Highlights of 2016 reading

Thanks to audiobooks, I read 144 books in 2016. (If you look at that list, some are still in progress—the problem with relying on the library; when I can’t finish an audiobook in the rental period, I have to wait months on hold for it to come back to me again. I’ve been waiting for The Passion of Dolssa to come back for something like 3 months.)

OBVIOUSLY, this list doesn’t include the books I’ve edited. OBVIOUSLY, you should read all my books! Check out the sidebar under Books I Edited, or go here for more info on Tu Books.

In more than a year of my outside-of-work reading being mostly on audio, I’ve found that audiobooks have an even worse diversity problem than print books. I’m not surprised by this; most of the books I publish haven’t gotten audio versions made, and that’s likely similar to the audiobook market as a whole. So my outside-of-work reading isn’t as diverse as I’d like it to be, but I’ve been able to read a lot more than I would have otherwise, given my aversion to reading finished books outside of work lately. (I work such long hours that I need a change-up when I’m off—I was reading maybe five books outside of work before picking up audiobooks.)

Here are some highlights, in no particular order, of my reading in 2016:

The Girl from Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

Adventure, magic, and traveling to alternate worlds and timelines. So much fun. Looking forward to the sequel this year.


The Thursday Next series by Jasper Fforde

Clever, funny, and just what I needed to escape in November…

The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

The last volume in the Tiffany Aching series, and Pratchett’s last book. It moved me. Pratchett had an ability to make you laugh at human foibles and poignantly appreciate the death of a character—and the author!—in such a unique way. This is a series I’ll return to again and again in the future, I think.

Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee

Historical fiction, set in San Francisco, 1906. If you don’t know why that’s significant, you need to read the book even more. Beautiful.

I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

Listening to this hybrid book on audio made me not even realize what I was missing in the print version–a comic-with-the-book! But Mary Robinette Kowal’s narration created an audio experience of the comic parts that translated well from the page—I knew from the change in narration that it was was a story-within-a-story, and it all came together perfectly.

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle

One of the few audiobooks in which the narration by the author enhances the book rather than detracts from it. Few authors have a good reading voice, I’m sorry to say. (Few audiobook narrators are good in general, honestly.) So this excellent story was made even better via Tim Federle’s voice.


Burn Baby Burn by Meg Medina

Speaking of excellent narrators, this narrator sounded like she was a Latina from Queens. That made this fascinating story about a teen girl in Queens just trying to make ends meet while worried about the Son of Sam murders even more fascinating. And man, I felt for Nora in her worries about her brother.

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz

I didn’t realize till MONTHS later that this was narrated by Lin Manuel Miranda. And it didn’t stand out to me because his voice was seamlessly Aristotle’s. A beautiful book with top-notch narration.


My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows

This book is HILARIOUS, especially if you know the real history of Lady Jane Grey. And the audiobook’s narrator REALLY gets this book. She’s great at all the accents, and growls and emotes and simpers and everything perfectly.

Starflight by Melissa Landers

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen some good space SF in YA. This was an enjoyable read.








General update

I always swore I wouldn’t be one of those people who let my blog languish while I moved on to other things, but here I am, blogging after more than a year, realizing once again that I’m paying for hosting and everything and not even updating once since I paid so much for hosting the last time!

I am very active on Twitter, somewhat active on Tumblr, very active on Facebook, but as we’ve learned again and again, without being active on your own site, it’s easy to lose the content you work so hard to create. (Links to social media on the sidebar, if you’re not already following me there.)

I do blog about once a month at the Lee & Low blog, so I encourage you to look for my posts there. But mostly my writing here has languished just as my writing in my journal and for creative purposes have languished, because social media is so much better at the social part, and because I work so much on other people’s books that sometimes I forget to write for myself.

It’s been a tough year so far, with the election and so many other things. But it’s a great time right now, too, with the Olympics—so many stories of hope coming out of the Olympics right now. I can only hope that we’ll see the same kind of hope in other facets of life.


