April 4, 2014

Literary BFFs + Life Unplugged

Photo Credit
Last Monday, I attended the Literary BFFs event at McNally Jackson, featuring Rebecca Serle and Leila Sales. I had been looking forward to the night ever since Rebecca had tweeted about it, and my excitement had me arriving about an hour early! I checked out the books on sale while waiting (and was sorely tempted to get more than the two I had come for), and chatted with a couple of my book blogger buddies. Finally, after some drinks and snacks, the event started!

I loved that it was a conversation between two amazing authors. It felt casual, intimate and pretty darn cool. The two of them are really funny, and have a genuine regard, respect and admiration for each other that translated so well. They also shared some amazing insights, and I wanted to share a few of them in today's post!
  • "Life doesn't happen to us, but through us and by us." (This was paraphrased!) How much in life do we have control over and how much just happens to us? Rebecca explained how in Rosaline's story, she is journeying to understand she has control. Caggie is doing the opposite and realizing that there are things that we cannot control. While we might not be able to choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to it.
  • Leila's books, on the other hand, have this theme: stories, and the stories that we tell. Past Perfect is a book about how the stories of our past can change our lives, while This Song Will Save Your Life is about the stories people tell about us.
  • Both of Rebecca's novels are based on, or inspired by classic literature. Generally, many of us are inspired by books we loved and read when we were younger. The Catcher in the Rye, for instance, has a line, "I could tell you all this, but I don't want to." This is something that relates to Caggie, who happens to be a reluctant narrator as well.
  • On infusing little life details into stories: "With any book, you steal material from real life. Just tiny details." - Leila Sales || "When you put out a book, the little things can be like a scavenger hunt, an adventure." - Rebecca Serle
  • "The challenge of being a YA writer is reading for story, but also having the themes underpinning it." - Leila Sales
  • "YA books are like a journey towards light." - Rebecca Serle
After their conversation, I lined up to get my copy of This Song Will Save Your Life signed by Leila Sales. Leila was incredibly sweet, and really enthusiastic! I was so glad to be able to chat with her for a little bit, about books and publishing. I swung into the other line for Rebecca, and wound up hanging out with Gaby and Mitali.

When I finally got to meet Rebecca (again), I was excited to get The Edge of Falling signed! I had actually attended a signing for her first novel, When You Were Mine, and I reminisced about it with her for a few moments. It was great to see her, and chat a little bit - and she happened to be as gorgeous as ever (with that amazing hair)!

After that, I hung around to chat with Gaby, Mitali, Charlee, Jeffrey and Jeremy for a while. We talked about books, released and upcoming, among other things. And then I headed for home! All in all, it was a very fun event indeed!


On the day of the event, I managed to leave my phone charger at home. By the time I reached the bookstore, my phone had died and I had no other way to get online or get in touch with my roommates and other people I was chatting with. At first, I was kind of put off. I like live tweeting moments during events, and quotes too! Plus, I always want to be available for my husband because we live so far away from each other (and in different time zones).

But eventually, I just relaxed and decided to indulge in (what else) reading. I settled down with House of Ivy and Sorrow, allowing myself to fully relax into the story. Then, when the event finally started, I found myself paying very close attention to what the authors were saying and even noticing details like their body language and expressions. It wasn't very different from how I usually am at events, but it just felt like I noticed everything more intensely.

The same was true when I was on my way home. I could not text anyone where I was, nor could I walk around with constant updates on mail, Twitter or Instagram. It kind of made me nervous (since I like letting people know where I am, and it makes me feel safer to know that I can reach anyone at any time). But, just at the moment when I crossed on 38th Street on 5th Avenue, I took a deep breath... and something shifted in me.

Having no phone to use (and having a dead iPad as well) was a little scary, and a little unnerving. But it also gave me freedom. No responsibility to inform people of my whereabouts, no pull to constantly check out my favorite social media accounts, no phone to keep in hand at all times. I don't know if this will seem weird, but I felt lighter. I felt like everything around her was crisper, brighter and more intense. Everything felt more real than it had felt in a while.

This single experience was pretty awesome, no lie. Now, I won't be giving up my social media habit or attachment to my phone completely. But it just made this important point really hit home for me: it's okay, and sometimes even a good thing, to disconnect, unplug, be free. I can't say it any better than this quote from Gwendolyn Heasley's upcoming novel, Don't Call Me Baby: "Disconnect to reconnect."

So yes, I'm plotting ways to unplug even more as the year continues! For now, I'm going to start by making sure that on every single work day, I'll be unplugged by midnight. This roughly translates to no social media, or blog reading, or playing games on my phone at that time. Hopefully, I can keep this up!


  1. I'm so glad you did a recap of the event because I am so living through you right now. That's so cool that you got to meet Rebecca at signings for both of her books! And I totally know what you mean about feeling lighter without a phone to keep you constantly connected. I'm the same way in that it makes me really uncomfortable not being able to reach someone in case something goes wrong, but it is nice to be able to fully immerse yourself in the moment even for a little bit.

  2. Really wish I could meet Leila Sales! I loved both Past Perfect and This Song! I still have yet to read Rebecca Serle but I got to talk to her online sometime and she is so nice. I can't wait to read The Edge Of Falling since I feel like I'll be able to relate to it strongly. :)

    I don't disconnect often, but the few times I have, I'm able to pursue more creative endeavours or spend time with loved ones. I should probably do it more frequently but I have a hard time getting offline haha! Lovely post, Alexa!


Thanks for leaving a comment! I love seeing what you have to say, and will try to reply (here or on Twitter) as soon as I can :)