Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Affective Needs--Chapter Two

**New chapters posted here every Wednesday**

“It’s confidential, Ruth. You know that.”
I did know that, but it didn’t stop me from asking her anyway. “I’m just wondering what set him off.”
She lifted a glob of steaming spaghetti from the pot of boiling water in front of her and picked a noodle from the tangled mass to test it. “None of your business, that’s what.” My mother took the confidentiality of her students seriously and apart from the kids in the significant support and affective needs classrooms, I never even knew who the Temp—as in temporary problem—kids were.
She tilted her head back and let the noodle slide into her mouth. “Not quite,” she said to herself, and put the lid back on the pot.
When she turned around, she pointed her wooden spoon at me. “And I’m pretty sure I remember telling you to go back to the library.”
I shrugged.
She gave me her look.
The conversation ended.
But I couldn’t stop wondering about what had happened.
I had seen kids from the AN class go off before. In third grade, Joey Harms, with his unfortunately apropos last name, stabbed Aaron Ryans in the arm with a pencil. In sixth grade, Rachel Martinez told Ms. Kelly to go fuck herself then punched her in the face. In seventh grade Barry Abbington brought a knife to school, barricaded himself in the boys’ bathroom, and threatened to kill himself and everyone in the school if they didn’t stop having fire drills every month—rumor had it that Barry transferred to the day treatment school the next day. Then there were the lesser incidents: chair throwing, desk flipping, running.
All of these I had watched unfold with the quiet fascination of a spectator. Amazed and surprised, just like every other student who never did anything more disruptive than use the electric pencil sharpener during a test—grateful for the thrill of something different that invariably knocked the whole school day off its ever-predictable course.
But something was different about this guy. Something about the way he struggled, the look on his face. He didn’t look crazed and out of control—he looked desperate.
Now, for some stupid reason, I needed to know if he was okay—and this needing to know bothered me. Normally, I couldn’t care less about anyone else’s drama.
Anyone except Eli, of course. Eli who had been playing the lead in his own real-life drama since the fifth grade—the year he figured out he was gay. Also it was the year everyone else in the fifth grade figured it out, because Eli tried to kiss Pete Reeves behind the mobiles during recess. Just about the whole class mass-exodused from Eli’s life after that.
At first the teachers had assumed that, because Eli was black, the entire fifth grade had become racists. Even the other black kids. And for weeks they handled it with daily lessons on bullying, inappropriate racists comments, and the reading of To Kill a Mockingbird.
So more white kids and black kids sat together at lunch—and they all kept excluding Eli.
There were lots of times I had wondered: if Eli hadn’t tried kissing Pete that day, and if he hadn’t single-handedly lost every friend he had that day—would he and I be friends now? Would he have ended up just like Bella, Ashley, and every other asshat at our school without two independent thoughts of their own to rub together?
Was he only my friend because of circumstances beyond his control?
“Don’t be so desperate. It’s unattractive,” he told me when I asked him that very question at lunch the next day.
“I’m serious.”
“Believe me; so am I.”
“Look around us,” I said, not bothering to lower my voice. “We are surrounded by jerks. All I’m saying is what if that weren’t the case? What if we could wave a magic wand and make everyone in this school intelligent, thought-provoking, highly functioning individuals who were actually coming to school to train their brains to figure out how to cure cancer instead of chase down the next vacuous trend?”
“You mean what if everyone were more like you?” he asked before taking a bite of his limp chicken patty burger.
I closed my eyes and gave him a single shoulder shrug. “I’m not saying exactly like me.”
He laughed, and some of his partially chewed pressed chicken parts flew out of his mouth and onto the table in front of us. He covered his mouth, swallowed, then shook his head. “Do you ever listen to yourself?”
“All the time,” I said feigning boredom.
“Also, I don’t happen to think we are completely surrounded by jerks.”
At this, I put down the questionable carrot stick I’d been considering and stared at him. “You can’t be serious.”
“I’m completely serious.”
“How can you even say that considering how half . . . no, probably more like a solid 65 percent of them treat you now? After how they have always treated you?” I could feel the look on my face, and it was the one that punctuated my thoughts with Are you kidding me?
But, after so many years together, Eli was mostly immune to my glares and stares. He only shrugged and took another halfhearted bite from his chicken burger before letting the rest of the whole disgusting “sandwich” fall from his hands back onto his tray. I could tell he wanted to say something and was taking his time chewing to formulate the thought. Seconds passed, and my impatience with him must have shown on my face because he raised his finger—just a second—took a drink from his Coke and, only after wiping his mouth with his napkin, opened his mouth to answer my question. “Jordan said something really interesting at youth group the other day.”
My shoulders sagged and I rolled my eyes, “You have got to be joking.”
“I’m serious. Hear me out. In high school, we are not even fully formed people. Including you,” he added. “We are a collection of behaviors and opinions that are not much more than reactions to the labels and circumstances that we’ve been handed throughout our lives. For example”—he pointed with his spork at Hilary Revcheck—“if Hilary had not been born into a family of overachieving Ivy League graduates, would she really feel so compelled to run around campus championing every cause, fundraiser, and student council election that pops up?” His spork veered right. “And consider Trey. Would he have played football his whole life and eventually gotten himself a full ride to Texas A&M if his father had not played pro football for fifteen years?”
“I fail to see how that has anything to do with people treating you like crap just because you’re gay.”
“It has everything to do with it because, contrary to what you believe, not everyone does treat me like crap just because I’m gay. Some people treat me like crap because I’m your best friend and they assume I’m as big a bitch as you are. Our friendship makes me guilty by association.”
“You are a big bitch.”
“Maybe, but most of these people are not yet the people they will be. They are only the people their lives have taught them to be.” He looked up. “I don’t know, but sometimes I think we’re all trapped by our circumstances. I mean, who would any of us be if we could pull off every label slapped on us since birth? Who would we be if we could shed all the bullshit?”
I shook my head. “We would be exactly the people we already are, because people get to choose. Most people just choose to be idiots, more concerned with the color of their hair than the substance of the gray matter contained inside their skulls.”
“Ever the cynic.”
“Maybe, but you’re giving people way too much credit.”
“I happen to give you a lot of credit, as well you know.”
I smiled and placed my hands on my head. “That’s because you’ve watched me solve calculus equations. You’ve seen firsthand the power pulsing between these lovely ears.”
“Your ears stick out.”
“Shut up.” I shoved him.
 He swayed away from me and then back, bumping into my body and knocking me over on the bench a few inches.
“Don’t start,” I warned him, and pushed him back.
Eli laughed, gave his lunch a dirty look, and pushed his tray away. It had always been like this—well, always since fifth grade. Eli was more than my best friend.
He was my rock.

