Book Riot Read Harder Book Group – Los Angeles


Book Riot is launching IRL book groups worldwide and Los Angeles is on the list! If you’re local, I hope you’ll join me for the first Read Harder book group meeting at Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park on Saturday, September 19 at 1:00 p.m.

Click here to RSVP through Facebook.

Read whatever you want at your own pace and we’ll talk it out. The Read Harder book groups will meet once a month.

I hope to see you there!

#ReadtoDraw Challenge

ReadtoDraw ChallengeFor the next 365 days, I’ll be tracking my reading through art and posting these drawings on my Instagram (@szainabwilliams) using the #ReadtoDraw hashtag. And…I’m extending the challenge to YOU!

You don’t have to be a great artist to participate, but I’ll bet that after 365 days of reading and drawing, you’ll be a better one.


  • Read a book.
  • Create art using the medium(s) of your choice. You can draw a scene that captivated you, a character you loved or loved to hate, an alternate cover, or even draw as you read and as flights of fancy strike you—it’s totally up to you what/how many pieces you draw as long as they relate to a book you are reading or have read during your 365 days.
  • Post it! Instagram will be my main stomping ground where I’ll post WIPs and book-related warmup sketches, but I’ll also post finished pieces here on my blog and on my Inkypasta Tumblr. Post on the platform(s) of your choice.
  • Don’t forget to include the #ReadtoDraw hashtag so we can find each other!

Start your 365 days now or next month or whenever. The point is to track your reading for a year and memorialize it through art. Encourage yourself to read more and create more.

AND encourage others to do the same by challenging them! Share the #ReadtoDraw challenge with your fellow book and art lovers.

I’m looking forward to reading, drawing, and seeing what you create.

Writing Takeaways from Judy Blume in Conversation

Blume-in-ConversationI had the pleasure of attending a Los Angeles Public Library ALOUD Lecture featuring author Judy Blume in conversation with Alex Cohen on June 9. Blume has been on a whirlwind book tour for her new novel for adults, In the Unlikely Event. I was there to grab a copy and hear her speak for the second time.

I’d hazard to say it’s more worthwhile to hear authors as prolific and successful as Blume speak about her process and her path than it is to take classes on writing. The first time I heard her in conversation I was working through what seemed like the millionth draft of my novel and was encouraged when she said she was on her twenty-third draft of Summer Sisters.

And Blume said it herself, during this most recent conversation, “Nobody can teach you to write, but they can encourage you.”

But one of the most interesting series of moments happened during the Q&A when aspiring writers approached the microphone to ask Blume to elaborate on her process–what inspires her to write specific stories, how does she write dialogue, what’s her secret?

And nine times out of ten, Blume shrugged. She said, “I don’t know how my process works. I’m just glad it does.”

In-the-Unlikely-Event-BlumeShe did add that dialogue comes naturally to her, whereas descriptive prose does not. She actually drew from newspaper stories reporting on the crash that forms the central focus of her new novel for the descriptive prose. This isn’t a secret method; it’s just being aware of the tools available to you.

I think what hit me most about the Q&A session was seeing so many people who, like me, are on the road, trying to figure out how it all works and how to put a story to the page and make it speak to others. One audience member broke into tears–she begged for one crumb of knowledge that might help her with her own story. I felt like I’d come a long way since I first saw Blume in 2012 because I knew the answer.

“You have to be determined,” said Blume. “Get the critique and censor off your shoulder. You have to keep going.”

From the Wordeatery – The Rummy Affair of the Green Swizzle

jeeves and swizzler_web

I had been able to observe that there was a sprightly sportsman behind the counter mixing things out of bottles and stirring them up in long glasses that seemed to have ice in them, and the urge came upon me to see more of this man.

P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves and Bertie novels are the stuff to make a Los Angeles commute mildly bearable. I finished reading Carry on, Jeeves last week and Bertie mentioned a certain drink. Me being me, the audiobook was paused and an internet quest for the libation ensued. Thanks to this Esquire article, I was better able to . . . fully experience the literature, let’s say. A Green Swizzle saved our Wooster from an awkward social situation and a drink like that simply cannot be ignored.

Still, rum would be my last choice as far as spirits go, and sugared cocktails get cannon fire by law. I need a drink with snap, a razor-sharp thing to keep me aloft through ribald evenings and terrible choices. I need a gin gimlet more often than not. But anyway I tripped to BevMo for crème de menthe because who has that lying around and I made the thing because books.

All in all, not bad. The rum did get in the way. And I may have added seltzer (effervescence!) post-shoot. But I could picture earnest Bertie fagged by his attempts to help the chumps he calls friends, desperate for an herbal tincture — a few deep swigs from a tall, frosted glass — and I thought, Really, he should have taken Jeeves’ advice about that tie.

Flowers in the Attic; Skeletons in the Closet?

Flowers in the Attic 2

Some months ago, a few lady friends and I had a lengthy discussion about V.C. Andrews’ library of effed up YA fiction (the unspoken genre) while at the Korean spa–because that’s what you talk about when wandering naked among strangers–so I got a bit of a jolt when I found out the Lifetime channel was airing a “Flowers in the Attic” remake.

I remember reading the book and watching the movie as a kid…and deciding I would never do that to myself again. So I’m not going to watch the new version, but the show and a conversation with another friend got me wondering about V.C. Andrews’ life and what happened that inspired so much soap opera morbidity.

So, without further ado, let’s put Andrews in the hypothetical psychiatrist’s chair.

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