So I Finally Caved and Got a Tik Tok Account…

I’d been putting it off for months. It’s a time-sucking, highly addictive platform that I knew would probably be more irritating to deal with than it was worth. But I did it anyway – because marketing reasons.

Yep – in any marketing endeavor, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that you’ve got to go where your target demographic is. And for me, as a Young Adult / New Adult author, I know that my readers probably are hanging out on there. So engaging on that platform was a no-brainer, even if learning the controls was slightly clunky at first. But in many ways, it’s not really all that different from Instagram (which I’d like to think I’m pretty well-versed in).

The concept of Tik Tok is fun, because it’s pairing music with trends and ideas that bring people together. I’m not typically a huge fan of taking selfies, but I do that anyway for marketing reasons. If there’s anything I learned from my college marketing classes, it’s that people want to see the human behind the product. Even though I’m selling books, they want to relate to and see who they’re supporting. So if Tik Tok is a way for readers to catch a glimpse into my illustrious life of sitting at my desk blogging, then so be it.

If you want to give me a follow on Tik Tok, I’d surely appreciate it, but by no means do you have to, of course! I just appreciate that you’ve read this far, and care about my stories.

FOLLOW ME ON TIK TOK HERE.

I always try to limit how much of the irritating “buy my book” posts I do, but I have to tell you that my sequel is getting SO CLOSE to being finished! Well, the first draft anyway. If you want to read the first installment of my time-travel coming-of-age bully-ass-kicking snark-story, you can find a copy of Forgetting What I Couldn’t Remember HERE.

“Maybe getting older lets you finally see all sides of the dice – not just the ones that are facing up.”

Vera Bartlet is a soon-to-be college graduate with absolutely no idea how messy her life is about to become. It’s not just the job search looming on the horizon or her lack of a boyfriend that’s got her stomach in knots – rather, her dad has been missing for almost a decade, and no one knows what happened to him.

When Uncle Edgar mysteriously arrives back onto the scene, he comes armed with some interesting new ideas about what may have happened to Vera’s dad – and an even more revolutionary idea of how to find him. With nothing short of bending time and space, Edgar sends Vera back in time in the hopes that she might find the clues they need to get her dad home.

As she sifts through the mangled pieces of reality and her altered memories of middle school drama become jumbled in between truth and fantasy, Vera has to choose which elements of her past should stay in the past, and which she might like to incorporate into her future. Time travel is never simple, and there are always side effects – but in this case, it might just hold the key to finding her dad. Will Vera stay sane long enough to find her dad and make peace with the bullies who made her miserable?

Sponsored Post Learn from the experts: Create a successful blog with our brand new courseThe WordPress.com Blog

Are you new to blogging, and do you want step-by-step guidance on how to publish and grow your blog? Learn more about our new Blogging for Beginners course and get 50% off through December 10th.

WordPress.com is excited to announce our newest offering: a course just for beginning bloggers where you’ll learn everything you need to know about blogging from the most trusted experts in the industry. We have helped millions of blogs get up and running, we know what works, and we want you to to know everything we know. This course provides all the fundamental skills and inspiration you need to get your blog started, an interactive community forum, and content updated annually.

Listen to my Latest Podcast Interview HERE!

This morning, I got to be a guest speaker on WNRI’s Author Hour, with my fellow Association of Rhode Island Authors Board Member Wayne Barber. I answered all kinds of questions about my writing process, as well as offering some opinions about current events and publishing in general.

It’s always fun reflecting on how far I’ve come, because I remember starting the publishing thing for no other reason than I had a story I was dabbling with. I didn’t set out to publish my first book; I swear it happened totally accidentally. And it’s for a very amusing reason, LOL.

If you’d like to take a listen to hear all about this and more, you can do so at THIS LINK HERE.

Additionally, I am so pleased to say that I’ve hit the 95k word mark on my latest book, the sequel to my time-travel coming-of-age story Forgetting What I Couldn’t Remember. The sequel will be called Forgiving What I Couldn’t Change, and I’ll have ARC’s available pretty soon, so if you want to be the first to hear about that, join my review team HERE.

