author life & yallwest 2019 schedule!

Whew, life comes at you fast once you publish a book.

I’m only half kidding. The part about life coming at you fast is really referring to the fact that you realize you need to finish another book for multiple reasons and that you have a ton of other projects you WANT to pursue that may or may not depend on getting enough cred as a published author to do them and all of a sudden you’re up to your arms in stress…and plotting Avengers: Endgame fic. (This month has been WILD, you guys. WILD. From my book to Game of Thrones to Avengers…I’m surprised I’ve survived it so far.)

Anyway, since my release date a few weeks ago, things have been a whirlwind. My signing in California was one of the best things I’ve ever experienced (pics on Instagram!) and I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to celebrate my debut weekend Emerald Knights Comics and Games, who truly made me feel welcome and loved. So many friends came out to support me, everyone was so thoughtful and asked so many good questions at the Q&A, and I’m pretty sure I had warm fuzzies for like, a week after. It’s been crazy (in a good way!) seeing people talk about my book on social media and share it with their friends and share their own thoughts about it — I’ve loved reading everyone’s reactions and some of the stuff has made me cry, so, ya know, a pretty on brand reaction for a first book. I just hope everyone continues to love it.

And the hype train don’t stop! I’ve got a NYC signing at Barnes and Noble on May 1st that I’m super excited about (mostly because I get to share the magic of my release with my family and friends who are local), a little surprise in May that I’ve yet to announce, AND I’m super excited to announce that I’m coming back to LA to attend my first YALLWEST festival next week! I get to be among an amazing group of authors and creatives and some of my best colleagues, I get to see my friends, and I’m just super stoked all around. The schedule is finally up on the website, and you can check out my panels below!

 

STORYMAKERS: THE WOMEN OF MARVEL

11 AM – Cafeteria

Join a live recording of the Women of Marvel podcast, hosted by Judy Stephens and Sana Amanat, who will be talking everything from Captain Marvel to Ms. Marvel along with a cast of Marvel comic + novel creators, as well as a few special guests.

Sana Amanat, Lorraine Cink, Sam Maggs, Judy Stephens (moderator), Margaret Stohl, Andrea Towers, Steve Wacker

 

YALLWEST AMA: BASKETCASES EDITION

12 PM – Cafeteria

Ask Me Anything style panel with some of the bestselling + most acclaimed authors you know, who also struggle with anxiety, depression, adhd + human brain suckage. Every day is a struggle for everyone, fellow humans.

Charles Beacham, Bill Konigsberg, Mallory Schleif, Victoria/V.E. Schwab, Margaret Stohl (moderator), Andrea Towers and Kiersten White

 

DIY STORYMAKERS: HOW TO UP YOUR COSPLAY GAME, YOUTUBE CHANNEL, WEBCOMIC OR FANDOM LIFE 

2 PM – Tent

From Captain Marvel cosplays, youtube Marvel Minutes, Dinosaur Comics and a YA podcast to nerd girl guides and superhero speak — we’ve got all the expertise you need to up your fandom game. Teens creators are encouraged to share a favorite fandom idea or to ask for help with something you’re stuck on.

Lorraine Cink, Sarah Enni, Sam Maggs (moderator), Ryan North, Judy Stephens, Andrea Towers and F.C. Yee

 

YALLWEST AMA: LGBTQIA+ EDITION 

3 PM – Cafeteria

Some of your fave LGBTQIA+ authors come together to answer your questions about identity, coming out, supporting your LGBTQIA+ friends and family, and more!

Sara Farizan, Christine Lynn Herman, Bill Konigsberg, Abdi Nazemian, Kat Shepherd, Adam Silvera, Nic Stone, Rosiee Thor, and Andrea Towers

 

SIGNING

5 PM – Comics Area

Gwenda Bond

Ryan North

Margaret Stohl

Andrea Towers

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lost and found

Do you ever have that feeling of being lost, but not really knowing why?

Because theoretically, it doesn’t make sense as to why you should feel lost. You have a great job, some great friends, a supportive and loving family. Your future is on track to hold a lot of promise and is just getting started – you’re getting married in a few months, and you get to start your life! You have every opportunity available to you to really make your life great and coast into this next chapter on a new high. For the first time in awhile (if you can forget about your age and how long it’s taken you to get here and how you wish this is where you were 5 years ago), things are really, really great.

