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An Epic and Bookish Weekend!

September has been a busy, busy month for me because I went on not one, but TWO vacations. Yes, that’s right. After four years of staying close to home, I went away twice in one month. Earlier in the month I went to Texas for the first time to visit one of my best friends (and maybe someday I’ll write about that trip!), and this past weekend I went to Cambridge, Massachusetts! I’ve been to every New England state (we did a lot of road trips when I was a kid!), but I’ve never been to Cambridge (or Boston) before.

I took the train from NYC to Boston, which was an adventure in itself. It was very crowded and I couldn’t find a seat, so I spent the four hour trip in the dining car! It was a little uncomfortable, but not horrible. And the view was gorgeous!

215Manhattan. *_*

218Too bad the leaves weren’t changing colors yet!

Once I arrived in Boston, I met up with my friend Molly! We’ve known each other since high school, but the last time we saw each other was in Japan back in 2008! Now that she’s only four hours away (or one hour by plane!), we’re hoping to see each other more. Molly took me to my hotel and after I checked in, she showed me around MIT (her genius husband is a grad student there).

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014Crazy building!

015Not sure if you can tell from the picture, but those are all cranes.

023A really cool sculpture made out of numbers and math symbols.

022There’s a dome at the top of this building.

030And this is the inside of it!

225The view from my hotel room.

After the tour and dinner, I met Molly’s husband (he wanted to know how I’m able to write books, and I wanted to know how he can write complex math equations all over his multiple white boards. XD), and then Molly and I left for Porter Square Books. Mackenzie Lee, author of THIS MONSTROUS THING, was having her launch event there and I was super excited to meet her and get a copy of her book. At the event I met Molly’s friend, Melissa, who kindly saved us seats in the front row! Molly made this awesome, “I ❤ OLIVER” poster for Mackenzie, and Mackenzie’s face lit up when she saw it.

228Mackenzie!

The event was so much fun. Mackenzie explained her love for Mary Shelley and Frankenstein and read a passage from her book, which is being bumped to the top of my to-read pile! After the event we did a selfie with some props:

 tmt3(From l to r-Me, Molly, and Melissa.)

There was a huge turnout, so it took a bit for us to get our books signed. It was so nice finally meeting Mackenzie! We also signed a copy of TMT for Mackenzie (like her own personal yearbook), which I think is a great idea. After chatting for a bit, we went back to my hotel, but first Molly took me to the roof of her apartment so I could see the beautiful view of the city and the Charles river.

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The next morning was the Boston Teen Author Festival! They had an amazing lineup of authors this year; as soon as I saw who was coming, I knew I had to go. And I’m glad I did because the day turned out to be one of the best ever!

Melissa very nicely drove us to the Cambridge Public Library, and after we parked, we went to get Starbucks when Melissa spotted a whole group of YA authors across the street, who were also going to Starbucks! Inside, I approached Becky Albertalli (author of SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. If you haven’t read this book yet, DROP EVERYTHING AND READ IT!) and introduced myself. She was super sweet and we had a very nice conversation (she introduced me to David Arnold, author of MOSQUITOLAND). And then we ended up walking back to the library with the authors AND riding the elevator with them. Doing things with authors turned out to be the theme of the day, actually!

241The library! (Look at that sky!)

243I’m not actually sure what this building was used for, but it was next to the library and very pretty.

045All of the authors!

First the authors talked and answered questions from the moderator, and then they split up into smaller panels. There were four panels, two at the same time, and luckily Melissa and Molly wanted to attend the same ones I did, so we didn’t have to split up.

240The Author Friendships and Crit Groups Panel (Adam Silvera, David, and Becky were fooling around in the beginning XD)

245The Craft Panel

btaf1In between the panels we did a selfie with Adam Silvera (author of MORE HAPPY THAN NOT) and Becky Albertalli. No big deal. XD This was our silly faces selfie, btw. We did do a normal one, too!

After the panels was the signings! I brought my copies of SIEGE AND STORM and RUIN AND RISING from home for Leigh Bardugo to sign (She’s already signed my copy of SHADOW AND BONE), and her line was so long! But she talked with each reader and we chatted for a bit (she wanted to know who my favorite character was, and I told her the Darkling.), which was nice. After that I rushed to Becky’s line, and had her sign my copy of SIMON, yay! We talked again and I picked up some SIMON swag, too!

The event was winding down by then, and I found Molly’s friend Nicole (who became my friend after we met at BEA this year!), and we chatted while we waited for Molly and Melissa to finish getting all of their books signed. We left, thinking the day was over, but then this happened:

btaf5Riding in the car with Leigh Bardugo. (Melissa not pictured because she was driving!)

Because Leigh’s Uber was nowhere to be found, we ended up driving her to Porter Square Books so she could sign SIX OF CROWS stock! An epic ending to an epic day. As Molly said, we basically won at the Boston Teen Author Fest.

252My haul from the weekend (well, two I brought from home, but the rest I got there or from Molly!).

I left the following day, and it was a much calmer ride, thankfully. I didn’t have to sit in the dining car, for one!

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268Cambridge is very pretty, but my heart will always belong to NYC.

It was one of the best weekends ever. I’m so glad I stepped outside of my comfort zone, got on that train, and went. And now I have a new pile of books that I can’t wait to read!

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2014 Recap and Bookish Goals for 2015

I can’t believe it’s almost 2015! Where did this year go? It definitely had its ups and downs, and I’m hoping 2015 is a much more peaceful one for everyone.

