“Welcome to Illyria!”

“Welcome, welcome, welcome, welcome…”

I’m a big fan of stories. I’m always consuming some kind of story, whether book or TV show, magical realism or Grimms-inspired sci-fi, anything I can react to, analyze, or write about.

Come watch me write about stories, even if you should be writing yourself. Especially if you should be writing yourself. Reading about writing isn’t writing, and reading other peoples’ writing isn’t writing, but it’s a lot of fun.


Inside the Worst Musical I’ve Ever Seen

The nightmare begins
The first speculative fiction novel I ever read betrayed me.

I stole The Sky Inside from a friend after watching her read it during math class. “What a unique plot!” I thought. “A colony of people living in a dome? Who engineer their own babies? And build robotic collies? Sounds like a one-of-a-kind reading experience!”

I wasn’t wrong.

After 229 pages, I wished death upon myself, the idiot protagonist, and his stupid robotic collie. The entire experience left me leery of “promising” concepts.

So when my mom told me she’d scored “primo” tickets to a musical version of Persuasion, I should have been suspicious. Instead, I turned off my inner alarm. I had theater, Austen, and one of my favorite people on my side.

Nothing could go wrong. Continue reading

Lauren’s Go-To Reads: New Favorites Editions

This list did not turn out how I planned.

I started writing about my all-time favorite books – Princess DiariesLunar Chronicles, all that junk – when I noticed a pattern.

I have a habit of acquiring books, thanks to unwise spending habits, a Seattle library card, and literary friends. I fill my pile with finds that others have recommended or that have interesting covers or that cost $8 at Target (a price that hits my stingy sweet spot. $9.99? What am I, made of money? $8? That means I can buy 4!) The floor of my studio is covered with brand new and gently used books I should be reading right now.


…I reread the same 11 books instead.

I think about these books constantly. I press them on good friends, whispering, “This book ruined my life.” I read them to stave off anxiety attacks and cure bad moods.

These aren’t long-time favorites that I’ve collected throughout my life, but more recent volumes that I’ve read over the last two years. These are the stories I need right now, the ones that reassure me I’m on the right track. Continue reading

Why I won’t pray for my future spouse

In the foreword to her daughter’s dating advice book, Christian author Karen Kingsbury relates a story from her honeymoon: on August 1, 1988, on a beach in Mexico, she and her husband decided to pray for their future family, including their future kids and those kids’ spouses. They prayed, and that very day, their son-in-law, Kyle Kupecky, was born.

This story alludes to a strong belief in some Christian circles in the power of praying for one’s future spouse, i.e., praying for the needs and spiritual growth of the person you will one day marry. This concept was really popular when I was growing up in the 2000s: young girls were encouraged to write letters to their future husbands filled with uplifting verses from their women’s Bibles; Rebecca St. James wrote a song about virginity directed at her someday spouse; an Amazon search brings up at least 10 books on the subject, some of them recently published. The goal, from what I gather, is for God to work in your spouse, shape you into the perfect partner, and fill you both with love for each other before you’ve even met.

It should surprise none of you that I’m not a fan.

I’ve gone from willingly participating in letter-writing and guided prayer to sick with anger at the mention of “hearts being knit together.” This practice that was supposed to benefit me spiritually has, I’ve found, harmed my faith, and I have more than one reason for no longer continuing. Continue reading