13 Days ’til Snowed Drops

I just got my contributor copies from Raw Dog Screaming Press. Aren’t they gorgeous?!?! And the initial reviews on Goodreads are awesome.


This book has been one of my proudest achievements. I’ve never felt as much joy writing anything as I have this book and its sequel, Inversion. I suspect writing the last book in the trilogy — Ashes of Angels — will kill me because I won’t want to leave these characters, but that’s what we do, right? Stories start and end. But Snowed is the beginning, and has been the beginning of so much more in my life.

Nothing about this book went the way I thought it would. The first draft took a hard left turn at the end of Chapter 5, and I had to rewrite the entire outline. Most of the book was written with voice recognition technology while I was disabled. Strangely enough, I found my voice both figuratively and literally in writing for teens. I had no idea how amazing it would be. And now it’s the genre in which I thrive.

cranberry-clipart-SnowFlakes39_1_2Scarlet_RedThe whole submission process was terrifying, devastating, encouraging, and enlightening all at once. I also had no idea I’d come back to Raw Dog Screaming Press. I bet it was equally surprising for them. This is not only their first YA publication, but they put out the book the same year that the contract was signed. For those new to the publishing industry, that never happens. Jennifer and John are incredible people for making it a reality.

One thing I’m sure of is that these characters are going to crash into people’s hearts the way they did mine. Especially Charity. She taught me so much about writing the other, being a teen today, and believing in myself. Maybe that’s why I love this book so much. Don’t get me wrong. Writing Mr. Wicker was exhilarating, a poetic exorcism of my darkest days. I’m no longer haunted by Alicia’s feelings of invisibility, the overwhelming desire to retreat into the darkness, despair at the thought of finding solace in the world. As Mr. Wicker says, In time the ink shall sing. And so it did, freeing me from the past and bringing me so many blessings.

img_5891I’m so grateful that Snowed found me after Mr. Wicker. I’ve made new friends, found my fantastic agent Alex Slater, and my existing friendships have deepened in beautiful ways. I can’t wait to connect with my readers, both teens and adults. I feel like something incredibly special is about to happen — for me, that is, but I hope for you all, as well.

I’m about to ruin Christmas. And I can’t wait.

Winners of the Snowed #YASH Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who entered my Rafflecopter giveaway for Snowed. Out of almost 100 entries, Rafflecopter chose three random winners:

Artemis Giote, Greece

Heather Li, USA

Christine Alves, USA

Congratulations, ladies! Check your email for more information.

Thanks again so much to you all. This was my first #YASH, and it was so much fun! See you next year.


Welcome to the Fall 2016 YA Scavenger Hunt!


About Your Host

Maria Alexander

I’m Maria Alexander, your host for what’s possibly your spookiest scavenger hunt stop. I’m an award-winning author of suspenseful supernatural short stories, books, and poetry.

My breakout YA novel is called Snowed. It’s about Charity Jones, a teen skeptic and engineering prodigy who learns that, not only should she believe in certain Christmas myths, she should be afraid of them…



When I’m not writing, I’m a real-life samurai-in-training. I study Shinkendo, which is Samurai swordsmanship. Yes, I know how use a real katana!


How to Play

The YA Scavenger Hunt is a great way to win a copy of my book Snowed and many other great YA books. Here’s how:

  1. Pick a team and follow them. There are eight teams, which means there are eight contests going on simultaneously. You can enter one, some, or all! I’m on the PURPLE TEAM, but there are also RED, ORANGE, GOLD, GREEN, TEAL, BLUE, and PINK teams. Hunt all the numbers for each team for a chance to win that team’s set of books. To see the full list of prizes up for grabs, visit the YA Scavenger Hunt Prize page. 
  2. Somewhere on this page I’ve hidden my favorite number in purple. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the PURPLE TEAM, and then add them up.
  3. Once you’ve added up all the numbers, fill out the entry form to officially qualify for the grand prize for PURPLE TEAM. Repeat for each team color as you wish. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 9 at noon Pacific Time.
Rules: The hunt is open to anyone, anywhere. If you’re below the age of 18, you must have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Here are all the amazing books you might win if you add up and submit the numbers for PURPLE TEAM.

I have the distinct pleasure of hosting:

Emily Skrutskie

Emily Skrutskie
Emily is six feet tall. She was born in Massachusetts, raised in Virginia, and forged in the mountains above Boulder, Colorado. She holds a B.A. in Performing and Media Arts from Cornell University, where she studied an outrageous and demanding combination of film, computer science, and game design. Her short fiction has been published by HarperTeen, and her debut novel, The Abyss Surrounds Us, is now available.

