Some Newer Book Boyfriends

unsplash82Indulge me, folks.

Tim Mason from The Boy Most Likely To by Huntley Fitzpatrick | Review
“Her lips touch just against my mouth, then the cleft of my chin, back to my lips. ‘Good night, Tim.’ My lips on her forehead. ‘Good night, Alice.’ I can’t remember ever having something and not reaching for more. But I back away from her, hands in my pockets. Enough.”

Julian from Caraval by Stephanie Garber | Review
“He’d never stared at her like this before. Sometimes he gazed at her as if he wanted to be her undoing, but just then it was as if he wanted her to undo him.”

Khalid ibn al Rashid from The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh | Review (and Sequel)
“What are you doing to me, you plague of a girl?” he whispered.
“If I’m a plague, then you should keep your distance, unless you plan on being destroyed.” The weapons still in her grasp, she shoved against his chest.
“No.” His hands dropped to her waist. “Destroy me.”

Eight Beaufort from The Heirs of Watson Island series by Martina Boone | Review
“I’ve been out with enough girls to know what I want. I know. You and me together? We’re not the same plain vanilla let’s-date-while-we’re-in-high-school, let’s-go-to-prom, let’s-promise-we’ll-talk-in-college relationship. We’re more like those fireworks on the Fourth of July that keep exploding with new bursts every time they’re done. Before we know it, we’ll be in rocking chairs side by side on the porch, holding hands and watching a houseful of great grandchildren chasing blue ghost fireflies on the lawn.”

Kaz Brekker from Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo | Review (and Sequel)
“I would have come for you. And if I couldn’t walk, I’d crawl to you, and no matter how broken we were, we’d fight our way out together-knives drawn, pistols blazing. Because that’s what we do. We never stop fighting.”

Noah Shaw from the Mara Dyer trilogy by Michelle Hodkin | Review
“We’re only seventeen,” I said quietly.
“Fuck seventeen.” His eyes and voice were defiant. “If I were to live a thousand years, I would belong to you for all of them. If we were to live a thousand lives, I would want to make you mine in each one.”

 

 

 

 

Dear Diary: Salt, Sickness, & NOT YOU AGAIN

A (not so) little update for you:

Salt Novel

Oh my gosh, I finally finished revising my synopsis and am ready to dive into revisions! This took me a lot longer than I expected, but that was foolish of me: why would completely reorganizing/restructuring a novel, reconfiguring motives, and solving problems of fictional people be considered a weekend project? Ha! While I still have a few things to iron out, the majority of it is sorted out, on paper, color-coded. It looks gorgeous. (Okay, only to me.) I feel so excited about these changes– especially because I haven’t started trying them and failing yet. 🙂

Sickness

I’m getting better! I was down for the count for a stretch, but I’m bouncing back finally. Has anyone else been sick? Sounds like it’s been going around. I got so much extra sleep this past week, and it felt incredible. I even had some of those naps where it feels like you were out for about three years. Mmm!!

Online Dating

… is so weird. And I think, in general, a lot of men are pretty confident (and wrong) about what they think women want. That’s all. For now.

ROCD

One thing that really surprised me with the whole online dating thing: my OCD has come out to play again. Ugh. I have lived as close to OCD-free as is possible since 2008, when I went through exposure therapy to treat it. In a lot of ways, OCD has felt like a part of my past, something I experienced a lifetime ago. Then, guys started talking to me.

It’s crazy how fast OCD/ROCD symptoms blasted back into my life. I was not prepared for it.

But, and maybe this is a little embarrassing to admit … I haven’t really been in the world of dating during my remission. ROCD hasn’t come up because, well, it hasn’t come up. You know? So, now I’m talking to this cute guy, and I’m a WRECK. Thankfully, I was able to recognize it as OCD, and now I’m re-learning how to love the uncertainty. Again.

Sigh.

🙂

Wrists

Months ago, I posted a cry for help in regard to my RSI. One reader (thank you, Ash!!) commented with the name of a book by Pete Egoscue, Pain Free at Your PC.

