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In the pause: I’ll be speaking at MW CARES Day at Monroe-Woodbury High School

I’m so happy to share this wonderful news with you! I’ve been asked to be a speaker at Monroe-Woodbury High School in the Hudson Valley. They are putting together a 3,000-person event called MW CARES Day that includes 2,400 high school students as well as teachers, staff, district leadership, and community officials.

The theme of the day is to promote compassion, acceptance, respect, empowerment, and success throughout the Monroe-Woodbury Community and beyond. I’ll be talking about my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, as well as my upbringing and the journey that led me to where I am today, all for the purpose of breaking the stigma around mental health challenges.

This is exactly the kind of event I’ve been dreaming about doing, and one of the main reason I wrote my book. Keep reaching, friends. It’s worth the effort.

In the pause: Recording the audiobook for my young adult book

Inspired by authors like Neil Gaiman who record their own audiobooks, I decided to put my voiceover skills to use and record the audiobook version of my novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, myself. (By doing this myself, I’ll be able put more money into my marketing plan since my publisher isn’t doing much of the marketing work I had hoped and they had said they’d do.) It will be available on Amazon the same day that the ebook and paperback launch—November 1, 2017. I’m having so much fun creating this content. It will take a lot of work to record and edit, but I’m going to learn so much in this process! I’m also thinking about doing a podcast of it, much like Welcome to Night Vale, and a YouTube version that would be a digital graphic novel.

In the pause: Falling down is a gift for your writing

“Sometimes we fall down because there is something down there we’re supposed to find.” ~Unknown

This week I wrote a guest blog post related to my book that details the journey that led me to find Emerson. I had to take a long and winding road to meet her, and that road was often difficult to navigate. During the rough times, I would have given anything to have them end as quickly and painlessly as possible. Now in hindsight, I can see why they were necessary. The difficulties gave me so much more than they took away. The things they took from me needed to leave my life, and what I learned and the people I met in the process of my healing are now some of the very greatest gifts of my life. Experience is funny that way; it’s only with time and distance—sometimes a very healthy dose of each—that we see our difficulties for the treasures that they are.

If you’re going through a difficult time right now, I want you to know this: eventually, maybe years from now, you will look back on this very moment and I promise you that it will make sense. You will come to appreciate it as much as you appreciate every joy in your life. The road out of your difficulty may not be easy, but the strength you get from that climb and the view that you will find at the end of that road will make it all worthwhile. So keep going. One foot in front of the other. One moment after another. Breath to breath. That’s the best any of us can do, and it’s enough.

In the pause: A lesson in writing from Terry Prachett—just tell yourself a story

“The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” ~Terry Prachett

I’ve been having trouble writing Emerson’s second book. I have a pile of index cards I shuffle around, but the truth is I’m nervous. I’m stalling. The first book was such a heavy life, but ignorance was bliss. I had no expectations of it except to write it down as truthfully as I could. I had been thinking about it for so long (5 years) before I started writing it that its scenes and words were well-etched in my mind.

This time is different. I feel more responsibility to get it right, to stay honest to what I created in the first book. I don’t want to let down Emerson. In my procrastination and stagnation, I found this quote from Terry Prachett. It made me feel a little bit bolder and braver, less cautious and concerned. There will come a time for refinement and revision, but that day’s not today. Today, I’m just letting Emerson tell me her story.

In the pause: Sometimes, a tree is a door, and other things you learn as a writer

Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 11.43.57 PMSometimes, a tree is a door. This is a picture of the tree outside my apartment building. It has a doorknob attached to it. Naturally my writer brain wondered what would happen if I turned it and what secret world it concealed. So obviously, that’s somehow going in the second book in the Emerson Page series. Inspiration is everywhere. It’s our job to use it.

In the pause: Chapter 2 of the free prequel to my book is now available

Chapter 2 of the free prequel to my novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, is flying into the inboxes of the people on my mailing list right now. It’s a page from the private diary of Oliver Page, Emerson’s father, as he takes a stand to protect Emerson. Would you like to receive it? Just send me your email address and I’ll send it over to you!

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In the pause: What I learned about writing by reading The Little Paris Bookshop

“With all due respect, what you read is more important in the long term than the man you marry, ma chère Madame.” ~Monsieur Perdu in The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

I fell in love with the book The Little Paris Bookshop on page one. I suppose what Monsieur Perdu is saying is that the right books can stick with us for a lifetime on our own terms, longer than most loves. When I think of it that way, I guess it is true, at least for some people.

Monsieur Perdu owns a bookshop in Paris, a peculiar one on a barge in the middle of the Seine that he consider a literary apothecary. He’s a book doctor, or at least a book pharmacist, prescribing books to heal whatever ails his customers. I read the first few pages of the book while crossing the East River on New York City’s B train for a meeting in Brooklyn to chase a dream. In that moment, I moved Monsieur Perdu’s barge to the East River and for me, he prescribed a book to bolster my confidence and stoke my courage.

It’s clear in these few pages that Monsieur Perdu has lost someone he loved, that he spends his evenings in an apartment that used to be filled with love, laughter, and a cat. Now it’s just him surrounded by his familiar neighbors of 20 years whose lives echo through the walls. They’ve loved and lost, too. All of them.

Though the story starts on a sad note, I smiled while reading it because the connection to the characters and the emotions it evokes are exactly what I want my novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, to do. I want readers to know Emerson as quickly as I came to know Monsieur Perdu. I want them to root for her to be okay, to be better than okay, to be her own savior. The Little Paris Bookshop shows me that this is possible, a goal worth striving for.

In the pause: Saw the first print layout of my novel

Yesterday was a pretty thrilling day: I got a glimpse of the print layout of my novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. To see it coming to life bit by bit is very exciting and keeps me motivated to write the next chapter of the prequel and to get started on the second book in the series. When we see progress, however slowly, we begin to realize what’s possible and that is a powerful tool to spark our creativity. Once we see and hold what we can do, we know how much more is out there for us to explore and accomplish.

In the pause: Back cover art for my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters

I’ve been hard at work with the artist designing the cover of my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. Here’s our work-in-progress for the back cover. What do you think? Sign up for giveaways, exclusive content, and updates at https://goo.gl/forms/ZsMC4d1kN9jKpZhD3. (Please pardon the image watermark as we’re still locking down the design!)

back cover

In the pause: The premise of my novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters

I’m in my next round of edits with my publisher and we’re putting together the marketing plan. The cover art and illustrations are in progress. The question I most often get, of course, is “what is the book about?” Here’s a short, draft synopsis:

Thirteen-year-old Emerson wants to know who killed her mother, Nora, and why. Nora was a gifted anthropologist well known for her research on ancient cultures and languages. Five years ago, Nora was found dead on the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “We’ve never seen anything like it,” the NYPD’s spokesperson said. “Life has gone out of her with no explanation.” And with that, the police gave up their search for answers.

But Emerson didn’t. Her journey to discover the answers about her mother’s death takes her deep below the street of New York City on a dangerous adventure into a secret world of books where the very existence of human imagination is at stake. She must survive and thrive a battery of mental, emotional, and physical challenges if she is to fulfill her destiny, protect everyone she loves, and continue her mother’s legacy. If Emerson fails, human creativity and imagination will cease to exist.

Time is running out. A dangerous threat looms large and too close to home as Emerson must choose between fulfilling the last promise she made to her mother and ensuring that the human capacity for creativity is preserved forever. Will she defy her mother’s final wish or sacrifice the only living family she has left?

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