Saturday, December 31, 2016

Taking Stock and Looking Ahead

It is 9:26pm on the last day of 2016.

Damn.

When I look at the calendar, I can't figure out where the year went. How did I let another year slip by without living it?

However, that is my brain working against me. I lived A LOT in 2016. It wasn't always happy living but I did it. I've talked about feeling like a disappointment and failure and just not being okay a lot the last few months. But today, I want to remind myself of the living that happened this year. Please forgive my self-indulgence.

I started off the year by getting new glasses, and seeing one of my all time favorite musicals with my family, both blood and found.


I told February to fuck off by cutting my hair (uh oh!). I've been known for my long hair for most of my life. It has always been long (and still is) but this cut was really liberating. Like I was cutting off my baggage with the split ends. I also started a full time teaching job in a city district which was (and continues to be) an adventure.

In March, we proved that musical family is forever no matter who tries to tear you apart. My great uncle also passed away in March. I had only been working for 2 weeks when I had to take off to attend his funeral in Philadelphia.

THOROUGHLY MODERN MIRELLA released in April and it was amazing. I had a fabulous release party with all the wonderful people in my life. Except my mom. It sucked that she wasn't there but my grandmother (who has lived with us since I was 5) had started to go drastically down hill and she had to take care of her.  I also went to Lake Placid for a conference in April. That was kickass and a great weekend away with grad school friends.

May saw me graduate (without my thesis done) from graduate school. Again my mom was not there and it felt weirdly anti-climatic without her. However, I am glad she spent the time with my grandmother because at the end of the month, my grandmother passed away. She was 91 and lived an INCREDIBLE life, but it was hard to say goodbye.

One of my very good friends from high school got married in June. It was at a beautiful vineyard and my best friend and I had the best possible time. Big hats, salsa dancing, and shirley temples! Woohoo!

I checked off a major bucket list item in July when I went to Europe for the first time. I chaperoned a high school trip with my old teachers and students I love from the musical. It was amazing. I cannot wait to go back. I also painted one of my houses purple - suck it elementary school bullies!


In August, I got my ass back in the studio and started with intense ballet class and Nutcracker rehearsal. We also cleaned out and sold my great uncle's house where we found an old strong box. It turned out to have the original house deed and a pillow case full of silver coins in it.



In September I went back to work teaching (I was working full time over the summer doing online teaching but I went back to the classroom). With my first paycheck, I splurged and bought tickets for my BFF and I to go to the Theatre Gala in our city. It was perfection. And wine. So much wine.


I turned 27 in October! I also went on a boozey Halloween bike tour and had a one night stand. October was a weird month...


November took me to an all time low. My teaching job was crushing my soul. I was working my ass off for Nutcracker and still trying to be a regular human. My purse was stolen. I failed a lot in November. On a literal daily basis. But I survived.

December was Nutcracker. It was making costumes, surviving the worse cold I've had in years, and dancing more than I have in almost a decade. My life felt like a cluster fuck but it was actually pretty great.


Some bad stuff happened this year. It wasn't perfect. But a ton of great stuff happened too. I'm surviving. It isn't always easy but I'm packing as much as I can (even if it isn't as much as I'd like) into each day.

Here's to surviving 2017 in much the same way but with a little more emphasis on self-care.



Friday, December 23, 2016

bitty words #8

After denial & garbage bag pants
I found cider & wings
After birthdays & baseball
I found bike tours &Halloween
After meltdowns & Cabernet
I found yes.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

bitty words #7

I sat in the driver's seat of his car and could reach absolutely nothing. "Are you even human?" I asked. "How do you drive from this position?"

"Stop whining and just adjust the seat, you big baby."

I stuck out my tongue and decided I wouldn't be returning the seat to this position as payback for that comment.

When I could finally reach the pedals and steering wheel, I started up the car and pulled out of the tight parking space, silently praying it would still be there when we got back because street parking in his neighborhood was thin on the ground.

"So where exactly, are we getting these tacos?" I asked as I approached the first stop light and needed to know where I was going.

"Tacos & Subs is closest," he said. "But Mighty would be way better."

"Mighty is farther away." I pointed out but still put on my blinker to go in that direction.

He laughed and turned up the heat. Fall was fast slipping into winter and I was definitely regretting leaving my tights even if I was coming back because my legs were shivering.

As I flicked on my blinker at the driveway to Mighty, I chanced a look at him. He didn't seem at all bothered to have someone else driving his car. Far calmer, I could guarantee that I would have been in the opposite position but ... details.

"You better know what you want." I said, nosing the car into line.

"Oh, I know," he answered with a Cheshire grin.

I had the distinct feeling  he wasn't talking about tacos. I cleared my throat. "Are you going to tell me so I can order?" My window was already down and we were the next car in line.

"No."

I drummed my fingers impatiently on the steering wheel. "So, what? I'm supposed to guess? Is this some kind of weird test? 'If she can guess my taco order we can keep hooking up?'"

He squinted at me for a moment. "That would be an excellent test but I just plan to lean over and order myself. Don't want to risk a translation error - tacos are very important after all."

