The Good Old Days

I found myself in the strange position last week of researching program requirements and available college courses for the first time since I was a student myself. Even though my research was only for the purposes of my mystery WIP, I couldn’t help feeling nostalgic as I browsed my old university’s online course catalogue.

Once upon a time, picking my classes was another part of my late-semester routine. As an honors student I had the option of diving in early to reserve my spot in this seminar or that workshop, but getting a jump on my classmates didn’t exactly erase the ticking clock in my head. It’s hard to gauge how good a class will be from its basic description online, but I still remember how important it was to get into the classes I perceived to be good, even if I later turned out to be wrong.

It got me thinking, honestly. Not just about the kinds of things that are important to college students, but about how important college itself feels when you’re there. Maybe it’s because we spend so much of our lives preparing for it on an academic level and anticipating it on a personal level that it’s easy to dive headfirst into university life when we finally get there and forget about everything else.

Plus, university life is awesome. There’s always something happening and something to do. You’re surrounded by people your own age–potential friends or potential partners, classmates and study buddies and new BFFs. I still have fond memories of late nights in my dorm talking about Really Deep Stuff with my roommate and our friends, or running random errands at 2am just because we could.

The best thing about college, in my opinion, is the feeling that your whole life is about to start. Maybe it’s living on your own for the first time, or having the freedom to run your own life in a (more or less) safe and controlled environment. Maybe it’s the way in which choosing a major can feel like your first big commitment to a future career, if you happen to pick the right one. Whatever the reasons, simply being at college has a way of revealing all the possibilities ahead of you–even the ones you might’ve never considered before.

Sometimes, I miss that. I miss the freedom of newfound adulthood without the responsibility, the sense of possibility in every choice I made. It’s not as though I have fewer choices available to me as an adult with my own income and my own apartment, but I also can’t just up and change my career or move into a new place without a lot of strategizing first.  And even though I have more of a safety net then some, I also have to spend more time considering the consequences of the decisions I make than I did as a 20 year old with no bills to pay.

On the other hand, I’m not sure I’d want to go back and re-do my college experience even if I could. As much as I enjoyed those four years of my life, they weren’t all fun and games. There were plenty of long, stressful weeks and sleepless nights, boring classes and unpleasant professors. I had confrontations with friends and lost more than a few. I second guessed myself a lot and too little all at once.

In my memories college was glorious, but those memories are tinged with the same nostalgia I felt flipping through the course catalogue, and that nostalgia has a way of making us forget the truth.  Yes, it was glorious, but it was also painful and messy and freeing and a whole bunch of other things too.

When I write the college experience for these characters, that’s what I want to remember.

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Four Things that Make Romance Great

Last year around this time, I published a blog post titled Romance is Hard because I was struggling to draft a story with a main plot  based in romance. This year, I’m taking a slightly different approach.

In honor of Valentine’s Day, and because I love love stories, even though they’re frequently a pain to write, here are four things I think you need to write a great, believable romance.

1. Chemistry, and not just physical chemistry either. I’m all in favor of sexual tension and raw, carnal lust, but true chemistry stretches beyond the body and infuses every interaction the characters have. The continued popularity of Pride and Prejudice is due, in large part, to the metaphorical sparks flying in every scene Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy share. Their dialogue crackles, they look for each other even when they know they shouldn’t be, and they start conversations even when they suspect that those conversations are only going to end in arguments. If two characters are intensely aware of each other and keep finding ways to interact–and then, if those interactions are charged in a way that their other relationships aren’t–readers are bound to be invested in whether they’ll get together or not.

Examples: Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

2. A shared history, whether they’ve actually shared experiences or simply had lives that overlapped at key points. There’s a reason why friends to lovers and ‘the one that got away’ are such popular tropes. The potential for unresolved issues and unresolved feelings is so much higher when the characters know each other without knowing each other, or grew up as friends before their relationship shifted. Plus, the nature of the characters’ history–whether it’s happy, or sad, or troubled–can really affect the tone of their love story, and that makes for more powerful, more poignant writing when it’s handled well.

