The Art of Rest

Last year, I quit everything.

A slightly exaggerated statement, but that’s how it felt when I took on two - then three - then four new jobs. Waitressing no longer made ends meet, and so I took on freelance work - editing, copywriting, ghostwriting - using everything I knew about words and language to make a little extra money.

It was exhausting.

And so I took a short hiatus from every kind of writing that didn’t pay, and in my free time - after spending the morning making coffee and the afternoon tutoring / editing / copywriting - I spent time with friends and family. I made sure that I got outside, that I rode my bike, that I ate good food and drank some good beer and laughed a lot. I didn’t write; not much, anyway.

And I do not feel guilty.

Okay, that is not true. I always feel guilty when I’m not writing. But I am intentionally, consciously ignoring those feelings. Because I needed to work, and I needed to rest.

There will come times in life when you are not at your best, creatively. It may be work or young children that keeps you from your art; it may be just a dry spell. But it’s okay. It’s all okay. You need not be ashamed of taking a hiatus from your art, because you yourself are a piece of art. Your existence involves learning, singing, making friends, practicing a faith, cooking, decorating, changing diapers, doing homework. And even if those things are not artistic in the way our society defines it, so what? You matter. Your life matters. Call it work. Call it school. Call it child-rearing. I will call it art.

This past year, I did not finish my book like I’d hoped. But I did discover a newfound love of biking. I got a puppy. I baked a lot of cookies. I worked as a ghostwriter. I organized a poetry reading. I painted. I got engaged. I finally tried kombucha.

And now, I am writing again. I have only one job and I am sitting in an office with a view of the mountains. I have time to create, and time to continue all the rest of the loves I have found.

But this stage of life, with all its renewed creativity and decreased stress, is not any more or less important than the last year. Whether your life right now is characterized by rest or productivity, grief or joy, exhaustion or rejuvenation - live it well. Do not be ashamed. Every day is a blank page. Everything is art.

Road Trip Wednesday

This week's topic: If you were to get a literary tattoo, what would it look like?

Answer via comments, your own blog, tumblr, twitter (hashtag #roadtripwednesday), wherever you'd like!

Cover Reveal and ARC giveaway: CATALYST by Lydia Kang!

Today we are so pleased to be hosting the cover reveal for Lydia Kang's forthcoming CATALYST (March 2015, Dial BFYR), the sequel to her thrilling sci-fi debut, CONTROL. The paperback of CONTROL has also been redesigned to match CATALYST, so you can get a peek at both. Please be sure to enter the giveaway below!  

The covers! 

About Catalyst:

Set in 2151 when genetically altered humans are illegal, a highly publicized assassination sets off a chain of events that separates Zelia from those she fiercely loves. Now on the run, she must align herself with her worst enemies, only to find sanctuary in a safe house that’s anything but safe. In this thrilling conclusion to Control, Zelia must face the dangerous, illegal legacy that her father has left her--whether she's ready or not.

Preorder Catalyst!
Lydia's thoughts the cover:

I am thrilled with the new vision on Catalyst! They redid the paperback to match the new Catalyst cover and I love how the books go from metallic and cold, to sprouting with life in the sequel. It's a great metaphor for what happens in the book and what Zelia must go through. I've gotten a lot of compliments on the Control hardcover design, with the test tubes and glowy blue-purple beaker. But I may actually love these covers even more!

Praise for Control:

"Control, with its mix of legitimate science and inventive fantasy, is unforgettable for all the right reasons."

"Control successfully integrates science, adventure, and romance into one unforgettable read. [It] will keep you wanting more until the jaw-dropping ending."
(RT Book Reviews, Top Pick)

"Control blew me away, from the depth and richness of this fascinating, disturbing vision of the future -- and all its technologies -- to the twists and turns and suspense that made for a thrilling ride. Zel is as authentic a character as I've read in a very long time. Highly recommended."
(James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of THE MAZE RUNNER)


Lydia is generously giving away two ARCs of CATALYST, as well as swag. Please enter below for a chance to win (US and Canada only, please).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Lydia

Lydia Kang is an author of young adult fiction, poetry, and narrative non-fiction. She graduated from Columbia University and New York University School of Medicine, completing her residency and chief residency at Bellevue Hospital in New York City. She is a practicing physician who has gained a reputation for helping fellow writers achieve medical accuracy in fiction. Her poetry and non-fiction have been published in JAMA, The Annals of Internal Medicine, Canadian Medical Association Journal, Journal of General Internal Medicine, and Great Weather for Media. She believes in science and knocking on wood, and currently lives in Omaha with her husband, three children, and a terrarium full of stick bugs.


Field Trip Friday: July 25, 2014


- The Associated Press illustrates how a misplaced comma can cause spark panic. (via Kathleen Ortiz)

- Justine Larbalestier explains why ‘likeability’ is not a requirement for good fiction.

- "While most issues in workshop are presented as universal to story, race can come off as a burden personal to writers of color." Matthew Salesses at NPR on defending your writing and defending yourself.

- Maybe don't worry too much about your Bookscan numbers, since they omitted 10K copies from Edan Lepucki's release week.


- The Cape Henlopen School Board has solved their summer reading list problem by not just removing The Miseducation of Cameron Post -- they're removing the entire list.

- Librarians in a Wisconsin school district are concerned about unqualified volunteers removing books from shelves. (via Kelly Jensen)

- Meg Morley explains why sex positivity is important in YA, and Karen Jensen at SLJ has tips on how librarians can help fight slut shaming.

