Tag Archive: christmas

December, briefly

Tree decorating fun!

Ah, December… the last month of the year, and possibly my favorite month of this year? (Which is saying a lot, because I have been pretty vocal about how much I hate any kind of snow that isn’t Jon Snow.) But this December has really been amazing for a few special reasons. Not to mention, Christmas is a magical time on its own. I love the traditions– picking out a tree and decorating it, reciting National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation word for word, making pancakes and bacon on Christmas morning– and as much as I don’t love my annual procrastination when it comes to buying gifts, I was able to relax and really enjoy the holidays this year.

This month, I have been…

Working on: For the first time in several months… not very much! After finishing the first draft of a new YA thriller last month for NaNo, I took a few weeks off to mentally recharge. It worked, because I’m itching to get back to new words!

Reading: I finished Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon, and it really was everything. Heartfelt, hilarious, and so insightful, with characters who felt real. I’m not surprised that this book has not only been optioned for film, but will be an actual movie next year! So excited to see Maddie and Olly on the big screen. I also read Beautiful Broken Things by Sara Barnard, a story about the twists and turns of female friendship (a theme I am forever excited about reading in YA). And I was lucky enough to read Riley Redgate’s sophomore novel, Noteworthy, in ARC form before its 2017 release date, and I completely fell in love with it! It’s both funny and serious, a study in gender and what that means, and explores sexuality and sexual orientation with so much nuance and sensitivity.

Watching: Aside from the traditional Christmas movies (National Lampoon! Scrooged! A Christmas Story! It’s a Wonderful Life!), my husband and I binge-watched the first season of Stranger Things and were completely captivated. Not the most Christmas-y show, but… we couldn’t stop watching! I’m a huge Winona Ryder fan, so I was very excited to see her on TV, and I really liked the entire concept… the dark, twisty nature, plus the Stephen King-esque vibe. Can’t wait for the next season!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and enjoy the last days of December before we ring in 2017!

December, briefly

I feel like this isn’t just recapping December, briefly, but the whole year in a nutshell, too. There’s something about the last day of a year that symbolizes a lot. The events that have transpired, the moments that have made up the year, the highest highs and lowest lows. The milestones. The triumphs. The failures. And 2015 was a year with plenty of everything. It was a year of firsts, and I’m both excited and a teensy bit nervous for what 2016 has in store!

The Flynn Christmas Tree of 2015, aka Arnie!

I wasn’t sure I would be able to fully enjoy the Christmas rituals of December this year. With FIRSTS releasing in less than a week (!!!), the month has been pretty hectic. But I have managed to stay on top of everything so that I could make time for the things I love most about the holiday season. Going to pick out our Christmas tree and decorating it. Eating shortbread and date-filled cookies made with love by my dad. Wrapping gifts with a glass of Baileys. Taking evening walks to look at the lights in our neighborhood. Making ornaments. Visiting friends and family. It has been a truly wonderful month, and I feel like I have done my best to savor each moment.

This month, I have been…

Working on: I spent the month putting the finishing touches on my NaNo project (and writing an appropriate ending). It’s now a fully finished first draft that is ready to be made shiny in the new year! There’s also another YA contemporary project I’m nearing a first draft of, and I’m equally excited about both WIPs. Revision will be my priority over drafting going into the new year, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get an effective revision system going and seeing how each story evolves.

Reading: I was able to read two more ARCs from my fellow Sixteener debuts this month. First up was Kim Savage’s AFTER THE WOODS, a twisty, complicated, completely captivating thriller about two best friends who are dealing with the aftermath of being attacked in the woods. I won’t say much more about this one because I’ll post a full review closet to its release date, but I will say this: It’s not one to be missed.

Next, I read UNDERWATER by my Sixteen to Read sister Marisa Reichardt. I had been eagerly anticipating this one for a long time, and I was sucked in right from the first page. It’s the story of Morgan, who has been unable to move on after a terrible tragedy that happened at her high school– one that she feels responsible for. Morgan confines herself to her apartment and grapples with her guilt– but when a new boy moves in next door, she realizes he may be what she needs to finally move on. I’ll post more about this one later too, but warning– this one will break your heart in pieces.

