Choosing From the Infinite

Wednesday, February 28th, 2018

My bedroom floor is piled high with books, and there are a decent number that I have not read. I have the intention to read them, which is why, in the heat of a discount-book-shop-treasure-finding moment, I have bought more books than I have the time or energy to read. Sometimes, as I think about those books, and the other books on my “to-read” list, I grow overwhelmed. There are so many stories and voices and ideas I want to absorb and process, and realistically, I don’t have the time or the brain space for them all. I don’t want to spend my entire life reading, because when will I have time to apply what I’ve learned? Sometimes I want to forget the whole thing and give up on my reading list.

Since moving to New York, I have felt the same way—not about reading, but about life. The fear that I might miss something good has moved from my reading list to my lifestyle in New York. I find myself wanting to experience everything, pushed by what everyone tells me I should try and what I must do. As if, once the semester ends and I return home, I will regret not having tasted and seen and participated in everything.

I know, you are probably shaking your head, muttering to yourself, “Silly girl. That’s not possible.” And you’re right. It’s not possible.

It’s not possible for me to experience everything in this enormous city. Not only that, I realize I shouldn’t experience absolutely everything, because not everything is meant for me.

The moment of clarity came for me one rainy day, when I was exploring Brooklyn. I had been trying to save my money for big nights out doing what my roommates wanted to do, and it occurred to me that the activities they wanted to participate in were not necessarily the activities I wanted to participate in. They wanted to experience the glamour of New York, and I wanted to explore the hidden corners, the nooks and crannies. I had spent the first month experiencing the glamour, and I was ready to honor the part of me that wanted a quiet, contemplative moment in a cozy coffee shop.

I didn’t have the money or the energy for both day life and night life, so I made a choice. I ducked inside Joyce Bakeshop and warmed myself from the rain, grounding myself through a hot coffee and a flaky chocolate croissant. I journaled and people-watched. I let the familiar environment of a coffee shop hold me for a while. And in that moment, I understood the importance of choosing your own story.

I’ll probably be ready for the glamour again, but I need the quietness of New York too, the things that feel like me—walks in parks, treats from bakeries, even quiet nights at home spent reading and drawing. I realize now that I cannot say yes to everything. Sometimes I will need to say no, so that there is space, time, and energy to say yes to the things that are mine, the experiences that my soul is leading me toward. When I do this, I stop grasping blindly and am led forward naturally.

It occurs to me now that I don’t have to give up on collecting books and making reading lists; I don’t have to let myself be overwhelmed by the sheer infinity of possibilities. I must say no to the books that I don’t feel calling my soul. Just like experiencing New York City, saying no to those books will give me the space to say yes to the books that do call my soul. I can choose my story, the story that unfolds naturally, the story that is truly mine.

~Sara Beaureilles

This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.

For The Love of Books

Friday, February 23rd, 2018

Over the past few years, I stopped reading for fun. I didn’t even notice I was doing it, but along the way, I wasn’t going into bookstores and didn’t have a stack of unread books on my bedside table. I was sucked into homework and school readings (like the infinitely long Iliad), and I did not give myself time for any personal reading. It wasn’t until this past summer, when I had a lot of free time, that I realized that my bookshelf was embarrassingly bare. So, I resolved to change that.

I told myself that I was going to fall in love with books again, no matter how long it took. I took a break from binge-watching another Netflix series and spent more time at The Strand, which is luckily only a few blocks from my apartment. And I started reading books that interested me, ones that I looked forward to reading rather than dreading it. And slowly, I have opened up to that love again.

Every week, I try to spend at least a couple of hours of reading books I choose, whether it’s before bed or in a cozy coffee shop. It is my “me time” and I spend it doing an activity that I find joy in. Whether it’s the newest New York Times best-seller, a Penguin classic, or a good old-fashioned romance, it’s something I do for myself and only myself.

Reawakening my own love affair with reading, I started to look into entering a career that involves books. It was never something that I thought could even be a possible career path for me. As a kid, I told everyone that when I grew up, I wanted to be a book editor. But I never really thought I could make that happen. Always a dream, but never a reality. But, one day, I asked myself, why hadn’t I put more thought into making my career dreams a reality?

Working at a publishing house has helped me realize that being surrounded by books is where I want to be. Learning about the behind-the-scenes of novels that can change the way you see the world is so interesting and important. The process is opening my eyes to the care and dedication that is put into each word an author writes. It truly takes a village to publish a book, but it’s all worth it if the book makes a difference in even one reader’s life.

Books are important. Through finding my love of reading again, I am also finding myself. I am excited to see what more I have to learn with Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press. The possibilities are endless.

– Beauscar Wilde

This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.

The Stuff of Stories

Friday, January 26th, 2018

A little smile tugs at my mouth as I sit behind my desk at Beaufort Books/Spencer Hill Press. Looking out the window captures a scene that seems incredibly fitting for a book publisher in New York City: tall brick buildings hugged by winding fire escapes, windows that subtly showcase the busy lives of other office workers, and a cloudy blue sky. It’s exactly what I would picture when I think of a New York City book publisher.

I know images can be deceiving. Although beginning an internship at a book publisher in New York City sounds intriguing, it’s not the first time I’ve done something that seems to fit the image. My college experience consisted of moving to Nashville to be part of the music scene. While it was lovely, I quickly learned that images aren’t always as they seem.

