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A Year of Yes: Update from Wind Dancer Films about my Emerson Page book

I have heard back from Wind Dancer Films about the possible film production of my book, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters. They chose not to option it at this time but with solid feedback that they love the story and have logged it in their system for future consideration.

While I of course was hoping for more, I’m also extremely encouraged that they would even read the book, enjoy it, and log it in their system for future consideration all without me having an agent. I’m extremely grateful to Readers’ Favorite and the Miami Book Fair for making this possible, and of course to my publisher, Possibilities Publishing and their imprint, Thumbkin Prints. This is my first novel and is part of a series, so as the other two books are finished and published “some day” could become “one day” for me and Wind Dancer. In the words of Hamilton, maybe it’s only a matter of time.

Also, I will continue to submit to other production companies because maybe this is the right book at the right time for someone else. As always, my focus remains on the readers who need Emerson’s story of resilience and courage to face our deepest fears, just like I did many years ago. She changed my life the day she entered my imagination and I’m honored to be the person sharing her story.

As an artist of any kind, you have to keep at it. Your drive has to be stronger than the sting of any rejections. It’s part of the work. Speaking of which…I better get back to writing Emerson’s second book.

A Year of Yes: Fan mail from a young reader filled my heart

Today my heart’s so full it’s going to burst. I just got this fan letter and art from 10-yr-old Evie, 1 of my young readers. She addressed it to Emerson Page, my book’s heroine. I’m cry-smiling so much my face hurts.

She said the book “was very well written, with good use of figurative language and action packed. Thank you for your memoir of adventure, friendship, and around every corner was a surprise.” I am overjoyed because Evie is exactly the reader I wrote this book for.

I met her dad thanks to the Ologies Podcast FB group. He said that he believes in providing books with strong female characters for Evie to read so how could we not be immediate pals?!

This is the stuff of my dreams as a writer. You better believe I’m saving this letter, framing this art, and replying to this enthusiastic young woman who is articulate, and by the way, has gorgeous hand-writing and mad art skills. 😊😭😍

A Year of Yes: Feeling stuck in your writing? Go outside.

Despite the cold, my senior dog, Phineas, took me on a 2-hour hike through the North Woods of Central Park yesterday. The late afternoon light was just perfect. Time in nature is like a massage for the brain, heart, and spirit. It prompts my creativity. The movement jogs my imagination, restores my resolve to do work that builds a better world. If you need to be restored, get outside. Your restlessness has a purpose. It is meant to move you. Don’t fight it. Go with it. 

A Year of Yes: What I Love Best About Writing a Novel

I am a meticulous outliner, especially when it comes to my fiction writing. Still, you know what I love best about the practice of writing fiction? I never quite know what will be on the page when I’m done with any single block of work. I sit down and I think I know exactly where I’m going. Then, my characters will do something or say something I never expected. A stranger will arrive. A discovery will be made. I’m living this story in the moment with my characters, and I feel lucky to be along for the ride. 

A Year of Yes: Happy book birthday to Emerson Page

Screen Shot 2018-09-01 at 9.15.58 AMOne year ago today, I became an author. Thank you so much for all of the love and support during this entire process. It took me 8 years to bring Emerson to life and share her with the world, and her story both saved and changed my life in ways I never even imagined were possible. Happy birthday to my bold, brave girl, Emerson Page. Thank you for letting in the light.

Next stop: Emerson and I will be at the Miami Book Fair from November 15th – 18th where we’ll collect the Readers’ Favorite Award for Young Adult Fiction – Adventure (Gold).

Grab a copy of Emerson’s story on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and independent bookstores everywhere.

 

A Year of Yes: How the book A Wrinkle in Time is giving us strength in trying times

“Stay angry, little Meg,” Mrs Whatsit whispered. “You will need all your anger now.”

No matter what happens next week, these wise words by the brilliant Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, remind me that there is so much work ahead of us to build a better world. And we can. And we will‬

A Year of Yes: Hannah Gadsby is a role model for storytellers

Like everyone else I know, I am riveted and inspired by Hannah Gadsby’s show, Nanette. (If you haven’t seen it, go to Netflix immediately. I will not at all be offended that you stop reading this blog post because she is genius.) Her words about storytelling are the ones that really got me, and they are powerful advice and wisdom for all of us, and particularly those of us who tell stories in any way, shape, or form.

