Authors are banding together to raise money for refugees. From the Read 4 Refugees fund-raising site: https://gojanegive.org/read4refugees/
“A generous donor has pledged to add a $10,000 bonus donation if we raise $50,000 by March 20! So please donate and share now! Campaign ends March 31, 2017.
All donations go to support RefugePoint, a stellar nonprofit that provides lasting solutions to the world’s most at-risk refugees. RefugePoint saves lives by helping refugees to resettle in the U.S., Canada, Australia and other countries. Through services including healthcare, counseling, skills training and small grants, RefugePoint ensures refugees can find safety and pathways to self-reliance, no matter where they are. Read more about their work in the New York Times.”
I am so excited–and honored–to have been invited by the YAFest PA organizers!
Welcome to the Crawdad Book Blog Tour!
For the whole month of January, my new contemporary young adult novel Crawdad, will be featured on the blogs of some of my besties – authors and book bloggers who support the readers and writers of diverseYA – and I couldn’t be more pleased. I hope you can visit them all and enter the giveaway. Here’s the schedule:
~About the Book~
Seventeen-year-old Jamil Ramos grew up on Alabama’s Gulf Coast believing his mom, Loretta, was his only living relative. She put a trumpet in his hands as a toddler and sparked his love of jazz. But when Loretta drops a bomb on Jamil from her deathbed- she’s not his mama and his daddy is still alive, living in Charleston, S.C. – his world is turned upside down.
Now, with the only mama he’s ever known gone and the Loyola University trumpet audition less than a week away, Jamil has trouble feeling his music. When his band teacher tells him to get it together, Jamil decides to hitchhike to South Carolina over to find his father and get his questions answered. All he has is a name –Leon Ramos.
Jamil relies on the kindness of the strangers he meets-a gay teen kicked out of his home, a runaway prostitute, and a street musician-as he makes his way across Florida and Georgia trying to avoid the cops along the way. But when Jamil is robbed of his most prized possession, his trumpet, his plans go anywhere but where he’d hoped. That trumpet was supposed to be his ticket for a scholarship, the only way to college his mama could give him. Lost and alone without it, Jamil wonders if finding his father is worth risking his future.
~About the Author~
Lisa T. Cresswell has been writing middle grade and young adult books for what seems like a mighty long time. She can never seem to make up her mind if she likes reality or fantasy, so she writes both. She also likes lemon jasmine green tea, dark chocolate almonds, and lots and lots of coffee. And of course, BOOKS. ALL THE BOOKS!! You can see all of her work at www.lisatcresswell.com
~Enter the Giveaway~
Enter to win one of three copies of Crawdad to be given away in January!
What Librarians are Saying About My Visits to Their Schools:
Mission High School Library had the pleasure of hosting Beth Fehlbaum this fall. She spoke to over 350 of our students. Her presentation had them all hanging on her every word. She welcomed their questions and gave them honest answers. Many of them stayed behind to talk to her about their experiences and many stopped just to give her a hug, it was something to see. In my 6 years hosting authors at our library, I can honestly say no one has captured the attention of the masses quite like Beth. Her message is powerful, inspiring and hopeful.
Beth Fehlbaum visited my school Library last Friday at Cano Freshman Academy in Harlingen, Texas, for an Author’s Visit. Beth was very engaging and informative, and my students loved her. She not only booktalked her books, but provided a presentation on how writing can be therapeutic to students. She encouraged them to write anything that they felt and get their ideas and thoughts out on whatever it is that they are dealing with.
I work with fourteen and fifteen year old students whose attention is not easily kept, but she held their attention through their entire presentation, and at the end of the day I had multiple students asking to borrow the book and e-book! She made her entire presentation herself through Prezis and showed booktrailers that she has made as well as found on her books. My students loved seeing someone who has actually been published and have had success in writing in the flesh. Her technology use is great and she was very prepared In advance and was able to send me her presentation ahead of time.
Beth has a very genuine heart and it shines through her presentations. She uses her teaching experience to captivate an audience and hold them until the very end. She made a huge impression on my students, my staff, and myself. I highly recommend her for any speaking positions and also as a presenter. Beth was amazing, and I loved having her in my library.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions or any way that I can be of help.