This is changing everything for me. I’m sooooo grateful. Right away, in reading the book it became apparent that I needed to be symmetrical, and I knew that I wasn’t. (My left leg has been shorter than my right since I was in middle school.) I got a heel lift from my chiropractor, and that was the beginning of the changes. I’ve also been doing Egoscue’s exercises a couple times a week. I feel better than I have in years.

Creative Goals

Salt Novel, coming together.
Book a week, check!
Blog every week, done.
Learn something new every day? I am, but I have sadly not been recording everything.
Yes Novel … it’ll come.

And you?

Drop me a line– I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

Non-Earth-Shattering Thoughts on Singleness

Like how I prepare you right in the title that this blog post won’t change your life? All about monitoring expectations. Ha!

Singleness is amazing sometimes. Sometimes it blows.

single taken empireSometimes being single lets you accomplish things you couldn’t do otherwise– say, write a book. Sometimes maybe you couldn’t accomplish something without the encouragement of a significant other. How do we know? I suppose we don’t. Faith.

One way I can tell I’m maturing is when I find myself thrilled for my friends in new relationships … instead of envious.

I get pissed if anyone even insinuates that I am “lesser than” because I’m single. I should probably give people the benefit of the doubt … instead I give them a lesson. #sorrynotsorry (Dating and married people, please take note of all the tiny things you do that say or insinuate this. It happens more often than you’d guess. I could give you four examples just off the top of my head.)

People who found their partner when they were young need to be especially careful about the feelings of someone who is, oh, let’s just say 34. People who got married at 20 have zero idea what it’s like to be 34 and single. It’s better just to acknowledge that than to pretend.

Being 34 and single is totally different for me than being 30 and single was.

Writing love stories is weird sometimes. But still fun.

Intimacy with friends is so important.

Intimacy with God is even more important.

Sometimes I think how Jesus was single his whole life. Sometimes I think how Paul said singleness is preferable to marriage.

I’ve observed enough friends to confidently say that it’s better to be lonely and/or discontented outside a marriage than lonely and/or discontented within one.

I’ve observed enough college students rushing to the altar to confidently say, Slow down. Your brain isn’t even fully developed until age 25. Heck, I didn’t even settle into my identity until I was about 28. I’ve seen many marriages dissolve when couples married very young. I also admit that, as a single 34-year-old, I’m not an expert on marriage.

Singleness allowed me to mentor many young people and really invest in their lives. Singleness allowed me to write a book. I try to be grateful for singleness’s gifts.

[Interlude in which I have a long online conversation with my bestie about all these things … and now it’s my bedtime and I decide to end this post with a conclusion that I call an interlude.]

Please know that all of my thoughts are shared with humility, and that some of them probably lean into stereotypes.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, just please don’t be mean.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimate YA Book Boyfriend: Final Round!

My friends, we’ve come to the championship round as we discover the Ultimate YA Book Boyfriend! This week, I honestly don’t know whom to vote for. Jonah Griggs, that perfect tank who sneaks in your window and orders toast with marmalade for you on the hardest morning of your life? Or Sean Kendrick, who will tuck your ponytail into your collar, that young king of Skarmouth who brings bread for dinner? I can’t decide.

ultimate ya book boyfriend championship

Jonah Griggs vs. Sean Kendrick

“When I turn around, he cups my face in his hands and he kisses me so deeply that I don’t know who is breathing for who, but his mouth and tongue taste like warm honey. I don’t know how long it lasts, but when I let go of him, I miss it already.”
Jonah Griggs from Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

“Sean takes my ponytail in his hand, his fingers touching my neck, and then he tucks my hair into my collar out of the reach of the wind. He avoids my gaze. Then he links his arm back around me and pushes his calf into Corr’s side.”
Sean Kendrick of The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

Four Thoughts on the Writing Life

writinglifeIt’s so lonely.

Writing is quite solitary. Even though I am part of a writing community– and have so much support and collaboration with dear friends– in the end, I have to do the work alone. I can’t explain just how alone I have felt over the last month or so, especially being single. Theoretically, I understand that even if I were dating or married, I would still have to do the hard work of revisions on my own, but … I’ve felt a little untethered and singular. Very, very much solo in this treacherous territory.

