Three Ways Critique Partners Are Unicorns

There are so many articles and blog posts out there detailing the publishing road, it’s various ups and downs, twists and turns, plummets into deep holes of revision malaise and rejection induced cookie-binges. But tucked into those stories of woe and perseverance, are characters many of you will recognize.

Critique Partner(s): an enchanted creature one meets on their journey to publication endowed with the magical power to inspire, encourage and enrich the writers quest.

But in order to gain the magical being Critique Partner on your journey, you must first be able to recognize the value of honest, thoughtful, layered critique— both how to give it and how to receive it.

My first experience with critique was actually a literary agent that I met at my local city park in Brooklyn, NY. Looking back, I recognize the disaster that could have transpired. She was a pro, I very much was not. But this agent — who quickly became one of my close friends in the City— offered to read my manuscript and give me feedback. It helped that she didn’t represent my genre, and that we had met wearing our mom and people hats, not writer and agent name badges. It helped that she was gentle. With her feedback and encouragement, I revised, I revised, I got very close to getting agented with that manuscript. Without her feedback, I would have hit send too soon. I would have done all the wrong things.

Unlike Unicorn Critique Partners, my agent friend felt more like a fairy godmother. She taught me industry protocol. She taught me about critique. She sent me into the world to find my own heard of magical beasts.

Critique Partners believe when you can’t.

Last year I hit a rough patch in my writing journey. I wrote about it extensively on my blog, which is the equivalent of screaming into a pillow at the top of your lungs. Cathartic, but ultimately useless. I had experienced the ugliness of the query trenches. I’d been rejected, I’d been hopeful, I’d been the recipient of the form letter and the thoughtful rejection. It had taken it’s toll on my creative well. I desperately wanted to give up. I couldn’t face my manuscript, let alone stomach doing another revision or sending another query letter.

In swooped critique partners, rainbow tails swinging, hooves of faith clomping.

I am part of a big tribe of young adult writers, so I want to stress that this sense of community and magic is not limited to the writers I count as critique partners. But when doubt creeps in, the best defense is a person that has read your book and believes in it. My critique partners were unrelenting in their support that someday, somehow, this thing would find an agent, a home.


Countless emails. Countless texts and Facebook chats. Many days of me veering off course, detouring and wandering and spazzing. They still encouraged me to go back to the story. To give it another chance.

When I was finally ready to revise again, they were there to encourage and advise. They cheered for the story. They told me they never doubted me.

But I did doubt. I wasn’t as certain as I needed to be. Anyone that has endured rejection will understand my behavior. I was inclined to believe the many no’s. I actually think, maybe, I had to believe it for a while to find my way back to my story. But without the faith and insistence of my Unicorns, this little writer would have never found her path because she would have given up.

Critique Partners don’t belittle the struggle. 

Something that becomes increasingly clear the longer I pursue publication is this: the loneliness is real.

The journey to a book in hand, while something many writers will one day likely take with varying results, is ultimately still not a well understood process to those not in the midst of it. For the first few years of mine, I knew a grand total of two people that understood the arduous task of trying to get published.

I count two separate but equally significant plot points in my own writing saga as the game changers for me.

  1. Befriending a local author— Over three years ago Lindsay Cummings followed me on Twitter. At the time, I was still living in Brooklyn. When we decided to move back to Texas, I direct messaged Lindsay and asked to meet up for coffee. This was a gamble for both of us, and after Lindsay researched me online to make sure I was a legitimate  human writer, we met up for dinner. Not only did she become one of my best friends in real life, but she became my ally in the book world. She read, critiqued and loved my writing. She helped me meet other writers in our area. She helped me not feel so alone.
  2. Taking a writing workshop online — I signed up for an online class taught by Nova Ren Suma. Not only did I gain an incredible advocate and teacher (and now, friend) in Nova, but through her class I connected with five of my critique partners. After class, we embarked on the organic process of emailing each other pages and tentatively giving feedback, then more boldly responding, asking for help and thoughts on more than just pages, but idea seeds and life twists, until we found a rhythm unique to our tribe and needs. These writers have become some of my favorite humans.

On the writing journey, critique is the key to support.

Through critique, I found people capable of walking through this with me. We’ve lived in the trenches together. We understand the sting of rejection and the swell of pride that comes with a request, a yes, that phone call that leads to an agent…or doesn’t. That moment when you have to start over, go back in, move on. And we know that the pain from the publishing journey hurts just as real as other pain, can cause just as many problems as marital issues or job hell, and is not for the faint of heart.

Critique Partners make you better.

Words are hard. Writing is bad, and then it’s a little less bad, and then a little less, and every time you chip away a layer of bad the promise of beautiful begins to emerge. There is only so far you can take your own words. No matter how skilled, critique is often the key to making a decent story great, finding plotholes, worldbuilding issues, character development flaws, and so on. Without clever eyes on your work, you must rely of your own mind. The closer you get to a particular story, the harder it gets to see the issues as they arise.

Getting a good group of readers that you can turn to at different stages in revision to help you clarify, hone, polish and shine, is an important step in preparing your manuscript for query, and later, publication. I am a firm believer that reader feedback should be taken seriously. Yes, this is your story, but at some point it needs to make sense to the rest of the world.

