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Respect, Yo!

Normally, I don't cross-post my social media (reminds me a bit about Dr. Egon Spengler warning, "Don't cross the streams!") but my recent post to my Facebook page got me thinking... it read:

Wearing my old Harvard sweatshirt, an old lady stopped me in the grocery store aisle and asked if I went there. I said yes, I went there for grad school, not undergrad. She said it was probably because I fit some ethnicity they were looking for. I froze. Politeness forbade me from screaming, "NO, IT'S BECAUSE I WORKED HARD, VOLUNTEERED IN MY FIELD AND PAID FOR IT ALL MYSELF! I *EARNED* IT!!!"

I was thankful for the outpouring of support of people just assuring me that human beings can be nice and while this hadn't been said hatefully, it was said out of ignorance or--at best--insensitivity. I was surprised how the feeling stayed with me, even as I checked out of the grocery store and drove home, lingering in the car, in the kitchen, and finally at the keyboard so I could put it aside and get to writing. But I didn't. It kept sticking in my mind, like molasses or a strong, stubborn smell, affecting everything I touched, infusing my brain.

It was yucky.

And yet, one of the things that sprang to mind wasn't the fact that I look "ethnic" enough to be used to slurs or that I am "white" enough not to recognize my privilege and know that I don't have this shoved down my throat every day as a matter of course, but the fact that we live in a world that has these reactions--and these reactions to these reactions--(check out the FB thread to see what I mean.) but that, in karate, we teach Respect, Self-Discipline and Self-Control.

Yes, I had the self-control not to lose my cool in the moment, but the real value that stood out to me was "respect." I was taught to respect my elders, which is part of the reason I didn't let loose. However, perhaps in my listening there should have been "respect those who deserve respect," and not default to age. (I'm not sure. Hmm.) But what I *do* know is that when my husband and I opened our dojo, we tweaked the standard Golden Rule of "treat people the way you want to be treated" to "treat people the way they want to be treated." This is a slightly subtle, but important difference. Just because you don't mind someone calling you names or swearing in front of your kids, giving you flowers instead of chocolate on your birthday or sending you an e-invite instead of posting a card in the mail doesn't necessarily mean that other people may not be sensitive to swearing or prefer chocolates on their birthdays or feel strongly about the etiquette of a proper envelope with a stamp. And this doesn't make you right or them wrong or vice versa, but it does lead to sayings like, "It's the thought that counts." Paying attention to the tiny things that can mean a little or a lot to someone else by being aware--or outright asking, which can be pretty brave--is a good way to be respectful and not simply see the world as a reflection of yourself, your own wants and needs, a mirror-turned-inwards; because everyone is different and those differences should be respected. And when someone treats you the way you want to be treated, you get a glimpse of how much someone else cares and feel--even just for a moment--how special you really are.

Go out. Be kind. Pay attention. Smile!

And, no, I didn't do this:

Romantic Teen Reads at Books of Wonder


Big news! I will be signing with an all-star Harlequin Teen cast during the Romantic Teen Reads event at the one-and-only Books of Wonder in New York City, Thursday, April 17th, 6-8pm. Who will be there and what will they be scribbling on? Check out this list:

Michelle Madow (The Secret Diamond Sisters)
Kady Cross (Girl With the Iron Touch)
Maria V. Snyder (Touch of Power)
Cara Lynn Shultz (Spellbound)
Amalie Howard (Waterfell)
and me with INDELIBLE!

Come by, meet the crew, laugh with us and buy books! You can RSVP on Facebook and check it out in-person and online at Books of Wonder!

You know you want to.

* Cool banner image by Michelle Madow who is, herself, pretty damn cool. Come see for yourself!


heroine addict
It's Sexual Assault Awareness & Prevention Month and, as a youth activist, I'm all about these kind of conversations throughout the month (including any day ending in "y"). But while I get to talk about these things as a public speaker and advocate, rarely do I get to talk about it as a fangirl of scifi TV and popular culture.