Thank you for reading chapter two of Affective Needs. A new chapter is posted every Wednesday. If you don't feel like waiting for updates, here is the link to my book page and all the vendors that carry my books. Happy reading!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Affective Needs--Chapter One

**New chapters posted here every Wednesday**
Chapter One
On day one hundred and forty-four, Bella Blake emerged from winter break with freshly dyed atomic-pink hair. Everyone in our first period homeroom was stunned, but impressed, and proceeded to make asinine comments like “You’re so brave” and “I wish I had your nerve.” So Bella preened and swelled and basically acted like she was so Rebel Without a Cause.
This was exactly why I hated high school.
Like everyone else, I stared and watched the circus act as it played out. Unlike everyone else, I didn’t say a word about Bella’s stunning display of obvious attention-seeking behavior. After all, these people were not my friends. But bravo Bella, because your effort has clearly worked on the befuddled masses you seek to impress with your—what did Ashley call it, bravery? Very unique. Very individual. Very LOOK AT ME, LOOK AT ME. Well done.
In my mind, I slow-clapped for her. But then, like she could hear my silent critique, Bella’s eyes connected with mine from across the room, and I buried my face in my book. It was easier to pretend we had never been friends, never really known each other at all.
I recalculated my countdown and decided to only count the actual school days—ninety-two. That was all that was left of high school, I consoled myself. I couldn’t count holidays, weekends, and spring break because if you included all those days—one hundred and forty-four was a number too depressing to contemplate.
In ninety-two days high school would be over. Forever. And I would stand up on the graduation stage in front of them all as the best of the best. Valedictorian, with my early admission to Princeton burning a hole in my pocket. Final and conclusive proof that, despite immediate appearances, I win.
Maybe when I finished my valedictory speech I would even raise my arms in a triumphant V over my head.
So while the Bellas of Roosevelt High were busy having followers, having boyfriends, having “times” on couches in basements while parents were out of town—busy having barely passing grades—I was busy realizing that high school didn’t matter unless you came out on top of it. And I didn’t mean socially.
Because, as I had suspected, Princeton didn’t care who the hell was homecoming queen, not even if they were “brave” enough to dye their hair atomic pink. Turns out Princeton cared much more about who was on track to graduate at the top of the class. And that someone was me.
When the bell rang signaling the end of first-hour homeroom, I was the first person out the door.
All around me, the slams and clatter of Roosevelt High’s collective student body swelled into a chorus of disruption. I pressed and squeezed past jostling bodies until I reached my locker like it was a safe base. Let me get to second hour, please. Advanced Calculus was the only place in this entire building where I truly belonged.
Halfway through my combination, someone body slammed me from behind, knocking the dial off its correct course.
“What the—?” I turned and saw Eli’s evil smiling face.
“And good morning to you, sunshine,” he said and held out my phone—I’d left it at his house last night.
I snatched it from his hand and rolled my eyes before starting my combination all over again.
“You’re welcome, of course,” he said.
Eli Tanner, my best friend since the fifth grade. Although if someone is your only friend I think the emphasis on best becomes pretty meaningless. Anyway he doesn’t actually count as a technical friend because he’s more like a brother, or maybe a sister. Either way, in this world called high school, we were pretty much all we had. We clung to each other like Kate and Leo as the ship went down.
But this morning, I was feeling less than friendly. I pulled my calculus book from my locker and slammed the door before shoving past him.
“Hey!” I heard him yell after me. A second later, he caught up with me and fell in step beside me. “My, we are in a foul temper this morning. Why so happy, Grumpy?”
“Not today Eli, I’m not in the mood.”
“Clearly. Also this was mostly my point. So are you going to kill me if I ask you to drive me to youth group after school?”
I shook my head at him. “The only reason you want to go is to see Jordan.”
“And!” Eli raised his fingers in air quotes around his head, “To bask in God’s love for today’s gay youth.”