Critique partners can come in and unicorn-horn slice through the crappy words in your manuscript better than you. Then, they come back to you with ways to improve, with glowing praise and passion, and it’s often the push back into the story that you need.

Every time I’ve felt lost in a work in progress, I’ve emailed one of my critique partners with pages or plans or scene ideas, and they’ve helped me find my way.

Find your unicorns and hold them tight. Stroke their mane and give them sugar. They are invaluable to the quest!

If you’re not sure how to go about doing that, some of my critique partners and I have decided to pay back the writing community that helped us find each other. We’ll be hosting a live critique workshop called Manuscript Crit-Chat, scheduled to take off this fall. Whether you’ve been critiqued before and want a new set of eyes on your pages, or you’ve never been critiqued, but want to get your feet wet, we want to give a taste of the magic. Over the next month we’ll be revealing more info, so stay informed by following us on social media. We can’t wait to meet you and have you join our tribe!


To engage with the Manuscript Crit-Chat gals:

Facebook :: Instagram :: Twitter

To Tweet at the individual masterminds behind all the fun:

Susan Bishop Crispell :: Courtney Leigh :: Jessica Fonseca :: Rebekah Faubion 

And do check out Courtney and Jessica’s posts on their personal blogs!

4 Reasons Why Critique Partners Saved My Writing Life

Five Reasons Every Writer NEEDS a Critique Group





A Love Letter to Girl in Pieces

If you follow my blog, you will know I do not regularly do book reviews. For that, I use Goodreads, Amazon and Barnes and Noble because leaving a review on one of those sites for a book you love helps the author of that book immensely.

When I do talk about a book on my blog, it means that book has hooked me in the heart. It will not be reviewed so much as emoted about.

First, the description:

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people do in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you. 

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge. 

A deeply moving portrait of a girl in a world that owes her nothing, and has taken so much, and the journey she undergoes to put herself back together. Kathleen Glasgow’s debut is heartbreakingly real and unflinchingly honest. It’s a story you won’t be able to look away from.

Kathleen Glasgow, the author of Girl in Pieces, and I are friends on Facebook. We have never met in real life, but after reading this book I feel like a tiny piece of her soul now resides in me. This book is deeply personal, for the writer to share with the world, for the reader to experience through the text. This is a book you will likely not find easy to get through, and when you finish you will not quickly forget or move on from.

Kathleen sent me the ARC (which stands for Advanced Reader Copy) because we’re both authors in the YA community, and because I stalked her Facebook when she was giving them out for review.


I started it immediately, wanting to read and get my thoughts out on the internet to best help promote the book. About sixty pages in, I abandoned my plan. There were times when I could only read three or four pages in a sitting because it was making me feel feel feel. It became clear that this book was not junk food. This was not a speed read. This was a book you experienced, sometimes in public— while waiting for a movie, while ignoring family members at meals, while sitting by a pool — and sometimes only in the dim quiet of your bedroom, surrounded by blankets to ease the pain.

Not everyone will feel what I felt for Charlie. To some, her journey will be compelling, but completely other from their own experience. But anyone that has ever experienced deep, confusing self-harm —for whatever reason, in whatever walk of life — will be able to see a little of themselves in Charlie.

By nature I like to maintain control. By hard work, years of discipline, lots of good loving and growing up, I have learned how to let go. As a teenager I was still learning how to exist in the world at all. As a teenager, I was overtaken daily by fear. It became unmanageable and impossible to maintain, so I restricted. I built walls around myself. I ate only candy some days. Tuna others. Often, pickles and sugar-free jello were my only reward for a day in the world. I shrank down, and eventually, I became a whiff of my former self. This action was accompanied by all manner of obsessive compulsive behavior, and followed by many years of retraining my mind and body to live in the stupid, big, uncontrolled world I had been born into.

Charlie cuts. She cuts away the pain. She cuts away the lack of power she has over her life. Reading about her journey as an adult I felt so thankful to Kathleen for writing this book for young women, boys…grown-girls still lost in this. When you are trapped in this kind of pattern, sometimes it feels like you aren’t seen. That people are looking away from your pain, unable to deal, too busy, too something. I know that because I felt it at times, even though everyone saw, everyone knew, and I was surrounded by people who wanted to help dig me out.

Girl in Pieces sees all the crooked edges and works to make them safe. It is a voice to this silent scream. It is a conversation starter.

There is no glory or beauty in Charlie’s scars, and the author does not make light of the very dark and dangerous path self-harm can lead to. But this is Charlie’s journey to learning to love herself regardless of the ugly she has taken into, and cut onto, her body. It is a journey worth taking with her.

The writing is stunning. It moves along the page like notes of music from an instrument. There is color and life swirled in with the pain. Funny, honest, thoughtful moments that make the story feel like looking in on a real life. There’s rough romance, and some language even a sailor might blush at, and somewhere in there I went from being certain this was a story about every other kind of pain than my own, to knowing this was a story about all pain and how there is always a way through it without hurting yourself or someone else.