This one is so important to me, because I’m finally coming to terms with the bullying I lived through from ages 5-14, and how that profoundly affected my outlook on life. But luckily, there are so many healthy ways to adapt and grow even though that was extremely difficult at the time. Writing this sequel, and the prequel before it, has helped me immensely. If you want to read book one of the Rewind Duology where Vera Bartlet time-travels back to middle school to teach the bullies a lesson, you can grab a copy of it HERE.

Life is about growth and change, after all. And I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. Thank you for reading this far, and feel free to share a bit about yourself in the comments. Tell me something you’ve GROWN through that felt awful at the time, but now is a source of strength ❤

I Turned 24 Yesterday (and I’m Happier than I’ve Ever Been)

I know, not the most scintillating headline ever. Similarly to the way people say Taylor Swift’s newer music isn’t as great as her older stuff because her whole marketing scheme is built on heartache, this newest era of my life is looking really promising even if it’s lacking in the tabloid department.

Drama is so overrated, and I’m so thrilled that I’ve finally started to manage the complications in my life in stride. For my birthday yesterday, I got to spend the day at my cousins’ house, and amidst a lot of yummy food, bakery cookies, and a delicious homemade strawberry mascarpone cake – I felt so loved.

Life is what you make it.

Aside from the cheesy Hannah Montana reference, this sentiment is still really true. For my 24th year, I’m dedicating myself to trusting God over anything else. So much of my life (scratch that – most of my life is pretty unknown at this point, but that’s okay because I know He has a plan for me). And in the meantime, I’m gonna take it easy. Let life happen as it comes, stop overthinking, and let energy in any kind of relationship expand and develop as it should. Anxiety no longer has a hold on me, because I’ve become very mindful of my bad patterns and I do my best to re-route whenever I feel myself slipping again. Not that it’s easy – but it’s an important skill to develop. I literally can’t say enough about how mindfulness is such a game changer.

No – that’s not my motorcycle. I just took a picture on my uncle’s just for fun!

Family is the most important thing.

Not necessarily people you share genetics with (although it often can be). Family refers to anyone who unconditionally cares about you and supports you no matter what. As for me, I have both actual family and “found family” that add so much to my life.

Me and my cousins who made my day so special yesterday 🙂

But on the flip side of my life, I’ve also given myself permission to cut ties with people that don’t contribute to my life or my peace any more. No bad blood here though – but in my 24th year and beyond, I’ve decided that I simply no longer can afford to expel energy where it’s not returned. Something else I’ve learned with this, is that sometimes you miss that person even after making the right decision – but that doesn’t mean you were wrong. Your gut is king here, and honing that skill will only serve you as well as you let it.

Self-Care Matters.

This isn’t a revelation by any means, but I’m including it here anyway. If you’re anything like me – a chronic workaholic – then you know this is something that’s all-too-easy to avoid. But this is me starting my 24th year better. I’m committed to listening to my body and mind, letting my energy and mindset dictate how hard I push myself in my freelance work, as well as my author work.

Yes, the cake was exactly as good as it looks!

And yes, I know you’re probably wondering when you can expect to read the sequel to Forgetting What I Couldn’t Remember (Forgiving What I Couldn’t Change) – but I swear it’s coming! I’ve hit the 90k mark, and I fully intend to have it ready for a summer release. If you’ve read the first book, you’ll probably get why that’s a hilarious marketing opportunity. Or, if you haven’t yet, you can take a peek at it on Amazon HERE. This book, and its sequel, are a major part of the reason I’ve been able to kick my more unhealthy mindsets and set my past to rest.