Korea trip post on Lee & Low blog

Buddha's birthday

I completely forgot to post here that I wrote all about my trip to Korea (which happened in May) over at the Lee & Low blog a few weeks ago. I keep meaning to post pictures from it—which will end up going on my Tumblr, I think—but if you missed the link a few weeks back on other social media, check out the post here. Basically, I went to visit a friend in Seoul and then traveled around the country from there. It was a blast. If you want to see more pictures as i post them from time to time on Tumblr, follow my blog over there (which I post at more often, because it’s easier to quickly share interesting things as I find them online and throw them into a queue).

Change of title

You might notice some changes happening in my bio below my posts, on my About Me page, and on my social media sites. I’ve already mentioned it on Facebook, but I thought I’d better note it here, as well. For the last three years, I’ve been editorial director of Tu Books, focusing on the editorial side. Now my responsibilities have expanded to include marketing and sales, and so my title has changed to publisher to reflect that change in duties.

What this means for writers: I won’t have as much time to accept new submissions, so from time to time our submissions guidelines will reflect that we’ve closed to unagented submissions. We did this over the holidays, and haven’t yet reopened those submissions; I need time to catch up on what we’ve already received, including a nice large number of New Visions Award submissions. So keep writing, and watch for when we open for submissions periodically. This will allow me to concentrate my editorial time on the books we’ve already contracted, with concentrated windows during which I’ll seek new voices.

While this is a big change for me, for the purpose of writers things shouldn’t change too much.

Tech decisions

I had an 80gb Ipod Classic, which lasted me at least 5 years, maybe six. I think I bought it in 06 or 07. It died earlier this year and I’ve been trying to make do with my phone. I have a great phone. I love it. I’m not going to buy the Iphone 5 because I have everything I need on the phone… except Itunes. Pretty much everything is covered on my Android (Galaxy Nexus) but a good music management + podcast app in one, and I want to be able to watch the videos I have bought on Itunes, too. (I have unlimited data, so most of what I watch on my phone—at lunch, for example, or while out walking to/from the train—is streamed on Hulu or Netflix, but you can’t stream underground on the subway, and you can’t read on the subway ALL the time; not to mention Doctor Who doesn’t stream current episodes here in the States, at least.) I can’t figure out how to make any of the Android podcasting apps work right for my podcast playlists (I make playlists of Talk to Me in Korean lessons, for example, that I want to listen to in order); Google Music can’t seem to figure out that no, the order is NOT Lesson 1, Lesson 10, Lesson 11, Lesson 12, … Lesson 2, Lesson 20… No app that promises to import well from Itunes has done it right, and I’ve tried several. It’s all a big headache.

So my plan is to go back to what was working: my phone for everything but music and the occasional offline video or game.

Which leads us to the choices:

  • 160 gb classic—will hold everything, but tiny video screen for porting around the few offline videos I want (Doctor Who and a few old anime series), being able to watch video on the subway. This is pretty much what I used my old dead Ipod for, except it was 80gb. Nice room to grow for new music, and more. I liked the clickwheel for a few old-fashioned games, too.
  • Ipod Touch. Don’t ever plan to get an iphone, but I wouldn’t mind a Touch as a secondary device. Biggest possible size is only 64 gb, though, which is part of the problem with my phone (it’s like a more expensive version of a shuffle, which is silly), but at least I could move all the music there, and everything else would stay on my phone. More expensive for less storage space, but a nice big screen for an ipod (but as a phone/streaming device/most apps I use, my Galaxy still has Iphone beat). I wouldn’t mind trying out the camera, too–from what I can tell, it does seem to have better optics than my cell phone camera (though either would just be for snapshots; I use my SLR for important pictures, but I don’t carry my SLR around with me—the dang thing is too heavy for everyday use).
  • Buy an older Ipod off e-bay or whatever for cheap. Who cares about screen size if you can get the same thing you’ve been wanting your poor dead ipod to do for months, and not finding a good alternative in what you’ve got on hand? (Though I note that someone thinks they can get $268 out of me for a Classic that only costs $249 brand new on Apple’s site).

If you were me—and by that, I mean relatively poor, have no need to changes phones (just upgraded to my current phone in April), had my usage patterns, etc.; I truly mean if you were me, not if you with your own set of circumstances were in a position to have these choices, if that makes sense—which would you choose?

I’m leaning toward the Touch, but that feels super extravagant when I already have a phone that does most of what the Touch does. The only real advantage to it is the screen size, and how often would I use it?