Behind the Instagram filters and keywords that frame our stories are the real lives we live. The everyday, nitty-gritty details of life. While I enjoy going out and doing things that make a great story, I have learned that the real story is in the in-between, the ways I fill my day. The decision to grab coffee on my way to work. The smile at the security guard on the way in. The small talk with people in the elevator or the subway. The laughter with my roommates as we make dinner.

Moving to different cities is interesting, and it makes you aware of things you can’t catch as easily on a vacation. My first week in New York City, I acted like a tourist, capturing those well-known tourist sites and posting them on Instagram. As I settle in, however, I’m noticing more of the nuances, and whether in New York, Nashville, or anywhere, these nuances, the stuff of life, are often the same. Everyone is dreaming, working, hurting, hoping. In the nuances, I am reminded that each of us is living a story, both unique to ourselves and similar enough to others’ to be part of the larger collective human story.

I’m excited to be interning at Beaufort/Spencer Hill mostly to watch how stories are built and delivered. It’s a courageous act when an author decides to tell a story, whether fictional or personal or historical. The world gains a voice that we’ve been waiting to hear when an author writes. To learn the business of putting together a story and publishing it–both the exciting aspects and the little nuances–is a process that intrigues me, and even in the first few weeks of my internship I’ve learned a lot.

Although the best parts of the story are in the details and everyday occurrences, I will admit: sometimes, the images are nice. I like the fact that I get to learn with a publisher in New York City, sitting at a desk by this window.

~Sara Beaureilles

This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.

Saturnalia—A Day of Role Reversals

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

Greetings everyone and I hope the changing of seasons has treated you well. Today, I would like to talk about a recent event that I partook in at Beaufort Books called Saturnalia.

This Roman holiday, devoted to Saturn, when celebrated in ancient times, from December 17th-23rd,  gave slaves the chance to become the masters for the day or for others to play games and enjoy themselves. It made me wonder if this is where people got the idea of job shadowing where students are given a day to learn more about the profession they’re passionate about. At Beaufort, I went from intern to managing editor for the day and I learned about the various roles and duties involved with the job. This was a fun and challenging experience as there are a lot of responsibilities involved.

While I didn’t learn all of the tasks involved, I did learn about some important ones that are handy to be familiar with such as finances, responding to emails, and keeping the office organized. I think we all have an idea in our head as to what an editor does, I know I did before I started school and interning, but there’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes of making and producing books for all of us to read! There are different types of editors found in an editorial department, and a managing editor is the one who oversees the others and keeps track of a book’s production. While I didn’t oversee anyone, I did get to help plot out the schedule for books that will be worked on in the coming year. I also learned about finances and how that fits into a managing editor’s duties. In my master’s program, I have taken classes that cover this side of the publishing industry, and it was refreshing to see firsthand how it works. There is something to be said about learning both inside and outside of the classroom!

Overall, my time as a temporary managing editor ended smoothly. It showed me how everything I’m learning ties together and I now know what to expect in the future and I’m looking forward to it.

Now, though, on my last day interning at Beaufort Books the future seems a bit nebulous. But I’m not too worried as I have learned a lot during my time at this internship and I will be forever grateful that I was able to wear many hats. It allowed me to see what sparks my interest and to help me better understand this fascinating industry.

Take care everyone, and may 2018 have a wonderful plot twist waiting for you.

~J.R.R. Beaulkien

This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.

We’re on Snapchat!

Friday, November 3rd, 2017

Hey guys!

Guess what? We’re on Snapchat now! And we’d love for you to follow us and see what we’re up to here at Spencer Hill Press.

I started using Snapchat a couple of years ago, curious to see what all the hype was about. It seemed like another social outlet with virtually the same idea of sharing photos and videos with your followers. But I was pleasantly surprised. The photos and videos shared, no matter how funny, random, serious, or sad, allow a more intimate glimpse into the life of your Snapchat friends and yours as well. Of course, what you choose to show the world is entirely up to you, but it’s a great way to be unapologetically you! I was hooked almost immediately. I was working as a pastry chef then and I used it as another platform to showcase my work and my adventures in the kitchen.

Through our Snapchat, you’ll get to meet the team and peek into the world of publishing. Social media is a great tool for many different reasons, and for us, here at SHP, it’s a fantastic way to connect with our readers, authors, and all-around book lovers.

We’ll be having themed posts for each week, so if you have a great idea for a theme, let us know in the comments.

So please add us and spread the word!

My Fall TBR List

Wednesday, October 18th, 2017

During my time here at Beaufort, I will be going by the nom-de-plume Jane Beausten because I recently re-read Pride and Prejudice for one of my literature classes and remembered how much I love her witty satire. I am in my final year of undergrad studying English with a minor in Art History at Fordham University, a cat mom, devout turtleneck wearer, and coffee addict (I drank two cups before writing this post).

Amidst trying to keep up with my seemingly never-ending reading for classes, working part-time at Fordham’s library, interning at Beaufort Books, and getting involved with extracurricular activities, it feels like I have little time to spend catching up on my to-be-read (TBR) list. However, I manage to sneak in a bit of reading each night before bed, and this has enabled me to start making some progress on my list.

Every book lover has a TBR list for different periods of time in their life. For me, these periods of time align with the seasons. As autumn seeps its way into the city, I’ve begun to think about the books I want to read this season.

Here are some of the books on my list:

The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis
I heard about this collection of short stories through the Goodreads grapevine. So far, I have only read a few stories. From what I can tell, Davis is a masterful storyteller and I find myself drawn in with her vignettes that capture seemingly mundane events. I’m excited to continue this read and possibly update you all about it in a future blog post!