It’s so hard.

Harder than I ever imagined. I’m not referring only to the actual act of writing here … but to the head game. I get to a point where I start to hate my manuscript … my beloved story that I’ve poured my soul, energy, and tears into. Do you know how crippling that is– how it folds your spirit into such ugly shapes that you worry you’ll never sort yourself out again? I’m back in therapy, folks.

But I still want it.

Things got pretty dark– to the point where I started questioning my identity as a writer, ultimately asking myself, Is this really what I want? There, in the darkness, I saw a pinprick of light: the certainty that my answer was yes.

And I’m not really alone.

My lovely new therapist asked me to picture the Holy Spirit sitting beside me, looking at our manuscript, saying, Look what we’ve made. It made me bawl. Of course. I so desperately want to honor God with my fiction. The thought of him looking on my manuscript with pride was such a reminder to me that no matter how lonely this road seems, I have a faithful companion.

Related posts:
Writing is Hard … but Worth It (I Think)
Writing and/or Life, Both Hard
The Good & Bad of Writing
Being Single and Writing a Book

Image credit: Unsplash, modified by me

Being Single & Writing a Book

single taken empirePeople manage it every day: romance and writing.

I have no idea how.

I really don’t think that I’d have a completed book and a book deal if I were dating someone (or married, for that matter). I can barely juggle my relationships with friends and family, working a full-time job, and finding time to write all at once. I feel like if I suddenly had a sweet, hilarious, dorky, godly man (because that is the kind I’d want) in my life, my barely-there time management would utterly crumble.

Maybe not. What do I know?

The single years. Sometimes it feels like there have been too many; they are getting stacked upon each other so precariously that the tower is ready to topple. I think I will live if it does (though I’m not always sure). I am creating something beautiful in the next room over.

On a related note, have I ever told you to Date a Girl Who Writes*?

*if you’re sweet, hilarious, dorky, and godly

 

Image credit: Ben Raynal (top), Dmitry Ryzhkov (middle), Andrada Radu (bottom), stitched together and modified by me

Boys in Books are Better

I wish.

I wish.

Allow me to demonstrate.

“Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”
Augustus Waters of The Fault in Our Stars

“He stops and looks at me. ‘I’m here because of you. You’re my priority. Your happiness, in some fucked way, is tuned in to mine. Get that through your thick skull. Would I like it any other way? Hell, yes, but I don’t think that will be happening in my lifetime.”
Jonah Griggs of Jellicoe Road

“I say, ‘I will not be your weakness, Sean Kendrick.’
Now he looks at me. He says, very softly, ‘It’s late for that, Puck.”
Sean Kendrick of The Scorpio Races

“Come here,” she says.
“No, you come here.”
“I said it first.”
“Rock paper scissors.”
“No. Because you’ll do nerdy calculations and work out what I chose the last six times and then you’ll win.”
Will pushes away from the table and his hand snakes out and he pulls her toward him and Tom figures that Will was always going to go to her first.” 
Will Trombal of Saving Francesca and The Piper’s Son

“I have a dream,” he said slowly. “I persist in dreaming it, although it has often seemed to me that it could never come true. I dream of a home with a hearth-fire in it, a cat and dog, the footsteps of friends — and YOU!”
Gilbert Blythe of the Anne of Green Gables series

“Do you remember all of your audiences?”
“Not all of them. But I remember the people who look at me the way you do.”
“What way might that be?”
“As though they cannot decide if they are if they are afraid of me or they want to kiss me.”
“I am not afraid of you.”
Marco Alisdair of The Night Circus

Just saying.

Swoon-worthy Books

cutetiptoesI’m not interested in the tawdry genre romance novels of heaving bosoms and shirtless beefcakes.  Give me a real guy with real faults any day.  Here are my “swooniest” picks:

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
“I’m here because of you. You’re my priority. Your happiness, in some fucked way, is tuned in to mine. Get that through your thick skull. Would I like it any other way? Hell, yes, but I don’t think that will be happening in my lifetime.”