And still, you feel lost. Sad. Incomplete. Uncertain, like something is missing and you’re not sure what, and you’ve got no idea how to fix it.

I think, at the very root of it all, I’m homesick. I’m homesick for home – my real home, Boston, my parents house and the city that I never thought I cared about living in until recently. Change is good, and judging from my sister’s recent comments (she’s been there all her life and is having the same stagnant feelings), I’m glad I went away. I don’t think it’s good for anyone to stay in one place for too long. But for some reason, whether it’s the lingering thoughts of my parents getting older or a lot of emotional attachment from wedding planning/child planning, all I’ve felt lately is a longing to get out of New York and go back to my roots. (It’s almost laughable to me that I’ve been half-seriously considering a move to California after all these years, because if I can’t handle being 4 hours away from my parents without feeling emotional, how would I handle moving across the country?)

I’m homesick for New York, for the love that I’ve always felt for the city that’s seemingly disappeared. I know I go through periods of discontent – everyone does, especially after 10+ years of living somewhere. The subway pisses you off, summer’s too hot, winter’s too cold, Times Square is too crowded, midtown lunch is too expensive, EVERYTHING is too expensive. I’ve been here forever and I’ve known people for so long, but I still feel like I need to do something different. Or just…find a way to like things around here a little more again, however that happens. The feelings of “I’m over New York” aren’t new, but I am starting to think about them a little more than I usually would. And I think right now it’s less “I’m over New York” and more “be honest: am I done with this chapter of my life for a little bit?” I don’t know if it’s because so much has changed over the years, or maybe it’s just that I need some sort of shift to keep myself moving forward. Maybe it’s because so much has changed – friendships and relationships have shifted, even Broadway’s gotten too expensive. Maybe it’s the fact that for some reason, the professional “family” I’ve slowly (and kind of unintentionally) started to cultivate over on the West Coast feels more like a family than what I’ve had in any job so far.

I’m homesick for my friends, because even though I know I have wonderful people in my life – people I don’t need to see or talk to every day to know they’re close – I feel removed from a lot of friendships lately. Part of it is on me. I know wedding planning has taken up a lot of my time, as has a general busy-ness that comes with my job and where my life is going. But I used to be around for a lot of things, and I feel like I used to be a lot more social than I am now. And I can’t help but feel like I’m isolating myself, drifting from people or places, because I’m just not there all the time and because I have other priorities that make me not able to go to a dinner or a movie. I miss seeing people more. I want to find a happy balance of feeling included in things and also having enough time to cultivate my own path, the path that I’m trying to get on pretty quickly – marriage, kids, a house, etc. I want to feel more confident about people in my life always being there, despite the fact that I am – my brain just isn’t letting me see it.

I’m homesick for the times I would feel okay about everything in my life, when not everything was cast in a shadow that seems like it can’t lift. Even when I’m taking meds, having a great day, or feeling fine and optimistic, it also feels like I’m forever waiting for the other shoe to drop – waiting for that moment to feel uninspired, frustrated, stressed, worried. I don’t know if it’s the general state of the world or just a combination of a lot of personal things in my life right now, but I wish it would go away.

It’s hard being homesick for things that are hard to change. And for some reason, I thought I had it all figured out. It took me awhile to get here…but I’m here, finally. I’m in my dream job, I have an engagement ring, and I’m getting ready to plan out my future. In October, I’ll be married. I want to start looking for houses, talking about kids, putting myself on a path.

That’s when life gets you, though. Or at least, my life. Just when it seems like things are finally falling into place the way you always wanted them to, the way you asked them to for so many years, that’s when you turn around and are suddenly hit with “but…maybe this path isn’t so straight after all.” And feeling like you’re “locked in” to a certain path or life isn’t the best way to think about things, I know. It’s never been the way I’ve thought about things, either. I’ve always put myself first when it comes to opportunities. But now that I have someone else to contend with — someone whose values and life experiences are so different from mine when it comes to things like wondering if you should pick up and start your life somewhere else — it’s harder than just thinking about me.

I’m still putting myself first. I’m just trying to figure out how to do it in a way that I’m happy with. And that’s a lot to think about.

the big news: i’ve got an agent!

