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Next week, I’ll be bouncing around the Interwebs on a fun blog tour for Tumble & Fall, put together by the lovely people at Fierce Reads. (Have you checked out the new Fierce Reads website, by the way? Snazzy.) 

Here’s a list (with links) of all of the stops. These lovely bloggers ask some pretty awesome questions (and host some pretty sweet giveaways!) so be sure to check them out:

Monday 9/9
Bibliophilia, Please

Tuesday 9/10
Proud Book Nerd

Wednesday 9/11
YA Romantics

Thursday 9/12
Alexa Loves Books

Friday 9/13
Fic Fare

Monday 9/16
ExLibris Kate

Tuesday 9/17
Read Now Sleep Later

Wednesday 9/18
MacTeenBooks Blog

Thursday 9/19
Karin’s Book Nook

Friday 9/20
Book YA Review

 

I can’t believe Tumble & Fall comes out in less than two weeks! It seems like just yesterday I was whining about how September would never come…

xoxo

abc

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Hi lovely friends,

Before I get on to more Challenge Updates, I have some very exciting news to share: In just a few weeks, I’ll be heading out on my very first book tour! Along with a bunch of other amazing Fierce Reads authors, I’ll be hopping around the country, visiting with bookstores and readers and one very cool-looking Teen Book Festival. Check out the details here. I. Can’t. Wait.

The past few weeks have been bittersweet. We’ve been super busy, wrapping up skate camp and hosting many, many visitors. It’s been such an incredible summer, and it’s sad to think it’s coming to an end. Living where I do, I always have a hard time saying goodbye to the summer season and all it brings — long beach days, gatherings with friends, our amazing county fair! — but I have to say that this summer with Evie has been, by far, the best one yet.

Last weekend, a bunch of my best college friends and their plus ones came to visit, as part of Challenge #4: Host a College Reunion. Despite some decidedly unseasonable weather, we had a blast. Lobster rolls and steamers in Menemsha, lazy beach mornings, trips to the West Tisbury Farmers Market, and lots of silly, late night fun after the babies were in bed.

It was so amazing just to have them all here together, but I knew I wanted to do something extra special to mark the occasion. We had also been talking about having a small, non-religious “welcoming” ceremony for Evie on the beach, and this weekend felt like the perfect time. We invited a bunch of friends to our favorite beach one evening, and asked a few people to write special blessings to help bring Evie into our wonderful Island community. We sprinkled her with ocean water and she ran around like a giggling lunatic (as usual.) It was absolutely perfect, and felt like the ideal way to celebrate having so many close friends with us on a beautiful, end-of-summer Sunday.

Here’s Evie with her new soul parents, Katie and Tony:

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Here she is being welcomed by our sweet friend Kaila:

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And here we are with Aunties Katie and Courtney. (Evie’s grass crown was woven by Aunt Hannah, who was most likely chasing around the other wayward babies when this photo was taken…)

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I know (or I hope) that there’s not really an asteroid threatening our planet any time soon, but I do think that setting these Tumble & Fall-inspired goals for myself has truly made me appreciate beautiful moments like this one all the more.

Hope you’ve been making some special memories of your own this summer.

xoxo

abc

Hi friends.

I know, I missed a week. I’d like to say I have a list of worthy excuses, but I don’t really. I’m going to chalk it up to that mid-challenge slump and look ahead to a new month of kicking some serious bucket-list booty.

This week, I had my second skateboarding lesson! I have been putting these off for a variety of dumb reasons, mostly involving footwear. In these photos, I’m wearing my flimsy (but cute!) old sneakers, but right after this lesson I purchased a new pair of neon yellow Converse low-tops, so from this day forward I’ll be skating in style.

I’ve finally started to push and roll around on my own — which means without holding Eliot’s hands or t-shirt. It’s still surprisingly hard to not fall down. I thought it would feel more natural (probably because I watch the tiny tots skate around like it’s no big thing all morning…) but I constantly feel like I’m going to topple to one side. Here I am pushing (slowly) around the park:

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It may look like I’m standing still, but I’m moving. I swear.