There is ONE more option, I suppose, which might work, as far as having portable Itunes, but it’s an option I wouldn’t be able to afford for a while: an Ipad. It’s certainly an idea I’ve toyed with, but it’s also the least portable of the options (I can’t clip it to my waist and go for a bike ride, which I always did with my ipod), and the most expensive.

So… you’re now in my shoes. What would be your vote?


Because you know you want to see kitten pictures

Long weekend ahead! I’m really looking forward to enjoying the freedom that I’ve inherited (remembering those who died in the Armed Services) by putting some final touches on my not-so-new-anymore apartment, like hanging pictures on the walls and getting that last set of curtains up. I should probably put the AC in as well. And finally see all those movies I’ve been meaning to see, like Avengers and Hunger Games. And all those manuscripts I’ve been meaning to read but haven’t gotten to yet. Not to mention published books.

I’m starting to exhaust myself just planning the weekend.

I also need to give the house a thorough spring cleaning because I’ve been fostering a kitten.Not that he’s gone yet—he still needs to find a home—but having three cats in this house is making the place stink, even when I’m vigilant. I’m sure there are things I can do to streamline the cleaning process while he’s here, but it’s going to mean some organizing over the long weekend.

At any rate, it occurred to me that I haven’t posted anything about this here, and that I should, just in case anyone is out there ready to give this little guy a forever home (and I’ll probably do the adoption through a local pet rescue just to be sure, perhaps Kitty Kind, to be sure the home he goes to is committed to him). Three cats is okay for temporary measures, but it’s just too much for this little apartment long term. Cute as the little guy is, I can’t commit to him  long-term—it’s not fair to the two I already have, and he needs someone who can.

Here’s the info I’m giving to the rescues as I try to figure out how to list him so that potential owners can find him (Petfinder doesn’t do classifieds anymore and Craigslist feels kind of sketchy for pets, but I could be wrong):

Name: Harlem (because that’s where he was found)

Age: 10-12 weeks

Found: at 7 or 8 weeks in a laundromat at 149th and Broadway in Harlem, where he was dirty and starving, probably abandoned by a human because he didn’t have fleas or other signs of having been on the streets all his life, though he did have a distended belly; he hadn’t eaten for long enough that it took him 3 days to poop after being given appropriate food and water. He is now healthy and happy after a vet visit in which he was tested and came out FeLV/FIV/Heartworm negative, and after antibiotics for his cold and some deworming.

Personality: Lively and hilarious, kind of mischievous! He loves to cuddle–though not when romping about the house, of course. He loves to dash from hiding place to hiding place so you can’t catch him, but he’ll come out for his favorite toy, the ball that runs around in a track. He’s just at that kitten age where he’s discovering all the things he can do, like jump high, which makes tossing him toys and playing with feathers on a stick a lot of fun, but also means that he can now get on kitchen counters. He’s pretty friendly with my two older cats (both 6 years old), though right now he’s teething, which means he needs some patience and some good chewy cat toys for his need to chew/bite when playing. It took him a little time to warm up and want to play with us–at first he just wanted to cuddle, probably because he was sick. But now that he’s gotten all the food and medicine he needs, he’s just a sweet, lovey baby cat who acts like most kittens–mischievous, hilarious, cuddly, and occasionally needing some patience and guidance.

Harlem when he came here to live 3 weeks ago

(sorry, these aren’t the best shots–they’re just cell phone shots in low light)

And how he’s grown in only three weeks!


And just in case you didn’t see me post it last night, check out the cover for one of our fall titles, Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall:


Get yer k-dramas here!

I’ve been meaning to post Korean TV (K-drama) recommendations for a while, but I haven’t quite gotten around to it. Recently, my new-ish Korean friends here in New York moved upstate and made some new friends who were looking for k-drama recommendations. My friends don’t watch much TV themselves, so I had the chance to finally make a list of some of my favorites, which of course makes a great seed for a blog post!

But I’m going to do something different. Instead of making yet another list with links, I’m going to make a Pinterest board, so I can keep adding to it when I find a new show to recommend. I’ve also started collecting some of my booklists tag into Pinterest lists, in case it’s easier for you to follow those there. Here’s my main Pinterest profile, and from there you can follow what interests you.