Eli’s father was an Episcopal minister. When Eli had opened his gay closet door to his family last summer, the formation of the Holy Comforter Episcopal Church’s first gay youth ministry group had been his father’s answer. Eli and I had had many discussions about whether or not this constituted a full acceptance of Eli’s gayness, or was simply a place to occupy Eli while the whole family figured out how to adjust to the idea. Either way, Jordan was the twenty-something gay youth leader, and Eli had some explicitly unholy feelings about him.
“Can’t today,” I sighed. “It’s Therapy Thursday.”
“Ahhh, this explains so much. Isn’t therapy supposed to help with mood problems, not create them?”
“Funny,” I said as I ducked into Advanced Calculus. “See you at lunch.”
“I’ll call ahead and reserve our regular table,” he said and blew me a kiss before backing down the hall.
I smirked at him in spite of feeling shitty. I really, really hated the monthly Therapy Thursday. When my mother had reminded me about my appointment the night before, my highly irritated mood had moved in like a swift electrical storm.
 “Mom, she hates me,” I had complained. “Not even secretly. She dreads our sessions as much as I do and she’s relieved when they’re finished. Why pay a hundred bucks an hour simply to torture us both?”
“Dr. Weber does not hate you.” My mother had leaned in close to her computer and run her finger down her screen. “She’s the best clinical psychologist in Trenton.”
“Which means what exactly? Who uses ‘best in Trenton’ as a selling point?”
My mother sighed—her nonverbal tell that I was wearing her down.
She doesn’t use it, I did, based solely on my own professional opinion. Would you prefer best clinical psychologist in New Jersey? Best clinical psychologist up and down the Eastern Seaboard? East of the Mississippi?”
“If I were a guy, you wouldn’t make me see a psych.”
“Interesting theory,” my mother said but didn’t bother to look away from the report she was writing. “Although, unfortunately, impossible to test.” Her fingers clicked the computer keys while her eyes scanned the papers propped up in front of her. “Seeing as how you are not, nor will you ever be, a boy. Unless you are about to enter into a new gender identity crisis phase. In which case, we should probably find you the best clinical psychologist in Trenton who specializes in that.” She leaned forward to get a better look at the numbers on the page, then typed them into her report.
My mother is also a psychologist. The Roosevelt High School school psychologist, to be exact.
So actually, I could probably be the most average, well-liked, athletic, popular kid at my school and she would still have me in therapy for some reason. She might say something like, “She’s overcompensating for not having a positive male relationship. She feels the need to be perfect all the time.” I simply make it easier for her by actually having a few problems. I am female, smart and, according to my rarely present father, suffer from a terminal case of “crap attitude.”
Needless to say, Therapy Thursday was still a go, and my last chance to try and negotiate my way out of it was during third hour—independent study.
Most days during third hour, I would take the stairs to Roosevelt High’s second floor, room 233, significant support needs—or the SSN room. Third period was the time of day my mother covered for the SSN teacher’s lunch hour and worked with kids who were on the exact opposite end of the intelligence bell curve from me. The kids who weren’t ever going to be valedictorian or receive any kind of college admission letters, Princeton or otherwise.
Interestingly enough, even when I wasn’t trying to nag my mother into an early therapy release, I usually chose to come here instead of studying in the library. I wasn’t entirely sure why, especially since I still had my senior honors thesis hanging over my head, and I could have used the time in the library to get it done.
Or even started.
But almost every day I went into the SSN room at the exact same time, and every time I did, Jacob jumped up from whatever he was doing, ran to the door, and threw his arms around me. “Ruth!”
Every. Day.
I hugged him back. “Hi, Jacob.”
“Ruth,” my mother sighed. “You need to stop reinforcing that. We’re trying to get him to stop rushing up and hugging everyone.”
This time she was annoyed because Jacob was working with her when I walked in. I slung my arm around his shoulders. “You hear that, Jacob? Ms. Carrie Ann is trying to extinguish your attention seeking behavior.”
He looked blankly from me to my mom.
“No more hugs,” I said.
“No,” Jacob declared.
“No, is right,” I said.
“Knock it off, Ruth. If you’re going to be in here, at least set a good example.”
“Yes, Ms. Carrie Ann.”
“Yes, Ms. Carrie Ann,” Jacob repeats.
My mother sighed. “Jacob, come here, you need to get back to work. Ruth, quit being a pain and go work with Maggie.”
