Monday, March 31, 2014

Dear Teen Me

Photo: Rick Kopstein


I'm so honored to be on this blog series today. . .

I think it's really a great, important series. . . maybe if you have a struggling tween or teen it could help them, not just my entry, but so many of the entries by other authors of young adult fiction. I hope so. So, sharing.

Scroll through them all!

DEAR TEEN ME.

xox gae






http://dearteenme.com/?p=7249

p.s. don't forget to check out my newest book, THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO. Have Skype, will travel. And if you'd like to use the book for your bookclub selection, please click that link for the Readers' Guide.

Friday, March 28, 2014

THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO - Karma or Coincidence? Wrap Up with Me (& the Awesome Arlaina Tibensky)



THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, my second novel for young adults, is officially OUT! Like, on Barnes & Noble and Independent bookstore shelves ALL OVER THE PLACE. Also, the lovely and thoughtful 11-question Readers' Guide is up on the Algonquin website... I would like nothing (okay, few things) more than to Skype in with your book club (or sit in if you are local) and mull over the answers with you.

Also, if you don't know, THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO is also out in audiobook, and Audiofile Magazine says of the narrator, Tara Sands:

"... Sands expresses the terrible anger that Francesca has denied for years. Even stronger than this crescendo of a performance is Sands's portrayal of the active, adorable Frankie Sky. His malapropisms and misunderstandings counteract Francesca's pain--winning her heart and wowing listeners."

You heard em: WOWING LISTENERS!

Anyway, if you don't already know:

THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO tells the story of almost-16-yr-old Francesca “Beans” “Frankie” Schnell who, four years ago witnessed her baby brother, Simon, drown. Guilty and broken, Francesca has hunkered down in the shadows of her life, resolved to play second fiddle to her dead brother’s memory and to her best friend Lisette, a blonde bubbly beauty Francesca lives vicariously through. That is, until she meets a young boy named Frankie Sky who bears an uncanny resemblance to her brother. Frankie brings humor and hope to Francesca’s life, but are all the similarities between Frankie and Simon merely wishful coincidences, or could he be Simon’s reincarnation?

Curious coincidences abound in THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO not only the overlaps between Simon and Frankie Skybut also Bradley’s gift to Francesca, Bradley’s bird sighting, and the ties to the statue of  Saint Florian (you'll have to read to know what these are ;)). Midway through the story Francesca starts to think these events can’t really be coincidences, “but something bigger and magical at work.”

Do you think our lives are random, or do you think there’s “something bigger and magical at work”? Have you ever experienced strange events that seemed like more than coincidence and made you wonder if fate was at work or that soul and or reincarnation exist?

Throughout the month, I have posed that question to friends, some writers, others bearing other artistic talents, for a brief account of their own experience with karma, kismet or a mystical connection. I hope you will scroll through all of their intriguing posts. Meanwhile, I leave you to answer the question, “Random or something magical at work?” 

I hope you find these stories as intriguing and lovely as I do.

- gae


Today I have the lovely and talented Arlaina Tibensky, talking about her grandpa in her unique and witty Arlaina way.


Arlaina is the author of the witty, poignant and stellar AND THEN THINGS FALL APART.

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Her stories and essays have appeared in places like One Story, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and the Madison Review. She is the founding curator of the Pen Parentis Literary Salon in New York City.

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My grandpa was kind of an a-hole. 

He was the kind of man who always did whatever he wanted and liked to rattle people’s cages. He rode and repaired motorcycles. He ate French fries with mayonnaise. He liked to smoke and drink. He liked to tell dirty jokes with his mechanic friends, fellow Purple Heart earners from World War II. He had five kids and taught them all to be just like him; fearless, adventurous, to flaunt authority at any opportunity.  

But then he got sick, cancer, and he couldn’t kid his way out of that one. His kids rallied around him with shark cartilage capsules as an experimental cure, homemade soups to warm him up, motorcycle magazines for diversion. The day he died in the hospital after a short stay, his kids- my mom, an uncle, an aunt- and I, sat around his bed. He was yellow and waxy and looked like a life-sized puppet some art school student made of him instead of the actual him. In death, his blue eyes didn’t twinkle, he didn’t tell jokes, he didn’t flirt with the nurses that were half his age. 

That night, five minutes after his line went flat we all sat in the hallway, numb and nauseous with free hospital coffee, too shocked to even talk. Suddenly, all the lights in the hall flickered like a strobe and a fire alarm went off and all the nurses at the station looked surprised, trying to figure out what it was and how to turn it off because as far as most of them could remember, that had never happened before. “Oh, Daddy,” my mother sighed, convinced and delighted that it was him, rattling our cage one last time.

