writing

See You in June!

Wow – April absolutely flew by! In general, I think this year is flying by. So many books, so little time!

Which brings me to today’s post. I’ve decided to put BiblioSmiles on a hiatus for the next month so I can focus on working on the second draft of my YA novel. Between working a full-time job and maintaining a blog (while also still trying to have a social life), I’ve let the project that’s most important to me fall by the wayside.

I encourage you to stick with BiblioSmiles for more great content starting in June, and I urge you to consider submitting a piece of your own! Whether you want to share a book review, an Anatomy of a Bookshelf post, or a personal essay, I’d love to have you on the team! I will be checking email at bibliosmiles@gmail.com during the month, so feel free to drop me a line.

Thank you for reading along and understanding as I take this time to write. And hey – did you know that there have been about forty contributors on BiblioSmiles so far? That means there’s a heck of a lot of posts that you can go back and read! Visit the About page and click on a contributor to read their posts. Or why not try a category like Personal Essays, Interviews, or The Reading Life?

I will also still be sharing posts on the BiblioSmiles Instagram here.

Happy reading, everyone!  See you in June!

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles, and she is really glad you’re here. Learn more on the About page.  Tweet @daniellevillano.

 

My First Novel: Steady is the Fall

[Editor’s Note: Readers! I’m so excited to share that Emily, a BiblioSmiles contributor and a fellow Purchase creative writing alum, has a novel coming out on October 29th from Black Rose Writing! She’s here to talk about her experience. I’ll be sharing my review of her novel closer to the release date, so keep watch!]

Steady Is The Fall Cover You never know which will be the one. The thing which takes all those whens and maybes and transforms them into something tangible. Something outside of your dear and tender imagination. Over the last nineteen years I began writing dozens of novels and completed three of them before beginning the one. The first to be published. The first to change everything.

I began writing when I was very small. I don’t know a life without stories. I wouldn’t want to really. I treated each book I wrote carefully. They were all different genres with different virtues and flaws, but the only really difference between them was the evolution in quality with the passage of time. Stories from a child. Stories from a teenager. Stories from a writer.

The book which will be published this year is called Steady is the Fall and while I may not have known at the time that it would be the one, I do remember the start of it. I wrote a majority of the first draft in a small three-person room in college with no air conditioning. It was on the first floor and bigger than most rooms, though the building itself was nothing remarkable. I had always dreamed of going somewhere with historic stone buildings and breathtaking architecture, but that never happened. Instead I attended a small, strange, beautiful college at the edge of New York state. It was there that I wrote most of this book, first in the hot first floor room and the following year in a third story paradise in one of the newest buildings. Private bathroom. Real light fixtures. Air conditioning. Beautiful view of the forest right outside my window.

It was in this room where I read The Bell Jar and Ordinary People, two books which made me realize that my own novel did have a place after all. It is hard to get people to read bleak literary fiction, let alone want to bother with the money to buy it. I’m not saying that I’m Sylvia Plath or Judith Guest. I would never dream it. Their books did, however, prove that it is possible and that devastating, beautiful tales could stand against the brutality of time. They could be heard and treasured and matter in a world which thrives on flashiness and high-octane thrill rides.

Steady is the Fall will always be important to me, not just because it will be “my first” but because it was the book which bridged childhood and adulthood for me. When I started writing it I possessed all the naivety and insecurities of a teenager. Of course those attributes haven’t just disappeared, but so much has changed. Evolved. To undergo such a transformation during the course of one novel is a unique thing and for that I will always look at this story as the one which grew me up.

You never now which will be the one and I hope, as all writers hope, that this book will be worthy of such a landmark. Such a title. Such a truth.

It is the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another.

[Add Steady is the Fall on Goodreads here!]

Emily Ruth Verona is the author of the novel Steady Is The Fall. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Cinema Studies from The State University of New York at Purchase. She is a recipient of the Pinch Literary Award in Fiction, a Jane Austen Short Story Award Finalist, and Luke Bitmead Bursary Finalist. In 2015 she was shortlisted for the Galtelli Literary Prize. Her work has been featured in The Pinch Literary Journal, The Lost Country, The Toast, and Indigo Rising. She lives in New Jersey with a very small dog.

