THERE WILL COME A TIME is here today!!

Happy book birthday to There Will Come a Time!!!

Today is the day that my second book comes out. I can’t believe I even get to say that–second book. I started writing this story two and a half years ago. But I began thinking about it even before that. So it’s been a good wait for me, and I’m so happy it’s here.

The novel follows Mark as he navigates the loss of his twin sister, Grace. He’s got friends and family to help him along the way, if he lets them in. It’s real and moving and may have some tears, but also hope.

Some people have asked me why I chose to write from a male, teen, Filipino perspective, and the answer is because I wanted to. I was inspired by a former student of mine, who happens to be Filipino, and a story he shared about being in love with his neighbor across the street since the fifth grade. I was also inspired by my neighborhood and the friends of my children. I used to watch this guy skate down my street with no helmet, pads, anything and he also became some of Mark. I am also painfully aware of the lack of diverse protagonists in children’s literature and wanted to help to change that. The characters in this novel reflect my own world and the world of my children. I love Mark and his story and hope you all do too.

The book is now out in stores and available online: amazon Indie Bound  Barnes and Noble

The official launch party isn’t until April 24 at Skylight Books in Los Feliz at 7:30pm. Come and get a signed copy!

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There Will Come a Time is out this month!!!

April 2014 is here! I have been waiting for a year and a half for you. This is the month that my second book, THERE WILL COME A TIME is out. April 15 is the official day. I still can’t get over that I have a book coming out, let alone that it’s my second. So so grateful that I get to do this.

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I am also incredibly grateful to be a part of the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this year. I have been attending for years and secretly wished to be one of the authors some day. That day is happening on April 13th at 1:30-2:30 in the Norris Theatre the panel is titled: Young Adult Fiction: Outside Looking In. I am joining authors: Deb Caletti, Anna Shinoda, and Ann Redish Stampler. These are all fantastic YA authors, so I’m thrilled to be joining them.

Right after our panel Laurie Halse Anderson will be speaking and signing. I hope I get to meet her finally. I read her first book, Speak, years ago and loved it as much as my students. And this is what is so wild, I am sharing the stage with her? I mean, I would have looked at you like a crazy person if you told me that ten years ago, five years ago, even a year ago. I love this journey I’m on because it has been so unexpected.

I hope you can come and see me!!

Please look over the schedule for both days. There are so many wonderful authors of all kinds–cookbooks, childrens, adult, nonfiction, fiction, etc… It’s a great day for families too.

My official book launch will be on April 24th at Skylight books in Los Feliz at 7:30 pm. I’ll be talking about my book and reading a little from it. We will also have live music from two local high school musicians, one of which, Niko Embry, helped me with some details of my book.

The third event I’ll be a part of is the Pasadena Teen Book Festival on April 26 from 12-4. This has a wonderful line up and is almost sold out, so click on the link to reserve your spot.

Thankfully I stopped biting my nails two years ago, or I think they’d be bitten raw with anticipation, fear and overall ahhhh!!!

Would love to see you.

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updates on health and wellness

It’s been almost a full year since I was diagnosed with MS. That’s crazy. I’ll often have people ask me how I’m doing, so I thought I’d write about it. This is also for those of you who spend months searching and reading about MS after you’ve been diagnosed, like I did. I found personal blogs to be very informative and encouraging.

This morning I went hiking with my sister in law. It was beautiful. The water was full down the creek because of the recent rains and the waterfall an actual waterfall instead of the usual trickle. And while it was a good hike and on the outside things are fine, on the inside I was having a silent conversation with myself. My right leg felt tingly and numb, so the whole time I was conscious of it and praying that it didn’t mean anything. That it wouldn’t turn into some big flair up.

I’m tired today, probably because I’m a little out of shape and sleepy due to bouts of insomnia, and in the past I would push through it, but I’ve learned to listen to my body. So I take a couple of things off the to do list and settle in on the couch to get some work done.

The tingling has lessened. It’ll be barely noticeable in another two hours.

