Thursday, January 30, 2014

VLOG: My Southern Accent + GIVEAWAY WINNERS


Monday, January 27, 2014

Some Sad News About Goldfish

So I've known for a while that I would have to share this news, but I've been dreading it. In part because there's still a lot of personal sadness that goes along with what I'm about to share, but mostly because I absolutely hate the thought of letting anyone - especially those who have been so kind and supportive of me - down.

But I'm also an advocate of honesty. I think sharing experiences - the good and the bad - is helpful to the community as a whole. So, with that in mind, it's time I finally answer the many, many questions I've gotten about when Goldfish will be coming out.

The short answer is - it won't be.

But anyone who reads this blog knows that I am not a short answer type of girl, so here's the longer explanation.

I started writing Goldfish my freshman year of college, about four and a half years ago. It's a project I worked very hard on and was very, very proud of. I worked on it for a long time on my own before ever showing it to my publisher, and even then it still needed a lot of work - more than any of my other books have in the past. It was a more complicated, more personal story than I had written before, and for that reason it needed more time.

But after a year of working on Goldfish with my editor - after pushing it's release date back once and being on the verge of doing it again - I just couldn't do it anymore.

By this point I'd lost that spark - that love I'd once had for this project. My editor and I had worked so, so hard on it together. She brought great ideas to the table and I tried to incorporate them, but the more i worked on the book, the less it felt like the story I had set out to tell. The less it felt like the thing I had meant to write.  My editor and I had different ideas of what the story should be, and I struggled to find that middle ground.

I eventually realized that the book was no longer in line with my original vision, and I had no idea how to get it back to that place. Or if I even could.

By this point I was exhausted and tired and very unhappy writing. And, believe me, it showed it my work. So after a lot of thought, I decided to put an end to Goldfish once and for all. My mental, emotional, and creative health required it.

I am lucky enough to have an amazing agent and editor and publisher who all supported me in my decision. Little Brown and Poppy have been amazing through all of this, and my editor has always been so understanding and compassionate during this struggle.

It's been hard to admit this, because in so many ways, I felt like a failure. Like I was a bad writer, a bad reviser, like i just wasn't working hard enough. Over time, I've come to realize that none of that is true. But that sometimes unexpected things happen. Regardless of how this process went, it was a learning experience for me. That even after 3 books, there are still cases of struggle as you grow.

I"m sorry to share this sad news with you all. I know some of you were really looking forward to Goldfish, and I so appreciate that. I'm sorry it will never come to fruition.

But I'm also excited. Because after spending some time mourning (and that's what it feels like) this project, I'm back in a place of excitement. I haven't felt excited about writing since I finished The Swift Boys & Me almost a year ago. Since then, writing has been a slow struggle. But now, I'm back in a place wher ei"M eager. I have so many ideas and stories left in me, and I'm excited to tell them.

Yes, this means it will be a longer wait for my next Young Adult novel, but it also means that the next book I publish will be one i"m proud of, one that I will be excited to share with all of you.

I loved - LOVED - writing The Swift Boys & Me, and I"m crazy excited to share that book with the world. Just like I was excited to share my first three novels. I want to feel that with my next YA book as well. I owe that to my readers and to myself.

So, while I'm sad to share this news about Goldfish, I'm excited for the doors that it opens, and I hope to have many more stories to share with all of you in the future.

And again, I want to thank my agent and my editor and the amazing people at Little Brown for being so supportive of me. I can't thank them enough, really. I think a lot of writers have fear of admitting struggles, have fear that their agents or publishers will be angry at them, but I think that - more often than not - they are very understanding and supportive. I'm glad to have such a great team backing me up.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

THE SWIFT BOYS & ME Giveaway!!!!


Monday, January 20, 2014

THE SWIFT BOYS & ME and YouTube

Hello lovelies!