Examples: Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy, The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner

3. Time. Give me a slow burn romance over insta-love or attraction any day of the week. There’s something so satisfying about love stories that take time to build, or about characters who have to grow into the people they’re supposed to be before they pair off. No one exists in a vacuum, and characters who have priorities and responsibilities and other relationships outside their new romances are far easier to empathize with and far easier to root for than characters who only seem to live for love.  Bonus points if the real life struggles they’re facing overlap with romance, or are shaped by the person they’re falling for.

Examples: My Most Excellent Year by Steve Kluger, The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater, Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

4. Compatibility, because even in fiction it’s important to feel as though the two halves of the couple belong together. If the characters you’re trying to pair off aren’t even plausible as a couple, nobody is going to buy into their romance. Whether they love each other or hate each other, have everything in common or have nothing in common, they have to complement each other in a way that makes it instantly clear to the reader why they deserve to end up together.

Examples: The Crown’s Game by Evelyn Skye, The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord, I’ll Meet You There by Heather Demetrios

What are your key components for a good romance? What love stories do I NEED to read?

Four Star Reading Round Up: January

One of the things I noticed when I was reviewing last year’s blog posts was that I’ve gotten out of the habit of talking about and talking up books on this blog. Don’t get me wrong – I tweet plenty about books and I’m super active on Goodreads, but it still feels strange to not be blogging about books as well.

That’s why I’m looking to try something new in 2018: the four star reading round up. My goal is to write up a post that lists each of the books that I’ve finished that month, and that I’ve given a rating of four stars or more. I’ll link to my own reviews of those books, but I’ll also list four–or even five, for those rare five star books out there–reasons why I loved them so much.

I recognize that this post is a little late, but seeing as it’s been a busy month so far–and a busy 2018, if I’m being honest–I’m asking you to bear with me.

My four (or five) star reads for January are:

1. Tower of Dawn by Sarah J. Maas
My review

Four reasons to love it:
1. The political intrigue and courtly scheming–like “Game of Thrones” with a little more love between siblings and a little less bloodshed.
2. Chaol’s developing relationship with Yrene, and how neatly it coincides with his slow path toward healing.
3. The way in which Chaol’s disability was handled, especially at the end of the story.
4. How much less white the world-building (finally) became, and how functional the khagnate’s (Middle Eastern inspired) kingdom was when compared to the war-torn brutality of Adarlan

2. Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy
My review

Four reasons to love it:
1.  The variety of LGBTQIA rep, from Ramona’s friends who are gay and a lesbian, respectively, to Ramona herself, who learns that her sexuality isn’t quite as simple and straightforward as she thought, and who learns to accept it regardless.
2. The loving, protective, dysfunctional relationship between Ramona and her sister Hattie.
3. That the after-effects of Hurricane Katrina are prevalent on the page and in the small Mississippi town where Ramona and her family live, without taking over the whole story.
4. The awesome friends to lovers relationship that develops between Ramona and Freddie, and the ways in which their relationship forces them to confront their own biases about sexuality and race.

3. Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu
My review

Five reasons to love it:
1.  Teenage feminists smashing the patriarchy.
2. Vivian’s journey from a good, dependable, quiet girl to a girl who stands up for herself and for others.
3. Friendships across cliques and across racial boundaries, and girl friends who have each other’s backs no matter what.
4. The relationship between Vivian and Seth, and the fact that Viv’s feelings for him don’t make her blind to his faults.
5. The ending, which made me feel all the feelings.

4. A Taxonomy of Love by Rachael Allen
My review

Five reasons to love it:
1. Great interpersonal relationships–between Spencer and his friend/crush Hope, Spencer and his family, and Hope and her big sister Jamie, just to name a few. I honestly wished that this cast of characters were real so I could know them in real life.
2. Top-notch Tourette’s Syndrome representation.
3. Nerdy POV characters with nerdy friends who make nerdy references and drop nerdy facts into conversation as a matter of course.
4. The fact that all of the younger characters fall in and out of infatuation with multiple times throughout the story, and that these other relationships are treated as normal and expected because they’re too young to be settling down and committing to each other.
5. The imperfect but lovely small town Georgia setting that really comes to life on the page.

