Dear Diary (October 2013, Part Two)

octoberparttwoWhoa.  So October was kinda crazy.  (TOO crazy for this introvert!)

I taught four college classes all about OCD.  Two were biblical counseling classes and two were abnormal psychology classes.  I’m so grateful to the professors at my university for allowing me to share my story!  I also was a part of an OCD Awareness Week event in Minneapolis, where I was invited to read an excerpt from my first novel, Lights All Around.

I took part in a panel on mental illness for a breakout chapel at Northwestern.  OCD, ADHD, Bipolar, and GAD were all represented!  And then, that evening, I was able to get coffee with a very special family. Their sweet 11-year-old daughter developed a sudden onset of OCD a few months ago (PANDAS, you suck), and we’ve been communicating about Exposure and Response Prevention therapy, a journey this brave girl is tackling!  I am so, so impressed with them– with the parents’ drive to do the research to help them understand what their daughter is going through and with their daughter, for her maturity and courage and tenacity (and brio!).

My friend Addie Zierman’s new book came out, and Northwestern hosted a reading and Q&A with her.  (So proud!)  The next evening, Rainbow Rowell did a reading and Q&A in St. Paul.  Friday, I have tickets to see Billy Collins at the Pantages!  (I love how literary the Twin Cities are!)

I got my first rejection from an editor this month.  Truest is still in the hands of five other editors, and I am essentially heartsick with longing for a book deal.  It was so comforting to hear Rainbow Rowell discuss how difficult it was to sell Eleanor and Park, which is a masterpiece.  (A relief because, you know, then maybe that means my book is under-appreciated masterpiece, right?  Faulty logic?  I can’t hear you!)

I’ve been writing one thousand words a day of my new manuscript: mysterious boy, small island, need I say more?

I finished up my fall travel for off-campus recruitment, which included high school visits, college fairs, and presentations (presentations was essentially the theme of my October; I believe I gave ten, all told).  It feels good to have fall travel done so that I can be on campus and in my office for students.

I’m getting antsy to go somewhere: I’d really like to do some sort of writing retreat or conference.  Tossing around the idea of the SCBWI conference next summer, but that feels so far away!

One more thing: I’m working on a new project with Elyse Kallgren of the Inksplotch blog.  We will likely unveil it right around Christmas.

A Fun Writing Update for My Blog Readers

My last update on the writing front was on June 5th, when I wrote:

I am in the middle of writing a short story.  It’s about four teenaged wards of the state living in hospice care.  Morbid much?  But I feel very invested in these thirteen pages, very passionate about these four friends who have no one but each other as their time is running out.  My writing group is helping me with the next draft, and I’m hoping to enter it into a contest before the month is over.

Then, on June 19th, I let you in on my writing process, specifically regarding the hospice care story, leaving a tiny P.S. at the end of the post:

P.S. I really did write Mack’s story about living and dying in hospice with other teenagers.  I’m submitting it to a contest this month, where I assume nothing will happen.  Once nothing happens, I’ll probably share it on my blog or over on Crux.

Well, guess what?

That short story– “Covered Up Our Names”– won the contest!  I’m so honored to be the 2013 winner of the Katherine Paterson Prize for Young Adult and Children’s Writing, a contest hosted by Hunger Mountain.

If you click here, you can even see their little write-up about me!  They called it a “powerful” story, and that fills my heart with deep gratitude.  The contest judge was Rebecca Stead, 2010 winner of the Newbery Medal.  I read her book “When You Reach Me” nearly one year ago and reviewed it on my blog, saying:

Brilliant!  I actually shouted aloud the moment that everything finally clicked into place for me– I was that excited.  Absolutely loved it.

writingI am thrilled that my story will be published in Hunger Mountain, and I’m so terribly grateful for the cash prize, but what makes the entire enterprise so special to me is that Rebecca Stead loved my story.

I’m honored and elated.

I want you all to read the story!  I imagine the rights will revert back to me after publication, so I’ll anticipate sharing it with you then.  Or you can purchase a copy of Hunger Mountain 18 for just $12.