right now.

#latergram Driving thru Indiana #winter #indiana #snow #white

Hard to believe we’re already into March, and that it’s been almost two months since my last update. Whoops. I have to say that this winter has flown by, and I’m glad. It’s also been super mild. Thank you, El Nino. We had some crazy cold days, but nothing like winters of past. I don’t have to go out a lot, but when I do, it’s nice that the wind isn’t stabbing my face. It’s also nice that I finally own Uggs, and that they feel like warm, fuzzy clouds on my feet.

It's all about that #ugg life.

No excuse really for me not updating here, except that there’s not a whole lot going on. I did go through that extreme exhaustion phase I go through every January, except this year it lasted clear through to almost the end of February. I’ve also been craving and eating meatballs like crazy. I am not sure if the two are related or not.

I’ve been working, writing, playing games on my phone and facebook, listening to music, sleeping, and watching Netflix. I visited my mom at the end of February, and brought almost all of the laundry that I hadn’t done since the last time I visited her in September. I KNOW. Sometimes I fail at #adulting. But now I have a lot of clean clothes and I vow to never go six months without doing laundry again.

(For the record, I’ve said this in the past so take that vow with a grain of salt.)

Visiting Mommy was nice. She’s doing well. We watched The Oscars (finally, Leo, dang), hung out with cousins and aunts, Aidan was there (!), and I got to eat good food. Corky & Lenny’s, Bob Evans, and Mommy made me Salisbury steak, mashed potatoes, and corn. Mmmmmm. So yummy. Her kitty cat is so sweet, and visiting Marc’s always makes me happy because yay for snacks I can’t get in Chicago and cheap spaghetti noodles and Tahitian Treat.

It was a nice visit.

On the writing front, I’ve been revising my novel, talking to lots of writerly people, making friends, and well, I’m getting there. In December, I got the news that I’d been accepted into the Writing in the Margins mentorship program. Super exciting. I got my mentor introduction in January and you guys, I adore her. She’s been amazing. It blows my mind that this super successful author is willing to take time to read my novel and work with me to make it the best it can be. I am so lucky and hope one day I can pay it forward. She says 1–2 revisions or so should do it with this novel. It’s crazy that it’s finally nearly done. I definitely did not work this hard on ONLY YOURS, but then again, ONLY YOURS never sold. Or maybe I did work so hard but I just don’t remember. That’s a huge possibility, now that I think about it.

So, I’m dealing with a lot of FEELS in regards to this. I don’t know if I want to go into them here because I need to process them in my own safe space first. Luckily, I have plenty of notebooks and journals such things.

Wanda made me a hat!

Don't ask. It's better that way. 😜

Isn’t it pretty? I get a lot of compliments on it and I wear it everywhere. (The hat, not the face I’m making!) Ha ha. :)

This year, I’m making a point to support #ownvoices YA authors, especially authors of color. I thought I could put a limit on the works by mainstream authors that I purchase this year, but well LOL NOPE. Aidan gave me a booklist last weekend and a bunch of them were Dan Brown books. I’m never going to begrudge my child books, so I got him three. And there are some books in series that I already have pre-ordered. But here’s the thing. Buying #ownvoices books by authors of color has been remarkably easy on my budget so far. Not okay. I’m not even going to get started now but I have a lot of feels about that subject too.

*takes deep breath*

So much stuff in the works over here. It’s a bit overwhelming, to be honest. But let’s think about it. When am I not overwhelmed?

Till next time.

30 week blog challenge – week 4: favorite books

New Bookshelves! :)

I’m a little late answering this link up… I was in Ohio this week and not only was there limited internet time, I was busy visiting my family and friends!

This week, Marie asks us what our favorite books are!

Now, to know me is to probably have a vision of me with my nose stuck in a YA novel, especially if it’s a love story. I LOVE to read and I’ve been an avid reader ever since I COULD read, really.

I like to tell about how, when I was younger, my mother and father would go “heavy shopping.” That’s the big grocery shopping, when they’d both get a cart and fill it to overflowing and come home with all sorts of great things to eat. My mother would always get me a stack of books, so not only did I have all the treats in the world, but I had new books to read while munching on said treats. It was pretty awesome.