At one point, I got cut off by a seven-year-old, zooming over the concrete hills and making me look like a pansy. I may have accidentally swore in his general direction. Here I am trying to laugh it off:

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(The helmet’s a good look, don’t you think?)

You may also be worrying about Evie during these “lessons.” Is she just wandering around by her lonesome? Sometimes, but usually she’s stalking her dream boyfriend, Austin (a junior counselor at camp.) She likes to pick out extra-special twigs and rocks and offer them to him all morning long, and he keeps them safe in his pocket. Here they are having a chat:

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Young love. Can’t beat it.

In other challenge news, I’ve been making some good progress on a short play I’m writing (#4). It’s only a 10-pager, but it feels good to be writing straight dialogue again.  Next week, I’m finally going to take a dance class (#7) and next weekend, my three best college friends and their partners/kids are coming for an impromptu reunion (#9)!

Elsewhere, I got some exciting news from the publicity crew at FSG. The final final Tumble & Fall hardcovers are in, and I cannot WAIT to hold one! Here’s the pic I saw on twitter. So shiny!!!

Here’s to a busy next week in Challenge land. I’m hoping my new kicks will help.

Happy weekend!

xoxo

abc

Well, they’re not all going to be big weeks.

I don’t know if it was all of the visitors we’ve been having, or the fact that Evie got some weird mystery illness (on top of the four enormous molars she’s been pushing through for weeks) or just a to-be-expected mid-challenge slump, but not a whole lot has happened around here since last I checked in.

Which is not to say the week was a total bust. We DID have our first official date night last night (though the pictures we took are too dark and terrible for posting.) We had a late dinner at a restaurant we love called The Red Cat in Oak Bluffs, and then went to hear Maceo Parker, funk master and showman extraordinaire, play at Flatbreads. The show was incredible. Maceo Parker plays saxophone and was in James Brown’s band, and later played with everyone from Prince to De La Soul to Dave Matthews. He is such an incredible performer. I definitely recommend checking him out if you get the chance!

But the highlight of the night had to be when one of his backup singers came out to do a hilarious, growly rendition of one of my very favorites, Stand By Me. (“If the sky that we look upon should tumble and fall…” Sound familiar?) I found a video from a festival they played in France a few weeks ago, if you’d like to take a look. I especially love at the end when she sings to Maceo and he looks one part thrilled, one part terrified.

In skateboarding news, I managed to go a full week without so much a setting foot on a board. But camp was busy! I can’t tell you how much I love watching these kids grow over the course of a week, not just in skills but also in confidence and in their relationships with the counselors and other campers. It’s just the best. And Evie can’t get enough. Her favorite part of the day is definitely morning stretches, when she walks around the circle, climbing all over everyone’s legs and getting right in their faces to ask for high-fives.

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Finally, I think by way of inspiration, Eliot showed me a skate video this morning that totally blew my mind. Skip ahead to the 6:30 minute mark if you’re short on time and want to get to the face-melting, stat. (Hint: there’s a helicopter involved.) What is wrong with this dude? And also, I love him.

That’s it for this week! Hope you all were a little bit more productive with your goals. I’ve got big plans for next week. Stay tuned!

xoxo

abc

Hi friends.

It was a big week in Challenge land! Despite (or maybe because of) a serious heatwave here on the island, I was able to get to work on a few of my bigger goals. I even crossed one off the list completely!

#2. Take A Paddle Board Lesson.

Have you guys tried this? It’s sort of a cross between surfing and canoeing. You stand on a big, foam surfboard and paddle around, and it’s insanely fun. A great friend of mine, Kaila, lives on a beautiful farm in Chilmark, across the road from a pond and beyond it, one of the Island’s most gorgeous beaches. She also happens to be an expert paddle boarder, and she offered to take me out for a lesson yesterday afternoon. It was almost evening, and the light on the pond was turning dusky orange. Sometimes I really can’t believe how lucky we are to call this place home.