I cried. I finished the book on the couch while my son watched Teen Titans. I had to get up from my spot and walk away, close the bathroom door, sob on the edge of the tub. I hugged the book to my body. I consider it one of the best I’ve read this year, and an important book, one that should be read, and praised, and shared.

Here is a link to pre-order Girl in Pieces, so that you might experience something truly fucking angelic.*


*You’ll understand once you’ve read. And you’ll love it.



When I learned the meaning of “mass shooting”



My son: Why are you crying, Mommy?

Me: Because of all the shootings. There was another one last night.

My son looks at me with confusion.

My husband: Do you know what a shooting is?

My son: No.

My son is growing up in a world where this is normal, but until today the word “shooting” remained undefined for him.

I remember when I learned what a “mass shooting” was. I was fourteen-years-old and I lived in Monument, Colorado. I had gone to algebra class like I was supposed to, but my teacher, a frizzy redhead with no love for me, hadn’t showed. The class was getting restless, and no one knew if we were supposed to sit around waiting for her or call the office, mutiny or follow orders. There was a window in the classroom that lead out onto a courtyard. From there, I could look into the teacher’s lounge. They all wanted me to climb out and go see if she was still in there, just sitting around, getting drunk on her break. We wondered if this was some experiment the faculty was conducting, seeing how long we would take to react, would be behave. These were the expectations we had, a bunch of kids with no real experience in the world.

I unlatched the window to climb out, and just as the crook of my knee curled around the edge of the windowsill, a voice came on the intercom calling me down to the office and ordering me to bring my backpack.

I was certain they’d seen me on some camera they had in the classroom and I was done for.

When I arrived at the office, instead of my teacher or the assistant principal, I found my Dad standing in front of the window, running his hands through his silver hair.

“I was just messing ar—” I started.

My dad turned, his face red, his icy blue eyes shiny. “There’s been a mass shooting.”

Mass shooting.

“What do you mean?”

“There is a school up the road, not far, in Columbine. Someone opened fire in the classroom.” My dad swallowed hard. “I’m taking you home.”

At that time, no one knew if the shooter was on a rampage, if there were other shooters in the area making teenagers with backpacks their targets. But my father knew one thing: this is too close, I’m taking you to safety.

I learned something else that day, besides the meaning of “mass shooting”. I learned that even if my father took me away from the violence, he couldn’t prevent me from experiencing the terror of it. There was, never again, a day that I woke without the knowledge that if someone is hurt, angry, hate filled and they have access to a gun, they can kill without mercy.

I was a reader. I understood societal violence from books. At fourteen, I was obsessed with the Holocaust, consumed by the reality that one man filled with prejudice could rally an army to brutally murder the people group he despised. I was even more obsessed with the thought that he was defeated, in the end, by his own hatred of himself, because he was a coward, and hatred will only lead to death.

At fourteen, I watched as hate and sadness consumed two teenagers and others were the victims. Now, murderous hate was no longer an abstract concept. It was right down the street from me. Not multiple generations in the past. Not a world away in Europe.

My son watched me cry this morning. My son got an explanation for why. My son will be raised in a world where shootings have become almost commonplace, but my son has so far been sheltered from the violence of it.

My son: Mommy, is Dallas far away or close?

Me: Dallas is thirty minutes from us.

And I cried again. I cried as I had to explain why the cops in Dallas were killed. I cried as I told him about the events in Louisiana, in Minnesota. I spared him details, a gift I can still give him as his mother. A gift like my father gave me.

My father couldn’t prevent the violence from happening, but when he picked me up from school the day of the Columbine shooting he shielded me from that unknown danger, the fear of hate. He told me, later, when the details came out about the shooters, that I wasn’t ever in danger, not really. He wanted me to feel safe again.

But the thing was, and I knew it then, in my own school there were kids living at the edge, hurting and hating and angry. I knew that I was always in danger, every time I walked out the door to go to school because now none of us were safe. Now, my world had been changed. We had seen something we’d never seen before, and we knew it was real.

Hate is like a flame. It burns through everything else until all that remains is a pit that cannot be filled with anything but violence. Hate is an idea that turns into a movement. Hate is words spoken that cannot be taken back. Hate is blame. Hate is assumed superiority. Hate is the little thought in the back of your mind that designates what is other.

Hate is what happened in Dallas. In Louisiana. In Minnesota. At Sandy Hook. At Columbine. On September 11th. In Orlando. In South Carolina. In San Bernadino. In Paris. In Istanbul. In Israel for generations. All over the world for as long as humans have walked it.

It is not enough to talk about Love, the abstract concept. I sit here crying, and it isn’t because I personally knew the people killed by this violence. It is because my heart swells with love for my son, my state, my country, my world. It is me feeling the pain all at once, all through my body, and not shutting it down. It is longing to hold those hurting close just like I held my son close as I cried.

It is NOT longing for a better world. I have lived in this world, this version, most of my life. This is the world I have been given. This is the world I must love. This is the world I must try to be a voice in, a light in, a willing heart in. This is my son’s world. And wishing it was different will not make it so.

BEING different in it is my only defense. Teaching my son to be different is my only safeguard. Writing my passion onto the page in the hope it will touch someone’s heart, make them soften, give them hope, is my action for change.