I rolled my eyes so hard they nearly fell out of my head. Rather than dignify that statement with a response, I  pulled up to the speaker where the crackling voice asked what it could get for us.

Turning to him with a snarky comment poised on my tongue, I found him already leaning over the console toward my lap. He placed a hand on the seat between my legs (good thing I "man spread" when I drive) and hauled his entire upper body into my personal space as he ordered. I might be sleeping with this guy but it still felt awkward to have him so close.

"See," he said, his face very close to mine. "It's more fun this way."

I was milliseconds away from disagreeing when he kissed me.  My foot nearly slipped off the brake in surprise. But good surprise. Very good surprise. As I returned his kiss, I felt him shifting his weight off the hand he had so casually planted between my legs when ordering.

"Isn't this more fun?" he whispered, dropping kissing down my neck like we weren't waiting in a drive thru line at midnight.

A breathy "yes" was all I could manage as his fingers danced across my inner thigh. Just as his finger hooked around the lace edge of my underwear -

HONK !!

This time my foot did slip off the brake as the car behind us got impatient that we weren't moving forward with the line.

We both laughed, the strange bubble of illicit desire broken, and he moved back to his side of the car. His hand stayed on my thigh as I pulled up to the window.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

bitty words #6

(originally posted 12/16 as #4 but renumbered and reposted for chronology of story)


He had been right. It didn't have to just be a one time thing. And it wasn't as I found myself staring at his ceiling again the following weekend.

"I want tacos."

I turned my head toward his voice to find him propped up on one elbow, already looking at me.  "You want tacos? Now?" I asked, still lazy and sluggish in the afterglow of our activities.

"Yeah," he used his free hand to draw circles on my sternum. "I'm exhausted but I don't want to be done with you yet."

Even the shadows I felt myself blushing. A week later, I still thought he was an asshole but he was also right that the sex we had together was amazing. The whole situation made me feel powerful and confident but the casualness with which he talked about it still caught me off guard. Sex before him was a whispered behind closed doors type of thing. Now sex was a topic of conversation. Pretty much all of my conversations with him, actually.

"So, what, you want to go on a taco run?" I looked at the digital clock on the shelf. "At midnight?"

He laughed, sliding his hand up my neck and pulling me to him for a quick kiss. "Midnight taco runs are the best taco runs...but you're going to have to drive."

I heaved a sigh and moved to get out of bed and find my clothes. He continued to lounge in bed and doubt crept into whatever fantasy land we'd been existing in before I left the bed. It wasn't a sad doubt, just a logical realization. Perhaps I was outstaying my welcome. "This is a clever ruse to get me to leave, isn't it?" I said it with a smile and I meant it.

He joined me at the discarded pile of clothes we'd so quickly shed earlier. "I promise I'll tell you if I want you to leave."

"Okay, so tell me," I pressed. "Should I take my tights with me because you're going to say goodbye to me at the door when we get back."

"You're ridiculous." He snatched the stockings in question from my hand and tossed them onto the bed, out of reach. "Leave them."

I was smiling when he pushed me up again his door and kissed me with such ferocity that my lips were surely bruised as we walked out together.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

bitty words #5

Wow. Just wow. I was no longer a person. I was melted pile of cells that had once been a human but had come apart at the seams. His hand snaked across my stomach and he nestled into my side with his curly hair fanned across my chest.

"Are you okay?" he sounded sleepy and I resisted the urge to pet his head. That was basically asking for an emotional attachment and that was so not my intention. 

"Mhmm. Better than okay."  

"See. Sex is awesome. And you're really good at it. So..." He let his voice trail away into the darkness.

He was clearly trying to make sure I wasn't regretting what we had just done but it was making  me uncomfortable. 

"Um... okay." I wasn't sure if I was supposed to say thank you or tell him he was good too. Well, fantastic actually. But ....details.  I decided to deflect. "Is there a rest of that last sentence?"  

"Well, I just, I didn't want you to be hard on yourself or anything. You were literally made to do this." He hands were starting to wander from my waist. 

"Arguably, everyone is made to to do this." I smirked down at him, pleased at dissecting his compliments and making him have to keep rewording things to get his point across. Yes, I was a word monster. 

His fingers danced in a threatening tickle. "You know what I mean." 

"Do I? Perhaps I am particularly obtuse. What if subtlety is entirely beyond my cognitive abilities." I was just having fun now. 

"Obtuse? Cognitive?"

"They mean -" I began.

"I know what they mean but only you would use those kinds of  words in my bed right now." He was laughing at me again but I didn't mind. 

"I like words." I shrugged beneath him and watched his hair jostle slightly. 

He turned his head to look at me. "More than you like me?" 

"I don't like you." I said matter of factly. "I like having sex with you." 

His laughter shook the whole bed. "Yeah. You're definitely welcome back in this bed any time you want." 

I put on my most pretentious voice. "Why thank you. And assuming I would like to return, how do the logistics work? Do I get a password to a private google calendar and all the girls are color coded so you don't accidentally double book your bed?"

He nuzzled against my ribs, almost shyly. "It's really nothing like that." 