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy
I fell in love with the magical realism style through reading the works of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. One of the biggest news stories in the publishing world this year was Roy releasing her newest novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, and I decided to get to know her writing by reading her earlier work.

bone by Yrsa Daley-Ward
I became a fan of this particular style of contemporary poetry by reading milk and honey by Rupi Kaur and salt by Nayyirah Waheed, so when I found out about Ysra Daley-Ward, I was immediately intrigued by her work. I’ve read some of her poems on her Instagram and Twitter accounts, and I find her poetry to be thoughtful, engaging, and comforting. I recently got a copy of her book from The Strand, which has made me look forward to reading the rest of her poems.

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood
Everyone knows Atwood’s novel The Handmaid’s Tale, but a friend recommended that I try reading Alias Grace because I am interested in historical fiction, particularly books set in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. I am trying to incorporate different genres into my reading repertoire, and though I usually am not one to read mysteries or thrillers, I couldn’t help but find this plotline intriguing.

I hope my fellow book lovers find the time to check books off their TBR lists. I know I certainly will.

Until next time,
Jane Beausten

This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.


Thank You, New York

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

My summer in New York was loud, crowded, stressful, expensive, and amazing.

My apartment was in the East Village, a comfortable but busy neighborhood in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I’ve also been working part-time at a coffee shop in Williamsburg, which has allowed to me to get to know the neighborhood and become familiar with the local community. I discovered a variety of venues to watch live shows, something I rarely get to do when I’m at school in Boston. I saw Kendrick Lamar, Sylvan Esso, A$AP Ferg, Jacques Greene, Alex G, Fleet Foxes, and countless more. I also learned about the comedy scene in New York, and frequented improv and stand up shows. I visited bustling and famous tourist spots, and discovered quieter neighborhoods where I could sit down with a book and feel more anonymous.

At Beaufort, I was regularly given projects to tackle, including assisting in pitching a book. This required research into proposals and coming up with possible marketing strategies. I got to attend a dinner party for an upcoming book release, and of course, the unforgettable experience that was BookExpo. At Beaufort, I’ve learned about all the different steps that go into publishing, the importance in attention to detail, and what makes a good book good.

In New York, I’ve learned that standing in the middle of the sidewalk is a sure way to anger locals, how to ride the subway without anxiety, and where to get the best pizza in East Village. My relationship in New York was fraught. Although I relished in the excitement, I resented how the busy and crowded city could be. Sometimes I couldn’t imagine not living in the city, other times, I wanted time to slow down and to rush back to my small hometown in Texas. Despite this, I still plan on coming back, because there’s no other place like New York City. 

Sincerely yours,

J.K. Beauling

This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.

My Summer in the City

Wednesday, July 26th, 2017

My summer in the city was hectic, exhausting, and incredible; I know I will never forget it. From the moment I stepped into my apartment in Manhattan, I knew it was going to be an amazing summer. Though this was not the first time I have moved to a new place, it was 100 times more daunting than moving to my small college town in the middle of New York State. I have dreamed of living in the city since the first time I visited it when I was 11 years old, so living here this summer was a literal dream come true. These past few months, I have started to feel like a real New Yorker: taking the subway every day, passing famous landmarks on the way to the grocery store, and having the pedestrian equivalent of road rage every time I walk behind a slow group of tourists.

While I felt like a New Yorker this summer, I was also a tourist. I’d seen the most famous tourist attractions—the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Time Square—but this summer I got to experience much more. During the last few months I have been to Governor’s Island during the Jazz Age Lawn party, the Pride Parade, the delicious food festival in Brooklyn, Smorgasburg, and the Chelsea Market. I have stood outside the Gershwin Theater three times in the past week trying my luck at the Wicked ticket lottery—to no avail. Last week, I was at Central Park watching hundreds of runners while I waited for Shakespeare in the Park tickets early in the morning, and this week my friends and I plan to spend the day soaking in the sun at Coney Island. In the city, I feel like my options are limitless. There is a new adventure waiting for me every day.

I have felt more independent during my two and a half months in the city than I have during my whole two years at college. Though I have some independence in college—living away from home and deciding when I eat, sleep, and study—I still live in what Colgate students like to call “The Colgate Bubble.” Most students at my school say that we are so cut off from the rest of the world in our small town that we would have a hard time reintegrating back into the “real world.” I never really understood this until I moved to the city, which is a textbook definition of what the “real world” is. NYC has given me so much life experience, and even if I end up not living here ever again, I know that I will use what I’ve learned wherever I end up.  I’m so happy that I could live and work in the city this summer. I got to do things and meet people that I will never forget. Though I came here for an internship, I will be leaving here with much more than just work experience.

Stacy, Intern for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press. This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.

Books and BookTube

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

When I was a sophomore in high school, I discovered the online book community. It may seem a little dramatic, but this community changed my life; It reignited my love for books and eventually led me to the world of book publishing. I don’t even know how I first stumbled upon “BookTube”—the community of YouTubers that make videos almost exclusively about books. I had never seen so many people in my age group speak so passionately about books, and it made me feel like I could share my love of books with these people. For me, watching BookTube is like having a conversation with a friend. It’s amazing how you can feel a connection with someone you don’t even know just by seeing what he or she likes to read. I binge-watched so many BookTube videos in the first few months, from videos discussing what that person had read that month to 30 minute long videos showing off every single book on that person’s shelf. Not long after, I joined the Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram communities. Books had completely taken over my social media life, and I finally found a place on the internet where I belonged.

