For the Love of Books: How to Give Thanks When You’ve Burned Out

With Thanksgiving only days away, I’ve been thinking about what I’m most thankful for when it comes to my professional life. I have some awesome coworkers, a list of super talented authors, and I get to work on books every day. So in some ways, that list of “thankful” items is a mile long.

But as everyone in the book business knows, ours is an industry of exhilarating highs and devastating lows. It’s an industry of two steps forward and one step back. It’s an industry where every yes seems to come with a no.

The reality is, publishing is not for the faint of heart. The success of any book is based on the ability to merge business with art, consumerism with creativity. It’s a difficult balance to strike. On top of that, rejection follows us at every stage of the publishing process. Authors are rejected by agents. Agents are rejected by editors. Editors are rejected by pub boards. And all of us know the pain of putting an amazing book out into the world—one we all poured our hearts and souls into—and watching that book be rejected by readers.

It can be hard to push past the setbacks and the rejection and the self-doubt. It can be even harder to admit to ourselves that while we may be in our dream industry, we don’t always feel like we’re living the dream.

Look—I love what I do, and I’m so lucky I get to do it. I could happily edit books until the end of the world, but there are some days when this job feels like work…like 60 hours a week, dream about it in your sleep, can’t ever get to the bottom of that to-do list work.

And yet, like almost every other author, agent, and editor I know, I’m likely to put every spare moment of my free time into my job because I am passionate about books. We all work hard, we all burn out, and we all keep going, even when it physically hurts to look at another word.

That’s where I’ve been lately. At the burned out but gotta keep burning ’cause the fire can’t go out stage. But as I sat down to think about what I was thankful for, I realized I’m in this business for three really important reasons.

First, I love books. In one way or another, books have shaped me into the person I am today. I can trace my formative moments to stories or authors who made me dream. I was a reader first and foremost before I ever even thought of being a writer or an editor. That love of the written word can’t die—it can’t go away. It has been part of me since I read that first life-altering book.

Second, I want to share art with the world. So few people get the opportunity to help someone else share their story, and I get the honor of doing just that. I get to help people deliver beauty and humor to readers, to connect with them through shared grief and fledgling hope. I get to work on incredible books with incredible artists and be a part of that journey every day.

And third, I know that stories can change lives, mindsets, and, little by little, the world. We can come away from each book as a different person than we were when we first picked it up. We can learn about the human experience on every single page, and have a chance to grow and learn and improve by interacting with a work of art. How could I ask for more than that?

So even though there are days when I’m tired or frustrated or even a little bit heartbroken, there is so very much to be thankful for in this crazy world of publishing.

Your Bookish Fall Wardrobe

The leaves are already starting to turn in my neck of the woods, so (after bemoaning the loss of summer) I opted to browse this season’s literary outfits.

Below you’ll find some of the best wardrobe pieces for your inner word nerd, and I’ve put a * next to the companies that are associated with book-related charities or literacy organizations. What better way to shop than that? Continue reading

Not Your Average Jane: 7 Ways “Jane the Virgin” Nails Storytelling

*Includes some spoilers*

I spend most of my day evaluating the merits of a story. Are the characters experiencing enough change, does the plot move at the right pace, does the key conflict cause too little tension…that kind of thing. This means that sometimes, when I’m relaxing with a TV show, I find myself looking for those elements running through each episode. And when I found Jane the Virgin, I found the show my storytelling heart had been looking for.