About Her Book

For Cassandra Leung, bossing around sea monsters is just the family business. She’s been a Reckoner trainer-in-training ever since she could walk, raising the genetically-engineered beasts to defend ships as they cross the pirate-infested NeoPacific. But when the pirate queen Santa Elena swoops in on Cas’s first solo mission and snatches her from the bloodstained decks, Cas’s dream of being a full-time trainer seems dead in the water.

Waiting for her on the pirate ship is an unhatched Reckoner pup. Santa Elena wants to take back the seas with a monster of her own, and she needs a proper trainer to do it. She orders Cas to raise the pup and teach him to fight for the pirates. If Cas fails, her blood will be the next to paint the sea.

But Cas has fought pirates her entire life. Santa Elena has no idea what she’s in for.

Title: The Abyss Surrounds Us
Release Date
: 2/8/2016
Genre: YA Science Fiction
ISBN: 0738746916

(Maria here. I am very much a piratical type. Like most pirates, my philosophy is simple. I believe the answer to The Question of Life, the Universe and Everything is 42.)

Emily’s Bonus Material

In Emily’s own words, read more about her book, The Abyss Surrounds Us, which was just released in February 2016.


If you’re a fan of The Abyss Surrounds Us, you’re probably mad at me. And I totally understand. I’ve spent an entire year making uncertain, nonspecific promises that a sequel was coming. But here’s the thing — the sequel is coming. And soon (as soon as soon can be in the world of publishing). I can’t specify more than soon, but I’m just saying — it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

So to prepare you, here’s a little list of things to expect:

  1. More pirates. In The Abyss Surrounds Us, we never met another crew beyond the Minnow. But thousands of pirates sail the NeoPacific, and in the sequel, we meet plenty more of them.
  2. More sea monsters. Just as many more pirates sail the seas, many more sea monsters swim them. The Reckoners we met in the first book were pretty cool, but in the sequel we’ll see some of my favorite creatures in the series.
  3. Some new friends. One of them might be a prince. Named after an obscure Brooklyn Nine-Nine character.
  4. Some old ones. It is a sequel, after all.
  5. More salty pirate language. Honestly I think there’s around four times more profanity in this book. Ah, the perils of spending too much time around sailors.
  6. Swift’s last name. A hint: she shares it with a popular superhero.
  7. A certain captain’s backstory.
  8. An embarrassing eating contest.
  9. Some new tattoos.
  10. Equal footing. In the first book, Cas and Swift didn’t stand on the same ground. Now they do. Though it causes no shortage of problems, it also removes a certain set of obstacles, and the benefits are… reaped.

I know, I know. It’s the cruelest of teasers. But before you know it, it’ll be 2017 and the sequel to The Abyss Surrounds Us will be in your precious hands!

Emily’s book and its sequel sound amazing, don’t they? Here’s how to stay in touch with Emily and her news.
Visit her website.
Follow her on Twitter.
View her Instagram photos and Pinterest boards.
Check out her groovy Tumblr.
“Like” her author page on Facebook.
Follow her on Goodreads.

Did you find my number? GREAT! Now proceed to the next scavenger hunt stop, which is at Jennifer Jenkins’ blog.

Want to enter a separate drawing for another chance to win a copy of Snowed? JUST GO HERE.

Join the YA Scavenger Hunt October 4th to 9th!


Hey everybody! I’m on Team Purple in the YA Scavenger Hunt, an amazing opportunity for you to win a whack-ton of free books!

Want to hunt? GREAT! I’ve copied and pasted the info below from the YA Scavenger Hunt website.

But here’s extra incentive: In addition to the scavenger hunt, I’ll be giving away 3 free copies of my YA novel Snowed in my own drawing. DON’T MISS THIS.

How To Hunt

Welcome! If you have never participated in a YA Scavenger Hunt before, then this is for you.

We are so glad that you have joined us! Hunting is so much fun and I always discover new authors and their books. It’s also fun to get to know each author and have access to exclusive content that each author offers, not to mention all the amazing chances at prizes.


The YA Scavenger Hunt is run twice a year: once in April and once in October. It runs from Thursday to Sunday. So you have just three full days to participate.

On Tuesday at noon (Pacific Time) all authors posts go live and the hunt begins.