This community not only took over my social media life, but also my shelf. There were suddenly so many new books that I wanted to read, all thanks to the recommendations of the many, many people I followed. To stop myself from buying all of my books at full price, I discovered book sales around my community. Much to my dad’s dismay, new books made their way into our home weekly, until one day I had to buy a whole new shelf just to fit them all. The only downside to this is that I now own so many unread books that it is sometimes overwhelming trying to choose what to read next. Not the worst problem in the world.

Even though nearly five years have passed since I first discovered BookTube, I still watch some of my favorite BookTubers every week. Because of conventions like BookExpo and BookCon, I have met people who share my love of this community in real life. I have also gone to two BookTube panels at BookCon, where I  met four of my favorite BookTube vloggers. The online book community has been integral in connecting people around the world through their love of reading. I’ve never thought about making a BookTube channel myself, but I will admit to taking artsy “Book Haul” photos for my Instagram. For me, the online book community is not only a way to find new books, but also a way to make genuine connections with people my age that share my interests.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite BookTubers:




Little Book Owl



Stacy, Intern for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press. This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.

Summer: The Season of Reading

Thursday, June 29th, 2017

When I first moved into my dorm, I had approximately 15 books shoved in all the empty spaces I could find after all my “necessities” were packed. My reading-for-pleasure books were a necessity to me, though—much to my dad’s chagrin—so into the boxes they went. “Wait, are you going to read all of those?” My new roommate asks as I carefully place my books on the window sill. I thought that after graduating high school, I would have so much free timeto read all the books I couldn’t read during my 8 hours of classes each day. I was so excited to only have 2 classes a day, thinking that even with all my papers and exams I would still have plenty of time for reading. Then I looked at my syllabi.

As an English major, I am required to readaround 5 or 6 books per English class. As a liberal arts student, I have to read at least 100 pages per night for my other required classes. Because of this, reading was the very last thing I wanted to do after I finished my homework. I was so distraught. I had always proclaimed my love of reading to anyone who would listen, so to find myself completely unmotivated to read for pleasure was disconcerting. I never wanted to think of reading as a chore, so throughout the school year I would choose Netflix and the internet over reading most days.

Since leaving college for the semester around one and a half months ago, I have rediscovered my love for reading. I suddenly want to devour every book Isee, knowing that in a few short months I will go back to resenting anything that has words on it. New York City is especially great for booklovers—you can read a book on the subway, in a park, in a coffee shop. Spending a whole day reading on a beautiful summer day—or even a dreary, rainy day—is when I am at my happiest. While summer jobs, internships, and volunteering are important, it is just as important to spend your summer making yourself happy by doing something you love. Especially while I’m young, I intend to use summer to do what I love and not let myself be hung up on all the responsibilities of the school year.

Stacy, Intern for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press. This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.

Reading Anything (and Anywhere)

Monday, June 26th, 2017

Hi readers! In the past few weeks, I’ve read Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis (a quintessential British comedy novel featuring a hapless university lecturer), The Ships of Earth by Orson Scott Card (the third installment in a science-fiction series about a band of outer space exiles re-colonizing an abandoned planet), Green by Sam Graham-Felsen (a story of a white kid at a predominantly black middle school), and about three dozen assorted comic books (plus maybe a cereal box or two). That’s a long-winded way of saying that I’ll read anything! Many people have a specific idea of what they want when they hunt for a new title, but personally, my only real criterion for a book is that it should have words (and with a couple of those comics, even that was negotiable).

My “anything goes” reading philosophy started when I was a child, combing through my house on the hunt for books to devour. In addition to being my favorite icebreaker with new people, the fact that I’m a quadruplet with little sisters that are twins means that my household has never been lacking in diverse reading materials! Although my younger self’s favorite topics tended to be fantasy epics or anything involving animals, my parents and siblings each had their own tastes, and when I needed a new book those tastes often became mine as well. My brother’s beloved sports stories and collections of historical trivia, my sister’s young adult novels jam-packed with romantic drama, and the classics my parents held onto, to name a few examples, weren’t exactly the kind of fare I would have chosen for myself, but I tended to burn through my own books so quickly that when I needed my next literary fix I couldn’t afford to be picky. I was such a voracious reader that I’d speed through anything I could find in the houseeven if it happened to be the last book in a series whose earlier installations I hadn’t yet managed to track down. (Sorry J.K. Rowling, but at least I ended up getting around to all of the other Harry Potter books eventually, right?)  

I’d say that having a never-ending stockpile of books initially became so important to me because unlike all five of my siblings I didn’t play basketball, which meant that I constantly found myself sitting in the stands at their games, wishing I could be doing anything else. Burying my nose in a book seemed like a much more interesting alternative to actuallygasp!watching that never-ending stream of sports. And always keeping a book on hand became even more useful when I got old enough to spend my summers working at my family’s basketball camp, where instead of coaching I was offered the task of simply manning the concessions stand. There I was able to spend practically entire days (with the exception of the kids’ snack breaks) reading!

The great thing about my literary habit, though, is that even when I stopped being dragged to every game and working every week of camp, I kept reading. As I grew up I realized, perhaps unsurprisingly, that reading was more than just something to do to get out of doing something else. Rather, it was a hobby I really did love. I loved it enough to declare an English major in college, join several book-related extracurricular activities on campus, and look exclusively at the publishing field when it came time to apply to internships. As my first paragraph proves, I’ll still read anythingbut now it’s because I choose to, not just because game time is an hour away and Tom Sawyer is the only thing left on the shelf. One reading habit of mine has changed, though… these days I always read series in the proper order!  

