06/5/17

BEA 2017 Wrap Up

I’ve been waiting desperately to return to BEA since I went years ago (2012 I think?) and this year IT FINALLY HAPPENED. I took the plunge and bought tickets, not knowing if anyone I knew was going, and just told myself it would work out.

And it did.

It was amazing.
Emily, aka someone who came into my life from blogging and mutual friends and has been there to sign on to all of my crazy escapades and read my manuscripts at midnight, ended up COMING TO BEA!!! She flew in and stayed with me and we got to see each other for the first time in four! years!

Emily and I spent much of BEA hanging out with this AMAZING GIRL IN THE MIDDLE OF THIS GIF AKA MARY. Mary joined Lit Up Review and Emily and I low-key are now in love with her. Talk about positivity and happiness literally radiating from someone–that’s Mary.

Mary helped Emily and I get up to date on all things bookish because Emily and I quickly realized we were not prepared for BEA at all. We even thought the show floor was open on Wednesday. (Oops.) We were so out of the loop on books that Mary would be like, “Oh, I really want this one!” And we’re like, “What is that?” This happened repeatedly over the weekend but Mary stuck with us and it was so hard saying goodbye.

And this brings me to exciting part of BEA part two: THE BOOKS!!!!!!! ! !! ! ! ! ! !

I got so many amazing books at BEA. Books I had no idea existed but decided I had to have in my life or I may not make it another day. Here are my hauls from Day One (on the left) and Day Two (on the right):
I went ahead and compiled a list of all the books on a Goodreads shelf for convenience. You can check it out here: https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/1293180-willa?shelf=bea2017&utf8=%E2%9C%93

I’ve already read GIRLS MADE OF SNOW AND GLASS and it was incredible so I have high hopes for this year. I’m working my way through DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY and also enjoying it!

And then there’s the authors and industry peeps.

These are the people that just MAKE book festivals for me. Authors and the people who work in the industry make book events even better for me, and they remind me why I want to go into publishing and why I love to write. They inspire me, they set a fire in me, and I love them to bits.

At BEA this year, I saw a bunch of old friends, and also met a couple new people!

Old friends include: Leigh Bardugo, Jason Reynolds (who I’m SO FREAKING PROUD OF THIS GUY IS KILLING IT), Adam Silvera, Eric Smith (literary agent), Jenny Bent (literary agent), Lyndsey Sands, Tamara Ireland Stone, and Molly Ellis (publicist @ Macmillan).

New friends include: Lynn Weingarten (we’re hair twins!!!), Ryan Graudin, Katherine Locke, Sasha Alsberg, and Nic Stone.

To check out more of my escapades (and pictures with authors) from BEA check out my Twitter, which was revitalized for the occasion. It also includes my live tweets from the Hillary Clinton event where I absolutely lost my cool in the crowd and almost cried four times.

I think that’s pretty much it.

I just want it to keep going.

I miss all my friends.

I miss the Javits (a sentence I never thought I’d say).

BEA 2018 COME FASTER PLEASE!

05/21/17

Freshman Year of College + Life Update

Helloooooo all of you lovely people!

Long time no see? talk? post!

I promised myself no apologies for not blogging, so here I am, not apologizing. Instead, I’m saying hello! I’ve missed you all so much. Freshman year is over (and no it hasn’t hit me yet) and I’m currently sitting in my dorm room with my tower fan on full blast and the windows open because New York is HOT, y’all.

So, what am I doing now? Why am I still in my dorm room? Basically, I’m in NYC until the end of July (!!!) working at Barnard. I’m staying on campus (bless free room and board in exchange for work) and doing anything and everything I want to do in New York.

So far, I’ve watched the entirety of the new Netflix documentary series “The Keepers” (WATCH IT IT’S SO GOOD IT’S LIKE CRIMINAL MINDS AND SPOTLIGHT ALL IN ONE) and too much Criminal Minds. I’ve attempted to work on my book but have yet to find inspiration or the motivation, and have read ten pages of The Handmaid’s Tale while riding the Subway. I joined a gym (!!! ADULTING!!!!) and realized I, despite having lived in Texas my entire life, somehow don’t own enough summer clothes. Don’t ask.

Anyways, life is good. I’m cooking for myself again, which I love, and have been going to sleep whenever I want and watching Netflix until I can’t anymore. I’ve walked through New York in 90 degree weather, went to Midtown (I never go to Midtown) and checked another museum off of my to-see list.