5. You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My review

Five reasons to love it:
1. Adina’s journey toward realizing that she wants to be seen and known for more than just her music or her beauty.
2. Tovah’s journey toward realizing that she doesn’t have to have her whole future planned out or have all the answers.
3. Present, involved parents who love their daughters fiercely but don’t always relate to them or understand them either.
4. The dichotomy between Tovah’s developing relationship with one of her high school classmates and Adina’s developing relationship with her (older) viola teacher, and the ways in which those relationships inform the girls’ decisions for better and for worse.
5. The gut-punching moment when Adina and Tovah receive their Huntington’s test results, and all the gut-punching moments when they’re forced to confront their mother’s mortality and their own mortality after that.

6. Paper Hearts Volume 1: Some Writing Advice by Beth Revis
My review

Four reasons to love it:
1. It strikes the right balance between encouraging up-and-coming writers and doling out doses of tough love.
2. The grammar lesson that totally revolutionized my comma usage, and answered the comma questions I hadn’t even known I should be asking.
3. How easily accessible the information is, in part because of how the book progresses from the conception of an idea to revision and polishing and in part because of how short the chapters are.
4. The inclusion of charts and graphs to demonstrate plotting and structuring techniques. Why don’t more writing guides include charts??

Have you read any of these books, and if so, what did you think? What four or five star books would you recommend?

January Recap

As busy and hectic as the past month has been, I still feel like I’m failing to accomplish what I need to accomplish on a pretty regular basis. Some of that is my anxiety talking and some of that is my chronically high expectations for myself–Type A personalities FTW–and some of that has to do with the fact that almost all the items on my to-do list exist in the long-term instead of the short-term.

Frankly, the #1 thing that keeps me calm and on task is remembering how much I’ve already accomplished in any given week or month and how much time I still have ahead to meet my various goals. It’s hard to remember those accomplishments from moment to moment without some kind of comprehensive list though, so that’s what this post will be for me going forward. I’m writing it as a reminder and not as any kind of public boast. Comparing myself to others is an issue I struggle with daily, no matter how productive I am on paper, and the last thing I want to do is put anyone in the position of comparing themselves to me.

If you spent January feeling stuck or unhappy or unproductive, I understand. I’ve been there. Whatever you managed to accomplish last month, no matter how insignificant or unimportant those accomplishments seem to you, is enough. And if you stop reading this post right now because you’re trying not to play the comparison game, I understand that too.

What I Accomplished

1. I finished one full, comprehensive edit for a CP/writer friend of mine within the new deadline we’d set.

2. I plotted/outlined my entire mystery manuscript, worked out the timeline, and completed all the necessary research that I’d identified after reviewing the first draft.

3. I solicited additional feedback for my query for Facing the Music and began working to incorporate it.

4. I wrote and published two new blog posts.

5. I finished nine books: Tower of Dawn, Ramona Blue, As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales from the Making of The Princess Bride, Moxie, The Girl with the Red Balloon, A Taxonomy of Love, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, Paper Hearts Volume 1: Some Writing Advice, and What Light.

6. My fiancee and I set up our wedding website and our registry, sent out our save-the-dates, and decided on a honeymoon destination. We also finished our mandatory couples counseling and came to some necessary conclusions about how we want our ceremony and our wedding day itself to go. I made the last round of payments on my dress, which feels amazing, and started researching tailors and florists.

What I Didn’t 

I didn’t meet the original deadline my friend and I had agreed upon for when I’d get my critique back to her, and I have nobody to blame but myself for that. Even though I’ve had a couple different friends’ manuscripts on my plate for the past few months, there was no real reason why I couldn’t have met my deadlines for everyone. My friend is really happy with her feedback, at least, and I know she doesn’t hold my lateness against me. But in the future, I’m definitely going to try and be more on top of things – for my friends’ sake and for my own sake.

I also would’ve loved to have started re-working my synopsis for Facing the Music, which has been lingering unfinished for months now, but that simply wasn’t possible given my other, more pressing goals. And as soon as I realized that I’d need to restructure the query, the synopsis wound up taking a backseat anyway.

Looking Ahead

There’s a lot that I plan to tackle in the first 3 weeks of February because of other commitments I have near the end of the month. The trivia league I belong to starts up again on the 18th, and I’ll be starting another sensitivity reading job around the 26th. In a perfect world, I’ll be able to knock out most, if not all, of the smaller scale stuff on my to-do list before then, so that my time isn’t quite so divided going into March. We’ll see.