For the past month or so, I’ve been cryptically tweeting about progress on “I DID A THING,” which was my very, very vague way of getting out my excitement for a project I embarked on but due to a lot of reasons, couldn’t be specific about just yet. Some of that had to do with the fact that I had no idea if it would actually happen, so I didn’t want to put the cart before the horse. Some of that had to do with business.

Guys, keeping a secret of this magnitude, when all you want to do is shout to the rooftops about how excited you are about your dreams starting to come true, has been SO HARD. And the thing is, this very vague cryptic project has a number of steps involved. I still can’t talk about a few of them, but I can finally talk about one that I’ve been sitting on for awhile, now that the paperwork is officially signed.

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Signing my contract! Yes, that is a Black Widow shirt for obvious reasons. Yes, my hair is a mess, but that’s okay.

I have a literary agent. I am officially represented by Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary.

Writing that sentence out — even just seeing it in print — is still surreal to me. I wasn’t sure where this crazy journey would lead me when I decided to query P.S. Literary about a project that is extremely important to me, and I count myself eternally grateful that I happened to click right away with Maria, who is absolutely the right people to help usher this project into the world. Say what you will about the geek world, but it’s small and lovely, and part of the reason I even thought of Maria as a good fit for what I hoped to do was because I knew how much she understood this specific project. Within the span of our long conversation when representation was on the table, I realized how much Maria was invested in my ideas, and how much I would click with her as a collaborative partner. You can query a bunch of people and take the first agent that comes along, but it’s truly so important to be able to listen to your agent, understand their views, and recognize their intentions. Because they want you to be successful as much as you want to be successful, and that’s a team effort. Long story short, I instantly knew this was going to be a great fit.

I started this process at the beginning of 2017, but a lot of this has come together in the past few weeks, which has made February a month of ups and downs — ups where this project is concerned, downs where full-time job opportunities are concerned. But in the atmosphere of the current political climate, having something to focus my energy on besides job searching has been lifesaving, and I’m learning all I can about the publishing world from the other side…a place I never thought I’d be (says the girl who saved dozens of stories to her computer in middle school and high school with the file name “Novel[1], [2], [3], etc” but never managed to complete NaNo.)

I’m still learning the ins and outs — how the whole process works, what I can and can’t tell people at certain points, etc. I’ve even already made stupid tiny mistakes by being overambitious, because it’s me, and also that’s probably what Clint Barton would do. But Maria has been amazing to have as a cheerleader, and I can’t wait to work more with her.

So, yeah. I have an agent. And as soon as I can share some other good news along the same lines, I will.

here’s to 2017

Well, it’s 18 days into January and I still haven’t posted about the new year or any of my goals, so…I’d say my resolution to have more of a schedule is going well.

Maybe I haven’t made a declaration on my blog. But in my life, since waking up on January 1, 2017, I’ve made a concentrated effort to be more. Be more present, be more positive, be more optimistic, be more happy. It’s hard, but I’m determined. (I’m also determined to get better meds, but that’s another story for another day. Insurance, you suck.) Be more, and be less — less self-medication in unhealthy ways, more self-care on days I really need it.

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I’m trying to be more lenient. I’m trying to put less pressure on myself as a human being, as a person. My perfectionist traits run deep, from over-editing a piece of writing to making sure I look okay before I see someone I don’t know. In this same way, I beat myself up when depression and anxiety get the best of me. I allow myself to sink into anger. I’m angry that I feel this way, that I’m upset, that I’m unhappy with my state of mind and that I spent an entire day lazily dicking around online, finding ways to make myself feel WORSE rather than trying to change it. In 2017, I’m striving to take that pressure, recognize it, and breathe it away. I don’t have to be perfect all the time. I can (and just did) have a bad day, or ten bad days. I can accept that, and deal with it, as opposed to taking an entire bottle of wine and drinking alone.

This year, I decided to carefully title my page of resolutions “Things To Accomplish” rather than write out the word “resolution” in any way. The things I want to accomplish in 2017 are a mixture of real “resolutions” (drink more water, read more) and dreams/hopes I want to conquer (running another half marathon, moderating a comic con panel, writing a comic). Writing them all out in a big list is overwhelming, sure, but it’s also kind of inspiring. I’m not making the list so I can cross off as many as possible. I’m making the list to remind myself that I can do anything, be anything, accomplish anything. Is it a lofty set of dreams and goals? Sure. Is it a little ambitious? Probably too much. But you miss every shot you don’t take, right?

