A Year of Yes: Be a Young Person’s Carl Sagan

This week I was watching an episode of Cosmos, and Neil deGrasse Tyson told the story of how Carl Sagan invited him to Ithaca when Tyson was just 17 years old and growing up in the Bronx. Sagan encouraged him to pursue his passion in science. It was a pivotal moment in Tyson’s life, a moment he’s never forgotten.

That’s the power of mentorship, of caring about the future and the success of young people. Carl Sagan had plenty of other ways to spend his time. He chose to make time to help young people, to support their dreams and aspirations, to share his love for science.

Whatever your talents, I hope you’ll find a way to use them to help our youngest generations. They need us, and we need them.


In the pause: Meet the 826NYC teaching artist cohort bringing creative writing to NYC public schools

826NYC’s first cohort of Teaching Artists

I’m so excited to be a part of this program!

Press release: 826NYC is proud to announce its first-ever cohort of Teaching Artists! These dynamic and experienced writers and educators will be running our in-schools and partnership residencies across New York City. Each residency ranges from 4-8 sessions in length and culminates in an anthology of student work, which is professionally designed and printed for distribution.

The cohort includes writers and artists from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, the Watermill Center, the Minnesota Prison Writers Workshop, and more.

Learn more about Christa Avampato, Maryann Aita, Cameron Crawford, Joss Lake, Jason Leahey, Fatima Farheen Mirza, Krystal Reddick, and Helena Smith. Learn more about them here!


In the pause: Reading With Your Kids—a podcast for readers and parents of readers

132943Last night I had the great pleasure to chat with Jed Doherty. We spoke about my young adult book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, that will be released on November 1st. With his podcast Reading With Your Kids, Jed is on a mission to promote children’s and young adult literature as well as the act of parents and their kids reading together and discussing books. I’m so honored to be a guest on his podcast, and our interview will be published soon. In the mean time, listen to many of the other fantastic interviews that he’s has done with authors including Lizette Lantigua, Brent A. Ford, and Jenny Ford.



In the pause: Today my young adult book about Emerson Page arrived in my hands

21167757_10103838731942226_4372951104648444552_oToday my young adult book about Emerson Page arrived on my doorstep and I burst into tears. I’ve waited so long to see her. It’s overwhelming to say the least. Thank you to everyone who believed she would find her way into the light. Pre-order is available on Amazon at


In the pause: My young adult book broke into the top 50K on Amazon

A big note of thanks to all of you who have supported my young adult book. Because of you, I broke into the top 50K (out of 8M+ books!) on Amazon! Feeling so grateful. Pre-order for Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters is available now.



In the pause: My author’s note for my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters

It took me some time to write the author’s note for my book and I decided to structure it as a letter to young adult readers. I wanted to tell them why I wrote this book for them and to let them know that their creativity and ideas are important to me, and to the world. Here it is. ( is under construction and coming soon!)

Dear young adult,

I wrote this book for you for many reasons. One of the biggest is that we don’t have enough women and girls at the center of young adult literature. So few books feature female protagonists, and there are almost no books in which a female protagonist takes control of her own life and destiny. As a young adult, I wanted someone to listen to me, to see me. Really listen to my ideas, my hopes, and my dreams, and care enough to understand how I saw the world. And I wanted someone to believe that I could make my dreams happen.

That hope brought Emerson Page into my imagination. A teenager who builds her own path through resilience, courage, and confidence, her touchstones are love and compassion. She’s strong and brave, and she cares about others—exactly the heroine I wish I had when I was her age. She’s the heroine you deserve to have now, and I’m so excited for you to meet her.

I want you to believe in the power of your creative spirit. It’s my greatest wish for you that you live the most beautiful lives you can imagine. Develop your mind, your heart, and your hands. They are the three most powerful tools you have to build a better world, one of your own design. You can’t always choose what happens to you. You can always choose your energy level, enthusiasm, and sense of hopefulness, and they will carry you through difficult times.

Life will undoubtedly hand you setbacks. When that happens, don’t give up. Make the setback mean something. Use it as fuel to work even harder. I always wanted to write a book and have it published. That has been one of my biggest dreams. I spent five years thinking about Emerson, writing down notes and ideas here and there. Then I spent two years writing her story, and another year pitching it and getting it through production.

Fourteen people rejected this book before I found my publisher. (And those are just the ones who bothered to send a rejection reply at all. Many others never even did that.) Don’t be afraid of rejection. Learn from it, but don’t let it stop you from moving forward. Your ideas have merit. Keep looking for the people who appreciate you, and don’t stop until you find them. You find what you look for. Believing is seeing. The book you hold in your hands right now is proof that dreams do come true so long as you don’t give up.

