Posts

#BooksThatWon’tBumYouOut: Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts

By KJ / Thursday, April 2, 2020

5 Things I loved about Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts 1. Tuesday Mooney. She had bad things happen in her life but she pulled her shit together, man. She’s got issues but they’re the issues of someone who CAN get everything under control and therefore, once all the things start happening, will probably grow and change and once again get things under control. 2. The friends. For someone who keeps everyone at a distance, the people around Tuesday Mooney were […]

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#BooksThatWon’tBumYouOut: Separation Anxiety

By KJ / Thursday, April 2, 2020

My original 5 Things I Loved About This were lost in a tragic IGTV incident, but let me do my best to recreate them here. Because I DID love this book–and it’s the perfect book for its horrible, anxiety filled moment (and yet still distracting!) 1. the loopy premise. Sad-for-good-reasons, blocked writer starts wearing dog in sling and then can’t stop. It’s so crazy it just might work–and it does, for the protagonist and in the book sense. 2. the […]

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#BooksThatWon’tBumYouOut: Minor Dramas and Other Catastrophes

By KJ / Thursday, April 2, 2020

Five Things I Adored About Minor Dramas and Other Catastrophes: 1.) The juicy insider setting. I love glimpses of other worlds in general; behind the scenes at a total hothouse of a school full of crazy parents, and you’ve just sprinkled catnip on my Fancy Feast. 2.) The there’s-a-reason-she’s-too-good-to-be-true main protagonist. There are plenty of characters and POVs here, but the primary one, a teacher determined to give her privileged students an ability to see beyond their bubble, seems at […]

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#BooksThatWon’tBumYouOut: Would Like to Meet

By KJ / Thursday, April 2, 2020

A wanna-be Hollywood agent tries to convince a famous but blocked screenwriter that the meet-cutes in romantic comedies do work by acting them out on her own. 1.) The Hollywood insider angle. Truth is, screenwriting is not my jam. But books about people who do something I do not do—and in particular, books about characters who are assistants and just need to grab their chance and move up to the big leagues—yeah, I’m in for that. So I loved all […]

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#BooksThatWon’tBumYouOut: Love Lettering

By KJ / Thursday, April 2, 2020

5 Fun Things About Love Lettering #bujonerds, rejoice. The protagonist is a professional letterer and journal-maker in Brooklyn, where people pay her to design their planner pages. I love a really good fantasy career. Like every good protagonist, this one needs to have the scales pulled from her eyes so she can see herself clearly—but I’ve not seen this particular problem done like this before, and the way we learn why she is the way she is really works. It’s […]

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#BooksThatWon’tBumYouOut: Red, White and Royal Blue

By KJ / Thursday, April 2, 2020

5 Things I liked about Red, White and Royal Blue I know. I know. You’ve either already read this rom-com about what happens when the first son and the second prince fall for one another, or you’ve decided it’s not for you. If you’re in that latter category—let me encourage you to think again. Here’s what’s to love about this book: 1. ) OOOh believable, insider-y looks at The White House and Buckingham Palace. I love a good look at […]

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#BooksThatWon’tBumYouOut: The Giver of Stars

By KJ / Thursday, April 2, 2020

5 Things I Liked about “Giver of Stars” 1. You’re in such good hands with JoJo Moyes. She’s a pro, and you feel it on every page—there are no moments of noticing the narrative or questioning a character. You’re just in it. 2. She created a less obvious protagonist. This is the story of rural traveling librarians in 1930’s Kentucky, and there were plenty of “outsiders” there—but by adding in a real outsider, a young woman from England who really […]

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#BooksThatWon’tBumYouOut: The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet

By KJ / Thursday, April 2, 2020

5 Things I Adored About The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet 1. Wait! Maybe you don’t think this genre is your thing—but give this one a chance. If you like thoughtful books about the ways individuals struggle to understand one another, this is your jam. 2. Or maybe you don’t read in this genre, but you’re willing to watch—in that case, you’re in luck! The arc of this story is in many ways more like a video series […]

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A book that will get you out of your head, and one that won’t.

By KJ / Monday, April 8, 2019

Sometimes my own head is a cruddy place to be. It’s noisy, for one thing. And really very—close. Like a hall of mirrors all parroting my least appealing inner voices back at me. (Let’s just say they aren’t all waving little “Yay” flags and singing “THIS GIRL IS ON FIYYY-RRREEE.) I mean, it’s not like that all the time, but when it is, or when I really need some serious distraction, there’s no better cure for being too much all in my headthan the chance to spend a […]

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Wanna Be Happier? Go Rube. (Works for Kids, Too)

By KJ / Wednesday, March 27, 2019

There are worse things than tapping an oak tree your first time out. Like never making syrup at all.

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Writing for Listeners

By KJ / Friday, February 8, 2019

It wouldn’t be quite accurate to say that KJ Dell’Antonia and Jessica Lahey are winging it. Both women pull out pages of notes as they meet in a hastily tidied upstairs office in Dell’Antonia’s sprawling, well-appointed farmhouse to record the latest episode of their podcast. Both, too, are distinguished writers who know their way around an interview.