As you may know, I was bullied and ignored by my peers a lot as a kid, and that’s something I had to come to terms with the only way I knew how: through my writing. So that’s why I wrote a whole time-travel concept about my current self going back in time to revisit old bullies (while navigating the pitfalls of twenty-something romance). It’s been a tricky challenge but the more I publish about it, I feel lighter and clearer. There’s no better therapy then writing how you feel and launching it out into the world (or maybe I’m just weird that way, LOL).

Anyway, thank you so much for following my author blog! There’s so much I’m looking forward to sharing with you soon. Up next is Forgiving What I Couldn’t Change, and after that… will be a rockstar romance I have brewing. And I can promise you, it’s nothing like you might expect.

At 22, I dyed my hair pink. At 23, I got my nose pierced. So there’s no telling what 24 will bring. But I’m so ready – bring it on.

Meet the Characters of My Latest Book

Have you read my coming-of-age time travel yet? If not, well, maybe this blog post will convince you. Besides the fact that I literally wrote my old middle school bullies into the story, and then cosplayed as a couple of them (yes, seriously, keep on reading below), the story is romance and family drama all rolled into one. Oh yeah – and all the awkwardness of growing up and stuff is front-and-center too.

“Maybe getting older lets you finally see all sides of the dice – not just the ones that are facing up.”

Vera Bartlet is a soon-to-be college graduate with absolutely no idea how messy her life is about to become. It’s not just the job search looming on the horizon or her lack of a boyfriend that’s got her stomach in knots – rather, her dad has been missing for almost a decade, and no one knows what happened to him.

Click HERE to “Meet” the characters of my book, cosplayed by me 😉

When Uncle Edgar mysteriously arrives back onto the scene, he comes armed with some interesting new ideas about what may have happened to Vera’s dad – and an even more revolutionary idea of how to find him. With nothing short of bending time and space, Edgar sends Vera back in time in the hopes that she might find the clues they need to get her dad home.

As she sifts through the mangled pieces of reality and her altered memories of middle school drama become jumbled in between truth and fantasy, Vera has to choose which elements of her past should stay in the past, and which she might like to incorporate into her future. Time travel is never simple, and there are always side effects – but in this case, it might just hold the key to finding her dad. Will Vera stay sane long enough to find her dad and make peace with the bullies who made her miserable?

Book 1 of The Rewind Duology, Forgetting What I Couldn’t Remember

I had way too much fun dressing up like my characters, as seen in the hyperlink above. Seriously, they’re a unique bunch. And Summer’s makeup took FOREVER to wash off. But it was so worth it, LOL.

The sequel to this book will be available hopefully later this year, but if you wanna catch up and read Forgetting What I Couldn’t Remember ahead of time, you can do that HERE. It’s available in ebook, paperback, and audiobook if that’s more your thing 😉

And oh boy, let me tell you – the plot twists in book 2 are BONKERS. Literally, there are a few things that will drop your jaw. I’m honestly blown away I even thought up these things in the first place, but I’m super excited about it. Now, I just need the motivation and focus to finish. If you have any tips to share for crossing that finish line, feel free to share below. I would truly appreciate it.

Did You Know: I Write for Inkitt Writer’s Blog!

Yes, the rumors are true! Late in 2020, my good friend Tabitha asked me to join the Inkitt advice team. I’ve been loving it ever since! If there’s ever an opportunity for me to help others in their writing journey, you know I’m so there. So today, I’m sharing my most recent FIVE FAVORITE articles that I’ve written for Inkitt. Read on for all that and more, below!

Writing Advice I Didn’t Listen to When I Started

These are the things that plagued my brain when I started writing, and I hope to keep other aspiring authors from the same fate. It’s all well-meaning advice of course, but nothing that fit my vision for what I wanted my books and experience writing to be like. And that’s totally okay!

What to Do When That Slump Hits: Fixing the Middle

The middle part of the book is ALWAYS the part that gives me the most trouble, without a doubt! So I’ve shared the tips and tricks I’ve learned that help you work through that without pulling out too many hairs in the process. You got this, just stay with it!

