Before I start a June full* of Pride-themed blog posts, I wanted to share an update on my Oregon Book Award nomination. It was a huge honor to be named a finalist and really exciting to attend the Oregon Book Award ceremony for the first time, but I didn't end up winning. The winner of Best Young Adult Novel was Shea Ernshaw for The Wicked Deep. In her acceptance speech, she mentioned querying agents when she was ten or twelve years old, so it was clear she's been working on her writing for a while. It was pretty amazing to even be included in the same category as Shea and the other finalists, Fonda Lee and Emily Suvada, especially considering this was my first novel and was self-published without a professional editor touching it.
The most impressive part of the Oregon Book Award ceremony, though, was how many of my friends came out to support me. Five book club members, my stepsister and brother-in-law, and one of my coworkers joined my girlfriend and me in the crowd, and you better believe my friends made a ruckus when my book was announced. <3 <3 <3
It's hard to believe it's been almost a year since my book came out. Right now, I'm working on a second novel (not a sequel, but still queer YA). I've learned so much about publishing, writing, and marketing in the last year. Look for blog posts later this summer with more info about what I've learned! And don't forget - you too can go from an unpublished writer to an award finalist in a year! You just have to start writing now. My current goal is writing 10 minutes a day. It's a small goal, so it doesn't feel overwhelming, and I often find myself sticking with the work for more than ten minutes. Even when I don't write longer, I feel like I'm getting to know the characters better each time, and the word count really adds up.
Overall, being nominated for an Oregon Book Award was such a wonderful experience. I got great feedback from the judges, and just feel so lucky and loved. Thank you all for your support!
* Regular followers of my blog will recognize that "full" is probably an overstatement here.
I was so excited to be invited to participate in the Cut & Paste art show coming up at Cellar 55 in Vancouver, Washington. I’ve always loved cutting up paper and making collages for zines and mail art, but this is my first time making a collage piece for a show. I got a little bit intimidated by translating my scappy aesthetic to Fine Art, but I’m really proud of the piece that I ended up putting together.
The opening reception for Cut & Paste is this Friday, February 1 at 5:00 p.m. at Cellar 55 (1812 Washington St. in Vancouver). If you can't make it to the opening, the show will be up all month. Cellar 55 Tasting Room is open for viewing and wine tasting Tue-Thu 12-6pm, Fri 12-9pm, Sat 12-8pm, Sun 12-6pm. Other artists featured in the show include Kelly Keigwin, Sam MacKenzie, Greg Bee, Christopher Luna, Shannon Yoffe, and Lisa Laser.
Hello! Happy November! The most important thing this month is to remember to vote!! If, like me, you live in Oregon, it's too late to mail our ballots in, so please be sure to drop yours off at a library or other drop site before 8 p.m. on Tuesday! I think it's really important to vote for candidates who will oppose Donald Trump, like Kate Brown for Governor. I hope that Oregon will continue with our queer, progressive governor. I know most of my friends agree with me about this, so I think the most important thing is to make sure your ballot gets counted.
My other November news is that this coming weekend, I'm going to the Euzine Comics and Zine Fest in Eugene, Oregon. It will be my first time tabling and attending, so I'm excited. Euzine is Saturday, November 10th from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Auditorium at the Lane Events Center. If you're in the area, stop by and say hello!
In October, I tabled at the Olympia Zine Fest. I've been to the Olympia Zine Fest a few times, and I love the friendly atmosphere and variety of zines. I was lucky enough to be seated next to my friend Sage, and it was great to talk about my book with folks, trade zines, and share my work! I also picked up a lot of creative and interesting zines, which I'm loving reading through.
I hope that Euzine will be just as fun and productive as the Olympia Zine Fest, and that the election results will bring positive change and help guide the country away from fascism. Regardless, I'm trying to fight fascism by living my life the way I want to and speaking out about what I believe. What are you doing to fight?
The weekends since my book release have been busy, busy, busy! On Sunday, July 28th, I tabled with my book at the Portland Zine Symposium. I volunteered at the first-ever Portland Zine Symposium in 2001, helped organize the event for several years, and have tabled many times, but it’s been a few years since I’ve had something new to table with. My experiences writing/reading/trading zines were major influences on my book, and I never would have met my writing mentor, Sage Adderley-Knox, if it weren’t for zines, so I was glad to share my book with the zine community. I was also lucky enough to sit with Rebecca and Krissy, two long-term zine friends. The Portland Zine Symposium is completely volunteer-run, and it’s a TON of work to organize. If you see a Zine Symposium organizer or volunteer around town, don’t forget to thank them!