Stephanie M. Galvan, MLS
Library Media Specialist
Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy
I’d Love to Visit YOUR School!
Program: Writing: A Great Way to Work Out Your Stuff!
Writing from real life: students learn how to recognize the “material” they have in their own lives—and how to use it to write narrative, expository, poetry, drama—any mode of writing that tells the story that is dying to get out.
Q & A (Ask Me Anything!), book signings, and talk with students after the presentation.
Honorarium: $750-$1200 per day: all day: 8 AM – 4 PM. (As many presentations as can take place during that time.) OK to split between schools. Books must be available for purchase.
*Daily fee does not include travel expenses: flight, hotel if more than 4 hours from my home.
NOTE: I have a special place in my heart for Title 1 schools. TALK TO ME before you decide that this is not a do-able situation.
Interested? Contact me: email@example.com
I am an author of gritty YA fiction as well as an experienced (nearly 2 decades) English teacher. I currently teach English I, Pre-AP English, and Remedial English Lab classes in a small rural district in Henderson County, TX.
I specialize in working with struggling learners from low socio-economic backgrounds. While I now teach the general-ed population, I taught Dual Language ESL classes for 8 years, transitioning kids from reading/writing Spanish to doing so in English, so I have a special understanding of the challenges English Language Learners face.
My book, Hope in Patience, was named to the 2011 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers, and another of my books, Big Fat Disaster, is on the Spirit of Texas-High School Reading List for 2015-2016. Chapter previews of all my books are available on my website, http://bethfehlbaumbooks.info .
You will find a list of the events I have presented programs for, below.
I offer a program that uses what I do– writing from real life–to teach students how to recognize the “material” they have in their own lives that inspires expository and narrative writing as well as poetry and drama. My current program is called, “Writing: A Great Way to Work Out Your Stuff.”
While I am thrilled to read from my work in conjunction with my visit–and in connection with the program I present–I know that the educational component of hosting an author is important, and I want to be there for you to support your efforts to improve your students’ mastery of writing. I am happy to provide a lesson plan that is correlated to your state’s standards.
I write edgy YA fiction; thus far, my four books have dealt with Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA) and/or Binge Eating Disorder. However, my objective of a visit is to discuss the concept of writing from one’s own experiences in a way that supports the objective of writing improvement and brainstorming. In other words, I will not be presenting a seminar on Childhood Sexual Abuse– unless you want me to do that. (Hope that eases your minds, LOL).
INTERESTED? Contact me! firstname.lastname@example.org
I love attending bookfests, and that includes prepping ahead of time for panel discussions. I am very interested in combining school visits with attending your bookfest. I am willing to present writing workshops in addition to answering questions about my work.
What do I charge?
As a teacher myself, I am all too aware to the financial constraints schools and libraries operate under. That’s why I try to work with interested parties so that their students have the opportunity to meet an author whose book(s) they read. I am available on a limited basis during the school year since I have ninth graders to teach, but I do take time off for events that are well-planned and have an enthusiastic audience. In addition, I am happy to do Skype/Google Hangout visits.
My basic requirements for visits are as follows:
1. If I’m flying to your location, I must have my expenses covered: that means airfare and hotel.
2. If I’m driving more than 50 miles to your location, I must be reimbursed for fuel.
3. I expect students to be familiar with my work. I am happy to partner with a local bookstore to do signings as a fundraiser for you.
In addition to covering my travel, I have a $750-$1200/day appearance fee that is negotiable based on your situation. Please contact me before you decide there’s no way you can swing the fee and/or travel expenses. Let’s talk and figure out a solution. The fee for 1/2 day is $375-$600.00. I prefer to talk to groups of no more than 30 students at a time; however, I will work with you to give you as much “bang for your buck” as possible. As stated earlier: I’m a teacher. I get where you are coming from. Trust me.
PLEASE NOTE: With very few exceptions, I do not sell my own books: I do not haul a box of books to your location. I suggest that you partner with a local bookstore–an independent one, preferably–to make my books available for purchase. Compared to many other mid-list authors, I charge much less to do school visits. However, the trade-off is that your students are well-acquainted with my work and my books are available to buy. Most bookstores will happily do on-site sales for you.
Book Festival Coordinators: While I am willing to appear to speak at your event, I do not attend events that require paying for a table and selling my own books. Please keep that in mind before contacting me.