  1. Pick a team or a specific author. Start there. Go to their site (we link to each author’s sites here at YA Scavenger Hunt).
  2. Find their YA Scavenger Hunt post. It should be super easy to tell which one it is because it will have our graphic on it.
  3. Read their post which will include an author bio, book info, exclusive content, (not always but in most cases) a giveaway, and a link to another author’s webpage.
  4. Look for a number on the post. This could be big and colored. It could be “you need to know…” It should be pretty easy to figure out which number you need to know. Write this number down.
  5. Click the link at the bottom of the post so you can continue the hunt within that same team.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 until you have visited all the authors for one team.
  7. Add up the numbers that you collected from all the authors of one team. Visit our ENTER HERE page, find the appropriate Rafflecopter, and submit your entry.
  8. Repeat for every team that you want.
  9. Optionally, watch your TO BE READ list grow and grow.

Need more help? Here’s a sample scenario. Do not use these numbers for the actual hunt as they are just a sample.

Let’s say Colleen Houck, Tera Lynn Childs, and Beth Revis are all on Team Yellow. I choose to start with Colleen Houck and go to her page. Colleen Houck is hosting Tera Lynn Childs so on Colleen’s page I will find information about Tera Lynn Childs, her book, and her exclusive content. The number I find is 7. The giveaway I will find is hosted by Colleen Houck though so if I enter the giveaway here, I’m entering to win a book from Colleen Houck.

Colleen Houck links to Tera Lynn Childs so I head there next. Tera Lynn Childs is hosting Beth Revis so I get to read about Beth Revis, her book, and her exclusive content. The number I see is 23. If I see a giveaway, this is for something from Tera Lynn Childs.

Tera Lynn Childs links to Beth Revis who is hosting Colleen Houck. I’ll read about Colleen Houck, her book, and her exclusive content with a giveaway by Beth Revis. The number here is 3. The link at the end of the post will go back to Colleen Houck at which point I know I am done with Team Yellow.

I take the three numbers I have collected (7, 23, and 3) and add them together (33). I head to the ENTER HERE page on YA Scavenger Hunt, find the rafflecopter for Team Yellow and enter the number 33 to be entered to win a book from all three authors on that team.

Last tips and hints!
Not all authors are hosting personal giveaways.
If you can’t find where you should be going, you can always visit our STUCK page for help.
If you need help, you can leave a comment on this site, post on the YA Scavenger Hunt Facebook page, or tweet @YAScavengerHunt on twitter.

The Strange Yet True Story Behind the Book, Mr. Wicker

It’s National Suicide Prevention Week and almost exactly two years since my award-winning novel, Mr. Wicker, was published. As many of you know, Mr. Wicker opens with the main character, Alicia Baum, taking her own life. What many don’t know is the extraordinary backstory of how the book came to be in the midst of my own head-on collision with suicidal thoughts.

However, the backstory is more than that. So much more, in fact, that rather than telling the story in interviews, I chose instead to tell it in a series of videos that could be unlocked by solving a chain of puzzles. The prize had to be worth the effort, yes? And this is quite a tale. The puzzles were so challenging, though, that not many people solved them. Almost all who tried got stuck on the third puzzle, never finding the fourth and final video.

And that’s a shame because anyone who is struggling or who has struggled with suicidal thoughts would benefit from hearing this story. It’s about devastation, depression, and the surprising magic that saved my life. So, I’m including the videos here for the world to watch. If it helps even one person, it was worth the pain and hazards of soul baring.

In a time and out of time, in time the ink shall sing…

Video #1


Video #2


Video #3


Video #4

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Three New-to-Me Things I Love

The Little Prince

For reasons that various outlets insist are “mysterious,” this film was never fully released in the U.S. That’s a major shame because it’s absolutely magical. I loved it to pieces, even before I read that director Mark Osborne (Kung Fu Panda) chose a little girl as protagonist thanks to statements from the Geena Davis Institute of Gender Media about the gender disparity in animated films. Me, I bawled like a baby through this thing, it was so touching and beautiful. I’ve loved The Little Prince for decades. I didn’t want to see yet another version of the book. I wanted to see an amazing new approach to the story, and this film delivers it in spades. It has a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and you can watch it on Netflix. I give it five hearts.