What I Learned from Chicken Scratch

Young writers may think their truest work is far beyond them, and that’s after they’ve convinced themselves that, yes, they are in fact writers. So begins the self-deprecating yet excessively vainglorious task of finding one’s voice in art. Much runs through the mind in this creative savagery. We look back to understand what started this whole mess, and in doing so try to show resolve because we think it sincere. We proclaim to no one in particular that literature has changed our lives, and that we’ve grown sensitive to the unspoken, deeply felt rituals surrounding the written word and its creation. We overlook the work we’ve actually accomplished. The practical gets ignored, and how our engagement with those simpler, less poetic things mattered.

Obviously, I’m talking about day planners. Let’s start from the top:  every September, the powers that be would grant fresh planners to the pupils of St. Lucy’s School in the Bronx. I didn’t know where they came from or who paid for them (thanks mom), but there they were, a new batch of spiral-bound beauties to help us remember our homework and extracurricular activities. Their pages of tightly compartmentalized existence made me feel ready for all that was to come. After mushy summers, order was suddenly brought to the universe. I believed I would accomplish anything because I wrote it down in a book.

I thought the kids who neglected their planners were mad. Was maintaining one really that exhausting? I’ll answer that question for all my erstwhile classmates:

No.

Wrestling with blocks of your own chicken scratch wasn’t just a nagging reminder of how much work you hadn’t finished, but a break from doing anything pedagogically applicable until you reached college, where maybe those skills were expected of you by professors for the sake of creativity or time management. Through a planner’s base intent and structure, you get to make shapes and words that not only mirrored your thoughts, but your own way of thinking. Consulting with myself, I devised shorthand to record homework, sketching out different approaches to its completion in patches of terse reportage. After that, a planner was a great invitation to doodle. Empty stretches left by holiday weekends and Christmas break made for prime drawing space, as if the planner was designed, even with all its hard lines and protocol, to subvert utility. Looking back at months of packed directives, awkward musings, and arcane symbols was similar to gazing at a microchip. At a glance, what I wrote within and across the margins made an alien network of information, my squiggled filigree a mystery to the uninitiated, but still seemingly purposeful taken as a whole. Everything was assembled and, somehow, the work got done.

Planners informed some of my first regular writing exercises, encouraging journalistic acumen and creative silliness. They offered an early chance to edit and annotate, my lumpy lists and atlases melding with the reference materials offered in their back pages. It made owning a notebook necessary and writing seem to close to me, even if I didn’t really think I was writing.

At this point I could go on about the social conditioning implicit in my experience with planners. Conditioning children to micro-manage themselves and regiment their production can be seen as some sad strain of Foucaultian self-surveillance. I could write about all these interesting theoretical thoughts in my planner, you know.

Okay, so maybe the planner as social tool would keep me too consumed in the process of production to notice I wouldn’t get to own the stuff I meticulously planned to make, from elementary school onward. That’s writing, isn’t it? In a world where your work is undervalued if not outright ignored in the marketplace, you’re lucky enough if you get to say you own it at the end of the day. But once the year ended and my planner lied stuffed and tattered, it felt like my handiwork. It now wore a year of twitchy expressions and the imprints of my hands. It speaks the way I do. My bad habits and attempts at forming better ones – my life –are made manifest in its lines. Is a scheduled appointment or birthday reminder art? Maybe not, but the commitment of keeping a planner and making yourself known and physical in such a way at least raises the question. Appointments that would end in parting or thoughts that would stay stuck in your head are transposed so you can see them differently, translating the most basic occurrences of your life through an active craft of writing. When unpredictable messages begin to leak from your documented old routines, the primary purpose of planning to do and know, not just preparing to perform either, is revealed.

Book-lovers are sensitive to the physicality of records, knowing that their personal scribbles and footnotes change a copy into their copy. That’s why I chose the Hobonichi Techo as my planner for 2015. Designed by the casually brilliant copywriter and renaissance man Shigesato Itoi, the techo is meant to record thoughts that appear in the “hazy, blank period of time [people] can’t put a name to.” As planners become more than a compendium of tasks, they become what the techo strives to be. This might seem like glib pandering to notebook fetishists, but the techo keeps things understated, flexible, and, honestly, how dare you for doubting Itoi. Taking feedback from users, the techo allots each day its own page of graph paper to customize as they see fit, and is filled with data like a spice and herb visual guide, descriptions of heads-or-tails games from around the world, and a pictograph on how to wash oneself in a ryokan, or traditional Japanese inn. Like any good planner, it provides more info than you usually need, just in case.

