A little over five years ago, I decided to make a serious push to become a published YA author. Partly, this was because I’d always loved to write, but partly, it was because it was the natural culmination of a journey my daughter and I had begun together.
I read to both my children when they were little, and they grew up loving books. Unfortunately, my daughter has a learning disability that makes it difficult for her to read. She works so hard in school that it became too painful to try to read for pleasure, but she missed sharing fictional worlds.
It wasn’t until she discovered YA books that something clicked, and I immediately took her to the book store, and we came home with armloads of books that she wouldn’t have to worry about returning to the library. I read the books either before or after she finished, and when I’d fallen thoroughly in love with YA literature, I confessed to her that I’d always dreamed of being a writer.
She asked me what was stopping me.
I could have answered that I worked twelve hours a day, volunteered, and spent hours taking her to lacrosse and field hockey, to art lessons and a thousand other things. I could have listed all the distractions. But that wasn’t what she wanted to hear.
She wanted permission to have courage. Assurance that she could have a dream and make it happen.
I wrote a YA novel. I didn’t know how, but I did it anyway. Then I wrote another. With each one, I had hopes and fears and close calls. I pulled my hair out and worked late into the night. And I learned more with each one.
I sold my third novel in a six-figure deal, and my daughter was able to walk into Target and Walmart and see it on the shelves.
She told me the other day that she knows she’s going to fail when she tries things, but she will never fail to find the courage to try.
THAT was the better than any book deal.
COMPULSION, the first book in the Heirs of Watson Island trilogy, is about Barrie Watson, a girl who has suddenly lost her entire family. She has grown up very sheltered. She has lived very little and failed very little, and she is scared of many things. She has panic attacks. And she is thrown into a situation where she has to find the courage to find answers, family, love, and herself.
The song “Truly Brave” — the medley between Sara Bareilles’ “Brave” and Cyndi Lauper’s “True Colors” says what I would like to tell Barrie, my daughter, and every person who has been afraid to speak up and find themselves or be themselves. You can listen to that song and the entire COMPULSION playlist here:
If you’re a writer, you’ll see that this song speaks to you. It has become my anthem as well as Barrie’s. Whenever I am afraid, I turn it on. I’m still afraid a lot. Writing is a huge journey. There’s always a new hill to climb, but the song was created to support pediatric cancer. I think of what those kids are going through, what my daughter went through, and I feel like all my obstacles are manageable.
I can be truly brave.
And so can you.
She’s the founder of AdventuresInYAPublishing.com, a Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers site, and YASeriesInsiders.com, a Tumblr site devoted to news, giveaways, and insider secrets of much-loved and up-and-coming YA series.
From her home in Virginia, where she lives with her husband, children, and Auggie the wonder dog, she enjoys writing contemporary fantasy set in the kinds of magical places she’d love to visit. When she isn’t writing, she’s addicted to travel, horses, skiing, chocolate flavored tea, and anything with Nutella on it.