It's Santa Paws! (Aka, a disgruntled Abby.)

It’s Santa Paws! (Aka, a disgruntled Abby.)

Watching: It wouldn’t be the holiday season without some Christmas classics! The following Christmas movies are always on my list of December must-watches: Scrooged, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Santa Clause, all of the Rankin Bass cartoons, and The Grinch (the original, not the frightening version starring Jim Carrey). Plus, on Christmas Eve, the ultimate in Christmas feels: It’s A Wonderful Life, which is best accompanied with a glass of wine and a box of tissues.

Well, that’s a bit about my December! Tomorrow marks the start of a new year– a year that will bring plenty more firsts (yes, I’m going to keep making that pun). My book birthday is almost here, and then I’m off to Boston for my first ever bookstore panel and the ALA Midwinter conference, where I’ll get to meet some of my wonderful Sweet Sixteen friends. Wishing everyone a New Year’s Eve filled with love and friendship and some delightfully bubbly champagne!

 

#SixteensBlogAbout: Holidays, or My Scrooge Moment

It’s that time of year again, and the Sweet Sixteens are blogging about the holidays. I wrote a post for Pop! Goes The Reader earlier this month as part of her Authors Talk Holidays feature (you can read it here), wherein I shared how the meaning of Christmas has changed for me over the years. So I thought for this post, I’d share a bit about what it means to me now as an adult.

Namely, how I managed to suck the fun out of it.

This Christmas, I'm channeling this girl's big smile.

This Christmas, I’m channeling this girl’s big smile.

I’ll be the first to admit… when I was a little kid, I LOVED getting presents. I never thought anything could eclipse the sheer joy of ripping into a gift I had stared at, shaken, and obsessed about as soon as it was put under the tree. But as the years went by, that excitement got somewhat diminished. It wasn’t the presents I was looking forward to anymore but simply spending time with the people I care about.

But my December isn’t all about the warm fuzzies. Because the other way Christmas changed for me as an adult is that it stopped being fun and started being stressful. There were gifts to buy and trees to put up and things to cook and parties to attend and when all this combined with working full-time and writing, December became one big ball of stress as snarled and tangled up as the Christmas lights in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. Instead of looking forward to the days leading up, I dreaded them. Instead of writing a list to Santa like I did when I was a kid, I was writing to-do lists so I didn’t lose my mind.

I won’t lie… this year, I have really felt the stress. Any time someone mentioned Christmas, my insides clenched up and I had this moment of panic, like it can’t be here already! When I was a kid, I started a countdown sometime in November and wished the days would speed up. Somewhere, that turned into wanting time to stand still or even go backwards.

Then I realized something: I’m making Christmas a chore. I’m making it yet another thing to cross off my list of things to do. Instead of enjoying the moments, I was looking at them as things to get through and check off. I was being exactly what I never wanted to be. A Grinch. A Scrooge. Somebody not fun.

The truth is, this month is insanely busy, this year more than ever. I’m probably juggling more things than I ever have before. This frenetic pace will continue, because FIRSTS comes out exactly ten days after Christmas. (Cue happy-dancing, wine-drinking, and general flailing!) I had to accept a hard truth: I will not manage to ever clear my to-do list this month. And you know what? When I accepted that fact, my anxiety actually decreased significantly. I started being nicer to myself. I have been on this amazing roller coaster that is debuting for months and now the roller coaster is about to hit the highest peak, the part just before your stomach bottoms out with anticipation. I don’t want to stop the ride, nor can I. So what is there left except to enjoy it, throw up my arms, and have the time of my life?

Now, if you need me, I’ll be drinking eggnog, trying to dress up my dog in a Santa costume, and watching Scrooged for the hundredth time. I’ll be squeezing my loved ones and squeezing all the magic I can from this Christmas season. Because there’s plenty of it.

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