This Week: Dayton Book Expo!

I just wanted to remind everyone that the Dayton Book Expo is this Saturday, April 29th!

The 2017 Dayton Book Expo

Come on Saturday to check out this amazing event for book lovers. There’s going to be almost a hundred authors there signing books. There’s also going to be panel discussions and a Kidz Zone, and local author Sharon Short is this year’s featured author. You can learn more on their website.

I’ll be there signing copies of Somewhere Only We Know and selling my Hope Bracelets. The first 12 people to buy a book will receive a goody bag. And I’ll be giving away bookmarks, stickers, and pens. I’m so excited to participate in this awesome event for my first book signing!

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Somewhere Only We Know and Hope Bracelets

See you this Saturday from 11am to 4pm at the David H. Pointz Conference Center at Sinclair Community College in Dayton Ohio for the 8th Annual Dayton Book Expo!

Behind the Scenes of Somewhere Only We Know: Writing a New Story

Before signing my name on copies of Somewhere Only We Know, I first write a phrase that captures one of the main messages of the book: “Write a New Story.”

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This is how I sign copies of Somewhere Only We Know

Somewhere Only We Know attempts to tackle the very difficult subject of abuse. The book features four girls who experience different kinds of abuse—emotional, physical, and sexual. As a result of the violence in their lives, all of the girls have fallen into varying degrees of silence about what they’ve gone through, with one of the girls even unable to speak altogether.

However, it is through writing and stories that the girls start to find a way to communicate and find hope again. Frankie, the narrator, and Lindsey, the one who doesn’t speak, read many books throughout the course of Somewhere Only We Know, and they learn how to use writing as a way to see other possibilities for their lives.

Writing is how I get through difficult situations in my life, like my experiences with depression. Writing gives me a way to work things out and see new possibilities. Writing is how I find hope.

The one thing I wanted readers to remember when they finished reading the book is that their story isn’t over yet. No matter what you’ve gone through—whether it’s abuse like the girls in my book, or any other difficult situation like depression or an eating disorder—you can change. You can find hope again. You can overcome whatever it is you’ve gone through.

You get to decide how the story ends. You get to write a new story.

One of my favorite quotes from Somewhere Only We Know, from when Frankie discovers the power of writing

Upcoming Event: Dayton Book Expo

I’m so excited to announce that I will be appearing at the Dayton Book Expo on April 29th!

The 2017 Dayton Book Expo

This is going to be an amazing event for book lovers, featuring over 85 authors. It will take place at the David H. Pointz Conference Center at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, from 11am-4pm on April 29th. Hundreds of book lovers will come together for a day full of book signings, panel discussions for aspiring writers, and a Kidz Zone with lots of fun activities. And local author Sharon Short is going to be this year’s featured author.

I am thrilled to be one of the many authors participating in this event. This is going to be my first public book signing, and I’m so happy I get to do this event alongside so many other awesome authors. Come out and find some new authors and titles to read!

Somewhere Only We Know Launch Party

I debated for a long time what I should do to celebrate the release of my debut novel, Somewhere Only We Know. I’m so introverted and have so much trouble speaking in front of people that I knew doing an event in a bookstore would not be ideal for my very first book-signing experience. I decided instead to host a party at my house so that all of my friends and family could come get the book and celebrate with me. I’m really glad I chose to do this.

Twenty people attended my open house. I got to catch up with old friends and my favorite fiction teacher. I had so much fun celebrating the book release with all of my friends and family. And the cake was so fun! I got an edible image of my book cover.

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A big thank you to everyone who was able to make it to the party. It meant so much to me that you were all there. I hope everyone enjoys reading the book and has a fantastic Thanksgiving! I’ll be enjoying turkey with my family and giving thanks for my first published book.

Kristen Simmons, Natalie D. Richards, and Mindee Arnett at Books & Co

Last night I got to see three authors at Books & Co in Dayton: Kristen Simmons, Natalie D. Richards, and Mindee Arnett. Simmons and Richards were there to talk about their new books, Metaltown and One Was Lost respectively, and Arnett led the panel. She asked them lots of questions, from what two sticks inspired their stories (like the two sticks necessary to build a fire) to what labels they think their characters would have.

I was interested in reading Metaltown ever since I saw its cover a few weeks ago, but after hearing Simmons describe how Les Miserables was one of her inspirations, I am so excited to read it. Richards’s book sounded interesting and creepy as well, about a group of campers who wake up with words on their arms.

Bookmarks, Buttons, and a Tattoo!

I asked them if they had any advice for authors about to publish their first book, and they gave me lots of great guidance:

  • It’s easy to get discouraged, but don’t give up—keep writing.
  • The reality of publishing is never as good as the dream, so remember why you are doing this in the first place. Only your story is going to come close to the dream.
  • Publishing is brutal and hard, like becoming a parent. But you have to let it roll off you and get back up again.

I love going to these author events, and Books & Co has so many of them. There’s even three groups of YA authors this week alone, with Lorie Langdon and Carey Corp last Saturday and Laurie Halse Anderson this Friday. My favorite part of last night was listening to the panel and all of their fellow local authors in the audience talk before the event started, and getting to go up and have a conversation with the panel afterwards. Dayton has such a friendly and supportive local author community, and I know I am in the right city to kick off my writing career.

Margaret Peterson Haddix at Books & Co

Last night I got the chance to see one of my favorite writers. Margaret Peterson Haddix was at Books & Co in Dayton last night to launch her new book, Children of Exile, which is the first in a new trilogy and her 38th book.

Children of Exile sounded so interesting as she described how she got the idea for it and read the first chapter. She said the idea came to her when she was at a publishing conference at a Disney property and there was a contrast between the very happy workers saying “Have a magical day!” and impatient hotel guests and a very sad book she had been reading at the time. The book is about a group of children that have been raised in an idyllic community, but not by their real parents. They are just told that it wasn’t safe for them with their parents. But now that the two oldest children have turned twelve, they’re all going back home. I can’t wait to get a chance to read this.

Haddix was my first favorite author. Her first novel, Running Out of Time, was the first book I remember truly loving and reading over and over. When I was in eighth grade, she came and spoke at my school and talked about how cool it is that she gets to tell stories for a job. And that was when I decided that that’s what I wanted to do with my life too. I walked up to her after her presentation and shyly told her that she was my favorite author and asked her to sign my books.

And last night I got to go up to her and I asked her to sign the dozen other of her books I’ve collected since then. And I got to tell her that she made me want to write, and now, ten years later, my first novel is about to come out.

Haddix is one of the friendliest authors I’ve met, and I highly recommend all of her books! Also, her advice for writers: read a lot because it’s like cheating to become a better writer, don’t put too much pressure on yourself, and make time in your day just to think.

I loved getting to see Margaret Peterson Haddix again!