I became a huge bookworm when I was in the fourth grade. Every time I had downtime, I was reading. My mother never grounded me by taking away books. I’m so glad for that. I got in trouble in fourth grade once and the teacher wouldn’t let me read. I hated it. I mean, her idea of a good punishment was for students to just sit there. So stupid.

Anyway.

I love lots of books. Lots and lots. No, you have no idea. I have a BOOKCASE IN MY BATHROOM. Actually, every room in the apartment has at least one bookcase. Between me, Adam, and Aidan, there have to be nearly a thousand books in this place. I love to read that much.

The funny thing is that I’m probably not well-read by academic professor standards. I haven’t read a lot of classics. I just read what I like.

It’s really hard to pick favorites. I do know this. I reread them at least once, and often multiple times, a year. They’re familiar. They’re worn. Some of them have had to be replaced more than once. Some of them I have multiple copies of for various reasons. A few of them are even inscribed to me which makes them even more special. My friend Julie (Ivy) has a very extensive and exhaustive list of her favorite books on her site, but I am not that thorough! Still, this entry is going to be long, so settle back and hopefully get some good book recs!

And with that said, on to the list!

Books!!
The HARRY POTTER Series

One summer night many years ago, I was at Target. I was in the book section, and there were Harry Potter books on palettes (Target totally had a different look in the early 2000s). By now, the books were way popular. The movies had been out for a while now, and there were toys and games and costumes. I was just kind of oblivious to it all even though a few of my friends had been suggesting that I get the series a try. I decided to finally see what the hype was about. I picked up HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE. I read the first paragraph and knew I needed to buy that book. I also gauged the size of it and picked up CHAMBER OF SECRETS as well.

That was a good decision. I remember feeling very certain that it was a good decision.

I blew through both of them in a day. I was at Target the next night looking for THE PRISONER OF AZKABHAN. And GOBLET OF FIRE. I know I had trouble finding one of them but I can’t remember which one. I think it might have been GOBLET OF FIRE, although my brain wants to say it was PRISONER. Anyway, I finally got ahold of the elusive one and managed to get them all read in time for ORDER OF THE PHOENIX. Which I didn’t (and still don’t like as much as the others). So now I was caught up and had ot wait for the last two with everyone else. I bought Harry Potter toys and DVDs and saw the movies in the theaters. I was officially a fangirl and loving every minute of it.

I could go on and on why I love the series so much, but this entry is already long and I have a bunch of other favorite books to list.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 9.37.43 PMANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins
A love story, set in Paris. How much more awesome can you get… except the AUTHOR TOTALLY MAKES IT EVEN MORE AWESOME. It’s an easy book to read, and I don’t mean it’s “fluffy” or a “beach read”… Anna’s voice is just that relatable. She’s someone I LIKE reading about, and I love the way she expresses herself. The other characters are just as complex as Anna and Etienne/St. Clair, which a lot of love stories don’t do. They mostly tend to focus on the main couple… so it’s nice to know that these other people have things going on in their lives, they have full personalities and aren’t there just to accentuate the couple. On top of that, the descriptions of Paris are so vivid, I feel like I’m there.

I want to write stories that people love as much as I love this one.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 9.38.06 PMSWEET REVENGE by Nora Roberts
I got this book as part of a book club. I was in a couple when I was in college. Both romance. One of them used to send a pile of books along with a wine glass. I still have some of those wine glasses! Anyway, this was a different book club, one that sent hard covers. It wasn’t cheap, but I really enjoyed trying out authors I never would have otherwise. And this book… it was so intriguing. The language in it is definitely dated and would probably not pass the PC police these days, with is narrations regarding Middle Eastern culture… but Adrienne. Oh, Adrienne. She inspires FEELS. So many feels. It’s a very different sort of book, with mystery and romance. I was attracted because the story was so unique and I still love it for that reason.

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 9.38.15 PMTHE GIVER by Lois Lowry
I read this book when I worked at Zaner-Bloser. I was new, and there wasn’t a lot of work for me. Someone suggested I read the books that they used for their Voices Reading material, which was actually a brilliant idea. What, get paid to read? SIGN ME UP PLEASE.

I read THE GIVER at my desk. It didn’t take me long–I was instantly hooked. Lois Lowry does an amazing job with descriptions and when the big twist happened, well, let’s just say I was sitting at my desk bawling. Because it is that emotional and gut-wrenching. THE GIVER is a true dystopia.

