20 Years Ago, When the World Turned Upside Down

So, January 15 marks the 20th anniversary of a profound, life-changing event. It was one of a series of extraordinary synchronistic events that dramatically changed my life. But it wasn’t until March 26, 1996, that the universe truly dropped me head first down a rabbit hole from which I have never fully emerged. While I can say my life has vastly changed for the better, I still sometimes struggle to understand the course my life has taken since, having expected it to have been different in some ways.

I’ve shared “The Story,” as I call it, with some folk over the last twenty years. It’s never been easy, especially with the people I love most. I usually make good judgments about who to tell, but not always. I’ve tried to keep it to a need-to-know or need-to-tell basis. That said, I know in my heart that the story can’t stay hidden forever.

Memories of those events are making me incredibly sad today. Not because the events themselves hold sway over me, but because I’ve had certain ideas about where I’d be and what would be happening at this point in my life that haven’t happened yet.

I know some of you are thinking, “What the hell is wrong with you? You won a Bram Stoker Award! Your book got a Starred Review in Library Journal! You’ve published tons of stories and poetry, and you’ve made terrific progress for someone who wasn’t a fiction writer to someone who is, despite two long bouts of hand disability — lemons, by the way, you turned into fucking Lemon Drop Martinis.”

I agree. It’s ridiculous. Part of it is because, as of today, this new book isn’t where I’d like it to be. It’s been hard reading emails from editors who say they love the book and couldn’t put it down, only to ultimately reject it for marketing reasons. Of course, writers never know exactly why an editor passes on a book. It could be for lots of unspoken reasons. No one has to say they admire something when they don’t, though. Not like what I’ve read.

During the submission process, I’ve been following a parody account called “Brooding YA Hero” and laughing my ass off at the sarcastic posts.

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Reading this account, it’s clear I’ve broken a lot of “rules” (or rather stereotypes) of YA fiction. I was  starting to wonder if I’d broken too many “rules.” (I think if I had, my wonderful agent would have said something. He’s great like that.) It’s possible that what I think teens want and what the industry believes teens want might differ.

After she reviewed Inversion, the sequel to Snowed, I asked one of my 16-year-old beta readers if I’d broken a lot of “rules.” She replied, “Well, yeah. But it’s awesome!”

So, there’s that.

There are still editors reviewing the book. One or more of them might love it enough to take it home to Mom. We’ll see. Once Mercury goes direct on January 26, communication in general will start to clear. But I’ve got two more important milestone dates staring at me: February 20 and March 26.

How on earth will I handle those milestones?

I guess the only way anyone can: one day at a time.

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