Happy Valley

Stepping continents away from children’s movies, Happy Valley is possibly the best thing to come out since The Wire. A Netflix original TV series for those who love dark and gritty crime stories, this show follows sergeant Catherine Cawood played by Sarah Lancashire. Straight up, the writing, directing and acting on this show is so brilliant, it makes me weep. Lancashire is so convincing as the super tough-with-tender spots Cawood that I have to keep reminding myself that she isn’t a real person. Making this even more realistic is Lancashire’s robust physique. Unlike every female cop on American TV, Lancashire looks like she could really bust a skull and her body is totally appropriate for her age (which is over 50, by the way). I love this character so much, I can’t even. She’s been through the worst and we watch her go through even more terrible events — not perfectly, mind. She makes plenty of believable mistakes yet I love her all the same. The realism of this series is brutal in ways network TV can’t portray.So, if you’re at all a delicate flower, you might want to avoid this series. I give it five switchblades.

Two Dots 

This puzzle game is maddeningly addictive. I even have dreams about it. Every time I think I’ve had it and I’m going to stop playing, I stumble past the blocks and keep going. I’ve been playing it on my iPad, although you might enjoy it on your phone all the same. I’m in the 500s now level-wise, but I think my good pal Scott Edelman is all the way to the end. I’ll catch up! You’ll see! ::shakes fist:: I give it five squares. (You’ll just have to play to find out what I mean.)


Some Surprising Astrology of the 2016 Election (SPOILERS!)

Back from SCBWI

I’m fresh back from the incredible SCBWI Summer Convention here in Los Angeles, where we talked nonstop about the craft of writing and business of publishing children’s literature. The SCBWI community truly blew me away. I learned far more than I expected, bringing home over 5000 words of notes, dozens of live tweets from the relentlessly fantastic keynote speeches, and new friends I already cherish.

One of the things I learned at the conference is that as a YA author I’m never, ever supposed to tweet or blog about politics or religion. Of course, I’m about to do both now at the same time! YAAAAY!

I Couldn’t Resist

If you’ve been a longtime reader of my blog, you know that I’ve been studying astrology for over 20 years and that I’ve made some pretty astonishing predictions about elections. My current publishers were actually witnesses to those jaw-dropping predictions when we first met back in 2004. I’ve even made predictions about Obama that have come true, specifically about Sandy Hook. I then had to take a break from astrology because it had been too accurate, and I was obsessing over challenges I saw coming up in my chart. I stepped away until I could focus more on the present than the future.

But now I have returned! I’ve been fascinated by the election and really itching to find out what was going to happen come this November. If I have accurate birth data for the candidates, it’s often quite obvious from their transits what’s happening even a year off while the polls are still bouncing up and down.

The problem is that we don’t have reliable data for Hillary Clinton, and that’s really thrown a bit of a cloud over the magic 8-ball. While folks probably think it’s looking cut and dry, what with Donald Trump soiling his diaper every other minute and ever bigger GOP figures denouncing him, I still think it’s worth examining the day and aftermath of the election.

Election Day

Like I said, usually it’s pretty clear what’s happening to a candidate based on his or her transits the day of and after. It was clear Kerry wasn’t going to win in 2004 because he had disappointment transits and John “I’m Secretly a Cheatin’ Ho” Edwards also had terrible family-oriented transits. Just days after my prediction, and days before the election, he announced his wife Elizabeth had breast cancer.

The transits for this election are a bit murkier, but they’re still quite telling.

Hillary Clinton

No one has reliable birth data for Hillary Clinton. We know what day she was born and where, but not what time. This makes all the difference in the world. When I lived in France, it was during the 2007 election. I didn’t have to be able to speak a word of French to know that Segolene Royale was going to tumble. She had a devastating transit to her midheaven — a very sensitive point in her chart related to career and reputation that you can only calculate with a precise birth time, which was available. Meanwhile, Sarkozy had a gentle Neptune transit to his native Venus. Dude thought the world was in love with him and vice versa.

One thing we know for sure about Clinton is that she has a pleasant but very minor Venus transit, the sort she might have if she went to the museum that day and had a nice cup of tea. She also has a minor “lucky” transit, the sort you might have when you get a break on a parking ticket.

However…she has a slower but bigger transit that the famed astrologer Robert Hand might consider her big win. Uranus will be forming a trine to her natal Saturn. Here’s what he says of people experiencing it:

Whatever your motivation, you will win favor from your superiors, because they can see that you have balanced hard work and discipline on one hand with innovation and originality on the other. For this reason you may get a promotion of some kind now, which will bring you greater power and authority. But even if you achieve a new position, you are not likely to cease working for change within the system that you are part of. You will continue for some time, perhaps always, to work for reform and new ways of doing things, but always in the practical manner that got you there in the first place.