Happy reading,

Sherlock Beaulmes

Photographic proof of my addiction to reading during basketball games… I was at such a good part that I didn’t even realize my cousin had taken this picture!

BookCon: A Great Place to Share Your Love of Reading

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017


BookCon is not perfect, but I believe that at its core it is still a great place to go if you want to share your love of reading with others.

Walking into the convention this year, I already knew that it would be distinctly different from the BookCon I attended two years ago. For a start, it seemed that there would be a near record-breaking amount of people attending the book lovers convention. From the influx of fan posts on the BookCon app, I saw that people were lined up for hours in an enormous queue just to get onto the main floor right at 10 a.m. I also knew that it would be different, however, because of all of the restrictions that were placed on book signings and book giveaways. These restrictions led many fans–a lot of whom were experiencing BookCon for the first time–to leave the convention feeling slighted by exhibiters and by the convention as a whole.

One thing that I was particularly surprised by was the need to get separate tickets two weeks prior to the convention in order to get a book signed by most authors in the autographing area. Because of my hectic schedule prior to moving to New York City this summer, I had no clue that we needed tickets for signings until after they had already sold out. Though the signings were free, many people were unable to see their favorite author because of this attempt to minimize lines. I also saw many first time BookCon goers complaining that there were not nearly as many free books as they were “promised.” Though there’s much more to BookCon than free books, I did notice that publishers were selling books much more than they were giving out free ones.

With all the negatives aside, BookCon was still an event that brought thousands of book lovers together to share their love of reading. One of my favorite parts of BookCon is–strangely enough—standing and/or sitting in line for a long time waiting for an in-booth galley drop or signing and suddenly making friends with all of the people around you. Through our shared distain for standing in line and shared love for books, we can forge temporary bonds that may even turn into long-lasting online friendships.

I also attended two panels this BookCon–one featuring four female young adult authors and one featuring the three “booktubers” that make up the online book club Booksplosion. It was so refreshing to see a panel with four female authors, all of whom shared a love of fantasy/sci-fi writing. At the panel, entitled “Magic and Power,” the authors discussed not only the topics in the title, but also the concepts of world building–both creating entirely new worlds and describing the real world in a way that readers from all different backgrounds can understand it. They also discussed their process in making complex main characters who–like real people–have both positive and negative attributes. I think that panels will always be a great part of BookCon because they allow consumers to interact with the members of the publishing community that they admire.

Stacy, Intern for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press. This is a shared blog post for Beaufort Books and Spencer Hill Press.

In Defense of YA

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

Hello, readers! For my time at Beaufort, I have chosen the nom-de-plume of J.K. Beauling because: A. Harry Potter shaped me as a writer and a dreamer, and B. most of the good pseudonyms were already taken. I am a Texas-native, a writing, literature, and publishing major at Emerson College, a pretty standard millennial, and now, a Beaufort Books intern and budding New Yorker.

When asked about my favorite genre of books, I used to panic and scramble to come up with the most impressive answer I could without sounding too disingenuous (I’ve learned that people usually know you’re lying when you claim Ernest Hemingway is your favorite author). Lately, however, I’ve been answering more simply and honestly with: young adult. While I wouldn’t go as far as saying that I prefer YA over every other genre, it’s the one I frequently find myself passionately defending, and the genre I hope to work with throughout my career in the publishing industry.

I’ve found that embracing YA, especially as an adult, is usually frowned upon. It’s one of those things that you’re allowed to enjoy as long as you do it under the guise of a guilty pleasure, like double cheeseburgers or Katy Perry songs. By trivializing YA literature, we are belittling our youth and implying that art that is designed for teenagers is inherently inferior.

As an adult, or as someone in the “in-between” phase, I’ve learned how to see past adversity. I’m aware of my strengths and weaknesses, and I have a general idea of what I’m doing with my life (don’t quote me on that, though). As a teenager, however, feelings of perpetual sadness and discomfort in my own skin were loud disruptions to my previously blissful childhood. I walked my high school’s hallways feeling like an anomaly among my contemporaries, although I later learned that they felt just as confused as I did. The complexities that we develop in our teenage years are the most difficult to comprehend, and stories about these universal struggles can serve as survival guides as we develop our own coping mechanisms.

Harry Potter helped refine my imagination, and taught me the art of escapism through literature. The Hunger Games gave me Katniss, who continues to inspire me as a strong female role model (it should also be noted that YA has more female protagonists than any other genre—how much longer are we going to keep minimizing teenage girls and glorifying dead white male authors?). The Perks of Being a Wallflower helped me understand depression, and John Green’s novels gave a sense of purpose within the monotony of my suburban teenage years.

As I get older and stumble into my 20s, I feel a growing sense of nostalgia upon reading YA novels. They don’t feel quite as familiar as they did just a few years ago, but they remind me of the days when time seemed endless. So, while I acknowledge that reading Hemingway is important, I encourage all readers to go ahead and indulge in vampire romance fiction, or any other book that has been deemed lesser by default of their intended audience. Literature can be consumed for intellectual growth, but it can also be a companion amidst hardship. Growing up is hard and uncomfortable, and books can help make the journey a little less lonely.

Until next time,

J.K. Beauling

Me at 15 during my first trip to New York. This outfit was planned weeks in advance, and I begged my mom to take pictures of me all day.

This is a shared blog post for Spencer Hill Press and Beaufort Books.

