I Wrote This Book Because…

Leave a comment

I wrote this book because we live in a sometimes horrible and often beautiful world.

I wrote this book because I did not want you to feel so alone.

I wrote this book because four boys in the town where I used to live used their collective rage, boredom, and feelings of worthlessness to turn the lives of another family into the thing of nightmares.

I wrote this book because I am raising a son.

I wrote this book because when I was a young person I used to feel very alone.

I wrote this book because of all of the strong women who raised me up.

I wrote this book because I felt like I was the only one who was not normal when I was a kid.

I wrote this book because when I was younger there were times when I wished I would die.

I wrote this book because I want you to know that it gets better.

I wrote this book because once I learned how to live inside someone else’s skin, I saw the world more clearly.

I wrote this book because I felt powerless.

I wrote this book because I felt powerful.

I wrote this book because I wanted you to read it and know that it’s not just you who feels the way you do.

I wrote this book because I love my family.

I wrote this book because I want a better future.

I wrote this book because that is what I do.

I wrote this book because we are all in this together.

I wrote this book because people let me know they believed in me.

I wrote this book because I believe in you.

Reader, though it is still a few months away from being published THE BOOK OF LANEY  is now available for pre-order just about everywhere in the english-speaking world. I know you have many choices for your time and money but I want you to know that when a book is pre-ordered it helps ease its entry into the world by relieving some of the stress on the publisher.

If you cannot pre-order it at this time, I fully understand. But maybe you would consider adding it to your wishlist for later or bookmarking it on Goodreads. Also, if you would be so kind as to bring it to the attention of your local library or bookstore, I would greatly appreciate it.

Reader, I also want you to know that while this book was written for a young adult audience that it would not be appropriate for readers under, say, the age of 14 or 15 (the protagonist is a 15-year-old girl) as some of the themes might be difficult for younger readers, no matter how advanced their reading skills.

Here’s what two of my favorite writers have to say about this book:

“Myfanwy Collins writes with big-time empathy and fierce courage.” Matthew Quick, author of The Silver Linings Playbook and Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

“In The Book of Laney, an unsettling and redemptive novel, Myfanwy Collins fuses heartbreak and empathy to explore uncomfortable truths about teenagers, violence, and survival. An unforgettable book.” —Roxane Gay, author of An Untamed State and Bad Feminist

 

Thank you.

The Good Luck of Right Now, by Matthew Quick

Leave a comment

As I read The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick I couldn’t help but think about how part of the message behind the book relates to how I met a dear friend of mine.We met because I stumbled across a wonderful essay he had written. I loved the essay and chose to write about it on my blog. The writer then found my post and chose to reach out to me. From those two choices, we became friends and remain friends to this day. I certainly feel richer for this friendship and I’m grateful we–misfit writers–made these choices. This experience is much like the experience of the characters in The Good Luck of Right now, who learn about being open to experiences and possibilities, making choices, and understanding the importance of human connection.

At the core of this wonderfully wacky book are a group of misfits desperate to find something to believe in. It is only when the world around them seems bleakest that they create their own miracle and that miracle is about opening ourselves and our hearts up to those around us. That miracle is about being open to family and friendship when we are feeling most vulnerable and alone. Bartholomew Neil could have likely spent the rest of his days alone after his mother died, but instead he allowed himself to be vulnerable. He finally heard and understood what his mother had been telling him all those years:

“We don’t know anything. But we can choose how we respond to whatever comes our way. We have a choice always. Remember that!”

Life is not all roses but it is not all thorns either. Especially if you choose to believe Bartholomew’s mother’s overarching message:

“Whenever something bad happens to us… something good happens–often to someone else. And that’s The Good Luck of Right Now.”

Of course, like most of us, it takes Bartholomew a while to fully buy into his mother’s message and to open himself up to life’s possibilities, but when he does, he becomes his own savior.

I loved this book. I think you will, too.

My Writing Process — Blog Tour

1 Comment
The Book of Laney -- available for pre-order now!

The Book of Laney — available for pre-order now!

Thank you to one of the Engine Books family, the lovely and talented, Courtney Elizabeth Mauk, for inviting me to take part in the Writing Process Blog Tour.

Here’s how it works. I was given some questions to answer (see below) and I was asked to nominate a few other writers so that they might answer the same questions a week after I post. Here we go…

1) What are you working on?

I am finishing up the edits on my forthcoming YA novel, THE BOOK OF LANEY.  I am excited about this book and also quite nervous about how it will be received. This book is extremely close to my heart as is the main character, Laney. I hope that readers will feel for her the way I do and understand the message I am trying to send through this book. I honestly can’t wait for it to be published so that I can get out there and talk about it some more.

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

 I don’t know whether it differs or not. Does it have to differ? Is that what we’re striving for? It’s not something I think about when I’m writing. I just write.

3) Why do you write what you do?

Recently, someone asked me about THE BOOK OF LANEY and what it was about. When I told her, she said, “Don’t you get depressed writing about stuff like that?” It wasn’t until much later when I’d gotten over the shock of the question that I thought of what my response should have been and that is: I would be depressed not to write about the dark and the sick in the world. I would be depressed to see something horrible and not use my work to formulate a response to it.