I mean, some would say this sounds like Clinton to a tee. (YMMV, ‘natch.)

And in the aftermath, she’ll see greater power and transformation in her relationships as transiting Pluto sextiles her natal Venus. All else aside, these two things alone make me think she’s going to tromp Trump.

Donald Trump

As usual, this guy is kind of under cellophane. Unlike Clinton, we’ve got great data on him. Clearly something is upsetting him that day — big time. But when Uranus transits one’s natal Moon this way (which is the transit in question), one could argue it’s a “good” upset, like general excitement. (Chelsea Clinton has TWO major transits of this nature, one potentially quite negative.) And since the moon represents public image and Uranus sudden changes, this could easily be “You’re Hired!”

Well…except there’s a curious minor transit. His natal Mercury (representing his thoughts) moves into the 4th house, which is the lowest point in the chart, the part that rules family and home. Why would his thoughts enter that realm if he’s just become President of the United States? Atypical, I think.

What I was expecting to see was either a transit to his midheaven (see Segolene Royale) or some influence on his ascendant, which at 29 degrees Leo is LITERALLY conjunct a “royal star” — in this case, Regulus. If ever anyone was born feeling entitled from the crib, it was him, rich family or no. And since transits to the ascendant indicate a change in interaction with the world, as well as his sense of royalty (ahem), we’d know if he’d been crowned or dethroned. But no such transit exists barring an exploration of progressions, etc.

He Might Even Quit

Of course, there’s talk that Trump will quit before the election even happens. That’s a possibility as he has a major “breaking free” transit right this very second. If he doesn’t, he certainly wants to. And soon. There are simply too many restrictions in being a presidential candidate for him to cope. We’ll see if he cracks. If he does, we’re looking at another candidate’s transits and then that would change everything.

Everyone Else

As I mentioned, Chelsea’s got some seriously insane “big sudden change” transits that day, mostly to her relationships and values. That might be due to becoming the first person in history to have had both a mother and father as POTUS. They could also, unfortunately, be related to her being beyond upset about a Trump win and her doing something foolish about it (but I can’t imagine that). Her dad, Bill Clinton, is having some nice party transits. But then, whenever I picture Bill Clinton, I see him as “The Clinton” playing his sax in the Animaniacs opening. Bill is and always has been the party, kids. Some things never change!

The eyebrow!

And then there’s Tim Kaine, who doesn’t seem to even be in this election. It’s like, “Are you even with us, Tim? Are you hiding back there playing the harmonica or something?” (Don’t get me wrong. I like the guy.) It’s not until sometime in December that Tim’s whoopass transits hit. Hard. I don’t even know if they’re entirely good. They look pretty badass, but he could be bruised deeply in the process. And then coming up on Inauguration Day, he’s experiencing a really big event: his second Saturn Return. For many people his age, this is the runup to retirement, a time of letting go of job and activities they’ve known all their lives. But since it’s Tim and this coincides with Inauguration Day, I’m really hoping Saturn is bringing more responsibility, which is something Saturn lurrrves.

Pence? Another one with partial data. I’d rather not even try.

Bernie, for what it’s worth, has a major wooo-pahteee-hooo transit on Inauguration Day. It’s like a big wedding transit, really. He’ll be feeling the Bern as he dances the night away. Celebrating a GOP defeat? Or indulging in Democrat schadenfreude? You decide!

The Aftermath Clinches It

Tim Kaine’s badass transits aside, Trump will be suffering a major depressive episode. Transiting Saturn will be crossing his natal Moon. Looks like his massive ego will be smarting from the loss. Here’s what Robert Hand has to say about that:

During this time you may withdraw from others, have difficulty in relationships — especially with women — experience depression and feel quite inferior to life’s demands. The best way to deal with this is not to take it all so seriously. Your perspective is warped, so that small matters seem too important. Do not make final decisions about your emotional life now. Wait until you can see more clearly what you have learned from this time.

He’ll also have a less powerful “optimism” transit, but not anything big enough to counter the above-mentioned blow. A second, similar transit carries into Inauguration Day. However, there’s also evidence of a big bankruptcy during that time, something that will really hit his wallet, which like the rest of the predictions in this post, wouldn’t surprise anyone.