“Even as the planners are all the same containers, they have unique shapes as clay formed by hand,” states Itoi in his mission statement for the project. “There will be days when you couldn’t catch a fish, and there will be days you won’t fish. But with 365 days in a year, over time your net will fill with plenty of minnows. Such is the wealth of our thoughts.”

dayplannerItoi’s concept is admirable, yet it still prompts a certain self-awareness that makes me question if I’m interesting enough for a fancy, devil-may-care creative planner. “Am I drawing enough absurd doodles in the margins around my daily tasks?,” I might ask myself as I count the ways I can make my shorthand notes look sloppy-chic in all the right ways. “Surely I could’ve pressed more lilacs between last May’s pages. They’d perfectly frame that romantic poem I wrote on the 24th, right next to my last physical’s bloodwork results.”

Hobonichi’s website displays user-submitted photos of techos, which doesn’t help. How long does it actually take these proud record-keepers to manicure a page? Could they really just slap perfectly framed pictures of their dogs next to sophisticated drawings and still manage to immaculately write all their goals around them? Surely their penmanship isn’t that whimsically rounded all the time? Many might want a perfectly messy life, one that plays hard but looks easy. I’m not sure if my messiness fits the bill.

My concerns are ridiculous, of course, but so are my planner habits. I’m sloppy, but I like to work with the lines I’m given. Any neat partitions separating my ideas are just there to give me comfort and pretend I’m being efficient. Messy, but practical. Just like Benjamin Franklin.

 “Let all your things have their places. Let each part of your business have its time.”

Franklin was supposedly industrious enough to have a planner named after him.  “The morning question: What good shall I do this day?” was a masthead of one of his documented day pages, a pretty noble frame of mind to get you going, especially for a man whose definition of “good” and “getting oneself going” proved quite flexible. Though it seems in his planner he didn’t let himself off the hook. He recorded his transgressions with black dots in an effort to track moral imperatives he set for himself, like “Order” and “Temperance.” Tracking one’s own failures is an interesting premise overshadowed by the can-do associations of the day planner. In conversations of personal achievement and goal-setting, procrastination seems to end as soon as we get in the habit of using one. There only seem to be tasks completed and work that will surely get done once they’re committed to planner stock, which as we all know is made of fairy pulp bound in unicorn floss and magically engineered to guarantee success.

I don’t actively chronicle my failures in my planner, but they’re in there. The repetition of delayed publication dates, news articles meant to be read; all the projects I can’t seem to bring myself to officially put on the backburner. Reminders like that sometimes make my planner look like it belongs to Jack Torrance, but it’s also a plain revelation of how I work in my own words. I didn’t have to overthink or romanticize my process to figure out why or how I write. Within my planner, the story of my stories can be told. No meaning necessary.

Andrew Marinaccio is a Bronx-based journalist with experience in music criticism and tech business reporting. He often scrambles to write things down. Sometimes those things wind upon the Internet.

The Hero Who Wouldn’t Quit: The Story Behind The Vagabond Vicar

Evers-14061-#68-500

Ever since I penned my first multi-page story at the age of six, I knew I wanted to be an author. Always drawn to stories set in the past, I loved authors such as Louisa May Alcott and L.M. Montgomery as a girl, before I discovered Jane Austen as a teenager. I felt destined to pen similar stories of love and self-discovery, set in fascinating eras of history.

Despite writing throughout my younger years, I was in my twenties before I knuckled down to finish a book. After I completed my first full-length historical, I began to write a sequel. Featuring a jilted female minor character from the first book, I planned to have a vicar help her through her process of recovery, and have the two characters fall in love through her healing. The book never went anywhere – the heroine was weak and insipid and I soon lost steam. But the hero, the vicar, remained in the back of my mind.

The-Vagabond-Vicar-Cover-mediumThe next book I wrote was a contemporary, and even through that process the vicar would not leave me alone. His character developed almost against my will. He kept telling me tales of his mercy missions in the seedy parts of London. He told me about how he was given a living in a small village, but that he would much rather be sailing the seas to adventures in exotic lands. I was moved by his compassion, his earnestness, and his heart. I wrote the opening pages of what would become The Vagabond Vicar as a shiny new idea while I was supposed to be focusing on editing and finishing the contemporary. I knew I had to find him a heroine worthy of his affections; one he would not be able to keep away from despite his ambitions.

