October 26, 2015

Surprise! Cover Reveal for HEARTLESS!

Dude. You guys. I know I've been quiet for a while, but man, do I have news today!

I HAVE THE OFFICIAL COVER FOR HEARTLESS!! Yes, my first YA horror novel, aka the re-package/re-vamp of my old, dear friend JO, officially has its cover! I'm so excited to share it with you!

But first, I have to say some amazing things about both my publisher and the incredible artist behind this cover. So...to get to the actual cover, you can scroll down, but really, I'd love it if you read what I'm going to say. 

First. My publisher. When Jason Pinter at Polis Books told me he wanted to publish HEARTLESS, I was so thrilled. To take a chance on me, when he's publishing amazing books from incredible authors around the world? Could it really be true?

It was. 

And then, when he told me he wanted custom art work for the hardback cover?  Yeah. I almost died. I probably cried. This opportunity is perhaps the most exciting thing to ever happen to me (marriage and child aside, of course), and I'd be completely remiss if I didn't express my gratitude at least a hundred more times.

I. Am. So. Grateful. 

Thank you, Jason!

Now. For the cover art. That custom cover designed by a renowned tattoo artist because super cool aesthetics. Yeah. That one.

For a long time I didn't know the name of my cover artist. I only saw drafts, sketches, of a human heart made of nuts and bolts and stitched together with long and winding thread. It was cool. Steampunk.

Perfect for my Frankenstein-girl, Jolene Hall.

Future drafts that included color blew me away. Seriously. Though they were top secret, I'd sneakily show them to my husband, my parents, my child. We all agreed - they were amazing!!! So from there, it was only tweaks, minor changes...and we wound up with...

Well, first I have to tell you who the artist is, of course!! I only found out today! She's a tattoo artist, painter, and muralist based in Staten Island named Magie Serpica. Her studio is Milk & Honey Tattoo Parlour, and if you're in the area, you should definitely give her your business. Trust me. Next time I'm in NJ, I'm taking a pilgrimage across the river to meet Magie, and to get this heart tattooed on me somewhere! Because I HAVE TO! 

Okay. Are you ready to see it? I know I'm ready to show you! 



Sorry for the all caps. I'm SUPER pumped right now, in case you couldn't tell. I never in my life dreamed of having a cover like this!! It's gorgeous! Magie, I can't thank YOU enough, either! Whew! This is incredible!

If the cover has you convinced, check out the link on Amazon, where HEARTLESS is available to pre-order! The release date is May 10, 2016, in ebook and hard cover.  WHAT??????

Seriously, you guys. I can't wait to hold this book in my hands!! I hope you feel the same! And tell me what you think of the cover! I'm dying to hear!!!!!!

June 19, 2015

Charleston Strong, Indeed

The events at Emanuel AME Church on the night of June 17 are undeniably horrific. They are undeniably sad. Undeniably terrifying. Undeniably wrong.

Yesterday morning as I awoke and as the reality of the situation (which happened less than 12 miles from my home in the Charleston suburbs) set in, I changed my profile picture on Facebook to a photo of the Ravenel Bridge (a landmark here in the city) with the hashtag, #PrayForCharleston, etched across the bottom.

It seemed right.

Today, I wonder if maybe, I didn't get it wrong.

Today, I think, perhaps, I'd have done better to have chosen a photo inscribed with the hashtag, #CharlestonStrong.

Around the country, all across the media and the Facebooks and the everywheres, the news of the slaughter of nine innocent people in their sacred place of worship has been met with rage. With vitriol.

And with all the hateful rhetoric that is ripping this country apart.

I get it. I do. I shared Jon Stewart's poignant remarks because I believe they're spot-on, and I believe wholeheartedly that there is a gaping racial divide in this country that we have not yet begun to heal.


And this is a big BUT!!

Here in Charleston, in the posts from my local friends and acquaintances, and the reposts from local religious figures and random people I don't even know...do you know what I'm reading?

I'm not reading rage. I'm not seeing riots.

I'm reading love.

I'm reading support.

I'm reading posts about where to donate to help the families of the victims.

I'm reading posts about the long, dignified, inspiring history of Emanuel AME Church. 

And I'm seeing pictures of diverse groups of people, joined together in mourning, and joined together in love.