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Here I am getting comfortable (almost) on the board. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, though I can see how it’s a great workout if you do it for a while. It takes some serious abdominal strength to work the paddle and not fall over. But it’s such a cool way to cross the pond and say, go for a quick jump in the ocean, which we happily did.

On our way back, Kaila, who is also a rockstar yogini, convinced me to try some yoga postures on the board. Here I am in a somewhat half-hearted downward dog. (I was sure I’d topple over, by this point.)

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Then, to inspire me for next time, she showed off her headstand. I have no idea how she did this. I can hardly do a headstand on solid ground, these days.

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I guess the point is, I’m already hoping there will be a next time, which is the sign of a good lesson I’d say. Thanks, Kaila! This was definitely my favorite challenge, so far.

Also this week, we got started on our little garden project. It’s already so late in the season that sometimes I’m tempted to just save this for next year, but that’s the thing about the T&F challenge! Just because I can put something off, doesn’t mean I should. So last weekend, we chose a spot for our garden and decided to build two raised beds.

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Thanks to E for the heavy lifting. I think these came out great! Now we just need to get some soil and compost and plant some fall-friendly veggies. I’m thinking lots of greens, and maybe some carrots, potatoes, onions, brussels sprouts? Open to suggestions…

And that’s all for this week! I’m posting on Thursday because tomorrow we’ll be traveling! #5 on my list was Take A Family Vacation, and so we’re off to Maine to visit my bestest friend Courtney and her family for a few days. They have a house on a teeny tiny island (smaller than this one!) and I’ve been hearing magical things about it for years. Can’t wait to finally see it and watch our littles play together in the sun.

Hope you’re all having excellent summers, staying cool, and maybe even checking off a few challenges of your own!

xoxo

abc

Over the holiday weekend, my cousin Emily and her husband Jon — two of my most favorite people — came to visit. It couldn’t have been better timing. You know those friends that just put things in perspective and make everything in the world seem possible and important? That’s Emily and Jon. And spending time with them was just what I needed as I embarked on my first week of the #tumbleandfall challenge.

Which isn’t to say I accomplished a whole lot. But I took some big first steps. I had my first skateboarding lesson this morning! I posted a photo on Instagram , but here’s another in which I appear to be moving:

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(Mostly, it’s an optical illusion. I probably moved three feet over the course of half an hour.)

But I did it! I got on a skateboard! For some reason, I thought, since I have pretty good balance on land, I’d have no problem standing on a skateboard. This wasn’t exactly the case. Turns out, the wheels roll and stuff. And it’s hard!

Next up, new shoes, a bigger helmet, and maybe even some pushing around.

Also this week, a colleague sent me a link to Story Corps, which gave me some really great ideas about interviewing my parents. (#10 on the Challenge List.) I also did some housekeeping around here, and set up a page for the challenge, so that I can keep track of what I get done and when.

Yesterday, I went to my first yoga class (in way longer than I’d like to admit.) Before I had a baby, yoga was a huge part of my life. I’ve missed it a lot, but sometimes it’s hard to talk yourself into doing things you’ve fallen out of the habit of doing. Getting back to yoga wasn’t something I put on my challenge list, but I sort of feel like dragging myself to class was important for me to do this week. It wiped the slate clean, in a way, and got me ready to tackle new and bigger challenges, soon.

My favorite part of this week was hearing from other people about their lists and watching them already meeting some of their goals! One of my editors is mastering his headstand, and another is planning something super secret and exciting for later this summer! What about you? What’s something you’ve been putting off for too long? (Extra points if it’s a little bit scary.) I want to hear about it!

xoxo – and happy weekend!

abc

You guys, I am about to do something crazy.

I had this idea. Actually, it came from you. (Those of you I met and talked to at BEA in May, anyway.) See, in my new book, Tumble & Fall, three teenagers have only a week left to live, in the face of a projected asteroid strike. They’re not trying to save the world. Instead, they’re trying to make the most of whatever time they have left, by finding answers to important questions, or taking risks, or doing things they’ve always wanted to do.