Cecilia came to me almost fully formed as well. I knew she had to be the bright, shining foil to William’s serious, intense existence. They both dwell in other realities – his focus is on helping the undercurrent of society, while she lives in an imagined world of colour and light. It seemed obvious she would be an artist. She is pulled back down to earth by the need to marry, and her mother’s determination to see her settled within a titled family.

The village of Amberley, where the story takes place, is an amalgamation of many historical settings I have read or seen on television. The village of Cranford is probably what was clearest in my mind as I wrote – the gossipy older ladies, the small tight-knit group of families and the mixing of classes which a small town necessitates. This is also a village hiding secrets and shames, and when a scandal comes to light it leads to a series of events which will change everything. The blossoming affection between our hero and heroine is torn apart and ghosts from the vicar’s past may cause his downfall. I hope you enjoy finding out what happens next.

THE VAGABOND VICAR is now available at your favourite online retailer.

Charlotte Brentwood writes unashamedly romantic books for fans of classic love stories. She enjoys exploring her beautiful surroundings in Auckland, New Zealand almost as much as snuggling her cat while devouring novels. Find out more at www.charlottebrentwood.com.

[Editor’s Note: Many thanks to Charlotte for writing here on BiblioSmiles. It should be mentioned that all contributors retain the rights to their posts; I’m just happy to have the chance to share your work here!]

How’re We Doing? NaNoWriMo 2014

Shield-Nano-Blue-Brown-RGB-HiResNovember has been, at least since 1999, known as National Novel Writing Month. Since that’s a mouthful, you can call it NaNoWriMo for short. Isn’t that just fun to say?

According to the NaNoWriMo website, National Novel Writing Month is “is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.

The website gives you the opportunity to build an author profile, make writing friends, and report your word count each day. For inspiration, you can head to the forums and find all kinds of prompts, challenges, and helpful advice. NaNoWriMo is also a nonprofit organization, and the money raised goes towards inspiring writing programs for adults and children. You can read more about donating here.

Here at BiblioSmiles, we all fancy ourselves writers of one kind or another. Today, I wanted to do a round-up of thoughts on National Novel Writing Month this year.

nanoparticipant

How’re We Doing? NaNoWriMo 2014

Danielle: 

I grappled with the decision to tackle NaNoWriMo this year, with the excuse that I couldn’t possibly start a new novel with my current novel-in-progress looming over my head. But that’s when I realized: the novel-in-progress? It’s looming. And right now, it feels ominous and heavy, a lovable albatross around my neck. I’ve spent so much time thinking about writing it, that I’ve let the actual act of writing fall to the wayside. And that means there has been zero writing in my life, aside from blog posts. And while blogging is cool, I miss telling stories.

So, a few days before November, inspiration struck (in the shower, as it is wont to do). I scribbled down some notes for a story that is so different from my current novel-in-progress, and I was so excited by the prospect of writing it.

And then November 1st rolled around. And I watched a Snooki & JWoww marathon on MTV and did not write a thing.

And finally, on November 3rd, I started a new word document. And I just… wrote.

Now, I don’t know if I’ll reach 50K by the end of November, but it is so nice to be getting back, albeit slowly, into writing. Working that muscle. It’s a beautiful thing.

Gabriele:

This is my fourth year doing NaNoWriMo. It’s amazing – usually writing is such a lonely, solitary effort, but for a month this whole community springs up out of nowhere to cheer each other on.

Even if you think your writing is rubbish, it’s so fantastically fun to get rid of all your inhibitions and just write! No pausing over words. No worrying. Just writing, letting it all out.

Samantha:

Ah, NaNo…I’m pretty sure the only reason I continue to do it is because I love the feeling of defeat. NaNo is tough. I’ve never won, mostly because November seems to be the month of my life where everything likes to hit the fan, but I’ve come close. And it feels good. NaNo for me is a chance to try characters I’ve never met, places I’ve never imagined before. Most of my non-main projects are actually products of NaNoWriMo!