Pre-release of Marvel's Captain America: Winter Soldier, S.H.I.E.L.D. brought in some of the Asgardian heavies including Lady Sif and Lorelei, long-time enemies on either side of the Thor story arc--one, a loyal soldier of Asgard, the other a power-hungry seductress who can sway men with her sexy, sexy voice. (Cue the eye-rolling and Little Mermaid parallels, but let's go on.) Without giving away too many spoilers, it's no surprise the Lorelei manages to snag some of the agents under her spell, including the utterly forgettable Agent Ward (pardon the side commentary but I keep having to actually look up his name because it's such a yawn-worthy stock character, but I digress). Under her spell, he does whatever she says, including bringing her to Caesar's Palace, as befits her rule, and have sex.

And this is where things could get interesting.

"Interesting" for the writers seemed to be exploring May's reaction and the subsequent fallout, ending their side affair and revealing he actually has the hots for someone else on the team (gee, I wonder who?) but what *I* find interesting is that we could have had a real conversation about rape and sexual assault from a man's point of view.

It was 100% clear that Ward wasn't interested in Lorelei under normal circumstances and ended up having sex against his will/under the influence of Asgardian magic mojo, but it might as well have been ruffies. He didn't say "no" (or have even the ability to say "no" under these conditions), and the fallout for him, personally, and the relationships he has professionally were profoundly affected by it. And yet not one word about how he felt about this. And herein lies my point: in the misogynistic rape culture that we're all raving about lately, there is a dual assumption that is at work here, 1) that any excuse for sex is fine by men & 2) that men don't get raped. I disagree. Strongly. And, by failing to talk about it, we become part of the problem.

According to the Rape Crisis Center, 1 out of 33 men have been the victim of rape or an attempted rape in their lifetime, accounting for about 3-10%, somewhere between 93,000 and 140,000, according to the CDC. (By the way, this accounts for about 10% of reported cases; do the math--the rest are female--and an estimated 60% of rapes go unreported). No one likes to be coerced, no one wants to have their choices taken away or forced into anything--from sexual contact to eating their veggies--and guys have the extra, added bonus of a homophobic, victim-blaming culture that adds another ton of shame-based meaning onto an already degrading and horrific crime heaped on a person. How often do we get the chance to talk about such things in popular culture? A lot of conversation came up about the rape scene in the Divergent movie--and whatever you've got to say about it, it got people talking! And here was the chance to have that kind of important look at something a lot of men don't want to look at and here it was, staring them right in the face...

And they didn't.

I admit, I was disappointed. Although no one seemed to notice or even react much when I pointed it out in my geeky conversations with friends and *that*, more than anything else, made me want to write this post. Maybe I expected more from Whedon, but I was actually surprised that we didn't go down this road--one that he explored in Buffy often enough--from casual sex to rape to failing to give permission first--and the entirety of Dollhouse was basically based on the premise, but this time, it wasn't even sniffed at. What a lost opportunity!

And why? Because it was a guy. And we presume guys are okay with this.

I, however, feminist that I am, still believe in everyone's basic humanity--that guys, just as girls, have every right to have boundaries of trust and comfort, that they know what it's like to feel betrayed, have their feelings hurt, to avoid wanting to be debased or humiliated and not have sex used as a weapon against them. The difference is, even while it's hard to talk about women's issues in a male-based society, it's sometimes even harder for men to talk about these issues for themselves. Was this the cause of the oversight? Shame? Maybe, but I think it's more the fact that this premise doesn't even show up on most people's radar that's the real underlying problem. Most guys would feel something after being drugged, manipulated and abused--even if it was sex with a hot alien chick--unless they're as 2D cardboard as Agent Ward (sorry). But we don't go there. We don't talk about it. And we should.

We should.

In our writing world, please check out Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak for RAINN15 Campaign and if you or anyone you know is a survivor of sexual abuse, please reach out for help and support at the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1.800.656.HOPE.

First INVISIBLE Sightings & Signings!

It's here!!! It's here!!! It's here!!!

The first copies of INVISIBLE have *just* arrived and I couldn't wait to share them with you! Behold the first box of them in all their shiny glory--isn't the new cover gorgeous?!?

