November Read Harder Book Group – Los Angeles

IMG_0449-0Once again, I’ll be hosting Book Riot‘s Read Harder book group in Los Angeles at Stories Books and Cafe in Echo Park on Saturday, November 21 at 1:00 p.m.!

I hope you’ll join me to chatter about books. By then I’ll be 21-days-deep in NaNoWriMo and might not make much sense, but I’ll do my best at coherency.

Click here to RSVP!

I’ll also be in New York in November for Book Riot Live! I’ve never been to New York and fear I’ll get lost on a subway and have a sort of “Adventures in Babysitting” style caper…

adventures-babysitting-giphyBut here’s hoping my navigational skills and glasses remain intact.

Recap: Book Riot’s Read Harder Book Group – Los Angeles


I hosted my first book group ever with Book Riot’s Read Harder Book Group in Los Angeles. This crazy city was one of the launch locations, but keep an eye out for groups in your area.

Blazing heat aside, we had a wonderful and lively chat about a diverse list of books and I walked away with an even longer to-buy list (The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson was the big take-away). I can’t believe I’ve been missing out on book groups all my life. 

I also met a blog friend at the event! The lovely Bibliosa graced us with her presence, and I’m so glad I got to meet her in person. You should definitely check out her blog for book recs.

If you live around the L.A.-area, please join us! There’s no set list–talk about anything you’re reading.

Click here to RSVP for the next event on Saturday, October 17 at 1:00 p.m. at Stories Books and Cafe.  And if you have any tips for hosting book groups, do tell!

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!

Best Place to Write in Los Angeles #7: Daily Dose, Downtown Los Angeles

I basically use my Instagram feed to discover new cafes and restaurants. My Daily Dose cafe discovery came courtesy of one of my favorite artists, JAW Cooper. Daily Dose is a rustic, urban cafe tucked away in an industrial zone (considered the Arts District as well) of Downtown Los Angeles. It’s become a thing for chic new cafes primarily catering to creatives and loft dwellers to share space with packing and wholesale districts. I’m guessing it’s because the rent is cheap and the warehouses and old industrial buildings are being converted into residential spaces for artists and the like.

It’s easy to forget you’re in a somewhat gloomy, congested area even after the difficulty of maneuvering around big rigs idling on the road and hassling to find parking (lots of No Parking signs, so be sure to read before you park). There’s a sign on a nondescript strip of street pointing you down a cozy alley. You pass ivy-covered brick, tables made from what looks like reclaimed wood and old wood produce boxes, and walk up to a charming, rickety door. Inside, the cafe is bright and warm, and the staff smiles at you, offering recommendations. They have a seasonal, mostly farm-to-table breakfast and lunch menu–you will want to come hungry.

I ordered The Guildsmith, a grilled cheese chock full of tasty veg. They give you a number if you’re dining in, and seating is all outside (if I remember correctly). I can imagine this place getting crowded on weekends; take note that seating is limited and many of the tables are communal picnic tables. But I showed up on a weekday just before noon and found a table for two easily. Your table neighbors will most likely be well-to-do creatives, or artsy interns and freelancers. I saw a couple of people with laptops.

If you order food, you won’t want to pause between bites to write. I didn’t look up from my plate until everything was gone. It’s hard enough to find a decent meal and even harder to find it at a cafe. The cappuccino was also good, by the way. I think every barista is now required to be an expert in foam art.

I got in about an hour of writing before I felt like maybe I was taking up space what with the lunch crowd filtering in. Next time, I’ll try coming at an off hour like 2:00 p.m. The Wi-Fi is free and they’re open until 8:00 p.m. every day except Sunday (4:00 p.m. is the closing time, but check the website).

I’d come back any weekday to write and on the weekend with friends. I love the atmosphere–I almost felt like I’d found my way to an old city of creeping ivy and brownstone. Tiny birds fluttered around, it was overcast. Perfect.

This only gets a four out of five because my actual writing time was limited by seating. As far as cafes go, generally speaking, it gets a five.

Viscosity: 4 out of 5

Best Place to Write in Los Angeles #6

Foraging in Los Angeles with Urban Outdoor Skills

Urban Outdoor Foraging Glove

I recently went on a foraging adventure with Urban Outdoor Skills, a Southern California organization that endeavors to connect people with nature.

Wait. Let me preface this account of my adventures in the wild with the admission that I spend altogether too much time developing Survivorman-flavored fantasies while staring at the straight borders of the lawn from my office window. My favorite scenes in every episode of said show are as follows:

  • Les Stroud perches a rock on a spindly stick and waits for a squirrel;
  • Les Stroud plucks and onion bulb from the soil and pops it right into his mouth;
  • Les Stroud stabs at the crystal clear waters of the tropical sea before settling for a dinner of sea snail boiled in a coconut.

Survival dining. It gets me every time.

I was Katniss before she was an itch in Suzanne Collins’ fingertips. In my mind…

I would emerge from the woods with a brace of rabbits and skin them without hesitation. I’d eat them with gusto and maybe a little salt. I’d hobble around under my pelt collage and the bleached bones adorning my fat-free hermit’s body would jangle like wind chimes as I crouched behind redwoods. Hikers would stop in their tracks and wonder at the sound but never see. Yeah I’d be a Jim Henson character but I would also catch salmon traveling upstream with nothing more than my bared teeth and the hunger strength in the springs of my knees.

While these visions persist for all the glitter in my brain, my true-to-life outdoor skill level has less in common with Survivorman than with, say…Troupe Beverly Hills.

With my woefully dubious visions of grandeur and podcast gossip about the glory of foraged foods, I struck out for the Foothills of Pasadena and for the Urban Outdoor Skills workshop on foraging and cooking wild foods.

Read the rest of the article on my foraging adventures over at my new website!