On the far side of the room, Maggie clapped her hands and ran to the game shelf to grab Candy Land. Maggie loved Candy Land. I am fairly sure I could play Candy Land with every single one of my neurons completely shut off and tied behind my back.
“Maggie, how about we play something a little more challenging today, maybe Chutes and Ladders for once?”
Clutching her precious Candy Land to her chest, Maggie stopped and stared at me like I’d suggested we take a trip to the moon.
“Ruth,” my mother warned.
I smiled big at Maggie. “I’m only kidding. I love Candy Land!”
Maggie was thrilled.
And as I moved my green gingerbread man and strategically reshuffled the cards midgame to make sure Maggie won, I realized that this might be the only thing I would miss when the ninety-two remaining days of high school were finally over.
“Carrie Ann?” The walkie talkie on my mother’s hip suddenly erupted with a woman’s voice.
My mother pulled it from its clip and raised it to her mouth. “This is Carrie Ann.”
“Hey, we have a problem with the new kid in AN.” In the background, the sounds of someone yelling came over the speaker and in a flash, my mom was up from her chair and walking out the door. “I’m on my way,” she radioed back.
As she clipped the radio back onto her pants pocket, my mother directed her attention to Angel, the paraprofessional working with Alexander and his reading book near the back of the room. “Call Jessie to come help you cover in here.” Then her head snapped toward me. “You, back to the library.”
“Now, Ruth!” she commanded, and walked out the door.
When the door closed behind her, Angel and I looked at each other for half a second before she got up, picked up the phone on the far wall, and called for Jessie.
“What’s wrong?” Maggie asked me.
I didn’t know. “Nothing,” I smiled at her. “They just need Ms. Carrie Ann to help out in the affective needs classroom.”
Maggie picked up her plastic gingerbread man and moved him two blue squares. “That’s the bad kids’ class.”
She wasn’t really wrong. Affective needs was filled with all the kids who had their anger issues dialed up to volcanic. Every chair thrower and desk kicker spent most of their days in that classroom. One big concentrated box of rage—all of whom were on my mother’s caseload and had probably been on some psych’s caseload since kindergarten.
Actually, with all that potential for violence, I sometimes worried about my mother—like now.
“Hey, Maggie?”
She didn’t look up from the board, she was too busy positioning her man onto the Princess Frostine square.
“I have to go back to class now, okay?”
Maggie looked up and smiled. “I win then!”
I stood up and swung my backpack over my shoulder. “I’ll get you next time,” I threatened.
“No way.” She smiled and started to pack up all the cards.
As I walked out the door, Jessie walked in to help cover the class with Angel. With the door open, I could hear the sounds of someone shouting, the voice echoing down the hall.
“That new kid’s a total mess.” Jessie said.
I pushed past him and headed down the hall in the opposite direction from the library—straight toward the sounds that I knew my mother would be in the middle of. Along with the yelling and shouts coming from “the new kid” I could hear the voices of the other staff and then my mother. I walked faster, then ran. Several teachers opened their doors and looked out into the hall as I rushed past.
A gray-haired teacher I didn’t know called after me as I shot past his door. “What’s going on?”
I ignored him.
When I reached the end of the hall and turned the corner, two police officers suddenly appeared on the stairwell and lunged down the hall ahead of me.
I stared after them and froze.
My mother and another teacher had a guy corralled in a corner between a row of lockers and the far wall. When the guy saw the cops, he shoved my mom out of his way and tried to run.
In a flash, the cops rushed in and grabbed the guy. They had him facedown on the linoleum floor within a second.
“Fuck you!” the guy screamed as tears ran down his face. “Let me go!” he sobbed.
One cop held him while the other pulled cuffs from his belt and got them on the guy’s wrists. Once they had him cuffed, the guy stopped struggling. The cop that had held him down got up and joined the other adults, who immediately started talking about what to do next.
I didn’t hear any of it; the sound of my own heart thundered in my ears and kept their words from making any sense. All I could do was stare at the guy, handcuffed on the floor, his face the very image of pain. He didn’t look like a raging psycho; he looked like a boy nailed down by despair.
I couldn’t stop staring.
For a fraction of a moment, the guy’s eyes met mine, and I witnessed his raw, wide open desperation—right before he turned his head the other way and shut me out.