His hand found mine in the blankets and before I knew it, I heard the soft snuffling of his sleep breathing. I might have gotten into this for strictly casual sex but this gorgeous man asleep on my chest was a nice bonus. 

Monday, December 19, 2016

bitty words #4

"Whoa, whoa," the laughter was back in his voice but it wasn't as annoying this time. I kissed him to make him be quiet but he pressed his gym-calloused hands to my shoulders and broke away.

"Are you sure? We don't have to do anything. We can just lay here if that is what you want." A coy grin played across his gorgeous mouth, like he was pretty sure he knew what I wanted but he liked asking anyway.

In the shadows of his room, his body was moonlight and muscle beneath me and his Adonis-worthy face was so damn pretty it felt like a sin just to look at him. I leaned forward, matching our bare chests together.

"I want you." I heard his intake of breath and added, "Now."

In an instant he had flipped me onto my back, positioning himself between my legs. A shiver ran through every cell like an electric shock. This was going to be amazing. I reached for him, catching his mouth in a messy, urgent kiss. I could feel myself drifting away from logical thought, becoming a heated ball of raw desire, but I had one more important question to ask first.

"Have you been tested recently?"

Laughing a yes against my collarbone, his fingers trailed up my thigh but not quite to the place that craved his touch most. "I'm good, but are you on the pill?"

We were still close, still touching, still kissing between the questions but this conversation felt a little like a buzz kill. I mean, it was super important to be safe, careful, and responsible but if he was about to fight me over a condom I might just have to leave for real this time.

"No, but even if I was -" He was off me before I could finish my sentence. "Where are you going?"

He back standing at the foot of the bed in seconds. "Just getting this." He threw an unopened condom onto my stomach. I snatched it up just before he launched himself on top of me again. Our already urgent kisses reached a new level of frantic.

"Put it on me," he breathed across the soft skin of my chest.

Fresh desire rocketed through me as I tore open the package and rolled it over him. Thoughts came to me in disjointed clusters without much meaning. All I knew for certain was that at that moment, I needed him.

"You're sure?" he asked again, throbbing against my thigh.

Why was that question so hot? Consent, as it turned out, was seriously sexy.

"I'm more than sure," I said, then reached for him and proved it.

Monday, December 12, 2016

bitty words #3

Something about the way he looked at me in the dark made me tell him. And like the asshole he truly was, he laughed.

"Wow, that is definitely not what I expected." He couldn't keep the mirth out of his voice. 

Embarrassment flooded every inch of my body and I felt my temperature rise. At a loss for words for the first time in living memory, my fight or flight reflex kicked in and the response was definitely flight. I rolled away from him and sat up, calculating the quickest and least revealing way to extricate myself from this situation. 

What the fuck had I been thinking? I didn't know if I was more upset with myself for being stupid enough to tell him why I was hesitant or that I was idiotic enough to have gone there in the first place. 

I felt his arms around my waist, pulling me back to him but I planted my feet on the floor and didn't budge. 

"Hey, hey, where are you going?" 

I tried to pry his arms off me. "I'm leaving. This was a mistake."

"What are you talking about? We haven't done anything yet."  He was still on the verge of laughter. Why was he incapable of being serious? 

"It's obviously better that way."

"Oh, you're like having a thing. Maybe I should serious it up a bit."  

My desire to slap him was unreal.  I made to stand up but instead of breaking his grasp, it gave him the leverage to pull me back into bed with him. 

He kept himself wrapped around me. "Seriously, I'm just surprised. You don't seem like the kind of girl to have hang ups about sex." 

"So you thought I was easy." Even I find a little laugh this time because it is so untrue. 

"Not really." He still didn't moved his arms. "I just thought you  would have slept with who you wanted when you wanted. That's just your personality." 

I couldn't fault that. I was a take what I want, screw what anyone else had to say about it kind of person. 

"Well, I've got baggage apparently." 

He laughed again and I squirmed to get free. "You can't have baggage from one person. You have the opposite of baggage." 

I cracked a smile despite myself. He was right. One person shouldn't have felt so heavy and saying it out loud helped me see that. 

Then he tickled me. In hindsight I could see his logic in trying to take my mind off the heavy stuff but it was still a stupid thing to do. I started writhing immediately. I had always been irrationally ticklish. 

"Stop." 

He didn't.

"I'm serious. Stop." I repeated. He still didn't. 

"I'm going to hit you if you don't stop." He laughed. 

Thwack. My elbow connected with his sternum and he let go. And I burst into laughter. 

"You're a monster." He gasped, catching his breath. 

"I warned you." And then, because it felt like the right thing to do, I crawled on top of him.




Friday, December 9, 2016

bitty words #2

Panic raced through me alongside adrenaline and desire, but stronger than both.

Number 2.

Every girl regrets the second guy she sleeps with.

I rolled away from him, overwhelmed and breathing hard.

"What's wrong?" His hand crept across my hip in a soft caress.

I stared at the ceiling, lost in the popcorn texture and my own doubts. "I can't do this."

"What? Why?" I felt the surprise in his fingers. "You called me, remember?"

The ridiculousness of the whole thing forced a laugh from my lips. "True."