This book is also about community, and the power we have when we believe in ourselves and in others. Be good to each other. And when you see someone in crisis, don’t walk by. Help. You would want that help if the tables were turned, and someday they will be. Life is about give and take, and I’ve found that the more I give, the more it comes back to me.

More than anything, this book tells the story of a young woman finding her way in a world that is often confusing and frustrating. The same thing happens to us from time to time at every age. When that happens to me, I look to the stars. They remind me that we’re literally surrounded by miracles. That we are miracles. We are the stars and the stars are us, and we’re all connected.

When Jasper explains Emerson’s ancestry to her in the Library of Imagination, when Samuel sits with Max in the Crooked Willow Café, and when Nora finds Truman in the In-between, an adult is supporting and encouraging a young person who feels alone. No matter how old you are, I hope this book makes you feel less alone.

Whenever I feel down about the state of society, I remember that you will one day be in the driver’s seat, and that helps me to keep going. You are the hope and light of this world. I’m cheering you on and I’m rooting for you. I believe in your value and the value of your ideas. The world needs you.

I always welcome the chance to connect with readers; it’s one of the best things about being a writer. I look forward to the conversation.

Wishing you the most magical life you can imagine,






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In the pause: What would you tell your 13-year-old self?

Today I’m writing the Author’s Note for my book and I’m framing it as a letter to young adults to explain why I wrote the book. It’s akin to the idea of writing a letter to my younger self, specifically my 13-year-old self since my protagonist, Emerson Page, is 13 in the book. If you could give your 13-year-old self advice, what would you say?


In the pause: Use what you have

Monday night I met with the team over at Notion Theory, a fantastic design shop that specializes in being a CTO for-hire (among many other amazing specialties!) I spoke to them about my virtual guidance counseling idea. They could have quoted me an outrageous amount of money to build a proof-of-concept. Instead, they said it could be done for $0 and I could do it myself in a few hours with free online tools. Sure, it will be a little manual but for MVP, it can be hacked together. What I really need to focus on is finding a couple of schools with a small amount of students who are willing to let me test the idea on them. I think it’s pretty amazing for a design shop to tell me that right now I don’t need to pay them a cent. The time for a slick seamless interface will come, but right now I just need to find people who want my help. Given how much need there is, I can get started right away with what I’ve got.


In the pause: Holding myself accountable

I’m a voracious list maker, mostly because it helps me to remain accountable for moving my ideas forward. Since the weekend, I’ve been making a list of things I need to do to test out my new business ideas for on-demand and virtual guidance counseling for students. So far, I have a few to-dos on the books and they are:

  • Writing to my high school guidance counselor who inspired this idea to give him a long overdue thank you and to let him know his efforts were not in vain. I actually made it to adulthood in mostly one piece and am now giving back.
  • Making a list of people I’d like to contact to do research on the roles of guidance counselors and school administrators so I can understand their pain points and how this company can be of greatest use to the kids in their schools and to their staff.
  • Developing a light-weight version of a pitch deck that lays out the purpose, the impact, the methods to achieve that purpose, and my many questions.
  • Setting up time to meet with a couple of friends who are going to give me advice on the aforementioned pitch deck.
  • Setting up time to meet with a technology development shop that I love and want to work with.
  • Making a list of influential people who I want to contact about the idea to ask for their help, guidance,  and ideas.
  • Set up a meeting with a designer who I hope will help me with branding, a logo, etc. She reached out to me through Instagram and I love her work!
  • Reading, reading, reading. Researching, researching, researching. Learning, learning, learning.

I will say that I’m loving every moment of this. I’m loving it so much in fact that it doesn’t even seem like work. And that, my friends, is the point. We should find something that we love to do so much that the time flies and it makes us feel alive and free.


In the pause: All children deserve to rise

I’m so tired of the acceptance that zip code is destiny. My entire life is a rejection of that belief, and I will keep rejecting it until I’m out of breath and out of strength. Somewhere along the way, our society decided that a child born into difficulty on the south side of Chicago won’t have the same chance to rise to their potential as a child born with every privilege on the south side of Central Park. Is the life of that child in Chicago any less valuable that the life of that child in New York? I don’t think so. I know you don’t think so either. So let’s change that, together. Let’s stack the odds in favor of all kids everywhere.

There are too many kids who are cold, and tired, and hungry, and frustrated. There are too many kids who don’t see a way up and out of their circumstances because no one they know ever got up or out. Imagine what our world would be like if every child alive right now got everything they needed to grow up healthy, educated, kind, and confident. That’s the image I hold in my mind as I think about ways to offer virtual and on-demand guidance counseling to kids across the country, and eventually across the globe. It’s a big vision, a big dream, and our kids deserve nothing less. They have to know that somewhere out in the world, there is an adult who believes in them, who is holding a light for them so that they can find their way forward even in the darkest of times. To that child, that one light can make all the difference. And that’s worth fighting for.