Sunday, December 12, 2010

Critique Groups

So I don't really have a critique group. But I have a critique partner. Christian Heidicker, who I met at WIFYR. Christian: fantastic writer, uber-intelligent, funny, non-conformist. He and I exchanged chapters on our novels for a while. My novel manuscript is slowing down for now and his is being read by agents, so we decided to exchange short fictions instead, since we both have several stories to polish for submission.

Christian Heidicker. Great friend, trusted ally, talented writer. Look for his name in the coming years in middle grade fiction. I will keep you updated on the advancement of his work.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Warp&Weave Reading

So I read excerpts from my story aloud tonight at the Warp&Weave launch party. It was "Relapse" and since I only read parts it didn't really sound like a coherent story, but whatever. There were other readings too and I was very impressed with several of the selections that were shared. They presented awards and I won First Place!


Friday, December 3, 2010

Launch Party

Warp&Weave is publishing three of my pieces this semester and they have asked me to read "Relapse" aloud at the launch party. Come and hear some original short fiction and have a bite to eat! Ty and I will be there.

Warp&Weave Launch Party
December 7th
7:00 PM
UVU Student Center
Room 206C

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Book Reviews

The Labrador Pact by Matt Haig

You all know I am writing YA, but I don't only read YA.  So some of these books are just regular adult fiction.  Which is also good!

This book follows the story of Prince, labrador of the Hunter family. He does his best to stay true to The Labrador Pact, a mass covenant made by labradors in England to protect the family unit at all costs.

The narration by Prince is at once moving, humorous and heart-rending. He feels that the dysfunction experienced by the Hunters is due to his failings.

I love to see a writer try something new. Matt Haig effectively explores the theme of suburban familial decay through the eyes of the family dog. I enjoyed it.

Ultimately sad, The Labrador Pact isn't for everyone. It does make me wonder what our animals are really thinking. Warning: sexual situations and strong language.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

As mentioned before, I like post-apocalyptic stories. They are some of my favorite things to read. The Road was no exception. Pulitzer Prize winning author Cormac McCarthy certainly has a way with words. He has a very interesting writing style, not using quotation marks at all and apostrophes rarely. Once I got into the rhythm of the writing, I didn't really notice it anymore. The prose is several times beautiful, but never dense. McCarthy is most often succinct. The Road feels like short fiction. It was a very quick read.

The Road
is the story of a father and son making their way through a desolate landscape burned into ash and rubble. Their existence is the constant scavenge for food in a world that gets colder by the day. Since the cataclysm (not explained specifically), the country has been reduced to lawless dead land, roving gangs and utter hopelessness. The man and the boy exist for each other. The father wants only to keep his child safe. The boy wants for them to continue to be 'the good guys.' Their love for each other is the only thing that sustains them. In most post-apocalyptic tales, there is no happy ending. In The Road, surprisingly, Cormac McCarthy gives us a sort-of-almost happy ending. It seemed happy to me. To some it wouldn't.

This was one post-apocalyptic tale I found to be very enjoyable. The setting is completely believable and totally frightening, full of post-apocalyptic cliches that I LOVE. Bleak. Very very bleak. I wouldn't recommend it for those that don't like depressing books. I'm sure I'll read this many more times. Warning: language, disturbing situations, cannibalism.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book Review - Plague Year

Plague Year by Jeff Carlson

 This book started off with a bang. I picked it up at the library book sale for fifty cents. And really, how could I resist a book described by a reviewer on the cover as "Part Michael Crichton, part George Romero..."? Immediately I'm thinking, "Romero! Zombies!" I can try a zombie book for fifty cents. Heck, Jon gave me a zombie book for Christmas a couple years ago and I read it on December 26th and it was horrible. Mistakes on every page. Pretty much the literary equivalent of a zombie film.  But it had zombies. Even a baby zombie. And an Iranian sharpshooter. With Plague Year, I expected a little more. And at first, I got it. 

The plague is caused by a fast-acting, highly contagious nano machine called archos that was designed to fight cancer, but just eats living tissue instead. It goes inert above 10,000 feet, so you can imagine the holocaust caused by the nano and the pockets of survivors left on mountain tops. The first sentence: "They ate Jorgensen first." What promised to be a riveting read (I mean, check out that first sentence!) ended up slowing way down. The science was fascinating and seems plausible, bub it doesn't pack nearly the scare punch of Romero's original Night of the Living Dead.  And I should blame that expectation on the blurb by E.E. Knight.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Book Review - Falling Boy

Falling Boy by Alison McGhee

This is a strange tale about odd children. Maybe the children aren't odd, just their experiences. Falling Boy tells the story of Joseph, his co-worker Zap and the little girl who visits their coffee shop, Enzo. Falling Boy explores the effects of familial dysfunction and the worlds children build to escape their troubles.

McGhee has a gift for prose. There were many gems to be found in the text, combinations of words that I wouldn't expect. I found myself at a distance from the characters however, perhaps because the approach felt somewhat clinical. But the reveal about Joseph's accident and the true nature of the animosity between Zap and Enzo is quite fascinating.

Beautifully written, I am sure to read it again, an interesting study of child psychology and McGhee's style appeals to me. I wouldn't recommend it for children, even though the characters are adolescents. It's just a little too adult in its delivery.

Warning: Language.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


So I discovered an amazing anthology that is published every year by Houghton Mifflin. It's called Best American Short Stories. My uncle lent me the 2003 edition for a specific tale, but I read them all and every single one of them was outstanding. So now I pick one up whenever I find them cheap at used book sales. I just finished the 1994 edition. My favorite story was "We Didn't..." I really admire those who are up the unique challenge of crafting a good piece of short fiction. There are some really great writers out there!

Thursday, November 11, 2010


So UVU's university press journal for speculative fiction, Warp&Weave, accepted three of my pieces for their Fall 2010 issue. They are publishing two short stories and a poem. Short stories: Kiko and Relapse. Poem: Ambrosia. I'll just leave you to guess what they're about...


