Friday, April 20, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/20/18)

How to be a Revolutionary War Spy Master

Service journalism: I Tasted 21 Little Debbie Snacks, and This Is the Best One

This film sounds fascinating: How a cowboy from South Dakota and a filmmaker from Beijing came together on the critically acclaimed indie 'The Rider'

I think I'll be skipping this one: Here’s What We Learned From Andrew Morton’s Book About Meghan Markle

MY FAVORITE: Divine Mystery: 10 Great Clerical Sleuths

Morning Coffee (4/20/18)

OKAY, there was once again a ton of news, but it's Friday so HAPPY LINKS ONLY.

Sen. Duckworth took her baby with her to the Senate for the first time yesterday and you must see her adorable tweet.

This is amazing: People Think Prince Harry Posed In A "Golden Girls" Sweatshirt On Meghan Markle's Deleted Instagram

I love this: Study Finds Women Who Were Into The X-Files Are More Likely to Work in STEM

Ooh: Right This Way! Fathom Events Will Bring BANDSTAND to the Big Screen!

Amazon is giving away nine free ebooks by non-US authors for World Book Day!

SKAM Austin is starting NEXT WEEK and I am not prepared.

I want them all: Fug Nation Loves Pool/Beach Totes!

This seems especially useful this week: The Best Bottles Of Whiskey For Under $20

Heh: Starting Today, Everyone Will Be Dressed Like a Picnic Blanket

Special beer created to celebrate Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/19/18)

Two Black Parents of an Undiagnosed Child Walk Into a Meeting: On Race, Special Education, and Our Son’s IEP

Fascinating: Wittgenstein, Schoolteacher

Cold War Angst: The Iconography Of Peace In Spain During The 1980s

Why Do Fantasy Novels Have So Much Food?

10 Classic New England Thrillers

Weekly Rec: Shetland

I like the "fairly grim European mystery" genre of TV quite a lot in general, and Shetland is one of my recent favorites. It's based on a series of books by Ann (not of) Cleeves (I haven't read them yet but I want to!) about detective inspector Jimmy Perez, a police detective in the Shetland islands. The show has a nice mix of cases with character development and is slightly lighter than, say, Hinterland. (Which I also love!) The portrayal of the very specific Shetland culture is fascinating, and Perez's prickly but loving co-parenting relationship with the biological father of his late wife's daughter is a particular highlight.

In the U.S., the first three seasons of Shetland are on Netflix, and the fourth is currently being released on BritBox.

Morning Coffee (4/19/18)

(SO MUCH NEWS AGAIN STILL ALWAYS)

Raúl Castro Prepares to Resign as Cuba’s President, Closing a Dynasty

This isn't shocking but it's still somehow shocking: In Closed-Door UN Meetings, Trump Administration Officials Pushed Abstinence For International Women’s Health Programs

Related: The Trump administration is paying Focus on the Family to stop the AIDS epidemic in South Africa

With... Cotton? What? White House Presses Vulnerable Dems on Pompeo Nomination

Good for her: Stormy Daniels to donate to Planned Parenthood in Trump and Cohen's names if she wins case: report

There’s an all-out war between the Republican governor and Republican attorney general in Missouri

I give up: Wu-Tang Clan recruits Comey (sort of) to recover mystery album

Harper’s Editor Says He Was Fired for Opposing Katie Roiphe Story

Ooh! Tonys: Sara Bareilles and Josh Groban to Co-Host 72nd Edition

Artificial intelligence is writing fairy tales now, and humanity is doomed

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/18/18)

Writing About the Ultimate Party Girl Made Me Realize How Much We Limit Women

A real-life Lord of the Flies: the troubling legacy of the Robbers Cave experiment

This essay by the daughter of a Russian Orthodox priest is fascinating and sad: My Father's Calling

An interesting piece on how to talk about women who dressed as men to serve in the military at various points in history: Monstrous Regiment

The Humble Potato Is Exalted in the Mountains of Peru

Morning Coffee (4/18/18)

It says something about yesterday's news cycle that I have TEN links tagged with my "urgent, put in the next post" tag. (It's rarely more than four.) Don't worry, I'll save a few for tomorrow so I can mix in SOMETHING different today.