YA Fest, Easton, PA: panelist, topic & co-panelists TBA
Teen Bookfest By the Bay, Corpus Christi, TX: panelist, topic & co-panelists TBA
Border Book Bash, Mission, TX, panelist, topic & co-panelists TBA
Veterans Memorial High School, Mission, TX: featured speaker, “Writing: A Great Way to Work Out Your Stuff”/Book Talk on The Patience Trilogy and Big Fat Disaster
La Joya High School, Mission, TX: featured speaker, “Writing: A Great Way to Work Out Your Stuff”/Book Talk on The Patience Trilogy and Big Fat Disaster
McAllen Book Festival, McAllen, TX: featured speaker, “Writing: A Great Way to Work Out Your Stuff”/Book Talk on The Patience Trilogy and Big Fat Disaster
Dr. Abraham Cano Freshman Campus, Harlingen, TX: featured speaker, “Writing: A Great Way to Work Out Your Stuff”/Book Talk on The Patience Trilogy and Big Fat Disaster
Mission High School, Mission, TX: TX featured speaker, “Writing: A Great Way to Work Out Your Stuff”/Book Talk on The Patience Trilogy and Big Fat Disaster
Texas Library Association Annual Conference, Houston, TX: Panelist: Spirit of Texas High School Reading List: award winner for Big Fat Disaster
Teen Bookfest By the Bay, Corpus Christi, TX: Panelist: “(How Characters Demonstrate the Ability to Be a Force for Good): ‘The Power of One’” with Guadalupe Garcia McCall and Tricia Leaver
Teen Bookfest By the Bay, Corpus Christi, TX: Panelist: Realistic Fiction, with Lindsey
Colorado Teen Literature Conference, Denver, CO: Featured Speaker: “Writing From Real Life”
Montgomery County Book Festival, Conroe, TX: Panelist
Texas Library Association Annual Conference, San Antonio, TX: Proposal Writer/Panelist:
“Don’t Talk About What? Religion’s Place in YA Fiction” with Patricia Dunn, Christina Gonzalez, Christine Kohler, Varian Johnson, Elsa Marston, N.H. Senzai, Tim Tingle
YABFest, Round Rock, TX: Panelist, “My So-Called World,” with E. Kristin Anderson, Jessica Lee Anderson, David Levithan & Andrea Cremer, & Lindsey Scheibe
NCTE/ALAN, Boston, MA: Proposal Writer & Panelist: “Coming of Age, Then and Now: The Truth Remains the Same” with Selene Castrovilla, Shannon Delany, Ellen Hopkins, Jeri Smith-Ready
Missouri SCBWI Conference, St. Louis, MO: Panelist with Jo Knowles, Deborah Heiligman, Selene Castrovilla, and Shannon Delany.
YALSA/ALA Annual Conference, St. Louis, MO: Panelist with Jo Knowles, Deborah Heiligman, Selene Castrovilla, and Shannon Delany.
Crime Victims’ Awareness Week, Dallas, TX: Keynote Speaker: “Courage and Hope”
Greater Texas Community Partners, Dallas, TX: Featured Speaker: “Courage and Hope”
This week only: 9/19 through 9/23, the COURAGE IN PATIENCE e-book is FREE on Amazon!
Read the book that author Beth Fehlbaum originally wrote as “a therapeutic assignment.” Check out this interview:
How has being a Texan influenced your writing?
Texas—especially rural towns—has a huge influence on my writing. In The Patience Trilogy, Ashley Asher is transplanted from an affluent Dallas suburb to tiny Patience, Texas, and a country town of about 2,000 people.
This mirrors my experience of 2003, when my family moved from a Dallas suburb to a small country town on the edge of East Texas. The pace is slower, the people are often more open and approachable, and, of course, these elements reveal charming eccentricities that make for great storytelling.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
Edgy YA fiction chose me. I initially wrote the first draft of Courage in Patience as a therapeutic assignment. I was in recovery for trauma from childhood sexual abuse and learning to manage having Post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the experiences I had from the age of 8.
I was writing poems and short stories as a way of processing my grief and rage, and the only person I showed them to was my psychologist. He suggested that I try writing a novel. It took about four months of stopping/starting and always sending up stuck in asking, “Why?. . .Why did this happen to me?. . .Why did my mother ignore my outcry at age 14?. . .”
