Here are some things.

Here’s what’s been on my mind lately:

Gilmore Guys, the podcast. Alex has been on my case to listen to this for months. “I don’t know why you aren’t listening to it. You’re going to love it,” he told me, multiple times. I steadfastly refused! And then I listened to it this weekend and immediately fell in deep, hard love with it. If you love Gilmore Girls, you’ll love it. If you don’t love Gilmore Girls, you’re probably not reading this blog anyway. When they sing along to the theme song, I just sit there, by myself, smiling like a maniac.

My Misfit. H. got me this instead of a Fitbit, and while I am not usually one for brand loyalty (I will not bow to ~the man~, even when that man is selling fitness trackers), I really love it. Multiple people have asked me about my watch, but it’s not a watch! It’s a Misfit! And now those people have to listen to my 10 minute schpiel about how much I love it and watch a demonstration of the app!

-Romance novels. Before this year, I never really understood the value of reading “light” books as a form of escape. I’ve always been able to read the most upsetting, most disturbing books with no problem whatsoever. But for some reason, right now, I can’t even tolerate reading anything that stresses me out. So many things in my own life are wildly out of control; I need to read something with a happy ending I can count on. Enter: romance novels. There were so many times in the past couple of months that the only thought on my mind at the end of the day has been, “I need to read about people falling in love.” It’s been really fun to start learning about a genre I don’t know too much about, and in case you haven’t noticed, I deeply enjoy immersing myself in the types of books and movies that are often directed at women and maligned because of it (see: romantic comedies, YA, T. Swift). Sometimes I feel like defending typically female entertainment pursuits is my life’s work, and I’m completely here for it.

-Other books. Okay, so it’s not all romance novels, all the time. I’m also reading Kissing in America, a really lovely, emotional book by Margo Rabb, whom I had the pleasure of meeting at a bookstore event in Dayton a few weeks ago. Kissing in America is amazing and is also full of apt descriptions of anxiety/grief/etc. I’m also finally finishing up Bad Feminist–I got a bit stuck in the middle on the essays about books I haven’t read, but now I’m reading about movies/race and really enjoying it. Roxane Gay’s essays on The Help and Fifty Shades of Grey were particularly great.

-Going to book events. Did you know that I’m actually trying to leave my house lately? It’s true! I’ve been going to YA book events when I get the chance, and it’s been great. Stuff like this scares me and sometimes makes me feel like a big phony, but I’ve been really trying to a) be a better “literary citizen” (groan), b) meet other writers, and c) have more confidence in myself and my writing. On all counts, it’s hard. I really, really love meeting other writers (in general, people in the YA community are ridiculously nice and interesting), but it’s difficult to get over myself. I always assume no one will want to meet me, that they see me as a fraud or a weirdo or a small child pretending to be almost 30. What a gross attitude, me! It gets easier the more I do it, but it’s still hard. And lately, I’m just all about trying.

Thoughts: Wedding Edition

I guess livejournal-y blog posts are just what I do here now. Here are a few things that happened recently.

-H. and I were both in a wedding last Saturday. It was great. My favorite part of any wedding is the rehearsal, because I love that “everybody comes together as a team” feeling. It’s not one I get often, mostly because I’m terrible at being on a team. It’s not that I want to be terrible at it, but I often avoid working with other people on things because I’m afraid I’ll be the one to mess it up and ruin everything (this may be my low self-confidence talking). It all reminds me of how much I loved that last rehearsal before a band concert, or lining up to go on the field at halftime. All the is my hat straight?, get in line, here hold this, oh no it’s time stuff is always my favorite. The we’re all in this together of it all. Lining up behind those big double doors as the wedding music starts, the last moment before it all happens and everything changes. Hugging Cat and her dad right before I walked down the aisle, standing with my own dad and muttering, “Oh God, I hope I don’t fall,” clutching onto H’s arm before walking down the aisle Saturday to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. It’s all good. It’s all my favorite.

-It was also my birthday on Saturday, making this probably the weirdest birthday I’ve ever had (except for when my birthday was the day after senior prom and my date got the bowling alley to announce it at midnight). I let myself relax for once and I had a few drinks and I danced a lot, and you guys, I am not a good dancer. I’m not a sober dancer because hi, anxiety, and I don’t enjoy doing things I’m terrible at in front of people. But honestly, I’m just so tired. I work 60-70 hours a week, I don’t sleep enough, and my nerves are so tight it feels like they’re going to snap. I told myself to forget about work for a few hours. I let myself get to “Good Charlotte is my jam” levels that night, which is a feeling-label I came up with after I went to bachelorette party at Put-In-Bay and, during a cover band performance of Good Charlotte’s The Anthem (a song I have no particular feelings about), I turned to Jayne and very seriously yelled, “THIS IS MY JAM!” On Saturday, every song felt like my jam. I don’t think I’ve ever been as happy as I was when those first few seconds of “Everybody (Backstreet’s Back)” started playing. I heard “Gangnam Style” and thought, Yes. Kesha played and I felt like I could fly.