All good.

This is what’s it’s been like for me. I live my life. Make my plans. Do my thing, but MS is always kind of there in the background. The potential for an attack.

Thankfully I haven’t had any flair ups this year. I did struggle with some fatigue for a few months in the beginning, but I slowed down, napped, tried to lessen stress and it helped. Now I don’t experience fatigue in the same way.

I changed my diet. For those who maybe are researching if that helps. I believe it does. I do the Swank low saturated fat and have opted to remove meat and dairy as well. I eat fish, all the veggies, grains, legumes, etc… It’s a challenge when I eat out, but you can do anything when you’re disciplined about it.

The big change this month has been that I’ve started on some medication as well. After the strong encouragement and recommendation from my neurologist, I decided to take Tecfidera, one of the recent pills on the market. I had one day of flushing as far as side effects go, but nothing after that. So that’s been wonderful. My reason for the change is that I want to be doing everything I can to beat this, feel good and lessen chance of disability later on. I have no idea what the course of my MS is going to take, but I do know that what I’m doing now will effect that.

I don’t like the idea of taking medication because it makes me feel like I’m sick. But I have challenged my own thinking about this and see it more like the vitamins I already take like vitamin D and such. I’m just adding a blue capsule to the mix.

Since I don’t feel too differently, it’s hard for me to understand that I have this condition? this disease?, except for on mornings like today when the numbness is there. Fear creeps in and I’ll indulge it for a bit. My mind follows the familiar trail, but I stop it before I’m entangled in it.

And then I take a deep breath, pray and keep moving. It’s all I know to do.

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Writing Residency

This year I decided to take a chance and do something that I haven’t given myself the luxury to indulge in. Earlier in the year, I saw a couple of writers tweet and blog about writing residencies and how much of a benefit they were to attend. After researching different residencies, I decided that Hedgebrook, a global community of women writers, would be perfect for me. They are a wonderful organization that awards 2 to 6 week residencies on rural Whidbey island off of Washington State throughout the year. I’ve been to Orcas Island and it’s just so beautiful. The application process involves sending a writing sample and submitting short essays to their questions. I didn’t really think I’d get the residency because, well, I just don’t think I’ll get those kinds of things. There are so many amazing writers out there, the competition is fierce.

Well, I won one!

So at the end of June, beginning of July 2014 I will be leaving for two weeks to solely focus on my writing. No children. No husband. No internet. No responsibilities except to write and think and create and stare and take beautiful walks.

I am so grateful for the opportunity!

And I am thankful for the fellow writers who posted blog entries and tweeted about their own experiences because without them, I wouldn’t have considered taking this much time out for myself and my art.

So if you are reading this and looking for encouragement, please consider this post yours.

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Venice visit

Venice High School I love you. You made me miss teaching. Sob. Maybe I will come back one day. Thank you for being so great.

Author Claire Lazebnik, a very accomplished author who writes these wonderful Jane Austen inspired novels for teens, and I got to visit and talk writing and books and such with a group of students.

Here’s a picture at the end. I asked a student to do it and she took a panorama style. :) It’s so small, but Claire and I are standing in the middle.

This is the best part of what I do.

Some of the questions dealt with:

a) Do we get to design our covers?

b) How do you begin a story?

c) How long does it take for a book to be published?

d) Do you have to have a degree to write?

 

 

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School Visit

This week I was able to visit students at Chaparrell High School in Temecula, CA. This HS is in the area I went to HS, but it wasn’t built yet when I lived there. The students were so welcoming and I had a great time. I was tired by the end of the day and thought, wow how did I have the energy to do this all day as a teacher. Teachers you’re awesome.

I shared a little about myself, writing, my book and gave them a small writing experience.

I miss teaching HS.

Sad face.

And I’m still one of the shortest people in the room, with two inch heels.

It was great to be reminded who I write for and why.

Today I started listening to a voice that was inspired by one of these guys in the front row. We’ll see what develops.

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