Look. I get it. There is so much wrong with what happened. There's so much wrong in a city where I have to run less than two miles to see a house flying a Confederate flag, or where streets are named for slave owners. I get it. There's much to rage against.

But the people of this city reject the rage. We reject the hate.

And while the rest of the country may see this rejection as a blind acceptance of "the way things are" and "the way they always will be," I think it's the opposite. 

As I read posts lauding the church, the victims, the peaceful, heartbroken gatherings of our city's people, I don't read acceptance. Instead, I read about a city standing up together, defiant. Defiant of the hate. Defiant of the rage. Defiant of everything that tears us down. For it was hate that drove the boy to become a terrorist on Wednesday night. It was hate that made him kill.

And we want to break the cycle of hate.

Perhaps our defiance is quiet. Perhaps it's not great for the 24-hour news cycle.

But dammit if it's not the best sort of defiance this is.

Listen. You. Those of you around the country turning as always to rage: we don't want it. Rage only feeds the flames of hate, and it's hate that's destroying the things we hold most dear. It was hate that ended those nine innocent lives.

And look. You. Here's the other thing. We don't even want you to pray for us. Because, you see, we're praying, too. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Atheists, Agnostics...the people of this city are all praying. We're praying for love. For strength. For understanding. And we want you to pray with us. We want you to stand with us: in love, in memorial, and in the strong and steady defiance of the rage.

You, too, can be #CharlestonStrong.

That's what I'm going to try to be. 

Next week, when the media circus has hopefully lowered their tents and headed for home, I plan totake my daughter to the Emanuel AME Church to lay flowers at the memorial. I plan to tell her: Be brave, Zoe. Be loving. Be kind. Reject hate and anger and rage. And above all, be #CharlestonStrong.

June 2, 2015

Call her Caitlyn, but don't forget to help

It's no secret that I support the LGBT community. I believe in equal rights, equal marriage, all of it. I believe people are people, regardless of their gender, sexuality, color, religion, etc. For me, it truly is that simple.

But I've been surprised at myself this week. Amid the gorgeous public display of affection for the newly revealed Caitlyn Jenner, I've felt...quiet. Introverted. For once in my life I've not been shouting from the rooftops in support of this fabulous new transgender woman.

I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm aware that her transition has been so amazing because she has the money, the means, for all the surgeries and the hormones and the supportive care. Maybe it's because I know so many more transgender people don't have those things. Instead they set up GoFundMe campaigns, or save their pennies for decades. Many trans people remain locked in their bodies through thick and thin, simply for a lack of funding to make the necessary change. Maybe that's what has me quiet...thinking of them.

Or maybe it's the support Caitlyn's receiving from her family and friends that has me pausing. Maybe it's because I know so many other families don't support their transitioning parents or siblings or children. Maybe her support has made me remember other people's lack thereof. 

Or maybe I've been quiet because the transition of a single person affected my life in such a profoundly incredible way that sometimes....even all these years later...I still can't talk about it. (Only sometimes...other times I need to talk about it, to wrap my head around it, to play the pronoun game, if only for a little while...)

But maybe I really know, without even thinking about it, why I've been quiet this week. Maybe it's because, somehow, Caitlyn's very public transition makes me remember too much. It makes me remember that there was once a doctor who told a person I loved that, if they were to transition, they would need to cut ties with everyone who'd known them before.

Everyone including me.

Sometimes, the idea that this could have happened, that someone I love could have been taken away from me simply because one doctor had bad data....well, it makes me nauseous.



There's still too much ignorance out there. Too much misinformation. Too many people not getting the help they need, and too many families suffering.

I'm really thrilled Caitlyn came out and set such a beautiful and public example for transgender people. 

Now I hope we can piggyback on her success, and help others in need. The Sylvia Rivera Law Project is an organization that does just that. Maybe, if you're one of Caitlyn Jenner's supporters, you might consider hopping over to the SRLP site and making a donation. Let's do something to help people like Caitlyn Jenner, albeit the ones without money and power and reality TV, to finally find comfort within their own skins. Everyone deserves at least that much. Don't you think?

I  know I do.

So please. Please help. If you don't like this organization, go find another one. There are plenty of people working to help the LGBT community. You can, too. 