Writing Fight Scenes: Hit Me With Your Best Shot

Okay, I’ll level with you here: I usually outsource my fight scenes to my friend who is naturally way better at writing them than I am. That’s not saying that I don’t know what makes a fight scene good though – I just have trouble executing them effectively sometimes. So read this article with that in mind, and if you want to check out my friend’s writer blog, I highly recommend that HERE.

Balancing my books on my head for literally no reason except to say you can find them on Amazon HERE if you want.

What Makes Young Adult Novels So Appealing?

YA is my specialty! I read almost exclusively YA, and that’s largely because I have pink hair and a Peter Pan complex. Well, kind of – point is, I’m having trouble feeling like a real grown-ass adult, so these books allow me to escape a little bit from real life and all the stresses that come with it.

Modern Romance: When Mundane Becomes Magical

I may be a hopeless romantic, but I do love writing and reading romance. In this article, I shared what I think are the pillars of a good contemporary romance. Of course, this is all super subjective, but if you want one writer’s opinion, here it is for you.

Gigs like this writing for a publication I know and trust is such a rare treat, and I look forward to my weekly column every single time. But most of all, I love knowing that I’m helping others break through their struggles and bring their story to life.

If you enjoyed any of these articles, feel free to let me know in the comments – I would love to hear what resonated with you!

“My Life is What I Make It. I Choose to Rise and Take It.”

For me, writing and music have always been inextricably linked. Heck, I started writing books in the first place because of someone I met in band camp. But I also listen to music while I write my stories, and think about where it needs to go.

As I’ve been starting 2021 with a renewed vigor for life (read my 2020 reflections HERE), I’ve also been thinking about how I want to continue the sequel to my time-travel coming-of-age book, Forgetting What I Couldn’t Remember.

All of my books pictured here, with Forgetting What I Couldn’t Remember front and center!

This book is a challenge, because while the first book was about claiming justice for bullying and other struggles, the second book is about forgiveness. And that’s something I’m still working on in real-time too. Granted, writing these books have made it a lot easier to forgive, having finally laid it all bare for the world to see. But I’ve decided that I’m finally ready to let go. Holding on to this stuff isn’t doing me any good – and I’m finally expressing it (and myself) the way I’ve always wanted to.

As I continue to plug away at my draft of the second and final installment of The Rewind Duology (Forgiving What I Couldn’t Change), I’ve been putting myself in Vera’s shoes. She’s angry, frustrated, and about a hundred other things that like me, she struggles to articulate. That’s why I love this song by Tonight Alive (my favorite line of which, is the title of this blog post).

It’s all about knowing yourself, where you want to go in life, and being brave enough to take the reins and get yourself there. That’s where real success begins, and wanting it isn’t enough – you have to be willing to use setbacks as strengths too.

If you like friends-to-lovers romance, coming of age, and getting even with middle school bullies, I think you’ll love this book as much as I loved writing it.

“I know I will survive this, I’ll be the strongest person I know.”

– Tonight Alive

As for my character Vera Bartlet, she’s got to forgive others and forgive herself for falling prey to her own struggles as ling as she did. It’s a tough journey, but I have a feeling she’s going to break through very soon. If you want to “meet” Vera for yourself, you can find Forgetting What I Couldn’t Remember on Amazon HERE.

Listen to “World Away” by Tonight Alive HERE.

Follow my Instagram and Facebook for updates about my life, music reviews, and books! I’d love to interact with you more there 🙂

Why I Relate to Aly & Aj’s “Rush” More at 23 Than 9

Don’t overthink it – just take that leap.

As a person, and as a writer, I’ve experienced a significant amount of growth this year. 2020 kicked everyone’s butt in one way or another, but for me, my faith grew stronger, my writer’s voice developed even more, and I’ve never been happier. You can read more about that HERE.

But seriously, if you grew up watching Disney Channel like I did in the 2000s, you’ll know Ally & Aj. They were special, the two sisters with undeniable talent and what I know now are total punk-rock influences. A recent grazing session on YouTube reminded me what a totally banger this song is. Between the beautiful, haunting vocal harmonies, and the insightful lyrics, this has everything.