No one wins if we will not allow our own hearts to be changed first. If we cannot see every single human— even the ones voting for a candidate you hate, or living a lifestyle you disapprove of, or not doing whatever you think they should and therefor not doing enough– as equal and valuable and worthy of love. Right now, we are not winning. Not one side or the other. There may never be a point in our lifetime that we do win.

The best we can hope for is this: a willing heart hearing a cry for understanding. Someone else, and ourselves, our children and their friends reaching out to say I don’t know the answer, but let me hold your hand, let me cry with you, let me be with you, let me fight with you.

 Let me really, actively, without condemnation or hate, without condition, LOVE you.

Game of Thrones: The Door and Thoughts

Warning! Warning! This post is full of spoilers and thoughts and conjecture.




There I have warned you.


I have a complicated relationship with Game of Thrones. It has been this way since I first binge watched it years ago. I love Jon Snow with the fire of a thousand suns. Daenerys is my home girl. I have been on Sansa’s side for longer than most because I’m a girl often underestimated, too. Arya is a badass I could totally hang with. Tyrion is my drinking buddy. I get irritated when the showrunners resort to sensationalism. That whole “Jon Snow is dead” thing, yeah, I was not okay and it is still not okay even though he’s back.

My trust is broken. My devotion still very real.

I came to GRRM’s world through the show, and even once I read the books the show was my first affection. I never transferred my affections to the books in the same way those who started with the books first like to lord that over our heads.

There is more than one way to be a fan.

The cannon of the show and the cannon of the books are two different beasts. For many seasons the show has diverged and meandered and omitted vast plot elements from the book series. They are not separate beings, but we need to stop making allowances for the show based on what has happened in the books. We have left book territory.

So for the purposes of this blog post, I am not taking into account the cannon as established by GRRM. I speak of show cannon and worldbuilding, and what framework has been created by the showrunners for the finale of this series.

Warg Magic: a study in sloppy world building

Y’all, don’t get grumpy because I sound critical. See above swoonage.

In A Song of Fire and Ice warg magic is explored not only through Bran’s storyline, but through Arya and Jon. In Game of Thrones, we are mostly limited to exploring the warg magic, and it’s boundaries and limitations, through Bran, with the help of Jojen and the Three Eyed Raven. Because of the commercial pacing of the franchise, the length of episodes, and cost of production, trying to fit complicated worldbuilding into fragmented segments of TV can often result in gaps.


Add in the fact that Bran was missing for the entirety of season 5, and we have a recipe for worldbuilding tomfoolery. This season of Game of Thrones has moved at breakneck speed — a fact I am not actually against. However, even with that pacing, for much of the season so far I have felt like the storylines were a bit limp. We have received a lot of information in a very short amount of time, and I think maybe they need to make sure someone is fact checking for them.

In the episode The Door, we are force fed two pieces of warg magic law that the TV viewer had no previous knowledge of.

Bran is touched by the White Walker dude and then apparently that means he has permission to pass through the wards in place around him.

(I don’t think they call the magical barriers wards in GoT, that is just me showing you guys how super cool I am) Is the White Walker now a vampire and this forced touch is his way of gaining permission to enter? For starters, this brings up some consent issues that Game of Thrones already gets wrong. But it is awfully convenient to the plot that this information is revealed too late, thus making the climax possible.

When worldbuilding, do not throw pertinent, potentially perspective altering information in a line of dialog right before it happens on screen/the page. It is actually possible to skillfully feather in a magical principle and still maintain dramatic tension. Throwing it at your audience (and the character), right before it is necessary is just lazy. Coming up with an active way for Bran to be touched by the White Walker even though he knows the risk would have also given him an active role in the horrific events of the climax.

Bran can warg into a body in the past. 

Bran affects the timeline through his power. Beyond that one brief second at the Tower of Joy, we had no previous clue that Bran was actually even in the literal past. To me, the visions felt very much like Harry’s trips into the pensive, which he could not alter in any way.

The revelation that he can kind of be heard is the first clue that he might actually be going into the past, though raises the question of if he is in the past what physical plane is Bran on when he is warging? It’s not the same plane as the others because they can’t see him. Is he like an apparition? Apparitions historically struggle with interacting with the physical plan. (re: All the Ghost Movies)

There is either a plothole here or they need to establish the law he uses to make this magic possible. Since it wasn’t established fully, and now the Three Eyed Raven is smokey feathers, how will they answer this question?

Though, one thing that I appreciate about this revelation is the immediate consequence to this complicated magic, which I will discuss below in more detail.

The loss of Hodor and Osha, Shaggydog and Summer

Thus far the show has done little with any of the direwolves besides Ghost. Nymeria is off gods knows where, maybe gathering an army of woodland creatures to her side, maybe dead. Summer was with Bran, but after his badass role in season one, he has largely remained in the background if he is featured at all. This feels like a missed opportunity or a budget issue. Either way, it kind of blows.

Shaggydog: They gave us his bloody head.


Summer: I don’t care for symbolism, first of all. Secondly, no. Third, Summer is a hero and a saint and though he died a heroes death it felt like little more than a budget cut. I am not pleased. Do better.

