Hey, YA Fest PA! I’m coming your way on Saturday, March 18, and I can’t wait to meet you guys!
Here’s a little introduction to my books, The Patience Trilogy (Courage, Hope, & Truth), and Big Fat Disaster...
What would you do if you were taken from the only home you’ve ever known and dropped into a tiny rural town with a parent who you’ve never known?
How about if you were suddenly homeless because of something your dad did?
Ever been going through something really rough, but when you tried to talk to your parents, they wouldn’t listen?
As an author, I’m interested in exploring how brave teens react when their backs are against the wall, and they have only themselves to depend on—at least at first.
I didn’t have to look too hard to find inspiration for the books I write. I didn’t have anyone listening when I reached out for help when bad stuff was happening to me, like it did to Ashley Asher in The Patience Trilogy. When I was in high school, I felt extremely out of place and awkward. Although my family looked just fine from the outside, those of us who had the inside scoop were struggling to survive.
That’s how it is for Ashley Asher, a teen girl who tells her mom what her stepdad has been doing to her since she was 9, but her mom does not act on Ashley’s outcry. Ashley’s best friend forces her to tell their teacher, and Ashley is placed in little bitty Patience, Texas, with her father and his family. She’s learning basic “I’m new here” stuff, like which drawer her stepmom and dad keep the forks and knives in, but she’s also trying to wrap her brain around the question of WHY. For example, why doesn’t her mom care enough to do something—anything—to protect her, and WHY did her stepdad mess with her in the first place?
It’s not until she has a meltdown and her dad and stepmom figure out that Ashley needs professional help that they bring the traumatized teen to Dr. Matt, and he begins helping Ashley figure out how to move on.
I was never made homeless—unlike Colby Denton, the 15 year old girl at the heart of Big Fat Disaster—but I definitely felt really alone when I was in high school, and when people were mean to me, I had no idea how to deal with them.
Colby’s dad, a candidate for U.S. Senate running on a “Family Values” platform, steals from his campaign and cheats on Colby’s mom. Because of his criminal acts, the family is made homeless.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, Colby is “the fat girl” in a family that looks “perfect” from the outside: her dad was a college football star; her mom is a former beauty queen, and Colby is “sandwiched” between her older sister, Rachel, who is a carbon copy of their mom, and her younger sister, Drew, who is not only too cute for words, but she even reminds Colby of the Weight Watchers Points for every food (thanks to their mom), AND she has a habit of asking Colby stuff like, “Where do you think that ice cream will look best on you?”
Here’s the thing: I went through the same experiences that Ashley did, except that I didn’t speak up, and I did not get help until I was an adult. And, like Colby Denton, I have Binge Eating Disorder, and I know what it’s like to eat my feelings.
See the book trailer for Big Fat Disaster, here!
Even though I write about hard stuff—and characters dealing with shame of one kind or another—I believe it’s hard stuff that NEEDS to be talked about, because the only way to begin to shed the cloak of shame is to drag it out of the shadows, into the sunshine, where truth thrives in the light of day.
Check out The Patience Trilogy (Courage, Hope, & Truth), and Big Fat Disaster, and come see me at YA Fest PA! Chapter previews of all my books are available on my website: http://bethfehlbaumbooks.info
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!
Yep, it’s true! Just in time for the holidays, my publisher is offering the COURAGE IN PATIENCE ebook FREE from AMAZON from 12/14 through 12/18!
Don’t miss your chance to meet 15 year old Ashley Nicole Asher, her new family, amazing therapist, and the circle of friends who show her that she does not have the exclusive to a messy life:
Courage to endure.
Courage to survive.
Courage to overcome.
Tenacious 14-year-old Ashley Asher claws her way back to normalcy after enduring six years of an unimaginable Hell. Uprooted from her negligent and selfish mother, Ashley finds solace in the safety of her father’s home. Building a relationship with her stepmother, she’s finally able to open up and confront the past that haunts her.
With the help of her stepmom, therapist, and a group of troubled adolescents, Ashley battles her demons, struggling to find the normal teenage life she’s always wanted. Can Ashley find the strength and courage to overcome the horrors of her past while fighting for the future she so deserves?
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”
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.