Reading

Recent Reads – July 2019

BlogJuneReads2019Just another roundup of recent favorites! I seem to be developing a habit of reading multiple books at once. Kid Jill the anxious completionist, with her habit of devouring one book at a time before tearing into the next, would be horrified. Or impressed. Or both.

Anyway.

The Wise and the Wicked by Rebecca Podos: Ever have that experience where you’re reading a book and you suddenly realize you didn’t know how much you wanted this story until you were neck-deep in it? This was one of those for me. I jumped in knowing relatively little about it, not having read any in-depth summaries, and I’m glad I did–discovering the secrets of the Chernyavsky family along with Ruby was a delight. The story’s LGBTQ+ elements are handled with gentle, deft sensitivity (I don’t want to say too much because there was one reveal I didn’t see coming, having not read up on the book first, and it was so well done), and I loved the concept of this strong, imperfect matriarchal family in which things are seldom as they seem. I’ve seen some criticism of the end, but its standalone open-endedness worked well for me while still leaving plenty of room for a possible sequel. The author has addressed that possibility on Goodreads.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman: First of all, can we yell about how gorgeous this dust jacket is for a second, with its glossy raised letters and its mattified metallic sheen? I swoon. And as a Stranger Things fan, I really enjoyed this story. A group of teens figuring out their powers? A deadly monster trapped in another dimension? Family secrets? Complicated feelings and friendships? Bring on the sequel!

You Asked for Perfect by Laura Silverman: OH HELLO THERE HIGH SCHOOL ANXIETY, I REMEMBER YOU WELL. Senior Ariel Stone throws everything he has into making sure his grades and extracurriculars are enough to get him into Harvard, but when the competition’s this fierce, one bad grade might be enough to ruin everything and something’s going to have to give. This was so relatable–I was the same kind of perfectionist in high school, although compared to what Ariel feels like he needs to accomplish, I suppose the stakes were a little lower back in the mid ’90s. I studied like mad, hyper-focused on grades, and stopped taking some of the classes I most enjoyed because earning an A in them lowered my weighted GPA. (How freaking SAD is it that weighted GPAs work like that??) I just want to hug Ariel and gently suggest to his parents that he might benefit from therapy, because his narrative felt like an anxiety disorder to me.

Writing and Publishing

MAMMOTH is being published!

Okay, so where were we? I took a little break to deal with Hurricane Irma cleanup (almost five months later, we’re still working on getting our roof replaced) and other life stuff. I’m still processing a lot of anxiety-related stuff (hurricanes and anxiety disorders are a fantastic combination), I’m catching up on a ton of reading, I finished a new rough draft during NaNoWriMo last November, and last week I helped one of my best friends move from Georgia to south Florida.

IMG_7240I’ve also been sitting on some super-exciting news, and now that the announcements have run in Publishers Weekly and Publishers Marketplace, I can finally share: my next novel, MAMMOTH, will be published in fall 2018 by Turner Publishing!

This book is so dear to my heart, and I’m so ridiculously anxious (in a GOOD way) to launch it out there into the world. MAMMOTH is a body-positive, science-geeky story about being true to yourself and letting your talents and ambitions shine.

IMG_7092Most of the book is set at an Ice Age dig site; to get the paleontology angle as accurate as possible, I trained at the Waco Mammoth National Monument and learned to dig and prospect for fossils. I also interviewed paleontologists, toured a bone lab, practiced screen picking, and spent a particularly spectacular morning hanging out with a pair of elephants at Cameron Park Zoo. (Thank you FOREVER to my bestie Dava Butler, who works at Waco Mammoth, for making all that possible!)

IMG_7276I wrote MAMMOTH in 2014. As I explained in an earlier post, my agent at the time didn’t connect strongly enough with it, and we parted ways in 2015. Finding new representation took some time, but Eric Smith of P.S. Literary was worth the wait. He began pitching MAMMOTH in May 2017, and after a few other close calls, we accepted an offer from Turner in December. You can read Eric’s post about MAMMOTH’S deal here.

I’m so jazzed to work with Turner, and so excited to share updates as MAMMOTH’S publication date approaches. Watch this space, my vintage velociraptors (as MAMMOTH’S Natalie would say) — there’s so much more to come. ❤

Reading

The Enormous Egg

I’ve been sorting through a lot of long-buried possessions, and I recently came across this book about a boy who finds and hatches a mysterious egg (SPOILER ALERT IT’S A DINOSAUR EGG YEEAAAHHHH!!!):

The Enormous Egg
That chicken is not having any of this.

I was six or seven when I got this. I remember being intimidated because although it looked like other chapter books, the print inside was so much smaller than I was used to — but I loved dinosaurs, so I jumped in. Years before I read Jurassic Park, I encountered my very first fictional paleontologist, Dr. Ziemer:

Dr. Ziemer

The Enormous Egg was originally published in the 1950s, and some elements of the story haven’t aged that well, but I’m still fond of it as a product of its time, and I still adore the illustrations. And I still want an Uncle Beazley of my own:

Baby Beazley
COME ON THO HOW ADORABLE IS THAT AND CAN IT BE LITTERBOX TRAINED

I’m not someone who normally has a lot of maternal instincts, but show me a teeny baby triceratops and suddenly I’m all:

TarzanMother

Of course, large dinosaurs don’t make particularly good pets.

Big Beazley
THAT SIDE-EYE. THAT SQUISH.

So, I mean… I guess that dream’s ruined. Still, as a kid, I always hoped I’d stumble across a mysterious egg, just like Nate did.

(Okay, I admit it. To this day, I still kind of wish that could happen.)