Book Review - Bright Blue Miracle

Bright Blue Miracle by Becca Wilhite

Prelude to a review:

I met Becca at a writers' workshop at UVU called The Book Academy. (My MIL Karen generously arranged and paid for my registration there. *mwah*) Isn't that cool to be able to say, "I met this writer at ___________." ? Well, I think it's cool. I've met lots of writers this year and it's been RAD.

So Becca's workshop class was called Writing With Humor, or something like that, and she talked about how to make your writing funny. She is a very funny gal herself and as endeared as I was by her presentation and her self, I decided to buy one of her books with the ten dollars I had left in my bag that day. The books were on sale, so it was quite inexpensive. Here's how it went down: I saw Becca sitting at her place during the signing and went over to talk to her. We discussed the workshop, my manuscript (which we decided is way dark compared to her stuff) and her books. I told her that I usually don't read books published specifically for the LDS market.

Becca (whispering): Just between you and me, I can write.
Lee: Okay, which book of yours should I buy.
Becca: I think you would like Bright Blue Miracle best. It's not dark, but it has some more serious themes.

So I bought the book, she signed it (personalized autograph thank you) and we talked a little more. Very nice chica. Now onto her book.

Bright Blue Miracle was delightful. I know that doesn't tell you much, but that's the word I would choose to best describe it. I can't say that I expected much, because really, what writer wouldn't tell a prospective buyer of their book "I can write". I was happily wrong in my expectations. The book isn't heavy, by my standards. It's light and joyful and full of the interesting cadence of Wilhite's style. The prose doesn't aspire to be more than it is and I'm okay with that. It felt like I was listening to a precocious teenager simply relate a story in the corner of a coffee shop, which fits the main character well. Bright Blue Miracle deals with blended families, death, emotional connection, grief and relationships. I didn't expect to react emotionally to the story, but I found myself in tears in a few parts and it was a nice surprise.

Bright Blue Miracle is a book appropriate for a child of age enough to understand and explore the complexities and pressures of high school, dating relationships and family problems. Nothing questionable, no language. I recommend it.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Book Reviews

The Road of Bones by Anne Fine

Hmmm.... how to describe this book? An epic tale of growth and loss as Yuri travels from boy to man in a post-revolutionary sort-of-Stalinist kinda-Russia.

This book is dark. Very dark. It explores the results of totalitarianism. How people who are tortured become those who torture. It reminded me very much of George Orwell's 1985. Not futuristic, but frightening. When anything you say can be misconstrued as treasonous, eventually you learn not to say anything at all.

This book is depressing. But I love depressing books.
You know how Dandelion Wine makes you feel warm and hopeful? The Road of Bones is the opposite: it makes you feel cold and dismal. I would say anyone who loves post-apocalyptic or modern-day parable or studies governmental change would like this book. Plus the cover is RAD.

The Ghost's Child
by Sonya Hartnett

This novel is a beautifully written fable that tells the story of Matilda and her true love, Feather. Set in Australia, The Ghost's Child features Hartnett's astounding prose (which is actually even BETTER in Surrender, reviewed below).

Matilda's tale, related one evening to a young visitor in her parlor, is fascinating and lyrical.

It is fantastic to read an original fable and to enjoy so much the absolutely beautiful prose with which it is presented. I highly recommend The Ghost's Child to anyone who loves fairy tales and/or great writing.

Lifted by Wendy Toliver

Poppy is a girl at a new Christian school in Texas. She wants to fit in socially as well as with her demanding mother. Poppy finds herself shop-lifting with her new girlfriends and becomes hooked.

 I like the themes and the idea that a character's bad behavior might make the reader contemplate what makes a person "bad".

The Everafter by Amy Huntley

Madison Stanton wakes up in a void, surrounded by objects she lost in life. It doesn't take long to realize she's dead. Madison uses the objects to revisit scenes in her life. She can inhabit her body during the scene, or watch from a distance. Through a series of flashbacks, the reader builds a picture of Madison's life, and how it led to her death.

The concept is intriguing.

Surrender by Sonya Hartnett

Surrender is the story of Gabriel and his best friend, the feral child Finnigan. There is also a dog named Surrender. This book also contains: abusive parents, a series of fires, descriptions of a small Australian town and a tragic secret. I don't want to say much more than that.

This is a book I in which I would highlight passages and make notes. Sonya Hartnett is a VERY skilled writer. Her prose is magical, full of imagery and astonishing metaphor. An example:

"My ribcage is the hull of a wrecked and submerged ship. My arms, thin as adders, are leaden as dropped boughs. The mattress, my closest friend, has been carved by the knots of my unfleshed bones into a landscape of dents. The soul might rise, but the body pulls down, accepting the inevitable, returning to where it began."

Uh. Wow. The entire book is replete with language just as beautiful and compelling. Read it.

Content warning: violence, disturbing imagery

Teen Fest

So on October 30th, 20 local authors, along with Scott Westerfeld, congregated at the Provo library for a signing, meeting, bibliophile-celebrating extravaganza. All the writers and staff were in steampunk costumes. Many of the kids came in costume as well. I saw one walking loofah and it made me laugh.

I met every writer there and collected autographs on bookmarks, books I brought from home, a get-well card for my lovely sick friend and one in my sketchbook. (Thanks Nathan Hale!)

I got to have a little chat with Sara Zarr. She encouraged me to stay motivated and keep working on my manuscript. (She read the first two chapters at WIFYR.) Seeing her and talking with her made me smile. Ann Dee Ellis gave me a hug and asked me how everything was going. Carol Lynch Williams did the same. (I love those girls!) It's very happy-making to talk with writers I admire. It made me want to read Once Was Lost, This Is What I Did: and Glimpse again. Nathan Hale looked through my sketchbook and said it looked good. "Keep developing the art and the writing and you'll be able to do something with both," he told me. I got to meet Ally Condie finally. She's very nice and seems pretty chill.

Thank you for the encouragement everyone. It's so wonderful to have so many friends who share my interest in writing and reading!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Bacchanalia

So on October 14th, The Salt Lake City Public Library had a book sale for all the books they're retiring from their shelves. Hardbacks were $1.00, paperbacks were $0.50. That's right. One dollar and fifty cents. Lish, Ty and I went to the library around one. Or was it eleven. I don't really remember. I know that it started at 7am, but we didn't go that early.