- Arlaina

Anyway, thank you for reading along all month (if you have!). If you haven't, please scroll through the entries. They are really quite touching and intriguing. Oh yes, and please, please, please go out and buy my book. 

xoxo gae

Thursday, March 27, 2014

THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO - The Karma or Coincidence? Countdown (Alissa Grosso)



THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, my second novel for young adults, is officially OUT! But our Karma or Coincidence Countdown continues through tomorrow, today with my dear friend and Class of 2K11 cohort, Alissa Grosso, who I was lucky enough to see just this past weekend at NYC Teen Author Festival.


In case you don't yet know. . .

THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO tells the story of almost-16-yr-old Francesca “Beans” “Frankie” Schnell who, four years ago witnessed her baby brother, Simon, drown. Guilty and broken, Francesca has hunkered down in the shadows of her life, resolved to play second fiddle to her dead brother’s memory and to her best friend Lisette, a blonde bubbly beauty Francesca lives vicariously through. That is, until she meets a young boy named Frankie Sky who bears an uncanny resemblance to her brother. Frankie brings humor and hope to Francesca’s life, but are all the similarities between Frankie and Simon merely wishful coincidences, or could he be Simon’s reincarnation?

Curious coincidences abound in THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO not only the overlaps between Simon and Frankie Skybut also Bradley’s gift to Francesca, Bradley’s bird sighting, and the ties to the statue of  Saint Florian (you'll have to read to know what these are ;)). Midway through the story Francesca starts to think these events can’t really be coincidences, “but something bigger and magical at work.”

Have you ever experienced strange events that seemed like more than coincidence and made you wonder if fate was at work or that soul and/or reincarnation exist?

Throughout the month, I decided to pose that question to friends, some writers, others bearing other artistic talents, for a brief account of their own experience with karma, kismet or a mystical connection. I leave you to answer the question, “Random or something magical at work?” 

I hope you find these stories as intriguing and lovely as I do.

- gae


Today I have the lovely Alissa Grosso, author of Popular, Ferocity Summer, and Shallow Pond. I love how she tries to humor me here by coming up with a story for this blog feature.

p.s. Alissa, I'm not sure I believe in ghosts or reincarnation either. But I'm always thinking, "ooh, that seems like some magical karmic connection!"


Lovely Alissa. 
I don't like to go into my attic at night

When Gae asked for guest posts on reincarnation and related stuff, I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. On the one hand I wanted to help Gae out because I like her and she's good people. On the other hand, how could I write about something I don't believe in? It's not just reincarnation I have an issue with, but any sort of pseudoscience type thing that exists there at the fringes. Not quite the same thing as reincarnation, but sort of in the same vein is the idea of ghosts.

I consider myself a rational person, have even at times been labeled a skeptic. I don't entirely believe that ghosts exist. It isn't logical. Science can do some pretty amazing things, so it seems they would have figured out this whole ghost thing by now if ghosts were real. Plus there's the fact that I've never seen a ghost, not a single one. I worked in a restored historic village for years. I live in a town that is supposedly built on top of a Native American burial ground and according to locals who are "experts" in such things the whole town is haunted. I mean if ghosts really exist, I should have seen one by now, right?


I don't believe in ghosts, not really, anyway. Except, when I have to go up into my attic at night I get spooked out. So, all you ghost-believing, psychic-believing, reincarnation-believing people I find you utterly incomprehensible. In fact, you are about as incomprehensible as the heebie jeebies that come over me when I venture up my attic stairs after sunset.

- Alissa


Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The Summer of Letting Go Karma or Coincidence? Countdown (Kristen Taber)


If you've read this intro already, you can skip right down to the guest post!

THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, my second novel for young adults, is now OFFICIALLY OUT!!! But the end of the March Countdown continues. I'll do a blog post soon on my really amazing book release.

THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO tells the story of almost-16-yr-old Francesca “Beans” “Frankie” Schnell who, four years ago witnessed her baby brother, Simon, drown. Guilty and broken, Francesca has hunkered down in the shadows of her life, resolved to play second fiddle to her dead brother’s memory and to her best friend Lisette, a blonde bubbly beauty Francesca lives vicariously through. That is, until she meets a young boy named Frankie Sky who bears an uncanny resemblance to her brother. Frankie brings humor and hope to Francesca’s life, but are all the similarities between Frankie and Simon merely wishful coincidences, or could he be Simon’s reincarnation?

