Monday, July 23, 2012


I didn't write much of a post about the Fourth this year, because I didn't get to enjoy my usual celebration...

I live just south of one of the best fireworks displays in town.  Most years, on the Fourth, I walk a few blocks, pop open a lawn chair, and hang out in a conveniently undeveloped field, watching the incredible professional fireworks from the Twin Oaks Country Club.  They completely fill up the sky, rattle through my chest.

This year?  My tried-and-true empty field was a construction zone.  And the heat was absolutely vicious, keeping me from my usual bird’s eye view.  Though my neighbors and I are residents of the county, and can legally shoot our own firecrackers, our worries about the brittle, dry surroundings during this prolonged drought also kept most of us from lighting much more than a few sparklers. 
So there just wasn't much going on, in our skies this year.

But we did spend plenty of time in our backyards, hitting grills or backyard pools. 

Some of my younger neighbors—a couple of elementary-school-aged girls—spent the Fourth on a picnic blanket, under a backyard tree, with assorted cold summer snacks and drinks and a pile of books.  I kept watching those girls, as the day lingered on, engrossed in their reads and laughing and enjoying each other.   

It has since occurred to me that those are perhaps the best fireworks of all—the fireworks of connecting.  To another person.  To the voice in a novel.  There’s nothing like that rattle that echoes through a chest when you find someone—or something—that you can relate to, on a personal level. 

So here’s to all those fireworks of connection—may they be popping and banging all around you, this summer and for many more to come…

Thursday, July 19, 2012


Here she is: the updated form to join my mailing list!

My previous form listed a blog as a required field; I realize not all fans have blogs, though, and I didn't want anyone to miss out on all the exciting announcements that will surely be forthcoming, with two books in development!  You'll see here that the only required fields are your name and email; if you have a blog and / or participate in social media, please do let me know, but it is absolutely not a prerequisite.  Any and all readers are more than welcome to sign up:

If you have trouble filling out the form above, click here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Dolly Parton's character in Steel Magnolias swore there was no such thing.  And I have a tendency to think that's also true of literature.  There is no novel that springs forth out of anybody's head straight onto the page looking fabulous (just as nobody wakes up honestly looking like a magazine spread).  It takes work to look good, as Truvy was wont to say.

It's such a girly comparison, I know...But who among us hasn't sat in a beauty parlor, with bated breath, almost beside ourselves with anticipation as we cooked beneath a dryer?  We just knew we were going to look so fabulous as a brunette / blond / redhead / with sleek, straight hair / short hair / extensions / spiral perm (ah, the 80's—I spent eight hours solid in a beauty parlor back in '88 to get my spiral)...Who has not honestly believed she would be a new woman when she left that parlor?

That's the revision process.  It's putting your much-loved manuscript under the dryer, and just knowing that it's going go walk out looking like a NYT bestseller.

And now, back to my revisions...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012


If I’m to define “independence” in the same way that I think many teens view the term—as a word interchangeable with “adulthood”—I’d have to say that I actually thrust independence on the main characters of both my published YAs.

Take Aura, the MC from my debut, A BLUE SO DARK.  Her mother, Grace, suffers from a mental illness.  And as the book opens, her mother’s sinking deeper into the darkness of that illness.  Grace’s condition leaves Aura to become, in many respects, the parent.  The adult.  (So much so, Aura and her best friend, Janny, a teen mom herself, come to a new understanding, toward the end of the novel.)  Aura, in many ways, longs for a “normal” life—to be the girl who gets to chase after her crush on a cute skater boy, whose deepest worry is regarding an upcoming exam.  In short, she wants to worry only about herself—a luxury that often accompanies most teenage yearsInstead, Aura has to care for another human being.  She’s responsible for that human being (her mother), which is a very adult problem. 

Take Chelsea, the MC from my second novel, PLAYING HURT.  Her dilemma isn’t quite as dark as Aura’s, but it’s life-altering just the same.  Chelsea’s a small-town athlete, a hero on the basketball court—until a horrific accident shatters her hip and ends her basketball career all in the same fell swoop.  Again, Chelsea doesn’t ask to be released from the demands of being a teen athlete.  She doesn’t want to be freed from the grueling schedule.  But she gets it, anyway.

In all likelihood, Aura and Chelsea would find themselves dealing with these scenarios later on in life: Chelsea would absolutely have to learn to deal with life after basketball, and there’s a strong possibility that someday Aura would find herself responsible for another human being, either as a parent or as a friend (I’m not sure it’s really possible to have meaningful, resonant relationships in life and not find yourself caring for others—in many ways, it can be one of the most rewarding aspects of adult life)…

But Aura and Chelsea are thrown into these adult roles, headfirst.  They’re tossed into their adulthood in such a way that it can’t really feel like independence at all.  I think in many respects, that’s the crux of a good story: by making a character’s world change around them, by forcing a character to adapt to and navigate their new world, you can’t help but illustrate how that character grows, changes, learns.  In many respects, I think those curves life tosses often make us who we are—and present a perfect opportunity, in YA literature, for our teen characters to become their best selves.
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