Meltdown City, Population: Me

I’m okay. Or I will be.

Have you heard of spoon theory?

It’s a metaphor used to “measure” (intangibly) how much energy someone with a disability or chronic illness has. While you can’t literally measure energy this way, you’ll sometimes hear people saying things like:

“Hmm. I’m not sure I can go to that concert on Friday. I don’t have enough spoons left.”


“She wanted to go to the mall and out to eat, but I told her I didn’t have enough spoons to do both.”

Am I making sense?

Anyway, I feel very low on spoons. My ambien is working well, but left and right, people are telling me, “That’s addictive!” or “You’ll sleepwalk!” or “This causes night eating!” or “There’s memory loss associated with that!” I already don’t take the ambien on the weekends, just to give myself a break and to continue to gauge how much I “need” it. I know lots of people are much more in favor of natural supplements. Heck, I would be too … except that when I take them (or over-the-counter sleep aids), I feel like life is impossible in the morning. It’s as if the sun doesn’t rise. I can’t imagine climbing into the shower, let alone making it into work.

I took ambien last night. Plus a supplement, against my better judgement.

This morning, I couldn’t peel myself out of my bed until after noon. I hate that. And then I took a 2.5 hour nap. And plan to go to bed soon too. I feel like I have no spoons available, and there’s still a whole day of work left PLUS I have to work Saturday too.

I emailed with my editor today. She’s brilliant and lovely, but it always sends me into a tailspin. I wonder if I’ve conditioned myself this way. I am Pavlov’s dog. Ring the bell and I panic.

I need more plot. This is perpetually my problem in writing. I hate plot. I just want deep conversations and great kissing. And to learn something new.

Am I the worst writer in the history of the world?

Feels that way, a little bit.

I need to go sleep.


Review: The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (No Spoilers!)

raven king2So. The final book of The Raven Cycle came out on Tuesday. I was lucky enough to get my copy on Friday, so I got to read it early, but I’ve been lying low, waiting for others to read it before I posted my review. Even so, there won’t be any spoilers for The Raven King here, though if you haven’t read any of the books in the series, perhaps you should close your computer screen and go track these books down.

It started with meeting Blue and the Raven Boys in book one (review), learning more about Ronan and his dreams in book two (review), and falling more in love with the deep, complicated characters in book three (review). Now it was time to wrap everything up.

Listen. Maggie Stiefvater is a genius. I’m convinced. She wields words like weapons that swipe at your heart, and I love her for it. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of the final book in the cycle, but I had certain small pieces I sort of banked on, and she delivered on them all.

The most important thing in these books (and Maggie agrees) is the characters, and the whole point of the series was to navigate their friendships. It was a joy to go along for the ride. It’s killing me that Stiefvater will be in St. Paul next week and I can’t go to her event.

Read these books. I realize I haven’t really said much about them, but it’s all in the characters, people. You need Blue, Gansey, Adam, Ronan, and Noah in your lives.

Review: When We Collided by Emory Lord

when we collidedWhat an apt title! When We Collided is the story of Vivi, a girl with bipolar disorder, and Jonah, a boy whose family is falling apart, when they meet one summer in Verona Cove.

Vivi is a unique character, for sure– all bright-red lips and Marilyn Monroe hair. Almost immediately I decided she was a mix of Stargirl (Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli) and Finch (All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven). Cue my terror.

(If you’ve read those books and made that connection, you’d prepare yourself for an impending meltdown.)

Jonah was lovely. His family too, all six Daniels kids. He was strong and cute and, in my opinion, probably could have dealt without having a tornado named Vivi storm into his summer.

See, that was the hard thing. Vivi was a little tough for me to like. Yes, she was a marvelous character. Yes, she was fascinating. But she was also a tornado. Early in the book we learn she is not taking her medicine. I knew this would get scary.

The writing is phenomenal. The characters are inimitable. But any book about mental illness is going to be difficult to read– maybe especially for someone like me, who has her own brain disorder and for whom books like this raise so many personal issues and questions.

I have only read one other book by Emory Lord– her debut, Open Road Summer, which wasn’t my favorite (but probably because I am not a huge fan of road trip novels). I could see her growth as a writer in this novel. If you read it, please let me know what you think! It’s not an easy book– but then again, I’m not big into easy books.