This month, I plan to:

1. Finish the first third of my mystery rewrite, and finish a draft of the mystery query I’m working on. Better to verify that my story can be neatly summarized now than get to the end and realize that I’ve written myself into a giant plot hole.

2. Finish revising my query for Facing the Music and see if I can’t come up with a better way to arrange the beginning of the story. The opening chapters are pretty strong, but they’re also a little convoluted. As long as I’m tweaking the query, I feel like I owe it to myself to at least brainstorm some brand new ideas and see if they smooth out the plot/pacing a bit.

3. Finish reading 10 books, and potentially purchase the e-book versions of a few romance novels I’ve been meaning to read, cash flow permitting.

4. Order our wedding invitations. Book our airfare for our honeymoon and start doing more intensive research about where we’ll be going and what we might like to do while we’re there.

I borrowed the idea for this blog post from Katherine Locke, a published author who blogs pretty extensively about writing with a day job and shares some great productivity tips. Her post is a lot more in-depth than mine, so if you found my recap interesting or potentially applicable to your own goals for the coming month, please be sure and check out her blog.

And, as always, please let me know in the comments what you’re planning to accomplish in February.

Online Time Management Makeover: 2018 Edition

One of the things I’m really trying to get serious about in 2018 is regulating and reducing the amount of time I spend online. Not all web time is created equal, obviously, and I have no plans to abandon activities like emailing friends and looking up call scripts, language practice and story research. What I would like to do is cut WAY back on the time I spend mindlessly surfing the web or mindlessly scrolling through my social media feeds. I want to write more, read more, indulge in my other hobbies, and not be plugged into a screen for so much of my day.

In the past, it has been hard for me to gauge how much time I’m really spending online because it never feels like much. Minutes pass in the blink of an eye when I’m watching YouTube videos or surfing Facebook, and before I know it I’ve wasted the bulk of my night on activities that are more or less meaningless.

At Christmas this year, I found myself thinking that there’s no way in the world I will ever wake up one morning and wish I’d spent more time on the internet. But I could wake up and wish that I’d made more time for the people I love and the things that legitimately interest me if I don’t start making changes now.

And so, with that in mind, I set up a simple spreadsheet before the 1st of the year where I can jot down what day it is, what time I get online versus what time I get off, and what I’m doing within that time frame. I also keep track of how many times I use social media–defined for me as Facebook and Twitter–and how many total minutes I spend online.

It isn’t a foolproof system by any means, but in the ten days that I’ve been using it I’ve cut down my online time significantly. Numbers are tough to ignore, and realizing that you’ve spent two hours or more in one night screwing around on the internet has a way of making you much more productive the next day.

Although I’d love to come up with a better way to track time spent on my phone, which is where a lot of those extra minutes tend to slip through the cracks, I’m pretty happy with my spreadsheet and the changes I’ve made so far.

Do you have any tactics for reducing your online time? If there’s something I have to try, let me know in the comments.

 

2018 New Years Resolutions

New year, new resolutions. This won’t be an especially long post, but I am going to do something I’ve never done before and lay out my 2018 business plan here in addition to my resolutions. The only real difference between the two is that the business plan is more specific to my writing career, whereas the resolutions can–and often are, in my case–more general. I’ve kept my business plans to myself since I started doing them, but I’m hoping that posting this year’s plan on my blog will help keep me accountable to my goals and my writing.

My resolutions for this year are:

1. Finish one rewrite and one revision pass of my mystery WIP and get it to my CPs for feedback.

2. Stay on top of my wedding planning and stay sane in the process.

3. Start planning more definitively for my future, especially as far as where we’d like to live.

4. Be ready to start drafting a new WIP by November, for National Novel Writing Month.

5. Begin volunteering again – either for a politically minded organization like Indivisible, or for a local group like the animal shelter.

My business plan for this year includes:

1. Finish one rewrite and one revision pass of my mystery WIP and get it to my CPs for feedback.

2. Finish revising my synopsis for Facing the Music, and submit the manuscript to one major pitch contest.

3. Complete research reading list for my YA political thriller, which I’m calling Renegade for now.

4. Refine the series arc for the Renegade series.

5. Be ready to start drafting a new WIP by November, for National Novel Writing Month.

What are your New Years Resolutions? Or, if you don’t make resolutions, what are you hoping to accomplish in the coming year?