So I asked a bunch of you what you would do, if you had only a week or so left to live. And that got me thinking about what I would do. And then I was like, well, who knows? Maybe I do only have that much time left. So probably, I should do those things I’d want to do, and probably I should tweet about it, and take pictures and video of my progress on my new Instagram account, so you all can follow along. And probably, you guys should join me, and make your own lists, and track your own progress. Because who wants to do something crazy alone?

Introducing…the #tumbleandfall challenge! Here’s the list of 10 Tumbles I hope to take. (Wouldn’t it be cuter if this blog was a tumblr?) In the little-over two months left before the release of my book (September 17th! Tumble & Fall! A Bookstore Near You! ) I am going to do each one of these things. I will keep track of what I’ve done on a page on this site, as well as on Twitter (@abcoutts) and Instagram (@abc_books) using the hashtag #tumbleandfall.

Here we go!

1. Learn To Skateboard: Really, this is where it all began. I have wanted to learn to skateboard (i.e. stand, push, not fall off — I’m not talking tricks and ramps, here) for a verrrrry long time. My husband is a skateboarder. Together, we run a skateboarding camp. I watch preteens do it all summer long. Now is my chance to stop being such a chicken, especially since I know that as soon as Evie — that would be my one-year-old — is old enough to keep her balance, she’ll be learning, too. And I can’t get schooled by a toddler.

2. Take a Paddleboarding Lesson: This is another thing I’ve been dying to try. I live on an island. There could not be more ocean to play in. Time to start playing, and this seems like a fun way to do it.

3. Plant a Garden: We just moved into the house my husband built, and at long last, we have a lawn. Next, I want to build some beds for growing vegetables and a little space for flowers. Related: I want to cook and eat out of this garden, regularly. (Provived my less-than-green thumbs and I can make anything grow.)

4. Host a College Reunion: This is kind of a cheat, since I’m already planning on having a bunch of my college besties visit in August. But I want to plan something really special while they’re here. Details to come.

5. Go on a Summer Vacation: We live in one of the vacation capitals of the Northeast, and find it hard to leave in the summertime. But now that we have a kid, I want to start a tradition of going away at least once every summer, even if just for a couple days. It’s a total pain and I’ll have a lot of arm-twisting to do, but if there’s an asteroid coming in two months, I’m going to want to get off of this island again before it hits.

6. Teach Evie To Swim: Honestly, if the world were ending, I would want to teach Evie a million things, and spend every second watching her do them. But for the purposes of our challenge, I will choose just one. Again, the island thing. Swimming is a must-do, here, and we’re going to get this girl doggy-paddling (or at least floating comfortably) before September, no matter what it takes!

7. Write a Play: Little fun fact: I used to write plays. I even went to grad school for it. And then I started writing books, instead. I love writing books, but I miss writing plays. And I wouldn’t want to peace outta here without trying my hand at writing one again.

8. Date Nights: I want to start having date nights with my husband. This is really just a sneaky way of squeezing in some time with him, since I’ll be so busy doing the other insane things on this list. But if the world was ending, I would want to make sure to have some fun and special nights out with him, first. Plus, if I tell him it’s for work, he can’t say no.

9. Take a Dance Class/Throw an Epic Dance Party: I have never taken a dance class, which will come as no surprise to anybody that has ever seen me “dancing”. I want to learn some hot moves, and then I want to show them off. I will be recruiting friends for this one. It terrifies me.

10. Interview My Parents: This is something I hear about people doing and always think sounds amazing but when am I ever going to find the time to sit down and do it? Now. Now is the answer. I want to ask them all about their childhoods and young adulthoods and life together, and then do something special with it, for them, for me, and for my kids. (Who will hopefully survive the hypothetical asteroid coming in two months time.)