Thank you for reading chapter one of Affective Needs. A new chapter is posted every Wednesday. If you don't feel like waiting for updates, here is the link to my book page and all the vendors that carry my books. Happy reading! 

Monday, December 19, 2016

Rebecca's Reading Now 12/19/16

I never seem to be able to read one book at a time--here are my current reads both on my night table and on my Kindle.

For book club in January (I'm hosting...so I better finish!)

Because it's been on my bookshelf for YEARS and has all the elements I usually love: literary, mystery, paranormal, history--so far, it's a home run!

I've yet to find the Liane Moriarty book that is not a fun, refreshing, fast read filled with contemporary mystery and family drama--this might be my favorite one yet.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Monday Musings: 10/10/16

  • As you can see from the picture, I'm still writing on my couch for some reason. I haven't figured out what my issue is with my office, but every time I go in there to write nothing happens. But my living room has been fabulously productive, thank goodness! 
  • After having been stalled out for several weeks, I'm getting to the very end of this short story that will be included in the 2017 Wicked Ink anthology. I think I've settled on a title: The Delicacy. I'm excited to be on the down slope with this and looking forward to beginning the revisions. 
  • And speaking of Wicked Ink: We announced the authors who will be included in our 2017 anthology, Off Beat: Nine Spins on Song. Congratulations R.B Wood and Calypso Kane! I had the enormous pleasure of reading both of these submissions and was blown away by their fantastic stories. I can't wait to see them in print next year.  
  • And if you didn't see the Turkish cover for our first anthology, Tick Tock: Seven Tales of Time...it's pretty creepy-cool.
  • This weekend I had the pleasure of joining several other indie authors to celebrate the first ever Indie Author Day at the Elizabeth Library here in Colorado. The event was sponsored by Library Journal and Biblioboard and was a great opportunity to connect with some local authors and readers. 
  • And finally, on October 22nd I'll be teaching a workshop in conjunction with the Colorado Writing School along with several other authors and agents. This one day conference offers several classes and opportunities to pitch your work to the attending agents.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Monday Motivation: 10/3/16

Writing in my backyard this morning
This morning, I'm thinking about all of the hundreds of distractions that get between writing and me. There are huge nonnegotiable ones, like being a mom, and smaller, completely within my control to ignore ones, like Netflix.