I think that’s what this month is awesome for. It makes us write, get stuff down on paper, without worrying about “is this going anywhere?” Because if December 1st hits, and it doesn’t, then, eh, so? Archive it away and maybe save a few killer one-liners. And if the clock strikes 12:01, and you suddenly find your fingers still moving across that keyboard…then just go with it.

My advice? Aim for the recommended 1667 a day, but if you don’t get it, don’t sweat it. This year I’m trying a new approach. I’m making myself write  a short story instead of a novella, one that I’ve been putting off for a couple years now. I really doubt I’ll hit 50k, but this year it’s not about that for me. It’s a break from my normal elves and magic, all steampunk and Victorian-esque pulp novels with a heavy dose of self-aware writer talk. So it’s a breath of fresh air, a solid goal, and hopefully a product I can be proud of.

And if not? Then at least it got me writing!

Maxine C., a high school senior in Westchester, NY, had this to say about National Novel Writing Month:

NaNoWriMo for me is the best kind of stress. It’s all the reasons I love and hate writing: on the one hand it consumes my every waking moment with frantic rushed lines of trash, and on the other it unites and immerses a vast community of writers. It reminds me of how deep the root of my passion for writing goes–just about everything (homework, sleep, television shows, and even college applications) is sidelined for the sake of NaNoWriMo. It’s telling, tense, engaging, and disciplinary. It’s what makes a writer.

Are you participating in National Novel Writing Month this year? Have you participated in the past? Let us know about your experiences!

[The images used in this post are courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.]

The Uncharted Territory of Crowdfunded Fiction

conversationscoverI have a few dozen metaphors, a handful of similes that all say the same thing: I am a writer. It’s in the bones. The blood. Even as a kid I wanted to be a storyteller, reading as much as I could and observing as much as I could, hoping to one day be good enough to share my own tales.

Twenty years later, I am working to publish CONVERSATIONS: A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES through Inkshares, a publishing model based on the idea of reader-promoted content.

The market for short fiction and the market for novels are very different, and so the idea of crowd-funding the project through a publisher interested me.

With Inkshares, authors raise support for their work by getting the word out, telling friends, family, and social media followers. Maybe even the mailman. Anyone interested in purchasing the book or contributing to its production may do so via a donation.

There is a set funding goal for each project based on length and format. If this goal is reached by the deadline, contributors receive their copy of the book. If the goal is not reached, then all donations are refunded.

If the author is successful in generating enough interest in the work to reach the funding goal, Inkshares steps in as the publisher. They edit, design, produce, and distribute the work like any other book. The project’s initial success is based on reader interest and unflinching determination on the part of the writer.

The deadline for my project is November 26, 2014, and in working to promote the book I’ve explored a variety of different marketing avenues. It’s made me wiser. Bolder.  I can now say with confidence that I am willing to work just as hard to share my fiction as I do to write it in the first place. Do I perhaps dream a little too big? Maybe. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not.

CONVERSATIONS: A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES is a contemporary work of fiction composed of conversations, each of which stands as a separate story. These conversations take many forms, and often lead to very different results, but all of them explore the distinguishing marks of human nature.

If you’d like to check out the project, or even just find out what Inkshares is all about, visit my project’s Inkshares page.

Emily Ruth Verona received her Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and Cinema Studies from The State University of New York at Purchase. She is the recipient of the 2014 Pinch Literary Award in Fiction and a 2014 Jane Austen Short Story Award Finalist. Previous publication credits include work featured in Read. Learn. Write., Fifty Word Stories, The Toast, Popmatters, Bibliosmiles, and Enstars. She lives in New Jersey with a rather small dog. For more, go to: http://www.emilyruthverona.com.

My Book Soul Mate: Unteachable

unteachableWhen I requested Leah Raeder’s Unteachable off of NetGalley, I had quite a few thoughts:

1) “Wow, this cover is really beautiful.”

2) “This will be a nice, quick read after slowly making my way through The Beautiful and the Damned.”

3) “I’m pretty sure I will download any book that features a relationship between a student and a teacher, and I totally do not want to analyze what that means right now.”

What didn’t I think? I didn’t think that I would find, what I am now terming, my book soul mate.

Soul mates are something I’ve often imagined as being purely romantic, until that famous quote from Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love garnered a lot of attention and gave the idea a whole new kind of weight:

“A soul mate’s purpose is to shake you up, tear apart your ego a little bit, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light can get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you have to transform your life, then introduce you to your spiritual master…”

So why do I see Unteachable as my book soul mate? Why has this New Adult title, published by Atria, resonated with me so much?

