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

Hello, hello!

I can’t believe I haven’t been back here yet to say how much fun I had at BEA! It was a total blast. I got to hang out with the awesome Macmillan/FSG crew for a few days, go to a bunch of fun events, and meet some really amazing people. Including…one of my very favorite authors as a kid, R.L. Stine!

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That’s us at the Macmillan booksellers’ luncheon. I think if I had smiled any bigger, my face would have gotten stuck. He was the absolute greatest. One of the highlights of that day came when we shared a cab and the driver overheard us talking. He giddily announced he was a huge Goosebumps fan, and Mr. Stine (I was supposed to call him “Bob” but I just couldn’t…) obliged him with an autograph. It was amazing.

Another trip highlight was most definitely my official BEA signing. I can’t tell you how incredible it was to see so many people lined up with their ARCs of Tumble & Fall. Here I am probably trying to come up with something witty to write:

BLilvOfCcAEhUV-

I had the best time chatting with all of you who turned up. I’m still pretty new to the whole signing-books thing, and everyone was so nice and patient. I started a little game of asking people what THEY would do, if they knew they had only five days left to live, and got the most amazing answers. One girl said she would get right on a plane and go to Finland, because she’d always wanted to go there. It was such a quick and specific answer, I was so impressed. Another girl said she would eat at every restaurant she could in NYC and charge it to her credit card. (I told her I’d happily come along.)

I’m so grateful to all of you who came to say hello, and to all of you reading advanced copies of the book and sharing your reactions on Twitter and your blogs. It makes it all feel so much more real, as I’m counting down the days. I can’t wait until September!!!

xoxo

abc

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

!!!

It has been really, really hard to keep quiet about how much I love the cover of my next book, and today, AT LAST, I don’t have to!

This morning Entertainment Weekly did an exclusive reveal of the cover and a short excerpt on their Shelf Life blog! Go see it and then quick, come back and tell me what you think. 

Since the book doesn’t come out until September, I’ve only seen this beauty myself a handful of times, and have had to be satisfied with a dinky picture I took on my phone when I visited the FSG offices last month. 

I love the cover so much, I joked on Twitter that I wanted to marry it. Only, it wasn’t a joke. Find me a state where it is legal to marry book covers, and I will move to that state. (Polygamy will have to be okay there, too. I’d like to bring my husband.)

Hurry up, September. Things are starting to get a little nutty around here. 

xoxo

abc

(or: more reasons not to unpack.)

Jennifer Lawrence is adorable.

So is Daniel Day Lewis, whose acceptance speech was both genuinely moving and one trillion times more entertaining than all of the phony host bits combined. 

And Ben Affleck! So charming! Who knew? 

I’m embarrassed to admit how few of the movies I’ve seen this year, but now that we are finally on our way to being settled I look forward to catching up.

What were your favorites?

xo

abc 

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or: the house my valentine built.

we move in this weekend! 

xoxo

abc

 

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