Lois Lowry and Me
Me and the writer of this brilliant book, Lois Lowry

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 9.38.25 PMhttp://www.goodreads.com/book/show/4325.Dreamland by Sarah Dessen
I became a Sarah Dessen reader back in 2005. I first read KEEPING THE MOON, then I read THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER. I liked them both a lot, I remember really enjoying them. But then I picked up DREAMLAND. That book made me fall in love with Sarah and her work. It’s a book about a relationship turning violent. But it is so beautifully written. It’s called DREAMLAND and the book definitely has a dreamlike feel to it. The best part is that you’re in her head, so you can completely understand why she stuck around, and why some women don’t leave right away. I was so engaged in this book that I actually got a speeding ticket because I was rushing home so I could read it. It is that good. I finally got home and emailed Sarah about it. She’d put on her website that she read all of our messages but probably wouldn’t respond. So WHEN I GOT AN EMAIL BACK FROM HER THE NEXT MORNING I WAS THRILLED.

Years later, I was lucky enough to have met her more than once and now she knows who I am and gives me hugs when she seems me. This fangirl over here LOVES THAT SO MUCH.

My favorite author @sdessen and me!!!! #sarahdessen #lilrongal
Sarah and me, earlier this year

Screen Shot 2013-09-27 at 10.23.23 PMCONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLIC
Oy! What can I say about this awesome book that kicked off the “chick-lit” revolution a few years back? Becky Bloomwood is a fun character to read. Not because SHE’S always fun. She’s not. Often I wanted to shake some sense into her. OK, a lot of times. She’s frustrating! I mean, to the point where I don’t see how the people in her life put up with her…but then, you do realize that she does have good intentions at heart. Things just go all awry. A LOT. There were so many times that I related to her so much. I understood those feelings, those insecurities, the compulsion to buy a bunch of stuff to cheer myself up, the worry about how I was going to PAY for all of that shopping. It’s simultaneously sobering and funny.

Here are some other books that I love just as much as I love the ones with the fancy covers and things, but I’d like to finish this post sometime… ;)

THE WILD CHILD by Mary Jo Putney
POP PRINCESS by Rachel Cohn
SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson (another amazing author and another friend of mine!)
SMALL TOWN GIRL by LaVryle Spencer
THE HUNGER GAMES by Suzanne Collins

And that’s not even close to all of them. Click here to see the list. And just in case you’re interested, here are more pictures of me with authors.

And hey, add me on Goodreads, why don’t ya?

OK, FINALLY signing off. :)

So Much For That

I thought I would try to get my body back on to a normal sleep schedule. Because for the past several weeks, I’ve been staying up all night and sleeping well into the afternoon. Even though what I’m doing in the middle of the night is no different than what I’d do during the day (and sometimes I am even more productive!), I still feel guilty about it. I know I’m a night owl at heart, but I still feel weird about it.

I know this is the way I am built and I shouldn’t be ashamed of it… but the world just doesn’t really WORK this way. It doesn’t really cater to night owls. There are some 24 hour stores around, and it is much nicer to drive in the middle of the night (unless the panhandlers are still out and begging me to roll down my window and give them money…AS IF), but I can’t go to a yoga class in the middle of the night. I can’t answer urgent emails from Moksha or VSA in the middle of the night. But now that I think about it… maybe it’s OK for me to be the way I am. The nature of the work I do–most of it is from home and I have enough time that I can work on it overnight. Even if I have a meeting at Moksha, they know my sleep schedule, so they try to accommodate it. My latest apprenticeship is in the evenings and most of my workshop manager shifts are afternoon or evening.

Sunday night, I took a Tylenol PM (well, the CVS version anyway) at 10:30pm. I slathered on some Arbonne unwind lotion; dabbed lavender essential oils on my heart, my temples, my neck, and behind my ears; checked my email; played LEGO Harry Potter until just before midnight (I gave myself a midnight cut off); and climbed into bed. Had a snack and read The Hunger Games until I fell asleep. And I woke up at 10:25am. Which is an improvement over 3:15pm.

It’s a good thing I was up because ALA was announcing their awards and Adam got a Stonewall Honor for his book Sparks (written under a pen name SJ Adams). How exciting is that? VERY exciting is the answer we’re looking for here, just so you know.