Still, there’s a sense of breezy spontaneity in the room, a feeling that unrestrained curiosity is in the driver’s seat, as they chat via Skype with Ruth Franklin, author of Shirley Jackson, A Rather Haunted Life, on a recent Friday afternoon.

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Why I Didn’t Answer Your Email

By KJ / Thursday, February 7, 2019

I’m 47 years old. Two days ago, you sent me an email, which I did not answer. I didn’t answer it, in part, because I am 47 years old.

I appreciated your email. You are a person, who has written an email, and I am a person, who should reply to that email. However, your email arrived on Wednesday afternoon, and just as I opened it, my 16-year-old son came in. He wanted to describe to me an app he is in the process of developing. Then he showed me a funny article someone had sent him, and I showed him a funny article someone had sent me, and then I explained that I had work to do, that I needed, in fact, to respond to your email, and also to write 3,000 words in the next 36 hours. “I’ve only written 300,” I said.

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Happier Parent Mantra: What you want now isn’t always what you’ll want later

By KJ / Thursday, February 7, 2019

This one is really biting me in the butt lately.   What you want now isn’t always what you’ll want later.   That’s one of my 10 Mantras for Happier Parents*, and it is killing me.   Honestly, I’d really rather just give in and make my child happy right now—on whatever it is. Lately, it’s been biggish stuff (hello, report card season), but it’s also been a pile up of all the stuff. Come back here and put your […]

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Sometimes Happier, Sometimes …

By KJ / Friday, November 30, 2018

If you had your crystal ball handy yesterday, and chose to peek in at me and my three younger kids around 3:30, you would have judged us all pretty harshly. One was on the floor, surrounded by a mess of their own making, kicking another, who was nastily mocking the mess and the sibling and anything else. Another was wildly defending some earlier transgression. As for me, I was yelling mightily at anyone in sight. They were horrible people, all […]

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For Happier Family Holidays, Recite This: Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys

By KJ / Wednesday, November 14, 2018

  Bracing yourself for family visits and family travel over the holidays? Me, too–and I’m prepping my kids as well. Happier family holidays means balancing expectations and planning for, well, pretty much whatever went wrong last year and then some. My tips, below (with my favorite bits highlighted in red). Know why you’re going Not everything about a family holiday trip might be precisely a dream vacation for parents or teens, but if we hold our reason for going close to […]

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Happier Parents leave wiggle room

By KJ / Friday, October 12, 2018

  I had an amazing morning today, which can be summed up as follows: got child to doctor’s appointment on time. Let’s back up. Why would that constitute an amazing morning? Because it’s something I rarely achieve. The doctor’s office is a 25-30 minute drive, at the end of which, just as you’re thinking hey, we’re just in time, you encounter the parking garage. The parking garage takes a minimum of ten minutes to navigate, because it’s a narrow structure […]

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Things happier parents know: you don’t really “have to” do that much

By KJ / Friday, September 28, 2018

I have to get up at 5:00 AM tomorrow—to do all the things I want to do. I’ve got have-tos in my day, of course. There’s a big block of work to be done that’s not optional, farm chores, and a business meeting. I would put getting my home ready for a family visit and prepping a couple of meals for that visit in the “have-to” category as well, although that’s arguable. We could eat take-out (like we did tonight). […]

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Two Steps to Happier Parenting: Zero in on a Problem. Try to Make It Better.

By KJ / Friday, September 21, 2018

  Mr. Tantrum is, of course, loud and noisy and demanding. So it’s tough to have him around sometimes—anyone can see that. And he tries to sneak up on us, but the truth is, he’s kind of predictable. He shows up at the end of long days and during transitions. If you can predict Mr. Tantrum, maybe (maybe) you can do something about him. A reader wrote me about Mr. Tantrum last week, because she noticed something in her parenting […]

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A Happier Parent Mantra that even works when things suck (and I wondered)

By KJ / Friday, September 14, 2018

Here’s one of the four things happier parents do: they soak in the good. Which means that when things are pretty decent—not necessarily great, just fine, thanks for asking—they look around, and they notice, and they take a minute to let that soak in. They observe. They say to themselves, yep, dinner’s on the table, 5-year-old’s having a tantrum because the sippy cup is wrong, gotta go back to work and get to all those emails after bedtime, but overall, […]

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#AmWriting NaNoWriMo Countdown: 7 Weeks and Starting a New Project from Scratch

By KJ / Thursday, September 13, 2018

Nanmowrimo (National Novel Writing Month, held annually in November and challenging writers to draft a 50,000 word novel in a month–that’s 1666.66 words a day) is exactly 7 weeks away as I write. 49 days. And I need a new story. My agent has a draft of the novel I wrote over the course of NaNoWriMo last year (I’d estimate that about 10K words of that draft remained in the final draft, which went through another 5-6 iterations and benefited […]

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