After a moment of thick silence, he moved his hand from my hip, wrapping it instead across my waist and throwing one of his long legs over my own. He pressed the front of his body against the side of mine as I continued to stare at the ceiling.

"You're safe here," he whispered in my ear before dropping his head onto my chest.

The sudden change from brash, sarcastic banter to such a tender moment  pushed me further off balance. Who was he? What was this? What was I doing here?

"Tell me what's wrong," he asked, pulling me closer.

How could I tell him he was only number 2? That the seductress of casual sex I had been three minutes ago was all an act? Did I want to?

I turned on my side to face him, still within the embrace of his limbs. "Nevermind." I pressed my lips to his, urgently, trying to remember why I came here in the first place. He opened his mouth to meet me and my panic receded. "It doesn't matter," I said, in gasping breaths as his scalding fingers danced across my back.  "This is just a one time thing."

It was his turn to pull away, finding my eyes in the dimly lit room. "It doesn't have to be."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

bitty words #1

I broke away from his kiss as his chauvinistic words sunk in.

"You're an asshole," I said, no hint of laughter in my voice. "I don't think I want to do this anymore."

Despite my tone, he laughed. "I am. And you're a pain in the ass but this is going to be amazing."

I was still processing this latest statement when his lips crashed into mine again. It took approximately ten seconds for me to agree with him but I wasn't sure which of us was in for more trouble.


Updates

Humans of the Internet, 

I've been kind of MIA lately. I have dropped so many balls in the last three months that I have lost count. I have failed. 

It is really hard for me to say that. I am accustomed to not meeting my own expectations and having to adjust goals but I straight up failed this fall. 

And it sucks. 

But I am slowly trying to make the changes I need to in order to recover but it is hard. Adulting is hard. Life is hard. Writing this is hard. 

I told Twitter a few days ago that I am not okay and I meant it. I am struggling with my day job and balancing my other commitments. It is even making my excitement about performing in Nutcracker stressful instead of the best thing ever. 

My word of 2016 was BALANCE and I sucked at it. 

So I'm struggling but you know what helps? Writing. 

I don't have time to sit down and really work on any of my book ideas/outlines/WIPs but I do occasionally have a few spare moments to let the words flow a little and it really helps.  I'm going to start sharing those words here. I'll probably come up with some snazzy hashtag and compile them on their own page. I haven't figured that bit out yet. 

Now, more than ever, I would love to hear how things are going for you. Personally, professionally, bookishly. Share with me. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Series Review: Radleigh University Trilogy by Dahlia Adler

If you don't know who Dahlia Adler is, you should go follow her on Twitter and I guarantee if it isn't Shabbos she will make your life better in the first 24 hours. If it is Shabbos, it might take 48. She's a huge resource to the writing community and she makes phenomenal inappropriate comments. Basically, she's a keeper.

You should also go buy her NA Radleigh University trilogy: LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT, RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL, and OUT ON GOOD BEHAVIOR.



Lizzie, Cait, and Frankie start off as college roommates and become best friends. Each book chronicles one of the girls' happily ever after and the bumpy ride to get there!

LWaT is Lizzie's story of extreme loss, huge responsibility, and falling for her TA.
RoFR is all Cait and her long lost first love with some NCAA sports and roommate drama thrown in for good measure. (I try to not have favorites in this trilogy because they are all amazing but this might be it)
OoGB is pansexual Frankie trying out monogamy with Cait's new roommate. So. Much. Drama.



I'm actually having a hard time with this review because I thoroughly enjoy these books so much it hard to be serious about it. But really. Adler rocks at the gushy romantic parts, the steamy sexy parts, AND the kickass girl friendship parts. What is not to love?

The only answer is that the trilogy is over!


Can we also talk about these gorgeous covers for a hot second? 

Go read these books. I promise you won't be sorry!

xoxox
LSM


Monday, August 1, 2016

Mid-year reflections

At the start of every year I reflect and pick some goals or inspirations. This year I picked the word BALANCE and wrote about it here.

But A LOT has happened since January. 

  • my book debuted with a fabulous party 
  • I started a fulltime day job but didn't quit any of my others
  • I rocked my professional conference 
  • My great uncle died
  • My grandmother who lived with me since I was five died (peacefully in her sleep)
  • I walked in my Masters graduation ceremony (without my thesis done)
  • I started my summer job
  • My house was painted
  • I went to Europe for the first time (and it was amazing)
  • I have made some time to see friends - including going to the Renaissance Festival with my BFF
So yeah. Life has been happening. Good and Bad. However, since early June I have not been in ballet class. The season was over but summer classes hadn't started yet and it was hard. I went to Europe feeling incredibly out of shape. I walked around the Paris Opera and found the Bavarian State Ballet rehearsal hall and it made me ache to dance.  So today, for the first time in nearly two months I put on a leotard and took ballet. 

And it kicked my ass. But I also felt amazing. I know ballet can ruin lives. I've seen it. But I also know that it regularly saves mine. I put on my leotard and I feel powerful. I don't feel dainty and pretty and thin. I feel like a force to be reckoned with. I feel like I am in control. 