Barbara Bush, Wife of 41st President and Mother of 43rd, Dies at 92

Oh no: NPR Newscaster Carl Kasell Dies At 84, After A Lifelong Career On-Air

Supreme Court strikes down as vague part of immigration law

I had already practically FORGOTTEN THIS HAPPENED and it was less than two weeks ago: Here’s Why Congressman Blake Farenthold Resigned So Abruptly

Sean Hannity’s Ties to Two More Trump-Connected Lawyers

California limits National Guard’s border mission, risking clash with Trump

GOOD: Sandy Hook Parents Sue Alex Jones for Defamation

Nothing could go wrong now: Scientists accidentally create mutant enzyme that eats plastic bottles

Whoa: French Queen’s heart stolen from museum

Aw: Why Desiree Linden waited for Shalane Flanagan’s bathroom break

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/17/18)

I've known Ella Risbridger on Twitter for a bit and I'm very excited about her new column about living in the aftermath of heartbreak.

Now Is the Time to Read This Novel About the Early Days of the Third Reich

The Classist Implications of ‘Bad Skin’

This was FASCINATING and also led me down a 1920s figure skating rabbit hole: Mystery Man of the White House

Where the Pope Gets His Socks

Morning Coffee (4/17/18)

AHAHAHA: A federal judge forced Michael Cohen to reveal his secret client. It’s Sean Hannity.

Judge Says Trump and Cohen Can’t Yet Review Materials Seized by F.B.I.

I'm not quite optimistic enough to buy this, but it's an interesting read: Michael Cohen and the End Stage of the Trump Presidency

Ooh, Pulitzer winners!

This is important: Why America’s Black Mothers and Babies Are in a Life-or-Death Crisis

Uh... Russian reporter Borodin dead after mystery fall

WHAT: Report: New Hampshire Youth Baseball Coaches Planned To Bean Their League's Lone Girl Player Into Quitting

Racist Terror Plot, or Just Idle Talk? Kansas Trial Hinges on the Answer

I am VERY EXCITED TO READ THIS BOOK.

Ooh: ‘Downton Abbey’ Creator Julian Fellowes Developing Rothschild Dynasty Drama With Jemima Khan At Sky Atlantic

Monday, April 16, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/16/18)

The Bell Curve is about policy. And it’s wrong.

I love this: A Homework Assignment from W. H. Auden

Paula Cole Reveals The Secret (And Dark) History Of The ‘Dawson’s Creek’ Theme Song

Who Owns the Vikings? Pagans, Neo-Nazis and Advertisers Tussle Over Symbols

All Novelists Are Con Artists

Morning Coffee (4/16/18)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

Check your eggs! 200 million eggs recalled after nearly two dozen were sickened with salmonella, officials say

James Comey’s Interview on ABC’s ‘20/20’: Annotated Excerpts

Here we go again: Eyeing 2020, Trump Fund-Raisers Return to Familiar Well: Small Donors

How Often Do People Use Guns In Self-Defense?

You don't say: Researchers Conclude Google's Play Store Is Likely Chock Full of Apps That Improperly Track Children

Hmm: Gmail is getting a redesign that includes a 'Confidential Mode'

...what. Dire Straits’s Rock Hall Induction Was a Weirdly Beautiful Mess

Harry Potter books unveil seven new 20th anniversary covers

Oooh: American Girl to Launch Live Musical Production This Fall

Lin-Manuel Miranda Makes His Debut as Gizmoduck in Disney's 'DuckTales'

Friday, April 13, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/13/18)

Don’t Call Princess Stories "Frivolous" — For Women & Femmes Of Color, They’re Crucial

It’s Okay to Give Up on Mediocre Books Because We’re All Going to Die

Important journalism: We Tasted 14 Fancy Butters, and This Is the Best One

Inside Milan’s Opulent Retirement Home for Musicians

8 Sci-Fi & Fantasy Books the Biggest Forking Fans of The Good Place Will Love

Morning Coffee (4/13/18)

HEY IT'S FINALLY FRIDAY. Let's take a break for some happy links!