4) How does your writing process work?

I don’t know if I have a process so much as I have a bunch of quirks:

  • I set goals for myself–500 words a day, 1,000 words a day, etc.
  • I deny myself things I love until I make goals. For example, earlier this spring, I would not allow myself to watch the new season of Game of Thrones until I finished a rewrite. I pushed myself to get that rewrite done because I could not even consider waiting to watch GoT.
  • I tend to under promise and over deliver.
  • If my house isn’t clean, I can’t write.
  • I don’t write every day, unless I have set a goal for myself.
  • I tend not to write anything new in the summer but I do rewrite in the summer. I need the autumn and winter light to get my juices flowing.

Up next on the Writing Process Blog tour (look for their posts on July 17th or thereabouts): 

Kathy Fish‘s stories have been published in Indiana Review, Denver Quarterly, Guernica, Slice, and elsewhere. Her work is forthcoming in “The Lineup: 25 Provocative Women Writers” (Black Lawrence Press, 2014). She is the author of three short fiction collections, “Together We Can Bury It” (The Lit Pub, 2012), “Wild Life” (Matter Press, 2011), and a chapbook in “A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness” (Rose Metal Press, 2008).

Paul Myette is the author of several short stories and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is curently working on his first novel. He is a graduate of the Breadloaf School of English and lives in Byfield, MA with his wife and kids.

THE BOOK OF LANEY — Now Available for Pre-Order!

Leave a comment

NOW available for preorder from Lacewing Books.

Here and now I am in this place far away from my home. Here, with the cold wind blowing down from the north and the stars piercing through the cloudless sky. Here I am.

But my story does not start here.

My story starts months ago and hundreds of miles south of where I am now. My story starts in the place I used to call home. My story starts with violence and heartbreak.

After her brother is involved in a grisly murder-suicide, fifteen-year-old Laney is sent to live with her grandmother in the Adirondack Mountains. Laney gradually warms to her new home—especially her relationship with a mysterious neighbor—but before she can appreciate her new life, she must uncover the secrets that have haunted her family for decades.

 

book of laney

Available March 2015 from Lacewing Books.

The Virgins, by Pamela Erens

Leave a comment

Pamela Erens‘ smashing second novel, THE VIRGINS, is a novel destined to be a classic, mostly because it is so expertly written and expresses such truths, but also because it pulls from many classics all the while inverting them, offering readers a fresh view of that which we thought we knew.

In many ways, the novel’s narrator Bruce Bennett-Jones is Nick Carraway to Seung Jung’s Gatsby, as Bennett-Jones smugly and expertly narrates all of the action and emotion of the characters around him at his East Coast prep school, especially that of fish-out-of-water turned golden boy, Seung, and his sexy and exotic girlfriend, Aviva. The world that Bennett-Jones creates for us is fully his own, but director that he is, he is completely comfortable showing us the work of those who act around him, casting them, oftentimes, against the grain of expectation.

At the center of Bennett-Jones’s world are the beautiful, aspirational couple of Aviva and Seung. Bennett-Jones both covets their relationship and is repulsed by it. He does not wish to posses Aviva in every emotional way that Seung does. Instead, he wishes to ravage her, which could make Seung the hero, the romantic lead, Romeo Montague, and Bennett-Jones the villian. But wait, that is all too simplistic, for Aviva is no Juliet. She is not willing to give up anything for her romance with Seung, certainly not her life.

Aviva wants out. She wants someone who can please her as much as she wants to restrict herself from pleasure. She wants to breathe. She doesn’t know what she wants other than she wants to not be a virgin anymore, because after all, she is not the woman everyone perceives her to be. She’s a kid, she’s starving herself, and she’s scared.

She is also liberated. She can ask for sex. She can want to have it. She can be disappointed when she doesn’t get it.

So is Aviva Emma Bovary then? Is she Anna Karenina? Is she Edna Pontellier?

Through the eyes of Bennett-Jones, she is all of them and none of them, for she is not oppressed by anything external to her own thoughts and the desires that she wished she didn’t have. It is Seung who is oppressed. It is he who has to fight most against the confines of the world where he exists and the expectations of those around him, especially those of Aviva and his parents.

And it is Seung who, like Bovary, Karenina, Pontellier, pays the price in the end, as he stupidly sacrifices himself for that which he thought was lost.

Though they are central to the plot, the novel is not really about Aviva and Seung. From the beginning, we know who we are meant to follow and that is Bennett-Jones, who is Meursault in L’étranger, guilty, judged as much as he is The Talented Mr. Ripley, easily pushing forward when he has ruined the lives of others. And yet he seems to have something of a conscience, or at least he wants his audience to believe he does.

Even though we are not meant to like him, we can’t help but admire the way he maneuvers through his life and the lives of others, eventually getting his way (or at least telling us that he does). Ultimately, Bennett-Jones is utterly compelling; out from behind the curtain, he becomes the star of the show, and when it is his turn to take a bow, we give him a standing ovation.

Enter for your chance to win a copy of I AM HOLDING YOUR HAND

Leave a comment

 I AM HOLDING YOUR HAND is forthcoming from [PANK] Books in January 2013.

Click here and enter for your chance to WIN one of two signed copies. And please spread the word!