Best Place to Write in Los Angeles #6

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Dwelltime–Cambridge, MA

Told you I was a jet-setter! Okay, I am not a jet-setter. But I did travel to Massachusetts for my best friend’s wedding. It was imperative that I try out a coffee shop while there. Chanda, the bride, and Kevin, the groom, took me to Dwelltime, a sourcing-focused coffee boutique down the street from their home.

One look at the menu and you could tell that these people take their coffee seriously. I showed up a second time on my ownDwelltime Menu to test the atmosphere for writing and found it highly hospitable. It doesn’t hurt that Cambridge is a college town. You can almost always be certain to find a good place to write and chug coffee in a college town. Indeed, most of its early-morning denizens were students, which momentarily sent me right back to college…not as nightmarish a feeling as expected.

I’m a caffeine junkie and cafe fly, but I don’t claim to be a coffee connoisseur, so while I enjoyed Dwelltime’s carefully-sourced and selected brews, I didn’t attain java enlightenment or anything. But it was good and I brought a bag home for myself and a friend, along with some of their homemade jam, which I probably appreciated more than the coffee–but that’s just me.

In case you’re curious, the wedding was a wonderful affair, and the bride was stunning.

Dwelltime Coffee Interior

Viscosity: 5 out of 5

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Literati Cafe–West Side/Santa Monica Adjacent

For a time, I commuted from Highland Park to Brentwood for work. If you live in L.A., you probably cringed. My commute lasted up to two hours. Because I didn’t want to go “Falling Down” on the 10 freeway one day, I decided to park myself at a coffee shop near my work, as I had done in Downtown when I worked there, to wait out the traffic productively.

And so it was that I descended upon Literati Cafe, flapping my quill feather wings and squawking for coffee, only after a less-than-ideal experience at 8 Espressos, also near my work. It wasn’t entirely 8 Espressos’ fault that things didn’t work out. What happened is that I didn’t realize they have open mics later in the evening. Both times, they were running a comedy show. Both times, I–the only person in the audience not participating in the open mic–made an obscenely awkward exit. The last time (the time I decided I couldn’t come back), the comedian onstage begged me to stay. Begged into the microphone. Yep.

Literati was a last-minute decision. I had about 24 hours’ notice to write an article and needed a place to sit down and bangLiterati Cappuccino Dessert it out because I had a second article to write that same weekend. It was a Friday night. I arrived around 5:30 p.m. and found parking on Saltair, the first cross street after Wilshire. There’s unmetered street parking there if you can find a spot. I found plenty of spots at that time of day. When I showed up again at 5:30 on a Wednesday, it was a bit trickier. I can see this area being difficult for parking if you don’t want to pay, but I haven’t had to yet.

The coffee is good, the seating is ample. Good amount of outlets and they do have all-important free WiFi. In addition to pretty but unexceptional baked goods, you can get real (healthy) food here, so you’ll be fine if you’re marathon-writing and need serious fuel. I haven’t tried the real food because I live on coffee.

What with the name and the area, I was sure the crowd here would be pretentious, and I have witnessed some snotty behavior, but in general people show up to innocently socialize or work. It’s a decent crowd, and a decent place to wait out the five hours it takes for traffic to clear up in L.A.

Viscosity: 4 out of 5

Flour and Tea Bakery


The only problem I had with my old neighborhood was a lack of late-night coffee shops. When I lived in Downtown L.A. for a hot second, all I had to do was walk a couple blocks, order a cup of writing fuel, and enjoy the dull buzz of this city’s finest crazy-folk and students while doing my thing.

Highland Park needs a cafe that stays open late. Just sayin’. I always want to go to the Coffee Table in Eagle Rock but theFlour and Tea Boba crowding there is hellacious. One hot day, I decided to forgo coffee for boba and discovered a late-night boba place that wasn’t all the way out in Alhambra.

Flour+Tea specializes in boba done exactly the way you want it, and this glorious thing called a cloud. I’m not talking cumulus; I’m talking pillowy-soft, airy sponge cakes in flavors like black tea, strawberry rose, and blueberry lavender. I had the black tea cloud and a black tea boba and they were both perfect.

The boba shop offers stools and a high table for people in need of outlets and that worked for me. The problem with stool seating is that it gets uncomfortable after an hour or so. The place is tiny too, so you don’t have many other seating options. There are some almost communal tables in the center of the shop. I’d come back to blog over a boba and cloud, but not for lengthy writing sessions.

P.S. You can read more about the cakes and boba at Food Riot.

Viscosity: 3 out of 5

Best Place to Write in Los Angeles #5

My First Vlog! SZWordeatery Episode 1

I decided to start a vlog where I could talk about all of my favorite things and weekly experiences in one place. Here’s Episode 1 with a recap below!

// Eat //

I recommended Paola Parson’s loveandcupcakesblog Instagram for gorgeous and alluring foodporn.

I shared my Instagram handle, pterostigma.

I visited Brentwood ice cream shop Sweet Rose Creamery and recommended the summer corn and dairy-free horchata scoops. Delish!

News: I joined the Food Riot team as a Contributing Writer, and I have a new gluten-free recipe for Chococonut Bacon Bombs on my food blog, Little PorkPie.

// Write //

I shared three time management tips for writers:

  • Use Google Calendar to organize your time and keep track of deadlines.
  • Write during your lunch break to alleviate some time-related stress.
  • Cut out as much television as possible for better productivity. It doesn’t hurt as much as you might think.

News: I’m on the last chapter of revisions for the first book of my YA Fantasy series, Aurelia and the House of Dire.

// Read //

I’m currently reading A Game of Thrones. The book and the series follow each other impressively closely so far.

News: The Kickstarter page for the first volume of my horror graphic novel, Beatrice is Dead, will be up in August!