Thursday, March 21, 2013

Haunted at 17

Today is the release of my good friend Nova Ren Suma's new book, 17 & Gone! Look at the gorgeousness!

I've been waiting to read this one for a LONG time. Nova's books always touch me deeply. To celebrate her release, she's been running a series of posts from fellow authors called "Haunted at 17". I've been reading them with great interest, and debating for a couple days, but in the end I couldn't help but join in. For Nova. :)


At 17, I was haunted by change.

I read a website somewhere that lists major causes of life stress--divorce, marriage, moving houses, major job or life change. I hit most of them within a few months when I was 17.

Susan at 17
I've been fascinated, reading all these other posts, at how others documented their experiences, in journals, online. Not surprising, I guess--we are all writers. But I didn't document anything then. I'd had something pretty horrible happen when I was 13, that broke me for a while. (I'm so glad this is not Haunted at 13! I wouldn't be able to do it!) After that I didn't write things down, not for a long time. I kept things in. I kept myself in, private, hidden. Or I let myself out in ways that were still "safe": ballet first, then acting. I didn't want to keep a record of any of it.

But the funny thing is, time helps. By the time I was 17 I was starting to come out of the horribleness. I made real, strong friends in that year, finally, friends I could be open with. My mom was happy again. At the end of my senior year (I was always a grade ahead, so I graduated at 17), I went on a trip to Europe with those friends, and had a great time. My mom and her fiancee moved houses while I was gone, so when I came back it was to a totally different house.

I still have dreams about my childhood house. I wonder sometimes if it's because I didn't say goodbye to it properly.

Anyway. That summer my mom got married again, to a man who's been a better father to me than mine ever was. I was a bridesmaid in their wedding. I started college in the fall, at a good, huge school.

So what was wrong? The change. 

I'd spent all that time coming back. Getting my feet under me, trying to realize that it was okay, that *I* was okay. That my life probably wasn't going to reverse in an instant again like that. I'd built friendships and helped my mom rebuild herself, and managed to get through high school. And now I had to start ALL over. Be an adult, stand on my own.

I had no belief that I could do it. I didn't have a lot of self-confidence, and what I did was fragile, and false.

I didn't know that college would turn out all right, in the end. It did, of course, after a couple years of floundering.

I didn't know that I'd have trouble finding a job after, but it'd be okay.

I didn't know that I'd meet my husband 5 years later, move in with him in 3 months, get engaged 3 months after that, we were so SURE. Or that we'd still be married 20 years later, with a beautiful, smart 11-year-old daughter.

I didn't know I'd be a writer.

I didn't know any of that, because that's the point of being 17. It's all uncertainty, and fear, and hope, and dreams. And change.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Books of Awesomeness


*waves dramatically*

So...I am now in a lull. My life, both writing and non-writing, always goes like this. I have a massive pile of Things, Reports and Books and such, and I work frantically trying to juggle it all and get it all done and turned in and check things off, and I make or come close to making those deadlines, and then...

It all falls off, for a week or two. In both work and writing I've turned everything over to others, and I'm waiting for them to be able to read/proof/evaluate and hand it back to me.

*looks out window*
*taps pencil*
*clears throat*
*looks out window again*

Can I admit I'm much better at juggling lots of things than not having enough to do? The first couple days are all YEAH I'M FREE LET'S READ ALL THE BOOKS AND WATCH ALL THE TV and then about a week in I'm good with having free time and ready to work hard again.

However, let's pick up that "read all the books" part, because in the week and a half or so I've managed to read THREE amazing books, amazing in totally different ways, so I thought I should take the (vast quantities of) time I have at the moment and post about them! Yes! Let's go! In the order in which I read them:


I am listening to Pandora as I type this, and it's gone from COMPANY to ANYTHING GOES to SOUND OF MUSIC, which is just about perfect, I think. THE REECE MALCOLM LIST is a wonderful exploration of a girl's search for her place in life--through her relationship with her unknown mother, but also in school and with boys--but it also has great references to musicals and show people that my nerdy musical-loving teenager (and adult) self loved. The voice is spot-on, all at once funny and self-deprecating and yearning. I highly recommend.


I'm a Maureen Johnson fan. I honestly don't know how any YA author could NOT be a Maureen Johnson fan. She's such an advocate for teens, kidlit writers, and the industry, plus she's ridiculously funny. I've read most of Maureen's books, and I've enjoyed them. But these last two books, the Shades of London series, have hit an absolute sweet spot with me. The writing is impeccable, the voice clear and engaging, and the subject...private British school, ghost hunting, entwined with Jack the Ripper? Yeah. I've sucked them both up with passion. This book is the rare second book that is as good as the first one...and I will NOT spoil, but she killed me with the end. In a good way...mostly. Read THE NAME OF THE STAR first, but have this one handy for the second you're done.

THE ARCHIVED by Victoria Schwab You guys. Victoria's a longtime friend and all, so I was really hoping I'd love this, but OMG I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. The concept...I don't even want to spoil it for you! Let's say it involves a totally new concept of the afterlife, with new jobs and dangers and mythology, that I was completely entranced by. Victoria's writing is breathtaking, and the characters are still in my head several days later. I want more of them and the world, ASAP. There can't be a much stronger recommendation than that.

Here's where I'd usually give one of them away, but honestly I can't bear to part with any of these. I am SORRY. But please BUY THEM FOR YOURSELF AND LOVE THEM TOO.

Next on my to-read list: Laini Taylor's DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT. Hopefully I'll be able to add it to the books of awesome list too!