Wow. It's been like 7 months since my last post. Which kind of blows my mind, in a way, because it's not as if I've become inactive or disappeared. Lately, I've just been a bit out of touch with blogging. For the past couple of months, I've actually found more comfort in speaking than writing (at least for this sort of content) and have become more active on my YouTube channel.

More on that later, though.

I have been quite busy, despite my silence. Some of you may know that I have a new book coming out! This one is quite different, however. It's my first middle grade novel, and it's called THE SWIFT BOYS & ME.  Scholastic will be publishing it sometime in May, and i"m so, so excited. I can't even express it in words how excited I am! And I hope you will be, too.

I actually made a vlog about the new book recently. You can see it below. And if you're interested in keeping up with what i"m doing, I post new vlogs every Thursday.

I'm also hoping to become more active on this blog again. I miss you guys!!! So I'll be posting links to my new videos here, and I'll occassionally be doing posts as well.

In the mean time, I hope you guys are having a great 2014 so far! I hope we all have a magnificent year!



Friday, May 17, 2013

Secrets and Lies! Coming SOON!

Hello lovelies!


As many of you know, my publisher will be releasing an ebook of short stories featuring characters from my books.

I have LOTS of news about that!

First - title:  SECRETS AND LIES.

SECRETS AND LIES will feature 2 short stories by me. The first is ABBREVIATIONS AND ALLITERATIONS, which will feature Casey from THE DUFF. The second is PEOPLE WORTH KNOWING which is about Bailey from A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE.  These aren't like short-short stories, either.  Each is somewhere between 5 and 6 chapters long.

So when will it be released?
NEXT MONTH!  On June 4th, to be exact.  

And, best of all, COVER!


Is that CAsey or is it Bailey? I"ll let you decide.


So SECRETS AND LIES will be released next month on all the ebook platforms - Kindle, Nook, iBooks - and guys, I'm REALLY stoked about this.  I had THE BEST time writing these stories, and I really hope you enjoy reading them.  

Woo! That was a lot of news. But good news! Yay! 

Friday, May 3, 2013

Disability and Identity

Hello all.  So quick housekeeping note: I've been traveling a lot, but I just picked a winner for the exclusive content booklet. I'll be contacting that person today since it turned out to be someone who tweeted. So keep an eye out for that if you entered!

Okay, now on to some other stuff.

Recently I got my first guide dog. She's an adorable ball of love and affection and she's crazy smart. We've only been working together a month, but she goes everywhere with me and she's already made a huge difference in the way I travel. I'm so glad I made the decision to get her.

But along with the good, there comes some bad.

Dogs are different than canes (my last form of mobility).  Canes don't need to go potty. Canes don't cost money to feed or groom. Canes don't try to go sniff other dogs when they're supposed to be working.

And canes can be folded up and put away when you don't want people to know you're blind.

In some ways, I have what could be called an "invisible disability." As in, you can't look at me and tell that I am disabled. This can be good, but it can also be really, really frustrating. I've been accused of "faking" my disability before because I have some residual vision and look at things. I've been yelled at for sitting at the front of the bus when that's for "disabled people! Not you!" because I am young and healthy and I don't "look disabled." (By the way, telling someone they "don't look disabled" is not a compliment because it implies that looking disabled is a bad thing. So don't do that.)  Having an invisible disability can suck, but in some ways, I liked it. Because it also meant my blindness didn't have to be my identity. It meant people could meet me and not know. It meant I could "pass."

I want to clarify something here before I get any farther. I am not ashamed of my disability. I never have been, never will be. This is not a thing of pride.  I liked hiding it, being able to pass, because when people don't know I'm blind, they treat me like anyone else. I like that. I like being treated like a person - not like a BLIND person.

When you have a visible disability, it becomes your entire identity. People don't see YOU, they see your cane or your wheelchair or your hearing aid.  You are seen as "other" - someone to assist and pity. You are the subject of a thousand misconceptions and stereotypes. Everything you do is seen as "inspiring" and that's the part of you that everyone wants to talk about, no matter how successful or interesting you are outside of your disability.

