I Have Become Obsessed with Feminist Comics and It Is the First Thing to Approach My Deep Love for All Things Horror

These women are my heroes. [photo by Pat Loika, via Flickr]

I was wandering aimlessly around my very first comic book expo, rocking my custom TerrorVision tank top, the first volume of Hellraiser in my giant purse, trying to look like I knew anything about anything. “Are you the sidekick accompanying the comic collector?” asked a guy who happened to be one of the co-organizers of the expo, referring to my buddy from my writing critique group who actually knew what she was doing.

Apparently, I wasn’t blending in at all.

It was unsurprising, though. I had never really been into comics before, at least not before five months ago. I wasn’t into the tights-and-capes crowd (except when directed on the big screen by Joss Whedon, for the most part), and I thought that was all comics were.

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When You Engage in Some Good Old Literary Citizenship Because, Really, You Just Want New Writer Friends with Whom To Bitch About Publishing


I was at my very first HippoCamp last year when I told Lisa Romeo my hopes and dreams, because she was the only person there that I knew, and so she was stuck with me. I told her I wanted to find the New Jersey equivalent of Girls Write Now, a mentoring program for teen girls who want to write, because I love the work they do and would get involved if only I didn’t have to cross into NYC in order to do so. I also lamented my lack of local writer-friends. I knew there were other writers in the area. But where were they? And why weren’t they friends with meeeee???

Which is how I found myself at the Montclair Literary Festival last weekend, working the children’s room at the Montclair Public Library as a representative of the Writers Circle.

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I Went in Search of My Dharma and Found I Was Already Living It


Last month, I traveled up to the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health to take a workshop on dharma (in this instance, defined as “life purpose”). The workshop was an offshoot of the presenter’s most recent book, which I had read and loved because I can never resist a good excuse to examine my life choices under a microscope and draw up endless to-do lists’ worth of course corrections.

I spent the weekend taking sunrise yoga classes, eating silent breakfasts, meditating, listening to lectures on dharma, and putting together lists (a thing we’ve already established is a hobby of mine).

Lists of the things that light me up.

Lists of the things to which I feel duty-bound.

Lists of the things that are often seemingly in opposition to each other.

In drawing up all of these lists, what I discovered is that I was already following my dharma.

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The Women’s March, Bad News Burnout, and What Comes Next


The other weekend, I attended the Women’s March in D.C. Soon after the march was first announced, a local woman chartered three buses and started collecting names and checks. I signed up with a friend of mine and started making my preparations, ordering a pair of winter hiking boots, packing wipes and tissues and maps and cheap sunglasses into a cross body bag no bigger than 8″ x 6″ x 4″.

As the march approached, the backlash began. Controversy over whether or not the march was welcoming to those from marginalized communities. Controversy over the emblem that had been adopted in the form of the omnipresent pussy hats. Controversy over what, exactly, could even be accomplished with a march. I started to wonder whether it would have been more effective for me to attend a local march. I continued to make my preparations—ordering my transit card, soaking a bandanna in apple cider vinegar and placing it in a small, plastic sandwich baggie—but I wasn’t sure why I was going, and whether or not it was the right thing to do. [Read more…]

My 24 Favorite Reads of 2016


Since last year, I’ve been tracking my reading on a spreadsheet in order to ensure that I’m reading diversely. And since I started writing for Book Riot earlier this year, I’ve been exposed to a lot of fantastic reads in genres I may never have taken a second look at otherwise. So as we come to the end of 2016 (with 89 books under my belt!), I thought I’d share my favorites. Because maybe you’ve been seeing the same old books on the same old best-of lists and you’re getting bored.

Some of those books are for sure on this list. But there’s other stuff, too. And backlist titles. And re-reads. Basically, this is everything that made me feel all heart-eyes when I read it. 😻 😻 😻

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How Many Sex Educators Does It Take to Change a Writer?


Earlier this month, I attended a four-day sex educator conference in Atlantic City, New Jersey. While there, I was gathering information for three different assignments but, because I was curious and because it felt particularly relevant to my interests, I also attended a workshop on the sexualization of sex educators.

It was held in a room large enough for over 200 people, with a wall of windows looking out over the Atlantic City beach. As the rows of chairs began to fill up, I looked around at my fellow attendees: educators, yes, but also clinicians and program coordinators and me, the lone writer.

The workshop began and the co-facilitators immediately got attendees involved, asking them to shout out the types of people by whom they’d been sexualized, so they could write down all of the answers on a giant easel pad at the front of the room.

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How to Save the World, One Small Step at a Time


It was never my plan to be a sex writer. Is it anyone’s plan? No. I wanted to be the next Bill Ervolino, writing slice-of-life humor columns for my local paper. Instead, I somehow ended up reviewing Carol Queen’s Exhibitionism for the Shy and test driving vibrators and state-of-the-art condoms. Suddenly, I was making a living writing listicles on the top ten ways to boost your libido. I was creating online clickbait for cash. And it was burning me out.

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Writing to Rise Up


This past Tuesday, I walked to my polling center at the elementary school around the corner and cast my vote, and then I walked back home and worked on my book and started editing a teaching manual on bullying and braced myself for whatever might happen next.

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The Stuff Our Stories Are Made Of


I finally read Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children this past weekend, because the movie looks like fun and I like to read the source material first and who doesn’t enjoy something dark and peculiar? It was delightful, of course, and well deserving of all its accolades, but what charmed me the most was that the story itself was inspired by found photographs, vintage photos discovered at flea markets and such.

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Maintaining Freelance Momentum: A Sisyphean Task


You would think that after being a full-time freelancer for nearly 10 years, I would know better than to get complacent. But I’m only human. I have the constant twin distractions of a work-at-home husband and a 2-year-old daughter. I have an ever-alluring TBR pile. There are Joss Whedon television shows to binge watch and Twitter feeds to refresh and stickers to paste into my Passion Planner. I have dreams. I have exhaustion.

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