-No songs will get people in their late 20s more excited than “Yeah” by Usher and “Hey Ya.”

-My husband’s signature song is “My Humps.” Yes, the Black Eyed Peas song. He requested it at the wedding and then rapped/sang the whole thing for us. Apologies to you if you’ve never heard your husband singing about his “lovely lady lumps” and threatening to “get you love drunk off my humps.”

-Weddings! They’re great. I know a lot of people aren’t into them anymore, but I still think they’re special. I still think there’s a value in making a promise in front of people. And I still cry, always, no matter what.

An Actual Blog Post

Remember when I used to make blog posts that had, like, an actual narrative? Those were the days. Today, let’s do something different. This is just a bunch of my thoughts. It’ll be like we’re on Livejournal (RIP all my approximately one million Livejournals).

-I bought my first smartphone a few weeks ago. Yes, it’s the year 2015 and up until now I was using what was basically a flip phone (it wasn’t, but let’s just say it was). Obviously, life is great (I can now access my Kindle books ANYWHERE), but the biggest excitement was discovering that my phone has a pedometer. For a goal-oriented obsessive weirdo like myself, this has been life-changing, probably for the worse. I wake up in the morning thinking about getting those 10,000 steps in, but let me tell you, it’s difficult to do so when you work in an office 8 hours a day and then you need to write at night. But have I been taking Merlin on extra walks and doing laps around the house while reading a book? Maybe. Maybe I have. Don’t judge me. Anyway, I figure I have a couple weeks left with this before it reduces me to frustrated tears because I have never, ever known when to quit, so I’m just enjoying it while it lasts.

-Things have been stressful lately, and since my brain has two speeds (“everything is great” vs. “we’re all going to die alone so who cares about anything”) I’ve been trying to keep things light. Don’t stop to think about anything upsetting, ever! I’m writing a book that heavily features anxiety, so you can guess how well that’s going. As a result, I’m incapable of reading anything even mildly upsetting. Lauren recommended All the Birds, Singing to me and while it’s creepy and weird and I’m really enjoying it, she did NOT mention all the grisly, graphic animal deaths it contains (or maybe she did and I blocked it out). So I’m currently in the midst of The Bride Quartet by Nora Roberts. Each book is about one of four friends who run a wedding planning business. Will they find love? Yes! And probably no sheep entrails will even be mentioned in the process. To say these are comforting is putting it mildly. If it’s past 9 pm, find me in the basement on my treadmill as I make my way through Savor the Moment (it’s about the baker) and try to get my last 2,000 steps in. I’d like to write about Nora’s books here on Welcome to Ladyville, but we’ll see if I can come up with anything to say other than “A++, distracted me from my emotions, would read again.”

-My tumblr A Year of Romantic Comedies is still truckin’ along. I love doing this project so much. This week I watched Pillow Talk and loved it.

-You know what’s great? Food. Really going out on a limb there, Kerry. One of my procratination/distraction methods of choice is cooking/baking. Lately I’ve made these chocolate donuts, this avocado/cucumber salad (thanks, Lauren!) twice, and these kale/sweet potato tacos. I’ve also been really into slushies from Sonic, but those involve no cooking. Did you know you can get Pop Rocks in your slushie, but they call them by the generic moniker “popping candy”?

Thanks for letting me livejournal at you, guys. What have you been doing/reading/eating?

Podcasts I Love

My life lately has consisted of mostly writing, with occasional breaks to hang out with my dog. Wake up, go to my writing-related job, come home, eat dinner, work out if I’m smart, and then write other things (book, book reviews, HelloGiggles articles) until bed. It’s great and awesome and literally my dream, but does it make for interesting blog posts? It does not, which is why Welcome to Ladyville has been pretty silent. But I can share with you the podcasts I’ve been listening to when chopping vegetables or driving to work. They’re mostly writing related because, well, welcome to my life.

Lit Up
I’ve written before about my love of Emily Gould, so of course I’m going to be into any podcast she’s involved in. Lit Up, which she cohosts with Angela Ledgerwood, is “a podcast about books, writers and all things literary where no topic is off the table and no conversation is too weird, too personal or too controversial.” What I love about Lit Up is that it’s not snobby at all. Like, I don’t necessarily want to hear someone talk about “craft,” but I do want to hear Hanya Yanagihara talk about the cover of A Little Life or Heidi Julavits talk about Gordon Lish being a jerk. Interesting writers telling interesting stories? I’m in.