It was a room in the basement, packed with sliding piles of books grouped into genres not in alphabetical order and crowds of bibliophiles in a barely controlled frenzy. As I moved immediately to the YA section, I was struck by the proximity of the people around me. They were CLOSE. Very close. The experience was quite claustrophobic. But the lure of inexpensive books was too much to resist. I could smell people. I usually can't, but in this room I could. That's how close they were.

Ty ended up chilling in a corner, guarding our mountain of books. We picked up things we thought the other would like, culled the unwanteds from the mountain and ended up with about one hundred books altogether.

I spent forty dollars. Lish spent thirty-two. We were giddy.

Lish's books. Can you feel the joy?

Me and my new books. I tell people it's a sickness. I don't care for a cure though... :)

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Reviews

The Last Book in the Universe by Rodman Philbrick

Post-apocalyptic YUM. I had so much fun reading this book. The use of unknown words invented for the setting reminded me of A Clockwork Orange, but this is a little more readable and appropriate for multiple ages.

Also, this is a book about the importance of books, literacy and words. It also touches on the appreciation of beauty and bonds of emotional connection.

I love post-apocalyptic stories. The Last Book in the Universe is reminiscent of many of the classic post-apocalyptic books I read in my childhood. There's a lot of violence and darkness. All in all: creepy, wonderful fun.

After by Amy Efaw

After explores the dumpster-baby phenomenon through the story of fifteen-year old, overachiever Devon. The reader learns the secret behind Devon's incarceration through a series of flashbacks. After is disturbing, but interesting, asking the question: Why would someone throw their baby away?

I would have liked to see more of the detention center where the Devon lives and explored more of the characters there.

Though not appropriate for all audiences, After is a sensitive and pretty well-written treatment of a horrifying circumstance. I think teens in treatment would relate to it.  And I would recommend it to people who work with at-risk youth.

Thirsty by MT Anderson

At last, a vampire book that's not poorly written, boring, saccharin and stilted. Thirsty was MT Anderson's debut novel in 1997, long before Edward was a gleam in Stephenie Meyer's eye. The new cover is reminiscent of the black, white and red of the Twilight novels, but be assured, this book is nothing like Twilight.

I actually don't want to say anything much about it because I don't want to give anything at all away. Let's just say that this is a superbly written and gritty addition to the urban fantasy genre. October is a good month to read Thirsty, and I'm glad I did. I highly recommend it. Tight effective prose, well-developed MC, original premise. And don't forget, it's MT Anderson, so don't look for a happy ending. w00t.

Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

Parker Fadley used to be perfect. Everything about her was perfect: grades, social life, looks, boyfriend. Something happened at a party to change everything and now all Parker wants is to be left alone. She does everything she can to push people away, but some just won't give up. What happened to Parker?

Courtney Summers delivers a raw, intense debut novel in Cracked Up To Be. The main character jumps off the page and the mystery behind her sudden change is compelling. What could make a good girl's life go so wrong? Summers' delivery lacks nothing.

Warning: Language and sexual situations.

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr

Things are hard for fifteen-year old Sam. Her dad's the minister of a local church and her mom's in rehab. Sam thought she had faith, that she believed in God, but she begins to question everything when a girl from her church youth group goes missing.

Sara Zarr is a favorite writer of mine. She not only crafts absolutely gorgeous prose, she is also a kind and open person. Here are a few sentences from Once Was Lost:

"Out in the yard the ripe tomatoes are almost jumping into our hands."

"I remember the way everything disappeared, a mirage in the heat."

"He turns around, eyes red and watery, a smear of chocolate on his T-shirt, which is stretched tight across his stomach."

"I used to think my faith was mine."

"Gravity is powerful."

It's all very good. The juxtaposition of Sam's personal tragedy with the more public tragedy of the missing girl results in powerful realizations for the main character. Zarr gives us a poignant portrait of grief and loss along with some stirring discoveries. Sam's struggle to understand why these things are happening is totally relatable and completely profound. The characters are fleshed and real. The prose glistens. (Also, the cover is lovely.)

I highly recommend Once Was Lost.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Book Reviews Pending

Okay, there is a slew of book reviews because this is the first time in a week that I've had internet and and I read a lot of books last week. But now I don't have time because I have to write a midterm paper for Ethics. So they will be forthcoming.

Also I have views to share on categorizing literature based on the age of the main character.

Shout out to those who read this blog: Love you all!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Review - The Sky is Everywhere

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

"Sadness pulses out of us as we walk. I almost expect the trees to lower their branches when we pass, the stars to hand down some light. I breathe in the horsy scent of eucalyptus, the thick sugary pine, aware of each breath I take, how each one keeps me in the world a few seconds longer. I taste the sweetness of the summer air on my tongue and want to just gulp and gulp and gulp it into my body -- this living, breathing, heart-beating body of mine."

Seventeen-year old Lennie Walker's sister has passed away suddenly. Now Lennie must navigate her grief, along with the mystery of a mother that can't be found and two boys that compete for Lennie's attention.

Carol recommended this to me. The prose is exquisite. I started crying on page 84. Didn't really stop either. What a beautiful, confused tale told in a beautiful, crisp way. I am so very impressed. Did I mention the prose is exquisite?

Those of you who are sensitive to language, be warned. But I highly recommend this novel. Shar, if you haven't, read this. That's all.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Book Review - Madapple

Madapple by Christina Meldrum

"Transparent clouds thread the sky, gray and cream, they stretch and cross. But beyond them, there are only more clouds, mountains of fleshy, cotton-filler white that seem to weigh against their gauzy cousins, and mock them."

Aslaug Hellig exists in a world she doesn't understand. She tries to make sense of this world, using what her mother taught her and forbidden bits of information that drift in from outside her limited experience. Strange and troubling things happen to Aslaug. Will she be able to find herself beyond her mother's definition, her family's definition of what she is, what she should be?

Meldrum says, "I wanted to write about subject matter I love and believe is important, specifically, the correlation between nature, science, religion, and mythology."