ICYMI, important ice cream news: FRIENDLY'S HAS CHIPWICHES NOW

This from the Fug Girls is hilarious and also made me tear up: This Is The Rehearsal Dinner Toast Meghan Markle Deserves

Ooh: Buffy the Vampire Slayer getting new book series from Simon Pulse (by Kiersten White!)

Here Are Images of the First Stellar Remnant Found Beyond the Milky Way

Here's a great thread of famous people modeling for knitting patterns.

The 7 Things We Know About Starbucks’ Most Secretive Store

‘Mercury 13’ Trailer: Learn About The Hidden Women Of NASA’s Mercury Project

These Wonder Woman Makeup Brushes Are Fierce

Sarah Rees Brennan on Georgette Heyer makes me need to go read some Georgette Heyer.

Neat: Strand Book Store Is Hosting An Exhibit On Notable Book Covers Of The Last Decade With Penguin Random House

I am obsessed with this Truly Devious photoset.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/12/18)

This is an amazing piece of writing and an important thing to read: The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma

Women Writers in the Paper of Record

How One Parmigiano Saved an Ancient Breed of Cattle

How Wyatt Earp Went from Lawman to Legend

The educational video game heroines (and villains) of yesteryear

Weekly Rec: Friendly's Big Friendly Chipwiches

I LOVE ice cream and have a lot of childhood emotional attachment to Friendly's. And I really like chipwiches, a.k.a. ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chip cookies. So when I saw a promoted Friendly's Instagram story about their new Big Friendly product I ACTUALLY SWIPED UP, which I do not think I have ever done on a promoted Instagram story before.

Obviously I was afraid that these would not actually be as good as I hoped, but good news, THEY ARE GREAT:


The ice cream is good, of course, because it's Friendly's, but the cookies are ALSO good, and they manage to be nice and chewy without the whole thing being so soft as to fall apart. It's a nice size, and there are four to a box and they're not ridiculously expensive. Recommended!

Morning Coffee (4/12/18)

Raid on Trump’s Lawyer Sought Records on ‘Access Hollywood’ Tape

Paul Ryan's Awful Legacy

Bank of America to Stop Financing Makers of Military-Style Guns

What We Know And Don’t Know About Election Hacking

In a New Cold War With Russia, Balkans Become a Testing Ground

And a different kind of raid: European Authorities Raid Offices of 21st Century Fox Unit

The biggest Jewish gay “conversion therapy” organization has been operating in secret after US courts shut it down

I see some flaws in this plan: Man tries to woo Taylor Swift by robbing bank and throwing loot over her fence

WHAT OH NO: NECCO-Mania: Fans Stock Up On Chalky Wafers In Case Candy Company Folds

Ooh: ‘Bobby Kennedy For President’ Trailer: Netflix Docuseries Details Dashed Dream

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/11/18)

This was fascinating, especially as someone writing about teen characters: Being A Teen Girl On Social Media Is Like Having A High-Pressure, Full-Time (Unpaid!) Job

How One Sport Is Keeping a Language, and a Culture, Alive

The insane secret behind one of the world's most successful crime authors (Honestly it's not that insane but the article is still interesting.)

Playing With History In Video Games

Useful! The Best Wine Openers

Morning Coffee (4/11/18)

Me elsewhere: Holly and I have a new podcast episode on Breaking Up with Fandom!