I'd be lying if I didn't say that I also worry slightly about the extra bit of fat that has accumulated on the inside of my thighs and the underside of my arms. But those things don't defeat me. They are things to work on, to further improve. That I am CAPABLE of changing. 

I had a great weekend with my best friend but last night I was scrolling through Facebook (WHY DO I DO THIS TO MYSELF?!) and started comparing myself to my high school classmates. My high from BFF times deflated fast and I felt like a failure really quickly. Even as I got ready for ballet this morning, that feeling still lingered. Now, after class (and work), with my muscles already sore and protesting mere existence. I look back at the same Facebook posts and feel nothing. 

Mikhail Baryshnikov once said "I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself." 

Damn. If that doesn't sum up what ballet does for me, I don't know what does. Ballet lets me be selfish and work on me in the studio. When I leave the studio, that better than myself attitude carries over and I can stem the desire to view life as a constant competition. Newsflash: it isn't. Or at least it doesn't have to be. I'm really glad I have ballet to remind me of that. Ballet really is  my balance. 

I cannot wait to get back in the studio tomorrow. 

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

THE SOUND OF US Blog Tour: Interview with Julie Hammerle




The Sound of Us
by Julie Hammerle
Release Date: June 7th 2016
Entangled Teen

Summary: 

Kiki Nichols might not survive music camp.

 She’s put her TV-loving, nerdy self aside for one summer to prove she’s got what it takes: she can be cool enough to make friends, she can earn that music scholarship, and she can get into Krause University’s music program.

 Except camp has rigid conduct rules—which means her thrilling late-night jam session with the hot drummer can’t happen again, even though they love all the same TV shows, and fifteen minutes making music with him meant more than every aria she’s ever sung.

But when someone starts snitching on rule breakers and getting them kicked out, music camp turns into survival of the fittest. If Kiki’s going to get that scholarship, her chance to make true friends—and her chance with the drummer guy—might cost her the future she wants more than anything.




About the Author
Julie Hammerle is the author of The Sound of Us, which will be published by Entangled Teen in the summer of 2016. Before settling down to write "for real," she studied opera, taught Latin, and held her real estate license for one hot minute. Currently, she writes about TV on her blog Hammervision, ropes people into conversations about Game of Thrones, and makes excuses to avoid the gym. Her favorite YA-centric TV shows include 90210 (original spice), Felicity, and Freaks and Geeks. Her iPod reads like a 1997 Lilith Fair set list. She lives in Chicago with her husband, two kids, and a dog. They named the dog Indiana.

Author Links:







Doesn't this sound fabulous?! Julie Hammerle was nice enough to answer a few questions and I'm excited to share with you. 



L.S. Mooney: I'm in love with this premise so I'm dying to know - Did you ever go to opera camp yourself?

Julie Hammerle: Thank you so much! And, no, I’ve never been to opera camp. I studied voice in college; but, as far as I know, the whole “opera camp as a way for students to earn scholarships” is something I made up for the book. However, I’d love to know if anyone did go to a real opera camp!

LSM: Very cool - I was always so jealous of music majors in college, they seemed THE COOLEST. 

Since your book is steeped in music, I have to ask - What is your main character's theme song? Why?

JH: I love this question. While working on the book I had quite the soundtrack for Kiki, and there’s a song for almost every scene. I think her theme song would be “Superhero” by Ani DiFranco, because pre-camp Kiki was a lone wolf who didn’t think she needed anyone. But then she meets Jack, and all that changes. He’s her kryptonite.

LSM: Great song! As a Buffalo girl, we love our Ani DiFranco :) 

Can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

JH: Team plotter! Actually, now that I say that, I totally pantsed the first draft of this novel. And that might be why not a single scene remains from that original version J


LSM: Yikes - a total overhaul! But I do find that pantsing a first draft can definitely help you get words on the paper... even if they're ugly. 

Everyone's publishing experience is so unique - Do you have any crazy, silly, or just cool stories from your own writing and publishing journey?

JH: Probably the silliest thing is that I started writing this book at maybe the most ridiculous time possible. I was at home with a one-year-old and I had just started babysitting my two-month-old niece. I wrote whenever they were sleeping, and I kept thinking about the story while we were out walking or driving or while they were watching Sesame Street


LSM: That sounds intense! But it also sounds like you were productive even in a crazy situation! 

What are you working on now?

JH: I’m currently working on two very different, but very fun, romance-filled YA novels. 


THE SOUND OF US is now available! 

Buy Links:




GIVEAWAY: a Rafflecopter giveaway


Blog Tour Organized by: YA Bound Book Tours

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Book Review: WITHOUT BENEFITS

Emma will always be a New Yorker at heart, even though she has a perfect life in Seattle. She has a prestigious job fundraising for the Seattle Symphony, a handsome boyfriend who adores her, and a Belltown apartment with views of the Sound. It should be more than enough to keep her pain from not playing the piano, and her 9/11 nightmares, away. But when her old college crush, Owen, comes back into her life, it’s more than just spending time with him that’s causing cracks in her picture-perfect life. As she steps back on stage, and back into the spotlight, her connection with Owen and his world, dredges up old memories that Emma worked hard to forget. Emma’s past comes back to haunt her, forcing her to face the truth about more than just her fears of returning back to New York. As her once perfect life begins to burn down, Emma is forced to figure out what she really wants: her fundraiser and cocktail party-filled life with her boyfriend, or forging a new future with the one thing, and one person, she’s ever loved–even if it means returning to New York. Without Benefits is a beautiful and moving exploration of modern relationships and family written in the vein of Taylor Jenkins Reid and Renee Carlino.

