Saturday, December 3, 2016

happy birthday is happy

Today is All The What Ifs first birthday!
And it marks another awesome author milestone for yours truly!
This year has been filled with firsts for my debut novel.
First book sold.
First review written.
First time seeing my book in a library.
First time signing a copy of my book.
First time someone told me 
they stayed up allllll night long so they could finish the book.
First giveaway.
First button pack made.
And so so many more.

And it would be IMPOSSIBLE without the support 
of my awesome readers and reviewers!
Without you NONE of this would be possible.
Without you this year filled with milestones and achievements would be nothing.
I wish I could give each and every one of you a huge squeezy hug!!
Thank you.
Thank you.
from the tip of my toes to the bottom of my nose.
When I published All The What Ifs I had no clue what would happened.
Would the book get lost in the shuffle?
Would readers hate it?
Would they even give us a chance?

To those of you who gave us a chance: thank you.
To those of you who shared how much you enjoyed the book: thank you.
To those of you who helped keep All The What Ifs 
from getting lost in the shuffle: THANK YOU!
You made this year possible.
And I will always and forever be grateful.


p.p.s. have i expressed how grateful i am?
p.p.p.s. cause i truly truly am.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

silent no more

My kids are my everything. They are my heart and soul. They are the reason I stumble out of bed every morning. They give me hope for the future, joy that fills me, and love that I will never fully understand.

My kids are frightened. They woke up yesterday to a country that felt hostile. Their beloved schools are now places where kids talk openly about grabbing girls' private parts and others freely joke about lynching people who are different from them or hanging them or putting them in camps. A place where a child yelled in my eight year old's face that Hillary Clinton is a dirty liar who will soon rot in jail.

They are uncomfortable about expressing their political views. They have overheard thoughtless people call them shameful Christians. They are carelessly, unknowingly mocked for daring to believe Hillary Clinton isn't a crooked, opportunist liar and that President Obama is a good man.

My kids have been hurt and terrified. They fear for their friends. The bright future in front of them has warped. This is inexcusable. It is a wound that will not close.

And yet, there are millions of other kids who will go to sleep tonight with even more fear and uncertainty than mine. Kids afraid their families will be torn apart by a deportation force. Kids who are now openly and aggressively being called racist names and bullied for their religion or the color of their skin or the country their families come from by voices empowered by a man who will soon be the most power man in the world.

This is the America my family woke up to yesterday morning. The weight of this suffocates me. It has awaken a sleeping giant within me. It has convicted me in ways I never imagined. It has broken me in ways too deep to mend. It is a moment too big to define and far too powerful to deny.

I have promised my kids I will do everything I can for them and for every child in this country: to fight for them, to value them, to show them that the love and God we believe in is NOT this, would NEVER be this. He would deny this, refute it, cast it aside without a single thought.

What that looks like is beyond me now, but my conviction is strong, my determination is growing, and my belief in a Creator of love, kindness, and compassion who cherishes ALL people and gives them free will compels me not to stand silent in the face of such a time as this.

I love the United States of America. I respect the office of the president. I will do everything I can to be a voice of grace and hope. I want the United States of America to prosper. I am rooting for our country.

But I refuse to forget what has just taken place. I refuse to accept this old, poisonous reality is one we must quietly accept again. Deleting pages on a website and pretending horrible, terrifying, dangerous words said were nothing more than political rhetoric will not satisfy me. I cannot forget and it will be hard to forgive. And I refuse to stand idly by while my country stands on the brink of history. What we each do now will define us for generations to come.

My kids are the next generation. They are smart, compassionate, capable people with promise and hope and unending potential, just like so many other kids I know from different religions, cultures, races, and backgrounds. Kids with two moms or a single mom. Kids who believe in multiple gods or no gods. Kids who deserve to be loved and viewed as important by their country.

They ALL deserve a place in the United States of America—our beautiful, diverse home. They all deserve respect and to feel safe. And I will fight for them all to gain back that safety no matter what it takes.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

on writing: why ya?

The other day I was talking with a friend. I shall not be sharing the name of said friend. In fact, being that I'm a storyteller, it's possible I am completely making up said friend in an effort to give validity to this blog post. Or maybe I was struggling with how to approach this topic and thought, 'hey, what about saying a friend asked me all these awkward questions verses a troubling amount of people have been asking me questions that are a wee bit worrisome?!' But I ain't tellin', thus you'll never know for sure.