This summer is all about three things: exploring, passions, and ME. My goals for the summer are to do things in New York I’ve been meaning to do for ages but just haven’t and to re-connect with the things I love. These two things tie into my last goal, which is to focus on myself. I was super busy this year and put self-care on the back burner (don’t do this!!!!) and now it’s time to take care of myself. Not in the health way, but in the love way. Do things that make me happy, spend time on my own, re-connect with my heart and mind. That sounds so cheesy, but it’s something I never realized was so important.

My last point ties into the second half of this post: COLLEGE!!!! I wanted to a “Freshman Year of College Tips, Tricks, and Things I Wished Someone Told Me” wrap-up post, so here it is:

COLLEGE! ! !

1. It’s okay not to be homesick. (And here’s how not to be!)

I wasn’t homesick this year. Like, at all. That partly is me and my relationship with my hometown (aka I couldn’t wait to go somewhere new) but I think it’s also a product of what I did my first two months of school. Basically, I threw myself into making friends. I had almost every meal with someone, I studied with other people, I had movie nights with my friends, I stayed up late talking, I went out in the city with them. I just spent all of my time around other people. I was also crazy busy because of this–between school, work, and friends, I didn’t have a lot of time to just be on my own and be bored.

This is me, laughing at my best friend, in our favorite hidden gem park.

Which is how I wasn’t homesick. I didn’t have the time to think about home. I didn’t have the time to get sad. I was around people who made me happy and that kept me in a good mood. But, I think it also played into my lack of self-care — because I was around other people all the time, I didn’t have time to do the things that make me happy, most of which are solo activities. Watch Netflix, read books, write. I didn’t do any of those things for my first two months of college. However, I wouldn’t change what I did my first two months, because I think it turned out really well in the end.

And to the name of this thing-I-wished-someone-told-me, everyone was confused why I wasn’t homesick. I felt like there was something wrong with me because I wasn’t homesick. And that’s not okay–if you aren’t homesick, that’s ok. That’s perfectly fine! Everyone’s college experience is different because we all come from different backgrounds, and your feelings about starting college aren’t weird or bad because they aren’t the “norm”.

2. Communal bathrooms aren’t bad! You won’t die from having a “random” roommate! You don’t need every shred of clothing you own!

I went an entire year with communal showers and let tell you, I didn’t have a single moment where I was like “I HATE THESE THINGS!!!!!!” Let me tell you, having someone else clean your bathroom is a pretty sweet deal. As is not having to wait for a shower or bathroom while your roommate is in there. As is not having to pay for toilet paper, paper towels, soap, cleaning supplies, etc. I loved my communal bathroom! #unpopularopinion

On the topic of roommates: I’m so happy I didn’t pick a roommate from the admitted students page because I never would’ve picked my roommate based on Facebook but we fit so well. We’ve become best friends and I miss her SO. MUCH. We had very different childhoods and have some different habits, but we also are super similar. We joke about the fact that Residential Life must have looked at our personal essays or something because our roommate questionnaire was too short to be able to match us. And yet! They did! I think it’s super important to live with someone with a different background from you because it’s part of what going to college is all about. So, basically, I couldn’t be happier with my living situation this year.

And PACKING. Please don’t bring your entire wardrobe to college. You will wear a quarter of it. Also, don’t go college shopping before you move to college. Your style will change upon going to college, I swear to you. The stuff I wear now I never would’ve worn in Austin because I live in a different environment. So save your money and go shopping once you arrive at college.

3. College is hard. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.

I went from being a straight-A student to being a solid B student in college. And at first it was a shock. But then it was SO relieving. Unless you have an academic scholarship, your freshman year in college is the time when your grades really don’t matter. So don’t kill yourself trying to get a 100% on every assignment, or by taking classes you think will be easy but you’ll hate. Instead, take classes that you’re interested in! Even if you get bad grades, you’re learning and that’s what college is ALL about.

Also, college is really freaking hard. Don’t hold yourself to the same expectations that you had in high school. Instead, try and take some of the pressure off of yourself. It’ll make the workload of college a whole lot easier.

4. HAVE FUN!

College is yes, about getting a degree, but it’s also about figuring out who you are as an adult. So have fun. Meet new people. Try new things. Face your fears.

HAVE FUN.