Madapple is intense, complex and intelligent. Beautifully written. I don't know that it would be appropriate for all young adults, as it is complicated and dense at times, and deals with darker subject matters. A fascinating read.

Warnings on: sexual situations.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Sometimes I feel like this novel thing is totally "rad" (as Christian would say), a "moral imperative" (as Neil would say), or even bigger than that. Maybe "epic" (as Kenna would say). (Well, even if the novel itself isn't epic, the project seems to be.)

And then sometimes, I feel crazy for even attempting it. Carol's written over twenty novels. Twenty? I should be drawing for at least two hours a day in my sketchbook. TWO HOURS. But more often I find myself writing. What if I could just do this? All day, every day. Write, write, write, write. Dude, I should get a grant for writing. Now, that would be rad.

In the meantime, art or writing, one or the other suffers.

My new goal for a quick and dirty rough draft is the end of this month. Then I'll have time to do revisions for the Delacorte First Novel Contest. Anybody else have any writing goals?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Book Review - Mockingjay

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

I finished the final installment in The Hunger Games trilogy yesterday. At the risk of spoiling the series for those who haven't read it yet, I will merely say that Collins left me satisfied. I stand my my original assessment that Collins knows what she's doing.

The main character in any story should always be changed in some way by the story. And Katniss is changed. Affected. Sometimes the change isn't one we would have wanted for the main character. But this is a dystopian people. Do people actually go into a dystopian hoping for a happy shiny ending?

Here's my advice: Read a dystopian like you read a Shakespearean tragedy.

I liked it. I am interested to hear other reactions. Once you've finished the series, comment and let me know what you thought.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Review - Catching Fire

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The sequel to The Hunger Games. Just as riveting. Just as creepy. There are some things that Collins does with this book that I just flat-out admire. But I can't really mention them, because then I would give the story away. Let's just say that Collins knows what she's doing.

The Hunger Games is very culturally relevant, and I find many of the things that Collins discusses to be a fascinating mirror (or even prediction) for our society. In this way, it reminds me of Feed by MT Anderson.

As a critical reader and as someone who just gets bored (and often angry) with poorly written literature, Suzanne Collins gets so many things right that I almost despair writing something as good as The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I've thought about writing a dystopian.  After reading Suzanne Collins series, I think, "Whoa. I could never do this."  But I really think that Suzann Collins' series is post-apocalyptic AND dystopian, so there.

Well done, Suzanne Collins, you've created something complex, beautiful and memorable. I can't wait to see how it all turns out for Katniss and the rest of the human race.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Sleeping Rainbow Recap

Here's my breakdown, complete with photos from my camera:

Wenesday: As we drove four hours out to Capitol Reef, I got to know John Bennion, professor at BYU and novelist. We talked about current projects we're working on. I told him the concept of my novel and he worked the idea into his workshop, so I better finish the manuscript soon and get it sold! John is a delightful guy, and it was a privilege working with him.
Here's the sunset splashed across the sky that evening:

We were introduced to the field station at 11pm, so I didn't get a really good look at it until the next morning:

The field station is set against a backdrop of wilderness, huge walls of rock, the scent of creosote, sage and juniper. Pictured above are the two dorm buildings. I stayed in the one on the left.

9/15 Thursday: Got up at 7am to make breakfast with my workshop group. Scrambled eggs, smoothies, bacon, dark bread, juice. John had us play two get-together games after breakfast. For one we wrote our first name (Lee), our place (w/Ty), and our totem animal (penguin) on a Post-It. We then were handed someone else's Post-It and had to wear it on our forehead and try to guess who we were by asking yes/no questions of people in the group.
10am: My workshop group is named Chinle (a rock formation) and today we work with Karin Anderson, professor at UVU and creative nonfiction writer. Mostly Karin reminds us how important each sentence is. She gives us a list of her favorite sentences. Karin's favorite phrase: "Attend to the sentence!" (Maybe it's not her favorite, but it's the one that sticks with me the most. I heard it a lot this summer.)

Wisdom from Karin: "I tend to forget what writing is. The strain to find the right words is epic. Thinking really hard burns calories. It's an exhausting process. Write against your instincts. Read authors you don't normally. Pay attention to things you do well and do them better. Believe in your palette, your colors, your array of words. It can't be perfect the first time. Write
the crap down."

She sends us away to work on a paragraph.

12pm: I sit on a wall and stared at the sandstone cliff. A little mouse jumps across the ground toward me, gone in an instant. I look forward to working on my novel. To eating. To seeing Ty.

2pm: Sit down for a 1 on 1 with Karin. We go through my braided essay page by page. She has suggestions for polishing sentences, adding another section or two. She is very generous. Lots of positive feedback. "It's almost there," she says. "Keep pushing it."

3:30pm: Lying down in my room, I close my eyes for a while after I read a chapter in The Monstrumologist. I dream briefly about The Never Ending Story. Glide through the clouds on Falcor's back. My roommate sleeps silently on her twin bed. It's hot outside.

4pm: John Bennion tells me he's read the selection from my manuscript I handed to him earlier for a consultation. "I'd like to read it again before we meet," he nods. "It's good."

5pm: I spend an hour and half making chili with a couple of members of Chinle under the direction of Scott Hatch, professor at UVU and brilliant poet. I dice peppers, chop cilantro, shuck garlic and sautee ginger. We add white beans, chicken, celery leaves, jalepenos, Sprite, lime.

Scott is excited about the chili. "One of the best ways to learn about writing is to cook. Cooking is an amalgam of so many things, pushing, pulling the ingredients, creating the best out of working and reworking the recipe. Intuition." I don't like cooking. We eat it with cheese and tortillas.

7:30pm: Filmmaker Eric Temple comes to share his insights on Edward Abbey. He tells us about Abbey, shows us a documentary that he made about Abbey. Abbey was a writer who spoke out against the destruction of the wilderness areas. "Ed wrote about himself and what he took in from the surroundings."

10pm: It takes me a long time to fall asleep. It's very dark here. The moon is bright amid a sweep of stars.
9/16 Friday: 5am - I skip the dawn hike. I hear later that most of it was vertical. No thanks.

