Tuesday, October 7, 2014

In Gratitude on BLEED LIKE ME's release day

About a year ago, when FAULT LINE debuted, I wrote a post about what it's like standing on the edge of possible where your book can become anything and everything. Many, many things have happened in the past year, and this morning, I wake up to the release of my second novel.

And the message I want to get across most, a year later, is how incredibly grateful I am. This job can be difficult. Publishing is hardly the most stable of career choices and there are days when I wonder why I ever signed on for this. But then I talk to my writer friends, or I get an email from a reader, or I see cover art for my next book, or I get a good trade review, or, or, or…and I remember that I am leading a life many people dream of. People I've never met can read something I've written and it can crawl underneath their skin and make them think, and ask questions about their lives they might not have before.

So I'm grateful. For all of it. I'm grateful to my publisher, my agent, my editor, my friends, my readers, the writing community. I'm grateful for reviews (even shitty ones) and the person who tweets me that my book kept them up all night. These things all matter to me. They make this journey better.

Thank you, all of you, for being part of my dream. It means so much to me.

From the author of Fault Line comes an edgy and heartbreaking novel about two self-destructive teens in a Sid and Nancy-like romance full of passion, chaos, and dyed hair.

Seventeen-year-old Amelia Gannon (just "Gannon" to her friends) is invisible to almost everyone in her life. To her parents, to her teachers-even her best friend, who is more interested in bumming cigarettes than bonding. Some days the only way Gannon knows she is real is by carving bloody lines into the flesh of her stomach.

Then she meets Michael Brooks, and for the first time, she feels like she is being seen to the core of her being. Obnoxious, controlling, damaged, and addictive, he inserts himself into her life until all her scars are exposed. Each moment together is a passionate, painful relief.

But as the relationship deepens, Gannon starts to feel as if she's standing at the foot of a dam about to burst. She's given up everything and everyone in her life for him, but somehow nothing is enough for Brooks-until he poses the ultimate test.

Bleed Like Me is a piercing, intimate portrayal of the danger of a love so obsessive it becomes its own biggest threat.

IndieBoundBarnes & NobleAmazon 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Awkward, Inappropriate, and On the Fringe

This weekend I attended a YA conference with 45 other authors. It's one of my favorite conferences because it's in Chicago and hosted by one of my favorite book stores. Conferences are some of the best parts of being a writer, particularly if you're an extrovert like I am. They are about connection and community and feeling part of a bigger thing as opposed to just typing away in my kitchen every morning.

But conferences are sometimes difficult for me because within about seven minutes of opening my mouth, I've usually said something awkward or inappropriate. Add to this the fact that my books frequently contain "edgy" material that push boundaries and I'm left with this doomed feeling of "other". Like no matter how hard I try, I don't quite fit in. (Nowhere was this more obvious than when faced with a room full of 12 and 13yo's who I had to pitch my book to in 60 seconds. For those interested, the pitch went something like this: "You probably need to wait a few years to read this book, but it's about a hot mess of a girl and a hot mess of a guy who fall in deep, intense love and that love makes them 1000 times worse off until it all goes to hell.").

Then I started to look around the room at the other authors and wonder if they felt the same way as me. If they felt awkward or like they didn't quite fit. If they worried that they would say something or do something that would impact their sales or make librarians/teachers stay away from their books. (The fact that who we are and what we do/say as authors is important now is a blog topic for another day. Bottom line: it does matter.)

And then I started thinking about Heidi Cullinan's CARRY THE OCEAN which I was lucky enough to read early. It's a beautiful gay romance between an autistic guy and a guy with major depressive disorder. I can't say enough great things about this book. Emmett, the autistic guy, has this whole way of explaining how no one is really normal, but he also understands that people have relative expectations of normalcy. People who function every day within a pretty standard life without having to make several modifications are "on the mean".

On the mean. I love this way of looking at things. Because it also makes me realize that no one is "on the mean" about everything. There will always be some part of this world where you will be on the fringe. Just like there will be part of this world where you fit in. It's not a binary insider or outsider existence for most of us. We are rich and varied and flawed and perfect.

And if you start to really look around, you will see that everyone is like this. Good at some things, terrible at others. I include sex in my books. This frequently makes me feel like I don't have a lot in common with most other YA writers. But then I was talking to a friend at the conference, and she told me she feels awkward because her books are so "clean". See? We're always so convinced we're on the outside when it turns out it has more to do with your perspective than anything else.

The great thing about so many books in the world is that you can find what you're looking for. So even though at first I sort of cringed when my book was pitched as "a story for non-CW teens", I now realize that there are a lot of non-CW teens out in the world and I want to write for them. And really, I don't mind being the author on the panel who says, "I wish there were more female masturbation scenes in YA books" because while it may be awkward, it's the truth. And it is something I wish that more girls would talk about in high school in the way it's been normalized for guys.

So maybe the best thing for me is to stop worrying so much about fitting in and start seeing the bubble as big enough for all of us. Start realizing that there is no taking the me out of me. And maybe the truth of that means something to other people as well.