I am late to the Jane the Virgin party, but I have now joined in and cannot rave enough about it. Why, you ask? If the idea of a humorous, poignant, and totally self-aware spin on a telenovela doesn’t appeal to you, well, you should reevaluate your outlook on life. Rarely do I fall in love with a show so quickly or deeply as I have with Jane the Virgin, which has made me laugh and cry and scream…sometimes all in one episode. And, while there are so many things this show does well, I chose the seven things I love best about its storytelling. Because what the writers and cast of Jane the Virgin have done best is tell a remarkable story. Continue reading

Favorite Books of 2017…So Far

As we are now a little over midway through the year, I thought it was about time I made a list of my favorite books I’ve read in 2017 so far. There are, of course, some important caveats:

  • Not all of these came out in 2017. Some came out a while ago and I am just behind on my TBR pile! *Shame*
  • There are seven books on this list, but they are listed in alphabetical order and not ranked order. Choosing favorites of the favorites is too hard!
  • None of these are books I have edited, since obviously I love my babies the most.
  • And finally, these are all YA novels because, well, I’m a YA editor. (And Peter Pan. Who needs grown-up books? Okay, maybe grown-ups.)

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins Continue reading

I Want a Book Heroine Like Wonder Woman

I watched the new Wonder Woman movie a few weekends ago and fell completely in love. Not just with Chris Pine (our love story began long ago), but with Wonder Woman herself and what she means as a heroine. Gal Gadot plays a character who is filled with optimism, strength, and kindness, without ever seeming cheesy or “too perfect.” In fact, some of Diana’s flaws are her best characteristics, and only serve to make us love and relate to her more. I love her so much that I’ve found myself scrolling through my submissions desperately seeking the next Diana Prince. So, with *some* spoilers, I will try to put into words why I want a book heroine like Wonder Woman.

(P.S. If you have a character like this, have your people call my people.)

(P.P.S Yes, I know the amazing Leigh Bardugo is publishing a Wonder Woman YA novel. Wonder Woman: Warbringer!!!!!! I have obviously already preordered it and routinely stalk her social media for updates. You should do the same, because preordering and social media stalking are cool.)

(P.P.P.S. Also, please consider this list of other mega-awesome novels that can help cure your Wonder Woman hangover. But now, let’s get back to the post.) Continue reading

5 YA Authors Whose Writing Inspires

As an editor, reader, and writer, I deal with a lot of words on a daily basis. To quote Friends (as we all should), sometimes my life feels like this:

Dr. Franzblau: I try not to let my work affect my personal life, but it’s hard, when you… do what I do. It’s like uh…Well, for instance, what do you do?

Rachel: I’m a waitress.

Dr. Franzblau: Ok, all right, well aren’t there times when you come home at the end of the day, and you’re just like, “if I see one more cup of coffee…”

(Bonus points to anyone who can name that episode.)

Sometimes I am just sick and tired of WORDS, especially the boring, ugly, or hateful ones that may surround us in everyday life. And yet, my livelihood and my favorite pastime both depend on letters on a page. So when I’m feeling uninspired as an editor, reader, writer, or even as a human being, I turn to some of my favorite authors, authors who I know will bring back the wonder of the English language to my word-weary mind. Below are five of the authors who inspire me to keep doing what I do, even when it means upping my eyeglass prescription to stare at yet more words. Continue reading

Your Bookish Shopping Guide

Holiday gift cards burning a hole in your pocket? Already bought as many books as your shelves can hold? (That’s okay…buy more books!) Check out 7 of my favorite bookish shops and sites for your closet, home, and office.

1. Litographs

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Get the text of your favorite book on all kinds of amazing swag. And I mean a lot of text…up to 40,000 words…and a lot of swag…shirts, scarves, tote bags, posters, and more. (So, you know, if you’re stranded on a desert island you’ll have your book and your clothes.) I’m the proud owner of a Pride and Prejudice scarf, a Throne of Glass T-shirt, and a super cool Secret Garden poster. Continue reading

Thanksreading: 2016

At my house, before Thanksgiving dinner we all go around the table and say what we’re thankful for. Health, happiness, friends, family, food…the list goes on. Given the turmoil of the past few weeks, I wanted to do a post on all the things I’m thankful for in the literary world. I’m bad with titles and good with portmanteaus, so let’s just call this Thanksreading.

  • First, I’m obviously thankful for J.K. Rowling because she is an international treasure. And a genius, because she said she wouldn’t write any more Harry Potter books and yet I bought two new ones this year. Hmm…

Continue reading