“I’m convinced these songs were written not as much to bop to as kids, but to return to when you’re older to empathize with the lyrics and let the message warm your soul.”

Commenter on YouTube

So I thought that for you, my lovely blog readers, I’d take a little deep dive into what this song means for me in concert with my favorite lyrics. When I was nine, I knew it as one of the songs that would play in between commercials while I was watching some of my favorite sitcoms. Or maybe I knew it off of the Twitches soundtrack. Regardless, it means a lot more to me now than it ever did before. Aly & Aj were special – they seemed like old souls on a kid’s channel, and I’m so glad to see that they’re still doing the music thing even all these years later (I seriously LOL’d at their 2020 explicit version of “Potential Breakup Song”).

Into your head, into your mind
Out of your soul, race through your veins
You can’t escape, you can’t escape

It’s an overthinking anthem! I don’t think I felt quite this stressed when I was nine years old. I mean, I did deal with some difficult life things, but overall, I was relatively relaxed aside from those particular struggles. Now at twenty-three, I’m trying to build a life for myself and breathe new meaning into the profession and hobbies I’ve chosen for myself.

Don’t let nobody tell you your life is over
Be every color that you are
Into the rush now, you don’t have to know how
Know it all before you try

This is my anthem for 2021 and forward. I’m so done with the haters, and letting snotty, irritating people steal my joy. I’m done feeling like an imposter, and mindlessly digesting whatever crap people throw at me. Instead, I’m going to be my neon-pink, sparkly self and carefully steer myself into my own success. My bright pink hair brings me so much joy, so I’m going to keep it that way as long as I still like it. I even finally pierced my nose this past fall, which I’d been wanting to do since literally high school. More than ever, my joy is up to me, and I’m not tolerating fake people (or fake cheese). Life is far too short for that, after all.

I also love this idea of taking that risk in life, whatever it may be, even without knowing how it’s going to turn out. That’s what they’re talking about here – the rush. You have to go for your dreams, and make them happen. Vibrate at a higher frequency, look beyond your struggles, and break through the walls that others try to build around you.

It takes you to another place
Imagine everything you can
All the colors start to blend
Your system overloads again
Can you feel it?

It’s a constant battle to choose joy and peace. Something my holistic nutritionist told me that really resonated was that you gotta avoid unconscious reaction, and choose conscious action instead. Happiness is a choice – and yeah, crap still happens, and you might still get stressed, but you can’t stay there. You pick yourself up, and you keep fighting. Giving up is accepting defeat, and your future self will thank you for keeping at it.

If you’re like me, and you’re fascinated with time travel and all the theoretical ramifications of time, space, and energy, then you might like my latest book. It’s about me going back in time to see my younger self in the name of seeking justice for old bullies that got away with way too much crap. You can find the book HERE.

Thank you for being here, and reading this far if you did. I’m so excited for what 2021 holds. Remember, be you, and be unapologetically bold. This world needs what you have to offer.

Want to win a FREE AUDIOBOOK? Details Below!

Hello bookish friends! I’m writing to tell you about an opportunity to win a FREE download of one of my audiobooks. On my Instagram, I wanted to thank my followers for supporting me when I hit 900 followers. Then I figured, why not extend the thanks to my blog friends as well? You guys are every bit as important as those on my social medias. That being said, if you wanna join the party on Instagram, I highly recommend it so that you stay updated about all the new cool things I have going on.

CLICK THE PHOTO to browse the audiobooks you can choose from if you win!

You can find the GIVEAWAY POST HERE, and that’s where the instructions are to enter the prize drawing. I’m going to randomly draw the winner on January 20th, midnight EST, so go ahead and join in before then!