Social Media and the World of Publishing

Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017

When I was eight years old I decided I was going to be an author. A dream that is pretty standard and not unusual within the Publishing Industry. However, fast track to college, and, being a person of mostly realistic goals, I opted for Global Marketing as a major. At the end of the day, I could still work in publishing and (let’s dream) one day even write something myself. 

While looking at the industry, and searching for possible internships, I noticed that small publishing presses have been popping up particularly in the United States. Many journalists are even calling this their “golden age,” however, as a college Junior who has had to write more than one paper on ROI (Return On Investment) I wondered: How can they afford to stay in business?  The answer to my query presented itself on yet another very long paper I had to write for school; “Evaluating Social Media Initiatives in the Publishing Industry.”  After a lot of research and opened tabs on my browser, I found that Social Media enables a lot of self-published authors and very small, independent presses to run without a Marketing or Publicity department which saves them enough money to stay afloat and focus on the actual work.Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter allows promotion of work with little to no cost, and Instagram and Tumblr even have communities ready to devour whatever new information publishers can give fans about upcoming books written by their favorite authors.

However, most authors do not know how to take full advantage of these tools, and often end up asking their publishers for help. Other authors, the really smart authors, create a brand for themselves based on their work, and end up being desired by publishers based on their Social Media fame (Fifty Shades of Grey anyone?).

At the end of the day, while we were all looking at eBooks and dreading the change that these devices would sweep us up with, we forgot to look at Social Media. Now that the future with eReaders is less uncertain, everyone can focus more on the marketing side of things, and realize that even if it saves money and it looks like a relatively easy tool to use, it takes time, and it takes effort. Scheduling tweets on Hootsuite, or even Facebook posts, for a whole week in a day, can be mentally exhausting. Instagram is even worse, because there are certain emoji’s or filters you can only access if you use the application on your phone. Now with “Insta Stories” it’s even harder since you have to upload them as they are happening. On top of it all, the fear of “what if they don’t like what I post?”

So yes, Social Media is an amazing tool, and yes, it is changing the Publishing Industry (drastically, in my opinion) and the way we sell our work, and ourselves. Yes, it IS free! Free of monetary cost, but don’t be fooled: it will consume your time, and exhaust you too. To publishers, authors and all my lovely fellow interns: take Social Media with ease, and care. Even though it looks like something easy, simple and fast, each post should be given the same attention to detail as any manuscripts you write, edit or read. It is a great tool that has to be used responsibly, with a lot of care, and lot of patience.

Happy posting!

-A Marketing Intern

Shared Blog Post with Spencer Hill Press and Beaufort Books

Find Your Voice! by J.L. Spelbring

Monday, April 10th, 2017

I remember when I finally decided to walk down the writing road after years of wanting to pen a book, but (insert excuse here) kept me from sitting in front of computer. I had hopes. I had dreams. I had a goal.

My first completed novel was bad and, if truth be told, passing time hasn’t changed that fact. It’s still bad. I’ll admit it…really, really bad.

Part of the reason was I had tried to stick to all the English rules completely; therefore, my book read like a textbook, dry and boring. (Yes, I had a few beta-readers tell me just that). After a long cry and, what I thought was just a dead end and a waste of time, I realized something. My betas were right. The book did read like a textbook. My characters were like robots. The scenery was lengthy and not compelling for the reader to step inside my creation for a visit.

I hadn’t learned the most important part of writing—voice.

But how can you learn to write with voice?

I hadn’t the slightest clue.

I pondered and pondered this question, and then, I picked up books from my favorite authors and read. I didn’t read for pleasure. I read for information.

I asked myself a flurry of questions. “How did they paint that picture in my mind?” “How is it they made me hate this character and love that character?” So on and so on.

I started to examine how the sentences were worded. I studied how punctuation was placed. I began to realize that these great authors didn’t always follow the rules. Once in awhile, there was a comma where it didn’t belong. And over in that sentence, it’s…fragmented. Wait, what’s that? A dangling modifier.

And you know what else I learned? It’s okay.

The rules of writing should be followed, or you will end up with a sloppy book, but here and there, it is ok break the rules. For instance, a misplaced comma is nothing more than the author wanting you to pause for dramatic effect.

An author’s voice is what brings the book alive. It fills it with vivid colors and scents and touch. It sparks emotions and heightens responses.

It was a wonderful lesson to learn, and a lesson that led me to another understanding.

Writing with your voice is a skill that must be practiced as each word is typed on a page. It’s a continuous process, and one that is not meant to be tamed. It is an ongoing learning experience that always improves but is never aced.

For each book you write, it is different. Different characters. Different worlds. Different situations. Different relationships. Different conflicts.

With all the differences, how can you possibly write with the same voice?

J.L. Spelbring lives in Texas, where she wanders out in the middle of the night to look at the big and bright stars.

Besides knocking imaginary bad guys in the head with a keyboard, she enjoys being swept away between the pages of a book, running amuck inside in her own head, pretending she is into running, and hanging out with her kids, who are way too cool for her.

She is the author of Perfection and Flawed, which can be found at Amazon / Amazon and Barnes&Noble / Barnes&Noble.

Spelbring will be at the YART Young Adult Texas Tea event on April 21st.

How Taking Photos Can Have a Profound Influence On Your Writing

Monday, March 20th, 2017

Photographs were a critical part of writing my realistic contemporary YA novel, Hello?. My priority was to create authentic scenes. Without a camera to capture the details of the places mentioned in the novel, I wouldn’t have been able to go home and write scenes that leapt off the page. In addition, photos often inspired the plot and action. Here are some examples:

One of the main settings for Hello? is Washington Island, Wisconsin. Two of my characters live there, Tricia and Brian. I spent several weeks on the island, meeting locals, learning about the flora and fauna, and exploring as much of the area as I possibly could. One of those places was the cemetery. I found this worn marker on one of the old graves. At the time, I had no idea if it would have any significance for my novel, but it touched me deeply, so I took a photo. Weeks later, it turned into a pivotal scene in Hello?.