Osha: After everything she has done for the Stark family, the showrunners just decided to give her to Ramsey Bolton. To call this a waste of a good character is an understatement. Osha could have easily had a life beyond that moment, and played all kinds of games to continue to help the Stark children. But they let Ramsey kill her. RAMSEY.

Hodor: About sixty seconds before he switched from “Hold the door” to “Hodor” I threw the pillow across the room and yelled profanity because I realized what was happening.  Yet, to me, this moment was well earned. Hodor, a hero in the quietest and most valiant ways, was given the honor of a heroes death. But unlike Summer’s death, I believe Hodor came to the natural end of his character’s journey.

Worldbuilding issues aside, anger and sadness not withstanding, this was the way for him to go. It taught us something (or at the very least raised an interesting question), and though he has always been brave and well-liked, gave us one of the least senseless deaths of this series thus far.

It is painful to think about the reality they are trying to prove here: that Willis lost his mind as a child because of a battle in the future. That Bran was the cause.

Though I do wonder about the consequence of Bran having been in the mind of someone that died — since the consequence for young Willis was the loss of his mind — I can set that aside and appreciate the fact that Hodor died well — just as he lived, in the service of House Stark.

RIP Hodor. May the Lord of Light shine upon you.


Sansa giving it to Littlefinger

“I can still feel it in my body standing here right now.”

She spoke the words of a woman who had been traumatized, but never turned victim. This moment was beautiful and powerful and marred only by her later lie to Jon because it proves she still kind of trusts Littlfinger, and come on Sansa you are better than that. I cannot decide if this is a failing on the writers part, or a character weakness, and it is like.

Still, allowing her a moment to vocalize her disgust and give it a name was a stellar moment for this series. So often, they do not take the time to give enough emotional weight to the characters traumas. Yes, this is a fantasy, but one of the brilliant things fantasy can do is speak to complicated world and human issues with honesty.

I do not want to see a penis shot ever

Dear Showrunners that are Male,

Flaccid penises are not photogenic. Accept it. Move on. Please do not show them to us as an alternate to female nudity and pretend to understand feminism. We don’t want it. You do not get it. Lets agree to disagree and cut our losses.

Sincerely, Females with Eyes

Jon Snow’s Journey


I am grateful to have him back. But…

Magic always has a price. There must be a consequence that reflects the degree this magic influences the natural world. That the price is not being examined (yet) for Jon’s resurrection is a little bothersome. What was the exchange for his life? Is there no consequence because supposedly the Lord of Light brought him back? Does that mean the Lord of Light is real? Are they taking a religious stance?

This season has dealt in heavy doses of magic. Yes, Game of Thrones in a fantasy and magic has always had it’s place in the world, but less so in the TV series than in the books. If we are going by what we see on screen, then there is a lot left to be explained. Worldbuilding is tricky. And walking the line between allowing magic to turn into a plot device, a way out of sticky situations, a way to reveal information, and integrating into the plot so that it works for you and not against you is hard.

For Jon, we have seen an undercurrent of rage growing throughout this season. What that will lead to, we can only hope is his own chain breaking, heroism and the discovery of his true identity.

Final Thoughts

Euron is an idiot. Notable quotes that prove this:

Whatever he said about marrying Danaerys

That bit about his cock

When he wanted 1000 ships from like ten guys

That he will give them the world. 

Game of Thrones continues to break my heart and enrage my mind. I don’t enjoy it, but I look forward to it every week. I don’t trust the showrunners, but I continue to invest in their product.

Great storytelling is accomplished when your reader or viewer walks away from your story thinking. Game of Thrones makes me think, and dissect, and for that (and for Jon Snow) I am thankful.




An Open letter to those looking for their Momness:

There is nothing safe about motherhood. If you choose it, you will never feel peaceful again.

You may not enjoy pregnancy. You will probably have back pain and knee pain and boob pain, and at some point you will stop being able to hold it to the end of the movie. You will not like the weight you gain regardless of how good it is for the baby. You will hate your face in pictures and your pregnancy glow will actually be a sheen of sweat. Take this opportunity to eat dessert everyday. Peruse the candy aisle. Have a plate of french fries. Kale is important, but enjoy the abandon of finishing the whole milkshake. Pregnancy is about you stretching out, giving up some control on your body, and learning to tell people to back off.

You will feel pain. There is pain in labor no matter how you go about it. There is no way, actually, to give birth to a baby without it. Embrace the pain. Then defy it. Whatever you do, be you in that hospital room. You is who the baby will need. If you lose your way in there, but sure to have someone that can help you back to it.

You will feel everything. When the baby is here you will be exposed. Your body, your soul, the shortcomings you were worried about, they will be on full display. If you let that train wreck happen, you also might just win the whole world. Your baby’s whole world anyway. It is terrifying to be everything to another human being. No matter how in love you are with your significant other, you have never actually been the sun he revolves around. For this brief interlude you are the entire world for your baby. You are perfection. Accept that. Let it give you strength.