Donald Trump is very confused about attorney-client privilege

Good! With $2 million, Kaiser Permanente wants to help revive underfunded gun-violence research

New Memo Shows How Republicans Used Tax Bill to Enrich Themselves

This is awful: Thousands of Indian Women Find Their American Dreams in Jeopardy

Ha: Scottish police ‘rescue’ metal fans mistaken for suicide pact members

The Pay Gap Is Way Too Entrenched To Be Solved By Women Alone

But good for them: HBO Fixes All Pay Disparities In Direct Response To Time’s Up Movement

The New Military-Industrial Complex of Big Data Psy-Ops

Furrowed Eyebrows Helped Modern Humans Evolve

Vitamins for your hair, nails, and skin are everywhere on Instagram. Don’t fall for them.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/9/18)

Meet TESS, Seeker of Alien Worlds

How 50 Famous Female Characters Were Described in Their Screenplays

Lost and Found: Igor Stravinsky’s Chant funèbre

Bright Lights, Big Shoulder Pads: A Timid Japan Recalls Its Bubble Era

The Authors and Crimes of Gilded Age New York

Morning Coffee (4/10/18)

Congratulations to her!! Tammy Duckworth gives birth to girl: First senator to have baby while in office

F.B.I. Raids Office of Trump’s Longtime Lawyer Michael Cohen; Trump Calls It ‘Disgraceful’

At least Republicans care so much about... *checks notes* oh. Federal Budget Deficit Projected to Soar to Over $1 Trillion in 2020

Stormy Daniels’ Motion to Depose Trump Is on Stunningly Solid Legal Footing

Huh: Jared Kushner’s $1.2 billion miracle

I can't believe it's been ten years: The Raid on YFZ Ranch, Ten Years Later

A Fossilized Finger Bone May Be From the Earliest Humans on the Arabian Peninsula

Oh yay! ‘C.B. Strike’ Gets Summer Premiere Date On Cinemax

Ugh: Anti-vaccine reviewers target children’s books on Amazon

Oh neat: 19th-Century Playbills to Be Restored and Digitized

Monday, April 9, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/9/18)

The World Is Changing. This Trappist Abbey Isn’t. Can It Last?

Why the True Story of “Chappaquiddick” Is Impossible to Tell

Awww: ‘Frozen’ on Broadway Made Them Sisters. Heartbreak Made Them Friends.

The Forgotten Africans of Iran

This kind of thing is always fun: The Long Goodbye: The 49 Best Covers from Around the World

Morning Coffee (4/9/18)

Me elsewhere: TV news for the week.

Where Is Googoosha, the Missing Uzbek First Daughter?

Of course he is: John Kasich Is Back in New Hampshire. It’s Not for the Foliage.

Heh: Jezebel Regrets Its Decision to Hire Cannibal Witch as Writer-at-Large

Hanged After a Trial He Couldn’t Understand, and Pardoned 136 Years Later

Interesting: Baleen Whales Intermingled as They Evolved, and Share DNA With Distant Cousins

The Milky Way Is Expanding Faster Than the Speed of Sound

The Fahrenheit 451 trailer looks great.

Ooh, the Hogwarts Mystery game is coming out April 25th!

This might be where I draw the line: Titanic to be screened on a real-life ocean liner

Discovery Sets Egyptian Archeological Docuseries ‘Valley Of The Kings’

Friday, April 6, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/6/18)

Rome, Through the Eyes of Flavius Josephus

Yay, two people I adore in conversation! Between The Lines with Amy Spalding and Jasmine Guillory

Here is the longread your Friday afternoon needs: Queens of Infamy: Eleanor of Aquitaine

Why cactuses and succulents are the perfect plants for this cultural moment

World Irish Dancing Championships – in pictures

Oh hey guess what? It's snowing.

I love snow. Love it! I love winter and hate summer. I'd be happy if the temperature basically never got above seventy. But I wouldn't mind... spring occasionally? A little? Which is to say it's April 6th and it's snowing AGAIN and this is kind of a lot. I bought a sleeveless shirt on vacation in Austin in OCTOBER and I would like to be able to wear it someday. My feet wouldn't mind wearing something other than boots occasionally. That's all.

