Saturday, October 4, 2014

Atlanta Sight-seeing.

Went to the Georgia Aquarium with my friend Sammy Bina today, who’s visiting from NYC :) Sadly, I forgot both my camera AND my phone on the trip, so these are all from Sammy’s camera phone.

Sea animals are always so interesting... And now they've moved the Coca-Cola HQ (by "now," of course, I mean YEARS ago, because I haven't actually been to the Coca-Cola HQ since second grade) right next to the aquarium, so it was really convenient to visit that, next :)

Monday, September 22, 2014

Thank you!

Huge thank you to everyone who came out to support me, Lauren Morrill, and Jackson Pearce on Saturday! It was really great to be able to celebrate the ECHOES OF US release with readers old and new :)

It's strange sometimes to think that only two years ago, in 2012, I was doing my very first book launch event at the B&N near my college and feeling so nervous about it all! Book events can still be a little nerve-wracking, but the readers always make them more than worth it.

Thanks again! :D

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A response for Mr. Sampson

Saturday night, I celebrated the release of my third book at a local bookstore. This morning, I woke up to this series of twitter conversations below. Due to the nature of twitter, it's hard to show the tweets in perfect order, but I've posted screenshots of each tweet Mr. Sampson either directed at me or directed at someone else speaking of me. Each is timestamped, and I arranged them in that order. For completeness, I have also included responses to his tweets. At the time of this posting, the below is everything that has been said on the matter that I could find.

Since I was asleep when Mr. Sampson first tweeted, I had no opportunity to respond at the time. This morning, reading the tweets in complete shock, I debated whether I should respond at all. 

As I said, I thought long and hard about whether or not I should respond to Mr. Sampson, and I almost decided not to. But since Mr. Sampson has said so much about the occasion, I feel it makes sense to elucidate what happened. These accusations of “stereotyping” and “criminaliz[ing],” as well as treating a young girl “cruelly,” are very serious, and I could no more ignore them than I could any accusation of a heinous act on my part. 

I’m replying via blog post rather than on twitter because twitter’s 140 character limit makes discussing such a serious topic rather difficult.

Saturday night, I had a launch party for Echoes of Us at the Little Shop of Stories. Joining me for the event were fellow young adult writers Lauren Morrill and Jackson Pearce. We did a panel on books/the writing process for about an hour, then sat at our table so that anyone who wished to have books signed could come up and do so. Since the event was very informal at this point—attendees milled about eating cake and chatting—people came up at all different times.

Mr. Sampson’s daughter (I won’t say her name, since he didn't, and I don’t wish to breach her privacy) came to the table toward the tail end of the signing. By that time, someone had kindly carried some of the left-over books from the main store downstairs to the event area upstairs. These were meant to be the "signed stock" books. (“signing stock” is when authors sign some of the un-purchased books after an event so the bookstore can promote them as “signed books” in the weeks after the event has passed)

Generally, people bought books downstairs (there is no register upstairs, and no shelves of books), then took them upstairs for us to sign them. Mr. Sampson’s daughter had brought a book of her own (book #2 in my trilogy), and as I was signing it, she asked me if she needed to go downstairs and buy a copy of book #3, then bring it back upstairs, or if she could simply have me sign one of the book #3s now stacked beside me. 

I told her that generally people did go downstairs and buy the book first, but that I’d certainly go ahead and personalize one of the stock books for her now—if she promised to buy it after! This last bit was said with a smile and in a lighthearted, joking tone. I wanted to save this girl the hassle of going downstairs, buying the book, then coming back upstairs to have me sign it, then going back downstairs to leave the shop. The entire exchange lasted less than 3 minutes. 

There are all kinds of people. Some, perhaps, would seriously think that a young girl coming to a book signing would come with the intent to steal a book. Some might even be as bald and horrible as to outright accuse said girl of planning to do so, after she has been so kind as to support him/her by attending the event. Since Mr. Sampson does not know me personally, I suppose it’s understandable that he might think me one of those people. I am not. 

I cannot, of course, prove this to him, any more than I can prove to him that I most definitely did not “beg” his daughter “three times” to promise to buy my book after I’d signed it. Since Mr. Sampson himself was not present at the event, I presume he is relying on what he was told by his wife and daughter. At the end of the day, it is their word against mine, and so we are at an impasse.

I can, however, go on to say that Mrs. Sampson (I’m afraid I didn’t actually catch her name when we spoke, so it’s possible she does not go by Mrs. Sampson. In which case I apologize for the misnomer. My mother never changed her last name after marriage, as is very common in my culture, so I am sensitive to the possibility) came to speak to me twice. She was standing a few feet away when her daughter first came to the table, and immediately came forward after I’d answered her daughter’s question about whether she needed to go back downstairs. Mrs. Sampson asked me, “Do you ask all your readers to promise to buy your book?”

At the time, I was confused by the question and didn't understand her intent in asking it. I told her I’d been explaining how I was going to go ahead and sign book #3 for her daughter, so she didn’t have to go back downstairs to get a copy. Mrs. Sampson seemed to understand, and she and her daughter left after I’d finished personalizing book #3 for them.