Later, when you are home, you will feel alone. It will not matter how much support is in place there will be these silent, still, shaking moments of aloneness. Of baby and only you-ness. When the sun starts to set and you realize you are going to have to face the nighttime again you will maybe freak the hell out. Do that for a few minutes because it is always better to acknowledge the fear than to ignore it. Then pull it together and go to bed as soon as you can for the night is long and full of feedings.

DSC_3813Reach out. You do not have to know what you are doing. Mom’s are not superheroes. If you find yourself in the dark, tell the truth. There might be people that judge you. Learn to tell those people where to stick their judgement.

Find a time to feel like yourself. Drink wine after a feeding while the baby sleeps. Watch trashy TV. Read read read. Nap like a cat. Take a walk. Listen to birds. Listen to yourself.

Write down how you feel. Write it out because later you will wish you had. You will think all kinds of crazy, hair-brained, brilliant and borderline insane things and the fog of two am feedings and diaper changes and trying to get the breast pump to work and I need a break and will my body ever stop looking like silly putty, is going to make you forget that you are powerful and cool and you have an idea. You will forget the love you feel later when you are fighting with them about what they’ll wear to school or eating broccoli at dinner. You will forget the bravery you showed by getting up again to swaddle and soothe when you just want to sleeeeeeep.

Write it down. All of it.

Yes, take pictures, but more importantly feel the moment with your body. Make memories and then make a photo. Be there first.DSC_4445

Hold on. Tight. Long. Forever.

Listen to your own instinct. You reserve the right to tell everyone to piss off. You get to scowl and scramble. You get to ignore every guidebook and piece of advice. This baby is yours. For a few lightning fast years, you are the moon and stars and ultimate authority. You are the chosen one. You are the beginning, the end. No single human being alive on this planet is better equipped than you to make your child’s life magical. You decide what that fairy tale looks like. It might not include Pinterest crafts or breastmilk, staying home with him, going back to work ever. You might not be the same kind of mom as yours, and that is okay.

You might try for years to have a baby, and it might never happen. It will tear you up inside. The grief will be unmatched. Your desire will feel unfulfilled. It is okay to be angry. It is okay to mute your friends with children. It is okay to let it go someday. To put that dream behind you and move on. To find peace in your journey.

You may get to an age where you know the chance to be a mom has passed you by. You may be too afraid to try. You may think you will fowl it up. You may look at the world around you and wonder why bother bringing a baby into something so completely messed up. You may feel the loss of miscarrying and everyone around you might not understand why, for you, Mother’s Day makes you want to hide.

Momness is a battle. It is waging war against the world for your child, but it also waging war against the fear inside you. Momness can mean loving a baby, but it can also mean advocating for a child that has no mom. It can mean stepping in when you see a need. It can mean listening and paying attention when you realize no one else is.


You will find your momness in moments of extraordinary bravery. Because momness isn’t just in the having and raising of your own baby, it is in the daily battle for the future. The willingness to look at this frantic world and try to create moments of peace. To fight for someone smaller, less capable than you. To be around when you need to be. To prove that though they be small they can still be fierce.

With love,

A girl still finding her Momness

The Modern Author Life

Things Writers like JK Rowling and Anne Rice and Stephen King didn’t have to worry about when launching their careers:




Immediate Human Contact

Things authors need to worry about when launching their careers now:




Immediate Human Contact


After the giveaway drama of yesterday I wrote my friend and told her I would never do it again. I didn’t like the pressure. I felt powerless and unsafe and nauseous and my fingernail polish was all chipped off from panic. And if it’s like that on a small scale, how will it be when people actually care later on?

She suggested that giveaway’s were essential to our chosen career path. That they are expected of authors, especially Young Adult authors, and never say never. She encouraged me not to worry.

And there’s the rub: I worry a lot.

Writers as a species are over-thinkers. We humans created to write stories tend to have over-active, vivid, and often, dark imaginations. We are good at thinking up elaborate scenarios for failure and malady. We are designed to do this so we can get our characters into circumstances that require heroism. You need us to be this way so you get stories that make you feel things.

Take a person like that and throw them into any situation where the outcome is unknown and they will start to devise schemes for failure or triumph. We’re not always dark, sometimes those imaginations that create detailed worlds and intricate plots also dream up wild success stories. We can sort of be like the mirror of Erised. Like, look at me with the House Cup and being a glorious Head Girl and my mom is crying tears of joy…

I’m veering off topic.

The changing landscape of the publishing world means we as authors have to become more comfortable with a whole heap of things outside our control. We have to roll with punches and we have to guard our words and we may need to drink at night or take up a spin class to deal with that anxiety of ALL THE UNKNOWN and HOW WE CAN FAIL and IT’S ALL SO PUBLIC NOW.

We also need to be honest. We need to let people in on our not okay all the time-ness. We need to be allowed to say we don’t know what we’re doing and we are making it up as we go along and we do yes please need a well-timed gif of a kitten in a coffee cup tweeted at us.

As difficult as




Actual human contact

Can be

It can be so very wonderful,too. Super rewarding. But not if it feels unsafe. Not if we think we HAVE to. Not if we aren’t authentic.

Giveaways will happen. But not because I think it’s my responsibility as an author. I can be an author without that. I am very clever. I could find my way around it.