Really, everything in the... world... is so crazy these days that it's hard enough to keep the calendar straight without this. New Hampshire is being peak New Hampshire, full of endless snow and presidential candidates... so, wait, is it January 2020? (Unfortunately not.)

I promise on the first day it gets above 65 I will be ready for fall.

Morning Coffee (4/6/18)

Time for some Friday happy links!

The Beatles’ ‘Yellow Submarine’ Film Returns To Theaters In Honor Of Its 50th Anniversary

Sarah Rees Brennan's amazing In Other Lands is a finalist for Best Young Adult Book at the Hugo awards and in celebration she wrote a parody of The Last Jedi I think you'll enjoy.

This is quite the cast: Josh Charles To Make Broadway Debut In ‘Straight White Men’ With Armie Hammer

!!! NASA Plans to Put Robot Bees on Mars

Whoa: Europe's Highest Escape Room Will Lock You in a Cable Car Thousands of Feet in the Air

Ooh: 23,500 items to be put online to show Prince Albert’s influence on the Victorian Age

11 Cheese Shops You Have to Follow on Instagram

More Reasons to Drink Water: Pretty Glassware

This is a great idea: 6 Supermarket Chocolate Bars for Better Baking

The New Neon Nail Colors

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/5/18)

The F.B.I. and the Mystery of the Mummy’s Head

Saving a Fussy Predator in Europe, With Help From 50,000 Rabbits

Shakespeare's Twitter Account

Madagascan gold: meet the vanilla hustlers – in pictures

The 7 Creepiest Manor Houses in Mystery

Morning Coffee (4/5/18)

Oh, my heart: ‘It Has to Be Perfect’: Putting Out a Yearbook After the Parkland Shooting

¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Outgoing White House emails not protected by verification system

Trump Isn’t Ignorant About DACA And Migrants—He’s Lying

Neo-Nazi Website Daily Stormer Might Have to Reveal Its Funding in Libel Lawsuit

The Rise of Male Supremacist Groups

'They stole my life away': women forcibly sterilised by Japan speak out

Good for him! Newly crowned world champ Chen admitted to Yale

Trees older than America: a primeval Alaskan forest is at risk in the Trump era

THIS guy again: Deciem’s Founder Fired Some More People, Went on Another Instagram Tear

Ooh: MoviePass Now Covering All AMC Theaters After Winter Feud; Talks Have Not Resumed

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/4/18)

This is fascinating: In Sweden’s Preschools, Boys Learn to Dance and Girls Learn to Yell

When Genetics and Linguistics Challenge the Winners’ Version of History

I've never read her and now I want to: The Subtle, Menacing Noirs of Laura Lippman

What a shock: Chimp Civil War Observed by Jane Goodall Began With Tensions Between Three Males

Elizabeth Taylor and the Myth of Blue Eye Shadow

Morning Coffee (4/4/18)

ICYMI, yesterday Amy Spalding stopped by to talk about her new book!

Lawyer Alex van der Zwaan jailed for 30 days in Mueller's first conviction

Oh: Trump Plans to Send National Guard to the Mexican Border

"More than an event involving four heads of state, Donald Trump’s press conference with the three Baltic leaders on Tuesday resembled a concert by a hastily assembled Motown covers band."

UK archaeologists help Iraqis restore their Isis-ravaged heritage

Meet the Teenager Organizing the First LGBTQ Pride Festival in Mike Pence's Hometown

Hubble space telescope captures image of most distant star ever seen

Why Cricket's Ball-Tampering Scandal Is Such A Big Deal

The World's Smallest Computer Is the Size of a Grain of Salt

Faced With Drought, the Pharaohs Tried (and Failed) to Adapt

Interesting: Skincare Obsessives on the Products They Think Are Scams

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/3/18)

David Reich Unearths Human History Etched in Bone

Meet the Woman Who Won’t Let Mexico Forget A Massacre

James Ivory: why Ismail Merchant and I kept our love secret

The Joys and Sorrows of Finishing a Series

Wow: Love and tragedy in the British Library: The story of Eleanor Marx and Edward Aveling Part 1 and Part 2

Weekly Rec: The Summer of Jordi Perez + Q&A with Author Amy Spalding!