10am: Hau takes us on a hike. He talks to us about Leave No Trace. He makes me think of an old Native American shaman, teaching us about connection to the earth. He shows us some wall art: petroglyphs and pictographs created by the Fremont Indians. One of the images looks very much like an alien face.

11:30am: Today Chinle works with John. He gives us a few tools to generate ideas for our projects. We ask our main character questions in regard to five elements of story: place, people, values/ideas, events and things. It's a great exercise. I'll use it on my novel.

He talks about Zen Buddhist compositional writers. Find an emotional center of a piece that manifests itself in an image or tableau. He calls it imaging. Take a piece of writing and find the imagistic center, then write towards that. He sends us away to write an image.

I write a scene that I'll use in my book.John meets with me 1 on 1 to discuss my manuscript. He tells me it's very good. That it will make a good book. He has suggestions for character development. His remarks are very encouraging.

1pm: I work the rest of the day on my manuscript. I get ten pages written while I sit in this little nook:

People come and go outside the window. At 8pm Emily says to me through the window, "Lee, there's a hummingbird out here." I keep writing until bedtime.

10pm: Hard to fall asleep again. I miss Ty.

9/17 Saturday: Chinle meets with Linda Shelton today, professor at UVU and expert in personal narrative. Highlights from Linda's workshop: Histories can help us add the details. Research is a spiral. Creative is a messy business. Details are powerful. Oral histories help complete human understanding. Word choice can definitely change the angle of vision.

1pm: Work all afternoon again on my manuscript. Get another five pages written. I ended up cutting ten pages that I wrote before the conference and I got back on the right track again. I sit in the window nook and watch the desert. The rock wall. The golden light drifting down.

6pm: Sit with Linda for an hour while she interviews me. I didn't realize that's what it was at first, but the personal narrative expert gets half my life story out of me. She tells me she's glad I was able to come to the conference. I agree with her. It's been wonderful.

8pm: David Williams comes to play for us. Black curly hair, a full beard, piercing eyes, slender in his unassuming clothes. Acoustic guitar and soulful vocals. He stands, a dark silhouette against the purple backdrop of the desert. His voice plays through the evening wind. Here is a video of Dave from YouTube. Imagine him, soft-spoken, lost in shadow, the moon high overhead.

He strums his guitar. His voice is lonely, cool.

We get in the van after he finishes his set.

I get home early Sunday morning. These flowers are waiting for me. Roses and lilies.

I'm glad to be home. I learned a lot. I feel blessed to have been chosen for the experience. Thank you Scott, John, Karin and Linda. Thank you Hau, for sharing the field station with us. Thank you Dave, for the inspiring music. Thank you Ty, for encouraging me always in my creative pursuits.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Speak Loudly

Here is a list of books. I want you to guess what all of these books have in common.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
Harry Potter by JK Rowling
Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Call of the Wild by Jack London
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

oh, and The Bible

Any guesses? That's right. All of these books have been banned at one time or another. I know, there are a lot more books that have been banned than these. These are ones that I've read personally and feel have something valuable to offer to the human race.

Did you know about Banned Books Week? It starts on September 25th. It's the only national celebration of the freedom to read. Every year, people come out of the woodwork to challenge and ban books. (I think it coincides with the advent of a new school year and optional or required reading lists being shown to parents.) Anyway, Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak is being challenged again. Read here for Laurie's post on her blog regarding attacks on Speak. I agree with her. 100%. Rape isn't porn. And as my husband pointed out, when it becomes seen as porn, it's that much harder for victims to come forward and begin to heal.

I believe that Speak is a very important book. It discusses the topic of rape. It is not graphic. It is difficult, powerful, uncomfortable. But worthy of attention. I would hand Speak to anyone having gone through a similar experience. It emphasizes the importance of TALKING about it. I don't mind people expressing their opinions. We do live in a free country after all, and that is what Banned Book Week is all about. But I do believe that people will read his article and not give Speak a chance, thus cheating themselves or someone they know out of learning something valuable.

I don't believe every book is for every reader. If parents are concerned about what their children read, then they should talk with their children. Open a dialogue. Decide together what it appropriate for that particular child. That's what my eleven-year old and I did when she wanted to read Twilight. I feel better knowing that she understands my objections to specifics books for her. She knows that I care about what she puts in her head. We talk about what books mean, how they can change you, how powerful literature is.

Not every book is for every reader. But for books like Speak, there is someone out there, who thinks that no one would understand, that they are to blame, that they are alone in their experience, that they just can't talk about it. And when they find that important book, the one that is uncomfortable, disturbing or inappropriate for other readers, it can help set them on the path to healing.

My personal experience with Speak: I wish I would have been able to read it sixteen years ago. The title isn't just a hint, a suggestion or a request. It's an imperative. Communicate. Open your mouth. Be empowered. Educate yourself and others.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Book Reviews - The Monstrumologist, Boy Toy and 13 Reasons Why

Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

As heavy issues like child sexual abuse become more common to discuss in the social arena (used to be nobody talked about stuff like this), books with characters like Josh will also be more available. At least we can hope that. We can hope that some writers will stand up and be courageous and write about things that real children sometimes face, even when those things are ugly or horrible. I think books like this are important. I don't think they're for everyone. I wouldn't recommend to everyone I know to read this book. I believe it would be inappropriate for some readers. I have a friend who is quite sensitive, and there are two books in this alone post alone that I wouldn't recommend to her. But there is an audience for this book.

Josh is struggling with the aftereffects of the sexual abuse he endured at the hands of his seventh grade female history teacher when he was twelve. Five years later, he suffers from flashbacks and emotional overload, confusion about relationships and about his own sense of self.

Boy Toy was a riveting read. Frightening, powerful and disturbing. There are undoubtedly children who have gone through experiences like these. Many of these children suffer in silence, confused about their abusers, their relationships and their identities. Books like Boy Toy can help bring a child (or adult still struggling with such issues) out of isolation. If this book reached one person who needed to be reached, I would consider it to have fulfilled its purpose. If someone comes to an understanding after reading this book, about themselves, or someone else, I would consider Barry Lyga's job well done.