 

2017 End of Year Book Survey

It’s that time of year again! All credit for this totally awesome, incredibly bookish survey goes to Jamie at the Perpetual Page Turner. If you’d like to give it a try on your own, feel free to leave me a link to your survey post in comments. I’m always on the hunt for new books to read!

2017 Reading Stats

Number of books you read: 99
Number of re-reads:
6, which I know because I actually remembered to count them this year.
Genre you read the most:
YA contemporary, because I am nothing if not predictable.


1. Best book you read in 2017?
YA contemporary: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
YA fantasy: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor
YA Sci-Fi: Passenger by Alexandra Bracken
NA: The Deal by Elle Kennedy
Adult: Vicious by V.E. Schwab
Nonfiction: Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
2. Book you were excited about and thought you were going to love more, but didn’t?
Wayfarer, by Alexandra Bracken. I spent far most of my time feeling totally befuddled by the way time travel worked in the story-verse, despite having read the two books in the series only seven months apart. 
3. Most surprising (in a good or bad way) book you read?
The Way of the Gun by Iain Overton, which was often surprising in a horrifying way.
4. Book you pushed the most people to read (and they did)?
Still Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, even though I read it last year. It’s just that good.
5. Best series you started in 2017? Best sequel of 2017? Best series ending of 2017?
Best series I started: Strange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor
Best sequel: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
Best series ending: Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2017?
Angie Thomas. Paula Garner and Janet McNally are tied for second.
7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone?
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur. I hardly ever read poetry collections, and her collection made me want to start.
8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year?
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, without question.
9. Book you read in 2017 that you’re most likely to re-read next year?
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, which I’ve already read twice so far this year.
10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2017?
Passenger by Alexandra Bracken.
11. Most memorable character of 2017?
Monty from The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, who is a perfect mix of hilarious and heartbreaking.
12. Most beautifully written book read in 2017?
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. Hands down.
13. Most thought-provoking/life-changing book of 2017?
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I’m sensing another trend here . . .
14. Book you can’t believe you waited until 2017 to read?
The Deal by Elle Kennedy, which I thought would be stereotypical new adult romance and turned out to be my favorite new adult book of the year.
15. Favorite passage/quote from a book you read in 2017?
“Normal is a story. As a writer, it’s my job to construct new normals for people. It’s my job to show folks what’s possible. It’s my job to rewrite narratives. Because we can change these narratives. We can choose better ones. We can tear it all down, and build it up again. It makes us the most poorly paid by most powerful people in the world.” –Kameron Hurley on writing and representation, in The Geek Feminist Revolution.
16. Shortest and longest books you read in 2017?
Shortest: Anti-Bride Guide: Tying the Knot Outside of the Box by Carolyn Gerin and Stephanie Rosenbaum
Longest: A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas
17. Book that shocked you the most?
The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis, because OMG that ending!
18. OTP of the year? (You will go down with this ship!)
Molly and Reid from The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli, because relationships between awkward, not conventionally attractive people who share nerdy pursuits are my kryptonite.
19. Favorite non-romantic relationship of the year?
The friendships between Jordan and the various boys in the Sharpshooters in Noteworthy by Riley Redgate, for making me laugh, choke up, and feel ALL the feelings.
20. Favorite book you read in 2017 from an author you’ve read previously?
Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.
21. Best book you read in 2017 that you read based SOLELY on a recommendation/peer pressure?
I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, which I picked up only because every YA writer and book lover I follow on Twitter seemed to love it. Now that I’ve read it, I completely understand why.
22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2017?
Either Otis from Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner, or Jonah from When We Collided by Emery Lord. Gotta love those sweet, emotionally compromised boys.
23. Best 2017 debut you read?
Once again, I’ve got to go with The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. I’m sure that’s a huge surprise.
24. Best world-building/most vivid setting you read this year?
For a world that doesn’t exist: Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor.
In the world that does: When We Collided by Emery Lord, which absolutely made me want to move to CA and live on the ocean.
25. Book that put a smile on your face/was the most FUN to read?
The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee, which was a wild romp from start to finish.
26. Book that made you cry or nearly cry in 2017?
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, The Names They Gave Us by Emery Lord, and A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas all came pretty darn close.
27. Hidden gem of the year?
Either Autoboyography by Christina Lauren, which deserves just as much love as their new adult romance novels, or Noteworthy by Riley Redgate.
28. Book that crushed your soul?
You in Five Acts by Una LaMarche. Talk about a gut-punch of a book.
29. Most unique book you read in 2017?
Last year I gave this award to Illuminae, and this year I’m giving it to the sequel, Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff. There aren’t any other books like these being published for the YA market right now – at least not that I’ve found.
30. Book that made you the most mad (but doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)?
The Way of the Gun by Iain Overton, for its brutal exploration of how many millions of human lives are negatively impacted or ended by gun violence every year.