One of my favorite new books of 2018 is OFFICIALLY OUT TODAY: The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) by Amy Spalding. I'll tell you a little bit about why I like it... and then we'll hear from Amy herself, who was kind enough to come answer all my very nosy questions!

From Amy's site: Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people's lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn't expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it's a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.

Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She's competing against the girl she's kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She's somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.'s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn't feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby's finally in her own story?

But when Jordi's photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?


I was lucky enough to read this early, and I just loved it. Abby is a great lead, and her relationships and dreams and struggles all feel very real. The central romance is swoony but complicated, as anyone who's read Amy's other books will expect, but Abby's relationships with her parents and her friends are also vitally important to the book. (I always like that. Romance plots in which the characters don't have much else to worry about just don't seem realistic enough for me.) And Abby's career ambitions are also paramount here; she's a plus size fashion blogger and she's very serious about her aspirations in the industry. I'm not particularly into fashion but I loved the peek into that world and Abby's focus on her goals.

I mentioned how much I liked the friendship plots, so to expand a little on that: there's a character named Jax who is coded very much like YA love interests often are, and when I was reading the beginning of the book, I was intrigued and honestly a little confused by this - I knew Abby wouldn't be interested in a guy, and yet this guy read like a love interest. And that became one of my favorite things about the book - that he was such a fully drawn character and became an important person in Abby's life in a strictly platonic way. (Bonus: At one point Jax tells Abby something that I have repeated to myself as advice FREQUENTLY since I read the book. I don't want to spoil but you should read this if only to learn this very important life lesson from this fictional lacrosse bro.)

But enough of my gushing... let's hear from Amy Spalding herself!

It feels so revolutionary to have a book about a fat girl that is NOT about her losing weight, but also doesn't just pretend weight is a non-issue she never has to think about because her world is magically free of judgment. Did you specifically set out to write something on that theme and develop Abby from that idea, or was that just the (awesome) way this character and story unfolded?

I definitely wanted to write about a fat girl, but the rest of it was borne out of the story. Once I established Abby as a style blogger, it all started to fit together. It was important to me to write a fat character who didn't hate herself, but I also didn't want to act like that makes the rest of the world treat fat people with only kindness. The fun thing is that giving Abby a love of style made a bunch of decisions for me in the book. In a world where fat people are often not encouraged to love themselves as-is, and where awesome plus-size clothing is still a relatively new offering at many shops, I loved writing a character who cared about how she looked and styled herself. There's a great deal of self-love that can go into that. I didn't want to write about a fat girl who looked in the mirror to hate herself. I wanted her reflection to be of style, color, and fun. I think there's also something declarative about having bold style like Abby, particularly if you're fat. No matter how Abby worries about how others see her, the people in her life think of her as a girl with a great look. I personally think that fat/plus-size style is helping change the way thinner people see fat people, for the better. Not that you should have to have some defined and perfect look to be accepted, but it sure does challenge what fashion says is goalworthy or aspirational when the people with defined looks have different bodies than what's been traditionally put in front of us.

Are you into fashion like Abby is? (I know you have a ton of amazing dresses because I see them on Instagram!) What kind of research did you do to make sure the fashiony stuff rang true? Do you follow a million amazing fashion blogs now?