Here's my current list in no particular order:

  • puppies (two adorable ones, AMAZINGLY distracting)
  • also dog sitting (currently four dogs in my house)
  • managing household and housework (so. much. can't. let. go.)
  • kids' activities, projects, games, practices, camps, etc, etc, etc
  • events I've committed to (so many these last few months)
  • email 
  • reading others work and critiquing 
  • reading others books and loving so much I can't put down
  • this blog post (which reminds me...)
There are also sneaky distractions. Distractions that are tangentially related to writing, like blogging, facebooking, and tweeting about writing. Teaching at conferences about writing. Appearing at libraries and schools to talk about writing. Book signings. All important, absolutely, to a writing career and yet NOT actual writing. Sneaky because you run the giant risk of tricking yourself into believing you are accomplishing things, and you are, but you're not accomplishing any WRITING.

And I happen to believe that the biggest impact you can have on your writing career is actually writing, getting that next book done.

This morning I felt like my usual writing space, my office, was serving as a distraction from writing. The space is in flux, furniture is being moved, papers are piled up, half-read books lie spread eagle--I couldn't focus. So I unplugged my MacBook Air from the monitor and went out into the early October morning to write.

My focus followed. So thank God that worked!

I don't know if I have a specific point to make here, but I suppose it might be something like: If you're a writer (or any type of artist, really) it's important to recognize when the busyness of LIFE is keeping you from getting to the work. Recognize that, then find a space and a time, even if it's just an hour, and take your focus and your current project into that world.

It's time well spent. 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday Musings: 9/26/16

Affective Needs in some fine "Also Bought" company I see

  • Despite having only one review on Amazon, my Affective Needs is still selling consistently every day. I'm thinking it must be because of how it's popping up on the "Also Bought" pages of some very popular YA contemporary books. That's really great news for me and my little book. Keep going book, I believe in you.
  • The past week, actually the past month, has been fairly crazy with bookish events. Which is great, I mean, let's sell some books. But it's also tough on the writer system when it comes to getting NEW writing accomplished. While I'm a firm believer that when an opportunity presents itself that allows a writer to connect with readers, especially indie writers who often need all the marketing help and exposure they can get, it's of paramount importance to always get BACK TO THE ACTUAL WRITING. We can't forever rest on the laurels of what we have already written and pushed out into the world.
  • So this week, I'm looking at my pretty quiet calendar for the next few weeks and getting really excited about making real progress toward finishing my short story for the 2017 Wicked Ink anthology. That anthology was open to submissions from other writers outside the WI clan and I have to say, there were some really exciting submissions! I can't wait to let the writers know that their stories are going to be published with us! Sadly...I must still wait or all the other WI authors will kill me.
  • And speaking of WI, the emails are beginning to fly as we prepare the creation and launch of next year's anthology. So many moving parts! The submission window for 2017 is closed, but if you're interested in writing a spec-fic short story, keep an eye out next spring/summer when we open the sub gates for the 2018 anthology.
  • And my final Monday Musing: as soon as my short story for the anthology is complete (by Wednesday of this week) I will return my efforts to completing the final book in my Ascendant Trilogy, DESCENDANT. I'm excited but also nervous to finish out the series. It's awesome to actually see that story round out and imagine typing The End for Charlotte, Caleb, Hayden, and Sophie. But it also leads the mind into the land of What Next? I have several concepts percolating, but they also have me asking myself even larger questions such as: More YA? Possibly a middle grade? And what about adult? Being an indie writer is wonderful because you have the freedom to explore any idea you like--and publish it. But is it more important to stick with an age demographic and continue to try and build upon your existing audience? I don't have an answer to any of this and will continue to mull it over. If any of you have thoughts/opinions on the matter, please feel free to share.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wednesday is for Writers: 9/21/16

My kids and my niece looking pretty joyous.

Welcome to my first Wednesday is for Writers post where I plan to write about anything that may relate to writing, being a writer, becoming a writer, not writing...you get the idea.

Today, coming straight off a morning meditation about judgement, I'm thinking about all the ways we as writers judge other writers and ourselves.

Spending too much time on the internet will quickly reveal that there are any number of opinions out there about what makes a "real" writer.

