13reasonwhyA couple of weeks ago in one of my classes, we had to create a discussion post analyzing everyday text using the literary theory we had just learned about. One of my classmates chose to address the Netflix series Thirteen Reasons Why. Now, I haven’t seen the series yet, but I’ve read the book so I understand the premise for the Netflix series. I’m also aware there are some things that were changed, for example, the way Hannah commits suicide is different. I’ve also seen and read some of the articles that have been published since the series released. The show has drawn both negative and positive comments, much like the topic itself.

About a week before this I read a string of comments on Facebook and some of the things people said irked me to my core. I generally don’t comment on strings like that, but I felt it absolutely necessary to say something. suicideIt isn’t just because I’m passionate about suicide, it’s because I’ve been there. I’ve been on that ledge.

When I was 19, I locked myself in the bathroom of the two bedroom apartment I shared with my roommate. I dug a blade out of my razor and cut along a vein in my left arm.

Two things saved my life that day. One, I didn’t know much about what I was doing. Two, my roommate knocked on the door before I had a chance to cut my right arm.

For many years, my family knew nothing of what happened. I didn’t get the help I desperately needed. Instead, I found another way to destroy myself. A way to numb the pain until there was practically nothing left of ME.

YouAreNotAloneI speak up for Thirteen Reasons Why because I understand the pain Hannah was going through. I understand the choice she made. I understand because I could’ve been her. I almost was.

Now, I get that people are afraid the series romanticizes suicide, but I think they’re missing the point. It isn’t just about getting people to talk about the topic of suicide. And it isn’t about making money as my classmate suggested. And it isn’t trying to say suicide is okay.

It’s about seeing the warning signs. It’s about understanding what they are and how to address them. It’s also about letting teenagers who are contemplating or have attempted suicide that help is possible. That they are not alone in how they feel. Most importantly it’s about helping outsiders understand what that person is going through.

Too many times people call suicide “selfish,” but it’s not. When you are truly thinking about suicide, all you think about is the people around you. It was all I thought about. 2I thought I’d no longer be a burden on my family. I thought my friends didn’t really need me and that they’d be better off if I wasn’t around.

I know now that none of that is true. My family would’ve missed me. And if I had committed suicide, I wouldn’t have been there to support my friends the way I have. I also wouldn’t be here today to share my story.

And that is something I’m grateful for. It gives me hope that stories like mine and Hannah’s can save someone’s life.

This is why authors write books like Thirteen Reasons Why. All we want to do is make a difference.





Always More to Learn

20171020_182509Last weekend, I had the pleasure of joining so many authors, editors, and publishers at the Florida Writer’s Association Annual Conference. Sounds like a mouthful doesn’t it? Yeah, it’s a lot to say, but the great thing is I learned so much from it. It was only my second year attending and yet I took away a lot of information.

That’s the thing about this industry. Whether you’re an author, editor, or publisher or you wear all three hats there is always more to learn. For example, one of things that I got to talk about one morning over breakfast with a couple of YA authors was about traditional vs indie publishing. Twenty years ago if you self-published, you weren’t viewed as a “real” author. Today, indie publishing is taking traditional publishing by storm.

In case you don’t know what these two types of publishing are, I’ll break it down. Authors like Stephen King or David Morrell (FWA celebrity guest) are traditionally published. FirstBloodWhat this means is they got an agent and that agent sold their book to a publication company. (That is a very simplistic explanation. There’s so much more that goes into it.) Authors like Colleen Hoover are indie or self-published. Basically she loaded her book up on a website, for example,, and 24-72 hours later that book is available for sale. (Again, very simplistic explanation.)

Anyway, so we’re (the authors) talking about the control these two different types of publishing have over various genres. How genres like romance don’t really need traditional publishers any longer. Indie publishing has taken the genre by the horns. Also how traditional publishers are straying from taking on brand new authors. We also talked about the difference between indie publishing and self-publishing.

I know, you’re thinking it’s the same thing, right? Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Until I heard her point. This YA author suggested they are in fact different. And here’s why.

quote-anyone-can-write-one-book-even-politicians-do-it-starting-a-second-book-reveals-an-intention-to-len-deighton-48963Anybody can write a book, slap a cover on it, and load it to amazon or a multitude of other e-book sites (Nook, IBook, Kobo, etc.) for free. Yes, I said FREE.

Now I didn’t say it had to be good. The cover can suck, the writing can be atrocious, and that person can still publish it. They may not even do any marketing or branding or anything to get their name out there. This YA author called this self-publishing.

An indie or independently published author kind of does the same thing. Except there’s one difference. She told me they understand that writing is a business. e856c6595ced013f27395b2c8dc4f19eIt isn’t just that the cover and writing matter, but that they take into account any marketing and publicity.

It made so much sense to me. I got what she was saying.

Of course, it got me thinking about myself, having just released my first book. Was I self-published or indie published?

Well, I went to the conference to learn. I know that if I fail, it isn’t because of what someone else did or didn’t do, it’s because I didn’t work hard enough to make it work.

Then it got me thinking about the question my friends posed. At the conference, my friends called me superwoman because I not only had one book finished, but two, with a third in the works. Plus I’m finishing school and I have a daytime job. They asked me how I do it.

Honestly, I don’t think I knew the answer until I spoke to that YA author. Writing is a business. One that never stops evolving. So we must never stop learning.