1. New favorite book blog you discovered in 2017?
I don’t believe I discovered any new book blogs this year. Which would you recommend I check out?
2. Favorite review that you wrote in 2017?
My review of The Hate U Give, which somehow managed to sum up my favorite parts of the book eloquently and concisely, despite the fact that I could’ve written essays about it.
3. Best discussion/non-review post you had on your blog?
I’m pretty partial to Changing Plans and Spiraling, which both deal with the impact of my mental health on my ability to create. Not particularly earth-shattering for other people, but considering the amount of time I spent refusing to acknowledge my mental illnesses, it feels pretty damn ground-breaking to me.
4. Best event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events, memes, etc.?)
I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo this summer with a whole bunch of local writer friends, and we all kicked serious butt on our projects. The cabin conversation and shared snippets from everybody’s WIPs went a long way toward keeping me inspired and motivated.
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2017?
Having the opportunity to sensitivity read A Taxonomy of Love, a YA contemporary novel that’s coming out early next year and that I’m SO excited about. It was exactly the kind of personal, powerful story I would’ve devoured as a teenager, and I’m thrilled that it’s going to be out there in the world for teenagers to read. 
6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year?
My reading habits changed quite a bit following the election this year, which meant losing interest in a whole bunch of books I’d been excited for. It was also hard to blog and carve out time for blogging when political engagement, or just bad political news, took up so MUCH time by comparison.
7. Most popular post this year on your blog, whether by comments or views?
Surprisingly, a post I wrote almost a year ago titled Romance is Hard, about my personal struggles with writing love stories.
8. Post you wished got a little more love?
Most of them, honestly, but I would’ve loved to have seen more discussion on my project post-mortem post. Hearing about other people’s creative processes is fascinating to me.
9. Best bookish discovery (book-related sites, bookstores, etc.)?
I am coming up totally blank on this question this year. Clearly, I need to make more bookish discoveries next year.
10. Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of the year?
I kept a casual eye on a few different reading challenges, from the Goodreads challenge to Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge. I didn’t actively participate in anything though, and I still don’t have any regrets.

1. One book you didn’t get to in 2017 that will be your #1 priority in 2018?
I’ve heard many wonderful things about Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia and Starfish by Akemi Dawn Bowman. I’d like to get my hands on those books as soon as I can in the coming weeks. 
2. Book you are most anticipating for 2018 (non-debut)?
Boomerang by Helene Dunbar, which I’ve been super excited about ever since the deal was announced in Publisher’s Marketplace. She writes compelling, heartbreaking YA from boy perspectives, and I can’t get enough.
3. 2018 debut you are most anticipating?
I’m still really excited about You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone by Rachel Lynn Solomon, which is coming out next year and NOT this year, like I’d previously thought. Oops.
4. Series ending/a sequel you are most anticipating in 2018?
The number of books in Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series may have changed between last year and now, but my answer still hasn’t. I’m dying to find out how the last book will end!
5. One thing you hope to accomplish or do in your reading/blogging life in 2018?
Refine both the style/appearance of my blog and the way I blog. I fell back into the habit of blogging more frequently toward the end of this year, and it turned out to be both a) a tool that kept me writing and b) a lot of fun. I want to build more of a community around this blog if at all possible, without de-prioritizing my writing. We’ll see how that goes.
6. A 2018 release you’ve already read and recommend to everyone?
Apparently I need to sign up for more ARC giveaways or something, because I don’t believe I’ve read any 2018 releases quite yet.

What were some of your favorite books this year, and why? Let me know in the comments, or link me to your own survey!