- The Man Booker Prize longlist includes Americans for the first time.

- William Polking uses our own Steph Kuehn's Complicit to make a case against Slate's "Against YA" piece, and a psychologist at the HuffPo explains why adults totally should read YA books.

- Book Riot's new "3 on a YA Theme" feature kicks off with summer camp titles.

- Bookish rounds up 10 LGBT books you need to read this year.

- Kayla Ancrum has a killer essay (from February) explaining in muggle terms why Snape was a terrible friend to Lily.

- "GENDER-FLIP GEEK ICONS! RACE-FLIP NERD WAR! GAY BATMAN! RAAAAAR!" Can't really give a better summary of Chuck Wendig's post.

- PW has a sneak peak at spring 2015's hot titles!


- PW takes a (not very encouraging) look at how YA publishers and authors can stop book piracy.

- The NYT discusses why writers are opening up about money (or the lack thereof). (via Vicki Lame)

- What do copy editors do? Edan Lepucki interviews hers to find out. (via Martha Mihalick)

- Sara Megibow discusses whether you still need an agent. (via Sarah LaPolla)

- Claire Cook shares why she left her mighty agency and publisher.

- Rachel Aaron says Kindle Unlimited is going to make a ton of money, and you might too; Kelly Jensen explains that Unlimited is not just like Netflix. Meanwhile Amazon's dispute with Hachette does seem to be affecting book buying, and I'm having trouble parsing this article about Amazon and the CIA (MAYBE BECAUSE THEY WANT ME TO BE CONFUSED) but it seems relevant.

- Submissions are now open for participation in the new North Texas Teen Book Festival!


- Don't miss this week's First Draft with Sarah Enni interviews, featuring Lindsay Smith, author of Sekret and Skandal, Cristin Terrill, author of All Our Yesterdays, and Ellen Oh, author of Prophecy!

- Meet the teen who dropped out of high school to cure cancer sooner.

- Brianna Wu shares the realities of harassment for women in the gaming industry. (Warning: graphic language, slurs, etc.) (via Liz Burns)

- Crunk Feminist Collective discusses the problem with praising black girl strength. (via Jada Bradley)


- Mental Floss recounts how Superman defeated the Ku Klux Klan. (via Tessa Gratton)

- 5 excellent examples of animation based on literature.

- The 50 Shades trailer happened.

Epic Reads is the best.

Writing Horror: Scary Writing Prompt Game #19

Happy Thursday, Spookies!

Welcome to another round of the scary writing prompt game. Again, here's how it works: I'll announce the prompt, then you guys post your response in the comment section. At the beginning of each round, I'll share my favorite bits from the previous month's entries before announcing the next prompt. At the end of the year there will be a spooky prize drawing for two lucky winners.

*All* participants are automatically entered to win!

Prizes: Both winners will receive a Night of Horror care package from yours truly, containing everything you need for a spooky night in--a scary DVD, creeptastic snacks, something to keep you cozy while you cower in fear of ghosts and/or serial killers, and a few other horror-related knick-knacks that won't disappoint. Maybe I'll even throw in a bottle of True Blood.

Reminder: Now accepting entries via Tumblr! Reblog with your entry attached, then tag your post with the hashtag #scarywritingpromptgame and spread the horror love on your dash! (Even if you only do a Tumblr entry and never comment on the actual post, I will still enter it for the grand prizes at the end of the year.)

Last month's prompt didn't garner any responses, so let's roll right into the new prompt!

This Month's Prompt:

Her mother went outside to feed the horses and never came back.

Julia was able to make it a reasonably long time without freaking out. Maybe her mother was taking extra time to cut open some new hay, or refilling the water trough, or putting blankets on the horses because of the sudden chill that'd befallen the ranch in the last few days. Maybe.

Photo courtesy of Kristine Paulus
But before long, an hour had passed, and the terrible feeling in Julia's gut only worsened. The sun was long gone, replaced by a full harvest moon that shone through the window with a dull, yellow glow. Ever since she was a child, Julia's mother warned her not to go outside at night during the harvest moon. She never explained why, only made Julia promise over and over again until she was satisfied enough to let it go.

Now her mother was missing, and Julia was left biting her nails in the dark of the kitchen, too afraid to turn any lights on to distract attention from whatever might be out there.

You're being ridiculous, Julia thought after another half hour went by, tired of hiding like a frightened child in the shadows. She might be injured out there, something with the horses, she might need your help...

The idea of her mother in pain was what did it in the end. Julia pulled on her coat and boots, grabbed a flashlight, and headed outside to the dirt path that ran between the main house and the stables.

What would she find?


Unleash the Hellhounds!

Road Trip Wednesday

This week's topic: What book universe do you wish you could live in?

Share your answer via comments, your own blog, tumblr, twitter (hashtag #roadtripwednesday), wherever you'd like!

First Draft With Sarah Enni

With last week's Road Trip Wednesday, I mentioned wonderful co-blogger Sarah Enni's new podcast, but all of us here at YA Highway are pretty proud of her and excited about this podcast series, so it deserved a longer post.

As she says on the podcast's tumblr page, Sarah is taking an epic road trip to visit authors and talk to them about writing, books, and so much more! All the interviews she's done so far are available here. You can also see pictures, playlists and more on the podcast's twitter and instagram feeds.

So head on over and check it out! Following her on her journey across the United States is pretty fun.