Curious coincidences abound in THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO not only the overlaps between Simon and Frankie Skybut also Bradley’s gift to Francesca, Bradley’s bird sighting, and the ties to the statue of  Saint Florian (you'll have to read to know what these are ;)). Midway through the story Francesca starts to think these events can’t really all just be coincidences, but maybe are “something bigger and magical at work.”

Have you ever experienced strange events that seemed like more than coincidence and made you wonder if fate was at work or that soul and or reincarnation exist?

Throughout the month, I've decided to pose that question to friends, some writers, others bearing other artistic talents, for a brief account of their own experience with karma, kismet or a mystical connection. I leave you to answer the question, “Karma or coincidence? Random or something magical at work?” 

- gae

This is Kristen. She's lovely, isn't she?


Today I have writer Kristen Taber sharing a pretty remarkable story.

Kristen is the author of the AErenden Series. Book # in the series, THE ZEIIHBU MASTER, releases this month!

Here's Kristen:

From my earliest days, coincidences have peppered my life—a missed bus allowing me to meet a new friend, a job loss sending my career in a better direction, a chance conversation with a stranger giving me information I would soon need. Although appreciated, many of these moments have been easy to brush off as simple life twists. But others have left me wondering, and questioning my life’s direction.

In 2009, one series of coincidences set me on the path I walk now. I’d been suffering severe headaches and dizzy spells. My blood work came back fine, so my doctor decided I suffered from stress and prescribed anti-depressants to help. The second day I took them, the left side of my body went numb and my coworkers rushed me to the hospital on my doctor’s recommendation. A suspected stroke diagnosis pushed me through the system, but what they found on my MRI surprised everyone. I had two brain aneurysms. My neurologist later told me I would likely have been dead within 10 years if they hadn’t caught them. He told me it was lucky I had a rare side effect to the medication.

Fast forward two months. My lymph nodes felt enlarged and I saw my family doctor again. Because he felt bad about missing the aneurysms, he decided to be overcautious with my newest symptom and sent me for an ultrasound. It showed two suspicious nodes on my thyroid. Although a fine needle biopsy came back negative, the radiologist performing the procedure said it reacted like cancer and would not accept the lab results as accurate. He scheduled me for surgery.

The surgeon told me that most suspicious nodes come back negative and the only time he would worry is if Dr. Smith* had done the biopsy. Apparently Dr. Smith is considered a “cancer savant” by hospital staff and, you guessed it, he was the one who performed my biopsy. The ultrasounds facility had 10 rotating doctors on staff. By slim luck, I got the one doctor who recognized my cancer when the others likely would have sent me home as “safe”. Final lab results confirmed his suspicions. 
We're glad you're okay! 

My endocrinologist said I was fortunate my family doctor had been overcautious. The odds of beating thyroid cancer are small once it metastasizes.


It’s hard not to believe someone somewhere was looking out for me that year—even if it was just a drug manufacturer, my nervous doctor, the person who scheduled my biopsy, and a rare Radiologist. 

Thanks to them and those few months, I started writing again. The cliché is true. Life is too short not to do what you love. I found my old love again and set my life back on course—a life granted to me by a series of lucky coincidences. 

- Kristen



Please check out THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO and all of Kristen's books, and if you'd like, please share your own karma or coincidence story in the comments!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The Summer of Letting Go Karma or Coincidence? Countdown (Ian T. Healy)



As some of you may know, THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, my second novel for young adults comes out March 25th from Algonquin Young Readers.


THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO tells the story of almost-16-yr-old Francesca “Beans” “Frankie” Schnell who, four years ago witnessed her baby brother, Simon, drown. Guilty and broken, Francesca has hunkered down in the shadows of her life, resolved to play second fiddle to her dead brother’s memory and to her best friend Lisette, a blonde bubbly beauty Francesca lives vicariously through. That is, until she meets a young boy named Frankie Sky who bears an uncanny resemblance to her brother. Frankie brings humor and hope to Francesca’s life, but are all the similarities between Frankie and Simon merely wishful coincidences, or could he be Simon’s reincarnation?

Curious coincidences abound in THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO not only the overlaps between Simon and Frankie Skybut also Bradley’s gift to Francesca, Bradley’s bird sighting, and the ties to the statue of  Saint Florian (you'll have to read to know what these are ;)). Midway through the story Francesca starts to think these events can’t really be coincidences, “but something bigger and magical at work.”

Have you ever experienced strange events that seemed like more than coincidence and made you wonder if fate was at work or that soul and or reincarnation exist?