In the back of my planner, along with this list of “resolutions,” I’ve made a number of other 2017-oriented lists: Books Read, Things To Write, as well as a general wishlist of items I want but just can’t afford right now. I’m also keeping a list that’s simply titled “Nice Things And Smiles.” It says 2017 on it, because I kind of got carried away in decorating, but it’s really just a comprehensive list of all the things — from hot baths to comics to FaceTime dates with friends — that are worth smiling about or waking up to. My goal is to add to this list as often as I can, and as often as I feel like I want to. (Oh yeah, and sometimes I put things down twice by accident. Whoops.)

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There are things happening in 2017 that scare me, and that I don’t know how to handle. But I can handle myself, and that’s what I’m working on.

the struggles of adjusting

Since the beginning of April, my entire life has been in a constant tumultuous state of adjustment.

I’ve had to adjust to a new lifestyle, being unemployed but constantly playing a waiting game of wondering whether opportunities I’ve gone out for are coming to fruition (and then forcing myself to be productive and not get down on myself when they don’t). I’ve had to adjust to a new neighborhood, a new apartment and a new home and a new commute. I’ve had to adjust to a new routine and a shift in mental state. I’ve had to adjust to living with someone who I love while also learning to appreciate and understand their particular habits and my own needs for space. It’s the most adjustment I’ve had since moving to Chicago for graduate school three years ago but at least that change was rooted in a bit of stability: I had built-in friendships and work, I knew I was there for a set amount of time, and I knew what I was there to accomplish.

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Sad last day in my apartment selfie. I miss this view already.

Moving day part one...my old apartment looks so sad and empty

Moving day part one…my old apartment looks so sad and empty

There’s a sense of stability here, too, in our new place. We’re slowly (very slowly) setting up what will become our home, and every day it gets a little more lived-in. But there’s still a long way to go before I feel comfortable, worn creaking farmhouse style, and I think that’s part of what I’ve had trouble with. I feel at home making coffee and getting up each morning and sitting out on my balcony. But aside from the fact that we still need a bunch of furniture, there are still boxes everywhere, and there’s clutter, and nothing is on the walls, and one bedroom is completely filled with boxes and stray items. In some ways, not working steadily has been helpful because it’s allowed me to settle in and take time for myself. But things take time, and there are still moments when I feel like I’m far from satisfied or content. It’s a hard thing to accept, feeling like you’re wobbling on two feet and can’t quite catch your balance.

I was in Manhattan the other day and ended up walking along a stretch of 42nd Street to take the subway home, and suddenly got an intense longing for my old apartment. (That’s what happens when you literally lived in the center of everything…it’s a lot easier to miss Queens when you never go an hour outside the city). I missed being able to be in the center of everything, I missed my cozy space, however expensive it was, and living by myself and feeling like I was in control of everything. I missed my doormen and my small apartment in the sky and feeling content, and then I felt guilty, as if I was second-guessing my intent to move, as if I had made a mistake. I hated feeling like that and it took an entire subway ride home and then some additional reflection to make myself realize that the uncertainty of feeling unsettled is something that is a very real hinderance, since I’m a person who always likes to find at least one thing I can control.

And so, little by little, I’m trying to take advantage of things I can control and make those smaller moments count. Putting the few personal things I can away, organizing the kitchen, cleaning up and taking out the trash. Sitting on my balcony and enjoying being able to write or read outside with an iced coffee. Trying to find what makes me feel comfortable, inside my home and out. Settling into a routine. I know it’ll come together eventually, but for now, I’m trying to breathe and let my adjustment level out so I can focus on being productive and get my mind back to being present.

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Sometimes all you need is relaxation and coffee and a beautiful day. And a balcony.

One of my favorite book is Lord of the Rings, and one of the quotes I would always come back to when I had to do something scary and something is the speech Frodo gets when he leaves his cozy hobbit hole to take a journey that he has no idea will change his life: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” 

It’s scary to look ahead and know there’s adventure but not see what’s coming. It’s scary to take the leap and trust that you’ll be okay. But the best thing you can come to realize is that no matter how out of sorts you feel, you’re never alone.