And Then There’s Our Aftermath

Even if Clinton wins, the big mess of ugly that has lifted its slimy head and brandished its rotting fangs isn’t going away. I’ve been telling people that, given the rollout of Trump’s transits, if he stays in the race, he’s going to drag out the results as far as he can. He’s already just announced that, if he doesn’t win, he’s going to declare the election “rigged.”

But it’s the people who brought him this far that worry me. The previously unacknowledged pustule of racism, homophobia, and misogyny that’s been festering in the GOP for lo these many years has finally burst and sprayed its contagion across the land, bolstered by internet echo chambers. The Comments Section — that font of ignorance and vitriol that spews under news articles and Facebook posts alike — found its king and raised him high on their many, many, many shoulders. They’re not going to hide under rocks or behind blank avatar icons anymore.

They will have lost the battle, but not the war…

Interview on Shriekfest Radio Thursday Night

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 12.17.16 PM

Tune in the evening of Thursday, June 23 to hear Founder and Festival Director Denise Gossett from the renown Shriekfest Film Festival interview me on Shriekfest Radio!

Date: June 23, 2016
Time: 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time
How to Listen: Go to the Shriekfest website, scroll halfway down the home page, and select the Shriekfest Radio headline. It’ll take you to the page where you can listen live.

I’ll be talking about Snowed, my upcoming horror suspense novel for teens, as well as new short stories and other exciting news. Don’t miss it!

A Love Letter to My LGBTQIA Friends

Dear Friends and Others,

I love you.

In third grade, my tomboy friend Deborah asked me if I knew what “gay” meant. “You mean happy?” I asked. So innocent. She replied, “No, it’s when two men…” her voice trailed off. “You wouldn’t understand.”

I didn’t. But I liked Deborah. I knew she was different, but I liked her all the same.

In high school, my friends Jonathan and Philippe were openly gay/bisexual. I’d had a brief crush on Jonathan in 8th grade, but something told me it was not meant to be. Although I became “born again” in my teens, it didn’t affect my affection for them. When they invited me to go dance with them at Bojangles, the gay dance club in Sacramento, it was so incredibly tempting. If it weren’t for fear of my parents, I would have been there in a heartbeat. Despite the teachings of the bible, I knew who they loved wasn’t a choice. This was how they were. And although I’m sure I said some ignorant things from time to time (and probably do still do), I really did love my friends.

Decades later, I sat with Jonathan at a park around midnight in my old neighborhood, talking about the bullying we both suffered at school. I asked him, “Was school worse for you than for me? It must’ve been.”

Staring at the cigarette dangling between his fingers, he whispered, “It was a nightmare.”

I love you, Jonathan. And all of my gay and lesbian friends. My bisexual, trans, queer, intersex and asexual friends. Even those I don’t know. I love you. I care about what’s happened to you and what’s happening now.

A few years ago, my friend’s teen daughter came out as asexual. I confess, for the first few seconds I had a sort of inner parental type of panic. Is she okay? Has she seen the doctor? But those thoughts were quickly drowned out by feelings of love and acceptance. She’s okay. She doesn’t need a doctor. She needs love.

It’s what everyone needs.

When I was a contractor working at the FOX lot in 2005, one of the employees there was transitioning to female. I saw her every day from my desk as she went in and out of offices down the hallway. I wanted to tell her that she was amazing, fearless, fantastic. But I didn’t want to scare her, to make her think I was invading her privacy or fetishizing her experience. So, I said nothing. I never knew her name.

But she really was amazing, fearless, fantastic.

And loved.

Sunday morning, I woke up to the news of carnage committed by a man boiling over with hate and violence. I cried because he’d tried so desperately to destroy a community I love. It felt useless posting anything on social media because it would get lost in the torrent of political rants and the overly simplified memes that Facebook favors. When I saw my friend Travis later that day, I hugged him hard and took his hand. In that moment, I realized how much I care about him and his boyfriend, and I felt some hint of the terrible agony they must be experiencing. Of being hated and unsafe. I know because I’m a white straight cis woman. I’ve been stalked, threatened, attacked. But not like this. Never like this.

If I could shelter you all from the hate and violence, I would. I’d wrap my arms around you so the bullets could bounce off my skin. But I can’t. Instead, I will fight beside you and, more importantly, I will try to listen to you. From what you’re saying, it sounds like you need to know people care. The word “compassion” in Latin means “to suffer with.” Please know that I’m here suffering with you.

And loving you.