But my responsibility to future fans (Hey, you guys are so fancy and bad ass and I love you.❤ Future Me) is to make the internet as it relates to my books and my chosen path of Young Adult Book Pusher accessible and fun and shiny. That is something of value, and I like adding value to lives.

I agree with my friend: Giveaways are useful. Readers and writers alike enjoy them, but they are scary and stressful for me.

So is publishing my stories. It’s scares me, but it’s worth it. It’s worth it to me to do the things JK and Anne and Stephen didn’t have to if it means I’m doing the best for my fans and my book.

I will always worry. I will never be cool. My brain will inevitably veer into dangerous territory any time I face a situation outside my control. I think it’s better to deal with all that, and also do something I love, than to be sitting alone in my office writing into a vacuum and never trying anything that scares me.

Fear means you’re alive. Fear means you’re doing something right.






The Road to Completing a Short Film


I thought a lot about which platform I should share this information on. But this story feels relevant to anyone with a dream, so bear with me for a moment. Those who follow me because I am a soon-to-be-published Young Adult author (Hi! And thank you!), might not know that two and a half years ago I gathered a rag-tag group of aspiring filmmakers together to fund and shoot a short film I’d written years before.

Ideas are funny creatures. The metaphor that they begin as seeds and must be cultivated, watered and nurtured, harvested at the right time, while a little flowery for my taste is also somehow perfectly suitable. Ideas take time, and more often than not, it is the abandoning of the idea before the maturity of the idea that results in failure. Failure, here, means letting the idea die. Not success in the chosen market. Not money or glory. Sometimes, you fail there too, later after you’ve planted and nurtured. But I find failure comes from abandonment first, the failure that you can control anyway. And you can only kick yourself for what you give up on, not what is given up on by others.

I gathered the team to shoot this film, Cassie’s Cause. It was bumpy, a ride we all look back on now and remember with anxiety and fondness, laughter and annoyance. We lost people along the way, and we hit walls we didn’t foresee. We were forced to stop for huge gaps of time, staring at the unfinished idea, at the not abandoned but not matured thing, and wonder if it would ever become.

Today, we submitted the “little idea that could” to Austin Film Festival. The finished movie, all grown up.

Jonathan Dickson– my co-director and lifelong friend– and I hit the submit button. We watched the screen blink, confirmation brightening, and we looked at eachother with mile wide smiles. He raised his hand.

“It is finished.”

I hit his palm in a high five.

It is finished. Three words that mean so much. They represent an end, but also a beginning. To us, no matter what happens with the submission, we completed the task. The idea has taken root, been given sunlight, grown enough to exist on its own.

And finally a blurb, for anyone interested, about our little movie:

Cassie Duncan, a scrappy animal activist grieving the loss of her older brother, Gregory, wishes she could get him back. He returns, changed. Now she is the proud owner of a gnarly faced Zombie-boy, and together they embark on a trippy adventure.



I’m participating in this blog hop thing my friend and fellow 2017 debut Katy Upperman has been doing for a while, which originated here. Check it out if you’re interested and join in whenever you like. And if you do, feel free to leave the link in my comments. I’ll pop over to your blog to see what you’re currently into!


I started working out again, and while I haven’t cut out wine completely, it feels really good to be back at it. I started using PiYo this week, thanks to an awesome friend who is a trainer, and my whole body is pissed off about it. Good times, you guys. Exercise is hard, but I feel like as a rule health is an important thing to invest in.


I’m reading the amazing YA debut The Island by Olivia Levez, about a young criminal girl marooned on a desert island. And it’s bold and stunning, but a bit of a nail biter. It’s a UK release, so right now we here in the States can only get it in ebook, but it releases in the US in September! Add it to your TBR, like, now! I’m also beta reading the YA WiP by my bestie Lindsay Cummings and holy moly you guyzzzz! I have all the heart eyes.



If you ever wonder what benefits there are to having children— besides, you know, tax breaks and someone to look after you when you’re old— getting to introduce them to your favorite childhood films is high up there. We watched The Sandlot with my son this week. He giggled and howled, nervously asked questions, grabbed my hand with anticipation, and we shared a story that greatly influenced my childhood and has become legend in American pop culture. At least, to me. And now, to him.

Listening To

I’ve been listening to a lot of Pokemon theme music with my son. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I throughly enjoy it. I know, you’re totally thinking, why, Rebekah, why would you share this with us? If you ever take the time to listen to the lyrics of the seasons one and three (Pokemon: Indigo League and Pokemon: The Johto Journeys) theme songs, and you can set aside the fact that these songs are about the pokemon life and not real life then you might find you’re like me. You might find you occasionally tear up because you too want to be the very best


Thinking About

My time away at Djerassi with Nova Ren Suma and eight other brilliant YA writers. I love my home, and my family, and I had work to come back to and life to submerge in, but it was hard to let go of the world we created there with each other, the quiet I found in my own head, and the words that flowed from it. Djerassi is a place where your creative spirit can roam free, and mine did. That freedom brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings, and when I had to harness myself again in the real world, I struggled. Still am, almost a week later. Djerassi is not the real world, it is a cocoon and so it makes sense that it hurt me to leave it. I am grateful for that time, and I think it was just what I needed.


