It’s fall, and, while I typically try to hunker down and get writing again when the colder winds start to blow, I’m still heavily reading, so here’s what I’m enjoying (with $affiliate links).
OTHER TERRORS; AN INCLUSIVE ANTHOLOGY. This is a collection of creepy tales from critically acclaimed, diverse authors with a broad spectrum of diverse and contemporary characters. These wonderfully inclusive and modern tales are not only riveting but also manage give a reader creepy crawly chills. Whooeee, some of these stories really strike a nerve, and others will leave you seeing circumstances in a whole new light. I especially loved the story Waste Not by Alma Katsu because, ooh, what a line it crosses; also, Idiot Girls by Jennifer McMahon and The Turning by Hailey Piper. Shivers and shakes. Highly recommended.
LESS IS LOST by Pulitzer Prize winning author Andrew Sean Greer. Its prequel, LESS, had me in stitches when I first read it in 2018, and I gave it five stars on Goodreads. I just reread it, and it still hilariously holds up. It’s the story of a struggling novelist who receives an invitation to his former lover’s wedding, and, rather than go, decides to accept every harebrained literary invitation he’s received, from places around the world, to escape. I’m only a few pages in to the sequel, and I can’t wait to see where Less takes us next.
I (and one of my cats) have been reading a lot lately. Like, a lot. I typically have a harder time writing in summer than other times of the year because, well, I want to be out enjoying summer, so this year I decided to mostly take a break from writing and instead catch up on reading, which I find easy to accomplish in the snatches of free time throughout the day.
So what have I been reading? Mostly young adult and picture books but also a classic as its sequel is coming out soon. Here are some of my noteworthy reads (with $affiliate links).
Blackout by Dhonielle Clayton, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nic Stone, Angie Thomas, Ashley Woodfolk, and Nicola Yoon, all critically acclaimed authors. This is a collection of contemporary, interlinking short stories set during a power outage in New York City. Warm and affirming, these Black love stories show characters in many stages of love and self-acceptance. It was a sweet read, and I loved loved loved walking through New York City with all of them. It reminded me of so many of my own walks and explorations when I lived and worked there in 2021 and 2022. Highly recommended.
In the Wild Light by Jeff Zentner. Admittedly, I’m still in the first chapter, but just the first paragraph tells me I’m going to like this. I’ve always like Jeff’s writing and had the pleasure of hosting him at a writing conference for SCBWI-Wisconsin, which I co-led for a few years. I got so engrossed reading another book of his, that I missed my train stop and ended up way uptown instead of down. It was no problem, but seriously, if it could make me not hear three announcements and stops, that’s good writing.
Pulitzer Prize winning Less by Andrew Sean Greer had me in stitches when I first read it in 2018, and I gave it five stars on Goodreads. It’s the story of a struggling novelist who receives an invitation to his former lover’s wedding, and, rather than go, decides to accept every harebrained literary invitation he’s received, from places around the world, to escape. I’m rereading this because, YAY!!!, its sequel is coming out in just ten days. Can’t wait to dive back into this world.
And finally, Aaron Slater, Illustrator by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts, in which a young boy, struggling to keep up academically with his peers, finds his voice through illustration and shares his talents with all those he loves. Such an important book with a protagonist you care for and certainly are rooting for. It’s just an exquisite book. It also has impeccable rhyme. If you’re a writer looking for mentor texts of rhyming picture books, here’s a great one to add to your list.
Also, today I enjoyed my first pumpkin spice latte of the season during breakfast, as I was writing this. Yummy. My rite of passage each fall. I loved it. 🙂
Have you read any good books lately? Tell me in the comments!
Haha, no, don’t worry. I’m not jetting off to L.A. But I did have something awesome tie me in to Los Angeles, and it’s so exciting I just have to share.
SCBWI holds two international conferences annually, one in New York City and one in L.A. I’ve attended both, and they are simply amazing. The New York one is smaller, which might be surprising as NYC is the global publishing hub, but the NYC conference is focused on craft. The L.A. conference is huge, typically bringing in several thousand attendees and is thus a networking extravaganza.
The past few years these events have been held virtually, of course. They’re still excellent events, well organized, chock full of practical and inspirational tidbits. The speakers are stars in the kidlit field or up-and-comers or people with an expertise in their niche. I walk away from each speaker better for having listened.
This year, they invited me to speak. Me! Little ol’ me. I was stunned at the invitation and remain so even after having finished the presentation. Speaking at their international conference is a big moment for me, and I worked hard to make my session worthwhile. I hope it was. Importantly, I continue to be grateful for this wonderful organization.
All the presentations were recorded and available for 30 days, so you could still register to see everything. I too will watch as many of these recordings as I can. It will make for some pleasant upcoming days. 🙂
Whoo hoo! We got to hold this event in person for the first time in three years!
Fantasy Art Workshop’s Illustration Intensive is my husband’s and my week-long art workshop for professional and inspiring illustrators. It’s a fantastic event with lectures and teaching by top industry pros, art demos, deep-dive creating, and a week of networking. We last held it in 2019, and wow, judging by the response, people missed it!
To learn more about it, I really do encourage you to go the Illustration Intensive website, as I won’t cover it all here. If you’re an illustrator, do yourself a favor and look into it. If you know someone who’s into art, please share this event with them. We’re thrilled to know that many who’ve attend our event launched their professional careers here. And we love a good time, too.
I recently mentioned renewing my membership to a local writing association. That gave me some encouragement, let me tell you, because I’ve spent the past month and half trying to get back into my writing groove. And it’s paid off! — Not just because something I wrote was published but because I’ve finally, Finally, FINALLY (!) been able to put some words to paper once more.
Like so many people around the world, the past two-years’-plus worth of U.S. and world events have been stunning and horrifying and enraging and exhausting and deflating and utterly stifling. So many people could barely function, much less work at their best levels. I was among them.
The tipping point for me was a personal loss, two cats, adorable sweet sisters, rescues, whom we had to re-home because they couldn’t get along with our resident cats. They were lovely on their own. But we weren’t on our own. So in the best interest of all, they found new homes. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t heartbroken. So I set pen to paper and wrote a poem, tears streaming down my face. Poetry isn’t my default genre, but I’ve dabbled, and it leant itself to this raw emotion. I submitted the poem to the Wisconsin Writers Association’s Creative Wisconsin magazine.
And then a week or so later, I used WWA again as inspiration to write another spooky short story. This one I submitted to their Jade Ring contest. I don’t typically write to submit to contests, but, once again, these are strange times. We take inspiration where we can get it. It can sometimes lead to something good.
Today the inaugural online Creative Wisconsin magazine has my poem within. I’m a published poet! How cool is that? And how wonderful is it that I may be starting to get my writing groove back. It’s jarring when you lose a bit of yourself. It’s joyous when it comes back.
To enjoy the magazine, click on the image below. My poem is on page 21.
My youngest child has graduated college. I can barely believe it. I’m immensely proud of him even though I don’t share too much of my kids’ lives here, as they deserve some privacy. However, a parent is also allowed to brag a bit. 🙂
Armando was a full-ride scholar with an honors degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Wisconsin’s flagship campus at Madison — my alma mater! He’s brilliant, funny, cheerful, chill, and just a joy to be around. Congrats, m’boy!