Review: Mara Dyer Trilogy by Michelle Hodkin

mara dyer

This is actually going to be less of a review and more of an introduction, so that I can steer away from spoilers.

First of all, those covers! Gorgeous.

The Mara Dyer trilogy is about a girl who survives the collapse of an abandoned asylum she was exploring with her best friend, her boyfriend, and her boyfriend’s sister. Shortly after the collapse, her family moves to Florida to start over … only things are getting super weird. Enter Noah Shaw, this cocky British schoolboy who knows he is gorgeous, and things really start to get interesting.

Thrillers aren’t really my thing. But I loved this series.

Mara is a badass. The dialogue is hilarious. The intrigue is intense. And Noah Shaw is … well … Noah Shaw.

“You’re supposed to say, ‘All I want is your happiness. I’ll do whatever it takes, even if it means being without you.'”
“Sorry,” Noah said. “I’m just not that big of a person.”

Yes, he’s a little over the top sometimes. (Okay, a lot over the top.) But those over-the-top things are a-ok with me when said in a British accent. I listened to the audio versions of this series, which was narrated by Christy Romano (you know her as Ren Stevens and the voice of Kim Possible), and while a lot of people took issue with her attempt at a male British accent, I was okay with it.

I like that the books were intriguing but not wholly scary. I’m not big into freaking myself out. If you like books that will keep you guessing, dive headfirst into this series.

An April Update

Hi friends. I’m here. I’ve been here. Sort of.

Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Salt Novel
I finished my first draft toward the end of March, and when I say “finished,” I mean “incomplete but as done as I could get it with the energy I had available.” I was just so toast. So I turned it in. And have not really written a lick since then. And … oddly … nor have I missed it. I’m sure the desire will return. But I just worked on TWO different novels for about 20 months straight (and Truest before that), so this month off has been delectable and much-needed. I haven’t even hardly thought about my novel much … except on my long drive to South Dakota yesterday. Then I thought about it lots.

I’m reading a ton actually. But, as you may know, I don’t especially like to review books on my blog unless I really loved them or have lots of thoughts about them I want to share. I went through a slew of books that I don’t think really warranted blog posts. I’m reading When We Collided by Emory Lord right now though, and it’s pretty great so far– though I could spot future darkness in it pretty early on. Vivi– one of the main characters– is a mix of Stargirl and Theodore Finch. So. Maybe you can imagine.

I also read a couple romance novels at the suggestion of a blog I love. They were … okay. A little plotless. (Not that I’m much for plot.) But I think YA is where it’s really happening, folks.

Plus, there are SUCH good books coming out next week. The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater and The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh both come out next Tuesday, and they are my most-anticipated books of the year (plus, of course, Melina Marchetta’s book in the fall– but that’s a given!). I got an email today that my copy of The Raven King actually shipped today, so … IT’S LIKE CHRISTMAS IS COMING EARLY. And in April.

Work is good. It’s a season of a lot of events, plus a lot of hard conversations about financial aid. But exciting things– REALLY exciting things– are happening at the university, so it’s fun to be around for it. I’m in South Dakota as I type this, here in Sioux Falls for a week of college fairs. Today’s went rather well, plus I got to see a friend/alumnus who works at one of the schools.

I’ve been so blessed to be invited to a few events in regard to Truest. I was on an author panel for a literacy conference; I was invited to talk to some juniors at Elk River High School who read my novel for their English class (and have to write essays about it– love). See pics below. I’m also going to be sharing with the Walker Library next month and speaking for a career day at a local school. It’s fun to still see people reading my story eight months after its release.




This might seem silly or small, but it’s been such a treasure to spend so much time with friends in the past weeks sans draft. I have the very best ones, and it’s been so good for my heart to engage in long, meaningful conversations with them and to see their faces and to not have to worry about rushing off to work on a manuscript.

Literally wearing six IcyHot patches right now. Haven’t written in a month and still my wrists hurt.

I want to do more. It’s so hard to scrape together the time. But I know that’s also sort of a cop-out excuse. I blogged every day in 2013, which is also when I was get Truest ready for querying. Maybe I need more things to blog about. What do you visit this blog for? What would you like to see more of? Please leave a comment. You don’t know how important it is for this blogger to know there are people out there in the interwebz reading these words.

jackie lea