Finally, I gave myself permission to imagine the recovery process as someone else’s. That’s when the story began.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
The main character, Ashley, experiences a horrific attack at the hands of her stepfather. Throughout the series, she has been unable to remember exactly what happened, because she blacked out. In the last book, Truth in Patience, she is triggered by something and remembers the incident in a visceral way. That was difficult for me to write, but I will say this: the growth and healing I experienced between writing Book 1, Courage in Patience, through Book 2, Hope in Patience, then in Book 3, Truth in Patience, enabled me to be able to address Ashley’s remembering in a way that I could handle it with grace and in a gentle way with myself.
I wrote The Patience Trilogy over the period of six years that it took me to go from a frozen-by-trauma eight year old in my mind to becoming an adult in the way I cope with the world.
What literary character is most like you?
Ashley Asher is basically me as a traumatized child/teen, and her stepmother, Beverly, is me as my adult “teacher self.”
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
Chris Crutcher’s commitment to authenticity and truth telling are the reason I am the sort of writer I am. I happened to find his novel, Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes, on my gone-away-to-college daughter’s bookshelf, and I read it from cover-to-cover in a matter of hours. That book changed my life, because after reading it, I knew there are stories inside of me that might help others.
I love Sherman Alexie for his honesty and no-holds-barred expressions of emotion, and Jennifer Brown’s ability to pull me into story is so keen that I find it difficult to adequately describe it.
What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
I worked so hard to overcome the first 38 years of my life in a highly dysfunctional family and claim my life as my own. Therefore, when I die, I want to leave a legacy of mentally healthy family members who have boundaries in place and are aware of their self-worth.
How Writing Another Person’s Journey to Recovery
Helped Me Turn Toward the Sun
It’s been six years since I completed writing the first draft of the last book in The Patience Trilogy, a series about fifteen year old Ashley, who has been removed from her mother and stepfather’s home because her stepfather has been sexually abusing the girl since she was nine.
Over the course of the previous six years, 2004-2010, I was in therapy, working on recovering from the sexual abuse that I endured at the hands of my stepfather. Writing The Patience Trilogy—looking at the experience of recovery as an observer and not solely as a person mostly crippled by pain the first couple of years—was incredibly healing. I wrote all three books: Courage, Hope, and Truth, through the course of getting well.
I had to learn to manage the myriad of disorders I have as a result of what I endured at my stepfather’s hands, and the deliberate indifference practiced by my mother. To this day, she refuses to know the depth of what happened to me. And because she refuses to know it, we do not have a relationship. I will not accept “crumbs” from anyone or be treated as if my life does not matter. The first 38 years of my life were spent doing that. No more.
I was suicidal the first year or so of therapy. I thought the grief would destroy me. I suffered through PTSD flashbacks so severe that I ended up in the emergency room, my body wracked with spasms when I remembered incidents my mind had blocked until I could handle them.
Over many, many hard-won months, then years, of healing, the fog of pain lifted as my therapist reparented me. My husband, daughters, and I grew even stronger in our love for one another. We were made whole by living in the Light of Truth, even when getting to “whole” was an excruciating journey for all of us.
My husband and therapist’s tough determination and love, coupled with the fierce love I have for my children that kept me tethered to Earth, are why I survived the journey to recovery.
I know that I’m one of the lucky ones.
On August 10, 2010—the day of my last therapy session, I knew without a doubt that I had emerged from a six-year “gestation” period to become the person I am today.
I am so very, very unlike the terrified woman-child who entered therapy on November 4, 2004, and I am surely unrecognizable as the broken soul in early 2005 who had to white-knuckle it past every bridge column I approached in my car, because I knew I would slam my car full-speed into it if I did not picture my children in my mind constantly.
At some point over the course of a journey my therapist compared to a barefoot journey from Texas to Alaska and back, I no longer cared why my mother refuses to recognize the depth of damage that occurred on her watch. I was, and am, so surrounded by people who love me unconditionally and accept me as I am, that I no longer need the answer to the question of “Why did this happen to me?”
Because there is no answer that could ever justify it. There is never justification for a child to be sexually abused.