About the author:


 Nicole Tone is a freelance editor, MFA student, traveler, pet collector, binge-watcher, and a self- proclaimed coffee snob. She lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband, three cats, and two very large dogs, but spends as much of her time in Seattle as possible. You can like her page on Facebook, @ her on Twitter, swoon over dream houses together on Pinterest, and add Without Benefits on Goodreads.


The Review:  I read the first chapter of WITHOUT BENEFITS a while back when Nicole Tone asked for a reader on Twitter. After I finished, I knew I needed this book. When I got my ARC, I was not disappointed. 

I have never played a musical instrument, I have never been a relationship for a decade, and I have never lived in the Pacific-Northwest but Emma's story still felt like my own. She was incredibly easy to empathize with and relate to. Her oscillating feelings of happiness, discontent,, confidence, uncertainty, self-reliance, and dependency felt like the defining characteristics of my own mid-twenties existence. Her journey to rediscover her art, find closure with a college crush and contentment with a seemingly perfect boyfriend, and make a home in a city on the opposite side of the country spoke to me on a universal level. I didn't want to put the book down unless it was to call up Emma herself and schedule a coffee date to commiserate about our confusing lives. Although there are distinctive events that push the story forward, Emma's arc is self-motivated. She realizes she is not living the life she imagined and she might not be as okay with that as she originally thought.  Tone's exploration of interpersonal relationships was superb and couched in her soft prose that drew me farther in with each sentence.

I cannot wait to read this book again when my paperback arrives!



Saturday, April 30, 2016

Mod-Goth is totally a thing, right?

I vividly remember being in 7th grade and struggling to pick a book for my first book report of the year. I had just read Phyllis Whitney's Silverhill, my first classic gothic romance, and I was in love with it. I convinced it was the only type of book I ever wanted to read again. My mother gently tried to suggest that perhaps it wasn't the best material for a book report but my answer was simply to suggest other titles by Whitney or similar sounding stories by Victoria Holt. My mother rolled her eyes and sent a note to my teacher with my book report proposal. My teacher tried to have the same conversation with me but I wouldn't budge. Thus my love of gothic was born. 

Over the next several years I burned through all of my mother's gothic romance novels but I read so many that I started to see repeating patterns, overused tropes, and stock characters. I wasn't calling my issues by those names at the time, but I got a little bored with the formulaic nature of the genre. 

And then Jenny Adams Perinovic wrote A Magic Dark & Bright and I fell entirely back in love with gothic. It was spooky and romantic and full of deep dark family secrets. It was all the things I had loved about my mother's gothics but it was also something else. It was modern and fresh and included so many other elements that made it the antithesis of formula fiction. 

Despite my undying love of AMD&B, I didn't dive right back into gothic. The wounds of my old betrayal ran deep. But I took baby steps. I downloaded The Artisans by Julie Reece months ago because it sounded so good and just what my little gothic-loving heart craved.   

Just a few days ago, I was struggling to stay afloat in daily life and, because stress leads to bad decisions, I decided to start reading The Artisans at 11pm on a weeknight. I binge read it in one sitting. (Bed time was after 2am but I don't want to talk about it.) 

AND I LOVED IT. It was perfect gothic gone modern. It had just enough of the tropes I wanted without being too predictable. It was just what my stressed out brain needed to relax and find its happy place again. I loved the spunky voice of the main character, Raven. And the infuriating but drop dead gorgeous Gideon with his blond curls and fancy cane. I loved Raven's super supportive, effortlessly endearing best friends and the grumpy chauffeur. And the pearly white boy who tells her that her black cat is in danger. I loved literally everything about this book. I highly recommend! 

So I'm thoroughly back in love with gothic, but modern, fresh, and innovative gothic. Something I've dubbed mod-goth. It's totally thing, right? Cool, now send me all the recommendations! 

xoxox,
LSM

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Is this real life?!

Four years ago, I was working at a mind-numbing job and I would practice my pen name signature on post-it notes when no one was looking. Last night, I got to sign that signature in real books for real people.




It was an amazing experience and I am beside myself with gratitude and appreciation for the wonderful people in my life. 

Thank you, for making this experience unforgettable! 



Shameless Promotion:
Don't forget to show me proof of purchase (through the end of the month) for a signed bookmark!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Cover Reveal: THOROUGHLY MODERN MIRELLA

I'm so excited to reveal the cover of my YA contemporary debut. The fabulous art is by the wonderful Sarah Kettles and the design was done by the flawless Jenny Adams Perinovic. I love them both and I could not be more pleased with the final product. 

About the book: 
In a small town like Paradise, everyone has a role. 