I care a lot about my own style, and I spend far too much money on dresses and wingtips (my two weaknesses), but I'm not into fashion nearly as much as Abby is. She lives and breathes it! She thinks about trends and ways to adapt pricey styles on a budget. So I had to spend some time looking at blogs similar to Abby's to get a feel for what hers would contain. I will say that the thing about being fat is that you often have to work a lot harder to find certain pieces, and while it's getting better as more stores add more sizes, I spent many years Googling frantically trying to match a look with something in my size. So even though I don't have Abby's level of fashion devotion, it wasn't a world I was unfamiliar with either. And I got some notes from a blogging friend on some of the realities of actually growing an audience to make sure it rang true. Believe it or not, I do not follow a million fashion blogs now, but I do follow some Instagram accounts whose styles I love, and take part in some Instagram style challenges like #NoPantsNovember and #AllDressApril.

As I mentioned above in my review, I LOVED Jax, and at the beginning of the book I was sort of confused by him because he felt coded very much like YA romantic interests often are, but I KNEW that wasn't where the book was going. And that made me think about how refreshing it was to have a guy character who was awesome and fully developed WITHOUT being a love interest, because finding good friends is difficult and important too! How did you coordinate the friendship arcs with Jax and Maliah along with the romantic arc with Jordi to make one coherent character arc for Abby? Did you want these different relationships to illuminate different things about her?

I think a lot about the safety of "new" people. A new friend doesn't have preconceived ideas about you and isn't holding onto anything from five years ago. Sometimes there can be a real freedom in this, especially when you're having new experiences. Abby doesn't necessarily feel like she can be completely open about her new feelings for Jordi with her longterm best friend, Maliah, and therefore the freedom of Jax's new friendship gives her a "safe" person to confide in. I also think a lot that some of the people I've befriended as an adult would have blown my mind as a teen. Yes, I too have bonded with bro types. I have friends who were pretty and popular and happy in high school! So I liked the idea of giving Abby the kind of friendship that wouldn't necessarily immediately make sense to her. Why just deal with a new crush when she can also have to deal with this brand new friendship? You've gotta throw a lot at your main character, even if it feels a little mean sometimes!

Social media is very important in this novel, not just in how the characters communicate but also to Abby's work and her project with Jax. Whenever I start writing about characters using social media, I freak myself out thinking "What if no one's using Instagram anymore by the time this is published? What if someone picks it up in 15 years and doesn't know what Twitter is?" Do you do anything specific to make sure these passages make sense to readers unfamiliar with the medium mentioned, or do I just worry too much? (Yes.)

I was at a book event once (not my own) where a man in the audience said he liked the book because not putting social media in it gave it a classy and timeless feel, and he could therefore take it seriously. And of course I fretted and went home and reread my manuscript and was like "I'LL NEVER BE CLASSY AND TIMELESS" but, like, all I can do is write what life is right now. And I don't know anyone - teen, adult, senior citizen - who doesn't use social media and texts and such for a whole heck of a lot of their communications. Look, I can read an old classic where everyone wrote long letters to one another and had them taken around by horseback WITHOUT EVER HAVING DONE SO IN MY OWN LIFE to understand what these things are. Social media is constantly changing - communications keep shifting and that is only probably going to speed up more. But if your story makes sense and it's clear why your characters are taking the actions they are, I just can't worry about it. I can't stop time, but I also can't write a presently-set novel where no one's heard of, like, Instagram.

You've now written and published a BUNCH of books while retaining a whole separate non-writing career. Have you developed any particular techniques for making this balance work, or do you just have to... do the work?

Yeah, you just have to do the work. I think for me, the biggest thing that's helped is accepting that you really cannot control either. Sometimes my dayjob is so demanding that even on the weekends, my brain feels shot and like it's used up all its available power for the week. I used to agonize over this. "How can I ever write another book if I feel this way?" The good news is that it waxes and wanes; before long, we're through a tough campaign and I get that piece of my brain back that's necessary for daydreaming about meet cutes and adorable banter. It is not easy accepting that you can't always do both, but as long as you're meeting deadlines, I feel like a balance will work out naturally. It's about taking your responsibilities seriously but also giving yourself a break. Back when I had a less demanding career, I could write books a whole lot faster. But that's OK! After all, publishing is a slow-moving machine. I've actually managed to fit into its timing quite well.