Throughout the month, I've decided to pose that question to friends, some writers, others bearing other artistic talents, for a brief account of their own experience with karma, kismet or a mystical connection. I leave you to answer the question, “Karma or coincidence? Random or something magical at work?” 

- gae

Today I have writer Ian T. Healy, author of the Just Cause Universe series of superherofiction, including JACKRABBIT, which releases in print and ebook versions worldwideon April 1, 2014. Ian puts a twist on a theme by talking about how much fate, if any, is involved in love. . . 


Love at First Sight

Love at first sight is a terribly overused cliché, but I do think it can happen to anyone once in a lifetime, and this was mine. We met by chance in high school, during a convention that only lasted two days. She lived far away. She had a boyfriend. I had a girlfriend. And yet, we both found something in those two days that couldn't easily be explained or forgotten.

Call it what you will. Call it puppy love or a fling or whatever, but this was Love in the Time of No Internet. We burned through hundreds of stamps, sending letters back and forth, making the sort of great romantic plans that teenagers do. All the while, we each lived our own lives, with our own relationships, remaining each others' pipe dreams. We graduated high school and went off to different colleges, and still the letters flowed back and forth. And then she transferred to my school. She wound up in the dorm room directly above mine. What are the odds, right? She was in one of my classes. The letters stopped due to proximity, but somehow the love we felt as kids never blossomed into anything more.

Over the years, we still ran into each other in the most unlikely of places. We talked about it, and have talked about it at length. I was never much for the guiding hand of Fate, because I am a firm believer in free will. But if there is such a thing, the Universe has expended a lot of energy and effort to push us together, and if that can give anyone hope for their own stories, may it be an inspiration.

- Ian

Please check out The Summer of Letting Go and all of Ian's books! Thanks for reading. 

Sunday, March 23, 2014

THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO - Karma or Coincidence? Countdown (Leslie Pietryzk)



As many of you know, THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, my second novel for young adults officially comes out this TUESDAY (3/25) from Algonquin Young Readers.

THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO tells the story of almost-16-yr-old Francesca “Beans” “Frankie” Schnell who, four years ago witnessed her baby brother, Simon, drown. Guilty and broken, Francesca has hunkered down in the shadows of her life, resolved to play second fiddle to her dead brother’s memory and to her best friend Lisette, a blonde bubbly beauty Francesca lives vicariously through. That is, until she meets a young boy named Frankie Sky who bears an uncanny resemblance to her brother. Frankie brings humor and hope to Francesca’s life, but are all the similarities between Frankie and Simon merely wishful coincidences, or could he be Simon’s reincarnation?

Curious coincidences abound in THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO not only the overlaps between Simon and Frankie Skybut also Bradley’s gift to Francesca, Bradley’s bird sighting, and the ties to the statue of  Saint Florian (sorry, you'll have to read to know what these are ;)). Midway through the story Francesca starts to think these events can’t really all be coincidences,  but maybe are “something bigger and magical at work.”

Have you ever experienced strange events that seemed like more than just coincidence and made you wonder if fate was at work or that soul and/or reincarnation exist?

Throughout the month, I've decided to pose that question to friends, some writers, others bearing other artistic talents, for a brief account of their own experience with karma, kismet or a mystical connection. I leave you to answer the question, “Karma or Coincidence? Random or something magical at work?” 

I hope you find these stories as intriguing and lovely as I do.

- gae


Leslie Pietrzyk's profile photoToday I have Leslie Pietryzk, author of Pears on a Willow Treeabout four generations of Polish-American women, and A Year and a Dayabout a 15-year-old girl whose mother commits suicide. 

Love this sweet story of a black cat working some magic. . .

My first husband didn’t like cats. At all. His mother was even afraid of them, so he had grown up not trusting them. I had grown up with a cranky but highly-beloved black cat, notorious in the neighborhood for his hunting skills. 


           My husband and I are living in a patio-style apartment complex in the Phoenix area while he goes to graduate school. The phone rings on Sunday afternoon: our family black cat back home is at death’s door. Much, much sobbing ensues and comforting words are spoken with one eye still on the textbook relevant to tomorrow’s exam.

            A sad dinner is pieced together.
            From outside our apartment: “Meow, meow, meow.”
            Washing dishes:  “Meow, meow, meow.”
            Standing on the balcony, looking out:  “Meow, meow, meow.”

            I can’t stand it and bolt out the door, run down the stairs, calling, “Kitty, kitty, kitty?” into the dark.

            Silence.  And then a half-grown, scrawny black cat with too-big ears crawls out from under the stairs and peers up at me as if I am the only answer to a prayer.  “Meow, meow, meow.”

