Tropical Storms

It’s officially hurricane season in Florida. It starts at the beginning of June, and just five days later we had our first big tropical storm (Colin) make an appearance. We get ready for this time every year–buying water, making sure the house is in okay condition. Just in case. There are all the memes that show Floridians equating hurricanes to partying and, sure, some people may do that, but not all of us. Heck, not even in college.

I remember several years ago, about five, having a pretty bad tornado watch. We left work early, which we all cheered for but quickly regretted as we navigated the flooding streets back home. I think I drove 10 mph the entire time, and I lived a good 30 minutes away. The rain kept falling, hard, on my car and every now and then, on a quiet stretch of road, there’d be a clearing and I’d see the leaves start swirling together in a circular motion, and I’d get scared. Of course it wasn’t a tornado, but you never know when you’re in the midst of it.

S was already at home, with the news on. The weatherman had his sleeves rolled up, so you knew it was serious. We lost power not long after. I remember scraping together a dinner of peanut butter and bread because we didn’t want to open the refrigerator. I remember dining by the light of candles. One of my best friends lived across the street at the time, so we came over to share in our dinner. We joked about the end of the world, because it kind of felt like that. We played board games in the dying light of outside.

When the storm stopped, we walked outside to see the damage and our jokes felt real and strange all in one. We lived in apartments over popular shops and restaurants. There were always cars driving by, music play, people laughing. Tonight the streets were empty, with an eerie glow over everything. Rained on. Kind of green. Kind of off. Everything was fine, everything was the same, but it felt different. Everyone was fine, everything was okay.

We went back to my friend’s apartment where her neighbor was having a party now that the storm was over. Anyone could come! Anyone could drink! That’s how we celebrate here–when everyone is okay.

I learned a little later that a tornado did hit down, just not by us. In a neighboring city. And then, one hit down later that season in Tallahassee, near a restaurant we used to frequent.

It wasn’t a traumatic storm in the least. We didn’t have to run to shelter thank goodness. But for some reason every time hurricane season hits, I think of that one. And I can never figure out why. Why do we remember some moments over others? Why are some more present in our minds?

I don’t have the answers, but last night as I drove home from work in the calm before the storm, I thought back to it. As I took in all of L’s outdoor toys and hid them in our screened in porch, and secured down her sandbox, I remembered this feeling of calm after it all passed. As we walked the streets that were ours, but felt so distinctly different. I thought back to it.

And I probably will again, as storm after storm passes. So, no, we aren’t just partying every time a hurricane is predicted. We’re getting ready.

Upcoming Events!

If you’re in Central Florida, I have FOUR events planned for June! Check them out!

On Friday, June 10th, I’ll be at the Oviedo Barnes & Noble at 6:30 p.m. for B-Fest.

On Saturday, June 11th, I’ll be at the Colonial Barnes & Noble at 2 p.m. for B-Fest.

On Saturday, June 18th, I’ll be at the Orlando Book Festival! My panel is at 1 p.m., with YA authors Jenn Marie Thorne and Medeia Sharif. Sale/signing will be at 2p.m.

On Sunday, June 19th is the AUTOFOCUS launch! It’s at the Alafaya Library in Orlando at 2 p.m. Come celebrate with me!

This Tiny Perfect World

I was shy in school. Really shy. I moved from New York to Florida for 8th grade, made a few friends, and then was thrown into high school where my friends found other friends and while some of us stuck together, others were lost to the sea of adolescence. I don’t blame them, it happens to us all.

When I moved, it was my goal to become someone who had a voice–someone who could voice their opinions and not just fade into the background. And I did, eventually. It didn’t happen all at once. One moment didn’t snap me into a new and wonderful person. But little things contributed. Great friends. New environment. And, well, theatre.

I joined theatre because it seemed amazing–it seemed like something I wouldn’t do. So I made myself do it. I made myself audition for plays, sing in front of people, and talk to strangers. I made myself try. And I loved it. I loved being on stage. I loved finding like-minded people. I loved knowing that I found this small, perfect home within the high school walls. Each day I looked forward to my time there.

High school is a small spec in a larger world. And a drama club is an even smaller point. But when you’re part of it, it feels so big.

And that feeling–that feeling of being big in somewhere so small–is what led me to write THIS TINY PERFECT WORLD. My third book, which will be out in 2017 with HarperTeen / HarperCollins. (!!!)

this tiny perfect world

I’m so excited to share this tiny new world with you.


Did you know that it’s less than TWO MONTHS before AUTOFOCUS, my second novel, is released? I certainly didn’t until I looked at the date. And cheered. It’s crazy to think that in June (14th, to be exact!) I’ll have two novels out. Wasn’t I just dreaming about writing a few days ago? It was draining to write, but in the best way possible way. I’m so excited for you all to read it.

Currently, advanced copies are being sent around, so here are some ways you can get one!

  • I recently contributed to the These Words Matter series, about the book that made me a reader (Spoiler alert: A Summer to Die by Lois Lowry). Check it out, and enter to win an ARC!
  • Electronic ARCs are up on Edelweiss for bloggers/teachers/librarians to review. So feel free to request it.
  • Last, my writing friend, Kathryn Holmes, and I are doing a giveaway for both of our books (since they release on the same day–ahh!) Check out Twitter to enter!

giveaway instagram

And, last, if you’ve managed to get an advanced copy, I’d love to know! Send me a photo, and i’ll post some soon. 🙂