In terms of writing, I more or less wrote two books. I say more or less because I technically started THE SHADOW STEALER in 2013, and I also wrote 1/3 of A PROMISE OF MAGIC in, oh, I don’t even know, late 2012? But let’s just say I wrote two novels in 2014. I also published two novels! THE SOUL HEALER came out in April, and A PROMISE OF MAGIC was an early arrival, publishing in November (instead of January!). As for 2015, besides publishing THE SHADOW STEALER (February 27th! Less than two months away!), I hope to start and finish two brand new manuscripts. I’m not sure if this will actually happen, but as long as I finish at least one manuscript, I’ll be happy. I’m a little nervous starting something brand new that doesn’t involve Gabi and company because it’s really hard to let those characters go. But at least I can visit them whenever I want to in Tomodachi Life, right?

As for reading, I didn’t read as much as I did in 2013, probably because I spent almost the entire year writing/editing/revising THE SHADOW STEALER! I wanted to read 100 books, but I missed that goal by five measly books! (If you count rereading THE SHADOW STEALER at least five times and beta reading, then yes, I read over 100 books!) My favorite book of the year was HEIR OF FIRE by Sarah J. Maas. I waited for over two hours to get an ARC of it at BEA and it was worth it, oh my goodness. I loved it from start to finish, and I can’t wait for the next installment! In 2015 I’m going to try to be better about reading the stuff I own. I go to the library a lot and always end up with five or more books to read, which is ridiculous because I have three years worth of BEA books to read! So I’m going to ban myself from going to the library unless they have something I really, really need to read (which is basically every book ever). I already made up a list of 2015 books I want to read (and when they’re published), but I also made up a list of older books that I’ve been wanting to read but never got a chance to. A few are series that are complete now, so if I can get all three books in one library trip, I can binge read the series, which is something I love doing. I didn’t put too many books on that list, less than twenty, because I didn’t want to overwhelm myself. I’m interested to see how I’ll do in completing that list. Guess we’ll find out a year from now! Oh, and something else I’ve wanted to do for the longest time is reread the entire Harry Potter series. But it’s so hard to reread something when there’s so many other new things to read. But I really need to make time for this series! It’s been too long!

Other than that, I hope to attend more book events (I’m definitely going to BEA for its final year in NYC. And hopefully I’ll remember to buy NY Comic Con tickets before they’re sold out! I totally forgot this year and wasn’t able to attend.) and blog about them, of course. Unfortunately a lot of the events are at night on a weekday, and I can’t go, but I always keep an eye out for a weekend ones!

Do you have any bookish goals or resolutions for 2015? If so, good luck and to everyone, Happy New Year!

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Fierce Reads Event 9/19/14

Yesterday I was back at Books of Wonder for another fun author event!

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The Fierce Reads event featured authors Ann Aguire, Caragh M. O’Brien, Marie Rutkoski and Emmy Laybourne. Emmy Laybourne was also the moderator, and she started things off by having each of the authors talk a little about their books. Next, she asked the audience members trivia questions about the authors, and the winners received ARCs! Finally, the authors answered questions from the audience. There were some great questions, and I especially enjoyed hearing the authors talk about how they deal with negative reviews for the first book in their series while trying to write the second book (the short answer? Don’t read the reviews!).

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Amy McNulty was with me, and we chatted with Caragh M. O’Brien and Emmy Laybourne while they signed our books and gave us some neat free swag. We had a wonderful time and I can’t wait for the next book event!

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Debut Spotlight: First Time Authors for Teens Event 9/14/14

On Sunday I had a chance to attend Books of Wonder’s Debut Spotlight: First Time Authors For Teens event, featuring Adi Alasid, Isabel Gillies, Katherine Howe, Amanda Maciel, and Amy Zhang. First each author introduced him or herself, and then they talked about their books. I always love hearing about how authors come up with their ideas. After they spoke, the audience asked questions. Since two of the books dealt with bullying in high school, many of the questions centered around that. Some of the authors agreed that high school was the worst experience of their lives, while others said they loved it. They were also asked if they would be friends with their main characters, and Amy Zhang, whose character is a bully, promptly answered, “NO.”

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After they finished answering questions, the authors signed books for their readers. It was a quick but fun event, and I’m happy I went. I’ve read some but not all of the books featured, and I’m definitely going to read the rest soon!

I will be attending another event at Books of Wonder this week. This Friday they’re hosting the Fierce Reads event, and I’ll be going with Amy McNulty. I’m very excited for that one!

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Fantastic Teen Reads 9/22/2013

If you follow me on Twitter, then you know Amy, my beta reader and best friend, came to New York last week! She comes once a year, and each year I try to think of new things we can do in Manhattan. This year, after hearing me gush about Books of Wonders and all their great events, she asked if they were having a signing while she was in town. Turns out, they were! So on Sunday, September 22nd, we attended the “Fantastic Teen Reads” event.

004 (Medium)(From left to right: Gene Luen Yang, Patrick Ness, Robin Wasserman and Alex London)

006 (Medium)(Another shot, so you can actually see Alex!)

This was, hands down, the funniest event I’ve been to yet. The authors filled us in on their horrible high school days (complete with stories on how they faked back injuries just to get out of gym class!), how they trained themselves to write (Robin Wasserman would reward herself with a brownie at 2 in the afternoon, every single day!), and why they’re not sorry for doing horrible things to their characters. I found it especially interesting that Patrick Ness needs to know the final line of the story before he can start writing. For my last two manuscripts, I’ve figured out the final line as I was writing the first draft, but never before! All of their books sounded amazing, and I definitely added them to my to-read shelf!

I was worried Amy and her boyfriend, who doesn’t read YA at all, would be bored during the event, but they had a great time. You can read about Amy’s experience here, and see all the signed books she ended up getting!

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