High school senior Mirella Danville is a proud "theatre nerd." That is, until she makes a scene at the Halloween party she shouldn't have even gone to, flirts with the football captain, and reunites with an old friend who ditched her for the popular crew.

It's a dream come true when Mirella lands the lead in the musical Thoroughly Modern Millie, and it should put her firmly back in her usual role. Instead, it only fuels her desire to change up her boring existence so that her first kiss won’t be onstage with a gorilla-handed junior. The line between Mirella and her character blurs as she dives head first into a world of fruity flavored cigarillos, sweet and sour schnapps, and college boys. 

But when her antics--and the expectations of her hot college boyfriend--start to cause drama off the stage, Mirella questions her decision to be more "Millie" than "Mirella." With her friendships, family, and performance on the verge of crumbling, Mirella has to get back into character...or risk losing herself.



And now.... the cover; 


Don't you just love it?!

THOROUGHLY MODERN MIRELLA debuts on 4/12 (preorder links coming soon)

Friday, March 18, 2016

Cover Reveal: WITHOUT BENEFITS

I'm super excited to be a part of this cover reveal for fellow Buffalo writer and lovely human, Nicole Tone. This book sounds amazing and the cover looks so fabulous I can't wait to get my hands on it!

 A little less than three months from now, Without Benefits will be showing up on doorsteps and in e-readers! But today we get a first look at the amazing cover, designed by Ashley at Cardboard Monet! Ashley even did a special photoshoot just for this cover.


Emma will always be a New Yorker at heart, even though she has a perfect life in Seattle. She has a prestigious job fundraising for the Seattle Symphony, a handsome boyfriend who adores her, and a Belltown apartment with views of the Sound. It should be more than enough to keep her pain from not playing the piano, and her 9/11 nightmares, away. But when her old college crush, Owen, comes back into her life, it’s more than just spending time with him that’s causing cracks in her picture-perfect life. As she steps back on stage, and back into the spotlight, her connection with Owen and his world, dredges up old memories that Emma worked hard to forget. Emma’s past comes back to haunt her, forcing her to face the truth about more than just her fears of returning back to New York. As her once perfect life begins to burn down, Emma is forced to figure out what she really wants: her fundraiser and cocktail party-filled life with her boyfriend, or forging a new future with the one thing, and one person, she’s ever loved–even if it means returning to New York. Without Benefits is a beautiful and moving exploration of modern relationships and family written in the vein of Taylor Jenkins Reid and Renee Carlino.

 So here it is...


 The moment we've been waiting for...



 Isn't it gorgeous? I am completely enthralled!  Pre-order your copy today!

Now that you've seen it, get in on the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


 About the author:

 Nicole Tone is a freelance editor, MFA student, traveler, pet collector, binge-watcher, and a self- proclaimed coffee snob. She lives in Buffalo, NY with her husband, three cats, and two very large dogs, but spends as much of her time in Seattle as possible. You can like her page on Facebook, @ her on Twitter, swoon over dream houses together on Pinterest, and add Without Benefits on Goodreads.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

This Has Nothing To Do With Writing (possible ED/anxiety triggers)

When I read Katherine Locke's District Ballet Series (find my reviews here & here) which deal with the eating disorders and ballet, I promised to someday write about my own unhealthy relationship with food. So, here I am.

I've been dancing since I was 2. I've been performing in Nutcracker since I was 5 and have been every female character except the Sugar Plum Fairy. I take class four nights a week and have rehearsal for roughly 8-10 hours a weekend. I'm not a professional dancer but dance has always been a part of my life (and always will be). 

I'm 5'6"(ish) and weigh between 100-125 pounds depending on my relationship with food at the time. I've always been naturally slim even when I've been dancing infrequently, injured, or just plain lazy.

The surprising part about my weight fluctuations and issues with food is that they have pretty much nothing to do with my dancing. Sure, I remember being thirteen and having my director tell our whole class that losing a few pounds and eating healthier would be good for all of us, but I was already a very picky but mostly healthy eater and I remember flippantly telling friends at the time "he basically wants me to be anorexic but I don't have the self-control" (With hindsight, I know how awful that was to say, I'M SORRY). In the thirteen years since then, I've come to realize that my director tells a whole class that to avoid having more personalized and potentially traumatic conversations with students who are on the heavier side. Those words I didn't take seriously were not really meant for me anyway. (I'm not even getting into the issues with this approach.) However, that aside, I definitely grew up knowing dancers who were struggling with anorexia. 

Anyway, my title as picky eater of the family warped my food relationship earlier on. My mother valiantly tried to get me to eat green beans and meat and soup but the end result was always me literally asleep in my food. So I was a taste-based vegetarian that loved carbs, fruits, dairy and three vegetables. Because it was obvious that my diet was lacking nutrients (specifically protein since ew meat), I regularly drank meal replacement/high protein shakes for breakfast and snacked on protein bars, etc. 

