I’ve put my heart and soul into this novel over the last two years. Already, as of the last time I looked at my KDP dashboard, 129 copies have either been sold or downloaded by readers on Amazon Kindle, or in Paperback/Hardcover editions! I can’t believe so many have already invested in Mily’s story. She and I thank you all, new readers and old, for that incredible show of support!
Writing Mily’s story has truly been one of the biggest joys of my life. The level of engagement I’ve seen from new and established readers of mine is encouraging in a way I don’t know how to express. I know I’ve been tossing out “coming soons” for months now, and I appreciate those who are sticking with me despite the wait. I hope beyond hope when you are finally able to read the whole story, you’ll feel the wait was worth it.
So much of what held me up during this project is self doubt. I’ve never wanted to be anything but a writer (except when I wanted to be a paleontologist when I was 5), so as the social landscape has started changing so radically over the last few years, there were a few times I admit I was afraid. Cancel Culture is an enemy of mine; I don’t believe in it one bit. That’s not to say we shouldn’t call out the evils in our world and work to make life better for our communities, but when cancelling begins, the lines blur. The standards for some are not the same for others. As a person who was forever impacted by stories like Harry Potter, I feared what would happen if I put my words to paper and made a mistake out of ignorance or arrogance or really anything. I analyzed my views in every facet of my life to death. I considered the good and bad I’ve done and how to speak truth through fiction in a way that stays; I want to write evergreen, but more and more it feels like the standards change on a daily basis. I started to think that I needed to have it all figured out, know my spirit inside and out, in order to be sure I was doing good work, sowing healing and not strife with my words.
Mily has helped me see and grow beyond that. And now that I’m so, SO close to finishing this project, Mily’s bravery is strengthening me and giving me courage. So here is what I want my existing and future readers to know…
My work won’t be perfect because I am imperfect. But my intent with this project was to listen, reflect, and shed light on the great insights that children have every day. This is a story about an eight year old girl, and while I have made every effort for it to be something a child could pick up and read and be unharmed, the intended audience is not kids—it’s adults of all ages. I have faith in Mily, and no matter what the world may think of her, she will always be my hero. Without discovering her, the last few years would have been much harder and sadder for me. She is my little light, and I’m gonna let her shine.
Chapter 4 introduces an idea I’ve been afraid to share, but no more. If Mily could live it then I can share it. All I want is to make art that is better than me, and I feel I’m getting closer. I am filled with hope for that, anyway ✨
Next week I’ll have more to put out there. In a few after that, it’ll all be out there in the light of day. Yay 😁
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
I John 1:1 (NIV)
– or two for good measure:
“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”
Albus Dumbledore, played by Michael Gambon (2011)
Writing Blue was a blessing. I didn’t name the collection until the day I decided to finally assemble it on 12/20/2020, but I always knew the cover would feature my karner blue butterfly globe. It is one of my trophies, a gift given to me by counselor who helped me take my power back from PTSD over the course of 2019. Without having done the work overcoming that battle, I’m not sure how I would have fared in what I think we can all agree has just been a bizarre year.
I wrote nearly fifty poems in the twelve months of 2020, which is more writing than I’ve been able to pull off in years. But not nearly all of them made the collection. Some are just plain bad reading, while others are only for me or a few close others. The twenty included in Blue aren’t just the poems I thought were the best, but the poems that surprised me, or tied me to the dock of peace and strength when the waves of sorrow and worry tried to sink me. I thought a lot about Indiana because for the first time in my life I don’t live there, and for those who don’t know, I love my home state. Indeed, I am of Indiana.
So first, Blue is for all you hoosiers at home – and I mean the whole dang state, not just IU (Boilerup!), but of course I include y’all from the tip-top of the Dunes to the unglaciated central-southern lands of mystical Pawnee. I was born in the capitol city of the Crossroads of America (true story!). I wouldn’t be here without all the fokes I love at home.
Starting grad school in Missouri during the first wave of a global pandemic was cray. Then halfway through the semester, I survived an encounter with a deranged naked stranger (definitely the craziest thing to happen in 2020, in my opinion), and PTSD burrowed in me for a minute. But thanks to therapy (and my karner blue), I knew what to do, and I’m more than okay today! And finally in August, AJ and I followed our wits to Iowa, and the best part is: I love it here too. It’s no Indiana, but I really think our fokes and these folx would get along.
None of these poems would have ever been written without my grandmother’s spirit to guide me. She taught me to hush and hear her nearness – she meets me soundly as a butterfly landed on my sleeve. I like to wear my “Nanny rings” when I write (all sterling silver, one she bought me on every Black Friday since 2006), and someday I’ll write a story that can possibly encompass the wisdom, love, and courage of Good Ann Wood’s last words for me:
Blue was named for the karner blue butterfly (as alluded previous this), an endangered beauty you can still see in places like the Indiana Dunes, where I went to most of elementary school and wound up working in tourism all of 2018-19. The top of Devil’s Slide at the state park and Cowles Bog in the national park make my top ten list of favorite places in Indiana. I don’t know who I’d have been were it not for the Dunes; they shaped so much of me, and I will write with my joy and hope for their preservation.
By writing these poems, I won many battles I might have otherwise lost in 2020. I fought against words that turned my stomach due to new current-contexts on the news, blue and red ties and suits and what-have-you. I believe that a word contains all the power I give to it. God as my witness, I gave Jesus more power this year than any year I’ve lived before, and this – Blue – is just a blip of the plan he’s got for me.
May sound strange, but without this book, I didn’t know if there’d be a next… Now I know.
Undoubtedly, Blue (and all the rest of it!) wouldn’t be here without the unshakable support of my AJ – and it wouldn’t be nearly as cool without my nifty Super Sterling Smith-Corona typewriter. Without you babe, none of it. I’m here for it, and I love you.