Changing Fate Release Party!

May 8, 2014

I'm so happy for my friend Michelle, whose book Changing Fate releases today! She wrote this book after meeting a girl with cystic fibrosis, and she's donating half of all proceeds from the book to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Here's more about Michelle and her book, which you can get now in ebook or paperback!

All Kate wants is to live. Battling cystic fibrosis is hard enough, dying from it is even harder. When her mom moves them closer to the hospital in the middle of her senior year, Kate’s determined to isolate herself—saving everyone the trouble of befriending a dying girl. It’s a difficult task when cheerful optimist Giana insists on being Kate’s friend.

Kate’s resolve falters even more when curly-haired Kyler captivates her with his sweet melodies. As her emotional walls collapse, Kate realizes the people she’s been pushing away may be the ones giving her a reason to live. But it might be too late.

Check out the book trailer here!

Want to win a free copy? Visit each participating blog and find all 16 key phrases—2 in each fun fact about the author. Put them together and answer the question in the giveaway on Michelle’s blog for extra points! The giveaway is open to everyone no matter where you live!

Michelle Merrill (1 & 2)
Carol Riggs (3 & 4)
Shallee McArthur (5 & 6)
Kelley Hicken (7 & 8)
Annette Larsen (9 & 10)
Rachel Pudelek (11 & 12)
Melanie Stanford (13 & 14)
Chantele Sedgwick (15 & 16)

Michelle Merrill loves kissing her hubby, snuggling her kids, eating candy, reading books, and writing first drafts. She names her computers after favorite fictional characters and fictional characters after favorite names. To learn more about her, visit

Fun Facts about Michelle:
5.      I’ve been married for 10 years. I met my hubby country dancing. He was good, I was bad, he could lead, I could follow…it was a great mix. He’s tall with light hair, blue eyes, and a smoldering smile. No, you can’t have him. He’s mine forever!!!

6.      I’m number 7 of 10 kids. Youngest girl. Lightest hair. Sparkly teeth…wait. That’s someone else. Dang.

We Need Diverse Books So Our Diversity Can Teach us Unity

May 1, 2014

I think by now most of us writers on social media have at least heard about the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign. I've loved seeing it all over the place, and it's made me think a lot about diversity and books and what they mean.

I'm a middle-class white girl. Where I live in Utah, that DEFINITELY puts me in a non-diverse situation. And believe it or not, I crave diversity. I want to know how other people live in ways that are different from me. I want to understand. It's a lot of why I write. It's even more of why I read. It's a lot of why I ended up flying, alone, halfway around the world to Ghana in college.

I've never had a moment while reading fiction where I couldn't identify with a character, even when that character was a mute Moroccan boy, as in one of my favorite books The King of the Wind. BUT. I also never had moments where I thought I COULDN'T be that person in a book. As a white girl in a fiction world full of white girls, I'd seen myself there. Because of that, I came to understand that I could also see myself in different types of characters if I wanted to.

There are a lot of people, especially young ones, who never see themselves in a book, and so it never occurs to them that they CAN be like the people in the books they read, whether those people are the same or different. And that is where the lack of diversity becomes a problem. It's hard for books to expand our minds when they don't get into our minds in the first place.

When I wrote my book, The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, I picked the name of the main character specifically because it flowed well in the title. I didn't have a clue who Genesis/Gena was at that point. But her last name-- one syllable, to offset the long first name-- led me to create her as girl who was one-quarter Chinese. As I wrote more of the book, various things also led me to give her a struggle with anxiety. Because of the backstory of Gena's world, I realized there would naturally be a variety of people there. So her best friend is Hispanic. Her dance teacher is French Algerian and Muslim. Her father's best friend is African American. Because of the backstory of the world, mental illness is an issue several characters face.

I wasn't trying to write a diverse book. In fact, I feel uncomfortable even calling it a "diverse book," because I don't necessarily feel like it is. The world I created called for certain things, so I put them in there. And you know what? Almost none of those diversities I created has a major bearing on the plot (though there are a few that do). Most of it is so subtle, you wouldn't even realize it. I don't even think I realized it while I wrote it, and honestly, I'd say it's still pretty heavily based in my own middle-class-white-girl type of world.

But in Gena's world, two cultures are fighting over, essentially, their diversity. They can't see things from the other side's point of view. And that's part of what fiction is all about. If books teach us to see ourselves in someone who's just like us, then they open us up to the possibility of seeing ourselves in someone who ISN'T just like us.

My friends, this is just one reason why we need diverse books. So everyone can see themselves, feel understood, and then be able to extend that understanding to someone else. So we can learn from someone who has a different life experience than us. So we can use our very diversity to become united.

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