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
“Oh, I wouldn’t mind, Hazel Grace. It would be a privilege to have my heart broken by you.”

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
“‘Kind of interested in you,’ he laughs, as if he can’t believe what he’s hearing. ‘I’m kind of interested in calculus and Ancient Roman warfare. You don’t use words kind of interested to describe how I feel about you.’”

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson
“He smiles and takes his index finger and presses it to my lips, leaves it there until my heart lands on Jupiter: three seconds, then removes it, and heads back into the living room. Whoa – well, that was either the dorkiest or sexiest moment of my life, and I’m voting for sexy on account of my standing here dumbstruck and giddy, wondering if he did kiss me after all.”

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
“Lifting my arm, he presses his lips against the inside of my wrist. I’m utterly still; I feel my pulse tap several times against his lips, and then he releases my hand.”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
“Do you remember all of your audiences?” Marco asks.
“Not all of them,” Celia says. “But I remember the people who look at me the way you do.”
“What way might that be?”
“As though they cannot decide if they are afraid of me or they want to kiss me.”
“I am not afraid of you,” Marco says.”

Divergent by Veronica Roth
“I feel his heartbeat against my cheek, as fast as my own.
“Are you afraid of me, too, Tobias?”
“Terrified,” he replies with a smile.”

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme over at The Broke and the Bookish

Image credit: couldn’t find the original owner of this pic!

One of those pre-birthday posts where I whine about being single

Soon, I will be thirty-two years old.  Wowza.  How in the world did that happen?  I mean, theoretically I understand that every twenty-four hours the earth does a pirouette around the sun and eventually that adds up to a long dance.

But still.

Usually every time January 17th rolls around I re-evaluate the year that just flew by, and I usually feel pretty bummed about all that I haven’t accomplished.  This year, I’m trying to celebrate all the joyous events that came about in 2013: it was another year of OCD being under my heel, I got my first book deal, I won the Katherine Paterson Prize, I started blogging for the OCD Foundation.  That’s exciting stuff!

Still single.  Always single.

I know thirty-two is not that old, but please remember that I both went to and now work for a Christian college.  Do you know what that means?  “Ring by Spring” is the [only half-joking] tagline, and all these little virgins are running around dying to have sex.  Again, I’m only half joking.

I’ve watched nearly all of my college friends get married.  I am the only unmarried roommate (of eight) from my Moyer Hall days, the only unmarried roommate (of something like 12-14 [it was like a revolving door]) of my Lodge days.  I have watched high school freshmen grow through their high school years, graduate, come to Northwestern, fall in love, and get married under my nose.  I blink, and they who were once children are wearing white and saying vows.

It’s okay.  Tonight it’s okay, at least.

It helps to have a book deal.  It almost feels like an excuse.  (This is the first Christmas in a long while I didn’t get asked if I had a boyfriend … we talked about the book deal instead.  PRAISE GOD.)  I know I don’t need to have an “excuse” for not being in a relationship … but sometimes it feels that way.  Just being honest.

In the nearly eleven years since college, I have learned vicariously through my friends just how difficult marriage is.  (Like, really, really hard.)  I’ve watched friends go through difficulties, separations, divorces that shatter my heart.  I am glad I didn’t marry young.  Not that it is wrong to marry young, but I’m such a very, very different person now than I was in college.  And I’m more emotionally stable, slower to anger, quicker to administer grace.

Anyway, to summarize this, I wish I was in love.  Heck, I’d settle for just having a crush on someone who wasn’t a fictional character.  But I’m also okay (tonight, at least) and not wasting my singleness.

jackie is single

5 Books for the Reluctant [YA Fiction] Reader

I promise you, young adult fiction is not only vampires and gossip and dystopian landscapes.

For the uninititate, I propose you begin here:

winyouover1

winyouover2

winyouover3

winyouover

winyouover5

Related Posts:
How to Offend a Book Lover (by forgetting characters in The Book Thief)
My Review of The Scorpio Races
Five Reasons to Read Jellicoe Road
How TFiOS Inspired Me to Write YA Lit
Jandy Nelson is an Auto-Buy Author
Spotlight on Melina Marchetta

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.