I admit, I was a little worried about the direction they'd take with the title of the next book, "Invisible," but I think they nailed it!

Imagine my surprise when I went to my local bookstore and saw that Invisible was already in stock! So since I was already there, I offered to sign a stack of fresh books for the store and they let me grab a chair and get to work. You'd think it would be hard, but I came prepared--I brought my newest pen with invisible ink! But we did have a little trouble with where to place the "Autographed Copy" stickers...

Okay, so it was a slightly larger stack than I'd anticipated, but I'm game! There were too many to fit on the table, so we switched to the floor. It made quite a scene and boy, are my hands tired!

And this little side project made us all laugh!

Can you see my smiling face through the window? My husband thought it'd be funny to make an "invisible house" around me as I worked. That peaked roof and turrets took more than a few tries and I was laughing so hard, I kept knocking down the gazebo.

And, last but not least, a smiling, happy author taking a picture with her latest book: this is what we strive and sweat and pray for--a beautiful book! (Just goes to show it's not all for nothing.)

And, no, that's not Ink waving behind me, silly. He's fictional.

This TOTALLY made my day! What a great way to start April, 1st!



Skip A Starbucks for Isabella

heroine addict

Today, I want to dedicate this space to writer moms--specifically, to one writer mom in particular: C.J. Redwine. C.J. is doing a special fundraiser called "Skip a Starbucks" fundraiser with one, simple purpose: to adopt her daughter and bring her home. (Click the link for full details, prize list & photos.)

One of the best things about being part of a global writing community is to be able to do Good Works such as raising awareness, taking a stand, helping in some tangible way or volunteering for a worthy cause along with other loving, giving, talented people. Take a moment to check out all the wonderful things that a simple skipped indulgence can do and all the great things that are available as "thank you prizes" as a result! Nothing can say it better than this:

"Isabella will know the story of how a community of people came together
to bring her home to her forever family. - C.J. Redwine"

Please help one wonderful writer and support her every effort to reach across the world and bring a little girl to the family that loves her. Find out more, share the link, pass the word, Pay It Forward & if you are a fellow "would-be writer" mom or dad or human being, you can always check out C.J.'s Writing Workshops or her Query Handbook and help yourself while helping others. Do this. Be part of the magic.

Smile. It feels good!

Feeding the Muse on Black, Bitter Coffee

steampunk hat
I've been on a dark/gritty/disturbing/cute & beautiful kick, indulging in things like Orphan Black, Run Freak Run, old archives of Aaron Alexovich's Heart Shaped Skull and Faith Erin Hicks' much-beloved Demonology 101 and surfing short animated films on YouTube. (This is, I'm guessing, what people do with music when they make playlists[?])

I figured on this Friday, I'd share a few of my favorites in case anyone else is out there feeding their Muse on black, bitter coffee and invite everyone to share some tidbit that makes their inspiration tick. Enjoy! (Or at least get a peek into what inspires the local crazy.)

P.S. Check any of the links to get hooked on these faves!

"Kagemono: The Shadow Folk" by Sabrina Cotugno (darling & creepy)

"Windmills" by the Windmill Team (sad & beautiful)

"The Saga of Bjorn" by The Animation Workshop (darkly hilarious)

Wrapping My Head Around the SciFi Noose

I have been debating what to say on a number of deep issues that have been rocking the writing world that I love so well, and today I think I'm ready to give one a shot because yet more controversy has freshly hit the blogosphere with thoughtful posts by The Book Smugglers, John Scalzi's Whatever and Foz Meadows on issues such as Toni Weisskopf, SciFi legitimacy and fandom.