I watch K-dramas at both hulu.com and dramafever.com. I prefer to give you links to DramaFever, because it’s free there (some can only be seen on Hulu if you pay for Hulu Plus; I do because then I can watch them on my phone and Xbox). But Hulu is easier to pin—there is no easy image to grab on the show’s main page on DramaFever, for some reason. So, the dilemma is: pin DramaFever without an easy-t0-grab image, pin Hulu with the image but a link that not everyone can watch at, or both? I think both, for now.

The premium membership at DramaFever can be a good deal, by the way, because they are commercial-free—which Hulu isn’t, which makes no sense; if you’re paying for it, you ought to be able to watch commercial-free. Though DramaFever did just raise their rates, which means that it’s not quite such a good deal. (Last year it was only something like $49 a year, which breaks down to less than $5 per month. I think it doubled this year, but still, if you watch a lot of K-dramas, it’s worth it to be able to watch commercial free.)

At any rate, follow the links over on Pinterest for more K-dramas! And if Pinterest is not your thing, don’t worry–you don’t have to be a member to use the lists as a resource.

Simmons alums unite!

In celebration of my Simmons classmate Anna Staniszewski’s new book release, I thought perhaps we could make a list of children’s and young adult books by Simmons College children’s lit program alumnae. (The women’s college is open to guys in the grad programs, but I think most of the alums who have been published are women. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.)

I only know of a few, but I bet my Simmons friends out there can add to this list!

Anna Staniszewski, My Very UnFairy Tale Life

Kristin Cashore, Graceling, Fire, and the forthcoming Bitterblue

Jo Knowles, Lessons from a Dead Girl, Jumping off Swings, and Pearl

Karsten Knight, Wildefire

Juana Dehesa, Pink Doll (Mexico)


Who else? And make sure to congratulate Anna on her book’s publication!

Hunkering down for the hurricane

To catch you up, I was on vacation last week (went camping with a group of teen girls from church, got rained on a lot), we had an earthquake earlier this week, and this weekend we’re expecting a hurricane. So as you can imagine, between those things I’ve been mostly just working away at my spring 2012 books, getting them ready for copyediting, and working toward acquiring the next seasons.

I’ve had a number of friends and family ask if I’ll be in the path of the hurricane and whether I’ll be all right (hi, Mom!), so I figured posting here, which propagates to Facebook, Twitter, and LJ, should kill several birds with one stone. Short version: I’m good.

Long version:

I live in Inwood, a neighborhood far to the north on the island of Manhattan. I live on a hill, and on the 5th floor of my building. Not the highest hill, and not a high enough floor to be worried about exponentially high winds (you have to be above the 10th floor for the worst of it), so I’m pretty confident that if the hurricane is only a Category 1 by the time it hits us, as predicted, that I’ll be fine. Just pray that it loses intensity as it comes north, right?

I’m in Evacuation Zone C—and just at the border of it, really–so that means that I won’t be evacuated unless the hurricane is at least a Category 3. They’ve evacuated Zone A, which is the low-lying areas in lower Manhattan and Long Island, but so far they’re not expecting much else besides high winds, flooding, and lots of rain in the rest of New York City. I’m keeping my eye on the news, though, just in case. But the news also likes to scaremonger, so don’t believe half of what they say. There are plenty of evacuation centers that will be safe to be at, in the worst case scenario—which I don’t anticipate.

I live on the lee side of the building, so I think I’ll be fine wind-wise, too, but if all goes to heck, I’m keeping a bag by the door along with the cat carrier, which honestly I don’t think I’ll need, but better safe than sorry.

And my apartment has a nice feature of a long windowless hallway at the front door, so if I need to shelter from a broken window or something like that, I have a place to hide. A smelly place—that’s where the litter box is!—but smelly is better than cold and wet (worst case scenario).