            I grab the leftover chicken breast that is for our dinner tomorrow and pull off chunks to lure the little cat up the open stairs that it’s afraid of and into our safe apartment. My husband sees that black cat and immediately knows there is no way this cat will be sent out into the scary night tonight, not with my family cat dying back in Iowa.  He sighs.  “But you’re putting up signs tomorrow to find an owner,” he said.  “Of course,” I agreed.

            Two days later, he comes home from the grocery store with an expensive toy for “Kitty.” Kitty becomes a member of the family from then on: a loving, but incredibly shy little fellow. Friends and family barely see this cat and make jokes about its existence.

            Ten years later this husband dies, and there are many times during those long, awful days and nights where only the cat understands what I’m feeling.

            Eventually, I start dating, and one night I’m cooking dinner for the first time for a new guy, one who is smart, with an adorable way of winking at the exact right moment. He doesn’t like cats either, but I assure him, “Believe me, you won’t even see this cat.”

            We’re sitting on the couch, drinking some wine, and Kitty strolls in, jumps up on the sofa and cozies in between us, eyes slitted as if keeping up with our conversation.  “I guess he likes me,” this new man says. 


magical black cat? 


            This is the man who cries when we have to take Kitty to the vet for that last time.  This is the man I marry a few years later.

- Leslie
           
Please check out Leslie's books and remember to check out THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO!

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Summer of Letting Go: Karma or Coincidence? Countdown (Robert Leland Taylor)



If you've read this intro before, skip down to Robert's post. 
Enjoy!

As some of you may know, THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO, my second novel for young adults comes out March 25th from Algonquin Young Readers.


THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO tells the story of almost-16-yr-old Francesca “Beans” “Frankie” Schnell who, four years ago witnessed her baby brother, Simon, drown. Guilty and broken, Francesca has hunkered down in the shadows of her life, resolved to play second fiddle to her dead brother’s memory and to her best friend Lisette, a blonde bubbly beauty Francesca lives vicariously through. That is, until she meets a young boy named Frankie Sky who bears an uncanny resemblance to her brother. Frankie brings humor and hope to Francesca’s life, but are all the similarities between Frankie and Simon merely wishful coincidences, or could he be Simon’s reincarnation?

Curious coincidences abound in THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO not only the overlaps between Simon and Frankie Skybut also Bradley’s gift to Francesca, Bradley’s bird sighting, and the ties to the statue of  Saint Florian (you'll have to read to know what these are ;)). Midway through the story Francesca starts to think these events can’t really be coincidences, “but something bigger and magical at work.”

Have you ever experienced strange events that seemed like more than coincidence and made you wonder if fate was at work or that soul and or reincarnation exist?

Throughout the month, I've decided to pose that question to friends, some writers, others bearing other artistic talents, for a brief account of their own experience with karma, kismet or a mystical connection. I leave you to answer the question, “Random or something magical at work?” 

- gae


Today I have friend (and talented writer and artist!), Robert Leland Taylor (one of the kookiest, funniest guys I have the pleasure to know.

If you'd like to follow him on twitter or like him on facebook, there you go!)

He's the author of Holy Toledo and the Virgin Shirley.

Here he is with the story of a telltale sewer. Of course he is.



I felt guilty about receiving letters from an ex-girlfriend during my first marriage, but did so anyway. She'd written them all on pink stationery and mailed them to the store I managed, to insure privacy. But, like an idiot, I took them home, hid them in the bottom drawer of my desk.

Then one day they came up missing—all of them—probably seven or eight.

The next few days were torture. I knew who took them, my wife knew I knew who took them, yet neither of us said a word to each other.

The following Sunday I climbed into the car to go to work. It was a beautiful day, bright and clear after days of incessant thunderstorms. The car wouldn't start. So I headed off on-foot toward the store, five bocks away.  About halfway there I stopped in my tracks—a nearby sewer was heaving noisily, bringing up a soggy mix that included pink stationery with hand-written lines.

Yes, they were the very same lines missing from my desk drawer.

Looks like a plain old sewer. . . or is it?

That evening I found the courage to face my wife. “I'm sorry,” I said.

She nodded, smiled pensively. We held each other, feeling a tremendous weight lifting, our lives on track once again.

She told me she'd flushed the letters down the toilet one page at a time the same day she found them. My eyes were the first to see them when they re-emerged. Coincidence? Maybe. But when you consider the odds...

- Robert

Please check out Robert's book and order or buy your copy of THE SUMMER OF LETTING GO today, popping up on bookshelves everywhere.