I am so grateful to my narrators for lending their voices to my stories. There’s something so undeniably amazing for an author to hear their characters come to life. If you’d like to browse the audiobooks I have available, you can do that by clicking on the images below – never too early to start deciding which one you’d like if you win 😉

Thank you so much for playing, and please do spread the word to your friends if they love free audiobooks too. If you don’t get this one, never fear – I’ll be doing more giveaways in the future too! Happy listening, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

Good Things That Happened to Me in 2020

This year didn’t completely suck! Here’s a brief run-down of the bright side of the whole thing.

It’s safe to say this year was collectively a turd sandwich for just about everyone, at least in one way or another. So I was thinking back on my year as we’re about to welcome in 2021 later this week, and along with it, a fresh start. And I realized something interesting, that I honestly didn’t expect: this year was actually pretty lucrative for me.

Sure, all my in-person book signings and concerts were cancelled (of course) and I do really miss all those things. But something I didn’t expect was how the creativity in my mind didn’t stop moving – not at all! It just leaked out in new and innovative ways that I probably wouldn’t have discovered had 2020 not happened the way it did.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m upset and frustrated at the craziness of the world right now, and praying that it improves soon, but through it all, I realized I still have so much to be grateful for. So, as we move into 2021 which is hopefully a significantly better year than the preceding one, I’ve outlined below some cool things that happened to me this year. My hope is that by reading the good things that happened to me, you’ll be able to reflect on your own year too, and get pumped for what’s up next!

1. My social media following grew.

Seeing as how everyone has been stuck at home on their TV and devices, I’ve been able to capitalize on my reach. The biggest example of this might be my Boston Sports Desk music article gig, which has seen a good handful of my article get like 80k views (seriously, I’m shocked too). My Instagram page @ angelinasingerauthor also just hit 900 followers today, so I’m pretty psyched about that! Additionally, this blog is pushing almost 100 followers, not even counting my Facebook and Twitter following. I’m so grateful for everyone who’s taken an interest in my work! I’ve also met more amazing new friends through social media, and I’m so grateful for them as well.

I also published my sixth novel, the sequel of which will be available for purchase hopefully mid-2021. In the meantime though, you can read the first book, Forgetting What I Couldn’t Remember available on Amazon HERE.

2. Freelancing became my main hustle.

And I’ve never been happier. I spent the majority of the year and a half or so since graduating from college looking for corporate jobs, padding my resume, and just generally pulling my hair out trying to figure out what the heck I was supposed to be doing. But as it turns out, I’ve been doing the thing I’m meant to do all along. And that thing is: writing. Through this gig, I’ve connected with some pretty high-profile people, like Tree Paine (Taylor Swift’s general manager) since I provided some media coverage on her latest two surprise albums Folklore and Evermore.

3. My diet got healthier.

Despite the temptation to binge on sugary carbs all the time since I’m home and there isn’t much else to do, I’m determined to cut down on my intake because I feel better when I eat more proteins and healthy fats. Don’t get me wrong – I still love a good late night bag of chips, but I try to only do that occasionally at most. Taking care of yourself, including amping up on vitamins, was critical to get through this year without getting sick. I’ll definitely be carrying those habits into 2021 too!

I guess this wasn’t really part of the diet thing, but I also got my nose pierced this year finally! I’ve been wanting to since high school honestly and I feel so much more confident with it than I did without it. And most importantly, it’s a promise to myself to be happier with my appearance and love myself a lot more than I used to. Overall, a win-win. Still figuring out why it’s taking months to heal, but I guess that’s just the way the cookie crumbles!

4. My faith in Jesus got stronger.

When everything is crashing down around you, turning to Jesus is the only thing that truly brings me comfort. He even helped me with frustrations about the pacing of my life, and how I worry that I’m so far behind everyone else. I’m 23, but it literally took most of my life to realize that it actually doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. The only thing that matters is doing what God has for you the best you can. I know for a fact that I’m meant to write, and that’s exactly what God has me doing – and I’ve never been happier!