The North Texas Teen Book Festival April 23rd!! I get to moderate two (two!!!) panels featuring AMAZING authors and that is all I can say about it right now so don’t ask. Subscribe to my blog or follow me on Twitter or Facebook for updates! *nervous jitters commence*


You guys would pop over to Goodreads and add my swoony, murdery upcoming YA fantasy novel set in a magical world inspired by Hawaii, Of Blood and Promises, to your to-be read list. It would make me feel things if you did.

Making Me Happy

Remembering our trip to LA with my son for Spring Break. I went from LA to Djerassi. From one beautiful series of days to another. I made memories with these humans that will stay with me forever. I got to introduce my son to Chewie and Space Mountain, to Santa Monica Pier, and my brilliant friend Alex’s cats Gatsby and Daisy, and every moment was joy making.



That Time I Signed With A Literary Agent


I’m going to tell you a story about a girl.

Two years ago, she had a dream she was moving to London. She woke up from the dream the next morning in Texas. She had coffee. She told her husband the dream. She always forced him to listen to her dreams in case he could make any sense of them. Yes, she was one of those people. In the dream she had been nervous to go, she had been aware it was a big deal, and a part of something even bigger. Her husband played her the Third Eye Blind song “London” to irritate her. They daydreamed for a while about a reality in which they could move to London— what that would feel like, how that would ever happen.

The girl also decided to research London literary agents because she was a writer in search of a champion, and partner, for her books.

Two years ago that girl reached out to one of them.

I am telling you that story so you understand the rest. Two years ago, I — the girl — came downstairs again and told my husband the literary agent I’d queried wanted to read my book.

Today, that agent announced she’d signed me.

What happened in between?

I grew as a writer, to start. I worked hard. I learned more about craft and story. I wrote another book. I revised and revised, and then when I was done revising, I waited. I studied screenwriting and learned skills I needed to become a better writer still. I was angry, and then I was nothing for a long time, but still I believed it was worth it to keep trying.

I stayed in touch with the literary agent from London because I liked her, maybe even a little because she was from the UK and I love the UK, and also because she’d seen promise in me early on and it had helped me through the struggle.

I revised the book again.

I sold it on my own in the US.

And Clare Wallace, the literary agent from London, gave my book another look. And when she offered me representation, I knew even if I wasn’t moving to London (just yet), my book hopefully was.

I am telling you this because many of you are in the trenches. Many feel hopeless, are hearing no, are wondering when, if, that yes will ever come. If my own journey taught me anything it is this: yes comes unexpectedly, it comes in waves and it comes in whispers, and it comes when you keep going no matter what.

This is a long game. We play it as long as we have the courage to keep getting back up after we’ve been knocked down. So keep your courage, don’t be afraid to try the unusual thing on your path, or to listen to the wish your heart made when you were fast asleep. It might be the very thing you need to break out.


To Kill a Mockingbird


To Kill a Mockingbird was the first book that was all mine.

I had always been a reader. As a little girl, I’d read Caddie Woodlawn, and Pollyanna, and had Charlotte’s Web and A Wrinkle in Time read aloud to me. And others, of course, and more than I will name here. When I was eleven years old, I found a VHS copy of the movie To Kill a Mockingbird in my parents movie closet. I wanted to watch it, and my mom said no. Not until I read the book. She went to the store and bought a purple trade paperback edition and presented it to me that night.

I was eleven, this was a big book. An undertaking. I set about conquering that mammoth, even so. I read in the car. I read at the park. I read at church and in the tree in front of my house. I finished it on my bed, late at night, with tears in my eyes. I sunk from the edge of the bed to the ground and wept, and hugged it close, and got the edges of the pages all messed up with my salty tears.

I would never be the same.

I reread it a handful of times over the next few years. I got in fights with people in my Texas town that still used the N word because now I understood where that word came from, what that word meant, and why it was wrong. To Kill a Mockingbird taught me that.


I moved away from Texas at thirteen and started to eighth grade in a small town in Colorado nestled between the Rocky Mountains and an evergreen forest. The day before I started school — friendless, ill-equipped to navigate this new environment — I met my English teacher at the open house. Her name was Mrs. Collette. She was a tiny white woman with wisps of blonde hair and shiny blue eyes. She asked me if I was a reader. I told her my favorite book was To Kill a Mockingbird, in fact I had it in my backpack to come with me to school. I felt safer with it. Like I had a friend.

Mrs. Collette, it turned out, was also friends with Scout and Jem. We had that in common. And until I was ready to make new friends, she let me sit in her classroom at lunch and grade papers, talk books, talk writing. Mrs. Collette saw potential in me, in the way I put words together, and even though I was terrified, she encouraged me to be brave.

To Kill a Mockingbird made that happen.

Harper Lee made that happen.

Today, Harper Lee left this world. She moved on to the next adventure, a greater adventure than this one. She changed my life with her words, and forever, I’m in debt to the bravery it took to write a book that was dangerous, but necessary. I’m thankful, forever, that she did.