Science Fiction: Writers & Fandoms

ala BONE, Smith, Sniegoski & Sakai

I love science fiction. I have long admired science fiction writers. I watch science fiction movies. I have entire shelves dedicated to my favorite science fiction books. And--oh yeah--I write science fiction stories. Yet I can say that I have felt little love from the science fiction community when I started this wild ride back in the day. Every time I have attended a con or reader event, I have come away with at least one experience that left a burned and blackened bitten tongue in my mouth. Every time I debated whether to join SFWA, something incredibly stupid hit the fan and I felt defeated before I'd even begun. (Full timeline of recently buffoonery thoughtfully provided by SL Huang here.) And yet...and yet...there are several writers in the SFWA community who are struggling with this, too, and others who have reached out and stand tall, fighting the good fight, allies together in this strange war against Otherness which seems so at odds with the whole concept of science fiction that it makes my brain ache. I want to do something. I want to be part of the change. And yet...and yet...stuff like this happens. So while I'm all for joining the Insect Army, the argument that change can only come from within is 100% wrong. Change can come from the outside, too--but it has to come from action.**

And that brings us to Jonathan Ross and Loncon.

To be fair, I didn't know "Wossy's" schtick, but I was familiar with his name and controversial antics, which is--to be fair--nothing new in the world of celebrity gossip. When I heard that he had been chosen to host the Hugos, I Googled the name just to be sure I was thinking of the same guy. Yep. My Twitter feed filled with outcry and concern and, most importantly, included a post about the conference organizer who stepped down in protest (after she completed her remaining obligations, both things I find to be markers of good character). And while there was a lot of good discussion, (and a lot of bad discussion), I was raised believing that inside every complaint there is a request and a request should be made to someone who can *do* something about it. Venting to let off steam and take comfort in your friends has its place, but I find what is most effective is taking pen to paper or, in this case, fingers to keys. So I wrote one tweet for the cause:

@dawnmetcalf Re: Jonathan Ross hosting the Hugos?!? Read & respond: #insectarmy

I was passing along the link that Farah Mendlesohn, former Loncon Division head, had provided as an email on her post so that concerned citizens could contact the correct party, should they wish to do so. (I figured many of my followers and friends might wish to do so.) I walked the talk and wrote a letter outlining this simple point: I was not interested in debating whether or not Wossy was a "legitimate" SciFi fan nor whether he was good for publicity or even if this was a purposeful move on the parts of the conference organizers, given all the preparation that had been done prior to the announcement to brace for impact. I couldn't claim to know whether Wossy would pull out his particular brand of "humor" to shame, ridicule or belittle those in attendance because, despite being science fiction fans, we cannot see into the future. HOWEVER, what I *could* say is that given the current climate of our changing community, one that is struggling to be inclusive and reach out to those feeling marginalized, ignored or abused on both sides of the Pond, I thought that someone like Mr. Ross was an incredibly poor choice given where we are as a community at this time. In fact, since the guy volunteered to do this, it wasn't too hard to retract or explain and since he hadn't expected the storm that came on despite the fact that those who extended the invitation must have suspected such a thing would happen, I considered that a poor way to conduct business and a poor way to treat anyone. Period. (Note I am not saying that the SciFi community, Hugo award nominees or interested fans didn't have EVERY RIGHT to voice their dismay--I sure did!--but it was a terrible thing for Loncon to do in the first place to Ms. Mendlesohn, Mr. Ross, and everyone involved.) This whole thing illustrates one of the very things that is currently purple and bruised; it points the finger squarely at the obvious fact that the "higher ups" seem to be completely out of touch with what is happening all around them and insults their participants with their--at best, ignorance, or, at worst, derision. We're not "anonymous insects" or "fuggheads," (and isn't it dismissively infantile to resort to name-calling?), but people trying to stand for change while others want us to sit down, talk nicely and shut up. I think Seanan McGuire put it best when she said, "The dinosaurs are dying off. I am proud to be part of the comet." (If I wasn't a huge fan of hers before, I sure as heck am now!)

(P.S. Because Ursula Vernon is friggin awesome!)

Which brings me back to fandom.

