

Night Driving: A Story of Faith in the Dark officially releases tomorrow (!!!) with Convergent, and you can purchase it from Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Books-a-Million, and IndieBound (support your local bookseller!).

Blather Blather

Let me be clear: I never vomited for all of junior high, never in high school, never in college. Once in my adult life due to a deathly allergic reaction. So you can imagine how utterly shocking it was to throw up eight times this weekend. I’d forgotten how horrible it is to puke. I can’t decide if it’s worse when you’re a kid (because barfing is about the worst thing that can happen to you when you’re little) or if it’s worse as an adult (because instead of having your mom take care of you and clean it up, YOU have to do it).

I’ve been sick. As you can tell.

But not just the story above. I’ve been switching around my medication and trying to land on something that will help me to sleep. It’s been a hassle, and while I think I might have found something that will work (Unisom & Magnesium Glycinate), I had to endure about two weeks of sleepless nights to get to that point.

Plus, I’ve had some issues with depressive symptoms and the like. There were mornings where, quite frankly, it was as if the sun didn’t come up for me. I could do nothing but lie in bed, and some days this was happening until the late-afternoon hours, which made me feel even worse.

I got behind in my writing. In fact, I went for about a week and a half without looking at my manuscript. I just couldn’t drum up the strength or courage.

Do you know what this is like? You can sympathize with me?

I think I’m back on track. I’m caught up on sleep. I got an extension on my draft deadline. I’m practicing self-care. I made a to-do list and am working my way through it. I’m making lots of time for myself, even if I feel selfish doing it. My friends are so flexible and understanding, even when I bail on them again and again because I can’t face life.

Spring is coming. It’s not even just around the corner. It’s actually been HERE the last few days. Minnesota and almost seventy degrees in early March? It’s like someone injecting hope into my veins in the form of Vitamin D. (The projected lows for this week are in the thirties, so I’m bracing myself.)

I feel good about my job. It’s Sunday night, and I’m not even dreading tomorrow because I feel on top of my work and good at what I do. I feel ready to dive into another week of hard, important, meaningful work.

Yesterday, I spent an hour with some lovely young adults at a book club at the St. Cloud Library. It was a joy to talk about reading and writing, and especially in regard to YA, with them. ❤

I’ve revised my word count goals so that I’ll have a finished (albeit messy) draft at the end of the month. Now to just stay on top of that chart. (I’m tempted to do what my friend Alison does, but the possibility that I’ll get off track is just too great and I can’t bear to contribute to the downfall of American/Trump’s campaign.)

I’m down today. BUT I also recognize this as one of my routine low points, one that will likely be gone by tomorrow, so I’m not worried. Just plodding through, getting work done in spite of the feelings. It feels really good to be discerning of my moods in this way. To be able to treat myself kindly and to not stress over it too much.

This post is really blathery. Sorry. Guess I just needed to get some of this out of my system.



Review: Love & Other Foreign Words by Erin McCahan

love and other.jpgThis book has been sitting on my TBR shelf for over a year, and after I cruised through Calvin (review), I wanted something a little bit light. This was just right!

Love & Other Foreign Words is about a brilliant (no, literally– she has a genius IQ at age 15), overly-honest girl named Josie as she learns to navigate love in light of her older sister’s impending wedding to a man Josie can’t stand. Josie starts with a younger voice than I usually am drawn to in YA, and in fact, a few pages in, I almost put it down to try something else. But then I got drawn into her voice and the story and actually stayed up to finish it in the same night.

I could absolutely understand the main storyline about Josie feeling like she was losing her sister Kate to a man she (Josie) didn’t like. Note: I LIKE MY FRIENDS’ HUSBANDS, but it’s sort of the story of my life to continually “lose them” to a man and feel jealousy (hey I want my friend back) and envy (hey I want a man too) while watching them fall in love. So I understood that.

I also knew which boy I wanted Josie to end up with, but unfortunately, this guy didn’t have as many scenes as I would have liked!

The time period this book covered was interesting: spring of junior year, summer, and fall of senior year. You could see Josie grow and hear it in her voice too.

A fun, light read that was just what I needed this week.