5. My author association voted me onto the board!

This is very possibly one of the coolest things on this list, but I was so humbled and blessed by the opportunity! My main responsibility as a board member in the Association of Rhode Island Authors is to recruit more young adult authors to join up, so if you live in or around Rhode Island, reach out to me for more info! I’ll be setting up an Instagram (and possibly Twitter) account for them too so that everything will be more accessible to younger writers as well.

6. Landed a weekly blogging gig.

Semi-related to the author’s association above, one of my good friends invited me to join her writing team for the Inkitt Writer’s Blog. It’s a really cool platform where writers can share stories and ideas about writing. It’s a nice little paid gig, and I love doing it! Stuff like this is super productive and helps me fill my time post-grad. I’d definitely recommend it for anyone looking for something similar.

7. My music journalism expanded into a magazine.

Yet another plug through my author association, I met someone at an expo event a year or two ago who manages Rhode Island-based Motif Magazine. Then earlier this August, I reached out to them to ask if they had any writing positions open, and they said yes – freelancing. So now I do the bulk of their music critiquing for local artists and bands. It’s super fun to network this way, and I love that I get paid for my articles to be included in a printed magazine!

8. Finally met a long-distance friend in person!

This one, was probably the most incredible of the whole year. Still not over it, to be honest. When his family went on vacation within driving distance of where I live, he invited me to spend a few days with them. So I did, and it was just so surreal and amazing. I’m grateful for the time we got to spend together, and hopefully it’ll happen again sometime in the near future.

9. Got out of my music learning funk.

As the pandemic wore on, my music teacher wasn’t as available for lessons, so I lost my rhythm (no pun intended, LOL). But that time away from more structured lessons gave me time to reflect and take a little breather from my in-depth music theory studies and guitar training. I’ve been learning guitar for over 12 years, and now I’m training to teach part time. Although it was a bit uncertain switching to an instructor who was more available (as I really admired my other teacher), I’m actually excited about a fresh perspective and new ideas. Very 2020 of me to say that, right? Like how life surprises us sometimes, but it’s what we do with it that matters. And I’m absolutely making the most of the opportunities I’ve been given to learn all I can!

10. Enjoyed more family time.

With nothing to do outside of the house, my parents and I found ourselves hanging out with the small group of just my aunt, uncle, and their two kids (my cousins) on weekends. We’re all feeling totally fine, and spending time together in a safe, home environment every week. We play games, eat a big dinner, and laugh a lot. It’s made my 2020 a lot brighter, and I’m so grateful for them.

I hope this little list of things I actually enjoyed in 2020 brought you to some of your own realizations. That maybe after all, this tough year had some good lessons in it. And that after we get through 2021 and everything turns back around, you’ll see that you’re more resilient than ever before. And in some ways, that makes the struggles (almost) worth it!

Happy new year, my friends! Here’s to a bigger and even better 2021.

P.S. – Keep an eye out for my next book, Forgiving What I Couldn’t Change, coming in (hopefully) mid-2021!!!

My Top 10 Best Reads of 2020 (Based on My Goodreads Profile)

I’m going to preface this by saying that in no way is this limited only to books published in 2020. I just thought it would be fun to chat a bit about my ten favorite books that I read this year and awarded the 5-star rating to, presented in the order I read them in.

Since it was a pretty slow year for everyone, and my in-person events were temporarily suspended, I found myself reading a lot more. As I’m a YA/NA writer primarily, I consider this to be critical research for my stories as well. Fair warning: that means I read predominantly romcoms, so skip ahead unless you’re into those too.

If you want to peruse my entire Goodreads page, and take a gander at the books I’ve written, you can find that HERE.

But without further ado, let’s go!

#1: 100 Days of Sunlight (Abbie Emmons)

This one is a great riff off of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars in the sense that there’s acquired (not genetic) blindness, and the characters have an interesting romantic relationship that develops over time. You’ll just have to read it yourself, because it’s incredibly sweet and poignant.