“I think I have to quit comedy. Because there’s a difference between stories and jokes. Stories have 3 parts: a beginning, middle, and end. Jokes have 2: beginning and middle. You learn from the part of the story you focus on. I need to tell my story. My story has value. I will not allow my story to be destroyed. Stories are our cure.”

A Year of Yes: Writing my novel in 30 minute increments as soon as I wake up

To move my second novel along, I’m waking up 30 minutes early to immediately write whatever stories come to mind about Emerson Page. That means 1/2 an hour into my day, I already feel like I’ve gotten good work done. Here’s what happened Monday morning, in its completely raw, completely unedited form. It needs a lot of work; and that work begins by getting it down.

I think it’s important to show our work as writers, rough as it may be, so that we can understand and learn from each other’s process. It is a slog, but how lucky I am to be able to write freely. There are so many people in this world who live in places where that’s not possible.

Emerson was frantically digging in the rich, deep dirt. As luxurious as it felt in her hands, her heart was racing. They didn’t have much time. She could hear the group approaching from behind—snapping twigs underfoot, the brushing aside of the thick brush. The jungle was a frightening but beautiful place. The darkness often hid danger but it could also provide a place of protection for those who needed to be hidden. Their voices were growing louder and spoke in a language not her own but one she clearly understood.

“Get the girl and then find what she’s looking for.”

A shockwave of pain radiated through Emerson’s right pinky finger. She had jammed it on something hard in the ground where she was digging. Moving her hands so quickly they were nothing but a blur to her sore, tired eyes, a shiny gold surface caught what little light there was filtering through the tangle of vines.

“Here it is, here it is, here it is,” she thought, her mind reeling.

Quickly making her way around the small box, she could see it measured no more than the size of a loaf of bread. Made of a dark wood with a sheen and brass handles on each side, there was a metal plate neatly tacked to the top of it with one word etched on it in curly script: Erato.

Knowing she had very little time left, Emerson grabbed both of the brass handles and pulled as hard as she could. Heaving herself backward into a giant [name of species of tree in the jungle], her head knocked right into the trunk of the tree. Rubbing the back of her head, the box now squarely in her lap, she looked up to see a team of men looming over her, their smiles wicked and filled with broken, dirty teeth.

“So this is the girl, the girl we are supposed to fear so much? How pathetic she is.” The group sneered and laughed as if they had just corned a prize they hunted. Emerson’s eyes and belly burned.

“And look,” another one said. “She’s shaking.” The crowd of men roared with laughter again.

Emerson smiled. Slowly she let her grin expand across her lips. She felt wild and free, as if she knew a secret that none of them knew and were about to learn in a way that they would never forget. She let her body shake and her light flood into every part of her. It grew brighter with every second, making her glow with such force that the men had to shield their eyes with their arms. Like the blazing, burning sun, they could barely stand to look at her but they were so fascinated and stunned by her that they couldn’t look away either.

The light soothed the pain in the back of her head. Firmly holding the box handles in her two hands, she rose to her feet in one swift action. Standing at her full, though petite, height she walked toward the men. Now that they shook with fear, some falling to the ground, some hiding and cowering behind one another, the group parted neatly down the middle and Emerson walked straight threw the clearing the men had made with their machetes just moments before.

You see the jungle is a dark and dangerous place. It’s stuffed with mystery. It’s laced with fear for those who don’t understand it. But for those who realize and cherish its magic, the jungle possesses a wisdom that speaks directly to our souls. It holds treasures richer than we have ever dared to dream. As Emerson walked out into what was left of the light from the setting sun, she knew what she had, she understood the power of the treasure she now held in her hands.

A Year of Yes: What to do when you don’t know what to write next

We don’t always know what’s around the bend in our stories. What can we do? Stay open. Stay curious. Stay committed to building a better world through writing your story. Keep learning. Opportunities to do well and do good are everywhere. Find them.

Central Park. Photo by Christa Avampato.

A Year of Yes: A weekend of creativity

I spent this weekend in complete creative mode: building the bones of a new live show that I’m creating and co-producing, working on my first writing fellowship application, completing my application to be in a storytelling festival this summer, submitting a podcast idea to Squarespace and Gimlet Creative, finalizing the lineup my storytelling show NYC’s Secrets & Lies at Caveat on Monday, June 18th at 7pm, and some writing work on my second novel.

It was good for my heart to see all of this coming together. It was just what I needed.

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