Sunday, November 18, 2012


(Originally posted at The League of Extraordinary Writers)

A few weeks ago, in the midst of this exhausting book tour for ASHEN WINTER, I saw this tree:

It's an old, hollowed out sycamore tree growing beside a stream in Fortville, Indiana. From the top of that seemingly dead trunk sprouts a vibrant young sycamore about six inches in diameter. I took a picture because the image plucked a chord within me.

Sometimes students ask why I became a writer. And I tell them it was the only job left after I got fired from every other profession I tried. I answer that way because it's funny, and I like to be extremely candid in my interactions with students--they can smell fakers from all the way down the hall.

But the truth is that I fired myself; I quit most of the jobs I held before I was a writer. I did a bit of everything: janitor, marketing executive, wine salesman, and remodeling company owner among others. In each job, I felt like that old sycamore tree, getting progressively more hollow as small daily iniquities rotted me and office politics gnawed my core.

Now, I feel more like that new tree, growing fast and proud from a base of failure. In another sense, though, all those abandoned careers were anything but a failure. Everything I tried informs my writing today. The new tree could not exist without the roots the old one put down.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Great News!

Both ASHEN WINTER and the paperback edition of ASHFALL have sold out in less than four weeks, and they're going back for second printings!

To the bloggers, booksellers, sales reps, librarians, teachers, reviewers, and everyone else who has been so supportive of me and my books:


Let me also give a shout out to the amazing bloggers at Epic Reads, who selected ASHFALL to represent Iowa in their The United States of YA project. Check out all the great books they chose (I'm too inept a blogger to make this display at a decent size, but you can right click, choose view image, and then enlarge to read it easily):