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In Standard

Recent Highlights from WriteOnCon

Recent Highlights from WriteOnCon

Recent Highlights from WriteOnConThings have been scarce on the blog recently, and that’s down to three things:

  • Deadlines for The Eleventh Trade revision
  • The Invisible Boy draft 2 writing
  • WriteOnCon‘s fundraiser!!!!!

It’s the last thing I want to talk about today. If you don’t remember, WriteOnCon is an online kidlit conference covering everything from picture books to young adult, featuring tons of industry specialists from all around the spectrum.

(I am personally incredibly ecstatic about GAIL CARSON LEVINE who is COMING TO THE CONFERENCE and I CAN’T EVEN DEAL!!!!!!!!!!!)

Since I’ve been doing a lot over on WriteOnCon, I don’t want you guys to…Continue Reading

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In Video

My First Interview!

My First InterviewBack in the spring, Bath Spa University contacted me about an opportunity to film an interview with the British Council in Manchester. I was all, “Pffft, why would they want to fly me out to talk to me?” But they were all, “We’re actually making these cool videos for every UK university and we’d like to cover your story and we’ll pay for all your expenses.” And I was all, “WELL OKAY THEN.”

So the last week of June, I found myself flying over the Pond yet again. This time I brought my sister along as my travel companion. I know, I’m super cruel.

On a very rainy morning in Manchester, I found the studio and got to meet the wonderful team. I’d already emailed with some of them and done a test run over the phone with my interviewer, Matt Cook (who did a fabulous job turning our hour long conversation into something that made sense in under three minutes), but it was nice to put faces to names. Too nervous to do more than sip on my morning tea, I was bundled off to make-up for the obligatory swan transformation every movie has promised me.


Once I was suitably coated in make-up and my hair was sprayed to a stiffness beyond starched military uniforms (so that the editing guys wouldn’t have to paint over stray strands), I was ready to go! The camera guys spent a little longer preparing everything, allowing me a few minutes to chat with Matt and Bryony — which was great to help me work through my nerves.

Talking about Bath Spa University, The Eleventh Trade, and my writing methods is all actually a very centering process for me. I mean, it’s almost as if I’ve written an entire blog series on BSU and also regularly mentor writers. Straaange.


Then Matt and I got settled in our places. I’ve been on the other side of the camera numerous times back in my job in Philanthropic Communications at Berry College, which gave me a foundation of familiarity with the situation. I hate being in front of the camera, but who doesn’t?

We did three takes of the interview — one where I was very rambly, one where I was slightly more intelligible, and finally one that was as condensed as possible. These were frequently interrupted by Manchester traffic sounds from outside, as one might expect. Also I had to work hard to keep my hand motions under the camera frame.

hands are hard

Hands are hard.

But in the end, it all came together, and the process was a lot less nerve-wracking than I thought it would be. I even had some fun! And that’s how I had a Super Official interview and got to talk about my amazing university and my exciting debut The Eleventh Trade, annnd it was all paid for!

(Except for my visit to Paperchase. Manchester has a three-story Paperchase. Stationary lovers beware.)

Huge thank you to the British Council for having me, to Bath Spa University for being awesome, and everyone along the way who’s shared enthusiastic encouragement for The Eleventh Trade!

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In Standard

Trust Conference (American Forum) 2017: Highlights

Trust Conference (American Forum) 2017: Highlights

This week, I had the fabulous opportunity to attend the Trust Conference: American Forum (representing myself as a writer). I’ve attended the full conferences in 2014 and 2016, and they are truly life changing. This conference was a smaller, shorter affair, but still very insightful.

The Trust Conference brings together activists and experts from around the world to talk about the latest in human trafficking (and prevention), slavery in the supply chain, and other worldwide humanitarian issues.

If you want to see the panels for yourself, you can check out Thomas Reuters Foundation’s Trust Women video album on Facebook, which includes: Security vs. Privacy panel, Stories of Survival, and Continue Reading

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In Standard

Writing Through Trauma

Writing Through Trauma

Writing Through TraumaOn the WriteOnCon forums this year, an interesting topic came up: How do you write when you have personal trauma(s)? Do you use them, or avoid them?

I only have my own experience to draw from, and everyone is unique. Our wounds are different and the ways we carry them are different. So please take this with a grain of salt.

In my young life, I’ve already had to carry a few traumas. Mine (like most) rise from situations where I (or a loved one) were incredibly unsafe, and afterward my life was entirely changed. That how my counselor defines…Continue Reading

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In Standard

7 Days of Nature Photography

7 Days of Nature Photography

Earlier in the year, my brother Jason Koons tagged me in a challenge to do 7 days of nature photography on Facebook. I always meant to share here, but never got around to it. So, several months late, here we go!


Day 1

Day 1: Nature Photography

It was raining today, which put me in mind of this picture from Berry College in 2009. I love the way leaves look in the rain–each drop like a small galaxy.


Day 2

Day 2: Nature Photography

When we…Continue Reading

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In Standard

2016: In Review

2016: In Review

I am not sure how to do a year in review this time around. A lot of people have many things to say about 2016, and much of it isn’t encouraging. But what has been black for many has been more complex for me.

Here are some moments from 2016:


I dance the night away with my nieces at one cousin’s wedding. Megan and Hana think I’ve got the moves, and I let ’em believe it.

New diagnosis: Gastroparesis. It is the third autoimmune attack in under a year, and takes my diet from “gluten free levels of inconvenient” to “ask me…Continue Reading

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In Standard

Trust Women 2016: Highlights

Trust Women 2016: Highlights

Earlier this month, I had the fabulous opportunity to attend the conference Trust Women (representing myself as a writer and also Childbirth PATHS International, a great new NGO). I attended the conference in 2014 and found it truly life changing — and I don’t say that in a light, off-the-cuff sort of way. I’ve been to many, many conferences in my time, and there’s nothing like this two-day event.

Trust Women brings together activists and experts from around the world to talk about the latest in human trafficking (and prevention), slavery in the supply chain, women’s rights, and other worldwide humanitarian issues. But it’s not just about information. As I’ve told several people…Continue Reading

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