Sturgeon Bay is another critical setting for Hello?. Emerson, Angie, and Brenda—the three other main characters and narrators—live in Sturgeon Bay. The photo below was taken at Grant Park. Then high school student Savanna Townsend pointed to a spot on the Washington Street Bridge—one of three drawbridges leading into Sturgeon Bay. Savanna explained that locals would strip to their underwear and jump into the bay from the bridge. Near where she’s standing is a ladder. That’s where jumpers would swim to and climb out. I was fascinated by this story and eventually it became an important part of the novel.This photo helped me to add extra details and make the scene come alive.

This next photo was taken at Sunset Park in Sturgeon Bay. That’s Little Lake behind the geese. Sunset Park became a major part of the novel when I wrote several scenes that took place here. As a matter of fact, this very spot is where Emerson broke up with Angie. It’s where she dragged their picnic blanket into the lake and where she fell into the water. Later in the novel, Emerson returns to Sunset Park.

I’ve returned to Sunset Park on many occasions. This bench swing became the place for Emerson to eat lunch and look over the bay. It, too, became an important moment in the novel.

I even took photos of roads and street signs!

This zigzagging road was an important part of Hello?. Anyone traveling by car to visit Washington Island must use this road. Not only do I describe it in the novel, but it’s also a metaphor for life. It twists and turns and rises and dips. In other words—life! I haven’t met anyone who’s ever had a smooth, perfectly straight journey, and so this road has extra meaning in the novel.

It may only be a street sign, but in the novel, Boyers Bluff becomes the setting for Tricia’s lighthouse and where much of the island action takes place for the characters. I also gave Tricia the last name of Boyer.

This is part of Boyer’s Bluff. It leads to a light tower and the most spectacular views on the island! This photo, along with many others, helped me capture and describe the flora and fauna for the novel.

This last photo was taken at Jackson Harbor at sunrise. Since then, I’ve watched many sunrises on Washington Island from this pier. It became the inspiration for where Tricia and Brian had their first kiss and it also was the model for one of the drawings included in the novel.

I can’t imagine ever writing a book without taking photos to utilize for inspiration. Even if you don’t have a scene in mind yet, take those pictures! They can transform your work and add rich, authentic details that will make your scenes come alive. Happy snapping!

Liza Wiemer is the author of Hello?. Find her book on Amazon and Barnes&Noble.

The Art of Storytelling

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

I grew up in Bronxville, New York in an old Victorian house that my mother claimed was haunted. Every night, she would tell my brothers and I stories about the ghost who lived in the empty rooms on the third floor. The ghost was supposed to be friendly, and as the legend went, had even put out an electrical fire in the kitchen that should have burned down the house. But still, he was a ghost, and very scary.

Sometimes at night, I would wake up to the sounds of creaking floorboards coming from above. Someone, or something, was up there. I knew it wasn’t my brothers—they were as terrified as I was of the giant, claw-footed tub with rusty stains, the sheet-covered furniture, and the dusty, painted shut windows. I would look over at my cat for comfort, but she would also be staring up at the ceiling. Together, our gazes would follow the sound of the footsteps as the ghost walked, eventually descending the creaking staircase, passing by my bedroom and then vanishing.  Was this real or my imagination?

Storytelling in my family has always been a tradition. From making up stories to recounting true ones, whenever we gather, especially at holidays, we love to tell our favorites: the time my father blew up the front lawn when he lit a gasoline-filled mole hole; the day my oldest brother was sent to stand up to the neighborhood bully; the time my mother saw a theatre dummy hanging from a tree and called the police because she thought someone had hung himself. Sometimes these tales get a little stretched. It doesn’t matter, they connect us in a way stories can.

As a storyteller, my mother knew how to weave truth with fiction, reality with imagination. Even more than this, she knew how to draw my brothers and I into her nightly tales, and not just as passive listeners. We seemed to enter her world. Even when she finished, the echoes of the stories stayed with us. She understood the connection between the storyteller and the listener, the power of a well-timed pause. Her bedtime stories opened the door to a magical world where anything was possible. This was both terrifying and thrilling to me back then and an important lesson for me now as a writer. Think big and bold and fearlessly step into the world of your imagination.

My family sold that house in Bronxville many years ago, but I went back once to see it. Although completely updated, I could still see the shadow of a stain on the right hand side, and a strange reflection in the attic window. I couldn’t help but believe that sometimes at night, the sound of creaking floorboards could be heard as the ghost keeps his watch.

Kim O’Brien lives in Texas with her husband, daughters, and four-legged friend Daisy. She worked for many years as a writer, editor, and speechwriter for IBM before becoming a full-time fiction writer.

She is the author of Bone Deep, which can be found at Amazon and Barnes&Noble.

Kim will be at the YART Young Adult Texas Tea event on April 21st.

Messages from L.B. Simmons

Thursday, March 2nd, 2017

In my author biography it states, “L.B. Simmons doesn’t just write books. With each new work, she composes journeys of love and self-discovery so she may impart life lessons to readers. She’s tackled suicide, depression, bullying, eating disorders, as well as physical and sexual abuse, all the while weaving elements of humor into the storylines in effort to balance the difficult topics.”