First Draft
A podcast all about YA? Of course I want to listen to this. The fabulous Sarah Enni interviews YA authors and gets into the down-and-dirty stuff I always want to know about. It makes me feel so much better to know that even seasoned YA authors have the same worries and struggles that I do. Some of my favorite episodes include Veronica Roth, Amy Spalding, and Katie Coyle.

Judge John Hodgman
Okay, this podcast isn’t about writing, but John Hodgman and Jesse Thorn are comforting presences and I love listening to them dispense fake internet justice. H. and I carpool to work (yeah, we’re that couple) and listen to JJHo on our drive because it’s basically the only thing we agree on. We end up laughing out loud a lot (if you’ve never listened to the show, do yourself a favor and start with Father Gnaws Beast…it might be the hardest I’ve ever laughed at any podcast). Also, I saw John Hodgman speak at the Akron-Summit County Public Library last year before I’d really started working on my book, and I was really down in the creative dumps. But seeing him made me feel so much better and so creatively invigorated. Was it the Ayn Rand costume? Who can say.

2015 Read Harder Challenge Progress

So how’s your year of reading going so far? Back at the beginning of the year, I decided to do the Book Riot 2015 Read Harder challenge as a fun way to make sure my reading is varied. I have a tendency to read a lot of the same thing, which I don’t necessarily think is a negative. But still, there are a whole lot of books out there, and I’d like to make sure I’m at least exploring them.

Here are the challenge books I’ve read so far:

A book published by an indie press: Safari Honeymoon.

A book by a person whose gender is different from your own: The Colorado Kid by Stephen King. I love him but I did not love this book.

A book that takes place in Asia: Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed, which mostly takes place in Pakistan.

A book by an author from Africa: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who’s from Nigeria.

A YA novel: Probably 60% of what I read is YA, so…I’ve already completed this one several times over.

A romance novel: Again, I read a lot of romance. But Vision in White by Nora Roberts is one of the first true “romance novels” I’ve read.

A National Book Award, Man Booker Prize or Pulitzer Prize winner from the last decade: I tried to read Redeployment and decided not to after the first story. Read harder, sure, but also don’t give yourself stress nightmares. But I requested Olive Kitteridge from the library!

A book that is a retelling of a classic story (fairytale, Shakespearian play, classic novel, etc.): This is hard for me because I really don’t like retellings of myths, Bible stories, Shakespeare, etc. They only remind me about how I know NOTHING about ANY myths and I have no religious education whatsoever, so I don’t get any references. But I’ll do it, Read Harder challenge. I’ll do it. I’m thinking of reading The Wrath and the Dawn.

An audiobook: The Stephen King book I mentioned earlier! It’s his shortest book, so a good pick for a few hours of driving. But be warned: the ENTIRE thing is narrated in dialect.

A book that someone else has recommended to you: Gonna read Olive Kitteridge because of Lauren’s recommendation! But honestly, I’ve probably already read something she recommended this year.

A graphic novel, a graphic memoir or a collection of comics of any kind: Safari Honeymoon by Jesse Jacobs. I also have Kiss and Tell by MariNaomi on my TBR list.

A book that you would consider a guilty pleasure: This is a little hard, since I don’t believe in the concept of guilty pleasures. BUT I guess Nora Roberts isn’t seen as “literature.” Guess what? She rules. Suck it, haters. She practically owns an entire town and she’s incredibly rich and she gets to write all day.

A book published before 1850: I’m working on Wuthering Heights. It’s really hard to read Wuthering Heights when you have so many funny, romantic YA novels to read.

A book published this year: I’m a book reviewer, so I’ve already read tons of books that came out or are coming out this year.

A self-improvement book (can be traditionally or non-traditionally considered “self-improvement”): I’m not sure if Austin Kleon’s Show Your Work! counts, but I think it does.

I still have to read a book by or about someone that identifies as LGBTQ, a collection of poetry, a book that was originally published in another language, a sci-fi novel, a collection of short stories (either by one person or an anthology by many people), a microhistory, a book that is by or about someone from an indigenous culture (Native Americans, Aboriginals, etc.), a book written by someone when they were under the age of 25, and a book written by someone when they were over the age of 65.

I’m a little surprised that I’m not doing so bad, and it’s only April, so I have plenty of time to read books that fit in the rest of the categories on the list (and I already have most of the books sitting around, which makes it easy). But I wouldn’t say that I’m really “reading harder.” If anything, I’m reading waaaaay easy. I’ve been reading a lot of stuff that will not upset me because I’ve been stressed out and anxious, and let me tell you, when you’re already having weird nightmares the last thing you want to do is read a book of short stories about war and PTSD. So I’ve been reading a lot of romance novels and lighter things. But you know? I don’t feel bad about it. I write things that are definitely on the lighter, funnier side (sort of), and I think all writers should read really widely in their genre. Still, I probably need to read some more classics.

You can find me on Goodreads if you want to know more about what I’m reading!