Who gets to be a "real fan" reminds me of the whole stupidity around who gets to be a "real geek girl." And despite the fact that I really love all that the gals say in this video, I still want to stand up and scream I DO NOT HAVE TO PROVE MYSELF TO YOU OR ANYONE! Do I think a "real fan" has to have read the SciFi "classics" as defined by anyone, even the white male majority? No. Do I think there is value in reading classic SciFi? Hell, yes! But that's the job of academics, not fandoms. A real fan's only job is to love their geekery of choice with all their happy little heart and when another real fan meets them and learns that they're excited about the very same stuff can say, "Hey, have you read [X]? Oh, you haven't?! Well, I think you'll LOVE it!" End sentence. Word of Mouth is still our biggest seller, both as writers and readers. As an English Major I get the value in reading the classics, following the roots of where our modern storytelling comes from, learning the geneaology of your favorite genres and discovering where the movements began can be a great source of fun for those who are interested, but as a fan? A fan's a fan because they love something that inspires and moves them. Nothing more required. You got a smile on your face? You're in this club.

And that's what I want from my SciFi community because a smile is universal--it has no race or color or sexual orientation or gender or religion or socio-economic strata--and it doesn't even need to have a reason to be. You like science fiction? I *love* science fiction! Let's talk until the wee hours and write like fiends.

How hard is that, really?

Nothing to Prove by Geek Girls & the Doubleclicks

** By the way, I'm not trying to blow smoke, here. I had a classmate who was the first Eagle Scout to come out to the Boy Scouts and publicly take them to court back in the 80's. We stood by him and attended lectures, petitioned, protested and I swore that no son of mine would ever be in the Boy Scouts as long as they had such a policy. As a private organization they could certainly be as bigoted as they pleased, but they should not get any government support nor would they get any support from me. I kept petitioning. I kept writing letters. It's been 30 years and change is happening from keeping the pressure on. I am not a boy nor a Boy Scout, a Scout leader, a Scout mom or have anything to do with the Boy Scouts, but I *did* care enough to take a stand for change.


heroine addict
I'm inspired by my little girl. Honestly, I'm inspired by both my kids--and cool people in general--but there's something special about watching someone become "who they are" throughout their lifetime and my little girl was here first.

I get to watch her explore her world, point out the beauty and ask the questions we forgot were out there, discover the things that make sense and the things that don't make any sense at all and ask "Why?" or come up with her own answers that make sense to her. She is 100% her own person and I'm the one privileged enough to be called her "Mommy" for the ride. So maybe I'm attuned to awesome little girls--they inspire and delight me, reawakening that wonder and magic I remember and giving me a much-needed wake-up call to the incredible world around me. In their eyes, life is sparkly and juicy and possible. There are other little girls who blow my mind as well and when I discover their stories, I want to share then with everybody, which, on a blog, I can do. So without further ado, here are some *really* awesome little girls who kick my inspirational tush into gear:

Mayhem Dress

Via The May Sue, "Mayhem" is a budding fashionista who takes no prisoners. Her dresses are made from paper and foil, tape and tissue, and are inspired and inspiring so much so that I spent a good half hour simply checking out all of her designs and grinning like an idiot. Her mom, Angie, credits her little designer with most of the work and I love her quote: “if we can find it laying around the house and it’s pliable, it’s fair game.” THAT is creativity set on high and I love the heck out of it. Check out her Instagram and be blown away by the awesome!

An old favorite of mine, which I come back to time and again, is the young abstract painter, Aelita Andre, who I first saw videos of as a tiny girl in a splattered tutu standing on a canvas at least four times bigger than her as her parents watched her paint (as they are both artists themselves) but seeing and hearing how Aelita describes her need to paint was so moving, that I kept returning to the films, watching her art develop as she grew from age 4. She paints by dancing, clapping her hands, spraying paint and glitter over doll faces and toys. "I love painting," she says, "I am going to paint for twenty-four hours" and "I will dance and dance!" And she does.

And then, of course, there is my own little girl whom a friend dubbed "the Pigtailed Overlord" and it stuck. While I manage to squirrel away some of her quotes on my Twitter, 140 characters utterly fails to capture the awesome that is this kid. Allow me to share an example: somewhere in preschool, my daughter managed to lock onto the fact that hand washing was supposed to kill germs and keep her body healthy. She came home wanting to know what germs looked like and what is in our body that fights them off. My husband showed her a YouTube video of a white blood cell eating a macrophage. I got her some Magic School Bus books and videos. Something clicked in that little brain and she *ran with it* inhaling anything having to do with the human body, specifically the immune system, more specifically the lymphatic system and auto-immune diseases. She became fascinated and furious about Hepatitis C, AIDS and MRSA. She wanted to do nothing more than go to the Science Center or see the Bodies Revealed exhibit, even as a wee thing. Grandpa helped build a lab in her basement. We brought her out of state to hands-on science labs. She'd fall asleep reading The Human Body Encyclopedia in bed. She began asking for Giant Microbe plushies for her birthday. (No joke, her bed is festooned with these things and looks like a darling biohazard state of emergency.)

