Inspiration in Strange Places

My muse likes to hide from me. Sometimes she jumps out and surprises me, but most of the time she makes me chase her.  It’s hard to pin down what inspires me to write—what makes my muse grace me with her presence—but in thinking about it for this blog, I remembered a chance encounter I had when I was eight years old. I was sitting in a laundromat while my mom and I waited for our clothes to wash. I’d brought along my spiral notebook and I was furiously writing the next chapter in my Adventures of Stacy book. There...
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Adding My Voice

As a victim of sexual assault, I should have known this already, but I only recently discovered that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM), a national campaign that raises public awareness about sexual violence and also educates individuals and communities in how to prevent it. So in honor of SAAM, and to help forward the cause, I’m giving away five copies of my award-winning and critically acclaimed book, A Work of Art. (See below.) I’m also making a nice donation to SAAM and buying this t-shirt via their website. I’ll wear it proudly. Admitting I’m a survivor of sexual...
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What Doesn’t Kill Us…

I write for teens, so it’s important that I stay in touch with my teenage self. It would help if I had teenage children (my son is 11), but for now I mostly rely on memories of what it was like back in the day. I say “back in the day” as though I have fond memories of high school—when actually my teenage years were a series of embarrassing events punctuated by flashes of terror. All those insecurities and fears, all that pressure to fit in and be liked. So why do I want to relive those painful experiences through...
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Win a Copy of A WORK OF ART

Did you know that April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)? I didn’t until my sister got involved in Safe Passage, an organization that helps prevent domestic violence and sexual assault in her hometown of DeKalb, IL. I should have known about SAAM, especially because my book A WORK OF ART delves into the shame and insecurity that many sexual assault victims suffer from. It also deals with love—how victims of sexual assault sometimes have a skewed perception of what love is, and how sometimes we can love those who victimize us. Research has shown that readers of literary fiction...
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What I Would Tell My Teen Self

As a novelist for young adults, I spend a lot of time trying to recapture the emotions I had in high school. For me, there wasn’t much joy in being a teen. I wrote poetry back then, and a lot of what I wrote captures my self-loathing and fear and confusion. I sometimes wrote about wanting to get life over with. But I also wrote about hope. I hoped things would get better. I only half-believed they would. So if I could go back in time and talk to my teenage self, this is what I’d say: All those feelings...
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Writing About the Taboo

People have asked me how hard it was to write about child sexual abuse in A Work of Art. It’s a touchy subject—raw and often shameful to the abused and not something most people like to think about. But when I sat down to write about this painful subject, I found it freeing. Just as Tera, the main character in my book, finds therapy in her painting, I found therapy in my writing. So I think it was harder to imagine writing about child sexual abuse than it was to actually write it. Because many victims never report abuse, it’s...
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