Boy Toy is a harrowing book infused with pain. It reminded me a lot of Speak. Speaking of Speak, all the things I said about Boy Toy apply to Speak as well. The incidences of teen rape are much higher than incidences of teachers seducing underage students I'm sure, but the pain experienced by the characters felt just as authentic and raw to me. Thank you Barry Lyga and Laurie Halse Anderson for writing about things that are uncomfortable, so that we can expand our view, open dialogues and begin to heal.

Warning: Boy Toy is graphic. There's also language. As I said, it's not for everyone.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Hannah Baker killed herself. Clay Jensen wondered why. Now, thanks to a box of cassette tapes that arrived on his doorstep, he'll find out.

Jay Asher uses an interesting format, combining two simultaneous narratives. One comes in the epistolary form: Hannah's voice on the tapes, listing thirteen people and their actions that affected her and added to her decision to commit suicide. The other narrative: Clay's inner dialogue... I guess I should say monologue, in reaction to what he's hearing. Over the course of twenty-four hours, Clay follows a Hannah-made map and listens to what could make a girl decide not to live anymore.

Asher puts forth the interesting idea that "everything affects everything". There are no isolated incidents. One thing always leads to another. Thirteen Reasons Why: fascinating format, tightly woven narrative and well-developed characters. Contemporary topics of suicide, bullying, sexual harrassment and date rape are explored with sensitivity and insight.

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

Twelve-year old orphan Will Henry is assistant apprentice to Pellinore Warthrop, an emotionally unstable scientist dedicated to the study of monsters. Set in the late 1800's, Will Henry's narrative begins with the discovery of a specific kind of monster in the New England area. Over the course of the tale, Will's faith in his caretaker is tested as they attempt to forestall something horrible: the infestation of a new predator on the North American continent, the terrible Anthropophogai. (I think that's how you spell it.)

I'm not sure exactly why Yancey chose to set Will Henry's story when he did, or why to use the complicated prose he did, but I applaud both choices. The Monstrumologist is like HP Lovecraft for kids (older kids). Well-written and scary. Such words as: rheumy, acumen, pate, immutability, disparate, fortitude, piety, congeal, appear in the text.

Now, those of you who know the manuscript I'm working on will appreciate my reasons for loving The Monstrumologist so much.

1. The main character of this very dark novel is twelve.

2. The vocabulary is ambitious. Stylistic. EDUCATIONAL.

3. Did I mention that it's dark? That it will appeal to readers of all ages? (I wouldn't recommend it to a young reader, it is quite scary.)

Be warned: blood, gore, body parts, corpses and ravenous monsters abound. And pus. There's quite a bit of pus that I wasn't expecting. And gore. Did I mention the gore?

Hats off to Rick Yancey for crafting a page-turner of densely packed prose that features a monster I've never read a story about. It was fun. And in the case of Will Henry's character development, a bit touching as well. Those who like Lovecraft will enjoy The Monstrumologist. Read it with the lights on.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Book Review - Ship Breaker

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Nailer isn't sure how old he is. He isn't sure if he'll live another day. There are a few things he's sure of. Luck and loyalty have a lot to do with survival. Family doesn't mean blood. If you live on the beach, you'll die on the beach.

Ship Breaker is a young adult dystopian beginning and ending in the Gulf Coast area sometime in the future. And the future is bleak. Children join hard labor gangs to feed themselves. Killer storms wipe out entire areas. Some of our most beloved cities are under water.

Bacigalupi's vision seems original and interesting. His explanation of setting and ships creates a very vivid place for Nailer's struggle. The level of poverty that these people live in seems very real and their cultural practices convincing. It's interesting to think that while this is a work of futuristic fiction, there are ship breakers operating now, and people living in this kind of poverty.

Ship Breaker is dark and violent. It's very fast paced and a quick read. It may fill the gap for people who loved The Hunger Games and are waiting for the next great dystopian. Bacigalupi's concept of half-men was very interesting....

Saturday, September 11, 2010


I was in bed. My co-worker called. "Turn on your television, right now!"

I watched in horror. Monstrous plumes of smoke, a landmark in ruins, rising death tolls. I didn't go to work that day. Held my children. Wept.

I was raised in a very patriotic family. My father was a Special Forces Green Beret in Vietnam. My mother regularly organizes groups to write letters to soldiers. We put our hands over our hearts when the flag is honored, we take off our hats. We sing the national anthem. Every word.

Today I write this to honor those lost in battle. The battles in New York, the Pentagon, in PA. In Vietnam, in Korea, in the muddy trenches in Europe. In Iraq, Afghanistan, and other fronts across the globe. I honor you.

And to those still out there: thank you. Thank you for fighting to preserve the freedoms I enjoy. Thank you for your willingness to sacrifice your life for me, for my children, for all of us. Thank you for going out there so that I can sleep safe in my bed, the way I was that early morning nine years ago.

Thank you.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sleeping Rainbow Workshop

So. Today I received an email inviting me to participate in an exclusive UVU writers' workshop next week. I had to send in an application, as well as provide a sample manuscript of my work. From what I understand, the selection of participants is very careful. We will be heading up to the Capitol Reef field station in Utah's beautiful national park of the same name.

There will be workshops, nature excursions, 1-on-1 consultations, readings, writing instruction and personal writing time. We leave Wednesday afternoon and return Sunday morning.



Book Review - The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Katniss is sixteen. She lives in Panem, the country where the United States used to be. Every year, The Capitol requires two tribute children from each district to participate in The Hunger Games, a battle to the death. As someone who has had to fend for herself and her family since childhood, Katniss is used to hardship. How will she fare in this year's Hunger Games?

Okay, I know all of you have heard of this book. I put off reading it because I knew it had sequels as yet unpublished. Also because I heard so many people talking about it. "Oh, The Hunger Games! It's amazing!" There are other book series proclaimed by teens and adults to be amazing that I was... shall we say... disappointed with. (Carol you know what I mean.) So I waited.