#2: What are Friends For? (Sarah Sutton)

Another cute story of childhood besties-turned-lovers. It’s a tale that is equal parts creative and mystifying in its teenaged-frustrations, but it ends on such a good note. Bonus points for a very satisfying closet-make out scene.

#3: The Loneliest Girl in the Universe (Lauren James)

Ah okay, this one got mixed reviews from other readers but I was absolutely in love with this chilling coming-of-age narrative set in a futuristic, dystopian setting. It takes a really rapid turn toward the end that left me shaking, but I lived it and thought the concept was super clever and well-executed. The psychological elements were confusing and terrifying in the best way. Read this, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

#4: Aix Marks the Spot (S.E. Anderson)

And… back to the romcoms. This story is a lovely jaunt into the southern French countryside, where Jamie meets a cute local boy who takes her breath away. It’s culturally rich and beautifully depicted, and I loved being able to escape somewhere refreshing when I read this last April.

#5: The Rose Gate: A Retelling of Beauty and the Beast (Hanna Sandvig)

Here’s a fantasy for a change of pace now – a modern retelling of the classic. A cursed prince, who’s actually quite young, adorable, and in my mind, looked a lot like a young Luke Hemmings. But like, in a castle in a different realm, with an ever-shrinking portal that holds everyone there captive. Such a fun twist!

#6: As Much as I Ever Could (Brandy Woods Snow)

This one was probably the hottest of all the books I’ve read this year. Seriously, Jett is a locally-famous racer driver, and his casual friendship with CJ slowly but surely, turns into something else. CJ struggles from traumas involving an accident she was in years ago, and a summer with Memaw is just what the doctor ordered to get her out of her funk and embracing her reality, however bleak it may seem. In my head, I pictured Jett as a very blonde Patty Walters (from the band As It Is – what, I have a thing for guys in bands, don’t judge me).

#7: The Law of Tall Girls (Joanne Macgregor)

I really enjoyed this story about high school plays, following your dreams, and being honest with yourself and your friends. It also portrayed mental health especially well, given how difficult that topic can often be. With a sprinkling of incredibly embarrassing moments, and honest real-ness, this book is not one to miss. Also, love the body-positivity around Peyton’s relative discomfort with her height (even though she eventually learns to love it, and meets a tall guy who really loves it too).

#8: Joy’s Summer Love Playlist (Piper Bee)

Watermelons, bands, and summertime romance. What more could you want? With Jin’s good looks straight out of a K-pop band, compiled with Joy’s increasingly less-subtle crush, and friends Lena and Cale added to the mix, it’s a full-ride any YA reader would love. Be sure to check out the companion book as well, B-Sides.

#9: Alex, Approximately (Jennifer Bennett)

This book had my heart from start to finish! I adored the concept of Bailey’s online friend being the object of her affections, except for one major twist (that’s provided on the back cover so it’s not a spoiler, I promise) – she doesn’t tell him when she moves to his hometown. Then it turns out that she works at a museum alongside – you guessed it – Porter (who is actually Alex, the very same guy she met online but neither of them have any idea of it). So for the entire book, you just watch them fall in loathe, then fall in love, and neither of them have any real clue about it for a while. Jennifer Bennett is fantastically good at storytelling, and I’ve since checked out more of her work and loved those too.

Bonus: I was reading this shortly before I met my very own online friend after almost four years of talking, and it was nothing short of amazing. You can read about that experience on my blog HERE.

#10: Things We Know By Heart (Jessi Kirby)

This novel had a heart-wrenching plot (literally). The protagonist literally falls for the guy who received her dead boyfriend’s heart after he passed away. I know that sounds pretty dark for a YA novel, but it was handled with such care and taste that I honestly really enjoyed it. Totally worth the spontaneous book splurge at Barnes and Noble. Another story in the John Green vein of love-loss-growth, it’s a book any hopeless romantics like me would heartily enjoy.

There you have it! These are my favorite books that carried me through this crap-sandwich of a year. Here’s to a better and brighter 2021 – I’m hopeful that it’s going to be great ❤

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!