Sarah the scientist

One day I was cleaning (I know--most likely I was avoiding some tough scene in a book) when she indignantly waved the Lysol can in front of me with a scowl on her face.

"It's wrong!" she cried.
"What?" I asked innocently from my dust-smeared crouch on the floor.
"This says that [X] is a bacteria, but it's a VIRUS!" (Honestly, I can't remember which one it was, but she was really upset about it. Her pigtails were in a twist.)
"Let's go check," I said and left the floor half-finished, opened up my computer and we Googled it. She was right.
"Well," said I, reasonably. "Why don't you write and tell them?" I clicked open, went to the Contact page and invited her to write and explain what was wrong, which she did, hunting and pecking keys with her two forefingers. When she was done, I added a little note at the end that the following was written by a six year old and that I was her mother and trying to support her interest in the sciences and if they knew of any resources, I'd greatly appreciate them! We pushed send. I gave her ice cream.

Okay, so they didn't write back, but 1-2 years later as I was cleaning again (see: most likely avoiding something else), the Pigtailed Overlord ran up to me again, this time beaming triumphant.

"I was RIGHT! They changed it! See?"

And, in fact, the error had been corrected. I can't say that it was her who did it, but you never know. And the fact that she saw herself as capable of making changes in the world around her was not a bad thing...although it inspired her to try and make a "super bug" for her science fair project that year and I had to explain that it's not nice to create potentially hazardous biological terrorist organisms and that she should always use her powers for good. She said, "Yes, Mommy" quite contritely and then asked if we could bake oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I considered it a fair compromise.

Honestly, thank goodness for little girls!

Announcements, News & General WOO HOO!

Last night, it became officially official: The secret's out! Now I can *finally* tell people what I have been bursting to shout from the rooftops since, oh, before Thanksgiving:

The Twixt is now a SERIES!

Colbert gif

Snagged and bragged from Publisher's Weekly:

"Natashya Wilson at Harlequin Teen has bought INVIOLATE and INVINCIBLE by Dawn Metcalf, the third and fourth titles in the Twixt series for teens. The books will continue the story of a girl who is accidentally marked by a mysterious boy to whom she becomes indelibly bound, finding herself caught between the world of the Folk and the world of humans. Publication is scheduled for summer 2015 and summer 2016; Sarah Davies of the Greenhouse Literary Agency brokered the deal for world rights."

Now, if you read that right (go on--read it again! I did!) you will notice a second bit of news tucked amongst its giddiness; namely that I have a new agent. I am now represented by Sarah Davies of Greenhouse Literary Agency! This is also a new change that I have been keeping under my hat, fluffed and preened, until such time as that became officially official and I could share that, too. Having thus reconnected with Sarah and finding that we still admired one another's work after 4+ years, it was a meeting of the minds that soon became a meeting of the persons as she told me that the agency's client retreat was taking place in 1.5 weeks in Orlando, Florida. Continuing my tradition of last-minute career opportunities of the "why wait?" variety, I dropped everything with the support of my family and flew down to meet, well, everybody!

Disclaimer: this folder could not contain all the awesome that happened this weekend.