From one extreme:
  • Are you an international, best selling, lifting the literary conscious of the entire reading world to grander heights of actually contributing something new and worthwhile to the canon?
To the complete opposite end:
  • Did you happened to wake up this morning and entertain the thought of possibly penning a memoir (maybe, you're not sure yet)?
There are PLENTY of opinions (many kinder than others) about "real" writers.
Between these outlier extremes, most of us writers fall somewhere in-between and often make (probably silent) judgements about ourselves and other writers regarding where everyone falls on the Writer Success Continuum.

It is a silly mind game with no purpose or outcome other than personal misery.

This morning, during that meditation, I was reminded that it is unnecessary and easy to stop this particular cycle of internal conflict. You simply stop engaging with it. Which requires nothing more than noticing when an especially toxic thought, about yourself or another, arises. Recognizing that thought for what it truly is, its complete lack of positive purpose in your creative life or the life of others, and then, let it go.


Repeat as often as necessary until real joy for yourself and others returns to your soul. Then, go write.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Monday Musings: 9/19/16

This summer in front of Stonehenge

Now that I've left the day job, I've been wanting to pick up a more regular blogging schedule. I've poked around a bit and found that the writers/blogger who do this successfully seem to follow a formatted schedule and I think this would probably be the best place for me to start. So starting today and with all the best intentions to continue, I bring you my first ever Monday Musings. You may also sometimes see this as my Mondays Motivations, or Monday Meddling, pick an M word.


1. I have had a crazy reading filled week. Some of you may know that, in addition to my own writing, I collaborate with six other authors over at Wicked Ink Books. Our first anthology, Tick Tock: Seven Tales of Time, was our own stories, but it was such a success, we decided to open the second anthology up to other speculative fiction writers. Well, the submissions came pouring in and I've been frantically reading for the last week. There are some truly fantastic stories in the bunch!

2. Today I had a scheduled phone conference with my MFA student at Regis. What a great conversation we had about their WIP and many things writing in general. It's a low residency program so it's always nice when we get to connect outside of email.

3. I signed up to participate in this season's YA Scavenger Hunt. I hope I filled the form out correctly because I'm excited to participate.

4. Nook just announced this morning that they are allowing publishers to price ebooks for Free. This is awesome since I give away the first book in my Ascendant series on every platform I can (previously only Kindle and iBooks) so now, if your a Nooky, you can get it for free too.

5 This Thursday I am co-hosting an author event with Shannon Baker here in Denver. We will both be giving a (very) brief reading and answering questions about our new titles, writing, and books in general. It's open to the public so if you're in the Denver area, please come by.

682 S Colorado Blvd, Glendale, CO 80246

6. My regular monthly blog post for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers went live today on their site. Check it out. 

Have a great week and see you for my Wednesday post where I think I'll focus on some aspect of writing or writers in particular. Because....W. 

Sunday, September 18, 2016

And the Winners are....

It's over...thank you everyone who entered and added Affective Needs to your TBR lists!

The Goodreads giveaway for my latest book has ended. At final count 4472 readers entered from countries all over the world and helped to push Affecitve Needs near the top of the Goodreads "Most Requested" list. Amazing! Thank you readers. 
Affective Needs sitting with some pretty great company!


Iris Hileli of Mercaz, Israel
Alejandra Flores of California, United States
Anna Jacobs of Utrecht, Netherlands
Hannah Malatzky of Massachusetts, United States
Maryam Infiyaz of Western Provence, Sri Lanka

The signed paperbacks of Affective Needs will go out in the post tomorrow.

For anyone who has had the opportunity to already read Affective Needs, I'm hopeful that you will consider writing a review on Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks...wherever you shop. These reviews don't have to be long and make a huge difference in the marketing efforts for authors.

Thank you!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference 2016

Teaching: Inciting Incident, Don't Wait Until Page 50
Last weekend I had the honor of teaching two workshops and sitting on one panel at the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers Conference in Denver, Colorado.
Teaching: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict in the Young Adult Novel
The event was packed with excellent programming and wonderful writers, both traditionally published and independent, who graciously and generously shared their experiences and knowledge about writing the publishing world.
Cocktails with: Shawn McGuire, Sue Duff, Kristi Helvig, and A.G. Henley
There was also plenty of opportunity to catch up with my writer friends, have a drink, and plan all the next moves. If you're not already familiar with Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, here is the link to their website. They offer lots of fantastic programming throughout the year for writers looking to improve their craft and make connections to other writers in their local community.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Acknowledgments for Affective Needs

As I said yesterday, I have many people to thank for offering to read early drafts of Affective Needs. 