“You can call it love, or you can call it freefall. They’re pretty much the same thing.”

Maise O’Malley, the newly-eighteen-year-old protagonist of Unteachable, has lived a pretty difficult life. An absent father figure has made her crave male attention (the humor of this is not lost on Maise: “Thanks, Dad, for leaving a huge void in my life that Freud says has to be filled with d*ck.”). An addict mother who can barely take care of herself ensured Maise had to grow up, fast and on her own. Our protagonist is bitingly sarcastic and intelligent, full of sexy confidence and bravado… although as a reader I wanted to know how much of this was truth and how much was a coping mechanism.

When Maise meets and has (well-written, oh-so-steamy) sex with a handsome stranger at a carnival, she finds herself feeling something foreign: Attachment? Attraction? Her fear of these feelings prompts her to run away. She can’t run too far, however; that handsome older stranger, Evan Wilke, is her new high school film teacher.

The chapters that follow detail the undeniable, obsessive attraction between Maise and Evan. Can their relationship be wrong if it started before either one knew of the other’s position? Is love like this true, or is it all based on taboo circumstance? While the romantic relationship is certainly at the forefront of the novel, it’s also a story of personal development. Maise struggles with identity, responsibility, her dreams of being a filmmaker, and her relationships with friends and family.

The protagonist’s humor, her dedication to her art, and her vulnerability make her an incredibly likable character in my eyes. She also seemed familiar to me, and I wasn’t quite sure why. And then I realized.

When I read Maise’s voice, I hear the main character in my own novel-in-progress.

Now, don’t worry: this isn’t some post about stolen ideas or anything like that. Some of the similarities had my head spinning, though: sarcastic narrator, future USC film student, unreliable/absent parental figures….

I was hooked. Aside from being an enjoyable, thought-provoking read in its own right, reading Unteachable was exciting because I was seeing something I wanted to do, something I thought daily about doing, being done well. \

My own main character was poking me in the side as I read, saying, “Look! There are other sarcastic, intelligent girls getting their stories told. When is it my turn?”

I’ve been working on my own novel, which began as a short story for a writing class, about four years ago now. Circumstance and procrastination have kept me from pursuing this writing seriously. Recently I’ve returned to the idea of JUST SITTING DOWN AND WRITING, and it’s scary and exhilarating. Reading a novel like Unteachable, which uses first-person narration with great success, made me realize that the thoughts inside my own character’s head could be interesting and worth a read. Envisioning these supporting characters so fully helped me understand how the little details an author chooses to include can really make a story and its inhabitants come alive. Reading these passages made me appreciate the beauty that can be achieved when humor and poignancy are in perfect balance.

“There are moments, when you’re getting to know someone, when you realize something deep and buried in you is deep and buried in them, too. It feels like meeting a stranger you’ve known your whole life.”

To bring it back to the Gilbert quote about soul mates: I feel like reading Unteachable was the (confusingly pleasant) slap in the face I needed. A shouting “Look! There are books out there that can make you feel so many beautiful things! Now get out there and finish your own, lazybones!”

I read this book hungrily, whenever I found a spare moment. I read it on the subway commute to the office, shifting my eyes to see if anyone was reading over my shoulder when a particularly erotic scene unfolded. I read it on the elliptical at the gym, the prose making my 45-minute workout fly by in an instant. I read it while I was waiting for water to boil for pasta, and while waiting for water to boil for tea, and while waiting for a mud mask to harden on my face. My quick grins at Maise’s sarcastic lines or some devastatingly charming lines by Evan had the mask cracking at the corners like plaster, but I didn’t mind.

And so I will carry Unteachable with me (physically, on my Kindle; emotionally, in my heart) as a reminder that books can be wonderful and addictive and true. So I will sit down when I have spare moments, when I’m waiting for water to boil or when I am commuting on the subway, and I will finish writing my own. And maybe one day, in some fictional universe, my main character and Maise will see each other at a film awards ceremony, and they’ll give each other a little nod of recognition.

So thank you, Leah Raeder, for shaking things up. I’m off to write.

Danielle Villano is the editor of BiblioSmiles, and she is really glad you’re here. Learn more on the About page.  Tweet @daniellevillano.