So I went to the writer's retreat in Orlando this past weekend where I got to hang out with 40+ Greenhouse clients and meet friends, old and new, including some Tenners, Elevensies, Gothic Girls and lots of cool new people--not the least of whom were Sarah Davies, fellow agents John Cusick and Polly Nolan, and foreign rights maven, Allison Hellegers--to share coffee, anecdotes, thought-provoking discussion and inspirational laughs as we studiously ignored the cold and overcast rain preventing us from descending on the Disney Parks like a crazed horde until the very end of our stay, where most people still opted for Universal Studios and Harry Potter World. Still, it was *way* more entertaining than staying in Connecticut (nothing against you guys). The highlight may have been the "Greenhouse Got Talent" show where I got to whistle and hum at the same time (as well as do karate) but was completely blown away by musical numbers, a Mr. Rogers spoof, and a throwing knife bait-and-switch. It was quite an evening!

Now, this is not to say that this hiatus has been all roses and song. (Well, actually the weekend was all roses and song...but I digress.) The intervening few months have brought their own heartbreak (as well as foot-break as I managed, after my last brilliant injurious debacle, to trip on a stair resulting in a sprain, a strain, a hairline fracture and a lovely set of crutches to go with a boot cast), including having a big WIP project fall through, switching agents, having a cancer scare (no worries: all is well) and discovering that my next book, INVISIBLE, would be pushed back almost six months until September, 2014.

I know, I know.

But, seriously, you will thank me for this. Don't worry--the book is finished, edited and nestled happily in the hands of my lovely editor and the Harlequin Dream Team, but it needs time to be dressed properly for its debut into the limelight. (INDELIBLE is a tough act to follow! Did you see that cover?!? Sibling envy is hardest on the parents...)

Indelible hi-rez cover
Imagine something almost, but not quite, entirely unlike this, but just as cool.

So when I have news about cover reveals, upcoming events, sneak peek tidbits, excerpts, exclusive content and contests, I'll be announcing them with some extra fun things to help tides readers over until the new launch date. Trust me, this will *totally* be worth it!

And I'm already writing Book 3 and laughing myself sick.

Happy New Year & A Happy Accident

I'm interrupting my self-imposed hiatus of silence to bring you a Happy New Year anecdote as a writer, a reader and a friend. This winter break I got to go to my Chicago hometown and laze about with my ladies in the family while enjoying food, friends, the city and the arts. Along with this was a luxuriant dive into my TBR pile that has been sorely neglected as I attempt to double my normal daily word count upon my return. That said, what I discovered was something that I call a Happy Accident.*

One of the greatest gifts of going to big book conferences is meeting fans and fellow authors. Another one is getting a ton of good books! Of course, it takes time to get around to devouring all of these good books and so I was thrilled to finally be getting a chance to dive into a long-awaited pile. One of the book covers that had snagged my interest was this one:

Accident Cover

As a fan of twisted fairy tales and snarky takes on old tropes, I was curious about what I'd find in store. But as I started reading, I realized I had a thought-provoking introduction about the nature of what it means to be a teacher. (As a sympathetic reader, the message resonated but as former teacher, I realized that I recognized the poem as "What Teachers Make.") Confused, I flipped back to the cover again. Then checked the inside flap. No, this was supposed to be a bunch of amusing, satirical short stories written by Tim Manley. Curious, I removed the cover and this is what I saw:

Accident Spine

It was the much-hailed book I'd heard of but never got around to reading, the musings--both poignant and poetic--of educator-activist-poet, Taylor Mali. How one book managed to get wrapped in the other's cover, I don't know, but I happily devoured the book I had in hand rather than mourn the one I did not. It was startling and touching and everything I'd hoped it would be back when this book had originally been on my radar and then been forgotten in all the Day to Day. Hence, my Happy Accident.

But it got me thinking about "judging a book by its cover" and the nature of surprise and the thrill of the Happy Accident. What if I could share that feeling of discovering a good book right in your hand? What if it could be like the brown paper project done by Webster Library? (Full story here.) What could we learn if we were tricked to go out of our usual reading/writing comfort zones and venture beyond our well-trodden paths? Would we be like Shel Silverstein and fall off the end of the sidewalk or be like Robert Frost and be profoundly changed from that point forward?

It's something to think about. And now I'm thinking...

Slightly NSFW but definitely Safe For Schools

* Most of my accidents tend to be UNhappy, usually of the injurious variety, so I savor that which doesn't attempt to kill me or make me stronger.