About 10 minutes later, Mrs. Sampson came back to the table and asked to speak with me. At this point, she expressed how offended she was by what I’d said, and how hurt her daughter had been by the insinuation that she would steal the book. I was shocked that my words had been understood in this manner, and very upset to think I’d somehow hurt a young reader’s feelings, however unintentionally. I tried to explain how I’d meant no offense in the least, but told Mrs. Sampson I would nonetheless like to apologize to her daughter for making her feel uncomfortable. 

Mrs. Sampson said she’d leave it up to her daughter to decide whether she wanted an apology. It seems she did, though, because she came back and asked me to leave the table to approach her daughter. I did so, once again explaining that I had never, ever meant to insinuate she was going to steal the book, but that I understood how my words could be seen as careless, and could result in offense and hurt feelings. I apologized for the upset they’d caused her. Mrs. Sampson’s daughter was quiet, but she nodded and seemed to accept my apology. Mrs. Sampson herself was nodding and seemed to do the same. She spent some more time explaining why she thought my words were offensive in the context of history and current events. Eventually, we bid each other goodnight, and she left the event area smiling. 

I spent the rest of the night feeling utterly awful that a young reader had been upset, but was at least somewhat comforted by the fact that I thought the issue had been explained and resolved. Then I woke to discover everything Mr. Sampson had written after I’d gone to bed.

Please understand that I am not arguing Mr. Sampson’s right to call out, as strongly-termed as he would like, what he sees as mistreatment of his daughter. I know my own father would do the same. I would also like to say that as a writer, I know full well the impact words can have on people—whether or not the speaker meant for those words to have that impact. However, I can only hope that after reading this post, Mr. Sampson can understand how bewildered I feel that the few sentences his daughter and I exchanged have incited so much anger—especially after his wife, daughter, and I had (I thought) peaceably explained ourselves at the store.

I doubt I will say much more on the issue. This post is already very long, and presents my side of what occurred. Since Mr. Sampson seems to be seeking a response from me, I hope this will be enough of one. If it is not, I’m not sure there is anything else I could say or do. 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Moving house! (on the blogosphere)

Hey guys! So, no surprise that I once again fell off the blogging horse. I've gotten a bit frustrated with the blogger set up for blogging, so I've decided to continue my blogging adventures over on Tumblr, which seems to work better for shorter blogs and image-heavy ones.

Here's the first post:

…and a sneak-peak preview ;)

It's sad to be leaving blogger. I've been at this blog literally since summer of 2009, right when I graduated high school. But all things must change, I suppose :) And I guess there's always the possibility I'll hate tumblr and come running back ;)

But until then, follow me on Tumblr if you'd like to keep up with my shenanigans <3 p="">

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Earning Your Payoffs--& Paying Off Your Set-ups

I came to this post topic by way of television, but it works just as well for books. It's still a little easier to explain with TV examples, though--mostly because that's where it's most exaggerated, I think. The majority of (successful) TV shows, unlike books, get years and years with their viewers, and some have more than a hundred episodes by the time all is said and done. This means some stories get a very slow burn.

Think about the over-arching plots many shows have--the one that may build for an entire season, or perhaps even over several seasons. Police procedurals often do this. In Castle, for example, every episode has its own case, but the case about who killed Beckett's (one of the main characters) mother stretches seasons. Likewise, in The Mentalist, we have the usual cases, and then we have the looooong-running plot of catching Red John, the guy who killed the main character's wife and daughter.

I haven't watched either show up to the point where either of those over-arching plots is resolved, but when it does get to that point, the final resolution is going to have to be about 10 times (if not more!) exciting and huge and dangerous and satisfying than any resolution to the-case-of-the-week because of all the time that has been invested in the plot.

The more build-up there is to a plot (or subplot, or whatever), the bigger the resolution has to be in order to satisfy your audience. Imagine how disappointed everyone would be if the Big Bad the heroes have been working up to all season turned out to die in three seconds! (of course, you CAN do that, and it has been done to "subvert" the usual plot, but then that usually means there needs to be something else in your plot to give your readers/watchers some kind of satisfactory ending).

On the other hand, some other things require build-up in order to be satisfying. This is the basis behind every Will-they-or-won't-they romance. Every misunderstood sentence (people in stories are forever misunderstanding each other...I mean, I know we misunderstand each other in real life, too, but seriously...), every missed, love-lorn glance, every almost-but-not-quite kiss makes the final romance that much more satisfying.

Some things need to be built up to. I often cringe a little when characters (who don't even know each other that well) start pouring their hearts out to each other about sad personal histories or whatever without any build-up. Not only does it make you wonder where this trust is coming from (sure, some people are more trusting than others and more willing to talk about more personal things, but this should be part of that character's characterization), but when it happens too early in a story, without build-up, it leaves the audience so much less involved than if it happened a little later, when we're more curious, more caring. Emotional moments like this (your "payoff," so to speak) need set-up.

What do you think? Do you pay attention to this kind of stuff while reading? Writing? (watching TV? :P)