I wanted to post my acknowledgements in a public space...it's readers and fellow writers like them that make writing and indie publishing possible.

Affective Needs Acknowledgments 

First of all, thank you Rod, Beth, and Matthew. I love you.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with my editor, Maya Packard, on this book. Maya, I appreciate all your guidance and feel exceptionally lucky to have you in my corner. May you always have a booming editorial business. (But not so much that I can't get on your schedule!)

Ruth, being not always a very "likable" character, was tricky to craft right from the start. Several kind and patient people were generous with their time and offered feedback on early drafts of Affective Needs. Thank you Emma Patterson, Corinne O'Flynn, Krista Borland, Bonnie Miller, Danielle DeVor, Christine Ashworth, Shannon Baker, David Emmond, Ryan Ackerman, Danyiel Jobe, Kate Lansing, Richard Kennedy, Amanda Sprunger, Cathy Walker-Gilman, Dianna Radosevich, Amanda Marie, Tiffany Porter, Aimee Bassett-Milligan, Melanie La Surk, Chuck Harrelson, Kathleen Briscoe, Mark Archambault, Misty Tucker, Pamela Nassiff-Coble, Sarah Kumaraperu, Johnny West, Elizabeth Law, and Kristin Nelson. I am forever grateful for your time, thoughtful insights, and for helping this writer find her way with this book.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Full Cover Spread: Affective Needs

It's done!

Here is the full cover spread for my new Young Adult contemporary, AFFECTIVE NEEDS, due out August 11th!

It's thrilling to finally be able to see this book come into the world. There were many people who were kind enough to read early drafts of this book for me and offer feedback--I owe them a huge debt of gratitude. Tomorrow I'll be posting the Acknowledgments for this title thanking all those pre-readers for their time. 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

The Cruelty by Scott Bergstrom

(review is based on an uncorrected proof)
When her father is abducted, 17-year-old Gwendolyn Bloom must methodically search the underbelly of the European crime world and face off against the ruthless men who rule there. Over the course of the novel, this once middle-class teen’s metamorphosis into the hard edge of cruelty she will need to become in order to save her father and herself is both fascinating and magnificent to observe. Gwendolyn becomes powerful, strong, a chiseled weapon of muscle and determination—watching her become a dark hero able to out-think and outgun the most vicious of bad guys feels like vindication. Bergstrom's plot is tight and fantastically executed, sure to please readers longing for a high-octane young adult thriller unlike anything else currently out there. However, I do have a warning. Upon finishing this book female readers may experience an overwhelming compulsion to sign up for lessons in Krav Maga. 

To say that I enjoyed this book tremendously is an understatement. 

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Goodreads Giveaway: Affective Needs

Enter my Goodreads Giveaway to win one of five signed copies of my latest YA contemporary, AFFECTIVE NEEDS! (Open International!)

Ninety-two days. That’s all that’s left. Just ninety-two days and Ruth Robinson, calculus genius, will stand with her arms raised in a triumphant V as the valedictorian of Roosevelt High. With her early admit to Princeton’s Neuroscience program burning a hole in her pocket, Ruth can hardly wait to show her fellow teenage troglodytes that while she didn’t have followers, friends, or “times” in basements, she was the one ending up on top.

All she needs to do is white knuckle her way through this waiting place last semester and then, finally, she’ll be on her way. Except, the first day back from winter break, Porter Creed shows up. Porter is a special education transfer—Affective Needs. And just like all the other desk flippers and chair throwers in the affective needs classroom, Porter has some major emotional problems. But when Porter strolls onto Ruth’s home turf, Advanced Calculus, and disrupts her axis by being both gorgeous and the only person better at math than her—Ruth begins to realize that maybe life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Affective Needs by Rebecca  Taylor

Affective Needs

by Rebecca Taylor

Giveaway ends September 17, 2016.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter Giveaway

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Ascendant: Library Journal Self-e Select Pick

In news I missed while traveling:

The first book in my Ascendant series has been chosen by Library Journal to be a part of their new curated collection of self-published books handpicked for nationwide library exposure. This is a nationwide module available on BiblioBoard Library at any local library subscribed to BiblioBoard and participating in the SELF-e program. 

I am thrilled to have Ascendant included in their collection!