Ese’s Weekly Shoot & Quote Challenge – Bare (My Heart and Soul) 4

If any ambitious man have a fancy to revolutionize, at one effort, the universal world of human thought, human opinion, and human sentiment, the opportunity is his own — the road to immortal renown lies straight, open, and unencumbered before him. All that he has to do is to write and publish a very little book. Its title should be simple — a few plain words — “My Heart Laid Bare.” But — this little book must be true to its title. —- Edgar Allen Poe 

Edgar Allen Poe was on the mark with this quote.

I think any author motivated to change the world bares her heart and soul.

I think any author motivated to change the world bares her heart and soul.

I know I bared my soul when I wrote my novel. Still, I took liberties in writing the pat happy ending because my muse deserves that ending, and I wrote to inspire more kindness and understanding in the world. Real life is of course more complex.

You need so much energy and encouragement to write that if someone says something negative, some of that energy goes. ---- Joyce Carol Oates

You need so much energy and encouragement to write that if someone says something negative, some of that energy goes. —- Joyce Carol Oates

Yet, Joyce Carol Oates was brave enough to use the title, My Heart Laid Bare and like Edgar Allen Poe she tells the dark sides in her stories. Apparently this works well for her. People are still talking about My Heart Laid Bare on Goodreads.

You can go to Ese’s Voice to see more photos and quotes related to bare and to learn how you can join her challenge. 

I’m curious. Do you bare your heart and soul?

Sun-kissed Beaches, Turquoise and Aquamarine Water, and Cool Ocean Breezes: Just Another Day at the Beach

The Final Chapter of "No U Turns in Life."

The Final Chapter of “No U Turns in Life.”

Mia seems so confident paddling towards the shore that it makes me smile. I bet no one would ever have guessed that she had been through hell and back seven years ago or that I went through hell with her. Now, I cannot imagine how I could ever have thought she hated me or how much I wished I was an only child. God blessed me with the best sister.

I felt salty water splashed in my face as I yelled, “Whatcha do that for?”

Aukai laughingly asks, “Are you daydreaming man?”

“What? No, why?” I asked as I wiped my face with my arm and felt the water lapping at my legs and fingers. Yes, I had indeed been daydreaming about another time and place.

“I was talking to you about our plans for tonight.”

“I thought we were going to pick up the girls and go to the mall.”

“Yeah, but I was thinking about what we are going to eat. It might be nice to get Hawaiian Food tonight. Whatcha think bro?”

I laughed as I said, “I think something’s never change. You’re still always thinking about food, but sure I’m down with it.”

“What were you daydreaming about anyhow?”

“Nothing much, just realizing my sister is going away soon. I’m really gonna miss her.”

“I remember when you didn’t feel that way.”

“Me too, but that wasn’t her fault.”

“I guess… I know you two are close.”

“She isn’t just my sister. She’s my confident and without her I never would have had to courage to ask Shelly out.”

“I guess there are advantages to having a big sister. See, I told you all those years ago that you were lucky to have a sister instead of a brother.”

“Yes, I am. Hey look I see my ride,” I said as the perfect wave headed our way.

I jumped to my feet and got in position for the final ride of the day.

Aukai yelled, “Okay, I’ll catch the next one,” as I grabbed the wave and headed towards shore.

I felt the wind on my face and the splash of the ocean on my legs as I waved at Mia pulling her board to shore. I hope she remembered that Aukai and I needed a ride home.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Iconic inspired this post. Go check it out and get your own inspiration.

Dear Autism Mom 18

Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial

I hate that I disappointed you so much that you felt you could only give my novel one star. Yet, you make me wonder. Are you really a special needs parent, or are you one of the bullies, who does not like that I still speak out about how wrong bullying is? There are three reasons I think this is likely.

First, I do not believe a special needs parent would intentionally wound anyone; especially not another special needs mom. Second, special needs moms who do take the time to leave reviews on usually have more than one book they have reviewed. Their name would identify them as an autism mom too. They would not use the name “Mom.” Third, I see a pattern. The only bad review Delightfully Different received previously appeared on Barnes and Noble just after my local book signing. The most recent review appeared the day I announced on Facebook that I was appearing on a local radio station the next day.

Your review would be wounding if I thought you really were a mother of a girl with Asperger’s. No author wants to disappoint her audience, and as a special needs parent, I really do not want to disappoint another parent. I apologize if you are truly a parent of a child with Asperger’s, and I want to explain a few things to you.

My daughter saw psychologists from the time she was in kindergarten. She did not receive a diagnosis of Asperger’s until she was ten. During that time we listened to bad advice and followed it. Therefore, my book was not written just to address bullying. I do not believe the information on the cover indicates that it was. I am reasonably sure you know that if you are a special needs parent.

I wrote it because too many doctors, teachers, and others let us down along the journey to getting my daughter’s diagnosis. I wanted to help other parents avoid the pitfalls by clearly showing signs of Asperger’s and sensory sensitivity that doctors and others missed when my daughter was younger. I hoped to educate extended family members too. My daughter realized she was different and she did not know why. She saw herself as flawed, and she thought we saw her that way too. This allowed the bullies to inflict deeper emotional wounds. The fact that the Queen Bee was someone she previously trusted and confided in did not help either.