So, let's just get it out of the way. The Hunger Games is amazing. Collins' world building is impeccable. Her characters are complex and believable and riveting. She lays out the heroine's story with a sure hand. I am thoroughly impressed. I look forward to reading Catching Fire and the recently released conclusion: Mockingjay. The Hunger Games: read it!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Book Review - Chains

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson

Isabel is a thirteen-year old slave girl living in 1776. Chains follows Isabel and her younger sister Ruth, as they struggle to cope following the death not only of their parents, but their owner. The girls find themselves relocated to New York, under the roof of Loyalist masters. Isabel's only thought is to protect Ruth and stay together. But when their tiny family is put in jeopardy, it's everything Isabel can do just to survive.

Set against the upheaval of the American Revolution, Anderson creates a riveting story told from inside British occupied New York. The setting is lushly described. Anderson has done her homework. The heroine speaks in an honest, heart-rending voice of confusion. Confusion at questions of good and evil, liberty and captivity. Beautiful and painful, Chains is an important book.

My only disappointment: the story doesn't end when the book does. There's a sequel (which I was unaware of) slated for release in 2010. It's called Forge. I'll be reading it.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Writing is Work!

So I've been working on short pieces for the university publications here at UVU: Touchstones and Warp&Weave. I have three stories to revise, a creative non-fiction piece and a couple of concepts to explore. I will also be submitting some poetry.

So the novel is on hold for a bit. But it's good. I think I needed a break from the heaviness of Eleanor's story.

Ty and Lish have been lecturing me on my love of the written word. They think I should change my major to creative writing. I've had a few professors mention similar notions. Their biggest reason: "You write for fun!" We'll see.

The new semester has started, so it's back to the old grindstone. I'll be busy mixing oil paints, cranking out 200 pages of sketchbook and rendering the human head until I never want to look at another head again. w00t!

Book Review - Catalyst

Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson
High school junior Kate Malone has only applied to only one college: MIT. But the stress of possible rejection isn't the only thing on her mind. Kate is obsessed with academic excellence, portraying the perfect daughter for her father's church congregation, and following in her mother's footsteps. After a neighbor's house burns down, Kate's father brings Teri and her baby brother to live with them. Kate isn't happy about it, as Teri is a social outcast who used to beat Kate up in elementary school. But as events unfold, Kate learns empathy and compassion. Maybe getting into the college of her choice isn't as important as she thought.

Anderson creates a vivid picture of a struggling teenage girl.  But if you're going to read an Anderson book about a girl who attends the fictional Merryweather High, read Speak.  Catalyst is good.  Speak is great.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Book Reviews

So yeah, I should be writing a ton. Just doing some revising and reading a ton instead. Went to the library on Friday and picked up four YA books. Read two Friday and two Saturday and my heart just basically broke, because sad books are the best and I LOVE them. So, here are my thoughts after musing for the weekend:

This is What I Did: by Ann Dee Ellis

(Okay, Ann Dee was my faculty advisor at WIFYR, so I already love her, but holy cow, this girl can write!) In her stunning debut novel, Ellis tackles the difficult subjects of domestic violence and bullying with grace and honesty. Through poetic line breaks, illustrations with handwritten notes and an almost stream-of-
consciousness style, we learn that Logan is struggling with a secret. As the consequences of past events and the secret itself comes to light, the painful truth breaks through, stabbing out of Ellis' spare delivery with perfect and searing clarity. This is What I Did: is brutal, beautiful and honest. (I know it's the second time I used honest, but it's so fricken great how HONEST this book feels.) Ellis should be proud of herself. I cried over Logan and now I just want him to be okay. (Tell me he's okay, Ann Dee!) Wonderful book. Read it.

Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson

Seventeen year-old Tyler Miller isn't a loser. But everyone thinks he is. So are people's perceptions what make us? Or do we make ourselves?

In Twisted, Halse Anderson also raises questions about bullying and its effects. Do parents have to hit to cause trauma? Are we fated to become what people think we are? How much can one person take? Tyler takes a lot of abuse. The reader aches for him to come to an understanding of his worth as a human being as well as some kind of reconciliation with the characters who stand in his way. An uncomfortable look at a situation common to many teens as well as the current state of suburban familial decay. So many of our kids are in trouble, but where is the trouble coming from? Twisted rings true with frightening familiarity.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie

Chapter One Title: The Black-Eye-Of-The-Month Club

Our narrator Arnold Spirit opens telling us that he was born with water on the brain. Through his ironic tone and dry wit, the reader is led into an intimate view of his home, family and culture on the Spokane Indian Reservation. As Arnold attempts to navigate the uncertain world of his freshman year in high school, his tale is told with humor and heart-breaking honesty. I don't remember the last time I cried and laughed at a book simultaneously. This book reminds me of Alexie's script "Smoke Signals", another piece that made me laugh and cry at the same time. Alexie brings across the confusion, anger, fear and thrilling highs that accompany teenage years. In Arnold's own words, "It was a beautiful and ugly thing."

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

First line: "So she tells me, the words dribbling out with the cranberry muffin crumbs, commas dunked in her coffee."

Wintergirls is about Lia, an older teen suffering from anorexia. The writing style is gorgeous, with beautiful imagery, unforgettable characters, and a chilling message. It is a sad, sad, haunting story that gripped me from beginning to end. Lyrical, stunning, heart-rending. I read it with one hand either covering my mouth or my heart. The whole time. I can't say enough. Read it.

So my favorites were This is What I Did: and Wintergirls. Both radically different from one another in style. Both contemporary YA. Both fabulous. And after reading them, I think, "People are scary and beautiful and frightened and ignorant and broken and perfect. I need a good snuggle with my sweetie."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Attention Deficit

I'm so distractible.

It's frustrating, but I am entirely to blame for any lack of progress due to distraction. I can say that yes, I have been helping a writing peer get his manuscript ready for submission, which can take any number of hours per day, depending on what we're doing. I can say that yes, I have been doing chores: dishes, laundry, errands to get ready for school.

But I have also watched the second half of So You Think You Can Dance: Season 7, played Rock Band with my husband and read another whole book (after I finished The Book Thief) and a half when I should be writing.

Maybe I got a little burned out, writing for hours a day and the pace isn't meant to be maintained that long. Maybe I got a little burned out with the subject matter. As many are fond of saying, my manuscript is "DARK". Maybe I got a little burned out after receiving feedback from so many sources that I needed to center and remember that I'm only on the first draft and not to take it personally.