Said friend -- having first picked their jaw up off the floor after finding out that the book I'd been talking about writing for five long years was in fact an actual book and had been published -- asked me some interesting questions.

And while I don't feel I need to defend myself or my writing, I do think there is some merit to discussing my friend's questions in a public forum. You see, since publishing, I've noticed a trend in the way people -- specifically adults -- react to my declaring I write YA contemporary coming-of-age. In fact, it's gotten to a place where I feel a little ... ashamed. Like it's some kind of dirty secret I should hide. Thus, in an effort to cleanse myself of this feeling, I've decided to air these questions out and hopefully put them to rest. Or open up a can of worms that's about to explode in my face. Only time will tell.

Question One: Why write YA? Isn't that cheating?
Right out of the gate my friend came out swinging. This question completely stumped me. I've never thought to question why a mystery writer pens mystery stories nor considered their choice of genre cheating. And it was in this moment that I realized something shocking and concerning, there are those who believe some genres aren't real or important. Thus to some if you tack YA onto a book suddenly it's not worth reading and could even be viewed as cheating. Instead of answering the question, I asked 'well, why not YA?' To which my friend stated, 'well, YA is for kids and it's not about real life.' Now, I'm not sure what my friend's childhood was like, but let me tell you, some of the most turbulent and heart-wrenching years of my life were spent between the ages of seven and eighteen. As I was too shocked to respond, they barreled on ahead with this next gem.

Question Two: And by writing YA aren't you limiting your audience? Don't you want adults to read your book?
Now as an avid and eclectic reader the thought of not reading a book based on genre or sub-genre or whatever other label is being thrown at a book has never crossed my mind. I know just as many adults who love reading the Percy Jackson series as I do kids. In fact, I started reading the Percy Jackson series based on two recommendations from adults and then I got a few more adults and a handful of kids hooked on them as well. But before I could shake myself out of my stupor and answer, my friend continued.

Question Three: You're just writing YA because it's so popular and marketable, aren't you? 
This was the part of the conversation during which I pondered why we were friends and how I could easily exit the conversation without maiming another human being. Not bothering to wait for a response, my friend plunged ahead.

Question Four: Not to mention, why such a boring sub-genre? Coming-of-age is run of the mill, everyday life, and uninteresting crap. Don't you want people to be entertained? 
Clearly not. Clearly by writing a YA contemporary coming-of-age novel, my main goal in life is to a. bore the hell out of people while b. writing a book in the most popular genre all while c. alienating all the adults on the planet thus d. limiting my audience and oh yeah e. cheating. Once again, I was gobsmacked. However, the next question woke me up.

Question Five: Why not write a different genre? Something worth writing?
Here I did speak up. And I'll share my answer.

I have in fact written other genres. I've written a story about a man in his late thirties who's a recovering drug addict and is struggling to put his life back together. I've written a fantasy novel set in a circus featuring a ghost, a murderer, and an old man with dark secrets. I've written a story about a woman whose possessed by an alien that makes her kill her husband. I've also written a story about a vengeance demon who goes around killing for the sport of it.

There are more, but Ashley's story was the first to ring true. All The What Ifs was the first time I thought, 'AH-HA. I've got something here!' And I didn't think about the genre or marketability or if I was cheating or who my audience would be. All I thought about was getting her story right and making it worthy of her. Everything that came after that was arbitrary.

And if there are those who don't want to read All The What Ifs based on the genre or the sub-genre or whatever personal feelings and opinions they bring to the table that's totally, completely, 100% right and good and valid and their prerogative. Not every book is for every person. It's just a fact.

But to say one genre is better than another or one story is worthier of telling than another ... well, that's a dangerous and slippery slope and it's what most concerns me about my conversation with my friend.

There's a quote I love and it goes a little something like this:

I'm not going to defend my book to my friend. I'm not going to defend my choice of genre or sub-genre or any of that jazz. But what I will defend is every writer's right to be treated with respect whether they write YA, erotica, political thrillers, fantasy, self-help, or whatever the case may be. Writing is hard enough without dictating to authors that there are better genres or more worthy stories. Writing is a place for hopeful and struggling dreamers. It's a place where all should feel welcomed and all should have the chance to give this crazy life a try. Once we start defining what stories are worth telling we limit the potential for greatness and possibility. And what a shame that would be.

So write, my friends. Write about mysteries and kissing. Write about heartache and first loves. Write about zombies and ghosts and faeries and axe-murderers. And don't let anyone tell you it's not worthwhile. It's all worthwhile. It's all welcome to the party. It's all a thing of beauty.