That’s all I can think of right now, but please let me know if you have questions about college! I love answering questions and I love college, so I’m honestly the perfect person to ask.

Hugs to all of you and talk to you soon! (I promise. I’m really trying to make blogging more regular.)

03/20/17

A CONJURING OF LIGHT made me cry

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Novel: A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Major, #3) by V.E. Schwab | Goodreads
Release Date: February 21st, 2017
Publisher: Tor Books
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased

Witness the fate of beloved heroes – and enemies.

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

Was I ready to read this book? NO.

Did I read it anyways? ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY.

My love for this series I believe is fairly well known (you can read my feels-filled review of books 1 and 2 here) so obviously, I was super excited for book three. I went to Victoria’s signing in New York for A CONJURING OF LIGHT (sadly I missed the talk but got my book signed!) and she was a gem. Super nice and willing to take a picture (or two) with Alexandra, Jessica, and I.

SO. THE BOOK.

I was in love.

am in love.

It’s one long book but I was engaged from start to finish. Action, deceit, surprises, emotion–it was all there. Even some lovvveeeee (yeEK) which made me text Xan excitedly. It was a beautiful conclusion to the series.

One of my favorite things about this book was the way Holland’s character developed. You not only get a POV from Holland, but also really understand him for the first time. You see memories of his childhood, which means you get a better understand of why he ended up the way he did. Instead of being solely a villain, Holland becomes a character you care about and want the best for, which really surprised me. However, this transition is something Victoria Schwab is a pro at. None of her villains are one-sided–none of them are solely villains. They’re always complex people with pasts that make you question how bad they truly are.

Another thing that I adored about A CONJURING OF LIGHT was the overall plot. Schwab introduces a new element to the book that, for me, represented dark magic as a whole. It causes the reader to think about what dark magic truly is and what the line is. And how you treat people who fall under the spell of dark magic. This idea is so applicable to real life–how do we treat people who fall victim to dark practices? People who we are told are evil–are they really evil? How do we separate evil from good? What’s the line?

Lastly, Victoria Schwab just finished out the series so perfectly. It wasn’t a purely happy ending, but it wasn’t heartbreaking either. It left me perfectly content, and at the end I felt like I could leave the series happily. I finished knowing where all the characters were standing, and also what was coming next for them. I could imagine the future for all of them, something I loved and is fairly uncommon for the large part. Usually, you can see the present, but can’t imagine the future for characters.  However, at the end of A CONJURING OF LIGHT I was left emotionally exhausted but happy.

I texted Aneeqah saying, “THAT ENDING WAS SO PERFECT O M  G” which I think encapsulates my feelings well. It was just a plain perfect ending. And the book was perfect too. Utterly perfect.

What do I read now?

How can I possibly move on?

HELP ME FRIENDS I’M EMOTIONALLY DISTRAUGHT AT THE CONCLUSION OF THIS SERIES.

 

03/16/17

HEY FAM I’M BACK

HELLOOOO my lovely blog readers!

It’s Willa and I have risen from the dead and have decided it’s high time I wrote a post. Basically, I’ve been drowning under schoolwork and workwork that I have had zero time to do anything that makes me happy (like read, write, watch Criminal Minds, nap, write blog posts, etc) and so my blog has fallen by the wayside (again).

I’ve decided I’m not going to apologize, though.

This semester I’ve learned the really important lesson that I have to make time for me to take care of myself in the ways I need. (I’m writing a full-length post of this so this is all I’m going to say for right now on this!) Through learning this, I’ve also realized I need to take the pressure off of myself to write blog posts, read, write, etc and instead do what makes me happy and fulfilled and if that means watching four episodes of Criminal Minds instead of reading, that’s what I should do.

So, basically, I’ve been too busy lately, but I’ve taken some things off my plate and hope I’ll be feeling up to posting more! If not, sorry kiddos–you’ll see me when you see me.

Anywho–what have I been up to recently? Well, I’m glad you asked.

school

WOWZERS has school been killing me lately. I upped my courseload this semester to five classes, seventeen hours (yikes) and it’s been a lot. I’m taking this English class that blows my mind on the regular but is also a ton of reading (we’re reading eight full-length books in one semester. like. what.) so that’s been taking a lot of my time. Plus, I’m in a history class with a ton of primary source material reading + a seminar class with twenty page+ readings twice a week. So, basically, I’ve been drowning in readings.