So yeah. Sometimes, I liked to hide my cane and pass for an able person. Sometimes I hated myself for it, too.

But now that I have my dog, that's not an option. I can't fold her up. I can't hide her (at least not well - we're talking sixty pounds of fluffy German Shepherd. Not the easiest to stash away.) My ability to pass is, for the most part, gone. I say "for the most part" because for some reason a lot of people assume I"m training my dog, not actually using her. And when I correct them, I again get the "Oh, wow! You don't look blind!" thing. Again, not a compliment, guys.

Now my disability is very apparent, where as before, with the cane, it was only obvious part of the time, now it's obvious (to most people) all of the time. All of those negatives of invisible disability are gone - no one yells at me on the bus, for example - but all of the negatives of visible disability are piled on at full force.

Especially the identity issue.

It sucks to know that when people see you, they don't see a person, they see a disability. I have a lot of worries and fears about being honest about my disability because of this. I feel like I"m taking a risk every time I write a blog post about it because I'm opening the doors for assumptions and questions and comments about how "inspiring" I am for "overcoming" my disability. (Please leave your inspiration at the door, folks. There is no reason to be inspired by me living a normal life. Loads of disabled people do it every day. It's honestly not a big deal.) But I've let myself be pretty candid on here, and until I start seeing these negative things happen, I'll continue to do so.

The thing that really bothers me is, there are a lot of things about disability that I want to be able to talk about openly - the guide dog process, my thoughts on accessibility and technology, political issues regarding the disabled, etc - but the thing is, I don't want to put myself in the role of "spokesperson." Unfortunately, that's sort of what happens whenever you're an outspoken member of any minority group. People like to take your words and assume they represent the whole of your community. "I know this blind person thinks this, so that must be how they all feel."  I'll be unfront and I say that I have very different views from some other blind people on many different issues - just as I have different views from other white people, other women, other Christians, etc etc etc.  I don't speak for the whole community, nor do I wish to.

The other thing about speaking out is that once you start talking about disability, that's all people want to hear about.  I recently had a thought about making some youtube videos discussing disability related issues and accessible technology, but then I thought, "But I just want that to be something I do, not who I am."

I don't want to be seen as a Blind Person. I'm a person. I am a woman. I am a feminist. I am a writer. I am a vegan. I am a Southerner. I am a liberal. I am an animal lover. I am a reader. I am a fan of TV and film. I am a brunette.

I also happen to be blind.

It is not my identity. It is one part of a whole. One piece of the puzzle that creates me. Yes it informs my identity, just as many of the things I mentioned before it do, but it isn't who I am. I'm okay with people knowing I'm disabled, just as I'm okay with people knowing I'm all of those things above. I just wish it wasn't the one thing strangers focus on. I wish I could talk about it more freely without fear of it consuming my identity.

Unfortunately, I think this is true of a lot of minority groups. POC, LGBT, disability, etc - people find the one part of you that's "different' and zero in instead of seeing the person as a whole. Our society has come a long way over the past century, but we still have a long way to go.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Want to Win Some Exclusive Material By Cool Authors?

Then you came to the right place!

Next week, several New Leaf Literary authors (including myself) will be signing together at Powell's in Portland, OR.  Everyone who comes will get a booklet of exclusive material - short stories, maps, etc - from the authors. (Lisa Desrochers, Leigh Bardugo, Kristin Halbrook, and MORE!) and you could get the booklet, too!

An example of the material? I wrote a scene from Wesley's POV in THE DUFF.

So how can you win this booklet (which will be autographed by the authors)? EASY!

For 1 entry, comment on this post.

For a bonus entry, tweet this giveaway and link your tweet in the comments.

And that's it!  This bonus material is all REALLY awesome, guys. Trust me, you want it.  And also, here is the flyer for the event, in case you live in the PNW area!


Giveaway ends a week from today (Tuesday, April 16) at midnight EST!