Rerun: To You Who Are Doing Rejection Wrong

I was reminded today in an email about happy I am being a writer, working with other writers and publishing professionals who care deeply about excellence in literature.  As a reader, some of the most rewarding and amazing books I’ve read have been published in the past five years. As a teacher, I am especially grateful to the gatekeepers and writers of the YA world.  Today’s September Back-To-School Issue challenge is a rerun of a post I wrote a couple of months ago in response to an incident of online abuse hurled at a literary agent by a disgruntled writer. I was angry when…

The Day I Died

The person I was at 5:03 p.m. on Tuesday October 17, 1989 was not the same person at 5:05. That 5:03 girl was insecure, self-absorbed, and sad. She looked to others for validation and approval. She hated being alone but found making friends impossible. I guess you could say she died in the Loma Prieta earthquake, and that was in many ways a mercy. (5:03 girl did have magnificent hair, though): The only good thing about the day of  October 17, 1989 was that my long, lonely work hours at the Santa Cruz Ace Hardware downtown were broken up by making keys for…

True Lies: The Truth Behind The Ghost Daughter

I’ve been asked enough times lately if The Ghost Daughter is autobiographical to want to address the question before the official release of the novel on July 1. Yes, it is. No, it isn’t. The Ghost Daughter is a novel. A work of fiction. It’s a piece of imagination, woven together in an effort to make a pattern in a chaotic universe. But some of it really happened, though. If you’re interested, here is a short list of scenes in the novel drawn whole cloth from reality: 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake:  Del Rio Beach is a stand-in for Santa Cruz…

What I Was Thinking When I Wrote The Ghost Daughter

A few years ago I stood in the check out line at the grocery story, Casey Anthony staring at me from the cover of the People magazine. I don’t follow crime stories usually, but this one followed me. I couldn’t help it. I was fascinated.  A young woman claimed her little kid went missing a full month after anyone had seen her. The authorities found the thoroughly decomposed body of the child months later in a pile of duct tape. The prosecution was inadequate to the task of conviction and the judge let her go. Everyone thinks she did it. But…

What Resilience Looks Like

Some of my favorite lines of poetry come from DH Lawrence’s “Self Pity:” I never saw a wild thing  sorry for itself.  A small bird will drop frozen dead from a bough without ever having felt sorry for itself. My students have stories that I sometimes never hear. We are busy people in the classroom. We don’t have a lot of time to sit around and talk about our feelings and cry. Sometimes, though, I get a chance to know the true resilience of the rising generation. Their stories evoke the tenacious bird of the poem, its gnarly little feet curled around…

An Interview with Tori Rigby, Author of Because I Love You

Blaze Publishing’s forthcoming YA title Because I Love You looked so interesting to me that I had to ask Tori Rigby if she would be willing to answer a few questions for my blog. Read the introduction and you’ll see what I mean:   Eight weeks after sixteen-year-old Andie Hamilton gives her virginity to her best friend, “the stick” says she’s pregnant.  Her friends treat her like she’s carrying the plague, her classmates torture and ridicule her, and the boy she thought loved her doesn’t even care. Afraid to experience the next seven months alone, she turns to her ex-boyfriend, Neil…

Cover Reveal: 27 Days to Midnight

I am truly honored to announce the cover reveal of 27 Days to Midnight, a new YA Steampunk novel from Giant Squid Books. Check it out on GoodReads here and enter to win the giveaway! Here is what 27 Days to Midnight is about: Everyone in Dahlia’s world knows when they’re going to die…except her. Her father has never shown her the pocket watch counting down the days she has left to live. When he sacrifices himself to save her from her scheduled death, Dahlia abandons her comfortable home and sets off after his murderer to uncover the secrets her father…

Author Spotlight: Cait Spivey, author of From Under the Mountain

One of the books I’ve most enjoyed reading so far this year has been the epic fantasy adventure From Under the Mountain by Cait Spivey, released through Reuts Publications. The story is based in a mind-blowing, fantastic world meticulously built by Spivey as a young woman finds herself, after the death of her tyrannical royal family, at the head of an empire. The novel is sometimes reminiscent in the best possible way of Game of Thrones in its scope and intrigue. There is magic and intrigue and complex human relationships in a world where sexual orientation doesn’t raise eyebrows, but…

Read Books

At an interview today, a lovely journalist asked me if I read all the time. Answer: I do. I read every day. But reading isn’t a chore. This isn’t a blog for Puritans, despite the writer’s distaste for fun and compliments. When I was a kid, I loved the library. I spent hours there. I came home with piles of books. I read them with great pleasure. I love the library in the same way now, except that I can order books ahead of time and find them waiting for me there with my name tag attached. That’s like Christmas…

5 Brief Book Reviews

The Infinite Tides by Christian Kiefer The Infinite Tides is a story about a grieving astronaut that is relentless in its integrity. I always appreciate the rare author who can plumb great emotional depths without a hint of sentimentality or a single false note. I read this novel as instructive in craft, as well as a meditative study of grief and mid-life spiritual growth. Indeed, there is a complex spiritual truth woven throughout this narrative about nothing less than what human beings are essentially for. The Infinite Tides is impeccably and beautifully written. This is painfully honest work about grief, manhood, relationship,…