However, I’ve been loving my classes. I’ve discovered that I’m meant to be a History major (HELLOOO MY LOVE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION) and am considering minoring in English. But maybe I won’t minor in it. I’m not sure right now. Basically, I’ve decided that I need to take the pressure off of myself that I need to study any specific thing and rather just let my heart lead me in the right direction. The plan is to take all the cool classes I can and see where that takes me!

work

If you’ve been keeping up with my on Twitter, you may have noticed that I’m working as an intern at the moment! I’m interning at a literary agency as an office assistant, which means I’ve become a pro-mailer and have perfected the art of filing. It’s been an incredible experience mainly because I’ve learned SO much these past three months about the publishing industry and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. It’s definitely where I belong!

(If you have any questions about literary agency internships shoot me an email!)

I’m also in the process of applying for internships for the summer (yuck) which is taking a huge portion of my time. Publishing is such a hard industry to break into so it means I’ve been applying for everything I can find (aka I’ve been writing cover letters 24/7).

life

I LOVE NEW YORK

Just had to get that out there. Since interning, I’ve been spending a lot more time in the Flatiron district and grown to really love it. I’ve gotten used to grocery shopping in New York (a time commitment, let me tell you) and gotten the hang of commuting. I haven’t done as much touristy-stuff as I was hoping, sadly, but I’m hoping to do more now that my schedule has cleared up a bit more. I was planning to hit the streets this week since it’s my spring break, but a snowstorm hit (@Stella) and so my days have involved more time in my bed than out in the city.

If you have questions about NYC livin’, let me know! I’m always up to answer questions about living in the city or going to school here.

future posts?

I’m planning to write a couple over break so I should be having some content coming your way soon.

Thanks for staying around, folks and LOVE YOU BUNCHES

 

also I’M GOING TO BEA SO HIT ME UP IF YOU ARE ALSO GOING AND LET’S HANG

01/16/17

Becoming politically involved as a college student

When I started school in the fall, one of the places where I found a home was in the weekly meeting held by the Columbia University Democrats. Now, I don’t usually talk about politics on this blog, but it’s pretty obvious on my Twitter account where I lie on the political map. In the recent months, I feel like I’ve become more politically aware, and also have become far more active politically. However, sometimes it becomes difficult in college to know how to be active politically, and also find time to read the news and stay current. I’ve listed out some of my tips on how to accomplish both of these things during a busy school year in this post and hope they help!

1. Follow a variety of news sources on your favorite social media platforms

I’m a firm supporter of the New York Times, and they are definitely my most read newspaper, but I also read CNN, The Washington Post, Politico and many other news sources. However, in addition to reading the news by directly going to these sites, I follow all of these sites on Twitter, and I love the New York Times on Instagram as well. I highly recommend including news sources on your social media feeds so that you can see news in your feeds frequently.

 2. Check out your school’s political organizations

Personally, joining Columbia Democrats has allowed me to become more educated on political issues I wasn’t well educated about, and also helped me to broaden my scope of thought. Having political conversations with people from all over the country from a variety of backgrounds has been an indispensable experience that has given me a better context for interpreting current events. Also, having an organization to talk about current events with has been incredibly beneficial in helping me to digest the news and form an informed opinion.

3. Get to know your local officials

I’m going to an out-of-state school, and so this is one of my goals for the coming year. I want to gain a better understanding of where New York officials stand on political issues, and also learn more about how the New York state Legislature works. I highly encourage students who have gone to a new state for college to learn more about the state they’ve moved to!

Hanging out in the sun in Reading, PA where I canvassed for Hillary Clinton in the fall.

4. Volunteer and organize!

Canvassing for Hillary Clinton was one of the most powerful and transformative experiences of my life. I urge everyone to canvass at least once for an issue, a person, or a piece of legislation they feel passionate about because it will give you this incredible feeling inside–it left me feeling like I truly create change. So get involve! You can canvass and organize constantly, and it’s work that must be done.

5. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinions–but be cognizant of the words you use

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned in the past few months is the importance of word choice when it comes to talking about politics. It’s very easy to use a word that misrepresents what you mean and suddenly your sentiment is lost along the way. So, while it’s vital that you speak up and have conversations about politics, it’s even more important that you are aware of your word choice and avoid inflicting harm with your words.


This was a bit of an unconventional post, but one that’s incredibly important to me! Let me know in comments some of your suggestions for being politically active when a busy schedule makes it difficult.