Stuff & Things

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The Artwork Formerly Known As SWEETEST DOWNFALL

I turned in a round of edits about a week and a half ago and I’ve been on cloud nine since. This is the book I always wanted TAFKASD to be. Agent Heather is taking it to the next level, and I’m so thrilled to be working with her. Also, she’s fun to talk to. I never really expected agents to be funny or charming or approachable when I started querying back in the olden days, but Heather is all three—and also professional. I don’t know how she does it.

Also, we’re making progress on the title! We might not have to type out The Artwork Formerly Known As SWEETEST DOWNFALL much longer! Will update that once there’s news (titles are important to me).


As of right now, I have 14,177 words. I’ve been writing this one slowly—TAFKASD had first priority, of course—but ever since I turned that in, my daily word count has increased pretty steadily. I don’t generally keep track because I write in Word and I’d have to do math, but I think yesterday was a 1.5k day—yesterday I wrote more than one-tenth of this thing I’ve been working on for months. Yay!

BREAK THE WORLD is much, much lighter than The Artwork Formerly Known As SWEETEST DOWNFALL—the similarities pretty much begin and end at “gay contemporary YA set in New Jersey.” I don’t want to talk plot, so instead I’ll list some things I love about it:

  • There are three boys—Emory, the narrator; Jude, the love interest; and Peter, Emory’s best friend—and I am in love with all of them despite Peter being straight
  • It’s fucking funny
  • It’s from the POV of an extrovert falling in love with an introvert, which is something I’ve noticed isn’t super common in the YA romance I’ve read, so, yay!
  • Because it’s an upbeat and largely fluffy book, the playlist is mostly upbeat music. I listen to my current book’s playlist frequently, even when I’m not actively writing, and I’ve noticed I’m in a better mood as of late. I think these things are interconnected, somehow, in some small way—music has to have an effect on mood, if just in me
  • There is a sibling relationship (Emory and his older sister Rowan), and siblings are so fun to write
  • I don’t generally write to theme, but I realized over plotting that BTW has two subjects it tackles: the day-to-day of recovery and all its nuances and steps backward and little victories, and your sense of agency and how you reclaim it when it’s taken from you
  • BREAK THE WORLD has a “talking” Venus fly trap named Herbert; random, late-night, anonymous, illegal acts of kindness; a very, very subtle but present Hamilton reference; casual gay sex; a narrator who loves gardening; a love interest who loves poetry; a best friend who loves cereal; and a writer who could not be more in love with all of it
  • I want to share so many parts of this book with you so you can understand why I’m obsessed with it.


Obviously I can’t say a whole lot about the details of my internship publicly—it’s unprofessional and Wouldn’t Do. That said, I read a slush manuscript the other day and I loved it. Like, it blew me away, and my reader report was glowing. Slush works. Cross your fingers, friends!

Also—and I’ve received confirmation that I can talk about this, so, yay!—I’ve helped out with or seen quite a few of the books on Kate’s list, so I’m going to name- and link-drop some I especially love (links go to Goodreads):

  • WHY I LOATHE SUMNER LANE by Ingrid Paulson: I’ve read a few iterations of this, and guys. It’s incredible. SUMNER LANE is like a YA romcom—it’s fun and snappy and adorable. You will love it.
  • 27 HOURS by Tristina Wright: Absolutely thrilling, in more than one sense. It’s fast-paced, full of action and conspiracies and battle scenes—and it has diverse characters at the forefront of that action and those conspiracies and battle scenes. LGBTQIAP+, disabled people, and people of color. 2017!
  • THE SOUND OF US by Julie Hammerle: Pitch Perfect at opera camp. YOU NEED IT. TSoU is so beyond adorable I’m getting butterflies thinking about it. Plus the cover is gorgeous—don’t you want that on your shelf?


I’m offering critiques for writers participating in #DVpit, a Twitter pitch party about and by marginalized voices! If you’re participating, feel free to send me your query and/or your pitches for critique. The instructions are in the “resources” section on Beth Phelan’s #DVpit homepage. I’ve been told I’m thorough, so there’s that. PLEASE NOTE: There is a backlog right now, and I’m working to get back to everyone with the attention their work deserves. Thanks muchly for your patience!

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