Because I ate protein bars and brought weird food for lunch, my freshman health teacher was CONVINCED I was anorexic and tried to get me to go to the school counselor so many times that I lost count. But I wasn't! I was just a naturally-slim, very active, picky eater. Being accused of suffering from anorexia when you're not, AT ALL, is a weird thing. Sometimes my sister and I would call each other fat at ballet and I'd feel pudgy or bloated but I never took the word fat seriously enough to what to do anything about it, 

I existed that way, until just a few years ago when for the first time, I think, I might have experienced something like an eating disorder, although it was never diagnosed. I was 24, in a rocky, long-distance relationship, working my brains out on a high school musical at my alma mater, and living at home. I felt hemmed in by every aspect of my existence. Everything felt out of my control. I didn't feel fat when I stopped eating, I felt too exhausted and sick to eat. So I didn't. No one said anything. My director didn't comment on it like she did my choreography, my boyfriend didn't tell me I was too picky to take anywhere, my mother didn't urge me to do it like cleaning my room.  

I got a weird high out of not eating. It was only semi-conscious, if I'm perfectly honest. I wasn't like "I should not eat because it's the only thing in my life I can control." It was more like "I feel crazy and out of control but it's better when I don't eat."  I let my stress guide my eating choices and started dropping weight like crazy. The next time I saw my boyfriend he commented on the way my spine protruded from my back. I thought it was kind of gross too so I ate. At home, I went back to mostly not eating. 

This went on for roughly 3 months. Then, at the end of the musical season, I went shopping and the size zero in misses fell right off. My thighs didn't even remotely touch. My bras were so big it was laughable that I was wearing them at all. It was a serious wake up call and I realized how destructive my behavior was. I started myself on a high protein diet and started dancing again and slowly - and healthily - but the weight back on. 

Fast forward a year. I was 25 and in pretty much exactly the same situation. Except minus the boyfriend and plus more responsibility for the musical, plus grad school. When I got stressed and people started telling me what to do, I found myself living on KitKats, Dorritos, and Cherry 7UP. The weight started to fall off again. I tried to eat other things, but nothing tasted good, everything hurt my stomach. This time I was conscious of my shitty decisions but I couldn't stop myself until the stress let up. I returned to normal at the of the musical season.

This winter, at 26, I had my stress level more under control and my weight fluctuation were way less drastic, It is still a struggle for me to be aware of how I am feeling and thus how I am eating. With my new job making me crazy, my debut and launch party looming, and everything else going on, I've noticed my appetite shrinking again and it is so hard to combat.  I'm trying to "keep my chill" as my students say but it is getting harder everyday.

To all my fellow stressed out, anxiety-plagued, food-sensitive lovelies, I feel you. I'm here for you. Let's support each other and try to stay in control.

<3 LSM  




Saturday, February 27, 2016

Updates!

I'm not dead! I kind of feel like it a little but I'm not, I swear! And I have updates  *grins madly*

1. I started a new full time teaching job. It's intense and hard and a complete whirlwind on a daily basis. But hey, I got called a crazy white bitch by a 12 year old on my first day, what could possibly go wrong here?

2. Before my new job, I wrote 5k in February using #write20. This might not sound like a lot to you but it's huge for me after my 18 month writing slump.

3. Book news! My indie debut will release April 12th from Bookish Group Press!  I'm mad excited and terrified! There is a release party on 4/13 in Buffalo, NY (details coming soon).

4. A hard release date means a cover reveal date too!! March 20th will be cover reveal day, so get ready to be wowed by Sarah Kettles's amazing art and Jenny Adams Perinovic's flawless design skills. I cannot wait to share it with you!!! 💜

That's the quick and dirty on my life, what's going with you guys?!

Monday, January 4, 2016

2015 was all about CHANGE, 2016 is all about BALANCE

When I look back at last January, I can't believe the person wearing my skin was actually me. I did AMAZING things last winter but they nearly broke me. I did some serious healing over the summer and worked on me this fall. The course of 2015 was rocky and filled with new challenges and adventures. It was hard but it was wonderful. 

Looking ahead into 2016, I have a lot on my plate. 
  • I'm self-publishing my debut novel (YA Contemp about musicals and friendship) in March
  • I'm keeping my self healthy - mentally and physically - through dance
  • I'm doing choreography for a middle school musical
  • I'm working 2.5 day jobs
  • I'm working on my Masters thesis and trying to finish grad school
  • I'm going to a professional conference
  • I'm job hunting
  • I'm trying to keep writing even though it feels terrible lately

Those are my HAVE TO goals. My I am already doing these things. No argument. That's why 2016 has to be about BALANCE. I can't let anything take more weight than it should or my life won't function. 

To help even things out, I have some loftier goals, softer goals, less required ones. 

My I hope these happen goals are: 
  • Become more involved in the online writing/reading community
  • Go on dates
  • Write new stories 
  • Travel to the west coast 
  • Save a little money 
  • Drink more wine
  • Spend more time on me 
  • Spend more time with friends
  • Color and knit and sew
I'm proud to have survived 2015 and I can't wait to battle my way through 2016 as well. 

What are your goals? Writing, reading, or otherwise. 

bitty words #14

"Well, that answers that question," I murmured against his shoulder. Our bodies were still tangled together. the sheets knotted ...