I pride myself on this statement, because to me, my books are not just books. They are my very personal messages to every person out there who needs a voice, who needs to be heard, and who needs to bear witness to the fact that they are not alone. I feel that as I found my own voice through writing, it’s imperative I use that voice to make a difference. By way of my characters, I can show people who feel irrevocably broken that they too can heal. And while romance does play a part in my storylines, it is always associated with the same central message: You cannot truly love someone else until learn to love yourself. Flaws included. Because in truth, it’s those imperfections that make you . . . well, flawless, because they are you. And you’re perfect just the way you are.

Every time I speak with someone who has traveled the healing journey with one of my characters, who closes the book with renewed strength and a smile on their face, my heart swells knowing my voice was heard and one or more of many messages successfully delivered.

This is why I write.

YOU are why I write.

And I am so thankful to the publishing industry for providing me a platform in which to speak, and to those readers who dared to listen.

L.B. Simmons is the author of the Chosen Paths series, two of which are available for pre-order now.

Into the Light: Amazon | Barnes&Noble
Under the Influence: Amazon | Barnes&Noble
Out of Focus: (release date – November 2017)

20,000 Leagues (& Books) Under the Street

Friday, February 17th, 2017

Having now curated and posted photos for Beaufort and Spencer Hill social media accounts, coming up with artsy pictures and a quick caption for books is harder than it looks, so Bookstagram culture is pretty impressive. That’s why when I came across “Books on the Subway” during my first week of working as an intern here, I was immediately intrigued. There are tons of blogs and social media accounts dedicated to people reading, but my personal favorites are the pictures of people reading on the subway. From bringing fake book covers on the subway to get a rise out of the public (one cover read something silly like “How to Hold a Fart In”) to, quite honestly the best, “Hot Dudes Reading” an Instagram dedicated to good-looking men reading on-the-go, there are enough books and steamy pictures to satisfy everyone.

However, a free platform to share the books you are reading is not something you come across on a daily basis, especially through a quirky Instagram. That’s what’s so great about “Books on the Subway.” Started in 2012 by Hollie Fraser in London, originating as “Books on the Underground” and expanding to five other cities around the world, “Books on the Subway” is kind of like a public library. A public library on the metro. A public library on the metro to discover new reads and get so caught up reading you miss your stop.

Hollie and Rosy Kehdi, the originator of the New York City branch, put fun stickers explaining the idea behind the organization on some of their favorite books and leave them on subways all over the city for someone to pick up. It is like a library, a secret santa, and a wonderful surprise all wrapped into one beautiful book that is yours to cherish and read, and then return to a subway station to leave for another unsuspecting victim of good luck. Five to 20 books are left a day on the subways of this crazy metropolis and a photo of the books and their locations are Instagrammed daily.

The Books on the Subway Instagram post from January 16, at the Cortlandt Street station.

As someone who is a self-proclaimed sociologist (which is just my fancy way of saying I am an avid people-watcher) checking out what other people are reading on the subway has turned into a game practically, finding the best books to eventually read. Most of the time I am not-so-subtly trying to peer over a shoulder or twist my head to the perfect angle just to read the title of the book a passenger is enjoying. That is why when people post about books it is so much easier to check out the titles they are reading.

While “Books on the Subway” may just seem like a fun thing to check out if you find a book lying around the dingy floors of a subway station, for me it is a book lover’s dream come true, next to kindle apps and fanfiction. I take the subway at least four times a week and on these long rides on the D train, if I’m not listening to a new podcast, I’m reading. I’m usually reading books for school, which can be fun sometimes, depending on if I understand what is being theorized, but subway rides give me the opportunity to read books that I wouldn’t have time for otherwise. I read for fun, something that I haven’t been able to indulge in for a while now.

Since living here for school, New York City has become something like my own personal library whether reading in coffee shops, the NYPL Rose Room, or on the subway, which has now just gotten a little more interesting. Hopefully, my tbr list will actually be read this semester. Hopefully, I will spot a free subway book some time soon.

This is me on my commute to Beaufort! Or at least this is the book I’m reading right now.

– Amanda, Intern

This is a shared blog post for Spencer Hill Press and Beaufort Books

Making Faces Sneak Peek

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

Fern Taylor from Making Faces by Amy Harmon, asks the question in every human heart with her poem,”If God Made All Our Faces .”

In the book, each character has to come to terms at some point with who they are, what they look like, and how that affects their lives.

From a boy with a degenerative muscle disease to a boy who returns from war physically changed, Making Faces will have you looking at beauty in a whole new way.

If God makes all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?
Does he make the legs that cannot walk and eyes that cannot see?
Does he curl the hair upon my head ’til it rebels in wild defiance?
Does he close the ears of the deaf man to make him more reliant?

Is the way I look coincidence or just a twist of fate?
If he made me this way, is it okay, to blame him for the things I hate?
For the flaws that seem to worsen every time I see a mirror,
For the ugliness in me, for the loathing and the fear.

Does he sculpt us for his pleasure, for a reason I can’t see?
If God made all our faces, did he laugh when he made me?

– Amy Harmon, Making Faces

Amy Harmon is a New York Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of ten novels. Her books are now being published in 12 countries around the globe.

She knew at an early age that writing was something she wanted to do, and divided her time between writing songs and stories as she grew. Having grown up in the middle of wheat fields without a television, with only her books and her siblings to entertain her, she developed a strong sense of what made a good story.

Order Making Faces today: Amazon | Barnes & Noble