And keep supporting Caitlyn. From everything I've seen, she's just now, for the first time in her life, stepping out of the darkness....and she'll need all the love she can get to learn how to walk in the sun. Good luck, Caitlyn, and best wishes to you and your family.

May 26, 2015

So long, JO! Helloooooooo, HEARTLESS!!!!!

You guys. I have news.

Exciting news.

News that made me...well, more on that in a sec....

So. Remember my JO? The fun little book I self-published last fall? The one about the girl who's turned into a monster a la Frankenstein?

Well, I'm super excited to say that, almost a year after that fun, quiet little book launch, Jason Pinter at Polis Books has discovered JO, and he wants to take her, give her a facelift, and re-publish her as a bona fide YA novel!! 

So yes!!!! I've officially sold JO!!! And she already has a new title and everything!

So everybody! Meet HEARTLESS...

(Click the image to make it big enough to read...)

Yes. That's MY NAME in PUBLISHER'S MARKETPLACE!!!! A place I never thought my name would be!! The place where ALL book deals get written up! This means I have a book deal!!

You guys...when I tell you I cried when I received this offer, I'd be telling the truth. If I told you I ugly cried, scaring the daylights out of Charles when I came downstairs, all choking and sputtering....well, I'd still be telling the truth.

I'm THAT excited about this.

So what does this really mean?

As of today, JO is no longer available for sale at any online outlets. If you've already bought a copy of the paperback, keep it...maybe one day it'll be a collector's item (hahaha).

Over the next year, Jason and I will re-edit the story. We're going to make sure it's appropriate for YA (young adult) audiences, but still keep the heart and soul of the story. He's going to find it a new cover, a new interior design. And then, next summer, we'll re-launch HEARTLESS upon the world! 

I'm thrilled to be working with Jason and Polis. They're a small press doing amazingly big things. My pal Rob Hart is releasing his debut novel, NEW YORKED, with them next month, and the PR and marketing and distribution he's received has been nothing short of remarkable. I can't wait to see what we can do with HEARTLESS!

I am so very excited to see where this new path in my publishing career takes me. Keeping this secret has been tough. But now it's officially out in the world, and I can't wait to see where we go from here!

Thanks to everyone for all your support in the past, and I hope I can count on you to help me spread the word about HEARTLESS in the future!!


May 12, 2015

Birthdays Everywhere!!!

Y'all. Today is my daughter's seventh birthday. Seven. She's not a little kid anymore - she's a full-blown, dirt-loving, soccer-goalie, swim-team, big kid!

I'm still struggling to wrap my head around how to continue to raise a cool, confident, independent girl in a world in which she's constantly bombarded by heavily photoshopped images of babes in bathing suits with big boobs and perfect abs. I'm still struggling to figure out how to keep her loving superheroes when the lone woman in the Avengers is dumbed down in Age of Ultron and erased from the very toys in which she should star.

No matter.

Sam Maggs (of The Mary Sue fame) is here to save the day!!! Dun da da duuunnn!!

Her book, The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy, releases today!! So not only is it Zoe's birthday, but it's Fangirl's book birthday as well!

What a great day to celebrate!

This is a book I've been waiting for since I first saw this poster online. I emailed my friend Eric at Quirk Books, begging for a copy. He sent me three. One is hanging on Zoe's bedroom door, and the others have been given to other little girls who needed a fangirl edge.

And I LOVE IT!!! I love everything about it! It's a way to remind Zoe that all the things she loves (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Eragon, and even the dreadful Monster High) are things she's allowed to love, encouraged to love, and the hell with anyone who tells her otherwise. It's a way to remind her that it's cool to be smart, that it's cool to be tough, and that there are other, amazing women in the world, trying to pave the way for her.

The book is an expansion of the poster, providing definitions of geek-girl terms (I didn't know what an OTP or NOTP was until I read the book - thanks, Sam Maggs!!), insight into the different fandoms, and all kinds of other fun info. 

I love this book. I love everything about it: its sense of humor, its kitschy style, the brightly colored illustrations. 


Everyone with a fangirl should own this book. Me? I'm saving my copy for Zoe, but I think I'll also send a copy to my niece. She's fifteen and a fangirl of epic proportions, and I couldn't be prouder. 

I love these fangirls of mine, and I love this book. Happy book birthday, Sam Maggs, and happy seventh birthday to my Zoe!!!