But that’s all worst-case-scenario. What I’m really expecting is a weekend in watching TV and movies in the midst of a bad thunderstorm/windstorm during which I’m not going to want to leave the house, which aside from the rain is not all that different from most weekends for me. I’ve baked some cookies, I have a nice stock of Fruit Roll-ups and granola bars if both the gas and the electricity are disrupted, I have 4 gallons of drinking water set aside (which I’ve been doing regularly anyway due to the frustration of my neighborhood in the summer, when all the hydrants are opened for literally weeks to months on end and I am likely to lose water for days at a time at any moment), and I’m going to wash the tub and fill it in the morning in the case of needing that water for flushing. Tomorrow’s project involves making onigiri (Japanese rice balls) as well, which are great for picnics, so they’d be great for hunkering down from a hurricane, too. And I have plans tomorrow to cook up the ingredients for curry which have been sitting around almost too long, as well, because what else am I going to spend the day doing? Though I’m worried about the potatoes being rotten and I just threw out the carrots, so I might make a quick trip to the corner grocery in the morning–where I might grab another gallon of water just in case, if they’re not completely out the way that Target was earlier tonight.

It’s also incentive to get the camera out to take pictures of everything I own, just in case–I got an email from my renter’s insurance telling me this was a good idea, and it’s a good idea whether or not something bad happens during the hurricane, so it’s a project I can take up. And believe me, if there’s anything I have plenty of it’s books, so I will certainly not get bored if the power goes out as long as I have a light source.

Church services for my church have been cancelled all over NYC, which is a relief that they’re not asking anyone to figure out how to get to church without public transportation in the middle of a gale.

So, I’m just going to relax—or try to—and entertain myself for a while, maybe do some laundry in the morning so I don’t have to worry about it during the storm (which isn’t supposed to hit us until Sunday), and not plan to go anywhere. But if I do have to go somewhere, there are places in my neighborhood set up for evacuations (schools, etc.). The only thing that worries me a tiny bit is the worst-worst-worst case scenario of needing to get off the island, since I don’t have a car and the trains/buses will be shut down at noon tomorrow. But I really don’t think it’ll come to that, so don’t worry about me!

Adding another language to my pitiful repertoire

I post four times in one week, and then I disappear for a week [ETA: whoops, I guess it was two weeks]. Yep, I’m like that. And next week I’m disappearing again, this time not just online but IRL: I’m heading off for a camping trip. I’m looking forward to getting out of the city.

So what’s been happening, everyone? As for me, as any of you who are on Facebook know—because FB is really good about getting the word out about birthdays!—it was my birthday this last weekend. Friday was a Summer Friday for me, as well, so I had a nice long, relaxing weekend involving bike riding along the Hudson River, eating Korean food with friends, watching Cowboys and Aliens, and learning Korean.

That last one: Yep. I’ve been putting off actually learning it for over a decade. I first had an interest back in the late 90s when I roomed with two Korean girls in succession, who were both here to learn English before going to college. Hyun Mi was a culinary arts major who was always bringing us home desserts from school but who never cooked at home. “Cereal,” she’d say, “is the food of the gods.”

We hung out a lot with the Korean student community in Provo back then, and I tended to only get half the conversations because, of course, the other half were in Korean. So I’ve wanted to learn it ever since, but assumed that learning it would be way too hard for me, who didn’t do well even in German and whose grasp of Spanish still involves more understanding than an ability to form coherent sentences.

But with all these Korean TV shows I’ve been watching lately, I’ve decided it’s time to actually do more than mean to get to it someday. And you’d be surprised how much you can pick up when you’re reading subtitles and start to notice repetitions in what you’re hearing. Usually of the melodramatic variety, of course—sorry, I love you, please forgive me, those sorts of phrases and words.

So I bought a very basic book and CD set that teaches some very 101 Korean, and after a week of working on it, I’m already able to start reading a few names in Hangeul (Korean writing)! I can recognize the letters that form the syllables kim, seung, jeon, and a few others. I can now not only say hello (which is the only thing I’ve remembered all these years) but also goodbye and have finally figured out why sometimes Koreans say “annyeong” and sometimes they say “annyeonghaseo.” (The first is informal and only happens with friends and others close to you, the other is the polite way to say hello to strangers/those of higher stature/elders.)

Hey, it’s a start! I’m having fun.

And I can practice a little at lunchtime—I work not far from Koreatown, where I often eat lunch, so it’ll be fun to eventually be able to parse out the signs in Hangeul.

And who knows? Maybe next year I might top off this latest kick with a trip to Korea.