Although my publishing career hit a bit of a bump when my first two publishers went out of business, and Truth in Patience is only being released now (April 19, 2016, actually), I was given the gift of the unique opportunity to rewrite all three books from the perspective of who I am now: a pretty-much-healed person.
I think I needed to be as healed as I am before the last book in the Trilogy, Truth in Patience, could see the light of day. The main character, Ashley, comes so far from where she was in the first book, Courage in Patience, and she continues to grow stronger through Book 2, Hope in Patience. But in Truth in Patience, she is like a flower opening to the sun.
And I know exactly how that feels.
The Patience Trilogy: Courage in Patience, Hope in Patience, and Truth in Patience, are the story of a fifteen-year-old girl’s rocky path to recovery from a childhood of sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather. I was inspired to write them by the therapist I worked with for six years as I fought to recover from a traumatic childhood with the same experiences.
I had been writing short stories and poems and sharing them with my doctor, and one day he suggested that I try writing a novel. I was struggling mightily to pull myself out of my grief, rage, and sense of disbelief at the fact that my mother turned her back on me–and it took about four months of stopping and starting, always ending up in the same place: asking “Why did this happen to me?!” and of course finding no answer.
I imagined what it would have been like if I had made an outcry when I was a teenager instead of keeping the secret for years until I broke, unable to manage my life any longer. (A better way to put it is this: I was batsh*t crazy, honey.)
Then I imagined a girl, Ashley, who had never known her biological father, and I created a situation in which the girl is removed from her abusive home and placed with this man. The only impression Ashley has of him is the horror stories she’s heard from her mother about his violent temper and alcoholism.
Ashley was unaware that her father, David, stopped drinking the day Ashley’s mother left him when Ashley was three months old, and that he carried great shame within himself for abdicating his duty as her father. When he finds out that his ex-wife’s husband is sexually abusing his daughter, he steps up and meets Ashley then brings her home to Patience, Texas.
That’s when Ashley’s path to recovery begins.
People are often surprised when they read The Patience Trilogy and find a lot of humor in the pages. I know, I know: how could I even think of anything funny related to Childhood Sexual Abuse (CSA)?
There is nothing funny about CSA, to be sure, but humans are funny creatures, and I populated fictional Patience, Texas with eccentric characters for comic relief.
There’s Billy Ray Sublett, Ashley’s classmate Dub’s stepfather, who has a racing lawnmower named “Bubba’s Dream.”
Kevin Cooper, another of Ashley’s classmates, is a mountain of a boy with a baby face, thinning blonde hair, a heart of gold (especially when it comes to his girlfriend, Roxanne Blake), but not a whole lot going on upstairs. That’s why Roxanne’s ready to kill him in Truth in Patience, when he whips out his wallet and shows everyone the condom he carries “just in case” when dating and relationships are the topic in Human Ecology class.
Marvella Brown, the Patience High School secretary, can’t stand Mr. Walden, the principal, so whenever he does something especially repugnant or boneheaded, Marvella calls her friend, a newspaper reporter, and gets the story splashed on the front page.
Ashley’s best friend, Zaquoiah “Z.Z.” Freeman, is five-and-a-half feet of solid rock. Her beaded braids sound like rattlers when she’s especially put out with Pam Littlejohn, who acts as if she’s the only girl on their track team able to win. Pam will be lucky if Z.Z. doesn’t knock her upside the head, unless someone else does it first.
Ashley’s stepbrother, Ben, wears Christmas boxers all year round, and he and his cousin, Steven, conspire with Steven’s dad, Frank, to blow a toilet skyward with Fourth of July fireworks.
Finally, Ashley may be a mess, and she may have a long way to go, but she’s equipped with a dry sense of humor and perseverance that won’t quit. She’s not a sad sack, and the people in her life wouldn’t allow her to be one if she was so inclined. Ashley’s got a sharp sense of humor about her mental problems, for example, she wonders, when completing a school assignment about self-identity, if she can just list her disorders instead of personality traits that make her who she is. (Those of you with disorders are hearing a rim-shot (ba-dum-bum!) just about now. Hopefully.)
These are just some of the characters inhabiting Patience, Texas. I hope you’ll love them as much as I do, and find yourself laughing out loud at them the way I did when I wrote their stories.