I did not mention that by 1pm I was super, super tired. I was frustrated because I can be wide awake in the middle of the night but during the day (especially during the winter) I just want to sleep. I want to burrow under an electric blanket and live in dreamland. So I took a nap. I set my alarm for 2pm, but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself waking up at 1:39pm! I guess I just needed a power nap. :) Went to a short meeting at 3pm, ran a couple of errands, then we headed out to the burbs.

We celebrated Adam’s Stonewall Honor the best way we know how: By hitting some bookstores. We went to Anderson’s, where I picked up 7 CLUES TO WINNING YOU by Kristin Walker and BITTERSWEET by Sarah Ockler. Then we went to Half-Price Books, where I got 10 books, 9 CDs, and a computer game. I am so happy. I have a lot of new stuff to read and a lot of music to listen to. I bought Zoo Tycoon, but that’s mostly for Aidan to play when he’s here. Oh and my LEGO Harry Potter Years 5-7 arrived in the mail. I’m nearly 80% done with Years 1-4 (I’ve completed the levels, just need to get the collectibles), so I’ll probably start 5-7 sometime this week. Wheeee!

Today's Half Price Books book haul. Half Price Books CD Haul.

But now I am back to my old habits already. It’s 2:40am and I am wide awake. I just dabbed on the lavender (forgot to do the Tylenol PM tonight) and I’m hoping it will work its magic sooner rather than later. In the meantime, I will skip out on starting one of my new books right now–I’ll NEVER go to sleep if I start a new book. I’ll read The Hunger Games, and old favorite, and HOPEFULLY I’ll go to sleep and end up not sleeping past noon. I want to go to yoga. Which is at noon. And I need to shower before.

So I’m thinking that for now, it’s OK for me to be this way? It’s not like I have a 9am-5pm job (although in Chicago it seems more like 8am-9pm in a lot of jobs), and most of the things I have to do are in the afternoons and evenings. So I guess there is no point in trying to fight how my body naturally works, especially because it’s not hurting anyone.

When I’m at Disney World, I’ll have to take care. Don’t want to be sleeping the whole day away there! But I have time to fix that.

Ha. This pointless entry brought to you by slight heartburn, an afternoon dose of Lexapro, and the letters B-A-N-A-N-A.

Feeling Just A Little Bit Off…

Crazy Tree

I haven’t been feeling well the past several days. Although, if I want to be honest, I haven’t been feeling 100% since Atlanta. I’ve been way more tired than usual–I can sleep all day and all night if I’d let myself, only venturing out of bed to use the bathroom and grab a small bite to eat (my appetite hasn’t been all that great). Nausea hits at the most random times (like this evening in Trader Joe’s). I think it’s either iron-deficiency anemia or my gastritis is back. BOO.

THIS NEEDS TO STOP!!
I’m ready to feel better again! I have stuff to do, people to see, *awesome* house guests staying with us next week. So here’s what we’re doing:

1. Loading me up with iron-rich foods, such as spinach and Cream of Wheat.
2. Loading me up with lots of fluids: water, orange juice, etc.
3. Getting me loads of rest.

Plus, I want to get back to yoga, I need to clean, take down the Christmas decorations, and get groceries. NO MORE TIME TO BE SICK, RONICA.

I will beat this thing.

Adam thinks it’s my SAD coming back. I tend to get really down in the winter…but it usually doesn’t kick in until February or so. But I’m pretty convinced this is just physical. At least for now. My mind is fine, and I’m still interested in doing things I like. Just the thought of actually doing them makes me feel overwhelmed and I just want to go back to sleep. So it’s not that I’m not interested, I’m just too tired.

At any rate, I am confident I will have this thing beat by Sunday.

Well, OK. I’m HOPING REALLY HARD.

One thing I have been doing in all my downtime is rereading a bunch of books. I decided to reread ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS. This book got a LOT of hype when it first came out. Me? I was just excited to read a contemporary book by a debut author. As most of you know, I tend to stick to YA books, and the YA market is SATURATED with paranormal. Now, I do like paranormal from time to time, but I LOVE contemporary. Contemporary YA is where my heart lives. Deb Caletti, Sarah Dessen, Laurie Halse Anderson, Susane Colasanti are just a few of the authors I love. (And I’ve met three of them!)

