neither here nor there
  • 8 Ways to Make Time to Read More

    I read. A lot. I tend to go through two to five books a week. Reading is not my full-time job; I’m a fiction writer by trade as well as a college instructor. But I’m here to tell you that you could be reading more, if you want. Here’s how:


    1. Bring a book: I take a book with me everywhere I go because I find I’m always waiting: in line at the supermarket at the car mechanic, at the doctor’s office, in the carpool line. The waiting is intolerable. Reading makes waiting better.


    1. Read more than one book at a time: This strategy can feel a bit frenetic to some, but here’s my reasoning: reading multiple books lets you read what you feel like reading in a given moment. If you start a serious historical tomb, later in the day, you may be in the mood for a romance novel. This way, you can pick up the book that you feel like reading, not the one that you feel obligated to read.


    1. Listen to your books: I recently learned about Overdrive and boy has it changed my life. With Overdrive you can check out audiobooks for free using your library card. I can listen to a book I am currently reading so that when I’m in the car (and I log a lot of hours in the car in Los Angeles) I can pick up where I left off. Or, I can be listening to a completely different book in the car (see rule number 2.)


    1. Keep to-be read lists: I currently have 238 books on my to-be-read list on Goodreads and I’m always ordering books from the library that are at the top of this list. By having something exciting in my reading future, I am motivated to get to that next book.


    1. Skip the television: Just think of all the hours you can devote to reading if you cut out television watching! If you have to watch, then use the commercials as a timed reading break.


    1. Read in the bathroom: There are many places to read in a bathroom: relaxing in the tub (it’s a great place for an audio book as well!) or sitting on the commode, depending on how efficient you are.


    1. Have kids? Have a kindle: The kindle paperwhite has added at least thirty minutes to my reading repertoire each night. Why? Because my kids like me to lie with them at night to help them fall asleep. I read in the dark as they drift off to sleep. Everybody wins.


    1. Reading while eating: Zen foodies say this is a no-no, but if I’m home alone for a meal, I read. A book makes a wonderful date.


    So there you have it. How do you make time for more reading in your life? 

  • Awful Titles Authors Almost Gave to their Books

    I love this article because I can totally relate! So often, the first title I give my work usually ends up being the plot presented in a very broad stroke. I think every single one of my books has gone through alternate titles before arriving at the one that stuck. 

    Did you know that my young adult novel, Strays was previously titled, Hothead and the Dog Days of Summer?

    Click here to see more extreme versions (read: REALLY BAD TITLES that were almost given to some great novels! )

    Could you imagine if English classes across the country were talking about Trimalchio in West Egg (F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby) or Something that Happened (John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men.)

    The horror. 

    And, Happy Halloween! 

  • Pitch Wars!

    Have you heard of pitch wars?

    Well, it's my first time entering the online battle. Writers submit their finished manuscript's first chapter and a query letter to four participating agents / writers / publishers / editors. If selected, the writer would then work with said professional to buff up their manuscript for two months in anticipation of November's Twitter pitch war, where writers pitch their novel through Twitter and agents and editors are on the prowl for new projects. 

    Last year, more than 50 author participants were offered representation / publication!

    So I figured, why not!

    I brushed up my young adult nanowrimo project from a few years back and sent it off. 

    Thinking of sending something in? There's still time! The window for mentors closes tomorrow, August 6th, but if you miss that, you can always jump right back in in November. 

    Check out this page for more information or search #pitchwars on Twitter. 

    Happy Writing!

  • Strays spotted in a hot tub in Mexico

    Well this was a funny discovery! This photo recently cropped up on the #westinvallarta Instagram feed.

    The woman in the hot tub happens to be reading a copy of Strays. How do I know this when you can barely see the words on the page? Because the vacationer happens to also be a friend of mine who was reading my book in the hot tub on vacation. Just funny to see it on the Westin's page!

    So grab your copy and find the nearest hot tub! Everyone's doing it!

    (My friend in the photo also happes to have the most mouth watering Instagram feed at salt_and_sage.) 

  • It's Banned Books Week!

    Banned Books Week is here to make sure that books that are challenged don't become censored.

    Banned Books Week was established in 1982 by librarian Judith Krug and is supported by the ALA (American Library Association) which believes that readers and writers have "the freedom to choose or the freedom to express one's opinions even if that opinion might be considered unorthodox or unpopular and stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of those viewpoints to all who wish to read them."

    Cheers to that! 

    In celebration of Banned Books Week I'm sharing some of my favorite "challenged" books in various genres. 

    Nonfiction: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot:

    Fiction: I Know why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou:

    Young Adult Fiction: The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky:

    Want o know more? Join reddit's Banned Books Week Ask Me Anything on Thursday, October 1st from 7-9 CT. Click here for more information on how to get involved. 

    I showed you mine, now what are some of your favorite banned books?

  • Wrongful Arrest

    In my young adult novel, Strays, the main character, Iris, gets arrested for threatening her teacher, both physically and on paper. A question I've gotten from people has been, "Could that really happen?" "Are schools that strict about threats?" 

    Well, this week, I think the case against the 9th grader who was arrested for building a clock (no easy engineering feat!) answers that question. Like Iris, Ahmed, the maker of the clock (the school thought it was a bomb) was placed in handcuffs and taken to a juvenile detention center.

    Ahmed's school eventually issued him an apology and invited him back, but he said no thanks. And I don't blame him. 

    So what do you think? Are schools too quick to assume the worst from their students? 

    This photo first appeared courtesy of the Dallas Morning News.

  • interactive American literary road map

    I am loving atlas obscura's detailed map of American literature's most epic road trips! 

    It includes "every place-name reference in 12 books about cross-country travel..." Some of the twelve books are F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Cruise of the Rolling Junk, Cheryl Strayed's Wild and Jack Kerouac's on the road. 

    I am ready to rent an RV and start trekking. Now someone just needs to make me a playlist for each of these routes. 

  • run your own bookstore....for a week

    Airbnb has branched out from apartment, condo and house rentals to.....bookstores!! The Open Book, a small, independent bookstore in Scotland, is up for grabs for weekly management. $312.65 a week will get you the apartment above the bookstore and the position of managing the bookstore, which must be open 40 hours a week. Ideally, it would be amazing to be there during the Wigtown Book Festival, a ten-day annual festival.

    Would you do it?? I would, in a heartbeat!!

    Read more here. 

  • California in Literature

    As a California girl, I was interested in this article, "California by the Numbers" that explores representations of California in world literature.  It's a fascinating look at how history and literature collide through various bar graphs.

    Click here to read the article. 

    And happy to add my book to the canon of California literature (Strays takes place in Santa Cruz, California.)

  • literary cakes

    It's my birthday month over here (yes, you read that right.)

    Here's the cake my husband baked for me on my birthday:

    It was Pepto Bismal pink. I tried to think of a famous literary character that takes Pepto Bismal, but I couldn't think of any. Can you? (notice the long matchstick candles. Clever. Very clever.)

    I thought I'd celebrate by sharing these scrumptious looking literary cakes from this original post at Flavorwire

    Here's Where the Wild Things Are

    And these adorable cupcakes inspired by various books!