The next event was a little more anxiety-producing . . . my 20-year high school reunion! I’ll admit, part of my motivation in finishing my book this summer was to finish it before the reunion, so I could show up as a Published Author. I don’t know how much of a difference that made, but the reunion was a lot more fun than I expected. Everyone was excited to see each other, even people that I didn’t really expect to remember me. I had a few fears going in, like that I would discover that everyone thought I was mean in high school (a la Liz Lemon), or that hearing about how wonderful my classmates’ lives are would make me feel like my life is lacking. But I was surprised that neither one happened! A few people mentioned remembering me as a kind person, which was a relief considering how angsty and moody I felt in high school. And I discovered that it’s true that being confident in yourself makes you not want to compare yourself to others. I genuinely felt happy for my classmates and their successes. I wish I’d talked to more people and learned more about what everyone is up to, but I felt like the night was over in a flash! Before I knew it, my girlfriend and I were back up in our hotel room, eating yummy takeout poutine from Taproot before collapsing into bed.
This week, as I recover from my big reunion weekend, I’ve gotten 2 pieces of exciting book news. First, I received an email from Quimby’s Bookstore in Chicago, asking me to consign books with them. I’m getting those in the mail this week, so if you’re in the Chicago area, stop by to pick up a copy! The second piece of news is that the Multnomah County Library has purchased copies of my book. When I started writing, my goal was to eventually have my book available in my local library. And now it’s happening! I’m so glad that local readers will be able to access my book for free, and I hope lots of people check it out! I have info to help you request that your local library purchase the book over on the book page, and would love help spreading Book Smarts and Tender Hearts to libraries everywhere!
My book release party was this weekend. It was a great day! So many friends came to support me and my project, and it really warmed my heart. After the day was over, I realized that I hardly had to do any work. Everyone was so willing to help out and I got to just enjoy the party and soak in the love. Thank you Becky Morton for capturing so many sweet pics!
I didn't realize how different I would feel, seeing the book in print. It feels separate from myself in a way that the story didn't until now. Which I'm glad about, because I can't change the story now, and I need to remember that critiques of the book aren't critiques of me. Writing a book has definitely changed how I read books, and been one of the hardest things I've ever done. It's also shown me that I can accomplish a huge goal like this, if I focus and put in the time.
This has been a bittersweet week and weekend, because my aunt Kris passed away on Sunday night. I wish she could have come to the party and read my book, because I know she would have been proud. She was a generous, creative, funny, beautifully strong woman, and her absence in our family will be huge. I feel lucky to have had family like her, and am so thankful for the outpouring of love and support that has been enveloping me this week.
I'm also thankful that my friends helped me make a donation to Innovation Law Lab at the party. Together, we raised $150 to donate. Innovation Law Lab is offering pro bono legal representation to over a hundred immigrants who are being held in a federal prison in Sheridan, Oregon as a result of the policies of the current administration.
My proof copy of Book Smarts and Tender Hearts arrived last night! This is really starting to feel real!
Every day, the news stresses me out more and more, but I’m trying to focus on the positive. Like my upcoming book release party. I’m glad I can give my community at least a couple of hours of fun.
The release party is Saturday, July 21st, 1-3 p.m. at The Rosewood Initiative, located at 16126 SE Stark St in Portland. Check out the Facebook event, where you can RSVP and keep on top of updates. If you have friends who would be interested, please share the event with them!
If, like me, you like to know what to expect before you come to a party, read on!
From 1:00 – 1:30: Arrive, mingle, and get settled while listening to some sweet 90s tunes. Fill out a raffle ticket for your chance to win a door prize. No purchase necessary – everyone who comes to the party gets a ticket.
At 1:30, we’ll get down to business:
Can’t make the release party, but still want your own copy of Book Smarts and Tender Hearts? The paperback and eBook are already available for pre-order from Amazon, with a release date of Sunday, July 22nd. I’m also tabling at the Portland Zine Symposium from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 29th, and you can pick a copy up there! The Zine Symposium is at Wattles Boys and Girls Club, 9330 SE Harold St. Portland, OR 97226. I’m excited to share my book with other zinesters, since zines are central to the story, and making zines led to my interest in self-publishing and writing.
If you’ve never been to Rosewood Initiative before, look for the sign below. Rosewood Initiative is to the left (east) of Su Casa, and there’s plenty of parking. You can get there via the #20 bus, and the Blue Line MAX stops a block away, at 162nd and Burnside. Rosewood Initiative is one story with hardwood floors, and the entrance is wheelchair-accessible.
I’m excited for you to read my book and meet the characters I’ve been working on for years, and to celebrate reaching this goal! Let’s party!!!
I like cats, feminism, queers, making things and writing, apparently.