Anything you can tease about what you're working on NOW? Honestly, you told me about it while I was driving down a windy mountain road in snow so I didn't absorb much other than that it sounded really complicated.

My next book, The Last Year of James & Kat, is the story of a senior year told by two best friends in two different timelines about the end of their friendship. This sounds super depressing but I promise there are plenty of rom-com moments in there too. Two POVs mean two love interests, and I may have hit my swoony peak with these two! It won't be out until spring of 2020, though, so no one get TOO excited yet!

Jasmine Guillory wrote a great piece for Slate about your friendship and how it sparked her to pursue a writing career. (Everyone go read The Wedding Date, it's great!) What do you think you get out of friendships with other writers, including those at different points in their careers? I've seen talk lately about supposed cliques and jealousy issues but my impression is that those are often just friendships that can be great and helpful.

Publishing is a very specific industry and writing books is a very specific career. And it's wonderful to have friends who know exactly what it's like. I am very fortunate to have somehow landed, as an awkward goober, a whole bunch of supportive, funny, genius friends. But there is so much in this world that's tough to talk about with others. Sometimes you just need someone who already understands the ins and outs of it, and has potentially already lived through situations you need advice on. I remember that there was a small snafu with ARCs of one of my first books that I worried was a huge deal, and in a panic I tweeted "IF YOU ARE AN EXPERIENCED YA AUTHOR WHO HAS MY NUMBER, PLEASE TEXT ME RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I'M NERVOUS ABOUT SOMETHING" and nearly immediately I got a text from a more experienced author friend and she talked me down from my fear. Also it's wonderful to read incredible books written by the people I care about. That's the life I wouldn't have even dreamt about when I was younger!

Thanks so much for coming by, Amy! The Summer of Jordi Perez (And the Best Burger in Los Angeles) is available now.

Morning Coffee (4/3/18)

Winnie Madikizela-Mandela Is Dead at 81; Fought Apartheid

The Taliban Have Gone High-Tech. That Poses a Dilemma for the U.S.

Census Bureau’s Own Expert Panel Rebukes Decision to Add Citizenship Question

Good for them: Vermont Legislature Passes Sweeping Gun Restrictions

And them: Teachers in Oklahoma and Kentucky Walk Out: ‘It Really Is a Wildfire’

Ireland sets May date for historic abortion referendum

It looks like they're fixing this, but GEEZ: Grindr Is Letting Other Companies See User HIV Status And Location Data

Progress! Mormon Church Selects 2 Senior Leaders, and Neither Is a White American

Inuit oral historian who pointed way to Franklin shipwrecks dies aged 58

A New Batch of Neanderthal Genome Provides Insights Into Their Complex History

Monday, April 2, 2018

Afternoon Tea (4/2/18)

Patriotic Youth Army Takes Russian Kids Back to the Future

This interview made me SO EXCITED to read this book: How to Fall in Love Over Text

Insects Flew Before Anything Else Did. So How Did They Get Their Wings?

Cracking a medieval code

Love this: British TV's 9 Most Powerful Female Detectives

Morning Coffee (4/2/18)

Me elsewhere: Your TV news roundup.

How Trump favored Texas over Puerto Rico

March for Our Lives Will Have To Become A March Against the Filibuster

The Kushners Saw Redemption in the White House. It Was a Mirage.

More than 800m people need to travel 30 mins for safe water, report finds

Teen Dating Violence Is an Indicator of Gun Violence

THE FIRST: U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall Collection Will Get Its First Statue of a Black American

This is great: A historic home, rebooted as an incubator for women of color who code

Earliest Known Human Footprints in North America Found on Canadian Island

Galaxy without any dark matter baffles astronomers

A Few Species of Frogs That Vanished May Be on the Rebound