Chill out Alicia! Take a deep breath, drink some water, draw a picture, wash your hair.

So, I am back on the writing track today, finishing up chapter ten and starting eleven. I adore and appreciate everyone (Christian, Carol, Geary, Tyler, Jon&Rach) for all the feedback, encouragement and writing love.

Back to it!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Book Review - The Book Thief

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

I finished it this morning. My tears were silent, because my husband was sleeping next to me. But I had to cough at one point and quickly wiped my eyes. Because tears on my face tend to excite him:

"Are you okay? What's going on? Is something wrong? Are you sad? What can I do to help?"

And I thought it would be better for him not to wake up that way. So I whispered an apology and he rolled toward me and put an arm across me and I read the rest of Markus Zusak's book with my husband's warm breath on my cheek.

And I thought, "Where did this book come from?"

I mean, I know it came from the mind of Markus Zusak. But it also came from courageous Germans, and a reprehensible man with words in his fists and a square black mustache, and starving Jewish prisoners who held hands with Death.

I first heard about this book at WIFYR. The title on a thousand pairs of lips, whispered everywhere. I don't remember exactly what was said about it, except one workshop member said my manuscript reminded him of The Book Thief and I heard over and over, "You haven't READ it?"

And I thought, "How great could it be?"

I didn't know. Now I do. Great and wonderful and searing and painful and perfect. PERFECT. I haven't read many perfect books. I actually stopped believing a book could be perfect anymore. I want to tell everyone about it, but I think I'll cry when I start to form the words. I want to buy twenty copies of it and hand it out to my parents, my brother, my friends, my children (they'll have to get a little older), my neighbors.

Markus Zusak. I want to shake your hand and say thank you. I wonder how you were made. You remind me of Athena, born fully-formed from the forehead of Zeus. I think, "Markus Zusak, where did you come from?" I know there are answers, completely mundane and logical. But none of them would match what The Book Thief has meant to me.

And I think I will start the book again this evening, and make notes in the margins and highlight passages that inspire me.

Well done, Markus Zusak. The Book Thief is unforgettable.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Hi ho! Hi ho!

It's off to work I go.

Off to working really hard on my manuscript. Now that I have free-time on my hands until school starts in three weeks. Let's see how far I get.

A chapter a day will keep me on track. Maybe even two chapters!


Thursday, July 29, 2010


With much to write and no heart to write it until I write this:

They are

sunshine sparkling on water droplets


petty arguments and
shiny moments of unexpected kindness

a small hand in mine

three pairs of blue eyes and
one pair of hazel

tugging and dragging and pulling me everywhere at once

"Mommy Mommy Mommy!"

piles of love
love so thick it sits on me like a second skin

easy tears and easy smiles

swimming in stuffed animals
tree climbers
avid readers

endless questions

bedtime stories

(I try to fill them up enough to last five more months).

They are



Tuesday, July 6, 2010

There's Something Fishy...

The Desjardini Sailfin Tang floats in the shadow of an underwater grotto.

(I like that word. It's one of my favorites right now: grotto. Grotto-o-o-o. It's fun. Say it.)

Decorated with a striation of black and yellow stripes, the tang's flared dorsal fin creates a stunning, patterned arc along its back.

(Commas are awesome. Remember what Leia said to Han? "Why you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy looking, Nerfherder!" See how awesome commas are?)

Delicate pectoral fins maneuver the fish around rock formations. The transparent wings look too insubstantial to thrust the fish through the water, but it darts -- lightning fast -- into its cave when I approach.

(Dashes are cool too. Ask Emily Dickinson.)

The sailfin feeds on hair algae, a plant that waves through water like the mane of a mermaid.

(Similes are like tulips.)

The tang is shy, waiting to feed until no movement outside the tank can be seen.

(Here fishie, fishie.)

The newest addition to our tank is a Desjardini Sailfin Tang. His name is Archimedes.

(He's cute.)

Sunday, June 27, 2010


Dreamed last night that we lived in a commune making sacrifices to an angry god.

Culinary in nature, each sacrifice had a project leader. If the god didn't happen to like the most recent offering, a great invisible hand of retribution would sweep through the village and take the project head away from us, never to be seen again.

We weren't very good cooks.

The last offering (before I awoke) was a 30 foot-tall decorated cake with pink frosting, buttercream flowers and pools of sprinkles. We ran, screaming, as the wrath of the displeased god fell from above. Very much like Vivica Fox in Independence Day, without the heroic labrador and convenient janitor's closet.

I woke to the buzz of someone trimming their lawn.

Our tent-mate groaned, "Who weed-eats their yard on a Sunday morning at 6:30?"

I stretched. "Must be some landscaping company who's employees are Seventh-Day Adventists."

"Cuz their sabbath is on Saturday?"

"Yeah," I continued. "And they're cutting grass so early because they have a sensitivity to...."

"The sun?" my husband provided.

"Yeah," I said. "Seventh-Day Adventist vampire landscapers. Duh."

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I Scream, You Scream

Ice cream trucks: cheerful and ubiquitous. There are no less than four that scour our street for hot and suffering citizens. People willing to trade hard-earned cash for overpriced treats pulled from freezers that exhale white mist. One plays the Mickey Mouse Club theme song, one plays Entrance of the Gladiators (you know, the one you hear at the circus), another quacks and whinnies, rolling down the street to a soundtrack of galloping hooves.

One ice cream truck on my street comes out every day of the year. This past winter, I peered out through flurries of fat snowflakes to see the persistent truck driver pass our house at a crawl.

This is an unforgettable image: the unfailing ice cream truck, battling drifts and slush to deliver sweets in a blizzard.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Here's to:

Puffs Plus,
sentence fragments ,
organic curry,
photos of goats,
disobedient skirts,
Lady GaGa,
true confessions,
blueberry muffins,
"Every Minute Counts!",
showing not telling,
Avatar's enduring story,
bitter tears,
toe museums,
AnnDee Ellis,
Sam and Mabel and Novi and Rhoda,
telling the truth,
quelling the fear,
writing it down.