Thankfully, she no longer sees herself that way, but she is still working to recover from the wounds inflicted by a group of vicious girls and an intolerant English teacher. I really hope you are not one of her tormentors, but I have a message for you if you are. You will not get me to shut up by criticizing my novel. Every author has people who do not like their style of writing, and even bad reviews can sell novels. So, mahalo for writing your review, and mahalo for giving me a new resolve to write a better second novel that will address cyberbullying.

I have one more message for her former bullies if you are reading this. I hope one day you will wake-up and realize how wrong you are, and you will have the guts to tell her how sorry you are. Please do not expect her to absolve you of your sins. You are no longer important enough for her to wish you pain, but years of abuse cannot be forgiven overnight. I do hope you can forgive yourself and that you will turn your life around and help others instead of inflicting more pain.

Writing My First Novel: Creating a Style All My Own 4

It hangs on my wall to remind me to write. Artist Unknown.

Does anyone else take risks when they write? Do you wish you had not later if you do?

I took a huge gamble when I wrote my first novel. The first reviewer recognized my strengths and my weaknesses and recommended that I get editorial help. I listened.

Yet, when my first editor failed to see why I wanted to begin Mia’s journey into this world with her watching from heaven, I fumed. And when she also told me everything about Mia’s character was unbelievable and I should only write from one point of view, I refused to listen. I even demanded to have a different editor, one that actually had a clue about Asperger’s. My second editor is a child psychologist, so I no longer had to explain the entire story. What a relief!

Why did I demand to write the story my way? There are several reasons. First and foremost, my daughter’s true story inspired this story. I needed the reader to be able to see Mia’s parents’ family differences, so they could understand how this contributed to misunderstandings, and even misdiagnosis. I did not add conflict to make either family look bad. I added conflict because books require conflict to make them interesting and because there really were misunderstandings on both sides.

I needed the reader to know Mia’s mother’s story too, so they could clearly see the love between Mia and Francesca from the start. I understand that many have a hard time with Mia watching her mother from heaven. Did I mention my husband and Mia’s father are both Chinese Americans. Did anyone see the movie Mulan?

Why then is it so hard to grasp that Mia might have watched her mother from heaven? Many Chinese believe their ancestors are important, and they pay respect to them for years after they die even taking food to the cemetery for them. Buddhist and many other Eastern religions believe in reincarnation, so why is it so far-fetched to believe that Mia could watch from heaven and choose her mother?

I also needed Francesca and Mia to both identify traits of Asperger’s that the average reader would have missed just as the doctors did. Yes, I get that this made some of the story seem redundant, but any parent of a child with special needs of any sort will tell you how important it is that others see our children as they are, not as they appear.

I wanted Mia’s story to be a story of family love, not just of Asperger’s and bullying. I wanted people to see a loving family and to clearly see Mia’s kind and loving nature before they saw the effects of bullying.

My little novel received recognition from three unrelated sources prior my getting the results from 19th Writers Digests Self-Publishing Book Awards in January. Yet, when I received the judges comments, I was devastated. Why? Basically, the judges validated everything the first editor, the one I fired, tried to tell me. They hated that I started the story with Mia watching her mother from heaven. This is the part that all three felt was unbelievable. They all three also hated that I used two points of view.

Yet, here is what Kirkus said:

“The author sets Mia’s first-person narrative within a larger family story told from Francesca’s point of view as she grapples with Ben’s exasperation over Mia’s problems, tussles with her difficult Chinese-American mother-in-law and weathers the heartache of her parents’ deaths. Writing with a limpid prose style deftly infused with medical research, Walker does a remarkable job illuminating Mia’s offbeat perspective from within; she makes it more a personality than an affliction. The book’s advocacy impulses occasionally overheat, as when Francesca goes ballistic over an incident in which mean girls tease Mia at school. Still, through Mia’s story, Walker dispels much of the mystery of Asperger’s kids while revealing the richness and promise of their lives.

A poignant and enlightening coming-of-age saga.”

Here is what Tony Attwood, the world-renowned psychologist and author of The Compete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome had to say:

“There are many facts within fiction. This captivating story provides invaluable insights into the childhood of a girl who has Asperger’s syndrome. Fiction allows the author to explore different perspectives and add poignancy to the experiences of sensory sensitivity and being bullied and teased of someone who has Asperger’s syndrome. The title Delightfully Different describes Asperger’s syndrome but also the qualities of this novel.”

Here are the rewards it received from the Young Voices Foundation:

Seal of Approval in the Inspirational/ Spiritual category

and 2 Bronze awards:

Regional Fiction/ Youth/ West Pacific

Regional Fiction/ Teen/ Young Adult/ West Pacific.

I have heard stories of how many successful writers received rejections in one form or another. I know how many years it can take for a book to take-off even if published by a traditional publisher. Yet, I have hesitated to share my rejections with you. Just a FYI: I had not planned to write the second novel from two points of view or to cover as long of a time span anyway. The second book is from Cal, the brother’s point of view. It will address cyberbullying and Cal will help stop it by working closely with the FBI. You can read the first installment here.

So, now that you know, who should I listen too? The book is not selling like I would like. Do you think the judges are right and this is the reason? What would you do with this information if it were your novel? Would you continue the story?