Anyway, I read ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS several months ago, and I liked it enough. But this second time around? I am in LOVE. A love story about a girl who gets sent to an American boarding school in France? Yes, please! The characters are so three dimensional. The setting is PARIS. It has a boarding school. And food! And hot guys. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?

So am I recommending this book? YES! And I might just order a copy just to make notes in the margins. Stephanie Perkins did the damn thing. Today I ordered LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR and I can’t wait to read it.

YOU SHOULD READ THESE BOOKS, TOO!

Then we can like, talk about them and stuff.

Now that the new year is here, I’ve decided to read new books again. I have a huge stack of them in my apartment (so I really didn’t need to buy LOLA AND THE BOY NEXT DOOR, but dammit, I wanted it), so while I wait for my delivery, I am reading WITHERING TIGHTS by Louise Rennison. It’s a cute book so far (I’m almost done!), but it’s not as funny or engaging as the Georgia Nicholson books. Still enjoyable, though, so I’m not complaining. I’m also reading RADIANT SHADOWS, the last book in the Wicked Lovely series by Melissa Marr. YES I’m reading two books at once, what?

So there is that. And I am obviously well enough to be blogging. And I added Aidan’s birth story to my blog. (You should go read it!) So that means I will be 100% soon, right? Right? My energy will come crashing back and I’ll be so happy I will DANCE. I mean, we’re having amazing weather, and I want to enjoy it! Plus, I DEFINITELY need to be ready for Disney World. And I miss using my exercise bike. Plus yoga. And you know, not sleeping all day.

OK then. That’s all for now. Ta ta!

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.
That means if you buy any of those books, I’ll get a lil somethin’ somethin’.
But trust me, I will not steer you wrong just to make a buck. Just sayin’.
Also, books were purchased or borrowed from the library.
Because that’s how I roll.

Rambling…

Crookshanks Photo Shoot I’m tired. I need a full day where I don’t have to do anything but read and sleep. I really should not allow myself to indulge in such a day until all my chores are done, but meh. I also should not be blogging at 1am but there you go.

Christmas is 46 freaking days away. Time is FLYING. I have all of these “to do” items that i put in my iProcrastinate in early/middle October. When it’s the middle of October, November due dates seem far away. Well, now all that stuff is coming due now and I’m kinda like WHOA. WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? In fact, two of my items are past due. FAIL.

I started Christmas shopping in earnest Monday. I was out with my friend Angelo, and we hit Bloomingdales, Filene’s Basement, and many other assorted stores along Michigan Avenue. I was able to knock out a good chunk of my shopping for Adam. Go me! I also let Angelo treat me to a white chocolate raspberry mocha from Starbucks. I very rarely indulge in Starbucks, and I get this particular coffee drink once or twice a year. It was yummy.

Adam and I went out to the ‘burbs yesterday. I found the most awesome store at the Westfield Fox Valley mall. It’s called Funk-E-Breeze and it’s the store that Hot Topic and Spencer Gifts WISH they could be. I wanted just about everything in there, but I settled on buying lots of incense. Because mmm, incense.

We hit Anderson’s Bookshop, the best bookstore in the whole wide world. Seriously, you should be jealous of that bookstore because it is *just that awesome*. This bookstore gets folks like Tyra Banks, Weird Al, and Jodi Piccoult. And they *hand sell* books. They listen to what you like and suggest books that are similar. Awesome. Anyway, Adam’s an author, and he went to Anderson’s to sign stock. How cool is that? But you know what’s even cooler?

You can win copies of Adam’s books!

extraordinary
EXTRAORDINARY is an epic tale of love, magic,
mystery, musical theatre, and unicorn poop.
UNICORN POOP people!
You know you want to read it.
Honestly, it’s my favorite one by him thus far.
Check out the entry post here.

sparks final
Adam also writes under the pen name S.J. Adams.
(I think Adam thinks S.J. is real. Seriously. I get concerned.)
SPARKS is a John Hughes-esque novel about a
Full House-obsessed girl
who attempts to get over a crush
by embarking on a “holy quest” with
a couple of misfits who have invented a religion.
Check out the entry post for this book here!

Yay! And that’s all for now. Til next time!

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