That’s it. Easy, right? I can’t wait to get started. Also, I’m TOTALLY NERVOUS AND SCARED! But that’s the point, I guess. I really hope you guys will cheer me on, and maybe even tackle some of your own Tumbles, too. What have you been putting off? What would you not want to leave undone, if the worst really were about to happen? Two months is a solid chunk of time. Just think of all the things you could do!

xxoo — and Happy Holiday Weekend!

abc0

Friends! 

I am SO THRILLED to be coming to NYC for BEA this week! 

First up on the schedule is the Teen Author Carnival at the Jefferson Market Library in Manhattan on Wednesday night. Here’s the full line up of authors and panels:

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So many amazing authors in one place! Can’t wait to meet those I haven’t met yet (pretty much all of them) and a bunch of cool bloggers and fans, too. The event is open to the public so please come and say hi if you’re in the area. 

Then, on Thursday, I’ll be “walking the floor” at BEA (which I think is a thing people say?) and hoping to score some choice ARCs along the way. If you’ll be there, come find me at the MacMillan booth, where I’ll be signing Tumble & Fall (and anything else you want signed…within reason…) from 3 – 4 pm. 

At some point I will also be eating lunch with upwards of 100 people. So I will be sure to let you know how that goes. 

Off I go to pack and re-pack my suitcase thirty five times before Wednesday. 

xoxo

abc

Firstly, I’d like to note that I very much enjoyed the season finale of GIRLS (I can’t remember much about it, just that it was smooshy and nice and the perfect antidote to the trauma of the episode before it) and am fully back aboard the Lena Dunham fangirl train. For the record.

Second, things have been pretty quiet over here. There was a rough baby patch (by which I mean a trying period of time in baby-land, and not a rough patch on my baby, or a patch of rough babies. Important distinctions, I realize.)

Ear infections (yes, plural), a surprise penicillin allergy, many a sleepless night…it was a hoot.

But all is well now! It is almost impossible to believe that my tiny little mini-me is going to be One. Year. Old. in less than a month. But there it is. There used to be (I guess there still is, though it used to be updated more often) this really great podcast called The Longest Shortest Time and that’s exactly what the first year of motherhood has felt like. Some days are effortless, (or almost effortless) like quick commuter flights, and some are meandering trips across the globe, with layovers, missed connections and lots and lots of turbulence.

Why the airplane metaphors? Perhaps because we will be taking one next week! We are headed to San Diego and Arizona for some much-needed family vacation time. And yes, we will be those dreaded, frazzled plane parents, walking their antsy almost-toddler up and down the aisles, throwing open bags of peanuts all over the seats, and most likely howling bloody murder at take off and landing. (All three of us.) Apologies in advance to anyone who forgets their earphones — or Ambien, as the case may be.

Here’s a picture of my kid with a strainer on her head, in case that helps:

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I spent much of this morning trying to get out from under a dark cloud of GIRLS-related depression. (Did you see this week’s episode? Yech. That’s pretty much all I can say, lest this turn into a multi-paragraph rant, which I am really trying hard to avoid.) 

I read a few recaps online, (this one’s okay — if you don’t mind spoilers and some frank discussion of ear-rape-via-Q-tip, which, if you do, DO NOT WATCH THIS WEEK’S EPISODE.) And then I watched Lena Dunham’s “behind the scenes” segment that I guess I could not bear to watch immediately after the episode, so eager was I to mentally escape the lingering discomfort — and not the average, by-now-expected cringey discomfort. This was real, physical discomfort: my stomach hurt and I had a headache from squinting so as not to see certain scenes as clearly. 

I guess by this morning, I thought maybe I’d recovered enough to get some insider perspective. But I’m not sure Ms. Dunham and I watched the same episode, because all she talked about was Marnie’s delusional Kanye cover and how it was weird to root for her own character’s ex’s new girlfriend. No mention of the horrifying on-screen mental breakdown (enter the Q-tip) or the really, very disturbing sex scene at the end. 

I had asked the Internet to make me feel better, and the Internet let me down.

But then I saw this clip of a four-year-old singing Bruno Mars on Ellen, and all was right with the world. 

GIRLS: 0. 

INTERNET: 1

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